February 23, 2017 11:30 am Vive La France and Friend of a Friend Consulting
Written by Marianne Riess
Some destinations never grow old. For me, that destination is France. I am always happy to go back.
In October of 2014, my husband and I took a trip to Paris and Normandy. We arrived and spent four days in Paris, visiting the familiar and the new. My desire was a small boutique hotel on the Left Bank – Hotel Montelambert was perfect. The Louvre, Notre Dame, Musee d’Orsay, the Tuileries Gardens, and Place de la Republique were all in walking distance, as were wonderful bistros and cozy restaurants. We ate delicious food and took lots of walks in the St. Germain area.
Our next move was to Chartres, a medieval cathedral town that had meant so much to me on my first visit, so many years ago. As we drove towards the area, we could see the cathedral from miles away. It still dominates the landscape, a etestimony to those workers who, centuries ago spent their entire lives working on it as an expression of faith.
Normandy was a new experience. After Saving Private Ryan and so many moving ceremonies, how could we not visit Omaha Beach? We spent half a day with an incredible guide who took us to the beaches, the American Cemetery, Pointe du Hoc, and when we showed interest, the German Cemetery as well. We stood in a German bunker, facing the ocean, imagining the Allied Fleet materializing out of early morning fog. At Pointe du Hoc, we visualized American Rangers, scaling the impressive cliff, under grueling fire.
Port-en-Bessin was the nearby town, and the hotel, Chateau de Chenevieres, was set in such beautiful countryside, with luxurious rooms facing rose gardens. The restaurant was exquisite; we learned to love cheese as dessert, and oh, the French cheese! We also visited the nearby picturesque town of Bayeux to view the medieval tapestry, and cathedral.
Next, a short drive to Mont St. Michel, a monastery on a promontory surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Not that long ago, visitors had to watch the tides. Mont St. Michel could only be accessed in low tide; they had to leave before high tide stranded them. Now there is a causeway, so one can go there anytime. Lots of climbing to reach the top, beauty everywhere, another testament to medieval faith.
Then, still in Normandy, we drove on to Honfleur, a picturesque fishing town. Another wonderful hotel, Ferme San Simeon sat just above the town. More delicious food, both in Honfleur and in surrounding towns of Deauville and Trouville – the farmers’ markets sold such fresh fish, even naming the boat that had brought in a particular fish. Wonderful small restaurants; everything was so fresh and good.
Back in Paris, we stayed at another boutique Left Bank hotel, Relais Christine. We did lots more walking, saw more sights, had more cozy dinners. We hated to leave France.
The trip was arranged by Meg Nolan of Friend of a Friend Consulting. Meg listened to our ideas and refined the destinations. She arranged the flights, the hotels, the car rental with European GPS, and the guide for Omaha Beach. She recommended wonderful restaurants in all our stops. We never had to think about what to do on a given day yet we had lots of choices. I have now taken two trips arranged by Meg. She is my go-to on trips. I wouldn’t think of traveling without her guidance and help. If you like worry and hassle–free travel, picturesque small hotels, and perfect recommendations, talk to Meg Nolan at Friend of a Friend Consulting, before your next trip. All you’ll need to do is pack your clothes and grab your passport.
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