The Roads Traveled highly recommends:
French Cuisine by Jean-Marc Villard cuisinedechef.com
French chef Jean-Marc Villard leads students on a culinary adventure in his day-long, hands-on, gourmet cooking classes (taught in English) at his own home in Maubec, France, the heart of picturesque Provence. A former chef and instructor at the prestigious Paul Bocuse Institute in Lyon, France, Jean-Marc shares his passion for all things “gastronomique.” Click here to read how I learned to shop, cook, and eat like the French. Bon appétit!
The Cook’s Atelier thecooksatelier.com
American chef Marjorie Taylor is the cook, and her daughter, Kendall Smith Franchini, manages the wines at this small cooking school in Beaune, France. Devoted to regional Burgundian culinary traditions with a focus on the connection between farmers and cooks, the school offers hands-on cooking classes, workshops, market tours, and field trips to artisan food producers. We shopped for ingredients at Beaune’s outdoor market, and then prepared a truly memorable meal of gougeres, roasted pintade with garden vegetables, and fresh peach tarts. Click here to read more. On a return trip to Beaune, we couldn’t resist taking the market tour and cooking class for a second time. Click here to read more.
GADGETS, GIZMOS, AND OTHER MUST-HAVES
FITBIT ONE fitbit.com
Fitbit One, a wireless activity tracker, helps you keep fit on the road (and at home). The small plastic device slips into a pocket or clips onto your clothing, and tracks steps, distance, calories burned, and the equivalent of stairs climbed. It will even measure sleep quality. You’ll learn to love it, and it will love you back. Click here to read more.
GRIP&SHOOT is an ergonomically designed, wireless, hand-held device that will give you better control when you take photos or videos with your iPhone. Simply secure your phone into the supplied case (or use the detachable grip from the Joby GripTight Micro Stand, which is what we do), press the + and – buttons to zoom in and out, and, as the names says, grip and shoot using the trigger to release the shutter. This makes it so easy to aim, zoom, hold steady, and shoot great photos while keeping one hand free.
Joby sells several highly portable, lightweight smartphone accessories that are essentials for taking great travel photos and videos. The GripTight Micro Stand (mentioned in GRIP&SHOOT) is a smartphone tripod — a combo adjustable, detachable grip and stand. Another accessory is the GripTight GorillaPod. Its flexible legs allow you to wrap your smartphone or small point-and-shoot camera anywhere — around a tree branch, a railing, or even a bike handlebar — for more versatility. Wrap it around your arm or leg and take a selfie.
The Map Shop themapshop.com
It’s hard to get where you’re going if you don’t know how to get there. Maps make the difference. The Map Shop in Charlotte, NC, has about 11,000 maps to help you find your way around the world. Click here to read more.
Looking for a place to stay? Pretty much anywhere? Check out airbnb, a website that lists homes, apartments, and rooms for rent by people in over 34,000 cities and 192 countries. We’ve used the service several times, and rented charming properties without a hitch. Click here to read about the cottage in Glen Ellen, CA. Click here to read about the apartment in London. Click here to read about the apartment in Paris. Click here to read about the cottage in Kenwood, CA. Click here to read about the apartment in Amsterdam.
British Tours britishtours.com
We hired a private driver/guide to give us an all-day overview tour of London. We saw the major sites — the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace (including uncrowded places to stand for clear views of the guards marching), Westminster Abbey, the Royal Parks, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and crown jewels, Ben Ben and the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and more. We’d visited London before, but our engaging guide shared new information and insights. Click here to read more about our tour.
DETOURS in France detours-in-france.com
Based in Beaune, France, this company provides self-guided and customized tours. We retained them to plan our visit to Burgundy, which included a private guided tour and tastings along the Grand Crus Wine Road (Route des Grands Crus), a 9-mile hike through the countryside, a private guided tour at Hospices de Beaune, a cooking class at The Cook’s Atelier, and restaurant reservations. Click here to read more.
Holland Personal Tour Guide hollandpersonaltourguide.nl
We booked a private Windmills & Traditions tour with Gerk Kazemier to venture north into The Netherlands’ countryside during a trip to Amsterdam. We strolled through the scenic villages of Alkmaar, Edam, and Marken, and saw some of Holland’s most iconic images: traditional cheese markets and cheese shops; a cobbler carving wooden shoes; historic houses; a working windmill at Schermer polder (reclaimed land); canals and dikes; and a former fishermen’s island. Click here to read more about our tour.
We learned about Amsterdam’s history during our private walking tour of the city with Peter Hooghiemstra as we passed through: Dam Square, the Royal Palace, New Church, the national monument honoring World War II dead, the Red Light district, New Market Square, Rembrandt’s house, Rembrandt Square, Begijnhof, canal zone, and Anne Frank House. Click here to read more about our tour.
Normandy Battle Tours normandybattletours.com
Stuart Robertson of Normandy Battle Tours brings the story of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy to life with his vivid accounts of this pivotal World War II event in France. His tour includes stops at the landing beaches, towns where battles were fought, and the cemeteries. Click here to buy his book “D-Day, June 6th, 1944: Following In The Footsteps of Heroes.” Click here to read more about our tour.
Palm Springs Modern Tours palmspringsmoderntours.com
As fans of Mid-Century Modern design, we took this small-group, drive-by home tour to explore the desert modernism style that developed in Palm Springs, CA. Our guide gave an entertaining, running commentary on the history of the city, architects and their architecture, Hollywood celebrities who have built/rented homes and their playgrounds, film locations, and preservationists’ efforts to safeguard the city’s renowned built environment. Click here to read more about our tour.
Portland Walking Tours portlandwalkingtours.com
To explore Portland’s thriving food scene, we booked an Epicurean Excursion. As we walked through different downtown neighborhoods, we sampled scrumptious foods and beverages from some of the finest purveyors while learning about what makes the city such a culinary destination. Click here to read more about our tour.
Private Tours Paris private-tours-paris.com
We hired a private, English-speaking driver/guide for two half days to give us an overview of Paris, and then the Palace of Versailles. In addition to driving us past the major Parisian sites, like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and Jardin des Tuileries, she personally guided us through Notre Dame Cathedral. She also personally guided us through Versailles. Being part of a tour enabled us to use Versaille’s group tour entrance and bypass the very long line for regular admittance. Click here to read more about our Paris tour, and here to read more about our Versailles tour.