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    Cirque de Gavarnie

    by iandsmith Updated May 21, 2013

    Favorite thing: I'd been to Pau the year previous but the weather had been unkind and thus I was denied the chance to do the walk. This time the weather was almost perfect, barely a cloud in the sky and the temperature was spot on for hiking. It's about 1hr 45 mins from Pau, deep in the Pyrenees.
    These are my notes from the day:
    GOING AROUND IN CIRQUES
    I had wanted to go there last time but time and weather were against me. This time I had my weather good luck charm (self appointed) called Lorraine and so I was assured of favourable skies. With only two days at Pau I couldn’t believe our luck as we drove south west into the Pyrenees and the clouds that hung around Pau slowly but surely were left behind. We paused at the village of Betharram that surely has the ritziest way of the cross I’ve ever seen, and moved into the tall peaks.
    By the time we reached Cirque du Gavarnie you couldn’t have asked for better weather. The snow remnants in the carpark merely whetted our appetite for what lay ahead. One of the Pyrenees great attractions was already partly visible as we donned appropriate garments and headed out, uncertain as to just how long it would take. We’d heard everything from 1 ½ hours to about 4 and fortunately time wasn’t an issue.
    The easy trail criss-crossed the river over small bridges as we would our way closer and then started upwards. Cirques are roughly half circles of rock and appear in many places of France. The most stunning I had seen was Cirque de Navacelles so I didn’t expect anything better. Indeed, it wasn’t better or worse, but different.
    The higher our ascent, the more imposing the rock faces became. Below and beside us the roaring waters of the spring melt played a constant reverberation to stimulate the senses. Up through the small forest we climbed as the snow became an overall coverage rather than sporadic drifts.
    Finally we reached Hotel de Cirque, a modest and unreliable establishment. We’d come to expect places to be closed and this place, right at the key point to view Cirque du Gavarnie, didn’t let us down, so we pushed on, another 200 metres to the point where it was inadvisable to go any further.

    Fondest memory: You could see avalanche tracks at different points across the face. It was a tad disappointing because here is the tallest waterfall in Europe. However being a little bit of an aficionado (self appointed also) in this department, it is worth knowing whether it is a single drop or multitudes of cascades. Here it was the latter so it didn’t really rate with me but the cirque itself was awe inspiring.
    Massive cliffs wrapping around with the lesser slopes still holding plenty of snow and the snow melt well under way beneath crisp clean skies left an indelible impression on us both. By the time we returned to the car, a few hundred photos each to the good, it was around three hours, and when we later motored down the mountain on twisting switchback roads with peaks all around and verdant spring pastures nearby, we could but reflect that it had been one of those special days you have when travelling.
    TIP - Don't go looking for waterfalls, go to check out the mountain scenery.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Family Travel

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    What about your cell phone in Europe?

    by Beausoleil Updated Apr 25, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Cell phones are called mobiles in Europe and they broadcast on different bands than the USA so unless you have a tri or quad band cell phone, it won't work in Europe. The next trick is to be sure it is unlocked. Most phones are locked and many can't be unlocked until you've had them for six months. If you are shopping for a new phone, be sure it is unlocked. I had no trouble finding one at Best Buy and I'm sure there are many other places that will sell them.

    In France in the past I have purchased a SIM card from the Orange company. It would be long distance for callers from the USA but that may not be too bad depending on the plans your callers have on their phones. Our daughter had no problem texting (not talking) because her plan allowed texting anywhere for a very low cost, something like 20 cents US.

    This year after a lot of looking I bought a LeFrench Mobile SIM and the price for me is very reasonable. Again, your callers will have to pay long distance charges so it depends on their plans. You have a French phone number and receive texts and calls for free while in France. There is a small charge if you are in another European country. You receive calls at 0.08 euro cents a minute and make calls at 0.19 euro cents a minute and that is also for the USA so a big savings over many of the other plans for travelers. Big disadvantage is you can't send text messages when you are outside of France. Service is in English if you don't speak French.

    Another option may be the National Geographic Cellular Abroad program that gives you both a US and a UK phone number. Their rates are a bit higher but it might be cheaper for your callers.

    Here are web sites for the plans I checked. You can look at all of them and see if any will serve your purpose. I don't see how to get around your callers having long distance charges so you might want to consider the LeFrench Mobile plan and have them call (or text) you and then you can call them back and talk on your bill which is 0.19 euro-cents per minute. There is a charge for the first full minute and then it's prorated by the second after that.

