I had originally booked two nights at the Marriott, but changed my mind at the last minute and book the second night at the Le Meridien in Nice. What a great decision that turned out to be! The room we got at the Le Meridien was awesome. They put us on the top floor in an executive room, and our King size bed faced the beach. Waking up to the sun rising over the Med is something I'll never forget. We did have a bit of a scare though... After we checked in, we dropped our stuff in our room and headed up to the rooftop restaurant for lunch. We both ordered hamburgers, and I washed mine down with an excellent, well chilled Sancerre. When we came back from lunch to our room, we noticed all our stuff was gone. We were kinda freaked that our stuff, especially our passports and computer, were gone! After a couple of frantic calls to hotel security, it was discovered that one of the bellmen had goofed and thought that we had changed rooms. They brought our things from the other room and everything was right again. But still, there was about 10min of genuine panic. To calm our nerves, we headed over to the hotel's private beach and I ordered a cocktail. On a tip from the Conceirge, we headed to a French restaurant about a 15 minute walk from our hotel. It was kinda hidden, and out of the way of the tourist area. It ended up being one of the best meals we've had so far. I had rack of lamb over french beans and potatoes au gratin and Alison had salmon. I selected a Crozes-Hermitage to go with it, and it was outstanding. On our way out, I told our waitress that it was the best food I had had in France, and she gave me a hug! For Brandy and Ray: In case you want to check it out if you go to Nice, it's called Les Epicuriens. 6 Place Wilson - 06000 Nice. Tel 04 93 80 85 00.The next day was pretty much just a driving day to get us up towards Paris. We took the long way from Nice to Avignon, up and over the mountains above Nice and then down into the Provencial plains. We did take a funny side trip... Our guide book had mentioned this thing called the Fontaine de Vacluse, which it claimed was a very impressive and very deep natural fountain. It even claimed that Jaques Cousteau had attempted unsuccessfully to dive to the bottom of it. Since it was only a few km off our route, we decided we had to see this thing. Well, as you can see from the picture, we must have been there on an off day. Oh well. At least the 20 minute hike past all the souvenir carts and fried food stands got our blood pumping after being in the car all day. We got back in the car and headed towards Carpentras, which was our planned stay for the night. But when we got there, we weren't sure we wanted to stay. It was a bit dirty, and kind of a college town. We decided to check out Avignon (20km NW) instead. We're sure glad we did. Avignon is a walled city right on the Rhone River, and it has a really neat cathedral/palace. Apparently it was the pope's residence at one point. We found a nice hotel, and took an evening stroll. Being rather tired of restraunts, we settled for a couple of sandwiches from a street stand. Good stuff, and cheap! We headed back to the hotel early for a good night's sleep.
After a quick breakfast of espresso and baguette frommage (basically a sliced baguette with about half a wheel of brie on it - Delicious!), we headed north for Beaune and the Cote d' Or. Following the Route du Grand Vins, we saw several of the famous Burgundian regions I am familiar with - Macon, Puligny Montrachet, Pommard, and Beaune. We stopped at a few wineries and tasted some great local stuff. I'm not sure how were going to get all the wine we bought home. We took a lunch break in Beaune and were going to stay the night, but there was not an empty hotel room to be found. We decided that we'd just continue to Paris since it was only 2.5 hrs more. So that is where I find myself now, in Paris, at The Le Meridien La E'toille. Looking forward to seeing the sights over the next 2 days, and to coming home after that. Talk to you all soon!