The Independent Traveler's Newsletter                      PAGE THREE
A Travel Insurance Review continued . . .

3.  Continued economic woes could incite action causing further strikes and defaults.

As the Greek financial crisis continues to dominate the news and the European Union works to find appropriate strategies to cope with it, further laws and reforms could cause unexpected, short-notice strikes, leaving passengers caught off guard.

Some travel insurance plans allow you to cancel your trip for a full refund if flights are canceled due to an unexpected labor strike.

4.  Natural disasters like volcanic eruptions cause widespread disruptions.

French tourism was nearly crushed in 2010 with the pension reform strikes in the fall and then volcanic eruptions that affected most of the transportation systems in the spring.  Nature remains a powerful and unpredictable force that can cause all kinds of trouble for travelers.

Some travel insurance plans cover pre-departure trip cancellations due to natural disasters.

5.  Lost or stolen passports could bring your France trip to a quick halt.

PassportIf a thief were to steal your passport the week before your trip to France, could you get a replacement in time?  If not, would you lose all your prepaid, non-refundable trip costs?

What if your passport were lost or stolen while you were traveling in France - could you get a replacement copy in time to get back home?

Some travel insurance plans cover pre-departure trip cancellations if your passports are lost or stolen (you'll need to make a police report and provide a copy with your claim).  If your passport is lost or stolen while you are traveling, travel insurance assistance services can help you navigate the bureaucracy to get a replacement passport, and often they'll pay the fees (up to the plan limit).

The best way to find a good travel insurance plan is to use a comparison site that lets you filter the
 coverage you need and price-shop a lot of plans at once.  Damian Tysdal founded Travel Insurance Review
in 2006 on the belief that travel insurance should be easier to understand.  We thank him for this informative article.


THE BOOKSHELF:      The Roman Provence Guide by Edwin Mullins

When someone has a passionate interest in a subject and shares his or her knowledge with the rest of us in a book, that passion can become contagious.  On a plane to France, and knowing we would once again be in Provence, The Roman Provence Guide by Edwin Mullins seemed the perfect solution to passing time on a very long flight.  Little did I know that I would find the subject so intriguing.  The author offers a close look at the monuments left behind by the Romans ~ often a stone-by-stone account of the construction process as well as who was responsible for the concept and/or the building of a particular structure ~ all the while putting each into historical perspective.

From the beginning of this concise account (175 pages) we are given an in-depth look at the Romans in Provence.  For those of us who have visited this region of France, from Languedoc eastward through Provence itself, we know that this is where the most and best preserved remnants of history's greatest builders exist.  Relating the story of the migration of the Greeks in 600 BC to what is today Marseille, followed by the Romans arriving to form a new alliance providing military protection for the Greeks from the onslaught of local tribes, The Roman Provence Guide becomes one of those books you can't put down. 

We learn, too, that it wasn't all warfare and conquest for the Romans, despite the violence that marked their empire's reign over the centuries.  The first Emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus Caesar, ruled for forty-four years and would become the driving force behind the construction of the theaters, amphitheaters, roads, bridges, aqueducts, temples, thermal baths and fortresses that, thousands of years later, still remain for the world to see and appreciate.   His close friend, Marcus Agrippa, would continue the tradition, and he most likely was the architect and supervisor of the construction of the Pont du Gard.  The myriad structures remaining remind us of the six centuries of Roman rule in Provence, but this book tells us more.  Augustus knew that between battles his soldiers lay idle, so he put them to work building, and they became the engineers of their day.  They had to be mathematicians and precision craftsmen as well, calculating, for example, that the water from the hills near Uzès had to reach Nîmes via the Pont du Gard at a slope of 17 inches per mile! Following service in the Roman army, and because there was no money to provide them with pensions, it was decided that soldiers would be given land in Gaul.  Some were native to the region and had been conscripted by the Romans, others were brought from Rome to Provence; they all settled on the lands they were given and became important citizens in their own communities, using slave labor to farm their lands.

Familiar with much of what the Romans left behind ~ the theatre at Orange, the arenas in Arles and Nîmes, the amazing Greco-Roman city of Glanum, and the most magnificent accomplishment, the Pont du Gard ~ I found this one of the best guide books for this region.  Other books about Provence may superficially describe Roman ruins, but none explains their origins in such interesting detail.  The author tells of the tedious building of Roman roads beginning with the first one, Via Domitia, whose goal was to link Spain to Rome.  He relates how concerned the Romans were with sanitation, so the city of Nîmes not only had drinking and bathing water brought by the Pont du Gard, but it had a working sewage system.  The Romans of the day provided their citizens in Gaul with places of entertainment, improved their lives with water and commerce, and created a system of order and government that gave the people some semblance of security, removing the tribal conflicts that had existed before their arrival.

Edwin Mullins has been fascinated by the Romans since childhood when he discovered a Roman shard near his English home.  This accidental moment in time led eventually to his lifelong research and the writing of this book.  He wrote of the Romans in Provence, "Roman engineering has become an open air stage set: except that it has proved to be more permanent than the modern world around it."  He has authored several books about France's history, and after reading The Roman Provence Guide, I will certainly make it a point to read the others. 
  - Editor 


Click on the Amazon Link to order yours today!

