Subject: Re: Provence/Paris-Solo Traveler- Help!

You wrote: Paris -- Would appreciate recommendation for charming hotel, Left Bank, 2-3 **, comfortable size/amenities ; well located to metro &local shops -- with balcony/view if possible. Time permitting -- am planning side trips to Giverny &Versailles. Worthwhile??

A very consistent recommendation is the Hotel Des Grande Ecoles. It is a 2** hotel at 75 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine in the 5th arrondissement. Metro is Cardinal Lemoine. Phone is It is near the Place de la Contrescarpe which has one of Paris's largest street markets (Rue Mouffetard). The hotel is comprised of 3 buildings set back from the street surrounding a very pleasant garden. In 1997, the rates were 500-600 FFr/night.

I have been to both Giverny and Versailles and enjoyed them both very much. Each are very easy to get to via the train from Paris. But timing can really enhance your visits. For Versailles, go on a Sunday to ensure that you will see the Fete de L'Eau when they turn on the awesome fountains and play Baroque music while you stroll the grounds. I recommend doing the Chateau either first thing in the a.m. or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Then spend the middle part of the day at the Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon and walking the grounds.

For Giverny, you can take the train to Vernon and then get a taxi. Monet's house and gardens are fabulous, but it very crowded once the tour buses start to arrive about 10 - 10:30 am. Try to arrive before then. I was pleased to observe as I walked through the village that Monet was not the only one who tended to his garden. I found many charming well-kept colorful displays. And do not leave without seeing the American Art Museum a short walk from Monet's house -

Bonne journee!

Mark Los Angeles, CA