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TRAVEL QUESTIONS FOR KAREN:

Dear Travelers,

I hope you will understand that because of the overwhelming number of questions received each day it is impossible for me to answer every one. I will select questions to answer based on what I believe will benefit and interest the greatest number of travelers. Also, please make your questions as specific as possible and know that I do not have the luxury of time to plan or detail personalized travel itineraries.

If your question is not selected, I sincerely apologize, as given the time, I would answer them all. If your question is selected you will be informed that it is published on our website as well as receive the answer by email.

Kindest regards,
Karen

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Category: France

Question:
We are staying 3 nights at the Chateau de la Caze. From there we plan to drive to your Burgundy route. Because the drive is a long one, I was hoping to stay near Lyon but not necessarily in Lyon. I am not thrilled about driving into the city. Can you recommend a place to stay at the southern end of your Burgundy itinerary? Or even close to St. Etienne? Thanks - Margaret
Asked by Margaret Griffith [May 31, 2014]


Answer:

Dear Margaret,

I just emailed off a response to your email sent through our office email that asked about traveling from La Malene to the Loire Valley.....answer copied below:

Dear Margaret,
In terms of train routes you would need to travel by car to Toulouse and then take a train from Toulouse to Tours via Vierzon.  The trip takes about 6 hours and you have to also add on the time between trains in Vierzon. Trains from Millau and Albi go to Tours via Paris! For the dates I checked the fares ranged from $88 to $166 depending on class AND it is an approximate 3 1/4 hour drive to Toulouse.

I would suggest you simply drive to Tours - the travel time is just under 6 hours and you can apply the train fare to gas; you will save on a longer rental, and save time from returning and re-renting a second car in the Loire Valley. If you want to detour you could travel along the Lot river Valley and then through the Dordogne to the Loire Valley.Hope this helps with your travel plans!


Thank you for using our recommendations. 
Kindest regards,
Karen

If you now want to go to Burgundy - it is a long trip on countryside roads across France but the total driving time if you use major roads from La Malene to Lyon is just 3 hours, 40 minutes and to go all the way to Beaune (which I consider the heart of Burgundy) is just 5 hours 27 minutes.  Lyon is a large city and difficult to navigate in and out so I agree that avoiding it is the best.  If you want to break your journey, east of Clermont Ferrand we recommend a hotel in Randan, Chateau de Maulmont (hotel guide).  OR I would suggest traveling a little further to the vicinity of Macon (which is the southern tip of Burgundy wine region) and stay at either Ige, Chateau d'Ige; Fleurville, Chateau Fleurville (both in our hotel guide)  or Moroges, L'Orangerie or Ozenay the Chateau de Messey (both in our B&B Book and closer to Tournus).  At stay at any of these places would afford you your first night in the wine region.

Not all of the properties participate on our website, but they all (both hotels and B&Bs) are featured in our downloadable PDF Itinerary, Wine Country-Burgundy ($3.99).

http://www.karenbrown.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=101_110&products_id=342

 Thank you again for using our recommendations!

Enjoy la France!

Karen

 

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Category: General

Question:
We have used your books several times for Europe vacations. We are going to Copenhagen and there is nothing available on Denmark in your books. Any suggestions on where to look for B&B's in the Copenhagen area?
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [May 28, 2014]


Answer:

Thank you for using our recommendations all these years!  We used to have a title on Scandinavia but it was last published in 1982.  We just never sold enough guides to warrant the high research expense.  However, it was a wonderful guide!  I will send via separate email our Viking Trails of Denmark Itinerary - BUT PLEASE KNOW we have not been back to test it since 1981!  In terms of places to stay, I would recommend Historic Hotels of Denmark.  They offer a selective listing of places to stay based on their membership standards.  The link to their membership website is:

http://www.historichotelsofeurope.com/en/hotel-association/historic-hotels-of-denmark.aspx

Thank you so much again for being a Karen Brown Traveler!

