Tour France; 6 Steps to Blending in in Paris

Many travelers love to fly under the radar when exploring a new country. Sometimes being marked as a tourist is helpful, but other times, you want to be seen as just another local. This is the ultimate game to play in Paris, a city known for its leagues of tourists. Feel up to the task of touring France like a Parisian? We’ve learned some tips and tricks to utilize in the City of Lights especially. Try them out yourself on a trip to France with Bliss Travels!

1. Always Attempt to Speak French

No matter how unconfident you are in your French-speaking skills, you should always, always start out an interaction in French. Check out our post on Useful Phrases for Traveling in France for the basics. Just as we would get offended if tourists assumed we could speak their language without attempting English first, so do the French. This is especially common in Paris, where they are constantly overrun by tourists. Give your best attempt and show that you’re trying to make an effort, even if it doesn’t go that well. They will switch to English for you more often than not. And who knows? You may just pass as a local.

Try your French out at a market with a simple "Une baguette, s'il vous plait!"

Try your French out at a market with a simple “Une baguette, s’il vous plait!”

2. Watch your Feet

The French wear tennis shoes when they’re exercising, and that’s it. You certainly don’t have to trek across the city in 5 inch Laboutins, but consider some of your other more understated (but still comfortable!) options. Bring another pair to switch out with when your feet get sore during your trip–they will, no matter what pair you wear. Squeaky white sneakers are the first thing that will give you away!

There are endless choices in footwear. Check out one of our past trips who were champs at this!

There are endless choices in footwear. Check out one of our past trips who were champs at this!

3. Avoid baggy T-Shirts and Jeans

Parisians have perfected looking effortlessly chic. Don’t feel the need to mimic their style, but do pay attention to the tailoring of your clothes. Leave your sweatshirt and cargo shorts at home! This is the time for well-fitting, neutral-toned clothes. Bring layers that will mix and match easily. Voila! A simple, smaller travel wardrobe that will look good no matter how far you walk that day or how fancy the occasion. (See this great article on Easy Packing Tips for Traveling in France for more great ideas.)

Avoid clothes that clearly define you as a tourist--save the souvenirs for after the trip!

Avoid clothes that clearly define you as a tourist–save the souvenirs for after the trip!

4. Avoid meals on major boulevards

Cafes near major sites are just waiting for the midday crash of tired tourists. Sometimes this can be a relief–the english menu, the simple fare–but we always encourage seeking out an authentic meal. Go a few blocks away and search the side streets. This is where you will find the locals’ preferred watering holes. Prepare to not understand the menu, but to love your choices regardless. After all, when in Rome…or Paris…

Any Parisian cafe, big or small, can deliver an espresso that is to-die-for.

Any Parisian cafe, big or small, can deliver an espresso that is to-die-for.

5. Seek out the Smaller Museums

The Louvre has gained its reputation as the finest museum in the world for a reason, but that doesn’t mean it should be your only cultural outing. There are dozens of smaller museums dotting Paris, and each is a gem just waiting to be explored. Parisians will oftentimes head to these museums on special days just to enjoy the experience. The Museum Carnavalet, for example, has a stunning inner courtyard that locals will go to for a quiet afternoon of reading and relaxing. La Vie en Rose!

The Museum Carnavalet has a lovely inner courtyard  to lounge in on sunny days.

The Museum Carnavalet has a lovely inner courtyard to lounge in on sunny days.

6. Stop and Enjoy

The French excel at reveling in a moment. While many cultures are more focused on getting as many experiences in as possible, the French have a “quality over quantity” mindset that should be commended. This is one of the biggest markers of a tourist in Paris– we rush through musuems, hustle to the next monument, and grab sandwiches instead of sitting down to a great meal. Take your cues from the Parisians: enjoy your moments and focus on the experience instead of the amount of things you get done. What will make the best memories?

Take a moment to enjoy the day, like having a picnic outside!