The Roman Provence Guide by Edwin Mullins ISBN 978-1-56656-896-8
Copyright 2013 by Interlink Books - 46 Crosby Street Northampton MA 
http://www.interlinkbooks.comTravel/History/Art & Architecture

Poochcard from Provence

Free eBook about Chula

We're sure you remember our review of Dog Trots Globe - Paris to Provence in our Spring issue.  Well, Chula, the Sheltie was back in France in October, and she sent us an occasional Poochcard from Provence.  We'd like to share this one with with you. 

And, in honor of her return trip, Chula is also giving away a free ebook called Sniffing Around Provence.  Simply click on Chula's Free eBook offer to download your copy.  You can still order Dog Trots Globehere if you would like. 

                                                                                                                                                                            by Arthur Gillette

We had the pleasure in September of taking Arthur's Art Déco Stroll (Paris Through the Ages Strolls)
to see for ourselves most of the buildings you will read about in this article.  We are grateful
for the opportunity to tap his endless knowledge about Paris, its architecture and its history.

Art Déco apartment building.  Photo copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

The usually well-informed Wikipedia web site defines Art Déco as an 'artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s', notably surfing on the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts that took place in the French capital. For once, Wiki is. . . wrong! 

Proof?  This apartment building at 25 bis rue Benjamin Franklin in the 16th arrondissement (Métro station Passy or Trocadéro).  It was built by the architect Auguste Perret, with glazed and colored cladding (unfortunately now faded) by the ceramicist Alexandre Bigot, as early as 1903, and helped launch the transition from Art Nouveau's lissome curves to Art Déco's 'zig-zag' designs. 

A few steps up this street and you come to the Palais de Chaillot. Built by several architects for the 1937 Paris World Exhibition in monumental but rather calm Art Déco style, it does, however, boast bas reliefs by 57 sculptors such as Paul Belmondo, father of the movie actor Jean-Paul. Its two semi-circular wings seem to 'embrace' its open-air esplanade from which there is a breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower and up the Champs de Mars behind it to the Ecole Militaire.

Palais de Chaillot from Eiffel Tower.  Wikipedia
Palais de Chaillot as seen from the Eiffel Tower

Recently visiting, an Italian friend laughed at the architectural two-armed clasp, telling me it reminded him of the earlier but similarly-shaped Monumento Vittorio Emanuele in Rome. "We call it la macchina da battere." – the typewriter.  Hitler pranced on the esplanade during the Nazi occupation on a 1942 visit that may have contributed (with conscious irony?) to the choice of the Palais de Chaillot for the adoption there by the U.N., six years later, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A few minutes down the avenue du Président Wilson and you come to the headquarters of the government's (consultative) Economic and Social Council. Also built in 1937 on the occasion of the World Exhibition, it was designed by Auguste Perret and is less overpowering and, for my money, prettier than the Palais de Chaillot.

Conseil Economique Social et Environnemental.  Photo copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.Palais de Tokyo.  Photo copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

                                                                Economic and Social Council building                                                                         Palais de Tokyo

A few steps farther down the avenue du Président Wilson is the Palais de Tokyo, also a 1937 Exhibition building and now a center of contemporary art and creation.  The goals and activities here have nothing particularly oriental about them. The Palace's name simply recalls the fact, forgotten by most Parisians, that prior to World War II the riverside avenue de New York just below it was the… avenue de Tokio.

Théâtre des Champs Elysées.  Wikimedia

Down, now, to the place d'Iéna, next to which – just up avenue Montagne - is the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, built in 1913 (again well before the 1925 International Exhibition) by Auguste Perret (also again, but this time with his brothers Gustave and Claude).  An American connection: commissioned to design the Théâtre's external bas reliefs, sculptor Antoine Bourdelle met none other than Isadora Duncan, who was teaching at a weekend resort hotel near Paris. He chose her as the female model for 'La Danse'.  The male figure recalls Vaslav Nijinski: he danced at an early performance here in Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, whose music, choreography and skimpy costumes caused quite a scandal.

About ten years after the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Ernest Cognac Jay, owner of one of the earliest Parisian department stores, Samaritaine, had its façade redone in Art Déco style. It is on the Right Bank just behind Notre Dame Cathedral and across from the Pont Neuf, from which this shot was taken.

Samaritaine department store.  Wikipedia

The architect was Henri Sauvage, who at about the same time helped introduce Art Déco architecture to Montparnasse, which still boasts several fine examples of the style. An example is Savage's Maison des Gradins (literally Bleachers House) on rue Vavin. Its Métro-style ceramic cladding was considered vulgar by some. Sauvage answered his critics by pointing out that with a mop and a few buckets of water the concierge could clean the façade in a single day.

Art Déco La Coupole.  Photo copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

Ready for a rest and coffee and/or a meal? Try a nearby Art Déco masterpiece where we'll end this sampler, the La Coupole restaurant (102 boulevard Montparnasse). It was opened in 1927, featuring what is thought to be the first American-style bar in Paris, and soon frequented by numerous artistic and literary luminaries, including Ernest Hemingway. In a rare participatory gesture, its builders invited 27 contemporary painters to decorate its indoor pillars. You can see some of their work here.

Contact Arthur Gillette to take advantage of his amazing knowledge of Paris
by enjoying one or more of his Paris Through the Ages Strolls. 
Visit our Marketplace page for a complete list of strolls and information about Arthur.

[Mouse over photos for descriptions.]


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