Lily of the Valley-May Day in France
I'll be in France on May 1, France's National Labor Day and as always will enjoy marking this special day as the French do by buying a bouquet of "muguets" or lilies-of-the-valley.
France has many public holidays, and May Day in France is a favorite of mine. I love the way a holiday designed to respect French workers also has a special floral tradition. So very French. As I drive through the countryside on May 1, I'll see stands set up in the smaller towns with women selling a single spray of lily of the valley. Often this will be in a little tube of water so I can take it with me and keep the little bells and their sweet fragrance fresh. I always buy one for my loved ones and myself and enjoy it in the coming days.
And of course, for those of our clients who will also be France, remember, this holiday respects the worker and most stores will be closed. So plan early if you need to buy provisions.
A Favorite Paris Rental Returns
For many years we offered a beautiful one-bedroom apartment PA035 on Rue des Tournelles in the Marais. Clients loved it. Just two blocks from the famous Place des Vosges and on a quiet street with the bedroom facing a large internal courtyard, the location and setting were perfect! And the apartment itself was spacious and very attractive. And why not? It was, in fact, the very apartment the American owner lived in herself when she was in residence in Paris.
Clients loved it and gave it 5-star reviews.
Then, the owner's work schedule changed and instead of travelling regularly which gave us the chance to offer her apartment for rental, she was in permanent residence. Darn! We had to remove this lovely apartment from our listing.
But the good news is that we just got an email from her saying we could once again offer her apartment for rental this summer. So, if you are still looking for that perfect one-bedroom apartment (with sleeping for 3) then follow the link above, visit the property description and send us a request.
Taking Your Cell Phone to Europe
Did you know that the owners in Europe ask us for our client's cell phone number?
Most owners or keyholders do expect clients to have with them a mobile phone so that they can be called when they are enroute to the property for their arrival. So,not only do we give clients the owner's contact numbers, but we also give the owners the client's cell phone numbers, too.
On our booking form we ask: Will you have a cell phone overseas? Yet many clients don't initially plan to take their own cell phone with them. I highly recommend doing so. Here's why:
It is always good to have a mobile phone when travelling for calling owners if you'll be late, for possible car problems, and for any unforeseen situation. You'll feel better. Bringing your own phone is the easiest means of having one. YOu know how to use it, and you know the phone number so you can give it out even in advance. (If you rent a phone, you won't get the number until you receive the phone shortly before you leave on your trip.) And it isn't expensive to bring it... especially if you compare it to renting one.
I've written an article about how to keep your costs down using your own cell phone in Europe. Follow this link and then scroll down in the sidebar to see "Saving Money When You Take Your Smartphone Overseas".
How the TSA Made Me a Happier Traveller
I, for one, was delighted to read that the TSA will now allow airline travellers to take small folding knives with them on board airplanes. Why is this so very important to me? I have a love affair with Opinel knives. These are the folding knives you can buy in most French tabacs as well as in fine knife stores in France. I first learned of them on a trip to the Ile de Ré when a local fisherman introduced me to their special qualities:
1. The blade is made of carbon steel, which is the best metal for creating a sharp blade.
2. It has a handly little swizel that holds the blade in place when open so it won't accidentally fold close on you.
3. It folds neatly into its own wooden sheath.
And that is as high tech as I want for my knife. His parting words to me were, "Never let water touch it(it will rust)" He showed me how to wipe it on my pants leg. Ha!
They come in ALL sizes and I own several. I usually keep one in my purse-a habit I developed as a young college student in France. You never know when you need to slice a wedge of gruyère cheese and a baguette for your lunch. I am always prepared!
I TRY to remove my Opinel from my purse and put it into my suitcase, but occasionally I forget. Then I worry that TSA will find and confiscate it. Now.. I no longer need to do that.
4 Tips for Travelling with Children in the French Countryside
Many of our clients are now planning a trip to the French countryside "en famille", that is, with their children. Can this be a fun experience for both parents and children? The answer is a resounding "YES". Read our tips below and visit our newsletter article on Travelling with Children for more information.
1. Travelling in summer means you are in on vacation with the French and their families. So, it is holiday time! From mid June to end of August, there are tons of special events taking place. Travelling circuses, sound and light shows, music festivals, bull fights that are family-fun, historic festivals, etc. etc. All of this will be the case so long as you are going to places that are summer destinations like Provence, Brittany, Normandy, the Riviera, and the Ile de Re--exactly where we have our rentals. How do you find out about these? When you arrive at your destination, visit the local Tourist Office(there will be one in most larger villages) and check their calendar.
2. Even going out for a lovely lunch or dinner with the entire family will be fun. The French take their own children out to dinner and so restaurants are happy to welcome families. And in summer you can easily sit outside on an open patio. Here your children can have a bit more freedom than indoors to get up and stretch if neeeded.
Remember that lunches (from 12-2pm) are an easy way to enjoy a meal out with children--less expensive than dinner and an ideal way to spend the warmest part of the day.
3. Select just ONE place to visit on a given day and incorporate into that something fun for the children. So for example, in the south, visit the Pont du Gard (the tiered Roman acqueduct) and bring bathing suits and towels to swim in the river below. Or visit the Picasso chateau at Antibes and then swim at the beaches in Juan les Pins.
4. Be sure to set aside a half day to spend at the outdoor market in your area. These markets are like little festivals with lots of fun things to look at, charming cheap things to buy for children, good food to snack and sometimes even like music and street performers. My children always loved that.
Selected by T+L Magazine as A Top Villa Agency for France for the 3rd Time!
I'm proud to write that for the 3rd time we've been highlighted in Leisure + Travel magazine's Global Guide to Villa Rentals. Visit the March issue to read this terrific article by travel writer Bree Sposato.
In it, she offers several great questions to ask before you rent. One in particular is important to me. She says to find out if the bedrooms are equal in size. We often have groups of couples renting a large house in Provence and wanting to be sure that the bedrooms are equivalent. In our property descriptions you can clearly read what each bedroom is like. And, of course, if you need a little extra help, you can call us and talk right away with a live, knowledgable person. So take for example the "standout" property T+L lists for us. PR320 is a beautiful 5 bedroom/5 bath house outside St. Remy. But what are those bedrooms like? Unlike some websites that simply list the number of bedrooms, we clearly state that in this house 3 bedrooms are large suites with queen beds and and one is a bedroom with a double.
Our goal has always been to provide clear complete information so that our clients select the house that best meets their needs. When they arrive, the only surprise should be that the house is even better than they expected. This has been our philosphy since 1992 when I started this business.
or call (510) 559-8080. We look forward to helping you plan your trip!