This acrylic was rendered from a photo I shot in April in Paris in 1960. The museums were empty except for a few guards. At the top of the grand staircase leading into the Louvre sat the Winged Victory. Not far away hung the Mona Lisa. Neither art was protected from vandalism. I don’t remember any entrance fee. As far as crowds, there were none.
Cooking in 10 kitchens in over 4 weeks is a challenge: (1) moving food around which means carrying it; (2) keeping it cold; (3) Or, shopping for only what you need for the next meal; (4) Not having staples: in Italy, we are not seeing pepper. I wonder why. (5) an odd assortment of cooking utensils: (6) not much for stirring sauté pans; (7) No hot pads, or only those rubber things that look like fingertip mittens but are very awkward to use; (8) Preparing without spices means I should have brought a supply of spices that I use; (9) The most frustrating happens at each meal. Where is the “you name it”? Did I see a small pan here or was that yesterday? (10) Opening every single drawer to find the grater which I know is somewhere. Or was that yesterday too? (11) Is there a toaster here? Do the appliances work?? Has the owner turned off the power to the unit; or, after calling the host, we learn: “sorry, it doesn’t work.” (12) Then as we are happily heading back to our apartment, we must stop and remember what it is we need for the next meal that day, and, oh! Breakfast too. I had hoped for a tea pot occasionally here but only rarely do I get one. You just have to make do. Of course, if you are in Florence, you can shop at the Central Market (shown). This grand bazaar on three floors has an unending array of food both take out and ready to eat.
In France, an option exists for short stays called Gites (https://en.gites-de-france.com); for instance, this gites, https://en.gites-de-france.com/holiday-rentals-Gennes-val-De-Loire-Cottage-Label-Bleu-49G14907.html is just $45.00 per day. These cottages in the country are examined and certified by the French government. Airbnb doesn’t inspect any of the lodgings they list. With Airbnb you’re on your own. With the gites program, you can search for the level of comfort and amenities you need. Payment is sent to the French government. Of course, many of the Airbnb’s are quite fine; you just take the word of those who have commented on the unit. The gites option mainly is in a country setting. Recently however, these offerings have been extended to some cities. All gites have full kitchens not so for some Airbnbs. Although you can find rates for both in the $100 per night range, the gites often have a one week minimum.