    Fondest memory: Here are several of the plans:
    Le French Mobile
    Orange Mobile
    Cellular Abroad
    Vodafone Mobile
    La Poste Mobile Service
    Boingo Mobile

    If you don't have an unlocked phone, either get yours unlocked or purchase one when you get the SIM card and you'll have a European phone for travel.

    If you are Verizon, you can rent a phone inexpensively from Verizon for your trip and then return it. We know people who have done this and loved the program. We also have friends with iPhones who purchased the European option for the time they were in Europe, cancelled it when they got home and they found that worked well for them.

    You should set up a Skype account too. It's free to other Skypers. We've got our family on it now so calls are free. Of course you need the computer to do this. I take mine for many reasons but it's very convenient for keeping in touch with family and friends.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Business Travel
    • Road Trip

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    To take a tour or go by yourself . . .

    by Beausoleil Updated Apr 25, 2013

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: This was a reply to a lady who asked about visiting the French countryside. They had gone on tours and cruises but were thinking about renting a car and house on their own to get outside tourist areas and see the "real" France. Here is my answer to her and I am answering her direct questions.

    You say you have not traveled on your own, so I suspect you may have gone on organized tours. We've never done that but I think it's a good idea to get your feet wet and see what you want to explore on your own. Now you seem ready to take that step.

    Our first trip to France was a driving/camping trip because as teachers with 3 kids that is all we could afford. I spoke a bit of Haitian Creole and my husband had French in high school so language was a problem for us and we were nervous. We quickly discovered it is possible to communicate pretty well because a French national pasttime is helping people. You can count on it. If you need help and they don't speak English, they will find someone who does.

    Driving is not a problem. It's as easy to drive in France as it is in the US. We have driven on nearly all of our trips. The only time we don't get a car is when we are spending the entire time in a large city like Paris. In a city, a car is a nuisance . . . but in the country, a car is a joy. If you can manage to plan your trip for 21 days or more, you can lease a brand new car with 24-hour road service. We always get a Peugeot 207 automatic for our trips. [There is now a Citroen available for lease for a 17-day stay. It's available through the same web sites listed below.]

    We usually fly into Paris, Nice or Toulouse, visit the city for a few days and then return to the airport to pick up our leased car. We have used AutoFrance, AutoEurope, Kemwel and Sodexa for our leases. Here are three of the web sites so you can check the program. It is all paid ahead of time so there are no unpleasant surprises when you hand in the car.
    Auto France ((800) 572-9655 in the US)
    Auto Europe
    Kemwel

    For fewer than 21 days, try Nova Car We haven't used them but friends have and were satisfied. They do rent to folks over the age of 70.

    Our 2010 trip was unhinged by the Iceland ash cloud. We were transferring planes in London when British air space was closed. After 4 unplanned days in London (paid for by British Airways), we managed to get a train to Paris. Our car was in Toulouse so we spent 2 nights in Paris before we got on a train to Toulouse where we finally managed to get our car, so yes, taking a train to another city is a great idea if you want to do that.

    You will not escape tourists anyplace. However, most of them will be French tourists visiting other parts of France so it's not like you will be spending your French vacation with other American tourists. If you are near a border, you will see lots of tourists from those countries too, i.e., Italian tourists in southeast France, Spanish tourists in western France, German and Dutch tourists in northeastern France, and French tourists everyplace. We enjoy our interactions with all these nationalities; it's part of the fun of going to Europe.

    Where to stay? Well, we stay in hotels in cities and we rent farmhouses when we are visiting the countryside. We once rented an apartment in Paris but that was because it was the cheapest way to spend 9 days with our family along. The hotel staff is usually a great help.

    We love renting farmhouses or small houses in tiny villages. There you interact with the owner and several have become fast friends over the years. You visit the local grocery, boulanger, boucherie and interact with the local shopowners and their customers. We've both picked up a lot of French over the years but language has never been a problem. If no one speaks French in the store, often another customer will help or there is the point and mime method of purchase. If you don't know numbers, you can always read the price on the cash register. Easy. Take your own shopping bags; they charge for bags in Europe. When we forget, we buy the first bag and then keep using it.