Take a moment to enjoy the day, like having a picnic outside!

Armed with a carry-on suitcase of neutral clothes and sensible footwear, an adventurous appetite, a guidebook of lesser-known sites, and an open mind, you are now set to take on Paris like a local! These, of course, are just the basics to blending in. Give them a go on your next trip. Bliss Travels specializes in seeing France “like a local,” so why not take the next step and get insider access to this stunning country? Tell us about your own tips to blending in, and we hope to see you on a trip soon!

A Bientot,

Bliss Travels

Tour France; Bliss Travels is the Feature Article in France Passion Magazine!


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Bliss Travels is so pleased to be featured on the front page of this luxury editorial magazine, which is owned and operated by the French Tourism Bureau! Read the rest of the article right here and get inspired by the author’s musings about our “insider” Provence travel experiences.

One of the first bulls to run free in the square on Bastille Day.

One of the first bulls to run free in the square on Bastille Day weekend. And that’s “no bull”!

One of our favorite meals is outside at a farm overlooking the Luberon valley!

One of our favorite meals is outside at a farm overlooking the Luberon valley!

Bliss clients also enjoyed a beautiful late lunch just outside of van Gogh's Provencal sanitorium.

Bliss clients also enjoyed a beautiful late lunch in a private walled garden in St Remy before joining the public festivities and visiting Van Gogh’s Provencal sanitorium.

We are so excited about our Provence trips this summer. Enjoy 5 nights in the stunning Luberon region of Provence having the benefit of our exclusive access, and then live it up for 3 nights of festival activities or along the Mediterranean staring at the crystal clear water. Enjoy fireworks, bull fights, running of the bulls through the streets, community dances and markets. In addition to the special festival events, this  sophisticated town is home to an archeological dig, Roman ruins,Van Gogh’s residence, as well as wonderful boutiques, museums, galleries and sights. Not to mention an abundance of specialty wines and gourmet meals!

Our summer trips to Provence are some of our favorites for a reason. Come tour France with an insider!

A bientot,

Bliss Travels

Tour France: Jet Lag: Travel & Leisure Reblog

Carry OnCarry on

We loved this article by Mr. Mayerwitz and think the advice is spot on. Read it before you travel to France with us, or anywhere!
A bientot
Wendy Jaeger (wendy@blisstravels.com)

How to Beat Jet Lag

By Scott Mayerowitz

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Frequent travelers, it’s time to conquer our worst enemy: jet lag.

While there’s no easy way to completely beat jet lag, there are several steps you can take to ease the pain of crossing multiple time zones quickly.

Travel wasn’t always this difficult on our internal clocks. But each technological advancement in transportation also brought changes to our time management. When long-distance railroads took off, matching timetables with local times became a challenge. So in 1883, we created standardized time zones.

The advent of the jet age in 1958 brought a new problem. We suddenly could traverse several time zones faster than our bodies could adjust. Eight years later, the term “jet lag” appeared in the Los Angeles Times (the earliest recorded mention, according to Air & Space magazine).

The term caught on, of course. And, as we know, jet lag is particularly bad when flying east.

“The hardest trip for me is coming back from Asia or Australia,” says Captain John M. Cox, who spent 25 years flying for US Airways and is now CEO of Safety Operating Systems. “It’s not that I can’t sleep. It’s that I keep waking up at two in the morning.”

I’ve had several sleepless nights of my own after coming back to New York from Asia. At least I was in my own bed. During a trip to Abu Dhabi, I found myself wide awake in the middle of the night, staring out my hotel window at the construction cranes and the desert beyond. The only advantage of being up so early was that I was able to easily call home without waking anybody.

Even domestically, jet lag can be an issue. I once traveled for a story that had me on nine domestic flights over five days. When planning out the trip, I didn’t think much about my body’s internal clock and made the mistake of hopping back and forth across time zones every day.

