Last week, I booked flights for Jackie and I to travel to Europe. This summer is our 20th wedding anniversary and we are treating ourselves to 9 days in France. Our actual anniversary is September 2nd, but by then school is in session and we wouldn't be able to get away. My wonderful niece is keeping the kids, so this is truly a vacation for us. (I had to get wonderful in there so she knows I'm kissing her butt).

We're flying into Geneva, Switzerland but we're spending our time in France. Geneva straddles the border toward the south of the country. There were no flights into Paris that agreed with our schedule and Geneva is conveniently located. The first 4 days, we're staying in the Provence area (Aix, Avignon, Marseilles). We'll take the TGV (high speed train) to Provence and then rent a car for our daily excursions. We'll take the TGV into Paris for 3-4 days and we will either walk or take the Metro. We're looking to get passes to the hop-on, hop-off buses that travel around Paris. Then we'll head back to Geneva to catch our flight back to the States.

I've been in Europe a few times and I know how things work somewhat. But, I've always been there on business, staying at American-style hotels. While that's nice, it doesn't really give an idea of how the "real Europe" lives. We're planning to stay at a B&B in Provence and then a small hotel in Paris. I'm a believer in blending in and not looking too much like a tourist. It's impossible to blend in altogether with our Okie accents (even when speaking French or German), but we'll try. Armed with Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door and a copy of the Lonely Planet for France, we will do just fine, even if we won't know what St. Jacques are until after we eat them. (answer: scallops)

Keep it simple, stupid

We're planning to pack light and be agile. We're taking only what we can carry on our backs and not getting loaded down with too much stuff. Three days of clothes will suffice if we can do laundry. The real trick will be getting all the stuff packed. You know stuff, like

  • cameras
  • computers
  • phones
  • iPods
  • GPSes
  • cables for cameras, computers, phones, iPods, GPSes
  • chargers for cameras, computers, phones, iPods, GPSes

We have a lot of planning to do between now and then. Jackie submitted her passport application 2 weeks ago, so I will be a little nervous until it arrives. I'm looking at B&Bs in Provence this week and we're studying the different Eurail passes for getting between Geneva, Provence, and Paris. We will wait until we have those things figured out before we start planning Paris.

Stay tuned for more trip planning and our trip reports begin on June 20.