    Yes, they take credit cards at most groceries and even in the occasional street market. Small places and most markets will use cash. Groceries cost the same as or less than they do at home. The trick to saving money on food is purchase local products in season. If you try to find Jiffy Peanut Butter, you will find it but pay too much. Coca Cola costs more than the local excellent wine.

    We eat breakfast in our gite (rented house) and then eat lunch at a restaurant where we are sightseeing for the day. Lunch is usually cheaper than dinner so that's a money-saver too. Then in the evening, we stop at a boulanger and epicerie (grocery) and get bread, cheese, fruit and wine and take it back to our gite and have dinner there as a picnic.

    For hotels in the countryside, we use the Logis de France. This is a chain of small family-owned hotels in nearly every town and village in France. They are always clean and friendly and most have an excellent restaurant. Here's the web site. You can see what they offer. Logis de France

    For rentals we use a couple web sites. Our favorite is Gites de France, an umbrella organization that oversees rural rentals. We have never had a problem with anything we've rented through them so I highly recommend them. We have also used VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) twice and had a fabulous experience but we don't have much experience with the company. We have also used Home-Away Holiday Rentals, a British company. We've used them many times and have had good experiences with all but one. We chalked that up to a learning experience; it wasn't a dead loss, just less than we expected. Since we've had so many good experiences with them, I would recommend them and we certainly will continue using them. Here are the 3 web sites.
    Gites de France
    Vacation Rental By Owner
    Home Away

    Fondest memory: Average cost for eating? That depends on what and how you like to eat. Restaurants range from inexpensive to very expensive. We try to keep it in a range comfortable for us. Obviously you pay more in a city. A small country auberge will be excellent and may cost as little as 9 euros a meal plus wine. If you are in a popular tourist area, plan on 15 to 30 euros for a meal. The French menu (as you probably already know) offers what they call a "Menu" or sometimes it's called a "Formula" in a couple different price ranges. These are usually the best deal and offer several courses for a fixed price. We usually get these although if we decide to splurge, we'll blow 30 euros on a dinner. That doesn't happen often because my ancestry is Scot. ;^)

    You have to buy groceries at home, so buying them in France is not much different. If you want to eat at your rented house, most epiceries and certainly all supermarches have precooked (like deli) meals you can microwave. These are often excellent. We just enjoy the restaurant experience in France and there are plenty of excellent reasonably-priced restaurants in the countryside.

    I've babbled on way too long so I'll stop here. If you have any specific questions or want to ask about a specific area, please feel free to e-mail me here on VT. Also type the names of places into the VT Search Window and see what has been written about them by all the VT members. There will be lots of photos, web links and reviews on VT.

    Have fun planning and don't be afraid to go on your own. It's lots of fun to control your destiny.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Family Travel
    • Budget Travel

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    the gardens of France

    by gwened Written Apr 7, 2013

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    Favorite thing: I know many , millions, come to France to see its wonderful gardens, from the time of Le Notre and beyond, the gardens had pull a powerful magnet for visitors. As usual, we tend to focus in Paris bien sûr mais il faut réve et chercher autres endroits quasi belles or méme plus beaux que dans Paris. Just a bit more sites as beautiful or even more so than Paris.

    I try to tell you some of my favorites over the years in this special post. First, some sites that tell you about gardens in the Ile de France :

    http://www.villa-ephrussi.com/

    http://www.parcsetjardins.fr/recherche-geographique.php

    http://www.jardins-de-france.com/

    http://www.jardinez.com/

    http://www.lesplusbeauxjardinsdefrance.com/

    and get together from the ministry of culture of France, http://www.rendezvousauxjardins.culture.fr/

    And now my favorites in the ile de France , my former region ,even if will move in mid july 2012.

