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A whirlwind tour de France!

Paris at dusk

Carrie Meyer from New Jersey, USA and her family wanted to see as much as France as possible on their 10-day holiday. Here’s how the family of 5 saw 8 cities in 10 days…

Day 1: USA to Paris!

At 11:00pm Monday night, we left Newark, NJ on a nonstop flight to Paris – a 7 hour flight.

Day 2: Seeing the sights in Paris

It’s day 2 already, lunchtime in Paris. We head to Molitor Hotel in the 16th arrondissemont, a 15-minute taxi ride from the airport. Molitor has two swimming pools, an incredible history and ambience, and hosts art exhibitions and street art works. The rooftop bar has a view of many tennis courts and parks, and even the Eiffel Tower in the distance. We ate lunch poolside, then unpacked and settled into our rooms. Later we walked less than a mile to Mon Bistrot on Rue Marcel Dassault in Boulogne-Billancourt, where we sat on the street and enjoyed friendly service and traditional French cuisine.

Day 3: Bobbing about on the Seine

We walked .5 mile to the metro and got off at the Champs- Elysées stop. For the next few hours we browsed, working up a thirst for thé glacé à la menthe at Cafe Joyeux, a cheery cafe whose ambition is to “make disability visible and promote encounters, by offering work, in an ordinary environment, to people normally excluded from employment.” We browsed a bit more, stopped for wine and pizza, and then split into two teams: one continued to walk the side streets of Champs-Elysées and the other took a taxi to Notre Dame and St. Chapelle.

Tip:  Carry your passport with you so that if you make a purchase over 100 Euros, the store can fill out a reimbursement form with you.

After meeting back at the hotel for a swim, we took a taxi to Bateaux Parisienne, a Seine River dinner cruise in an all-glass boat with traditional French cuisine and evening views of more than 10 monuments.

Day 4: Bayonne

 

A bientot, Paris! We took a taxi to Gare Montparnasse to board a 4 hour TGV ride to Bayonne. The TGV was 70 minutes late in leaving which activated the G30 guarantee and entitled us to a 25% ticket reimbursement. We exited Bayonne station and were greeted by throngs of lively red and white-clad celebrants of the Fetes de Bayonne. We drove to our gite in Osses, a village in Basque Country.

The view of the Pyrenees from our window was breath-taking, and the peaceful quiet was a welcome change from the bustle of Paris. A flock of sheep gathered under our deck that night, and it was so quiet we could hear the blades of glass being ripped from the earth by the hungry moutons. We learned that many of the owners of these farmhouses travel with their sheep higher into the mountains at this time of year to make sheep cheese, allowing the farmhouses to be rented out to travelers like us.

Day 5: Osses

Time to explore Osses! We walked down into the artisanal shops through the Pyrenees, passing hikers and bikers, old stone washing boards, a campground, sheep, horses, and pottok (a breed of pony that’s local to this area). We watched artists creating pottery at Poteries Goicoechea, sampled meats and cheeses at Ferme Arnabar, shopped for Espadrilles, and purchased a sac a pain made of 7-striped cloth representing the 7 Basque regions.

Day 6: Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

Listed as one of the “most beautiful villages in France,” our trip had to include a stop in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. We walked the cobbled Rue de la Citadelle, poking in and out of stores, restaurants, hotels, and the old prison. Les Recoltes Du Monde, filled with more spices than we ever knew existed, was a treat for the eyes and the nose.

Day 7: Biarritz

Time to trade in our walking shoes for a rented surfboard and head west to Biarritz. The views, the water, the shops, the restaurants, and the people made this a spectacular afternoon. We spent most of the day soaking in the sun and recovering from all our walking in Osses.

Day 8: Hondarribia – over the border to Spain!

Being so close to the Spanish border was exciting, so we drove from Osses to Hendaye to wait for a ferry to take us to Hondarribia for 2 Euros, no passport necessary. We ate tapas, drank sangria, and shopped before returning to Hendaye to swim.

Day 9: Tours, Loire Valley

With only one full day left in France, we returned to Gare Bayonne for another TGV to St Pierre des Corps in the Loire Valley (it’s then a short train ride to Tours on the local line). It’s a beautiful city on La Loire, the longest river in France. We had a glass of rosé in Place Plumereau – voted favourite best place for cocktails by the French!

Day 10: Au revoir, la France!

We boarded a TGV to Massy and took a bus to Orly airport for a 6pm flight back to Newark where we landed before 9pm.

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