Intimate France Tours e-News

Issue 6, September 2012

 

www.intimatefrance.com

 

info@intimatefrance.com

 

 

At Intimate France, we specialize in small groups - usually eight travelers or fewer, never more than 16. Read more about how we are different.

 

OUR TOURS IN 2013

Italian Lakes & Venice - April 28-May 10

Tour priced at $3,895 per person sharing accommodation. Singles $550 extra.Tour begins at Milan airport, ends at Venice airport.

(more information)

 

Friuli, Eastern Italy & Slovenia -

May 12-24

Tour priced at $3,895 per person sharing accommodation. Singles $550 extra.Tour begins and ends at Venice airport, Italy

(more information)

 

High Pyrénées, France - Sept. 1-13

Tour priced at $3,895 per person sharing accommodation. Singles $550 extra.Tour begins and ends at Toulouse Airport.

(more information)

 

Languedoc, France - Sept. 15-27

Tour priced at $3,895 per person sharing accommodation. Singles $550 extra.Tour begins and ends at Toulouse Airport.

(more information)

 

 

INTIMATE

FRANCE

BLOG

 

George Nevin

owner/founder

Intimate France Tours

 

 

Food Overload and

Other Culinary Misadventures
 

    I try hard not to gloat, I really do, when someone asks me, "So, George, what kind of work do you do?"

    Usually I say, "I'm a tour director." Sometimes I add, "... in Europe."

    Three-quarters of the people I tell this to have the same reaction – extreme envy, followed by a comment like, "I'll bet you eat a lot of great food when you travel."

    Truth is, yes, I do, but (as food writer Patricia Wells and her husband, Walter, always say) It's not all peaches and cream.

    The truth is, it's possible to have too much of a good thing. In this case, too much good food.

    I work hard to find the very best dining experiences for my groups, and mostly I succeed. That means that I myself am right beside my groups, enjoying the same delicacies that they enjoy.

    The problem arises after a few days or a week on the road – the appearance of the dreaded malady I call "food overload."

   A few years ago, it hit me in the pretty village of Brantôme, in the Dordogne region of France. Arriving at a Michelin-starred restaurant, I realized that I'd been dining so well over the last couple of weeks that I simply wasn't hungry. It was a shock.

    Thereafter I started noticing the same syndrome in the people on the tour – within a few days, they fell victim to an irresistible urge – to shift food from their plate to their neighbor's plate:

    "This foie gras is excellent – would you like a bite?"

    Often, no matter how tempting the morsel, the answer would be no, probably because the person being solicited was herself/himself suffering from food overload.

    It was not always like this. In my early days of European travel, I ate anything and everything that came my way. I only drew the line at certain organs favored by the French, and at boudin (blood sausage), which I have tried several times and always found wanting.

    (Another no-no is pig's trotters, or pied de cochon, which is far too greasy for my taste.)

    Fortunately, my time in Europe today is limited to about four weeks at a time (twice yearly). By maintaining menu sanity, I can avoid food overload.

    It brings to mind something an acquaintance once told me: she and her husband traveled frequently to France, keeping busy sightseeing and, of course, eating.

    One day he said to her, "You know, I get the feeling all of our sightseeing is just killing time between meals."

    And she said, "So, what's your point?"

 

KEEP IN TOUCH

 

An occasional newsletter from George Nevin, founder, Intimate France Tours

 

 

2013 Tour Vacancies –  Going Fast

 

One thing you can say about Intimate France  travelers – they make their plans early!

 

Our spring 2013 tours are filling nicely, although a few seats remain for Friuli-Eastern Italy and Italian Lakes & Venice – see information below.

 

By contrast, our fall tours (Languedoc, France, and  the High Pyrénées Mountains of France and Spain) remain available. But a word to the wise – contact us soon if you want to see the Med at Collioure (it does not get any better than this fishing village) or the world's #1 pilgrimage destination, Lourdes, in the Pyrénées.

 

Our small groups can fill fast, and you really don't want to be disappointed.

 

 

Places We've Been – a Photo Memoir

 

I was organizing my photos recently and was impressed once again at how beautiful the towns, villages and countryside of Europe really are. I thought I would share a handful of my favorite images.

 

 

Matera, Italy, at night – view over the 'sassi'

 

Few sights are more impressive than the "sassi," the half-excavated cave houses of the southern Italian town of Matera. A walk through the sassi is a trip back in time – to the dark ages, really, hundreds of years before Europe's renaissance. Matera has fabulous food, too.

 

 

Cabbage field at dawn, Alsace, France

 

What is more emblematic than cabbage in Alsace? They go through a lot of it there, making choucroute, their delicious take on sauerkraut. I took this photo just as the sun was peeking under the clouds on a stormy fall morning.

 

 

Hospice de Beaune, Burgndy, the city's old hospital

 

The gorgeous tile roof of the old town hospital is a reminder that Burgundy was ruled in the middle ages by the same people who ruled present-day Netherlands and Belgium, areas known for their tile-making tradition.

 

 

 

Diocletian's Palace, Split, Croatia

 

Three trips to Croatia have convinced me that there's no place like this new (vintage-1990s) country for authentic tourist experiences. The former palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian is a prime example – absolutely gorgeous.