    Seine et Marne ,dept 77; Jardin du Domaine National de Champs-sur-Marne, French and English style gardens with a castle of course! http://champs-sur-marne.monuments-nationaux.fr/en/

    Jardin Médiéval de la Commanderie des Templiers, at Couloummiers, medieval gardens and the Templars story, http://www.commanderie-templiers.fr/

    Domaine National du chateau de Fontainebleau, of course at famous Fontainbleau, http://www.musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/

    La Fontaine aux Pigeons on medieval, La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, English gardens of 6 hectares, http://www.la-ferte-sous-jouarre.fr/component/content/article/20/886.html

    Jardin de Vaux-le-Vicomte, of course the other beautiful castle of the Paris region, French style gardens, http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/

    One near to me as my wife was born here, and we first talk dated walking this garden, Jardin Bossuet, in Meaux (as in brie cheese) ;French garden next to Cathedral,where the Bossuet rose was created, see it better in French, http://www.ville-meaux.fr/Le-Jardin-Bossuet.html

    La Roseraie, see the rose of Provins, http://www.roseraie-provins.com/ gorgeous

    Moving to the Yvelines, dept 78, where have my house. Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay, private gardens in an abbey see on weekend or with appointment in weekdays, http://www.abbayedecernay.com/

    Jardins du Chateau de Breteuil, French gardens, http://www.breteuil.fr/castle/accueil.php

    Musée Promenade de Marly-le-Roi, where kings used to walk, wonderful, many of the statues now at the Louvre. http://www.musee-promenade.fr/

    Musée National de Port-Royal des Champs,historical gardens ,protected, see it, http://www.port-royal-des-champs.eu/

    Domaine National de Rambouillet-Bergerie nationale, English gardens and regular,historical, and animals, http://www.bergerie-nationale.educagri.fr/

    Arboretum de Chévreloup, English gardens and trees, plants, near Versailles, http://www.mnhn.fr/chevreloup/

    Domaine National de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, by the castle, gardens 18C, traces of renaissance, http://www.musee-archeologienationale.fr/ , Jardin du Musée Experimental Maurice Denis, in town, garden of the artist, http://www.musee-mauricedenis.fr/

    Chateau et Parc de Vaux-sur-Seine, landscape garden from the 19C, http://www.vauxsurseine.fr/Le-chateau-de-Vaux-sur-Seine.html

    Versailles, of course, my town, the one and only in the world, French and English style gardens, and veggie and fruit potager du roi lol! http://en.chateauversailles.fr/gardens-and-park-of-the-chateau- and http://www.potager-du-roi.fr/ensp/default/EN/all/potager/index.htm

    The Essonne dept 91, we have Conservatoire National des Plantes Médicinales, at nice Milly-la-Fôret, http://www.cnpmai.net/

    Potager Fleuri du Domaine de Saint-Jean-de-Beauregard, flower veggy plots from the 17C! and castle, http://www.domsaintjeanbeauregard.com/v2/

    We move now to Hauts-de-Seine, dept 92 ,just near Paris, Musée et Jardins Albert Kahn, parc and scenes with oriental motifs, http://albert-kahn.hauts-de-seine.net/

    Parc de Boulogne, Edmond de Rothschild, landscape garden and japonese dating from 19C, http://www.boulognebillancourt.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=231?&leftid=477&mpid=3&submid=0&submid2=1&Itemid=489

    Parc de la Maison de Chateaubriand et Arboretum, La Vallée aux Loups, romantic gardens, http://maison-de-chateaubriand.hauts-de-seine.net/web/chateaubriand/le-parc-de-la-maison-de-chateaubriand

    Parc des impressionists, modern with rosaries, http://www.rueil-tourisme.com/FR/visite-le-parc-des-impressionnistes_4623.html ,and on same town of Rueil-Malmaison, the castle of the lady of Napoleon, Josephine. Parc du Chateau de Malmaison, nice gardens, http://www.chateau-malmaison.fr/

    Domaine de Saint-Cloud, landscape huge nice, many events here like rock on the seine, http://saint-cloud.monuments-nationaux.fr/en/ and near there ,also, the Jardin Stern, design by JCN Forestier, to allow her handicapped daughter to walk inwheelchair in the gardens from back in 1927, nice, http://www.jardinstern.com/

    Domaine de Sceaux, parc et musée d’ile de France, a museum of the region, and garden design by the great Le Notre. Wonderfully nice and big, http://domaine-de-sceaux.hauts-de-seine.net/

    We end at dept Val d’Oise or no 95 where the airport of Paris CDG is (not Paris), Parc et Jardins de l’Abbaye Royale de Royaumont, http://www.royaumont.com/fondation_abbaye/

    Jardin de l’Atelier de Daubigny, http://www.atelier-daubigny.com/ , also same town, Jardins duMusée de l’Absinthé, http://www.musee-absinthe.com/ , continue in the area of Van Gogh with the jardins du Chateau d’Auvers, http://www.chateau-auvers.fr/index.php?PHPSESSID=1e1022b3c98c8aa32e0fdec046610e01

