Subject: Re: France itinerary
Hello Ziners,

In '99, a friend and I spent a couple of weeks driving around France, following a visit in London. It was November, and we loved it. Of course, only a fool would presume to predict the weather months ahead in any country, but we found it was marvelous seeing the hillside vineyards all turned golden in the sunshine.

We encountered very little rain and no severe cold. I had 2-1/2 weeks in France in May that year, and the contrasts of the seasons just made it all the more enjoyable, especially the little nip in the air and then going into our country inn to have tea and croissants (just out of the oven). Now there is enough serendipity for me right there. I've never met a croissant I didn't love, but those were not to be surpassed anywhere.

That was in the little town of Gevrey-Chambertin. There is not a lot there, but we did get to tour a centuries-old castle way up the hill that my friend had wanted to get into for years, but it had had several lives from monastery to wine barrel storage (according to villagers). It had an ancient wooden wine press sitting between the drive and the road. On this trip, the elderly woman resident was in the driveway when we stopped to look at the outside and offered to give us the tour "if you have 20 francs." She was quite the eccentric, which just made it all the more interesting. Since she had had the floors refinished, we had to stand on flat pads, sort of like bean bags, and scoot from one part of the rooms to the other so we wouldn't mess up the floor. I didn't mind except I kept feeling I was going to fall. It just wasn't too comfortable, but she was quite elderly and doing it herself.

Then she strongly admonished me for taking a picture of one of the rooms, telling me what bad manners I had. I apologized, saying I had looked for signs asking no photos be taken and, seeing none, assumed it was all right. She let me know it was NOT all right. Later, when we had a wine tasting in the upper wine cellar we found she had postcards for sale of the place, including the individual rooms, so I understood her "abruptness." She also was selling wine (the castle's own label) which was VERY good and she actually smiled when we each bought a bottle at about $10 each. Excellent wine.

So, if you see a sign pointing to Gevrey-Chambertin, I assure you it would be a pleasant spot to stay -- at least overnight. We enjoyed several good restaurants there, though I'd have to go to my files to find the names. (I'd be happy to do that as well as the inn we liked so much.) You really can't go wrong in any part of France.

Bon voyage whenever, wherever you go, Lou Matthews (Lakeway, TX)