SEPTEMBER 2017

 

 
About Intimate France — We travel every spring and fall to Europe's most beautiful destinations. Our small groups (usually eight travelers, never more than 16) guarantee you the utmost in personal service and attention to detail. Learn more about us or contact Intimate France.
 

 

OUR COMPLETE LINEUP

OF TOURS IN 2018, FEATURING
A NEW ADDITION — ITALIAN LAKES

 

 

Perched village of Eze (Riviera tour).

 

French Riviera for Art Lovers,
April 29-May 11, 2018

• Comfortable hotels and charming inns – all rooms with private bath
• Transportation in nine-passenger van
• Chic Cannes and Antibes
• The stunning perched villages of the Côte d'Azur – Eze, Gourdon
• Perfume factory visit, shopping opportunities
• Château visits • Fine wines
• Principality of Monaco • Colorful outdoor markets 
• Modern art – Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, Renoir, Cocteau
• Outstanding cuisine • Charming, walled St. Paul de Vence
• Swank Villa Ephrussi-Rothschild, with seaview gardens and manor home
• Museums known the world over – Fondation Maeght, Nice Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art
• The atmospheric alleys of Old Nice
• Cathedrals, castles, markets, cafés, art, fine dining, exceptional wines

 

NEWLY ADDED FOR 2018 —
ITALIAN LAKES & ALPS

 


Impossibly steep Dolomites (Italian tour).

 

Italian Lakes & Alps, May 13-25, 2018

• The splendor of the Italian lakes – Orta, Maggiore, Como, Garda
• Outstanding cuisine and fine wines
• Splendid Palladian architecture —  Villa Pisani, on the Brenta Canal
• The magnificent villas and gardens of the lake country
• Beautiful villages with stairstep streets and bubbling fountains
• Dramatic Dolomite Alps
• Ancient, German-speaking Bolzano, Italy
• The lakeside resort of Riva del Garda, on beautiful Lago di Garda
• Soaring Alpine scenery – some of Europe's most dramatic mountains
• Aperitivi, gelato, formaggio, salume
• Lovely Padova and historic Trento
Giotto's magnificent Scrovegni Chapel, a cycle of 39 14th-century frescoes

 


Guggenheim Museum(Basque tour).

 

French & Spanish Basque,
September 2-14, 2018

• Three nights in the beautiful fishing port of St. Jean-de-Luz
• Glittering Biarritz, a Belle Epoque seaside resort
• Pristine villages in the French Pyrénées – Ainhoa, Espelette, St. Etienne-de Baïgorry
San Sebastián, with its curving bay and lively promenade
• The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
Pamplona, famed for running of the bull

• Comfortable hotels and charming inns – all with private bath
• Local wines, outstanding cuisine, including ultra-fresh fish
• Lunch in a sidreria, specializing in Basque cuisine and ciders
• Beaches, coastal scenery, mountains
Gernika, Spain, immortalized in the Picasso painting

• Outdoor markets
Michelin-starred meal
• Mountain village of St. Jean Pied-de-Port
• Cathedrals, cafés, art, museums, natural wonders • Basque tapas

 

 


Cliff-hugging Rocamadour (Dordogne tour)

 

Dordogne, France,

September 16-28, 2018

• The village of Brantôme, folded into a bend of the Drônne River

• Historic Sarlat, containing a remarkable ensemble of renaissance buildings
• Hilltop Domme, looking over a vista of rivers, cliffs and fields
• The riverside villages of la Roque Gageac and BeynacDordogne River cruise
Lascaux IV, replicating the cave paintings called the "Sistine Chapel of antiquity"

• Comfortable hotels and charming inns – all with en-suite bath
• Transportation in comfortable van 

• Dramatic cliff fortress of Roque St. Christophe
• Château visits • Picnic with local produce 
• The fine wines of the Bordeaux region
• Numerous shopping opportunities
• Some of France's loveliest villages – Domme, Beynac, la Roque-Gageac
• Cave paintings and artifacts from 500,000 years of human habitation
• The outstanding market at Sarlat – among the finest in France
• Lunches at two Michelin-starred restaurants
• Fabulous outdoor markets
• The bastide ("new" town of the 13th century) of Monpazier on market day

• Art, villages, castles, gorgeous scenery

 

 

 

NEWS FLASH!

 

INTIMATE FRANCE JOINS 21ST CENTURY
 

 — INNOVATION 1, CREDIT CARDS

 

Use Plastic to Pay For a Tour
 

By George Nevin

Founder-owner, Intimate France

 

At Intimate France, we resisted the lure of newfangled technology for a long time, but we've finally capitulated. Beginning with tours in spring 2018, use your Visa-Mastercard-Discover card to make tour deposits and final payments.

 

Go to this page to find signup options for 2018, including using a card as payment of the deposit and/or tour balance.

 

If you would rather just ask us about using a card, please call us at (800 676-1247) or email us at intimatefrance@gmail.com.

