About PJ

PJ Adams is a psychotherapist and best selling author who splits her time between California and Europe. She enjoys learning French and writing about travel, self help, and other topics. Follow her on Twitter @PJAdams10Facebook, YouTube.

For more information on Meandering Trail Media or PJ Adams Books OR to schedule an interview or book signing, contact: Info@pjadamsbooks.com OR John Birkhead, PR Director, john.birkhead@pjadamsbooks.com,  +1 (760) 707-2577, Fax +1 949-258-8693.

See our France books trailer HERE

See the Intoxicating Greater Paris: Loire book trailer HERE. 

 

See the Intoxicating Southern France book trailer HERE 

See the Intoxicating Paris book trailer HERE     

         

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    PJ Adams

    PJ Adams is a psychotherapist and author in California.

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    Thursday
    Aug132015

    Avoid These Top 10 Travel Mistakes to Ensure a Hassle-free Trip to France

    France Magazine's Complete France is featuring one of PJ's articles on the ten top mistakes travelers make when going to France. See our complete article at Complete France.

    PJ in Cannes

    1. Neglecting to Read Hotel, Restaurant, and Sightseeing Reviews. Travel Smart. Trip Advisor, Zagat, Virtual Tourist, and various travel guides will clue you in on tourist traps to avoid (like Paris’s overcrowded Les Deux Magot) and tips for making your travel experiences easy and fun. Example: the Paris Museum Pass saves money and lets you skip the long lines.

    2. Not Selecting a Gîte or Apartment. Paris apartments are typically fantastic ways to experience real life there; gîtes (furnished home or apartment) offer self-catering options and more freedom. You can get by without a concierge by heading to the town’s tourism office for advice and information.

    3. Wasting Time on Far-afield Accommodations. If you plan to see more Paris Right Bank sights, stay near there to limit your time spent on buses or the metro. If you visit Provence, pick a central locale like Avignon but avoid rush hour when you travel to and from the town. To escape French Riviera traffic, stay on one end and walk or take the trolley to nearby offerings (for example Nice and Monaco); relocate to another accommodation (like St. Tropez) to visit the opposite end of the area.

    4. Failing to Plan for Commute Time and Sunday Meals. Small towns in France get bogged down in farm traffic or local rush hour congestion while high-profile sights like the Eiffel Tour are a nightmare during peak hours. Go early or try late afternoon to avoid tourist hordes. In Bordeaux, take the wine bus, hire a wine guide, or secure a chauffeured town car to maximize your enjoyment. Remember that Sundays are cherished French family days and some dining venues close; book reservations or you may end up eating snack food.

    5. Being Unprepared for Emergencies. Take copies of your credit cards, medical data, passport, and back up prescriptions. Also take adapters, cords, and batteries for any contingency. More important, get travel insurance. (They often provide an emergency number if you need assistance.)

    6. Neglecting to Alert Your Local Banks and Credit Card Companies About Your Travel. Call the appropriate companies about your travel dates and be sure to have a copy of their non-800 numbers, as well as the toll free numbers, since toll-free doesn’t always work in foreign locales.

    7. Forgetting the French Niceties. The French are pleased when you honor their customs and recognize they feel their workplaces are extensions of their homes. When you come and go, use some token French at least to make connections. Phrases like “Bonjour, parlez-vous Anglais?” (“Hello, do you speak English?”), “Au Revoir” (“Goodbye), and “Merci” (“Thanks”) make a huge difference in bridging the culture gap. I often add “Mon français est très mauvais mais je essayer de pratiquer.“ (“My French is very bad but I try to practice”) and I make a French friend (and language coach) for life.

    8. Mispacking. You’ve heard the phrase “Layer, Layer, Layer.” I’d add “Ship it Home” and “Pack Light” as well. You can always find a La Poste post office in France that will give you one of their big orange boxes to toss in your bulky jackets (if the weather changes), your prized purchases, and even your dirty laundry to ship home. For around $50 or £33 the box will beat you home AND your luggage will be lighter. Also, avoid packing bulky sweaters and jeans; they take forever to dry.

    9. Obtaining Currency from On-the-Curb ATMs. Go inside the bank to get your euros; thieves sometimesPJ & Paris Gendarmes put credit-card readers in curb-side ATMs and steal your credit card number.

    10. Falling Prey to Pickpockets. Get some literature on how to avoid pickpockets and purse-snatchers like the American Embassy’s “Pickpockets in Paris: How to Avoid Becoming a Victim” (many of whom are adolescents who work in groups). Also learn to forcefully say “Vous arrêtez!” (“You stop!”) to people who are crowding or bothering you. You can always make friends with the gendarmes who are typically charming--after all, they are French!

