France May 2014 - summary. Brilliant, and one to tick off my bucket list.

A few days in Paris - blustery and cold but just gorgeous - loaded with cafes, old buildings, history, markets, breads, cheeses, patisseries, chocolates and more….. a must to stay close to the heart of the city in the old Paris and immerse yourself in Paris language and people. Be a tourist yes, but don't do it in the big hotel chains and certainly don't eat there - you have to get out and eat in the cafes.

Have had a brilliant day today touring the French Champagne region and learning so much (besides drinking so much!!!) beautiful lunch included but then nothing could beat touring through Moët and Chandon cellars.

28km of tunnels on 3 levels below the complex and no-one really knows how many bottles of champagne are down there!!! Staggering numbers!

110kms in total of tunnels under the town of Epernay, the heart of the champagne area. Brilliant day!

Here in Reims tomorrow, approx 80,000 people expected for the biggest festival of the year!!

Think we might lay low!

We have been having a wonderful time over the last couple of days here in the Burgundy region (Boourgogne) in France in absolute awe of the beauty of the vineyards and the surroundings we are in.

The weather has been perfect and as such, this whole 'wine trail' region is full of cyclists following their trails, a few tourists self-driving themselves like us and the occasional minibus of tourists stopping within the middle of the roads basically, to hear what their tour guide has to say.

Another gorgeous weather day for what was a typical 'Sunday' drive' around the area known as The Luberon.

This area is one of village towns, cafe's, tiny shops, lavender, soaps and all in all a real tourist area. It would have been fabulous to see thgouh had all the lavender fields been in flower, that would have been fields of purple if they were.

Waht a fabulous place Cassis was! Just 'up the road' from Marseilles but so much nicer we were told and correct, I'm sure it is! Probably a typical Mediterranean seaside port but very touristy and a great day for a boat ride out to the 'Calanques' - a one hour trip through the nearby inlets where sheer cliffs were quite fantastic with yachts tucked up in the inlets in absoute protection from the elements. Not that the weather was a problem, today was a beautiful mid 20 degree day, gentle breeze and no humidity. The photos I have taken don't do the cliffs justice though - they were fabulous.

Have just had a very quiet day today here in Aix-en Provence in the south of France. 2 days of travelling and eventually arriving late yesterday afternoon after a very stressful driving session in Aix through tiny little streets and not really knowing where our accommodation was until - "are you lost??? I think you're looking for my place, follow me up the lane" ….. we were parked in the lane way we were meant to be but just not really sure which house had the 'orange walls' and then "we're on the right just past that" - whew!! Thank goodness for John (Jean!) - a lovely couple here who are insistent that if there is anything we need to please let them know. Did we need some washing done, have you got anything for dinner?

Not too much happened today - left Bordeaux and headed east towards Carcassonne for the night. Was a bit of a slow drive as I for some reason was really tired so need a few rest stops along the way.

Carcassonne is a fabulous walled city which on arrival we strolled through then later that evening when it 'eventually' got dark!!! We wandered down the road to check out the night time view. Doesn't get dark here till nearly 10pm!! Our room is just below the walls of the city so only took us a few minutes to get up to the main entrance.

Had a great day today - a pre-arranged tour for 7 of us, from Australia and the US all tripped out to another of the famous Bordeaux wine regions "St Emilion'. Reminded me very much of the Italian hillside town of San Gimigiano (if that's the correct spelling??), as a walled city of the 17th century vintage and all the small shops and cafe's. However here, because this is is such a famous wine region, every second shop was a wine merchant showcasing every known red wine in the region basically. We have begun to understand a little of the 3 levels of accreditation given to wines in the area - that area being St Emilion, as all wine regions do different things!!!

Fabulous weather today so we set off in the car heading for a pre-plotted route to take us in and around the Medoc area of Bordeaux. Here is where the great Chateaux's of the Bordeaux area are - Chateaux Margaux, Letuer, Mouton, I'm thinking I'm clever now but there's actually 10,00 chateaux's in the region (vineyards as we know them) - a huge number!! Surprisingly everything is closed here on Sunday's and as such not one vineyard was open for tasting. When I say everything was closed, I mean it - we only found one tiny little shop that was open in the Chateaux area - I used that to go to the loo!!!

Must have been Paris as the stressful place, but I'm starting to feel a little better now about driving here although still have my tricky moments!

Much of the driving the last 2 days to reach Bordeaux has been tollways and we've now learnt the ticketing and payment system a bit better so there's always cash on hand to feed the machine. Very much a user-pays system, seems to have cost us about $40 odd to drive down here using various toll roads and side roads. As you reach a toll gate entering the system, a ticket only is issued and upon leaving, put the ticket back in, the machine tells you how much and you entr the appropriate cash although change does spit out as well.


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