I have one VERY exciting piece of information to share with you, about a tour company for Independent Travelers–just our speed.
First a few odds and ends:
We’ve launched the France movie marathon on my Netflix account, using many of the recommendations you showered upon us when I proclaimed Amelie the best French movie ever.
- First up: Charade, with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, and despite those stars, plus the worthy costar of various Paris locations (about 20 listed in Paris Movie Walks), it was NOT made by Alfred Hitchcock, as I erroneously assumed. Despite a laughably phony background on a float down the Seine, you’ll see some great Paris scenery, and Hepburn and Grant at their charming best.
- Second: Paris, Je T’Aime. I did not really count, but I believe that movie was mentioned more than any other movie in the comments section of my post on Amelie. Thanks to all of you for the recommendations. We saw parts of Paris we’ll never see in person–and some we probably would just as soon NOT see. (Ken, by the way, has decided he will NOT go to the Tuileries stop on the Metro–and those of you who saw the movie may remember why.)
Brushing up Le Francais.
- I like the Lonely Planet Phrasebook because it seems easy to find things, and has a good section on food, which always tends to be my main interest in any foreign country. (What? You mean You don’t hide the phrase book under a napkin and surreptitiously look up chaudrée when your waiter isn’t looking?) On the other hand, I’m not sure what use I will make of “Tu es de quel signe?” “What is your sign?” or the more direct, “Est ce que tu as un fetiche?” “Do you have a festish?” And hiding the phrase book under a napkin is one thing, but under the pillow while you’re looking for “Easy, tiger!” (pg.117) is something else again.
- Another recent discovery that has given me a lot of fun every day is the terrific blog, French Word A Day, by a fellow Arizonan who married a handsome Frenchman and lives with him and their two children on their vineyard where he makes wine and she writes and sells books. Sigh! This is a blog for lovers of France, lovers of dogs, lovers of photography, lovers of words in either French or English.
Books and Maps
- When we visited Carmel recently, my brother and his wife kindly loaned us their (autographed–which means they think we’ll be honor-bound to give it back) copy of Around and About Paris by Thirza Vallois. This volume covers the 1st through the 7th arrondissements in much greater detail than anybody really needs, but like the Strolling Istanbul Guidebook, it is meant to be savored.
- While buying a Michelin France road map, I spotted a new-to-me map of Paris, called MapEasy’s Giudemap to Paris, and had to have it, too. It claims to be waterproof and tear resistant and it is colorful and looks easy to read and use. The proof is in the pudding, so I’ll take both it and the Streetwise Paris map (which turns out to have such small print that I have to carry a magnifying glass.)
The Most Important Tip I am Going to Give You
Check the NEW web site of France Made Easy. Marie Cruikshank, a lovely Scottish lady, started a company called Scotland Made Easy many years ago, and because she loves France and is fluent in French, she has added France to her trip planning business. She plans the kind of tailor-made, exclusive trips for discerning travelers that have large travel libraries and watch lots of travel movies and want to know about the real country and the people who live there, not just the people who sit next to them in the tour bus. (Just like you and me).
Marie is helping Ken and me with a lot of the details of our trip and I know that I can trust her advice because she has personally checked out these places and knows whereof she speaks. I’ll talk more later about the details of some of the wonderful plans she has for us in Normandy and Brittany, but I’ve gone on long enough for today.
If you have questions for Marie, please feel free to post them here, and I’ll ask her to drop by and try to reply. But do take a look at her web site first to get a feel for what she does.