Kindest regards,

Karen

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Category: France

Question:
Can you provide a a 10 night itinerary for myself and my wife for the end of September?We would like to go to Lyon, Burgundy wine Country( Beaune, Dijon), the Loire Valley, Normandie, and Giverny, with one day in Paris. Also in which direction should we go? Thank you.
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [May 26, 2014]


Answer:

I wish I had the luxury of time to help everyone personalize their trip who uses our books but if I did I would not have time to research and write for a larger audience. That being said I would travel out from Paris (1) by train to Dijon; pick up a car rental; tour Burgundy (2); travel west via Vezelay(1) to the Loire Valley (3); travel north to Normandy (2) and conclude your countryside travels in Giverny (1) before catching a flight out of CDG. We have itineraries available for view and/or purchase in downloadable PDF format (which also include all the hotels and B&Bs we recommend in proximity to the itinerary).  The itineraries detail pacing and sightseeing suggestions.

Burgundy  http://www.karenbrown.com/Trip_Planning_Itinerary/France/Wine_Country_-_Burgundy/23.php

Loire Valley (Chateaux Country) http://www.karenbrown.com/Trip_Planning_Itinerary/France/Chateaux_Country/20.php

Normandy http://www.karenbrown.com/Trip_Planning_Itinerary/France/Normandy/19.php

 

If you would like personal assistance in planning your trip I cannot recommend Marie Notot of Elegant Europe highly enough! She is professional, extremely knowledgeable and is very familiar with both our itineraries and places we recommend.  She can be reached by email: marie@elegant-europe.com .

Enjoy your travels in France and thank you for using our recommendations!

Karen

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Category: Spain

Question:
How long or how many days should one have for the Costa Brava itinerary? We are driving from Barcelona to the coast and wonder how long the actual drive is to Cataques? Should we just take the straight shot up the coast and then explore from there?
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [May 23, 2014]


Answer:

I see you have purchased both our Costa Brava & Beyond and Barcelona Highlight Itineraries - thank you and thank you for following our recommendations!

In terms of pacing, as published in the E-Itinerary:

 

 

PACING: Depending on how far you want to go on your first night out of Barcelona, choose between Cardona or Seu d’Urgell for your first overnight. Allow at least two nights in the Pyrenees and two nights at the beach before returning to Barcelona. Begin this itinerary with a stay in Barcelona, an impressive and prosperous city with much to see and do. For suggestions on sightseeing in Barcelona, see Barcelona Highlights.

In terms of driving times between Barcelona and Cadaqués - it depends of course if you are driving direct or navigating countryside roads and including detours.  Per mapquest, it is 105 miles, 2 hours, 7 minutes, point to point.  You can use mapquest to help gauge distances and routes.

Enjoy your travels in Spain!

Best, Karen

 

 

 

 

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Category: General

Question:
My husband and I will be doing a river cruise in June of 2015. Upon conclusion of the cruise, we hope to take a train to Stuttgart to pick up our new car and then take a 2 week driving tour of Germany, Austria, France and Switzerland.  I am not sure what to order.  We would like to get a sense of suggested itineraries and B&B's/Inns that Karen recommends. We have followed your itineraries in France (1997), Northern California and Puget Sound and have never been disappointed.  If a phone call would be better, I'd be happy to call you either tomorrow or Friday. If books are still for sale, I am happy to go that route.
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [May 20, 2014]


Answer:

First, thank you so much for using our recommendations over the years-very much appreciated! 

Concerning your question, with just two weeks I am not sure where you want to focus your time - you have selected quite a few (four) countries and each has quite a few itinerary options.  It is a bit hard for me to recommend a suggested route not knowing where you have traveled before and what most appeals to you now.  If you are truly want to see a lot of each country (which I honestly do not think as possible.)know that you will be covering lots of miles (which might be a good thing in your new car!) and moving each night.

I will detail below a route that transitions from one itinerary to another with Stuttgart as the starting point. I have also made the assumption that you still have the choice of departure city home.

