Archive for France Tours

Scenes around Burgundy, France

Friday, May 9th, 2014

May 9

We are on an 18-day adventure with repeat clients Gayle and Peter from Amarillo, Texas. We started this trip in Chartres, France and will end in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Along the way we are exploring historic sites connected with the medieval pilgrimage route from France to Santiago. Millions of feet have passed through this gorgeous countryside. We are doing it from the comfort of a Volkswagen van.

The quiet little hilltop town of Avallon

The quiet little hilltop town of Avallon

Bucolic doesn't seem to capture the beauty of the countryside and the dozens of quaint villages we pass through on our way

Bucolic doesn’t seem to capture the beauty of the countryside and the dozens of quaint villages we pass through on our way

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A few scenes from the ancient Abbaye du Fontenay founded in 1118

A few scenes from the ancient Abbaye du Fontenay founded in 1118

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The origin of the phrase ‘hold your trap!’

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

May 2

This is a common sight in ancient churches in Europe. Choir benches, made for monks or priests to stand for hours reading, praying, chanting, or whatever monks and priests did in the times when churches were primarily for prayer and not for tourists. There is a story that goes along with those solid wooden benches that are in many of these old churches.

When monks were standing for long periods of time, they were not really standing, they were crouching. Their bottoms were resting on a piece of wood that was attached to the underside of the bench. This took the pressure off their legs and helped them endure. When they were finally able to sit, they whispered to one another, ‘halte die klappe.’ In German, that means ‘hold your trap.’ To let it fall would disturb the peace of the church and ceremony, and would also give away their little trick.

So that has filtered down through the ages. ‘Hold your trap’ came from this, and so did in a very roundabout way, the more common ‘shut up.’

Thank you monks everywhere.

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Categories : France Tours

Chartres, France is a medieval jewel

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

May 2

We stayed at the historic inn 'Le Parvis' right next to the massive cathedral.

We stayed at the historic inn ‘Le Parvis’ right next to the massive cathedral.

We just finished two days of exploring Chartres, a city about a hour to the south and west of Paris but many more miles away in terms of peace and a small-town feeling evoking a time more than 900 years ago.

Chartres is not just amazing for its huge cathedral, although that is worth several photo books on its own. The town also has numerous picturesque alleyways, narrow lanes, steep inclines and half-timbered houses from the 16th and early 17th centuries.
Besides the famous cathedral there is enchanting St. Pierre, a church connected to a Benedictine Abbey which was dissolved during the French Revolution in 1798. Its stained glass windows are every bit as fascinating as the more famous ones in the cathedral at the top of the town. But, we had the ancient church to ourselves, while the cathedral is always busy.

The Eure River and the lower town is just as interesting as what is above.

The Eure River and the lower town is just as interesting as what is above.

The lower town is also the site of the Eure River and the lovely old houses and former mills and wash houses along its banks. Numerous stone bridges invite one to linger and if you are lucky, to kiss a young girl for what seemed like hours. Not that any of us fellows were noticing, of course.

Chartres is a new discovery for us, and one that we are eager to bring guests to in the future.

Lanterns seem to march their way to the lower town.

Lanterns seem to march their way to the lower town.

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Newly arrived guests Gayle and Peter on one of the several narrow lanes, called 'Tertre' which connect upper and lower Chartres

Newly arrived guests Gayle and Peter on one of the several narrow lanes, called ‘Tertre’ which connect upper and lower Chartres

Memories of Paris in the Spring

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

April 8

Random shots from our tour in Paris with two couples from Calgary April 2 – 6.

Are you on Facebook? If you are, please go to Facebook and find our page for European Focus Private Tours. We post many photos there along with short vignettes about our travels in Europe.

Charlemagne, the great Emperor, astride his horse in front of Notre Dame

Charlemagne, the great Emperor, astride his horse in front of Notre Dame

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Notre Dame

Notre Dame

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In the Latin Quarter

In the Latin Quarter

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Visiting the Palace of Versailles with a private guide and driver

Visiting the Palace of Versailles with a private guide and driver

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Proud military history and Napoleon's tomb

Proud military history and Napoleon’s tomb

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The Concergerie, where Marie Antoinette and others were kept before being executed in the French Revolution. An artist prepares for the day along the Pont Neuf and the Arc de Triomphe.

The Concergerie, where Marie Antoinette and others were kept before being executed in the French Revolution. An artist prepares for the day along the Pont Neuf and the Arc de Triomphe.

Plan Your Perfect Trip to Europe

Friday, December 13th, 2013

With expert help from the seasoned guides of European Focus Private Tours. We work with singles, couples, families and groups of friends who have common interests. Best of all, your tour is led by the designer! No fumbling around, no getting lost, no wondering what hotel to use or where to eat or what to do with your precious vacation time. We take all of the unknowns out of travel and eliminate the thousands of details which go into a fun, stress-free vacation. All you have to do is get onto the airplane and let us take care of the rest. Booking now for 2014 and beyond.

A busy father and his two sons enjoyed a stress-free vacation in Germany and France in July, leaving the planning to us while they carried on busy lives and careers back home in Oklahoma.

