versailles courtyardIt was a brutally frigid day when I last visited the Palace at Versailles, but that did not stop the hoards of tourists who flocked to the village for a chance to see where royals once roamed. The bulk of the guests were Chinese. The long haul flights and inclement weather did not deter them from checking out every inch of the Palace, both inside and outside the Palace of Versailles.

versailles chapelInside Versailles it is full of rich history, opulence and beauty. Eye candy is found both inside its hallowed halls and outside in the acres and acres of groves. Hunting lodge, Palace, Family Retreat, War Hospital, Foreign Occupied Quarters, and Museum - Versailles has been home to royalty, war veterans and Prussians.

flowers monetThe 70's might have been the era of Flower Power, but this millennium in Paris is dominated by the flora and fauna at Monet's Gardens in Giverny. Below is a little eye candy for botanists. Don't ask me what the names of the flowers are. I haven't a clue. At my house, the only green things that survive are due to luck and a team of professional landscapers. I may not have a green thumb, but I know what is beautiful. The gardens at Monet's house are exceptional - truly a must see when visiting Paris.

Arc de TriompheFavorite Summer Activities in Paris: Locals and frequent tourists to France usually have firm opinions about what to see and where to go. Trust me when I tell you there are hundreds of wonderful experiences to be had in the City of Light. I say try them all, but of course that would take a lifetime! Let me help you to narrow the gargantuan list down to a few options. National treasures and hidden gems top the list and many involve being outdoors. Of course it does rain every now and then, so some inside time shopping in boutiques or perusing a Picasso will do just fine when the sun fails to shine.

Chateau d'Agassac Chateau d'Agassac The advantages of using a private wine guide in Bordeaux are tremendous. With over 300,000 acres of Bordeaux vineyards to cover, wine enthusiasts will benefit greatly from narrowing down the scope of a visit to France's most prestigious wine country. Private wine guides, like Dominque Garcia of Les Sommeliers et Les Vignerons (The Sommeliers and the Winemakers) customize itineraries to fit the needs of individuals and groups. Here are some of the ways guides make a visit to Bordeaux easier.

Au Petit Sud-OuestA Really Really Short Paris Visit by Contributor Margo Waite
When my step-son called and told us he and his girlfriend were ending their wine tour of France with a short Paris visit I was aghast. What can you do in Paris in such a limited amount of time?   I’m a regular visitor to Paris and there is still so much I haven’t experienced. I should mention he’s the manager of a restaurant in Wilmington, Delaware, so food and wine are important, indeed crucial, to him.

paris velibPicture yourself riding a bike along the Seine on a sunny afternoon scoping out the perfect plot of grass for an impending picnic. A vintage bottle of 2010 Bordeaux and a wedge of soft brie are wrapped tightly into a plaid blanket. A warm baguette hangs out of the wire basket attached to the front and lays against the picnic blanket. All the makings of lovely afternoon in paradise are now in place. I have always thought it's a great idea (riding bike in Paris) in theory, but have been afraid I would get hit by a crazed motorcycle driver. Now, seeing this graphic about how many people are using them, presumably without meeting their demise, I am convinced I must conquer my fears and check out the Velib bike rentals in Paris to make this little vignette come true.

Perrin clutch Perrin clutch I must admit, I have my favorite shops and shopping areas in Paris and tend not to stray too far from them. I could be a guide myself on rue du Bac and rue de Buci or in the Marais, however, with hundreds of stores in the city proper, there are dozens of back alley and private access only boutiques that tourists would never find or be able to pop by without the aid of a personal shopper in Paris. Tourists on a mission to find certain items can streamline the whole process by engaging a private guide to assist them. On my last visit, I decided to see what I had been missing and thus elicited the help of CJ Tours and met the charming private guide Ellie.