The perfect book for your next travel in France and Europe
“Vacations & Libations: Enjoy France & Europe ‘Our Way’” is a summary of European travel notes and experiences, complied over a fifteen year period 1995-2011. You will find a series of regional knowledge and practical tips to help you experience your visit like a native and enjoy the French and European way of life. Find out more by reading the interview of the author.
e-Toile: Mr Bailey, when did you decide to write this book and why?
Scott A. Bailey: My family and I are ‘informed amateurs’ in wine appreciation and gastronomic cuisine. Our French and European adventures center on pursuing both of these pleasures and how they contribute to the savoir faire and bonhomie of richer, fuller life experiences.
I have been a journalist at heart since high school days, so note taking and archiving information were easy.
Friends and acquaintances continually asked ‘what areas should we visit in France? Where should we dine? What are some of the better wine experiences there? Etc.
My post-trip Travel Notes, emailed to a number of followers, naturally became the bases for various chapters of my book. After fifteen years of wonderful experiences, it was time, in 2011-12, to chronicle the archived information into a readable, useful travel companion book.
The primary focus is for travelers who are looking for top quality experiences while getting good value for money. It is intended to be a reference work for travelers to review while planning for upcoming trips.
e-Toile: Is it important for you to experience your visit abroad like a native? Is it to be closer to the culture and habits of the country?
Scott A. Bailey: Emphatically YES to both questions. What’s the point of traveling abroad if all you look for is to try to duplicate an American experience – cuisine, beverages, accommodations, etc.
Sadly, the McDonalds on the Champs-Elysees is full of Americans – ‘you know what you’re going to get’!
Travel should be an adventure; see the country from a native’s point of view, experience the culture, the ‘terroir’, the customs.
e-Toile: Please share with us a best and worst memory of travel abroad.
Scott A. Bailey: Our best memory is an on-going one.
Contrary to what many Americans believe about Parisians / French people, we find them to be very cordial, helpful, friendly and charming.
Perhaps the best advice we can give to travelers is to leave your ‘attitude’ on the aircraft, smile and attempt to engage French people with whatever few words that you know of their language.
That ‘ice-breaker’ many times will open the door and you’ll find that the person may suggest switching to English for more effective communication.
In our experiences, we have made many long-lasting friendships with French people and families, been invited into their homes, participated in meals and family gatherings and been invited to attend their children’s weddings.
On the other hand, an example of a worst travel memory is to be wary of booking hotel accommodations, relying on the stars rating system, without seeing the facility beforehand.
The French hotel star ratings do allow for wide variances in type, age, condition and location of properties.
In one of our trips to Paris, our favorite 3-star hotel was fully booked, so we opted for another 3-star hotel in the neighborhood that looked fine from the outside (but we had never been inside). It was also booked through a discount travel site; therefore, it was prepaid. Fortunately, it was a very short stay, because the hotel rooms were a disaster.
e-Toile: Summer break is soon to occur. What advice would you give to people who intend to travel to France in the summer? What are your summer-time recommendations?
Scott A. Bailey: Paris, and most of France for that matter, can be very hot in the summer. Air conditioning is helpful, but generally not as cold as Americans want it to be.
Go out into the regions for cooler climes, fresh air and relaxing atmosphere.
Two thoughts would be:
- The areas of Jura and Savoie – near and in the French Alps. Lake Annecy is a perfect spot for relaxing, fine cuisine and the enjoyable (but not well known) local wines;
- The Alsace – Lorraine region, near the Vosges Mountains. The Route des Vins in Alsace winds through picturesque villages and vineyards.
The cuisine is refined, delicious and pairs beautifully with the minerally dry, crisp Alsatian wines. The Parc Naturel des Vosges in Lorraine is a bucolic, undeveloped natural area for hiking, boating and swimming.
For those who have booked their flights, but have not yet made any land plans or are going to ‘wing it’, this is the Summer to purchase ‘cruise-only’ fares for coastal Atlantic and Mediterranean cruises.
Prices are negotiable and there is an excess of ships in Europe that need to fill otherwise empty berths!
Article published June 15, 2013.