another trip! on the road again: more random thoughts and observations

Books, schedules and clippings are all over the dining room table, the air is crisp, and we've made some (but not yet all) of our reservations. For a change, the trip will include Paris, and this time we'll be heading south from Paris, flying home from Nice. This is a great time of year for the Riviera - the sun is still shining, the summer vacationers are back at work or school, and the restaurants are still open.

Each time we plan a trip, I look at what I did right and what I missed on a few previous trips. Here are my notes from the trip this past June:
  • as usual, allowed self to be misled by weather reports. The only accurate description for the weather in England and northern-central France is changeable, unless there are snowbanks or floods, when it is Gawd-awful. As opposed to eastern Europe, where there are two kinds of weather: gray, and not-so-gray, with a week or two of summer. So I should have followed my mother's universal advice: bring a sweater. Glad I had the raincoat.
    • note to self: expect irrational weather, and pack accordingly. 
  • I stopped cooking with salt a long time ago on doctor's advice, and have found that real salt addicts add it at table anyway. Professional kitchens, of course, use lots of salt, and I remember to offset this by drinking lots of water. Nevertheless, it takes a toll on me. Thus, every time the tele-news reported on the suffering of French farmers under a terrible drought last June, I felt guilty for retaining so much water. 
    • note to self: bring a pair or two of pants one size up, in the hope that I won't notice the "retention" so much.
concept bijoux at Colette
  • Unusually, while in Paris, we did not browse at Colette, which is the concept store of concept stores, and is enjoyable on many levels, even if you're not a shopper. Even himself enjoys the choice of vinyl records, odd books, jewelry for men your mother would faint at the thought of your knowing... and the women's things and the make-up room are TDF. This past June, however, the entire store seemed to be devoted to PENNY LOAFERS. Been there, done that, don't need the t-shirt. Authentic Bass, designer pale pink suede, whatever, all over, and we only had a few days in Paris. Came home to see gazillions of made-in-China copies of French copies of US originals. Please.
    • note to self: Don't miss Colette!
bread at Fauchon
  • We had, as previously posted, some extravagantly wonderful meals.  Guess what: we're going to do it again! The rest of the time, we ate very modestly. There was an Eric Kayser bakery near our hotel -- these days Kayser's near most hotels, and where he isn't, Paul is -- and since our food budget was primarily dedicated to dinner! dinner! dinner!, our breakfasts were coffee and croissants or other breakfast rolls. Our lunches were baguette sandwiches, except for one day when we were feeling a bit tired and foie-gras-deprived, walked into Fauchon, bought a chunk of foie gras, a gorgeous baguette, and a bottle of chilled champagne and devoured same in our hotel room,  simultaneously putting feet up for a well-deserved rest.
    • note to self: more than one restaurant dress in case of attacks of sloppery.
    • note to self: remember to bring bottle-opener!
  • For the Riviera part of the trip - light jacket. For Paris (and there may be some time in Brussels again; working on that), raincoat and possibly a black cashmere Donna Karan wrap coat which weighs nothing and goes over everything. 
    • note to self: wonder if there'll be time to get to Loehmann's before trip. That coat was the find of the (last) century. 
    • note to self: get started on the find of this century!
lovers celebrate their commitment
by locking a lock onto a
bridge & throwing key into river 
  • What I missed in Paris: the bridges with the lovers' locks! This time I want (a) to get to one (b) when it's not raining and (c) get a kind tourist to take a picture of us on it. No matter how Himself cringes. I know he's really a romantic at heart.
    • note to self: put on make-up every day, just in case, no matter how boring a chore it is.
    • also, look for holiday cards at Louvre gift shop and cute graphic tees for littlest friends at Comédie Française gift shop - good quality, not all over the place, and do not develop holes.

  • Late October is game season for many delicious beasts and birdies that we don't get to taste at home, which is another reason why this is a great time to travel. 
        • note to self: brush up vocabulary so we don't wind up trying to order the unicorn.