The itineraries I have suggested to link make sense in terms of transitioning from one country to the next but, they also are some of my favorites in each country you want to travel (with the exception of France but to travel anywhere but the border that neighbors Switzerland and Germany would mean huge distances in travel). If you want to read the itineraries before purchasing they are all available to view on our website. (see links below)   The individual itineraries available for purchase are downloadable PDF files and each itinerary marries the recommended places to stay that are in proximity to the given itinerary.  Depending on the number of itineraries you are interested in purchasing, it might in the end just make more sense to buy the E-Book for a given country which will include ALL the itineraries and ALL the recommended places to stay.  The itineraries are $2.99 each (exception France which are $3.99 because they merge both the Hotel and B&B recommendations) and the E-books are $9.99.

SUGGESTED TRIP LINKING VARIOUS ITINERARIES:

Start Stuttgart

Option 1: travel north to Castles of the Rhine and Mosel  and then cross over into France and explore Alsace.
Option 2: travel directly west and cross over into France and explore Alsace. ( You could see some towns featured on the north of the itinerary, Highways of the Black Forest.)

So in FRANCE:  Wine Country - Alsace which links up with Wine Country - Burgundy then cross over into SWITZERLAND via The French Alps.

In SWITZERLAND pick up Geneva to Zurich via the Medieval Jewels - take it to Gruyeres and then follow Swiss Highlights to include Interlaken and Zurich and then refer back to Geneva to Zurich via the Medieval Jewels as you leave Switzerland via Stein am Rhein.

In GERMANY follow the Bavaria itinerary and then cross over into AUSTRIA to Salzburg just across the border.

In AUSTRIA you might want to include part of Spectacular Lakes of Salzkammergut and then conclude in Vienna where I assume you can drop your car for transport home.

AUSTRIA ITINERARIES:
http://www.karenbrown.com/ListItineraries/Austria/6.php />
FRANCE ITINERARIES:
http://www.karenbrown.com/ListItineraries/France/7.php />
GERMANY ITINERARIES:
http://www.karenbrown.com/ListItineraries/Germany/5.php />
SWITZERLAND ITINERARIES:
http://www.karenbrown.com/ListItineraries/Switzerland/10.php />


Hope this helps! If you want additional help in planning your trip, I would recommend contacting Marie Notot at marie@elegant-europe.com .  She is wonderful, very professional and knowledgeable about our itineraries and the places we recommend. She does have a fee for her services.
 
Enjoy your travels!
Kindest regards,
Karen

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Category: Britain

Question:
We are disembarking QM2 @ Southampton on Thursday 9/4 & fly out of Heathrow 9:30am on Monday 9/8. We think want to head to the coast & not sure to travel southeast or southwest. We have been advised Brighton & Dover are very "touristy." Considering we only have four nights and should locate close to the airport for the Monday flight, what would you suggest? We plan to rent a car & traveling w/one more couple. Thank you - PWT
Asked by Pamela Thayer [May 15, 2014]


Answer:

I agree that Brighton and Dover are touristy.  A favorite town on the Southeast itinerary is Rye. It is a picturesque port town but it is more convenient when crossing the channel.

If I had three nights to spend in the countryside (and I assume you will disembark early on the Thursday from the ship) I would consider the following options:

1) Although, not coastal, I would go north via Winchester and stay one night in or near Bath then continue on to the Cotswolds (via Castle Combe) and then select one spot for two nights as a base from which to explore the other towns; then spend your last night at the airport as you suggest since you have an early morning flight.

2)  Or I would follow our Southwest Itinerary but you would need to select three different places to stay in order to pace your journey along the route and you will have a pretty steady pace each day.  Perhaps the first night near Exeter, the second night Penzance or Mousehole and then a hotel near Bath.  At the end of your last day you can take the M4 back to the airport and your airport hotel. You will also need to be selective as to sightseeing as we recommend a full week to complete this itinerary at leisure.

Enjoy your travels and thank you for using our recommendations!