Every time I suffer from bad jet lag, I think back to the 1988 movie Die Hard, featuring Bruce Willis as a New York cop named John McClane. During a flight, McClane was given a tip: to combat jet lag, take off your shoes and make fists with your toes. It was a plotline designed to get the action hero barefoot. But out of habit or superstition, I still try it after every really long flight. It’s never worked, but it feels really nice if the hotel has a plush rug.

There are several things, however, that do help. Below are some of my favorites. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

• Hydrate. Dry and pressurized airplane cabins can quickly dehydrate you, making you feel extremely sleepy. Drinking water throughout the trip helps ease that process. It doesn’t stop jet lag but it helps make sure dehydration doesn’t compound your fatigue.

• Shift your time for long trips. A few days before I leave, I start to shift my sleep schedule one hour each day. Try to also move your mealtimes. That might mean a super-early trip to the gym in the morning and going to bed before my favorite TV shows are over. But it pays off when I arrive and also makes it easier to sleep on those red-eye flights to Europe. If I’m lucky, I can adjust my sleep a bit at the end of the trip. “As soon as I get on the airplane,” Cox notes, “I get on destination time.” It’s good advice. Switch your watch after takeoff.

• Sleep. If you can sleep on the plane—even for a few hours—it makes a big difference. Earplugs and an eye mask will help. When taking a red-eye to Europe, having breakfast immediately after waking up on the plane or once you get into the airport—even if not hungry— will definitely help adjust your body to the idea that yes, it is now morning, even if your friends and family back home are sound asleep.

• Avoid alcohol. Again, the issue here is dehydration on long overseas flights. I can’t blame you for having a glass of red wine to help fall asleep—been there, done that—but don’t have too much or you’ll have a nasty headache and never properly adjust to the new time zone. (That’s happened to me, and I don’t recommend it.)

• Avoid naps. Try to stay awake until your bedtime in your new time zone. It may be painful, but it really is necessary to make the rest of your trip enjoyable and productive. Go for a walk outside. The fresh air and sunshine make it much easier to stay awake than if you’re stuck inside. If sightseeing, take a walking tour. If in town for work, find some time to do a bit of walking—maybe have your driver drop you off a mile short of your meeting site. If that isn’t practical—and often it isn’t—do a lap or two around the block before heading in to your meeting.

• Stretch. It helps your body feel more normal and not as confined on a plane. This doesn’t combat jet lag per se, but it does reduce some of the scars of travel.

• Pills and juices. I have friends who have tried homeopathic pills and one who swears by carrot juice. I personally don’t like to throw off my diet with unknowns while hopping around the globe, but I’m not going to rule out any of those tricks.

• Don’t shift time for short trips. This tip is only for trips less than 48 hours. If you’re jetting off to Europe for a single meeting and then racing back home, it pays to stay on your home time zone.

201310-hd-scott-mayerowitzjpgScott Mayerowitz is an airlines reporter for the Associated Press. Read his stories on the AP site and follow him on Twitter @GlobeTrotScott.

Tour France: Cartier’s Grand Palais Exhibit in Paris

cartier_expo_0Ooh la la! Cartier, the “Jeweler of Kings,” has an opulent exhibit at the Grand Palais in Paris from December 4th to February 16th. This is a must-visit experience and a great addition to a tour through France. And what a perfect add-on to a Valentine’s trip (you could get some ideas for the kind of ring or tiara she likes 🙂 ) Bliss Travels is currently offering a deal for the Valentine’s weekend trip (the special price is only offered through January 2nd). Check it out here! A romantic opportunity awaits!

The exhibit is the most expensive of its kind. It's simply a must-see!

The exhibit is the most expensive of its kind. It’s simply a must-see!

WWD gushes that Kate Middleton’s wedding tiara and Grace Kelly’s engagement ring are among the star pieces of an exhibition on Cartier opening in Paris today.

