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France

ST. MAARTEN/ST. MARTIN – Fine, flavoured rum. Sweet-smelling local soaps. And a dreamy beach resort with one of the best massages I’ve ever had. I had the good luck to spend roughly 24 hours in St. Maarten (and an hour or so on the French side, St. Martin) following my Caribbean cruise with Sea Dream Yacht Club. And found a lot to like. We started our day (my wife was with me, which is always great) in Marigot on the French side, where we strolled through the waterfront markets and bought some trinkets to take . home. It feels a ... continue reading →

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Europe can get hot and crowded in summer. So why not try a trip in winter? Air fares and hotels will be less expensive, often wildly so. And you won’t have the crowds. Which means more time to delve deep and really explore. Here are some great spots to try. IRELAND A bit cool, you say? Well, it’s not like summer in Ireland is a guaranteed heat furnace. So why not explore Dublin’s Temple Bar when you don’t need a reservation for the best bar stool? And why not try a night at a sumptuous spot like Ashford Castle in ... continue reading →

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NOTE: THESE POSTS WERE FILED TO MY TORONTO STAR BLOG IN DECEMBER 2010. AIX-EN-PROVENCE, FRANCE  – Walking into town from my hotel it didn’t look like much. But once I got past the garish kiddie rides that have taken over the main square here for Christmas (they did the same thing in Paris at the Bastille, which is another matter entirely) I was suddenly in a charming, ancient city. Aix was founded by the Romans back in 122 B.C. after a convincing military victory over local Ligurian tribes, and it’s filled with lovely squares and limestone buildings in various Provencal shades of ... continue reading →

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This post is from a great visit in December, 2010… PARIS – It wasn’t what I expected. And I couldn’t have been happier. When someone from the French tourism office in Canada suggested I take in a jazz brunch on Sunday, I had pictures of a bunch of guys Woody Allen’s age bopping on the clarinet in front of a well-heeled group of visitors at a semi-swanky hotel room. Or something like that. Instead, when I arrived at a place near the Marais district called Le Reservoir, I was mildly surprised – in the best possible way – to find ... continue reading →

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