Archive for February 9th, 2006
Region known for Champagne production. Picturesque rolling hills and vineyards. 90 minutes from Paris, making it an easy day trip or overnight from Paris.
Historical gothic cathedral where France’s kings were crowned Champagne, the very symbol of sophistication, graceful living and celebration, is produced nowhere else in the world. All champagnes are made within a few miles of each other outside Reims and Epernay, near the Abbey of Saint-Pierre where the legendary Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, supposedly invented the bubbly by accident in the early 18th Century (some would say by divine inspiration). Just as still wines have different characteristics and tastes, so do champagnes, and the great houses of Mumm, Piper-Heidsieck, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon, among more than 100 others, want to prove this with guided tours (in English) of their cellars and tasting of the current vintage.
Sightseeing centers around Reims and its Notre-Dame Cathedral, the heart of France’s royal history where twenty-five kings were crowned. This Gothic structure is one of France’s most magnificent churches, and some would place its rose windows among the best in the world.
South of the Champagne vineyards is Troyes, once one of Europe’s most magnificent cities. This capital of the Counts of Champagne, who ruled the region before there was a France, is lined with beautifully-preserved half-timbered houses built during the 16th Century. North of Reims are the French Ardennes where Europe’s sometimes bloody history has been decided on the fields of Sedan, Argonne and Châlons-sur-Marne, along the rivers Meuse and Marne.
The Champagne region is only a 90-minute drive from Paris, making it an easy day trip
Read more: http://www.francetourism.com/practicalinfo/
February 9th, 2006
PARIS, France (AP) — Outside, it’s chilly and damp, with the kind of Paris drizzle that soaks through your coat and renders an umbrella useless. I’m at the spa, lounging on a cushion, nibbling a honey-dripped pastry and waiting for a massage.
On a winter afternoon in Paris, when the Louvre is crowded and the streets are wet, it doesn’t get much better than this. Paris is full of North African spas that — for reasons I can’t fathom — don’t figure in most tourist guides.
Hammams, as they are called, have mosaic-tile steam rooms where you slather yourself in olive oil-based soap, sweat, rinse, have your skin buffed with a scratchy mitt, then get a massage. Afterward, you retreat to a darkened room, lounge around in a cotton robe, drink mint tea from a silver pot and fall in and out of sleep.
Friends who visit me in Paris generally say the hammam was one of their favorite Paris memories. It’s also one of the only affordable beauty splurges in a city where a manicure costs around $35. A basic entrance pass at the bathhouse at the Paris Mosque is only about $17.
The word “hammam” means bath, bathroom or bathhouse. It comes from the Arabic word hamm, which means warm or hot. Besides soothing and healing the body, the hammam has a traditional dimension for Paris’ large Muslim North African community.
Before their weddings, for example, some brides-to-be visit the hammam to bathe and have intricate henna designs etched on their hands and feet. Beyond the ritual, the hammam is also a place where young and old come together, and everyone is welcome. And despite any friction between France and its minorities — in the spotlight during last fall’s rioting — the hammam is a place where tensions melt away
Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/2006/TRAVEL/DESTINATIONS/02/08/
February 9th, 2006
With cool temperatures and mild winds forecast for early Tuesday, adventurer pilot Steve Fossett plans to strap himself inside the tiny cockpit of an experimental aircraft and take off for what he hopes will be an 80-hour, nonstop flight that will take him around the world, and then some.
“I’m not confident of success because of what I’m trying to do,” said Fossett at a preflight press conference on Monday. “It will be very close.”
Fossett took the plane, called GlobalFlyer, around the world last year, setting a new record for the longest solo, nonstop flight. But a problem with the plane’s venting system cost Fossett more than 3,000 pounds of fuel. The experience left him with the unsettling notion that the plane had not performed to its peak capability.
“It’s a matter of personal pride,” Fossett explained.
So Fossett plans to guide GlobalFlyer from Florida, over the Atlantic Ocean, across the Western Sahara, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Japan, Mexico, the United States, back over the Atlantic and Ireland before settling down, hopefully on Friday, at Kent International Airport outside of London.
Read more: http://travel.discovery.com/news/afp/20060206/globalflyer.html?source=rss
February 9th, 2006