France and USA, 2008


These are some notes on the places where we stayed, most of which we can recommend. We booked all our accommodation over the Internet, and links are provided to the relevant sites. Because we are elderly, we particularly note the ease of nearby parking and of getting heavy bags from the car to the room.


HONG KONG: Royal Garden Hotel, Mody Road, Kowloon. A high-rise, international-style hotel. Comfortable but impersonal because of its size. Convenient for Star Ferry and the Nathan Road shops. Good value if you book early and get the discount rate. It has a good Italian restaurant, Sabatini's, which is reasonable value. Lifts to all floors, and flunkies to assist with baggage, taxis, etc.

GIVERNY: Le Moulin des Chennevières, 34 Chemin du Roi. A pleasant and comfortable B&B, within easy and reasonably level walking distance of the centre of Giverny. The gardens behind go down to the Seine, and there are animals including kangaroos. Ample free parking in the courtyard, but a steep flight of stairs to the bedrooms. Reasonable English spoken.

DINAN: Le Logis du Jerzual, 25 Rue de Petit-Fort. Another pleasant and comfortable B&B. Rue de Petit-Fort is a very steep pedestrianised road leading from Dinan's old port on the River Rance to the old fortified hilltop town, and Le Logis is about one-third the way up. Restaurants for lunch and dinner are either at the port or in the town. Cars can be driven to the door to unload and load bags, but then have to be parked near the top of the hill. One room is at street level, but the breakfast room is up to steep flights of stairs as was our bedroom. The owner is very willing to help with luggage, and was very helpful when Nick was taken ill with pneumonia and had to spend two days in hospital. Some English spoken.

CHINON: 10 Rue Claude Quillet. This is a first-floor, two-bedroom flat which we booked for a week. It had two bedrooms of reasonable size, a living room with television, and a fairly small kitchen with cooking facilities, dishwasher, and washing machine. French doors opened onto a small courtyard, shown in the photo. Chinon slopes quite steeply from the river to the château, but most of the shops and restaurants are a reasonably level walk. Cars can be driven to the door to unload and load bags, but the nearest free parking is more than five minutes' walk away. The stairs are not too steep. Very limited English but we managed with our limited French.

BOURDEILLES: Hostellerie Les Griffons. A well-run hotel with a good restaurant, right next to the river Dronne. There is not much else in the village of Bourdeilles, but it is a convenient base for touring this part of Perigord. The hotel has parking next to the river: it flooded while we were there, but there was alternative parking nearby. Very pleasant and helpful staff. Good English spoken.

PAUILLAC: Château Cordeillan-Bages. This was one of our extravagances: an expensive hotel with a very expensive and excellent restaurant with two Michelin stars. As one would expect, excellent service, magnificent food, plenty of parking, and flunkies to carry bags. Good English spoken throughout hotel and restaurant.

SAINT-ÉMILION: Auberge de la Commanderie, Rue des Cordeliers. A comfortable small hotel with rather eccentric decoration. Convenient to walk around the centre of St-Émilion to look at restaurants, wine cellars, and foie gras shops. Access to the hotel via the one way system is difficult and very narrow. Cars can be driven to the door to unload and load bags, but then have to be parked in the hotel car park about 100 metres away. There is a lift. English ability varied, depending on staff on desk.

SARLAT-LA-CANÉDA: La Maison des Poètes, 3 Rue La Boétie. Apartment Verlaine, a first-floor, one-bedroom apartment where we stayed for a week. It was well-equipped, but looked after by an estate agent rather than being cared for by its owner, so there were some minor problems like blown lamps in the chandelier. There was a small supermarket close by, and it was an easy walk to the centre of Sarlat. It is not possible to drive to the door, and the nearest (metered) parking is some 150 metres away, up a quite steep hill. There is no free parking within reasonable distance. Our flat was up one flight of steep, winding stairs and it was difficult to get our bags up. The other apartments in the building are up even more stairs. It does not state this in the website. Reasonable English at real-estate agent.