    Monday
    Jul132015

    6 Best Paris Bistros

    Why go to Paris? For the romance, culture, shopping, people-watching, and of course the fantastic cuisine. But you don’t have to max out your credit cards to dine well. Parisian bistros are the answer. Here are my top six picks for classic French bistro dining (although I could name many more). Bistros, by the way, are small, intimate eateries that focus on moderately priced menus typically displayed on chalkboards or hand-written on slates. Most bistros offer traditional dishes like pâtés, country terrines, small steaks and roasted chicken partnered with pomme frites (French fries) or homey one-pot dishes like boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin. All come with tasty but reasonably priced wines or beer--and of course must-have desserts.

    1. Aux Lyonnaise (Right Bank, near the Opera). Alain Ducasse’s charming, traditional Lyonnais-style cuisine served in a Belle-Époque style dining room by aproned staff. Also has a fabulous zinc bar AND car-park service. http://www.auxlyonnais.com/en

    2. Chez L’Ami Jean (Left Bank, near Les Invalides and Eiffel Tower). Basque food and traditional French cuisine served at family-style tables in a room with cured hams hanging from the ceiling. Memorable dishes, friendly servers, and a fun atmosphere. http://lamijean.fr

    3. Bistro L’estrapade (Left Bank, Latin Quarter). Darling bistro famed for 20-euro plates like Magret de canard au melon boule de miel (duck with melon and honey), Suprême de poulet jaune aux écrevisses (supreme chicken with crayfish), and scrumptious desserts like Brioche perdue Chantilly au calvados (brioche with calvados-infused Chantilly cream) and Tarte Tatin (apple tart). http://bistrotlestrapade.fr/en 

    4. Le Violon d’Ingres (Left Bank on famed restaurant street Rue Saint-Dominique). Sophisticated 7th arrondissement elegance, chocolatier and chef-owner Christian Constant's polished bistro cuisine does not disappoint but it's a tad pricey. For even more moderate fare-in-a-pot, try his casual Les Cocotte eatery next door.  http://www.maisonconstant.com/violon-ingres/

    5. Le Fountaine de Mars (Left Bank also on famed restaurant street Rue Saint-Dominique). This red-checked tablecloth and polished brass Parisian bistro welcomed President Obama and his wife a few years ago. Famed for delicious southwestern France cuisine like cassoulet and foie gras. Great wines at an affordable price. http://www.fontainedemars.com

    6. Le Timbre (Left Bank near Luxembourg Gardens). This teeny bistro is rated one of the top 20 in Paris. More like eating at a dinner party than a restaurant, it has fantastic dishes by English chef-owner Chris Wright. So affordable; so delicious. http://www.restaurantletimbre.com/le_timbre/accueil_2.html

    Bonus: And don't miss Le Soufflé on the Right Bank near the Louvre. Serves THE most delicious soufflés for any course you choose, but especially a Grande Marnier dessert that is to die for (and they leave the entire bottle on your table for top ups)! http://www.lesouffle.fr 

    See our books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and where ever books are sold. Follow PJ Adams on Twitter @PJAdams10 and watch for our new books on the Loire Valley, Champagne, Normandy, Brittany, and Greater Paris.

    Thursday
    May282015

    Avignon: Favorite of Popes & Mimes

    Each July, the fabled Provence city of Avignon turns into a gigantic theatrical event called the Festival d’Avignon. It features theatricals, concerts, cuisine events, light show extravaganzas, and mime performances by students and professionals alike. But even off-season, Avignon remains a hotbed of spontaneous performances by local students honing their craft. As a university town, these energetic performers keep the drumbeat of innovation pounding in this picturesque Provence locale.

    Most know that the Roman Popes decamped to Avignon for a time in the 14th century; while there they built a massive palace that still stands today. Interestingly, this magnificent popes’ palace serves as a backdrop for these modern Avignon theatricals and light show spectacles. Thus, the grandeur of the once papal pageantry lives on in these colorful interpretations by singers, musicians, mimes, pyrotechnicians, and DJs. They keep Avignon buzzing with life.

    Nothing prepared me for an encounter with a very real human bee, however, in Avignon one sunny May afternoon. Bertrand the Bumblebee, as I’ve dubbed him, stood marble stiff and silent on a chair in the middle of an Avignon square. I watched him for a moment. Then I crept forward and dropped a euro into his bucket. Suddenly he burst into life, buzzing loudly and madly sketching something on a tiny bit of paper. Within seconds, he presented me with my very own teeny work of bee art—which I’ve kept to this day. 

    Later, I encountered another dramatic Avignon “performance” that perhaps even the Popes of old would have enjoyed. I call it the “Salute to the Sunset.” I was crossing the grand square in front of the palace one twilight and looked up. I suddenly saw two students poised upside down, reaching their arms out to the setting sun. They held their position for several minutes, weaving their arms in some kind of incantation that looked a lot like a modern dance sequence. Since Avignon is a university town, I suspect this "Salute" is done often, morning and evening, by “communing” young people who want to connect with the sun’s vibes.

