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Latitudes Travel & Tours Newsletter
March/April 2006

Happy Springtime!

We're delighted to announce that the arrival of spring coincides with the launching of our newly-renovated and remodeled website.

Like all renovations, it lasted longer and took more work than we expected, and of course, we'll be adding more new products and information as we go along. If you don't see precisely what you're looking for, don't be afraid to ask. We welcome your comments and suggestions. And our thanks to Wyn Snow of www.websites4smallbusiness.com for all her work and patience and handholding on a long project!

Sections on Spain and Italy will be up shortly - stay tuned.

Thinking ahead...a couple of tips

If you're planning your summer travels, remember that the high summer airfares can be compensated for a bit. Paris in July and August is low season, so hotel rates are good and there are plenty of specials. There are lots of summer events - free concerts, art shows, outdoor activities. And my favorite - the spring and summer days are LONG - daylight can last till nearly ten o'clock, which stretches your days and makes those sidewalk cafés even more fun.

Another tip - to make your arrival more relaxed, consider arriving in Paris on a Sunday morning. There's no weekday traffic to slow your ride from the airport. Parisians are not early birds, so the streets are quiet. You can start adjusting with a relaxing morning coffee and croissant at a café, or stroll through the Sunday morning market (several of these around the city) or watch those energetic joggers rush by in the Luxembourg (or join them if that's your style.) You'll be able to meet the fast pace of the city on Monday morning with a lot more energy and your jet lag behind you.

And - if you're heading for Paris this summer - don't forget your bathing suit. For the last couple of years, the city of Paris has been trucking in acres of sand, restricting the traffic and turning the lower banks of the Seine into 'ParisPlage' - Paris Beach. Et pourquoi pas?

La Belle Provence

Meanwhile, when I received my April copy of National Geographic Traveler, with its lead article on Provence, I was delighted. They list 26 ways to experience old (and new) Europe in Provence. We must have been gazing into our Baccarat crystal ball, as I spent some time last fall researching new hotels and ideas in the south of France, and quite a few of our new packages and tours reflect the same interests at the folks at National Geo Traveler. For example:

Our Flavor of Provence escorted tour in September emphasizes a relaxed approach to exploring Provence through sampling local products like cheese (number 8), chocolate (number 5), local wines and dining (full sidebar). We also add in a couple of half day cooking lessons and market visits (number 9).

Our Treasure Hunting in Provence package is a self-drive tour that takes in the Sunday antiques market at Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (number 10) as well as the chance to explore the villages of the region. The hotel we are using in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is a marvelous restored mill with a great garden and a welcoming innkeeper named Yves, whose last name translates as 'whirlwind'.

Another Taste of Provence package features a chance to sample local wines and cooking within a short distance of the amazing Pont du Gard (number 3 - and the magazine cover!)

Our Hidden Provence is another self-drive tour which centers on the region near the spectacular Gorges de Verdon (number 15) where you can either focus on the athletic lifestyle (number 19 - please purchase insurance!) or explore the local crafts (number 20) while enjoying great food at a charming inn. The inn, the Bastide du Calalou, is a gem of a hotel, family owned and run, with spacious grounds, a great kitchen and a warm welcome.

Cézanne in Provence is a fully escorted tour in July featuring all the events connected with the centennial of Cezanne's death, including special private visits to Cézanne-related sites and the exhibit of Cezanne works at the newly renovated Musée Granet (number 18). I visited many of these sights last fall; it will be a wonderful way to experience the artistic heritage of Cezanne and Provence, and literally walk in the footsteps of the artist.

Our Lavender Roads is a self-drive excursion through those picture-post card views (summer only - location varying with dates) of dazzling fields of purple (number 11).

If you're traveling in summer in the south, this could be the highlight of your trip. The lavender bloom continues for a while, as the plants mature at different times depending on the altitude - so somewhere in Provence, there will be fields of lavender from June through August.

Next newsletter I'll be bringing some updates on 'the other south of France' as well as introducing our new programs in Spain.

A bientôt,

Jo Beichler, President
Latitudes Travel & Tours

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