May                      2009
VOL. 13               NO. 2
  The Independent Traveler's Newsletter

  Returning to Normandy

Returning to Normandy

Paris Enigmas

Ici et Là

Franco-American Portrait
  ~  à Table en Normandie with an American
  Cooking Teacher:  Susan Herrmann Loomis
  by Arthur Gillette

Shopping Chic in Paris - Part One
  by Maxine Schur

The Barge Lady Cruises in 
  by Ellen Sack

Paris’ Collège des Bernardins
  by Arthur Gillette

Narbonne Wall Poetry, copyright 2009 Marlane O'Neill.  All rights reserved.

Narbonne Wall Poetry

Living the Dream in Narbonne
  ~  Part One in the series
  by Marlane O'Neill


It has been six years since we last wrote about Normandy in this newsletter, and it is only
fitting that we visit it again as June will mark the 65th anniversary of the Allied landing 
on the beaches and cliffs of this now peaceful place in France.  The region will host
hundreds of thousands of tourists in June, perhaps many whose last visit was during
wartime in 1944, many others who return often to spend quiet time at the
American cemetery in Colleville sur Mer or on the pink sands of Omaha Beach, and others
still who are returning for one last visit to what may now be but a fading memory. 
Those interested in history cannot stay away from Normandy, whether is the ancient history
 of William the Conqueror or the comparatively recent history of World War II
that draws them there...Normandy never loses its fascination.

Normandy is a large region of France comprised of five départements. This issue will focus on Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy), the area of western Normandy comprised of the départements of Manche (50), Calvados (14) and Orne (61).  In our next edition we will visit Haute-Normandie where two départements, Seine-et-Maritime and Eure, are popular destinations for travelers.

Lower Normandy is famous for its apple brandy (Calvados), cream and cheese. . .and, of course, its historic coastline.  Whether you want to visit the beaches made famous by the D-Day landings of 1944 or you seek a peaceful vacation among friendly people in seaside villages, this is the place to be.  It is the land of pear and apple orchards, dairy farms and special villages.  Its towns offer museums telling a thousand years of history, of conquerors and battles into the twentieth century, while some museums are all about cheese!  This part of Normandy is also the place to be if you are looking for bargains in copper kitchenware ~ we have just the town for you!

Normandy is also the land of châteaus and castles.  Many of them offer travelers exquisite luxury accommodations filled with comfort, history and country charm ~ at prices more reasonable than one would expect.  From imposing Norman architecture to breathtaking views from your bedroom of the stunning Le Mont St-Michel, you will be amazed at where you can fall asleep and dream in Basse Normandie.

For those primarily interested in visiting the historical monuments and fine museums in the départements of Calvados and Manche ~ at the beaches and in the villages, retelling stories of the landings, the battles and personal experiences of young soldiers of World War II ~ this is a special year.  It is the 65th anniversary of the 1944 Allied landings, and the region will host many  events commemorating its liberation.  Please see our Ici et Là section beginning on page two for specific information.
                                                                                                 continued on page 2

Look inside

to join us on our visit to Normandy, and to read our Franco-American Portrait ~ an interview with acclaimed chef Susan Herrmann Loomis who settled in Normandy to cook and teach On Rue Tatin.


>  if you have always wanted to take a leisurely canal or river cruise in France but weren't quite sure how to arrange it or where to cruise, you will want to read of a 2008 cruise in Champagne with Ellen Sack, The Barge Lady. 


> to accompany Arthur Gillette on his discovery of Paris' Collège des Bernardins, recently opened to visitors after many centuries ~ and something you may want to add to your itinerary when next in Paris.


> for part one of our three-part series on the fascinating city and glorious beaches of Narbonne, the new home of Marlane O'Neill, where she and her husband are Living the Dream!


>  to go on a little shopping spree in Paris with Maxine Schur ~ her  quest for finding the unique and the bargains takes us to shops and outlets which until now have been some her little secrets!


  PARIS ENIGMAS . . . A Quiz on Your Knowledge of Historic Paris
                                                                                        by Arthur Gillette

Question from the last issue:  What is the oldest church in Paris?

Answer:  That depends on two criteria: 
First, what do we mean by 'church', since many were re-built several times over to expand and remodel their original structures?  If it's the oldest human-fashioned part of a church, then the winner is probably St-Pierre de Montmartre, a Romanesque jewel hunkering just behind the Sacré Coeur, since its interior has four columns recuperated from a pre-Christian Roman temple located nearby.  If we're considering the oldest Christian-fashioned parts of a church, then it's some of the 6th century small black columns gracing the triforium in St-Germain des Prés and which stem from the original church. 

Second, what do we mean by 'Paris'?  Until the 19th century Montmartre was a rural suburb, not part of the city itself, and St-Germain was long outside the city walls, surrounded by  prés (meadows).  So, the winner is?  A church built entirely at one time on a site that was already (and still is) inside the city walls: most probably St-Julien le Pauvre begun in about 1170 (admittedly seven years after the first stone of Notre-Dame was laid) but finished in 1240, 90 years before the Cathedral was completed.

Our new question:  Quite young, Frantz Liszt was brought by his parents from Hungary ca. 1813 to pursue his musical training at the Paris Conservatory. He was, however, refused admission.  Why?

Contact Arthur Gillette,  and take advantage of his amazing knowledge of Paris
 by enjoying one or more of his Paris Through the Ages StrollsEmail:

[See the answer to this edition's question
revealed in our August 2009 issue.]


FranceSolo - travel on your own in France. Logo & name copyrighted 2009. Cold Spring Press/Marcia Mitchell. All rights reserved.

See Provence, explore Burgundy, and more!
You can do it!  We can help!

FranceSolo  offers you, the single traveler, a great way to explore France on your own.
 We offer you a custom itinerary with quality accommodations,  a rental car,  a cell phone, 
 maps,  brochures and tourist information ~ even a FranceSolo tote bag ~ and so much more. 
Contact Marcia Mitchell in Provence for all the details.

                                                                                                                                                                  next pagepage two
©1998-2009 Cold Spring Press   All Rights Reserved