France Tour: Craig & Pat Catanzariti

Everything went off like clockwork

Hello Jerry, for the second year in a row I have the pleasure of writing to express Pat and my sincerest appreciation for your efforts in creating a wonderful tour and handling all of the details superbly. Everything went off like clockwork, every reservation and booking was exactly as planned. We are very pleased, again!
Unfortunately, we hit a lot of rain this time out but we didn’t let that stop us, we just had to work a little harder to see the sites! Paris is, well, Paris! Grand and, when the sun finally did come out late one afternoon, it was spectacular!
Normandy and especially St Lo were very pretty and very moving for Pat because that was where her father landed during the war. Seeing is was more important for her than she thought.
I waited 50 years to see le Mont St Michel and it did not disappoint. This is a not to be missed site in France and Europe.
Brittany is a wonderfully scenic place. Hardy people making a living off that rugged coast; see it was fascinating. They take their little boats in tight places, on some rough seas, in conditions I can’t believe.
I can go on and on, Guérande, La Rochelle, St Malo, Dinan, Cap de Hague, 100’s of truly wonderful places to see rain or no rain. I’m glad Jerry, that you and Umfulana helped us see them.
I highly recommend a GPS unit for anyone auto touring in Europe. Both Pat and I are very good at reading/ interpreting maps and developing routings but the GPS let us forget about how to get there and gave us more time to enjoy the trip.
The Yellow Van service from the airport to the hotel was reasonable and fast. I doubt we waited 10 minutes for the pickup. Great service at only 36 Euro for the 2 of us from CDG to the Louvre!
Paris, the hotel is exactly as described, nice, friendly and convenient to the Louvre, left bank and Notre Dame. The room was small, as expected, the breakfast so French that it had an accent and the staff absolutely wonderful. Norbert was spot on with his recommendations for dinner. This gentleman knows where to eat in Paris. If I travel to Paris again, I’ll pick this hotel just to dine under his tutelage!
Picking up the car at Gare du Nord was a bit of a challenge due to the language barrier but the staff was patient and understanding and we got through it in good fashion.
Rouen was a disaster, something was going on and we couldn’t buy a parking place. Pat was not very happy with my driving on the hilly and narrow city streets so we decided to move on.
The mansion at Bayeux and our hostess were a joy. The old manor house (but with all the creature comforts) suited our taste perfectly. The host is charming in a way only the French can be and made us feel truly at home.
The chateau of the Count at Mont St. Michel turned out to be our favorite stop of the trip. What a charming man and a courtly family house. We could have chatted away the entire stay in that wonderful dining room and still counted the trip a success! The real reason for the stop, le Mont St Michel is no slouch either. The Count also knows where to eat and what to see; ask for his advice and you won’t be disappointed.
At Pointe du Raz we had a stately older hotel, not a chateau as our previous stops but nice none the less. Great area, great history and scenery. Audierne is a picturesque port town and in the center of everything we wanted to see. Too many capes and points to see during our short stay and each prettier than the last. I learned that Brittany has its own language which they are working hard to preserve. Interesting tidbit that!
The mansion at Guérande is another gem. Guérande is a wonderful walled city with lots of opportunity for exploration. Our hostess was great and very accommodating. We truly enjoyed our stay and highly recommend both the town and the accommodation. We hit the Wednesday market and had a ball. I know it’s not French but the Paella from the stall near the side door of the church was fabulous! Get a few slices of his caramelized pork roast and a baguette for a picnic later!



La Rochelle and it’s environs have a lot to offer; plenty to see and do. I highly recommend the harbor and old town for lunch and a stroll. Great place to be, our B&B not so much.
Bordeaux was another charming older house (your description is somewhat over blown) with an outstanding hostess. You better be ready for wine country; the tastings start early and can be continuous is you let them! This is the center of the Medoc region with Bordeaux only a 30/45 minute drive. We highly recommend this small chateau; very comfortable, a little luxurious with a very accommodating, sweet heart of a proprietor.
Bordeaux airport, both for dropping off the car and travelling through was a breeze. Connecting through CDG Paris, was good, we were late inbound but still made our crossing flight with time to spare. Lots of terminals to navigate but still easier then Atlanta.
The only real disappointments of the trip were the rain, the food (I think I expected too much) and the accommodations near La Rochelle.
Rain or no rain, all in all a great trip!
Now for next year we would like to………………………………..
Craig & Pat, Paris IL

5/28/2009