Karen 

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Category: France

Question:
Karen -- My wife and I have relied on your organization's books for many years with great success. Recently, when planning a trip to France we learned of your new internet site which we have just signed up for. Having just returned from Normandy and the Loire Valley I want to share with you our reaction to three places you recommended and offer you the names of two others not yet listed in your itineraries. Amboise -- Your recommendation in your 1996 (!) book of Hotel Fleuray is still spot-on. We stayed there 3 nights and ate dinner there each night. Lovely location, very comfortable rooms (we had to switch rooms for one night) and really exceptional service from the reception staff and in the dining room. Very tasty food although I recommend that they change the nightly special more often. Bayeaux - Stayed at the Hotel d'Argogues as you suggested and found it acceptable but not great. Clean, well apointed, and a good value,however.for one night. Honfleur - Stayed two nights at Hotel Absinthe which was as charming as you promised and a perfect location.We had the largest room in the hotel but at 210 E per night and 13 E more for a meager breakfast, it was not a particularly good value . Also quite noisy due to its location directly above the front door (which constantly slams hard due to an automatic door closer) and reception desk. Two other places that we found that we HIGHLY recommend: Giverny- We stayed at La Reserve which is a luxury B&B on a small apple farm high up above the town. I believe there are 5 bedrooms. Really exceptional breakfast (in a perfect dining room) consisting of lots of homemade items including the bread and preserves. Best breakfast we had in France ! I'll send you the website. Only in business for about a year or two. Chartres - We stayed a mere 3 blocks from the Chartres Cathedral at La Maison Aileurs which opened in October 2013. Valerie Genique and her husband Sean have taken a 13th century house that the Bishop of Chartres used to live in decades ago and transformed it. I believe there are 3 or 4 bedrooms of which we saw two. Very tasteful and comfortable large rooms with a view of a huge backyard. At 165 E and breakfast included it is not overpriced especially given the location and personal service. We plan to return to Chartres for a 3rd visit in a few years and will look forward to staying there again. BTW, like Hotel d'Argogues, it has an inner courtyard which provides plenty of off-street parking. As you know, that's really important in a dense medieval town with narrow alleys and streets Hope these comments help.I'll send you the website links for the last two shortly. Kevin Reed
Asked by Kevin Reed [May 9, 2014]


Answer:

Dear Kevin,

Thank you so much for taking the time to detail so much about your trip!  The feedback is incredible and so very much appreciated!

It is great to know Le Fleuray is as wonderful as ever.  It definitely reflects how much the owners care and to be honest, it is surprising after all these years that their love of their home, business and guests has not waned. 

The D'Argouges is recommended for its location and value.  When the mother was still alive it had more of the ambiance of a family home and business but, since her passing it is more of a "business" for her kids.  Your comments remind me to review descriptions to make sure they adequately reflect attributes. If something is a Karen Brown Recommendation - it has been personally selected and yet, there are varied reasons based on demands and needs of a given region or town. 

La Reserve is a property we have recommended since it opened.  I adore it although, it has changed hands since the original owners.  I am surprised you did not find it on our site.  The link to their page on www.karenbrown.com:

http://www.karenbrown.com/B_and_B_Guide/France/Upper_Normandy/Giverny/La_Reserve/5381.php

I am thrilled to learn about the property in Chartres and will definitely include in on our list of places to see.  In the meantime, would you be willing to share it as a reader discovery so that they can begin to get Karen Brown Travelers in advance of our visit? To submit a discovery, (you could simply copy what you have already written!) go to:

http://www.karenbrown.com/user_discovery.php

Thank you so much for trusting our recommendations and for sharing your experiences! 

Kindest regards,

Karen

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Category: France

Question:
I'm a B&B owner in France. How do I list in your book on French B&B's? Thank you.
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Apr 25, 2014]


Answer:

Dear Michael,

Thank you so much for your interest in being in our guide.  We would love to know more about your property.  You can send us the information via post or email and we will consider visiting you on our next research trip.  We only officially brand properties we have seen and selected as "Karen Brown Recommended Properties."

In the meantime you can get exposure on our Karen Brown Website as a Reader Recommended Property.  All you need to do is ask a guest to submit a review (they can even submit photos) and you will be published on our website.  Many Karen Brown Reader Recommendations convert to Karen Brown Recommended properties! Our reader recommendations serve as an incredible resource for finding some of the best properties!

 The direct link on our website for posting a review is:

http://www.karenbrown.com/user_discovery.php

Thank you again for your interest in being part of the Karen Brown World of Travel!