Billed as the most extensive show to date dedicated to the French jeweler, famed for its panther-themed jewelry and Tank watches, “Cartier — Style and History” is set to run at the Grand Palais until Feb. 16. It showcases more than 600 items ranging from fine jewelry and watches to decorative objects, many reflecting the influence of exotic locations like China and India. Most are drawn from Cartier’s extensive archives, but about 100 items are on loan from private collections.”

Cartier's signature jaguar stands proud in many of the exhibit's displays.

Cartier’s signature jaguar stands proud in many of the exhibit’s displays.

In an interview with the Guardian, the curator of this opulent exhibit, Laure Dalon, explained its significance. “Cartier is one of France’s iconic companies and is a part of France’s tradition and heritage. It’s not just the actual monetary value of the pieces but their social history, their owners and their place in the history of decorative arts. That makes them priceless, really.”

Hasn't every girl wished to wear something as exquisite as this?

Hasn’t every girl wished to wear something as exquisite as this?

Well said, Mme Dalon! We are delighted to recommend our clients see  this magnificent exhibit during their Valentine’s trip. We can even provide a private guide to accompany and tour this exhibit, and others! Add it to your checklist: we’ll see you there!

A bientot-

Bliss Travels

Tour France; Live TV Interview with Wendy Jaeger, Travel Expert of Bliss Travels

Tour France: Live TV Interview with Wendy Jaeger, French Travel Expert

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Click here for live TV interview with Wendy

Exclusive access and authentic experiences.
Bliss Travels specializes in giving our clients special experiences they cannot have on their own. (To read what our clients have to say, see the bottom of this post or our website testimonials).

We find special venues; unique, lesser known (or impossible to get into) restaurants; off the beaten path sights;  closed to the public vineyards; stunning ruins…and that’s where we take our clients. We combine the things you know you want to see (like that great Provencal market, or the home of that world famous artist) with the things you never knew existed, or only dreamed you’d be able to d0. Imagine being invited into the home of a chef and ‘hanging out’ while he cooks you dinner, or being asked to dine on the farm of local family, or invited into a tiny restaurant that opened just for you. Sound like Bliss?

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The biggest “problem” we have at Bliss Travels is explaining to new travelers that we are not a big bus tour company. We’re not the people with the rigid “fixed” schedule who require that we see a zillion things from morning to night. We are a boutique travel company and we pride ourself in personalized experiences that are custom tailored to our very small groups of 6-12 travelers.

To learn more about our philosophy and our experiences, watch our live TV interview below. Then contact wendy@blisstravels.com to book one of our “one-of-a-kind” vacations to Paris, Provence, Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Mediterranean…even Barcelona!

Everything is fresh, and everyone is happy!

The markets

Live TV Interview of Wendy Jaeger by Adam Bierman

See what our clients think!

"Thanks again for planning such a great vacation for Jeff and I.  We had a fabulous time and getting engaged on the trip was just the icing on the all ready delicious cake.  We are still wondering how we will be able to go back to drinking the wines we liked before after tasting so many fabulous ones on the trip"

“Thanks again for planning such a great vacation for Jeff and I. We had a fabulous time and getting engaged on the trip was just the icing on the all ready delicious cake. We are still wondering how we will be able to go back to drinking the wines we liked before after tasting so many fabulous ones on the trip”

“Thank you…, for an absolutely memorable vacation adventure. Your planning and attention to detail was absolutely superb. I felt immersed in the culture and lore of the land as you ferreted out exceptional sites for us to explore….Because of your passion for Provence and connections, we were privileged to really enjoy off the beaten path exceptional experiences….”

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“We had a blast on our trip and are still remarking on the joie de vivre exhibited by one and all! Great group of folks, great times and great food! Thanks again…for the splendid memories!”

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“The food (unforgettable meals), the wines (rose’s & your wine tasting), the art…, the people (us tourists, & all the drivers/tour guides), ALL the various places we would never have found on our own, AND YOU and Anthony! Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you….we now have wonderful memories….”

