Posts Tagged ‘France’

The weather could be lovely later this month in Nice, France.

It will definitely be better than here in Cincinnati — and Nice has a beach and a market and a Michelin-starred restaurant in town (with several more nearby) and a very close Matisse-designed chapel; BUT I can’t take time away to get there this year — drat!

My loss.  Your gain.

Here’s how I was putting together a last-minute, spectacular vacation.  Now it can be for you and a special friend.

To nip the winter blahs in the bud, either:

1) Grab your partner.  Go to the Air France Flying Blue (rewards) site with $500 and 50,000 points (or $900 and 87,500 points if you want to go over in Business Class for a better chance at getting some sleep.)  Find Air France Promo Awards — 12,500 points each way from Chicago to Europe on KLM.  The best flight still available is the  connection  through Amsterdam on KLM’s 747.  (Fly a 747 upstairs in Business Class before that experience is gone!)

Traveling directly to Nice, you miss Milan’s Christmas shopping — unless you rent a car and make the 4 hour drive into Italy.  Beware: you may head for Milan and get distracted by other attractions along the way.  But that’s another blog entry!

OR

2) Take one of the NYC to Milan flights (Alitalia or Delta) made cheaper this year by Emirates’s entry into that market.  Last time I looked Cincinnati to NYC in First and nonstop on to Milan (Delta/Alitalia)  in Business was $2400 per person or $1076 in coach out of Cincinnati on Air France/Delta.  From the East Coast it’s $605 each in coach out of Newark on United/Lufthansa or $721 on Emirates out of JFK.

Stay in Milan a couple days, then drive to Nice.  I was going to try the Hotel Suisse (on the coast) and the Hotel La Villa Nice Victor Hugo (in town) in Nice, but there are any number of hotel rooms in the area still open for Euros or points.  I saw a Le Meridien promo this week.  There’s one in Nice, or Le Meridien Beach Plaza is in Monte Carlo — another adventure not that far up the coast.

Have a great trip!

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Away from noise and crowds, but you can easily walk to either
Hotel de Brienne is clean, friendly, modern, and located on a quiet street. Mere blocks away are throngs of students in bars along the river or, in another direction, crowds of tourists (and locals) at the Place du Capitole. Go see both, but leave your car in the free hotel garage and walk.

HoteldeBrienne

Toulouse is on a big rebuild, so things along Rue D’Alsace Lorraine, the Hotel de l’Opera corner of Place du Capitole and over to Place Wilson are a little torn up.  The future in that central shopping area looks good — granite sidewalks and streets are on the way. Meanwhile, it’s another reason to stay a few blocks away and walk over from the Hotel de Brienne.

Parking at the hotel’s underground garage is tight — a reminder to rent a small car in Europe. If it’s not crowded when you arrive, back into your spot. You’ll be happier when it’s time to leave. There’s also more room outside in back.

I only wish the breakfast coffee had been better.

Best Rooms
Initially, we were concerned that Room 307 was right by the elevator. No worries. We heard nothing.  307 was remodeled, small but efficiently arranged.  Small windows facing the back.
Originally reviewed for Trip Advisor — October 6, 2012

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A Treat for Lunch.  Worth Finding.

My wife and I discovered O2 LA while heading back to our car after a morning walk around Nimes. We were first attracted to the tables outside under a canopy and trees on the Place Des Esclafidous. As we looked at the posted menu and the plaza, we were graciously welcomed. Yes, it was possible to get lunch and, yes, eating at a table on the plaza was encouraged. I’ve posted photos of our lunch plates, as it’s hard to describe how pretty they were, served on slate “plates.” I enjoyed a salad with slices of local ham. My wife had the salad of the day, which was topped with warm goat cheese wrapped in a small crepe.

Some hints on finding it: on Google Maps the street-level picture of Place Des Esclafidous shows the same place with the name “Gargantua” on the awning. I think Gargantua has moved. Next time I’m there, I’ll find out the details. Just look for Place Des Esclafidous and you’ll find it.

When I searched for O2 LA on the internet, I found it listed as an “oxygen bar” and also as gay friendly. Maybe later at night the place starts to swing. I probably won’t stay up late enough to find out the details of that. All I know is that we really enjoyed our luncheon salads.

Originally posted on TripAdvisor April 6, 2012

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Le 5eme Peche Collioure FranceWhile more casual than the area’s Michelin-starred restaurants, the chef’s dedication to his art shows star potential. At dinners, we have experienced top-notch ingredients prepared with care and challenging taste combinations, all beautifully plated. At lunch we were treated as a guest in the home of a great cook, even given recommendations of other delightful places. Not a place for tourists to fill up. There are larger portions for less money elsewhere in Collioure. This is a great experience for foodies.

Originally posted on TripAdvisor August 29, 2010

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