SAINT-CIRQ-LAPOPIE: Hotel de la Pélissaria. Another comfortable hotel, although with its rooms spread out in two buildings and at various levels. We selected Room 9, which is at street level but the other side of the street from the main hotel. Most of the other rooms are up or down quite a few stairs. Cars can be driven to the door to unload and load bags, but then have to be parked in the hotel car park about 100 metres away. It is a long and steep walk to the centre of the village where there are restaurants and shops. Reasonable English. Update: This hotel closed at the end of 2009, but occasionally has rooms available.

LE MONT-DORE: Grand Hotel, 3 Rue Meynardier. OK for an overnight stay, but (like much of the town) it has seen better days. We were booked into a superior room on the third floor but, on finding there was no lift, we insisted on a transfer to a smaller room on the first floor. In the centre of town, with adequate free parking in its grounds. Reasonable English.

LE PUY-EN-VELAY: Hôtel du Parc, 4 Avenue Clément Charbonnier. A recently modernised, small (15 room) hotel, on the edge of the town centre. Comfortable, with helpful staff. Cars can be parked at the door to unload and load bags, but then have to be taken elsewhere. The hotel has a car park underneath, for which there is a small charge. The lift does not serve the car park, but there is a passageway from reception. It was an easy walk to shops and restaurants, but it is an uphill slog to the three religious sites, each of which is at the top of a volcanic plug. Excellent English.

MILLAU: Château de Creissels, Creissels. Excellent accommodation in a genuine old château in a village just outside Millau. Our bedroom was behind the upper large window in the photo, with our bathroom in the tower. There was an excellent view of the Millau Viaduct out of the window, which we had specifically requested. Plenty of car parking on site. There are stairs to the rooms, but not steep. There is not much else in Creissels, but the hotel has an excellent restaurant. Reasonable English.

L'ISLE-SUR-LA-SORGUE, La Maison des Roses, 3 bis Rue de 4 Septembre. A two-bedroom apartment that we rented for a week. It was about as close to perfect as one can get. Just about everything you could need was provided: it was as if the owner had gone away for a week and let us use the flat. There was free parking in a small cul-de-sac, and it was an easy level walk to all parts of L'Isle. There were steps from the parking to the living level, and then more stairs to the bedrooms, but they were not too steep. Highly recommended. Owners have good English. Update: As at mid-2010, this apartment is not listed as being available.

MOUSTIERS-SAINTE-MARIE: La Bastide du Paradou. The owner is somewhat eccentric, but the room was comfortable and the breakfasts were excellent. Free parking beside the tiny road leading to the hotel, and the stairs were not too bad. It is a very steep walk to the main part of the village, where there are shops and restaurants. Good English and he will cook for you if requested.

MENTON: Hôtel Napoléon, 29 Porte de France. A modern hotel on the front at Menton, with a private beach and restaurant next to it. The hotel has a small car park which was full when we got there, but guests can pull into the car park entrance to unload bags, and there are flunkies and lifts to get them to the room. There is plenty of free parking on the roads and at the beachfront nearby. It was a level walk of some 250 metres to Menton town with its shops and restaurants. Multilingual staff, especially on the desk.

BRIANÇON: Hôtel Le Cristol, 6 Route d'Italie. The hotel was inexpensive, but that's about all that can be said for it. The room was small, with a balcony with a view over a housing estate. The two staff were rushed and rude, and did not offer to assist in getting bags up steep stairs. The breakfast coffee was luke-warm, the cereals were all pre-packed and the rolls were stale. Easy parking nearby, and an easy walk to the Citadel with shops and restaurants. Not recommended. No English at all and they were offended that we asked.

TALLOIRES: Hôtel du Lac. A comfortable resort hotel near the shore of Lake Annecy, with helpful staff. Plenty of free parking in the grounds. Our room was one flight of stairs up from reception, the restaurant, and the swimming pool; but on the same level as one of the car parks. Good breakfasts, but a very limited table d'hôte menu for dinner, so we had dinner elsewhere. There's not a lot in Talloires apart from some VERY expensive hotels and a lake beach but it was a nice place to relax and take a ferry on the lake. English variable but they would ask others for assistance.