Experience Bliss! Contact us now. wendy@blisstravels.com

http://www.blisstravels.com

 

Tour France; Useful Phrases for Traveling in France

Traveling to France soon? Learn some essential phrases to help with everyday interactions!

Most French people speak English. But just like travelers coming to America assuming we will speak their language, the French appreciate those who attempt to speak the language of the country they’re visiting. These phrases will give you a head start–and maybe help make you some new friends!

Bliss Travels clients are always excited to talk to locals during our trips, and these are the first phrases we teach. Test them out and get comfortable!

1. “Bonjour, Monsieur/Madame!”

As simple as this seems, a friendly greeting in French will almost always elicit a smile!

Tip: Especially in Paris, addressing someone immediately as Monsieur or Madame is a “politesse” that simply must be used.

A kiss on the cheek is a typical greeting in France among colleagues and friends. Let's just stick with Bonjour for now!

A kiss on the cheek is a typical greeting in France among colleagues and friends, but let’s stick with ‘bonjour’ for now!

2. “Je voudrais ca.”

Pronounced “zje voo-DRAY sah,” this means “I would like that.” Especially in markets and bakeries, where you must point and ask for something instead of getting it yourself, this phrase is important!

"Je voudrais une baguette, s'il vous plait!"

“Je voudrais une baguette, s’il vous plait!”

3. “S’il vous plait.”

The previous phrase should always be followed by this one–“please!” Manners are very important in France! Pronounced “see voo play,” this is one that sounds familiar to most people.

4. “Ou est…”

“Oo eh” means “where is…” This can be followed by monuments, addresses, or the all-important bathroom! That phrase is “Ou est la toilette?”

An important word!

An essential word!

5. “Pardon!” or “Pardonnez-moi!”

“Par-DON-ay mwah” means “excuse me.” For times on busy metros or crowded market streets, this one is important!

6. “Merci, Monsieur/Madame! Au revoir!”

End every interaction, no matter how short, with this. (Again, the Monsieur/Madame should be there!) “AH ruh-VWAH” literally means “until we see each other again.”

Cheers to new friendships in France!

Cheers to new friendships forged in France!

A Blissful trip awaits you with these phrases under your belt! Need a chance to try them out? Come with Bliss Travels on a trip to France!  Our upcoming tours include our October trip to Provence–with an emphasis on photography!–and our winter holiday trips to Paris. Check out our trip itineraries to find the best trip for you!

A bientot!

Bliss Travels

Tour France: The Must-Eat French Foods


Anyone who has toured France will tell you that it has some of the best food in the world, without question. But with so many dishes to try, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start! We’ve given you a list of Bliss Travels‘ favorite French foods to get you started. Do you have some favorite meals of your own? Let us know if you agree!

1. Fougasse

This bakery good is a specialty of Provence. With a focaccia-like texture and height, the fougasse has several deep cuts which allow the toppings to infuse their flavor throughout the bread. This could be anything from olives to fresh vegetables to ham and cheese.  Our favorite is une fougasse gratins, which is filled with chopped bacon. The bacon fat gives it an incredible crunchy crust and more flavor than one would ever think to find in an inauspicious loaf of bread–marveilleux!

The shape varies with each bakery that makes it, but every one is delicious!

The shape varies with each bakery that makes it, but every one is delicious!

2. Duck- Canard

The French rarely “do” beef. Instead, they specialize in what we would consider “alternative proteins”– and boy, do they do them well! Duck in France is incredibly tender, with a rich, buttery, and unique flavor that simply can’t be copied. In general, the French do not complicate this dish- it will be cooked perfectly and served with potatoes and perhaps some sauteed vegetables. They know a good thing when they have it! The Burgundy region especially has a reason to brag– clients who tour France with us are always ecstatic about this dish!

With a drizzle of balsamic oil and sauteed vegetables, this is divine!

With a drizzle of balsamic oil and sauteed vegetables, this is divine!

