04 July 2009

France (and un soupçon more), 2009

Last year we waited too long and got snookered out of using airline miles to get to Europe in the summer. That story had a happy ending, since we went instead to Argentina and had a wonderful trip. But we really wanted to do a trip to France, since Melissa hasn't been there yet. So this year we prepared early and were able to cobble together a "free" trip for both of us: it's an ugly routing on the way home (Paris-Toronto-Vancouver-Portland), but it is, after all, free.

Once our flights were in place, we set about putting together an itinerary. We wanted to visit some of the famous wine regions in France, as well as spending a few days in Paris. After significant (and most enjoyable) research, we came up with the following plan. One of the great things about travel these days is the ease with which we are able to research options for lodging, dining, and tourism. There's a wealth of awesome information out there, and we made the most of it. We're pretty excited about our trip, which includes the following:

15-Jul Wednesday
Depart Portland at 1:15PM on Lufthansa 469 to Frankfurt, then Lufthansa 4214 to Paris

16-Jul Thursday
Arrive at Paris De Gaulle, pick up rental car and drive to Champagne, about 2 hours north and east of Paris. Our hotel is in the famous town of Reims. We're staying at the Hotel Azur (Tel: +33 (0) 3 26 47 43 39)

17-Jul Friday
Tour the Champagne region.

18-Jul Saturday
Drive south and east through Chablis to Burgundy. We're staying in Beaune at the Jardin de Lois (Tel: +33 (0) 3 80 22 41 97).

19-Jul Sunday
Tour the Burgundy region

20-Jul Monday
Drive south through the Beaujolais region to Lyon, then further south into the Northern Rhone valley. We're staying in a small village called Cliousclat at the Hotel la Treille Muscate (Tel: +33 (0) 4 75 63 13 10)

21-Jul Tuesday
Tour the Rhone region - we have several appointments to visit wineries in the area.

22-Jul Wednesday
Our longest driving day. We will drive through the French Alps, visiting the Parc National de Vanois and passing into the Aosta region of Italy. We're spending the night in the scenic town of Saint-Vincent at the Hotel Bijou (Tel. +39 (0) 1 66 51 00 67)

23-Jul Thursday
Should be a beautiful day of driving. We will drive north through the Great Saint Bernard Pass into Switzerland. We'll drive to the town of Tasch, which is the last stop before reaching the car-free village of Zermatt, at the foot of the Matterhorn. Interestingly, Zermatt is less than 25 miles as the crow flies from Saint-Vincent, but we'll be driving well over 125 miles to get there. In Zermatt, we're staying at Le Petit Hotel (Tel: +41 (0) 2 79 67 59 00).

24-Jul Friday
We'll drive through Switzerland and cross back into the Alsace region of France, with Strasbourg as our destination. Staying at the Hotel Cathedrale (Tel: +33 (0) 3 88 22 12 12).

25-Jul Saturday
Last day of our road trip - returning our car at the airport and taking the train into the 5th Arrondissement of Paris. We're staying at the Hotel Pantheon (Tel: +33 1 43 54 32 95)

26-Jul Sunday

27-Jul Monday

28-Jul Tuesday

29-Jul Wednesday
Depart Paris on Air Canada 881 to Toronto at 10:30AM. Next connection is Air Canada 115 to Vancouver, then Air Canada 8129 to PDX, which is scheduled to arrive at 9:45PM.

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