More to come. Meanwhile, scouring Google for article on How to Pack for 3 or 4 Different Climates and Greatly Varying Events Without Layering Up to Resemble Michelin Man or Carrying Bag to Resemble Lost Backpacker.  Real-life example: day begins with a live poultry market in the countryside followed a visit to a wonderful privately endowed museum followed by a stroll through pictureseque quarter followed by dinner at 3-star restaurant followed by checking in to v.elegant hotel that happened to be on our discount travel site.... would be haunted by female ancestors if wore jeans and cute leather jacket everywhere. Male ancestors, of course, wouldn't even notice.


  1. Sounds like a great trip, can't wait to read all about it and see the photos. I'm envious of your stop in Brussels, I have friends there and I'm trying to find the time to make it back. Will live vicariously through you this time.

    The lovers' locks is a Budapest phenomenon as well, but to a lesser degree. Amazing bridges there though.

  2. Have a great trip! You crack me up!

  3. All very sensible 'notes to self'. On our visit to Paris a few years ago I was determined not to look like a tourist so the packing was difficult but well worth it: it felt so much nicer, fitting in withe the locals...until I opened my mouth!

  4. October in France sounds so very amazing. I am going to settle for a few days at Venice Beach and Disneyland, courtesy of frequent flyer miles. Have fun!

  5. I always find it hardest to narrow down the shoes to 3 pair, and choose only ONE handbag for a 2 week European visit. And I think one really cute leather jacket and the jeans (and a black pair of pants-one size too big), and a flowy silk skirt are the only bottoms you need for a city.
    The Riviera would require one cute pair of shorts (khaki), and a maillot, and a large long sleeve shirt that doubles as a cover-up for beach.
    Oh yeah, and what mom said!

  6. xoxo, I love the bridges in Budapest, somehow we never get back there. Not that I'm complaining.

    Rose, thanks, I love travel, hate packing, so this is a great way to vent.

    Trish, I always sneered when I was told that algebra would be useful (not really, I've actually run into people who think I'm a genius for knowing about the Decimal Point). The real life-blessing event in junior high school was a French teacher who believed in beginning with phonetics.

    Dinster, I love Venice Beach. In my next life I will own a small house on the beach (no small beach homes left on Long Island, alas).

    Carol, no sun-bathing this time, we'll be around on the days some great museums are open and this time I'm not going to miss them!

  7. Southern Belle Ph.D.September 20, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    WFF, I am sooooo looking forward to your trip reports just as I was in June. We are building that beach house so NO trips on the horizon for us! Please provide delicious detail!

    Oh, I read on the JCA blog today that a couple of JCAs have just written books. I was soooo sure you were one of them. I know it will be any day now.

  8. It sounds wonderful. But, you should consider coming to Italy, the weather is much more predictable!

  9. SouthernBelle, too flattering! But I do love some fine cooking!

    Cris, we started out our planning with "How about we drive east from Venice," and went around humming the song from Kiss Me Kate for days! ("We open in Venice, we next play Verona, then on to Cremona, our next jump is Padua....") And then, because every time I'm in Italy everything but Vatican City is on strike but only while I'm there, we wound up... the rest is history.

  10. Hope your trip is lovely! I am packing for an Italian sojourn soon and I wish some one would just take over here. Shoes for walking are the hardest. What are you walking in these days?

  11. I went to Paris in June and looooooved it. Now I wish I could go back with you so you can show me all the fnatastic places I've missed!

  12. Hi, Lane, I got lucky at the Woodbury Common outlets a year ago -- Tod's was having some kind of clean-out sale and they had a pair of black leather lace-up walking shoes with a wedge sole/heel in my size. After I bought those I went back to the city, figuring I'd used up all my shopping karma for the day. I found another pair on clearance at Zappos for close to the outlet price. I've also found the Madewell sidewalk wedge v. comfortable.

    Enjoy your trip! (when the packing fairy's done at your house, send her on to mine, please)

  13. Hi, Lisa, one of the wonderful things about Paris is that there's always something to discover, it's just surprises and secrets... and food. Always food. OK, getting hungry.


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