3.  Lamb- Agneau

Speaking of these “alternative proteins,” French lamb is consistently out of this world. One of the reasons these meats are so incredible in France is the way they were raised. Lamb roam the countryside, literally dining on herbs de Provence. Thus, they are flavored with rosemary, thyme and the like –naturally! Raising animals using methods that are considered “organic” in America, with fewer hormones and better quality food– they raise happy lambs! Any version of lamb you get will be to die for. Bliss Travels‘ favorite place is in a small bistro on the Left Bank of Paris, which specializes in an mouth-watering shoulder of lamb for two!

A shoulder of lamb for two? S'il vous plait!

A shoulder of lamb for two? S’il vous plait!

4. Napoleon- Millefeuille

This classic French pastry is crumbly, messy, almost always falls on your lap, and is totally worth it. It has gained notoriety across the world, but France is still the clear winner when it comes to making it. Literally– it’s name in French means, “1000 sheets/layers). And so true! Layers and layers of flaky pastry are interspersed with creamy custard, finished with a distinctively patterned top glaze. Parfait!

Does it get better than this?

Does it get better than this?

5. Any and All Breads- Tous les Pains!

Nothing in France opens before 10 AM, with the exception of the local bakery. And they certainly give you a reason to wake up early–the open storefront fills the street with the heavenly and comforting scent of warm bread. Most of the time, you can find the nearest bakery by following your nose! Baguettes and brioche are always great options. If you feel like branching out, try something with olives or noisettes (nuts), or pain aux cereales, which has whole grains and an pleasant texture.

How can you choose?

How can you choose?

6. Warm Goat Cheese Salad- Salade du Chevre Chaud 

This is a summer favorite! A simple, fresh bed of lettuce provides the counterpart to the the tangy, partially melted goat cheese served on toast that surrounds it. Light and refreshing, yet completely satisfying, every restaurant has their own spin on this dish, usually using local goat cheese. Whether in Provence, Paris, Burgundy or Bordeaux, this is always a great option. As it is summer, a glass of rose is essential to finish off the meal–bien sur!

Fresh bread, fresh goat cheese...what's better?

Fresh bread, fresh goat cheese…what’s better?

7. Chocolate Lava Cake- Chocolat Fondant

This is France’s gift to the chocoholics of the world. America has tried to copy this classic dish by dousing it in sugar, but the French know that the chocolate should take center stage. Here, the cake is made using dark chocolate, butter…and that’s about it. Rich and almost bitter, these tiny cakes will almost assuredly make you put your fork down after the first bite to shout a happy, “Mon Dieu, c’est incroyable!”

This is perfection.

This is perfection.

8. Melon and Prosciutto

Going without this dish on a trip to France is like visiting America without getting French Fries. It is a staple in the spring and summer months, especially in the Provence region, and starts off just about every good meal. The prosciutto’s smooth, mellow flavor is always appreciated. But the melon is what steals the show! The trick here is to look for “Cavaillon” melons, which is the Provencal town where they are grown. These are to die for!

The perfect blend of sweet and savory.

The perfect blend of sweet and savory.

Feeling inspired? Come with Bliss Travels to taste your way across France! Our spring and summer trips to Provence are the perfect opportunity to try Cavaillon melon at it’s finest, while our upcoming September trip to Burgundy gives you a chance to sample the heartier fare of the wine region!

A bientot-

Bliss Travels

Tour France: Bordeaux & Barcelona. Spotlight The Sagrada Familia

An architectural masterpiece still under construction.

It’s astounding. That’s why we visited it and why 60 Minutes profiled it.  Look below to get a link to that segment.

The Sagrada Familia is a masterpiece 125 years in the making.

The Sagrada Familia is a masterpiece 125 years in the making.

When you look at photos of the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, Spain, your mind simply cannot process what it sees. Huge spires reach into sky and it towers over every other building in the city.

