Images of Montpellier, France

The fountain of Trois Graces in Montpellier’s Place de la Comedie

One of my greatest joys in life? Discovering a new place with a dear friend.

And should said new place be where said friend makes their home? Double joy, what with the personalized tour guide-ness of it all.

For example, there was that time I was on a road trip with my pal Christine and we stopped off to explore the place she’s lived as an American expat for the last umpteen years: 

Montpellier, the delightful capital city of the Languedoc-Rousillon region of southern France.

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Get Thee to a Gite

View of the Cevennes foothills from the front steps of the Salamander gite

What we call a “rental condo” in America, the French more musically term a “holiday gite” (pronounced jheet).

The Salamander gite, way up in the tiny mountain village of Usclas-du-Bosc, in the southwestern Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, creates its own music. The song involves rainbows, a grass-ruffling breeze and the crackle of a woodstove…just in case you like those kinds of things.

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Barging Your Way Through Southern France

“Barging” is a strangely aggressive term for enjoying gentle, tree-lined waterways with a glass of rosé in your hand. Sadly, though, we have no better word in English. 

In French, barging is called peniche (pen-EESH), which I feel more aptly conjures a sense of joie de vivre…with a glass of rosé in your hand.

This past spring on the Canal du Midi in Southern France, I stayed on a barge named the Peniche Oz, and now have an even deeper appreciation for a cozy room with a view of the water. I feel I could make it work for just about the rest of my life.

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The Most Romantic Toy Store in the World

While tooling around southern France on a sunny day in May (as one does), my dear friend Christine and I stopped off to explore her home turf,  the small city of Montpellier. Her boyfriend, Cal, greeted her with kisses and proudly squired us around, showing off the highlights of this magical town that few foreign tourists ever see.

I had no expectations that while I was there, I’d fall deeply in love — with a toy store.

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Off to France, Italy and Croatia

Le Petit Hôpital near Avignon, France, one of my (delightful) European destinations


Bon voyage — to me!

I’m off to Europe for a month, and to say I’m excited would be a hilarious understatement.

This trip will take me to France for two weeks, Italy for eight days and Croatia for nine days.

This is the longest trip I’ve taken since about 1985 — and here’s how it’ll all play out:

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