A busy father and his two sons enjoyed a stress-free vacation in Germany and France in July, leaving the planning to us while they carried on busy lives and careers back home in Oklahoma.

2014 calendar update

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Updated January 15, 2014

Thinking of a dream trip to Europe?

So are these people. And, they have made their reservations already for travel in 2014. Don’t wait to fulfill your dreams of easy and relaxed travel in Europe.

April 11 to 25: Tour for two, renewal of vows in Italy, first time clients Steve and Debbie with James
April 20 to May 3: Tour for two, second time for our clients Dan and Amanda, who traveled in Germany with us in 2012. This time it is Italy. (Jenean’s tour)
May 1 to 19: Second tour for Peter and Gayle, who toured in Germany with us in 2013. This time it is parts of France and Spain with both James and Jenean leading the way from Paris to Santiago de Compostela

Carol, left and Art, right will join us again this year for a trip, this time, to southern Portugal and southern Spain.

Carol, left and Art, right will join us again this year for a trip, this time, to southern Portugal and southern Spain.


May 22 to June 6: Seventh trip for Art and Carol who toured with us most recently in Spain and Portugal in 2013. This time it will be other areas in Portugal and southern Spain with James and Jenean.
June 17 to 29: Dennis comes back for more family history research, this time in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. His first trip with European Focus was in 2013 and it was concentrated on Germany. Dennis first took our business card in 1998. (James’ tour)
June 18 to 26: Family of four starting in Paris where they will meet Jenean, continuing on to Strasbourg, Lucerne and Munich.
June 28 to July 12: Tour with a family of four starting in London and continuing on to Normandy, Reims and on to Germany where we will retrace some of the steps taken by the parents of two of the members of this group during their time in Germany decades ago. The trip ends in Munich. This will be the first European Focus Private Tour for these Texans. Jenean starts the tour and James meets the group in Normandy.
July 16 to 28: Tour with a family of four from Tucson to Germany and Austria, the Czech Republic. This will be Tim’s third tour with European Focus. James will lead this tour.
August 5-13: A couple come for their first trip with European Focus in Germany, mainly visiting ancestral villages.
August 25 to September 5: John comes on his second tour with us, this time in England on a combination ancestral discovery tour and honeymoon. (James and Jenean)
October 4 to 19: Pat and his wife come from Australia for their first tour with European Focus in Germany. Part of the tour will concentrate on family history and part will be slow travel tourism. Pat will meet with relatives in Berlin, who will travel there from Poland.
(James will lead this tour)
October 20: Mariane C. fulfills a lifelong dream of visiting the village of Appenzell, Switzerland. James will pick her up at her hotel in Lucerne and take her to nearby Appenzell for the day. The timing just works perfectly for this long-awaited journey. She will be ending a river cruise a few days before in Basel.
November 23 to December 3: A family of nine comes over to visit some Christmas Markets (starting on Nov 28) and other places of interest which the patriarch of the family enjoyed during his time in the service in the 1960s. This tour will be led by Jenean and James.

Available dates are in July, August and September plus the last part of October and first part of November for trips led by James or Jenean. For trips in Germany, Austria and Switzerland we can accommodate you through our partners, ask for available dates.

An Afternoon in the Alsace, France

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

October 9

We stayed two nights recently in a great little inn located in Gleiszellen, right on the border between the German wine country and the Alsace region of France. What better way to spend the afternoon than with a visit to a couple of colorful and charming villages along the Route du Vin? (French Wine Road)

Riquewihr is a walled hamlet crammed full of houses and public buildings dating back to well before the American Revolution. In fact, there is hardly a house there which was not already finished by 1600. The town is full of daytrippers, and we were three of them. We wandered and marveled at all of the colorful houses and the beautiful flowers.

Kaysersberg next door is lovely, and reached by a secret road through the vineyards even nicer. Our guests Jim and Denise walked for a mile or so through the rolling countryside until the panoramic view of Kientzheim and neighboring villages came into view. Two people on horseback clopped down the road, adding to the atmosphere of a silent sojourn in France.

A cemetery with Haut Koenigsberg castle in the distance

A cemetery with Haut Koenigsberg castle in the distance


Attractive metal signs in Kaysersberg

Attractive metal signs in Kaysersberg


A fountain in Kientzheim

A fountain in Kientzheim


A bakery on the main street in Riquewihr wins the unofficial decorating contest

A bakery on the main street in Riquewihr wins the unofficial decorating contest


This friendly dog watched the newcomers enter 'his' village

This friendly dog watched the newcomers enter ‘his’ village


Door decoration for the season

Door decoration for the season


Jim and Denise walk down a quiet lane in Riquewihr

Jim and Denise walk down a quiet lane in Riquewihr

Slow Travel in Alsace, France

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

October 8

Jim and Denise are enjoying their 19-day trip through southern Germany with an excursion one day to the colorful Alsace of France and a lunch stop in little Riquewihr. We like the old farm with the sundial and ‘Carpe Diem’ painting above.

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