Travel Tips: Short-Term Car Leasing in Europe

  Those readers planning to spend three or more weeks on vacation in France / Europe might want to consider a short-term car lease (i.e. purchase – repurchase program) from a European car manufacturer instead of renting from Hertz or Avis.   European car manufacturers have been doing short-term leasing programs (i.e. purchase – repurchase programs) for decades.  Taxes appear to be a major reason for the existence of the programs, as the Value Added Tax (VAT) on a used vehicle is considerably lower than Continue reading →

La Vie en France #19: French Roundabouts–Please let me go Round Again

Few American drivers are used to roundabouts in the United States.  Driving through them, especially on crowded, urban streets, can be a bit daunting for new arrivals.  That said, the roundabouts do work in France; and the Webmaster has learned to prefer them over long traffic lights during his stay.  Hopefully, the comments below will reduce drivers’ stress levels a bit.         Roundabout Basics in France: The basic rule is quite simple:  Vehicles already in the roundabout usually have priority (i.e. right-of-way) Continue reading →

Travel Tips: Using a Smartphone Abroad

  Technology is certainly making the world smaller.  The webmaster remembers living in Germany in the mid 1980s and being largely dependent on “snail mail” to hear from home.  The internet and emails were still in their infancy; and he could not afford a computer at that time.  Today, one can travel much of the globe while staying connected via phone, skype, email and the internet–all through the smartphone.  However, the traveler has to wade through a full range of phone and calling plan options.  The two New York Times Continue reading →

Travel Tips: Passe au Present! Militaria Shop in Dun-sur-Meuse

  The webmaster enjoys “discovering” new places every time he visits the Meuse-Argonne; and this happened in November, when he discovered the Passé au Présent! militaria shop in Dun-sur-Meuse.   The shop is run by father, Jacques Mansy, and his son, Thibault Mansy; each with their own areas of specialization.  Jacques Mansy specializes in unit histories, old postcards and ephemera relating to WW1, WW2 and the French colonial wars.  Thibault specializes in military antiques, including helmets, U.S. WW1 items and knives and bayonets from around the world.  Continue reading →

Travel Tips: Visit the Hand at Massiges Trenches in the Eastern Champagne Region

Situated just a bit west of the Argonne Forest, the wonderfully-recreated trenches at La Main de Massiges (The Hand at Massiges) are well worth a visit—even if American troops did not directly fight at that location.  The association, “la Main de Massiges,” was formed in 2008.  Beginning in 2010, it has worked to preserve a small piece of the Champagne battlefields with the help of aerial photographs from 1915.  The association has worked to recreate the trenches using construction methods of the time; and it Continue reading →

Musings on International Travel from

My family just returned from a wonderful trip to Germany and France.  However, the topic of Americans’ current fear of traveling to Europe came up several ways:  An un-traveled friend posted this FB warning “Sweet brother stay safe,” when I indicated my desire to spend more time in Europe next year.  Over a table conversation in a bar in Montfaucon an American who is spending six months “Over There” cited several examples of reduced American travel.  I began to reflect on our time in Germany; and Continue reading →

Travel Tips: Chambres d’Hotes Arara–A Handicapped Accessible B&B in Montfaucon-d’Argonne

Travelers with disabilities traveling to Europe know that it can be challenging to find suitable accommodations and to tour many sites.  Small European hotels often have no elevator / lift; and all their rooms are situated on floors other than the ground floor.   On his latest battlefield tour Webmaster Randy Gaulke met with Jan and Lenie Mulder, owners of the Arara Chambres d’Hôtes in Montfaucon-d’Argonne.  (Jan and Lenie were featured as the May 2016 “People of the Argonne” on this website.)  They informed him that Continue reading →

Travel Tips: New Luxury Hotel, Les Jardins du Mess, in Verdun now Taking Reservations

Readers Stefan Schweitzer and Christina Holstein report that Verdun’s new luxury hotel, Les Jardins du Mess, is now accepting reservations.  The hotel’s Facebook page advertises the property as a hotel, restaurant, bar, spa and arboretum (parc arboré).  A quick look at the website,, and the room prices suggests that this will be a luxury hotel in the heart of Verdun.  As a reminder, the building was the former French officers’ quarters, situated right along the Meuse River.  Travelers looking for luxury reservations in the heart of Verdun should Continue reading →

Travel Advisory From the Gendarmerie de la Meuse After the Paris Shootings

On their FB page, the Gendarmerie de la Meuse issued this advisory to its citizens:   [GGD 55 – Info] L’état d’urgence. Après les fusillades survenues à Paris vendredi 13.11, le Président de la République a annoncé que l’état d’urgence serait décrété sur l’ensemble du territoire. L’état d’urgence, créé par une loi de 1955, correspond à un état juridique et logistique exceptionnel. … Ça change quoi ? L’état d’urgence permet aux autorités “d’interdire la circulation des personnes ou des véhicules”, d’instituer “des zones de protection Continue reading →