    Maison du Docteur Gachet, garden from 19C, http://www.valdoise.fr/6387-la-maison-du-docteur-gachet-a-auvers-sur-oise.htm

    Domaine de Villarceaux, a gem, go there for shopping farm goodies too, and a gourmet event everyyear, http://www.iledefrance.fr/villarceaux

    Parc du Chateau D’Ecouen, also a museum of the renaissance, http://www.musee-renaissance.fr/homes/home_id20392_u1l2.htm

    Chateau de Stors, English style terrace gardens, town of L’isle-Adam, http://chateaudestors.com/

    Chateau de la Roche-Guyon, fruits gardens and views of the Seine, nice tunnel withhistory of wwII, http://www.chateaudelarocheguyon.fr/

    Parc et Chateau de Méry-sur-Oise, with great water fountain, lakes, http://www.merysuroise.fr/download//horaires-parc.JPG.pdf

    Jardin du Musée Jean-Jacques Rousseau, http://museejjrousseau.montmorency.fr/fr

    Parc de l’Abbaye de Maubuisson, old abbatial park, nice, http://www.valdoise-tourisme.com/diffusio/fr/voir-faire/nature/st-ouen-l-aumone/parc-de-l-abbaye-de-maubuisson_TFO106590495640.php

    There is a long list indeed, but all very nice, and some spectacular, you will have a good guide toget you started while in the Ile de France region,where Versailles and Paris for example are. Cheers

    Fondest memory: walking playing, jogging, just been royal at the gardens of Chateau de Versailles, my home of almost 10 years. Visiting and helping on my first one, whre my wife is from the region in Fontainebleau,and on her native town gardens of Bossuet, Meaux.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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    car rental, snorkeling in St Barths

    by gwened Written Aug 14, 2012

    Favorite thing: it is a hilly island, but very nice and very chic. walking in city center is easy, to go elsewhere a scooter will help.

    I am sure a cab hire will do this for the right price,never done it. I use the scooter or rent a mini
    here more info
    http://www.sbhonline.com/St-Barts-Car-Rentals/St-Barts-Car-Rental.html

    it gives you infor on all your questions, Ihave been there long in 2002 and before but wonderful part of my France

    Cheers

    Fondest memory: snorkeling and driving the mini all over the island

    Related to:
    • Diving and Snorkeling
    • Water Sports
    • Beaches

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    What to do with families-Limoges

    by gwened Written Jul 16, 2012

    Favorite thing: http://www.visiter-malin.fr/page6.html

    its in French but has it all from the tourist office, if need help or have something in particular let me know

    Cheers

    Fondest memory: walking inner city, visiting the cathedral and trip to porcelain house like De Havilland

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Arts and Culture

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    Orange

    by traveldave Updated Jul 14, 2012

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: The Provençal village of Orange has nothing to do with the color or the fruit. Instead, it derives from Arausio, the name of the Celtic god of water.

    Orange was colonized by Julius Caesar's Second Gallic Legion in 35 B.C. Although originally called Arausio by the Romans, at some point its name became Orange. The town became an important economic and political center, and was the capital of an area that is now northern Provence. The Visigoths sacked the town in 412 A.D. as Rome's hold over its empire weakened.

    In the fourth century Orange became a bishopric, and in the twelfth century it became a minor principality, the Principality of Orange, that was a fief of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1544 Orange was incorporated into the holdings of William the Silent, Count of Nassau. Since William the Silent was Dutch, Orange became Dutch territory.

    The town was badly damaged during the Wars of Religion in the late 1500s when the Roman Catholics and Protestants fought for control of France. In 1672, Orange fell to the forces of King Louis XIV of France during the Franco-Dutch War. It was formally ceded to France in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht which ended that war.

    Nowadays, Orange is renowned for the number and quality of Roman ruins in and around the city, including this amphitheater, called the Théâtre Antique d'Orange, which is still used today for concerts and plays. The Roman ruins of Orange are described as the most impressive still existing in Europe.

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    Menton

    by traveldave Updated Jul 13, 2012

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: The French Riviera is dotted with small picturesque villages, such as Menton. Often referred to as the "Pearl of France," Menton is known for its lemon trees (and a lemon festival). It is a lovely village of about 29,000 that is right on the French-Italian border, which is within walking distance.

