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With Christmas well and truly over, we recently had the luxury of spending a few days at home with our Kiwi travelling companions, Roger and Frances. On their previous visit from LA in August, we sat down over a good old Kiwi-style lunch ( Annabel Langbein’s bacon and egg pie and Jo Seagar’s lemonade scones), and set about trying to create our itinerary - four weeks on the road in France, beginning with another cool ride on the Eurostar to Paris, where will start the trip with a much-anticipated four day stay.

However, deciding where to go after Paris was the challenge - should we scoot across to Honfleur, St Malo, or Mont-St Michel (after visiting Monet’s Gardens at Giverny), or should we head straight on down to the Loire?  From the Loire, should we continue on down to the Dordogne or across to Burgundy? Perhaps we could go from the Loire to Languedoc and then down to Provence and the Riviera? So much to see, so little time … but this is where both contacts and research are worth their weight in gold. When our friends returned to Los Angeles in August, the itinerary was still up in the air, and we all vowed to put together some ideas on how the trip should play out.

In the ensuing months I sought advice from Michele at Eurovillas and Tours, with whom we booked the Tuscan villa in beautiful Radicondoli (in 2012). She is an absolute mine of information providing ideas on where to begin, where to stop, where not stop, and offering advice which helped to shape an itinerary which flows…simple things, like keeping one night stop-overs to a minimum and pointing out the value of taking a Eurolease car rather than a rental (this is a great idea by the way, and one we embraced, and latterly have booked).

After just one email outlining our possible routes, Michele had provided informative brochures describing tried and true places – endorsed in the main from her personal experience. I discovered beautiful little Provencal towns, I had never heard of -   Eygalieres, and Callas for example, which offer the most beautiful accommodation for a relaxing week in the June sun. I was able to forward all the information and accommodation brochures to LA for approval and before we knew it, everything was booked!

By the time Roger and Frances returned to visit a couple of weeks ago, our itinerary just needed some fine tuning – where should we stay in London for instance, what London show we should see, and on what days should we do the celebrated tourists sites once in Paris etc? ( Versailles for instance is closed on Mondays).

Our final itinerary is based, for the most part, on the first half of a 3 weeks road trip outlined by Rick Steves and Steve Smith in France 2012, and we will be staying in accommodation recommended by Eurovillas, all of which we have found to be very well reviewed on Trip Advisor.  To ensure we would have current information,  I pre-ordered the 2014 edition of Rick Steves’ book, and as luck would have it, I received it on Friday, just in time to share it this morning with Roger and Frances. They are on their way back to LA, but we managed a final trip review over a leisurely morning tea on the deck, this time with delicious Ministry of Food cheese scones and Annabel Langbein’s divine Choconut slice.  Not only that, Roger bought us a gift – a stunning photographic publication called Destination Paris.. just to whet our appetites even more – in fact, I am about to dip into now….

Destination Paris

Note: Rick Steves’ website has recently been revamped and is even more informative now than previously. Take a look the all-new site here with the fantastic addition of “Watch, Read, Listen” where you can view free, full-length TV shows, on demand. It is a fantastic resource!

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