A family tour of a Paris neighborhood with a local guide

PARIS — Green, red or purple? Not crayons, French Macarons, the best cookie you could ever taste. We’re in Gerard Merlot, a shop famous for macarons in the St Germain district of Paris, with Genevieve Robert, who we’ve met through a terrific company called Tours by Locals. You correspond ahead of your trip with a local guide who can tailor a tour to your liking—food, design, architecture, kids… I like that the guides are all locals and …

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A visit to the town where Vincent Van Gogh spent his final most prolific days

Auvers sur Oise, France — I’m literally walking in Vincent Van Gogh’s footsteps to the field where he painted the famous paintings like the Wheatfield of Crows and where he shot himself. Such a sad story. Van Gogh, of course, was only 37 when he died and not yet famous.  He had come to the town of Auvers sur Oise, a short distance from Paris on the train because Dr. Paul Gachet, lived here.  A great friend …

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In Rouen, France — where Joan of Arc died and Monet painted a famous cathedral

Rouen, on the Seine River in Normandy — She was a teenaged girl who was seeing things.  Centuries later, she is the national symbol of France. Joan of Arc was born in 1412 to a family of farm laborers. When she was a young teen, she started to hear voices telling her to help the dauphin regain the throne.  From the start of the Hundred Year’s War in 1337, the English and French fought over that throne …

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Two days touring the D-Day sites in Normandy

Normandy coastline, France — Elizabeth Kelly is standing in front of the gravestone of the grandfather she never met. She’s far from home—as was he as a young Lieutenant from Chicago fighting in World War II.  His name was Forrest Kelly and he’d left behind a wife and two young children. We are at the famous Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial overlooking Omaha Beach, where the massive allied assault on the Normandy on June 6, 1944 aimed …

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A cruise with a difference — along the Seine River in Normandy

ON THE SEINE RIVER BETWEEN PARIS AND NORMANDY — We’re gliding along a field dotted with daisies; at lunch I watched a family of swans. I’m on a different kind of cruise—a River Cruise on the Seine in France on Avalon Waterways Creativity—just 140 passengers on this 361-foot long barge and with just 70 staterooms and two suites.  (The newest Avalon ships will be all-suites.) “You get to know people here… and it’s nice that you unpack …

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Cruising on the Seine River – a stop at Monet’s Garden in Giverny

ON THE SEINE RIVER BETWEEN PARIS AND NORMANDY — I’m walking in Monet’s glorious gardens at Giverny on sunny day thinking about a little girl skipping over the famous green Japanese Bridges a big smile on her face. That was my daughter Melanie, 7 at the time, who was enamored of the book Linnea in Monet’s Garden, so from the time we announced we were going to France in 1998, she announced we must visit Monet’s Garden.  …

Read moreCruising on the Seine River – a stop at Monet’s Garden in Giverny

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