    The first settlement at the site that would one day become Menton was established in the eleventh century, when the Count of Ventimiglia built the Château de Puypin on Pépin Hill, northwest of the town's modern center. The region around the chateau became the Seignury of Puypin, but in the thirteenth century the Seignury of Puypin fell to Genoa and became part of the Republic of Genoa.

    In 1346, Menton was acquired by Charles Grimaldi, the Lord of Monaco, and the town was ruled by the princes of Monaco until the time of the French Revolution. After the French Revolution, Menton was annexed by France. However, in 1814 it was included in a reconstituted principality of Monaco which itself became a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia.

    In 1848, Menton seceded from Monaco due in part to a tax the principality imposed on lemon exports. The town declared itself a free city, but was not able to make a go of it on its own. In 1850, it put itself under the protection of the Kingdom of Sardinia once again, and was ruled by the House of Savoy for the next ten years.

    In an 1860 plebiscite, the citizens of Menton voted overwhelmingly to be annexed by France. By the late nineteenth century, tourism had become a major part of the local economy. English and Russian aristocrats settled in the town and built lavish hotels, villas, and palaces. Nowadays, Menton is still a popular town for tourists visiting the French Riviera, as well as the nearby Italian Riviera.

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    Avignon

    by traveldave Updated Jul 13, 2012

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Located in southern France, Avignon is one of the few French cities that still retains its original ramparts and historic center. It is often referred to as the "City of Popes" because of the presence of popes and antipopes (claimants to the Papacy in opposition to legitimately elected popes) during the Roman Catholic schism in the twelfth century.

    Avignon was first settled by members of a Gallic tribe called the Cavares (sometimes written as Cavaris) who called their settlement Avenio. Throughout the following centuries, the town was conquered and controlled by the Romans, the Goths, the Seracens, and the Franks. Avignon became part of the Holy Roman Empire in 1033, and in 1251 it was absorbed into the Kingdom of Arles.

    In 1309, Pope Clement V fled political turmoil in Rome and chose Avignon as his residence. The city therefore became the seat of the Papacy, rather than Rome, causing a schism in the Roman Catholic church. Between 1309 and 1377, seven French-born popes resided in the city. Avignon remained a possession of the Papacy until 1791, at which time it was incorporated into France as a result of the aftermath of the French Revolution.

    Avignon's most notable attraction is the Pont d'Avignon (pictured here), more properly called the Pont Saint-Bénézet, made famous by the French nursery rhyme, Sur le Pont d'Avignon. The 2,953-foot (900-meter) bridge was constructed in about 1350. All but four of its original 18 spans were washed away during a flood in 1669. The small Romanesque chapel of Saint-Bénézet stands on one of the remaining spans.

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    Answer to a Question about French People

    by riorich55 Written Jul 5, 2012

    Favorite thing: My wife and I have been to Paris twice now, the first time in 2008 and and second in April of this year. A couple of brief stories.

    2008 - We arrived at Gare du Nord from London. We next had to buy SNCF train tickets for the RER, but having American non-chip credit cards and no Euros I had to wait in line to purchase tickets. It was about 11:40 a.m. when I got into line. At 11:55 a.m. the only window line shut down when the lady closed the window. I asked someone what was going on and someone in the line said it was her lunch break. About 12:05 p.m. another window opened with another person. So for 10 minutes we just all stood around. When I got to the head of the line 5 minutes later I wanted to ask for some RER tickets and a carnet of Metro tickets. She must have heard only the RER part so only gave me the RER tickets. When I said I wanted Metro tickets (I think I just held up 10 fingers and said Metro, she sighed, rang up that sale and all was well.

    Other then that experience everyone else was great. We loved the all-evening experience at some of the less well known, but still very nice restaurants. The only one we weren't that crazy about, was one of the name chef restaurants which I thought was a little snooty. The shops were great and we enjoyed the free day in the Louvre even though it was a little bit more crowded then usual.

    We departed by train out of Gare d' est to Bern and spent a delightful couple of hours in the car we were riding in with about 35 4 or 5 year olds and their teachers. They sang songs to us when we asked and we enjoyed watching them interact with each other.

