I really, really hate it that my server will no longer allow me to post any pictures other than my own -- even if they are free stock photos!  So, you'll just have to use your imagination today.  Did you ever see the movie French Kiss, with Meg Ryan and Kevin Klein?  I love, love, love that movie, and have been playing the soundtrack in my car quite a bit of late, to set the mood for our upcoming trip.  I rarely ever watch a movie more than once, but I've seen that one at least five times over the years.  Now, imagine that I've got several photos from that movie posted here.  Perhaps there's one of Meg, white-knuckled as the plane takes off; and one of "Luc" following her through the narrow little streets of Paris; there's one of him leaning down to kiss her as she sleeps in their little train compartment; one of them dining al fresco with his huge family on their country estate; and of course, one of them holding hands as they stroll through their vineyard at the end.  Got the picture?  OK, on with the story.

Would you think me a complete and total wuss, if I admitted to feeling both elation and a soupcon of dread concerning our upcoming aventure francaise?  Unlike Meg's character, I've never been afraid of flying.  However, I haven't been out of the country since our kids were young teens, and though we once spent half our life in the air (or so it seemed) I am a whole lot older now, and airports are a whole 'nother ball of wax!  For one thing, these days I get all stoved up just sitting through a two-hour movie!  Then there's the niggling possibility that one of us could fall ill while we're away.  Still, all of that fades in significance, whenever I think about what awaits us on the other side, and about how long I've been dreaming about spending some real time there, some sloooooow time, and not just zooming in and out of Paris, with perfunctory stops at the Louvre, Montmartre and the Eiffel Tower.

Once we finally got our itenerary in the mail, along with a little guidebook about all the places we'd be spending time in as we cruise through southern France, the trip finally started to feel real to me.  John intentionally booked a three-day extension in Paris prior to the cruise, which means Viking's travel agents booked everyone who chose that option into a particular hotel, and they will meet us at the airport and transport us there, will take us on a little walking tour the first morning, and will transport us all to Chalon-sur-Seine, where the cruise begins, at the end of our three-night stay.

Quite by accident, though, their agent booked our flight out of Marseilles for three days after the cruise actually ends.  Since we hadn't paid for that extension package, we are completely on our own for making the hotel reservations, getting from Arles, where the cruise ends, to Marseilles (another niggling concern), and then getting to the airport at the end of our stay.  Should be tres amusant, non?

I had the brilliant idea yesterday of contacting my friend Pamela , who hails from Paris, Texas, but who makes a point of going to Paris, France every chance she gets.  I thought maybe she could could give us a few tips.  Well, low and behold, guess who had just departed from Paris that very morning?  Not only that, they had been staying in exactly the same neighborhood that our hotel is located in!  She was a fountain of information, including just which artisinal bakery we should go to each day, and the name of the street where Julia Child preferred to do her food shopping, and which happens to have many great cafes to lunch in.  We are ready for Paris!  Now if only we knew someone who had spent time in Marseilles.  That book I mentioned yesterday is making it out to be one of those shady seaport towns, where everyone is a smuggler or a pick-pocket ( kind of like Luc and his pals in French Kiss!).  Let's hope that's a broad generalization, for of course (niggle, niggle) that is the one place on the whole dang trip, where we will be completely on our own, with no one to advise us what's safe, and what isn't!
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Reviewed by juragan asem
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Rating : 4.5