Kindest regards,

Karen Brown

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Category: France

Question:
When traveling in any countryside we ONLY use your hotels and bed & breakfasts. I have old books and a fairly new one on France. We are going to Burgundy in the fall. I wondered why the places to stay change with each of the books I have. Are they no longer up to your standards, no longer in business, or just what? Thank you for many wonderful trips. We also recommend your books to lots of people. You have never lead us wrong. Caroline Morton
Asked by Caroline Morton [Apr 3, 2014]


Answer:

Dear Caroline,

Thank you so much for trusting in our recommendations all these many years!  You are in large part a reason "Karen Brown" still exists and I thank you! 

In terms of why the list of our recommendations change, the reasons, as you imply, are many.  The most important reason for taking a place out of our book is that it no longer meets our standards and when we remove a property we search for another selection to take its place.  Sometimes properties sell as private homes (this is happening more and more with our bed & breakfasts whose real estate value now often exceeds the business value). Lastly, because we believe there is value to offering a selective list and not an overwhelming list of places to stay (how many we recommend varies by the demand for a given destination, e.g. we have a lot more properties in Provence than we do in the Gorges du Verdon), we are constantly re-evaluating our list.  We select places based on their charm, location, welcome and value.

All that being said, I am actually surprised you feel our list has changed for Burgundy....it is a region where I don't feel I have made all that many changes over the years.  If you have questions about a specific property I would be happy to address your concerns.  I will also send you with my appreciation for your many years of loyalty our downloadable PDF itinerary for Burgundy.  It marries the properties we recommend from both our Hotel and our Bed & Breakfast titles.  It is too large to email so I will send it via google drive.

Thank you, thank you so very much again!  

Kindest regards,

Karen

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Category: France

Question:
Dear Karen, I so appreciate your website and hope to buy the ebook for France, if I can figure out the instructions for my iPad. I will try. I want to support you in any way possible. I read the case study of your business dilemma done at Stanford, produced in 2000. The changes technology has produced, while wonderful in so many ways, also create many dilemmas. I sincerely hope you continue to update the books and the website. They real are invaluable. If you ever need any help, please contact me. I am a historian at CSU Fullerton and have experience writing, editing, and am pretty picky when it comes to travel accommodations. I will be retiring soon, early, since at this writing I am only 58, but am always open for an adventure. Finally, I just wanted to say "thank you" for the years of wonderful work you have produced. My husband and I are beneficiaries of it. That includes not just the reviews of properties and recommendations, but Seal Cove Inn too. My husband used to stay there when he was in the Half Moon Bay area on business for Price Waterhouse and, occasionally, I would stay with him. Simply lovely. Wishing you all the best, Denise
Asked by A Karen Brown Traveler [Feb 22, 2014]


Answer:

Dear Denise,

Thank you for your extremely kind note. Your mention of the Stanford Business School case study brought back so many memories - and there have been so many hurtles, challenges and decisions since then!  I will have to see if I can find the case study to review.

I am happy to send you the Ebooks for France with my appreciation for your many years of supporting "Karen Brown."  The two titles are actually too large to email so I will send them via Google Drive.  I am not too savvy when it comes to new technology, but the information as to how to save to your ipad is published on our site as follows:

For iPad users: You will need an app to save the pdf files on your ipad. We recommend using the ibooks app as this has worked well for us and allows for book downloads as well as pdfs. After installing the ibook app, while on your ipad, download the Karen Brown pdf book file by going to www.karenbrown.com. Once on the Karen Brown site login by clicking on ‘Click here to login’ in the box in the upper right hand corner of the page, and then enter your email and password. After logging in go back to the box and click on ‘My Account’, then click on ‘view’ next to the order and finally choose ‘download’. After clicking on download, if you are prompted to save the file to ibooks, do so. If the ebook opens, ‘tap’ the screen and a box should open at the top of the page allowing you to open in ibooks. When you look for the file at a later time open ibooks and then choose 'collections' and tap PDFs and you should see the file. 

Wishing you all the very best and a future of wonderful travels!

Karen

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