JACKIE: We want to Talk about two very special venues in France, both unique and universal. I had previously visited both these enchanting cities and have delicious memories. However, I needed to return home after Paris, home that offers the universally unique Toluca Lake Open House (this coming Friday!), a tour unto itself.
DAVID: The 150 miles from Antibes, my weeklong stop on the French Riviera, whizzed by as my leased Renault Clio took me into the ancient heart of Avignon surrounded by its medieval ramparts. Great little dependable car and so easily and economically supplied via my new discovery: Wheels in Europe and Renault Eurodrive. Please check out their websites.
JACKIE: When I think of Avignon I dwell on the fragrant couscous tagines in the casual university restaurant. Let’s see what David dwells on (Did you watch The Borgias?).…
DAVID: Now to the city of the Popes, who occupied Avignon from 1309 to 1423 during the Catholic schism. So I was compelled to spend my three days at The Cloitre Saint-Louis, constructed over a 100-year period ending in 1738. Before it became today’s four-star, modern hotel in medieval dress, it was a monastery, a convent, a military hospital, and the National Theatre Center (which still occupies the northern wing). The contemporary wing has a roof top swimming pool. My enormous accommodation had the original stone walls and arches and an emperor-sized bed with a five-step walk up to a large sitting room surrounded by centuries old stone and with a sky-high beamed ceiling. The floors were all burnt-red tiles, yet it was modern and comfy. Outside, the buildings surrounded a large park with a fountain and six majestic Plane trees…. After a weekend of wandering the fascinating city, I met Alain List, congenial manager of the Hotel Cloitre Saint-Louis, who kindly showed me other rooms and the well-equipped meeting room. All in all, a perfect place to spend a few days in amazing Avignon.
ON TO ANNECY
A sudden storm and heavy fog added an hour to my drive, but my Renault Eurodrive Clio and her excellent TomTom GPS performed like champions. The sun was out to light up my destination, the great white edifice, L’Imperial Palace, a hundred year old structure completely re-modeled in 1990 to become a contemporary version of the Grand Hotels of times gone by. Today it is a three-in-one combination of 99 rooms and suites comprising the four-star hotel in the center with adjoining casino on one side and banquet and conference rooms on the other. Quite a world unto itself and situated on a wooded park-like peninsula with Europe’s purest Lake Annecy stretching out behind the Palace to meet the French Alps looking close enough to touch. My balcony overlooked this glorious scene. The room, furnished in a modern version of Art Deco with polished woods and shining chrome, a real “wow-ee”! Unexpected extra, a complimentary mini-bar! After a bountiful buffet breakfast, I met with Laurence Mogli, the pretty lady who looks much too young for her position as head of PR and events planning, along with supervising production of brochures and all promotional material. We dined at the restaurant La Voile (The Veil), and she explained that the menu prices were deliberately moderate to encourage guests to sample their uncomplicated (but delicious) approach to French cuisine (Ah, my juicy lamb chops!). A quick trip to the casino, where I actually won a few Euros at roulette — just another touch of luck while staying at the Imperial Palace, a few minutes from the terrific old town of Annecy.
JACKIE: My Imperial memory is the peace one finds in the art filled park and the lake with Mont-Blanc in the distance. Have a virtual visit: http://www.hotel-imperial-palace.com.
I still have more Paris to share, especially the time in our terrific digs there. We found our dear apartment on: I Love Paris Apartments website. Hope you can find one too.