Gaudi's tower feature unusual posts- even a pile of strawberries!

Gaudi’s tower feature unusual posts- even a pile of strawberries!

The genius that designed it, Antonio Gaudi, was considered “God’s Architect,” an extraordinarily devout man who recognized that his design was a little complicated and built models for the next architect to follow.

Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the Basilica on this very spot a few years ago.

Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the Basilica on this very spot a few years ago.

These turned out to be more helpful that he could have known–construction on his church began in 1882 and is still being working on today, making it the longest running architectural project in the world! In the style of Notre Dame, entire families devote their lives to creating this place, and the passion invested in it is as clear and important as the architecture.

When Bliss Travels clients are shown the Sagrada Familia on our Barcelona trips, the meet the church with an awed silence.  People can spend hours exploring in and around the Basilica in awe of this marvel of architecture. Our native Spanish guide whose specialty is Gaudi’s architectural genius gave us all the inside scoop about Gaudi, and about future plans for the Basilica (Of course, being Bliss Travels, we also spent plenty of time finding the best tapas bars in the city to enjoy!)

Even the ceiling is difficult to process!

Even the ceiling is difficult to process!

And yet, at the end of the day there are still no words for this place. The Sagrada Familia has the capacity to make you feel very small, very important, and very proud to be human all at once.

There may be no words, but there are certainly pictures. And if you are as intrigued by the place as we are, come on our April trip to Bordeaux and Barcelona to see this spectacular site for yourself!

The entire building is covered in statues, all showing biblical stories.

The entire building is covered in statues, all showing biblical stories.

When the columns are lit, it looks like something out of a dream.

When the columns are lit, it looks like something out of a dream.

The Basilica towers over all other buildings in Barcelona.

The Basilica towers over all other buildings in Barcelona.

The stained glass windows throw incredible colors on the stone inside.

The stained glass windows throw incredible colors on the stone inside.

A bientot!

Bliss Travels

Want more information on the world’s most fascinating building site? Watch 60 Minutes’ special on the Basilica right here.

A Photographic Tour of the Best of Provence (One of the Regions of France)


Top 6 Reasons to Visit Provence

Last year I printed the top 4 reasons to visit Provence in the spring. But, really, there are so many more things to explore than just 4, and so many wonderful things to do and see all spring and summer (and fall). Here are Bliss Travels top tips for Provence.

1. Stunning scenery bathed in light that made world famous painters like Renoir, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet …..swoon. In May, there are poppies, cherry blossoms, almond blossoms, and all sorts of spring flowers. In June, the cherries are in full bloom. In July and August you have Lavender.bill m france 2008

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Our class topped the tart with cherries -not fresh like the ones here, found in June in Provence

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2. The Provencal Markets. Whether it’s the first fruit and spring vegetable, or the late summer melons, peaches and figs, the produce in Provence is unrivaled –and the crafts, crowds and street life are all showcased at the colorful Provencal markets.

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3. The Villages. They are beautiful and each one is a piece of art in its own right!

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3. Food. Mouthwatering, amazing, real, local, sustainable, gourmet FOOD.

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5. Wines. Provence is home to the Cote du Rhone and has many fine wines, Chateauneuf du Pape among them. It is home to Bandol, Tavel, Vacqueras, Gigondas and many many more.

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6. Festivals. The festivals in spring and summer are wonderful. Everything from fancy markets, to bull fights to street music, to games, to dancing, tasting and more. There are cherry festivals in May and June. Village festivals from May through August. Music festivals in June. Melon festivals in July. Lavender festivals in August. Bastille Day festivals –on Basstille Day (see our earlier post about this.)

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Taken by TourEiffel Fireworks

Taken by TourEiffel Fireworks

6. Time on your own with your family and friends--even with all the activity! Provence is a place with lots of beautiful little corners, fabulous walks, quiet beaches, empty mountain tops, miniscule villages –all where you can see something new, and be away from it all — Be with yourself, your family or your friends, or your thoughts.