    Fast Forward to April, 2012 - Our second trip to Europe and another 4 days in Paris. We arrived from London this time at Orly. This airport was a breeze and since we were a bit more familiar with arriving in Paris I quickly changed some leftover Swiss Francs from our last trip at the exchange and then went to the ticket area to buy our Orly Express and RER tickets to central Paris. They had two young men at the desk to buy tickets and both spoke English very well (one with a British accent). Took probably about 30 minutes to get to our final destination.

    Wonderful lunch the next day with some VTer's, some great dinners once again. Springtime in Paris found us spending more time in parks which were an absolute delight.

    We still only know a few words of French, but everyone at the hotel was very helpful, the wait staff in restaurants is 2nd to none and everyone seems to really enjoy life.

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    • Photography

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  • gwened's Profile Photo

    sorting mobile phones costs and usages

    by gwened Written May 31, 2012

    Favorite thing: I have blackberry and use Orange in France, when travel its very cost effective for me. it change per country with the local provider like Vodacom in South Africa.

    Cant tell if other option is cheaper. However, buying a SIM card will give you the same roaming charges if go from Germany to France. The card is good cheaper for in country use.
    You can get a SIM card in France for as little as 10 euros or a mobicarte prepaid phone for 19 euros at Orange.
    you have the stores by area bottom of link orange ,and they do speak English
    http://agence.orange.fr/

    I suggest to bring you own, and then discuss the issue in country with a mobile phone outifit. Germany is T Mobile the best.
    http://www.telekom.de/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/WFS/EKI-TELEKOM-Site/de_DE/-/EUR/ViewCategoryTheme-Start?KeywordPath=katalog%2Ffuer-privatkunden%2Fallgemeines%2Fkontakt

    sorry cant make it shorter but the link above is in German contact page for them, I am sure they can undertand English.

    Hope it helps

    Fondest memory: phoning home and around

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    drive and do laundry in the city-Strasbourg

    by gwened Written Apr 14, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: no restriction on driving; just go to AAA and get a IDP that translates your DL into several languages in case police stop you ,give the IDP not your original license.
    rentals car broker dealing with all majors but better prices
    www.autoeurope.com
    www.kemwel.com

    laundromat in Strasbourg here is one not too far, go out of train station gare and turn right
    http://www.laverie-strasbourg.com/

    Hope it helps

    Fondest memory: petite France area, and the Cathedral.Plus drinking good white Alsacien wines.

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  • Why U need to learn foreign language during Travel

    by AlleyJ Written Apr 10, 2012

    Favorite thing: I am nature lover. I liked long sandy beaches, Loire castles, battlefields, Scenery etc...

    Fondest memory: It was an amazing experience. Although I was great but I was fearful about the language problem since I only speak English. My journey was about to start in after 3 days and there is no escape out from it. It was useless to join any language classes or to do language-learning course online at the last moment. So I downloaded some of the language learning apps on my iPad. One app, which helped me a lot, was Hello-Hello French. I was able to establish successful communication in restaurant and on airport. There are total 30 lessons from which I can practice and wonderful flashcards helped me to know the native names of food, apparels etc. I enjoyed a lot there and did shopping for my husband and children. :) I will definitely recommend this app ans yes plz plz do visit France. Its amazing!! :)

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  • gwened's Profile Photo

    contact Orange for SIM cards in France

    by gwened Written Feb 11, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: get it at any mobile phone provider Bouygues, SFR or Orange. I use Orange. very easy
    http://agence.orange.fr/search?query=paris&st_like%5BSERVICES%5D%5B%5D=%25
    have location Paris

    hope it helps

    Fondest memory: stay in touch with loves ones while walking all over...

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    • Arts and Culture
    • Museum Visits

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    MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES IN FRANCE

    by balhannah Written Sep 20, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: "Most beautiful villages in France," is the name of a great website I found when planning our road-trip of France. The website contains a list of 156 MBVillages in France. We went to many, and found they were just as described, and yes, they were beautiful!

    The website tells you about the town, it gave me the village website url, this was very helpful!
    It also includes 'must sees' and 'must do's' and quite often photo's and information on surrounding towns.

    I found it an excellent website, and tried to fit as many of these villages in our route as possible!
    Check it out..........

    http://www.les-plus-beaux-villages-de-france.org/en

    Related to:
    • Road Trip

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