David and Ginna Zoellner love to travel. We live in Nice, France, half the year; the other half we live near Chicago, Illinois. We do 'home-exchanges' to explore other areas as well as taking normal trips. We'd like to share some of our experiences with you.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Paris, Arles, the Camargue, Nice with Grandsons March 2007

We headed from Nice to Paris on Sunday, arriving on a cold and somewhat drizzly day. We found our hotel, the Hotel de l'Elysee - Faubourg St. Honore, in the 8th arr., a great location close to the 1st and a charming place. It's next to the Department of the Interior Ministry, so lots of police around and very safe. We headed right out to Chai 33, a restaurant recommended by a friend, Gail Coe. It's located in the interesting area of Bercy where there are old warehouses that were used for storage of all the wines brought in from the surrounding regions. One hundred years ago it was just beyond the Paris city limits, so there was no tax and it was a prime location for distribution. Now all the warehouses are shops and restaurants. Not a must see in Paris, but interesting.

We met up with our daughter Jenny, husband Glen, and the 2 grandboys, Matt and Alex, that evening. They were pretty late getting in, so we settled for a glass of champagne at the Bristol Hotel, a gorgeous place just around the corner from our hotel.

The next morning we met at 10:30 on the line for the Eiffel Tower. We took the elevator, a somewhat scary ride, to the 2nd level. The "kids" all opted to continue to the 3rd level, but we "old folks" stayed behind. The views of Paris are stunning, even with a bit of mist in the air. Afterwards we all enjoyed lunch at the restaurant on the Tower, Altitude 95.

We next headed to the nearby docks of the sightseeing boats on the Seine. We boarded and spent a delightful hour cruising the river. The sun had come out and it turned into a beautiful day. The cruise gave us an overview of Paris from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame. Afterwards we walked back to the Champs Elysee and stopped at Laduree for 'tea', consisting of wine and macaroons. Laduree is a lovely restaurant, founded in 1862, and it is easy to imagine the carriages pulling up with the ladies in their long dresses, stopping for afternoon tea with friends.

The next day we had a rendez-vous at Roland Garros at 10:50. We went out on the Metro and arrived early to wander around the grounds, stopping for a drink at the cafeteria under Suzanne Langlen Stadium. Our tour guide, Eric, from Reunion, was very interesting and informative. We visited the interview rooms, the locker rooms, and both Suzanne Langlen (who never lost a match her whole career!) and Phillippe Chartrier Stadia. The seats in PC go for 10,000 euro a week! Roland Garros is not a club; only people ranked in the top 100 may play here, although there are clinics for young players. Everyone did a bit of damage in the gift shop!

We headed back to the city center, stopping for lunch at a quaint and friendly Italian place. Next stop was Notre Dame. The kids hoped to climb up the stairs but the wait was too much. After circling the cathedral, we walked all the way back to our hotel. We stopped along the way to admire the Louvre and to have some ice cream.

The next morning we boarded the TGV at the Gare de Lyons with the boys and headed home to Nice. We ate lunch on the train and enjoyed the scenery. We arrived home late afternoon, had pizza and raspberry tart for dinner, and fell into bed.

Two days later we started our road trip, stopping along the way for a big lunch. Matt had gambas and Alex had a steak and fries. Our first destination was the 12th century walled town of Aigues Mortes where we had booked into La Villa Mazarin in a restored 15th century house. The hotel is watched over by 2 beautiful Siamese cats, a couple. We settled into our huge room with its very modern bathroom and then the boys took a long swim in the beautiful 'infinity' pool while David relaxed in the jacuzzi. Later we headed out to walk around this town which was founded by Louis IX, later St. Louis. It is the place from which he started out on his Crusade. We had supper at Coco's, just pizza and chocolate mousse.

Breakfast the next morning was in the delightful and bright glassed-in breakfast room. Then we walked all the way around the ramparts, climbing a few of the turrets, and admiring the views of the sea, the tiled roofs, and the river. Next we got in the car and headed to the Pont du Gard. It was raining but we walked out to the site and admired the 2000 year old remains of this beautiful Roman aqueduct. Afterwards we stopped in town for lunch and then headed on to Arles.

In Arles we found our lovely 15th century hotel, L'Arlatan, situated close to the Place du Forum. In the lobby there is a glass floor where one can look down to the Roman ruins below! We checked in and found our wonderful room, sort of a room and a half, with the boys in the sitting area with their own TV. Another beautiful place with great old armoires, beamed ceilings, and lovely drapes.

It was still raining, so we grabbed our umbrellas and walked up to the Roman Arena. It was too late to enter, so we continued walking around, locating the Roman Theater, Place de la Republique where we checked out 12th century Romanesque St. Trophime Church. We had a nice dinner near the Place du Forum, with Alex trying pork with a madeira sauce which he loved! Then home to bed.

The next day we had breakfast in the charming breakfast room at the hotel, with breakfast served on Villeroy & Boch. A typical French breakfast of juice, coffee or hot chocolate, and lots of breads and jams. Next we headed back to the Arena which we explored in the cold and rain. They were preparing it for bull fights the next weekend and we could imagine the animal fights the Romans viewed there. Next we found a taxi to take us out to the Ancient History Museum, well worth the trip. The boys thought this was the most interesting thing on the whole roadtrip with the beautiful mosaic floors, models of all the Roman ruins we were seeing, maps showing Roman towns and territories, and so on. Alex was intrigued by the hand-blown glass. David and the boys had supper in the yellow cafe painted by van Gogh, right on Place du Forum.

The next day, finally a gorgeous one, naturally was the day we headed back to Nice. We got there in time to join Jenny and Glen for lunch. They took the boys shopping afterwards while we headed home to rest! Jenny and Glen were staying at the Negresco, so delivered the boys back to us in time for bed.

The next day we went to Biot to see glass being blown. We thought this would be a good idea since Alex was so interested at the museum in Arles. Everyone really enjoyed watching this craft being done pretty much the same as it was 2000 years ago. In Biot we explored the weekly market and had a wonderful lunch.

Our last day we went to St. Jean Cap Ferat and walked along the sea walk. The day was gorgeous, the views spectacular, and we worked up an appetite for lunch on the terrasse at the Cadillac. Then home for desserts from the patisserie and some lovely Italian dessert wine. A fitting end to our time together.


Post a Comment

<< Home