Reminiscing About France

I’ve returned home and now I’m reminiscing.  Memory lane is a fantastic destination and one of the biggest joys of traveling.

This trip, I rediscovered Paris and visited cities I had never been to before.  It’s been at least 15 years since I’ve been to Paris and a lot has changed while some of the basics remained the same.

What has changed? The people were friendlier, more immigrants and people of different ethnicity’s, more American fast food chains (Starbucks is everywhere, practically one on every corner, along with McDonald’s, KFC, etc.), the French Franc is a thing of the past and it is quiet expensive (things are priced similar to the US Dollar but when you convert the Euro @ 1.34, you’re paying at least 30% more).

Paris is still romantic. A stroll along the Champ Elysee at sunset with the Arc De Triomphe in the distance.  Viewing the Eiffel Tower from afar and from the top looking out over the city. The gardens in Spring time with flowers in bloom.  Ascending to the top of Montmarte visiting Sacre Couer, sitting at a coffee shop and watching artists paint their surroundings and visitors.  Some of the best chocolate, Chocolate shops and Patisserie’s (you have to have macaroons, those pillowy pastries filled with cream in all sorts of flavors).  Some of the best dining in the world.  Our first night we went to Maison Blanche for a fine dining experience and a five course dinner.  The service was superb and I needed it because I was feeling down because my luggage did not arrive.  Phyllis and I had the best Chocolate Tart (I had to put it in caps because it was that good).  I had never had a tart like this.  It was dark chocolate, silky smooth, melt in your mouth, was decorated with edible gold and the crust was soft and buttery.  This was a perfect finale to an excellent meal and experience.  We finished out on the terrace with the Eiffel Tower illuminated in the background!  See what I mean? Just thinking about it now, I’m tasting and experiencing it all over again.

Champagne, Bordeaux & Cognac are places I had never been to before.  They exceeded my expectations!  Think about it…Champagne & Cognac are very small regions. Champagne is approximately 25,000 sq meters and Cognac is only 15.5 sq meters and they both are iconic,  producing world renowned products that have become household names.  When you visit them they are still very small.  I mean, you don’t see this large production area or facilities.  They have both kept their charm but as you drive through the towns you see these big names and producers of Champagne and Cognac that I liken to celebrity homes.  I’m less familiar with the products of Bordeaux except that Bordeaux is a variety but it too is small, 10,700 sq meters.  Absolutely loved Bordeaux.  A great walking town, pedestrian streets, excellent seafood, quaint and large shops, fashionable and classically dressed people.  I had this phenomenal warm goat cheese salad and duck confit at a restaurant just around the corner from our hotel along with a half bottle of champagne. That meal best describes Bordeaux, simple, classic and most enjoyable! It’s just a feel good, relaxing place.

On our last night back in Paris we did something very cliche and touristy but you just have to do it.  We took a dinner cruise along the Seine River.  When we boarded it was still daylight but that soon gave way to a beautiful sunset and the night.  Paris then becomes illuminated and even more romantic.  The boat is glass enclosed allowing for views all around.  We pass under bridges ornately decorated and structures along the river.  Also along the river are young people gathering for one of the first warm days of the year.  Some are coupled, some are just hanging out with friends and some have brought food and wine to enjoy.  There must have been thousands along the river route.  As young people often do some mooned us.  This was our farewell dinner and we had a four course dinner that was surprisingly good for a touristy river cruise. Each course was paired with wine as all of our meals were.  So, by the end there was dancing and it was apparent that everyone was having a good time.  It was sad and joyful at the same time.

Thank you to the WHUR World Tour group members for taking this experience with Advantage International and Thank you WHUR for allowing me to organize another WHUR World Tour.

Until we meet again.

Ja’Vonne Harley,
Co-Host, The Traveling Eye
Owner, Avantage International