 

 

— INNOVATION 2, SOCIAL MEDIA

 

We're Now Listed on TripAdvisor

 

As of late June 2017, Intimate France Tours has a presence on TripAdvisor. See us here.

 

This listing is still quite new, but we already have seven reviews, all very positive and upbeat. It's deeply gratifying to read what others say about our tours.

 

I find reviews such as these most helpful in evaluating hotels, restaurants and, yes, tours. 

 

Enjoy!

 

                                                                                 

 

QUEBEC — A BIT OF FRANCE
RIGHT HERE IN NORTH AMERICA

 

 

In the upper town, old Quebec City

See below

                                                                                 

 

 

THE LATEST MONEY GRAB
BY BIG, INTERNATIONAL HOTELS

 


'Resort fees' are very common in Las Vegas.

 

By George Nevin

Founder-owner, Intimate France

 

Hard on the heels of more and more European hotels, restaurants and shops offering the "convenience" of charging for services in U.S. dollars instead of local currency comes word that hotels are increasingly charging a "resort fee" for amenities many of us may not want.

 

So far, these fees — also sometimes called "urban fees" or amenity charges" — are mostly found at high-end hotels, many of them part of international, business-oriented chains like Holiday Inn, Hilton, NH Hotels and Sofitel.

 

But don't assume the small, family-run hotel you want to book in a charming French village isn't also tacking on a resort fee, although it may be quite small.

 

These fees — many say the hotel industry picked up the concept from cruise lines — can range from a dollar or two per day to much larger amounts: some up to $150 a day at really luxe resorts.

 

In my view there are two things wrong with these fees:

 

• They are mandatory. You can't stay at the hotel without incurring them.

 

• They bundle together amenities that you may not want — a daily newspaper, for example, or use of the hotel gym or in-room coffee maker.

 

Henry Harteveldt, founder of Atmosphere Research Group, a research and advisory firm serving the global travel industry, has studied resort fees and notes that at one time the amenities they cover were included as part of the basic room rate. No more, he says.

 

Harteveldt is convinced that resort fees are here to stay, absent government intervention, and that hotels won't drop them unless and until tourists vote with their feet and their pocketbooks, avoiding hotels that charge the fees.

 

A handy website, resortfeechecker.com, allows you to look up any hotel you're thinking of booking and find out if it charges a resort fee.

 

The site is far from perfect — it's based on searching for a hotel (or in a city) whose name you know, and it does not always report the amount of the resort fee, merely the fact that one exists.

 

Additionally, in some cases hotels are listed as having a resort fee of 1 or 2 euros, which to me sounds more like a city tourist tax, which is popping up increasingly throughout Europe, than a true resort fee.

 

A peek at one hotel (the Vdara Hotel & Spa, Las Vegas) listed by ResortFeeChecker.com as having a resort fee of $44.20 per room per day shows that some of the "amenities" covered are basic things that a hotel guest might normally expect to be included in a stay: fitness center access and Internet usage, for instance.

 

Harteveldt suggests that, in some cases, an individual hotel may be persuaded to reduce or even waive the resort fee, on request, especially if the traveler is booking a longer stay, or more than one room, or a stay during a very slow time of year.

 

But if you really want to avoid a resort fee, there may be no option but to check carefully in advance, querying the hotel directly to find out their fee policy, and avoid any hostelry that exploits guests in this way.

 

Just Back from Quebec City


By George Nevin

Founder-owner, Intimate France

 

In the first week of August, Susan and I joined three other family members on a five-day visit to Quebec City. It's a beautiful town, and we really enjoyed the amenities, food, sights and the feel of being immersed in French culture.

 

We also liked not having to fly 12-plus hours from our base in California in order to experience European ambiance. Montreal was a direct flight of just over five hours — child's play for us transAtlantic veterans.

 

Our reunion had originally intended to bring together four of my siblings and myself, but two sisters had to bow out for health reasons. Here's hoping they can one day experience the very authentic French-ness of Quebec.

 

We rented a very comfortable, town-center house in old Quebec City — La Maison 1850, a four-level property that was ideally located and worked well for us. Its four bedrooms and three baths would have nicely accommodated our original group (before dropouts), and we loved the big kitchen-dining area, perfect for morning and evening get-togethers. Check it out on HomeAway here.

 

Here, in pictorial form, are some trip highlights.

 

 

The most charming part of old Quebec City is the Petit Champlain neighborhood — shops, bars, restaurants and architecture dating from the early 1600s, making it the oldest commercial district in North America.

 

 

 

Only a short bus ride from town is impressive Montmorency Falls, which the tourist bureau is quick to point out are almost 100 feet higher than Niagara.

 

 

 

The boardwalk at the foot of Quebec City's signature sight — Château Frontenac Hotel, dating from 1893. Many consider it the most-photographed hotel in the world.

 

 

Château Frontenac looms high above the Petit Champlain district, gaily bedecked with cafe terraces.

 

 

The broad St. Lawrence River at Quebec City is deep enough to welcome large ships, both cruise liners and commercial vessels.