SPIEZ: Hotel Seegarten Marina, Schachenstrasse 3. Another comfortable resort hotel right next to Lake Thun. Our room had a balcony looking onto the lake and the mountains beyond. Lift to get bags to the room, and free parking in a nearby multi-level car park. It would be quite a walk to the centre of Spiez, so we stayed down by the lake and had our dinners at the hotel. It was a very short walk to the ferry pier, and we caught the ferry to Thun and to Interlaken. Reasonable English which was good as we had no German.

BESANÇON: Hôtel du Nord, 8 Rue Moncey. A small, older style hotel with somehow a rather cramped feel to it, although it was pleasant enough. Cars can pull onto the pavement to drop luggage, and there is a lift. The hotel's enclosed car park is some blocks away. It's right in the old town, and very convenient for sights, shops and restaurants. The Vauban Citadel is a long, steep road up from the town, but one can drive up. Variable English but we managed.

VÉZELAY: Hôtel de la Poste et du Lion d'Or, Place du Champ de Foire. Comfortable traditional hotel on a square just outside Vézelay old town. Pay-and-display parking provided by local council (€1 for one hour; €2 for whole day). Stairs are not steep, and staff help with bags. Excellent restaurant, and nice bar area including some outside tables. It's quite a walk up Vézelay's one street from the hotel to the basilica, but there are a number of interesting things on the way. The hotel is much better than the price would suggest with quite luxurious furnishings in the rooms and restaurant. Reasonable to good English.

TROYES: Relais Saint Jean, Rue Paillot-de-Montabert. In an old building, but modern inside. This is one hotel that has thought through how guests can easily get bags from their car to their room. It has leased spaces in a commercial car park behind the hotel. A corridor leads from the car park to the hotel basement, from which a lift goes to all levels. And they provide a luggage trolley. The hotel is in the heart of Troyes old town, and it's an easy walk to the sights, shops and restaurants. Our top floor room had roof windows but we could not see out. Good English.

PARIS: 3 Rue Balzac. A one-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor. The rooms were large for central Paris, and it was well equipped although it could have done with some minor maintenance. Our living room had the corner window and two adjacent windows just under the upper cornice, and our bedroom was the next window to the left. From the corner window, we could look down a block towards the Champs Elysees and across to the Tour Eiffel. All contact was via a website and email. Update: As at December 2010, this apartment is not listed as being available.

ROCKPORT: Lantana House, 22 Broadway. A nice B&B in central Rockport. Parking behind the house, and not too many steps. Easy walk to the port area and good restaurants.

BOSTON: Oasis Guest House, 22 Edgerly Road. Spread over at least two of a row of terraces. We asked for and received a ground floor room which was set up for accessibility so there were only a few steps to negotiate to the front door. No convenient parking, but we had returned the hire car. It is about three minutes' walk to an MBTA station, from which it is easy to get to all parts of central Boston. Helpful staff.

PORTLAND: The Lion and the Rose, 1810 NE 15th Avenue. A very comfortable B&B in a quiet part of Portland. We had the ground floor room, but there were two flights of steps up from the road. The owners happily helped us with our bags. Plenty of free parking on the street. Excellent breakfasts. A few good restaurants, a major shopping centre, and a Portland MAX (metro) station are all in easy walking distance.

ASHFORD: Alexander's Country Inn, 37515 State Road 706 E. This place has been providing accommodation and/or food since the Mount Rainier National Park opened. It's miles from anything else, so it is just as well that it has a reasonable restaurant. Plenty of parking. Steep stairs, but we did not have heavy luggage,

SEATTLE: Shafer Baillie Mansion, 907 14th Avenue E. Yet another good B&B. Easy parking on the street, fairly gentle stairs, good breakfast. A beautiful renovation in Millionaires Row. It is quite a walk down a hill to any shops or food. We caught a bus into central Seattle, then a cab back after we had eaten dinner.

HONOLULU: Ala Moana Hotel, 410 Atkinson Drive. A high-rise international hotel near the sea front. Obviously there are lifts and plenty of flunkies. We had dinner at two good restaurants: Aaron's on the top floor with good American food, and The Royal Garden serving Chinese on the third floor. It's easy walking distance to the huge Ala Moana shopping centre, with many shops and restaurants; and it's not too far to walk to Waikiki.


That's all for our 2008 trip. You can go back to our home page.