 

 

 

Our Tours in 2013

 

 

Village of Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy


Italian Lakes & Venice - April 28-May 10

Detailed itinerary

 

Tour priced at $3,895 per person sharing accommodation. Singles $550 extra. Discounts available. Tour begins at Milan Malpensa Airport, and ends at Venice Airport.t.

  • Comfortable hotels and charming inns – all rooms with private bath
  • The splendor of the Italian lakes – Maggiore, Como, Garda
  • Transportation in van or mini-bus
  • Outstanding cuisine and wine
  • The splendid Palladian architecture of the Veneto province
  • The magnificent villas and gardens of the lake country
  • Beautiful villages with stairstep streets and murmuring fountains
  • Medieval Verona, known for its Roman past and for Romeo and Juliet
  • Venice, perhaps the world’s most beautiful and splendid city
  • Aperitivi, gelato, formaggio, salume
  • Lovely towns of Vicenza and Padova

 

Piran, Slovenia, on the shores of the Adriatic Sea

 

Friuli, Eastern Italy & Slovenia - May 12-24

Detailed itinerary

 

Tour priced at $3,895 per person sharing accommodation. Singles $550 extra. Discounts available. Tour begins and ends at Venice Airport.

  • Unusually fine food (pasta, ham) and wine, exceptional even for Italy
  • Exquisite Roman mosaics at Aquileia
  • Palmanova, a star-shaped, fortified  town
  • Graceful Udine, a charming town encircling a hill crowned with a castle
  • A slice of Slovenia – pretty Piran, on the Adriatic, with echoes of Venice
  • The sunny resort of Grado, with its fine-sand beach on the Adriatic
  • Villa Maser, built by Palladio, and Villa Pisani, mansion on the Brenta
  • Stud farm at Lipica, Slovenia, source of the original Lipizzaner stallions
  • Lively Trieste, the Adriatic’s chief port, with its air of Middle Europe
  • Charming Cividale del Friuli
  • Lake Garda and resorts Limone & Riva

PLEASE NOTE that although our gateway airport is Venice Marco Polo, this tour does not visit Venice. Travelers are encouraged to visit Venice on their own before or after the tour.

 

 

High Pyrénées, mighty mountains dividing France & Spain

 

High Pyrénées Mountains, France & Spain - Sept. 1-13

Detailed itinerary

 

Tour priced at $3,895 per person sharing accommodation. Singles $550 extra. Discounts available. Tour begins and ends at Toulouse Airport.

  • Comfortable hotels and charming inns – all rooms with private bath
  • Fortified village of St. Bertrand, with intact city walls
  • Lofty Andorra, both a mountain mini-state and a tax-free shopping paradise
  • Travel by van or mini-bus
  • Soaring mountain peaks, deep valleys, waterfalls
  • Cave of Niaux, containing prehistoric paintings of superior quality from 10,000 BC
  • Fortresses such as Montségur, shelter for 12th century religious martyrs the Cathars
  • Pilgrimage sites in Lourdes, where for 150 years the faithful have gathered
  • 12th century bastides, fortress towns with a curious, square layout
  • Cathedrals, castles, markets, cafés, fine dining, exceptional wines

 

 

Picture-perfect village of Collioure, on the Mediterranean

 

Languedoc-Roussillon, France - Sept. 15-27

Detailed itinerary

 

Tour priced at $3,895 per person sharing accommodation. Singles $550 extra. Discounts available. Tour begins and ends at Toulouse Airport.

  • Comfortable hotels and charming inns – all with private bath
  • Transportation in nine-passenger van
  • Outstanding cuisine
  • Medieval Carcassonne, a walled miracle from the Middle Ages
  • The beautiful fishing port of Collioure
  • Red-brick Albi with its Toulouse-Lautrec Museum
  • Some of France’s most beautiful villages – Cordes, Bruniquel, Mirepoix
  • The wines of southern France: Collioure, Banyuls, Corbières
  • A picnic featuring local produce
  • Fabulous outdoor markets
  • Romanesque churches
  • France with a flavor of Spain – the border country of Catalonia
 

 

INTIMATE FRANCE:

HOW WE ARE DIFFERENT

 

    After 25 years of travel and research, we founded Intimate France in 1994 to share our accumulated wisdom and exciting discoveries with you. In the  years since then, we’ve taken hundreds of Americans to France, Italy, Spain, Croatia and the Alps.

 

    Our small groups (never more than 16) assure the utmost in personal service, attention to detail and flexibility.

    Our small group size allows us to take care of you and your needs the way you deserve. Our long familiarity with Europe has taught us the hidden, authentic visits and sights not in any guidebook.

 

    Our cheerful, experienced, bilingual guides love Europe with a passion and want to share this feeling with you. Our carefully planned itineraries feature a multitude of enriching visits – all included in the tour price. Optional excursions at additional expense are virtually non-existent.  

 

    At Intimate France, we believe that cookie-cutter hotels, tourist-oriented restaurants and fast-paced sightseeing are barriers to enjoying the real Europe.   

 

      Over time we have discovered small, family-run hotels, local bistros and insider sights. You’ll visit the top attractions in each town while also having experiences that are more typically European.

 

 

Make an Intimate France tour your best trip ever.