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October 19, 2011-125-Fall2011FranceOctober 19, 2011-5-Fall2011France-2October 20, 2011-375-Fall2011FrancePhoto (re)Blog by Anthony Bianciella: May in Provence

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If you’d like to learn more about Bliss Travels, small, custom trips –and how we provide exclusive access to things your typical traveler never sees, please  look at our website at www.blisstravels.com or our testimonials and  email us or call us at 609 462 6213. We have limited spring and summer trips available.

Tour France: Bastille Day Summer Celebrations in Paris & Provence

Taken by TourEiffel Fireworks

Taken by TourEiffel Fireworks

Bastille Day celebrates the formation of the French republic and the overthrow of the French monarchy. This is traditionally symbolized by the storming of the Bastille (the Parisian prison) on July 14, 1789.  While there were many reasons for the revolution, the most well known and emblematic  is the excessive royal life that Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette led at the court of Versailles.

The pivotal moment that Bastille Day celebrates is the freeing of the prisoners from the Bastille. There were, in fact, very few prisoners in the Bastille at that time, so the significance of that event was more symbolic than actual. Each year, this holiday, much like our own July 4th, is celebrated with fireworks, parades, village festivals, huge Provencal markets, music and dances –and of course, the flying of the tri-color flag.

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The tri color flag is a reflection of the motto of the French republic: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité — liberty, equality and brotherhood. This was one of several mottos used during the time of the revolution. The Fete Nationale (National holiday) is the largest annual celebration in France.

Paris attracts huge crowds for the celebration. Pedestrians and people picnicing fill every last space on every Seine river bridge, and along the banks of the Seine. They fill the parks around the Eiffel Tower as well. It is a party that begins in the morning with parades and goes late into the night with fireworks and public balls, live music.

 As spectacular as Paris is, and as big as the celebration around the Eiffel tower is, I have to say that the countryside is even better. There you can see fireworks over 100o year old villages, experience festival markets and surround yourself with authentic  ambiance in a way that is not possible in big cities (no matter how beautiful).  The advice of Bliss Travels: Enjoy the best Medieval Provencal village or Mediterranean “fete” possible for this holiday. It is breathtakingly beautiful, and often feels like time stopped  500 years before you arrived.

There’s a reason every major impressionist and post impressionist painter traveled there to paint!

Van Gogh’s interpretations of the countryside give one a sense of what it feels like to be in that “world” over a major national holiday.
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One of our favorite places to celebrate Bastille Day is St Remy, home of Van Gogh –and setting for many of his paintings. The celebrations here include markets, fireworks, bull fights, parades and music.

The markets wind through almost all of the streets of the old village. They fill every small square, and the periphery roads as well.

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Vendors give out tastes of their products. A sure sign that they are proud of what they are selling. In addition, during the celebrations surrounding Bastille Day, there is music and street performers all over.

The bull fights that take place over the national holiday in France are a game during which the bulls are not hurt (though, often, the participants do suffer some injury). The game is called the “course camarguaise” and involves taking a rosette from the horn of the bull and getting away before the bull can hurt them. The participants leap over the wooden fence that surrounds the main area of the arena while their team mates distract the bull. There is also the herding of the bulls by the “cowboys” and the running of the bulls through the streets of the town. This is a major reason to celebrate Bastille Day in the South –these unique events simply don’t happen in Paris!

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Herding the bulls through the town. The horsemen ride practically on top of each other to keep the bulls locked in their place. Their riding skill is amazing.

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Along with the Camargue cowboys are parades on horseback with traditional dress.

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The celebrations lead to group parties and meals –the Aioli is one of the most common (and best)!

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Tour France: Vacations in Provence and the MediterraneanDSCN0867If you want to learn more about what Bliss Travels does on Bastille Day or for other summer village festivals, contact us now! Hope to see you in Provence this summer!