    I confess I climbed the stairs to watch them—and I had a hard time resisting the urge to lie down too and experience this upside down view of mesmerizing Avignon! 

    Such is the intoxicating effect of quirky Avignon. If you get a chance to visit, stick around and maybe you too will catch some of the intoxicating buzz. 

    (Excerpted from PJ Adams's Intoxicating Southern France available where ever books are sold.)   

    Monday
    Apr202015

    Châteauneuf-du-Pape--Provence's Hub for Out-of-This-World Wine

    About seven miles north of Avignon in beautiful Provence, sits the opulent vineyard and enclave known as Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It was French Pope John XXII who built a cooler summer residence among his vines when he couldn't stand the heat of his main papal castle in Avignon. By this time, the vast vineyards were producing fabulous red papal wines from vines inhabiting every hectare of land within eyeshot.  

    “Châteauneuf"means “new castle” in French. A lively town sprang up around this "new castle" and thrived until the popes returned to Rome. With the departure of the papacy and during various wars afterward, the village and castle were pillaged. The remaining castle structure (donjon) served as an observation post for German soldiers during WWII. Just before they departed in 1944, they blew up the structure, but only the northern half of the tower was destroyed. Today, the southern half of the donjon rises defiantly at the pinnacle of this resilient town. The modern town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is now a kind of “mini Bordeaux” or “Napa Valley,” with wine consortiums running up and down the main street. Wines are for sale here at fairly reasonable prices—and I never miss an opportunity to pick up a few bottles. These are some of the finest—and best-known—wines in France.

    The Châteauneuf-du-Pape AoC designation permits 13 different varieties of grapes in the red wines, but the blend must be predominantly Grenache. Modern Châteauneuf-du-Pape can be either a full-bodied, dark wine which can be cellared for up to 25 years or a more youthful and fruity vintage, ready-to-drink within a couple of years. As usual in France, the wine is named after the village not the grape variety.

    Article 10 of the appellation rules allows the use of a slightly bulbous Burgundy bottle, with the papal coat of arms embossed into the glass and the inscription “Châteauneuf-du-Pape contrôlée.” As such, it’s pretty easy to distinguish the wine bottles in the shops.

    Every time I’ve visited Châteauneuf-du-Pape, I see huge tourist groups and cyclers enjoying the warm sunshine and stopping for a wine lunch as they wend their way through Provence. Quirky wine note: There’s also an official ban on UFOs in the vicinity. In 1954, fears of ET’s and UFO’s were all over the news. Numerous sightings of foreign objects had been reported in Châteauneuf.

    The mayor of Châteauneuf, concerned about protecting his commune and their precious wines, issued a decree banning flying saucers (cigare volants) from landing, taking off, or entering the airspace of his community. Anyone caught landing on his territory in a spaceship would immediately be thrown into custody! As far as I know, there’s no record of anyone out of this world being incarcerated—although a few inebriated tourists have probably come close to fitting the bill. In 1954, the locals would have thought the frequent cycling clubs with their alien bike helmets were space invaders--not to mention some of the modern vine-tending apparatus!

    While you're in Provence, be sure to visit this charming wine area for some of this extraordinary, out-of-this-world wine. (Excerpted from PJ Adams's Intoxicating Southern France available where ever books are sold.)   

    Thursday
    Apr092015

    France Off the Beaten Path Travel 

    I get lots of inquiries about tour companies that offer stellar tour venues in France. One I can highly recommend is France Off the Beaten Path Travel helmed by American Christy Destremau. Christy hails originally from Philadelphia but she met a charming French yachtsman, married him, and now raises her two teenagers in France.

    Christy began her tour company several decades ago and features a superb multi-day packaged tour experience that includes charming accommodations, dining and cooking adventures, and visits to some of the most beautiful sites in France. (I can recommend the tours as a recent guest myself. We enjoyed multiple cooking experiences, a variety of dining venues, eye-opening tours of various sites, and a real look inside intimate France with a guide who not only lives there, but is raising her family there.)

    Also a keen photographer, Christy offers the added bonus of a collection of stunning tour photos as keepsakes for each tour experience. France Off the Beaten Path tours include Provence, the Loire Valley, Champagne, and her new luxury tour of Bordeaux, world capital of wine.

    The Bordeaux tour features grand cru wine tastings, dining at some of the best venues in Southwestern France, and stays (and spa treatments if you like) at the fabulous Les Sources de Caudalie Resort and Spa (recommended in my book Intoxicating Southern France).

    Follow Christy on Twitter @FranceOTBP and on Instagram at https://instagram.com/franceotbp. For tour details, click on http://www.traveloffthebeatenpath.com. 

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