We have many people stop by here, using our cottage as a base for visiting Normandy and Paris, and I love to see how each new set of guests arrive with their particular plans and expectations.
Of course internet and satellite have totally changed the way we travel today. Sights can be 'visited' before arrival; roads driven down virtually before even entering the country and the menus of local restaurants approved before anyone has a chance to feel hungry.
But what fascinates me each time are the travellers' priorities. The garden fans will have a long list that starts with Giverny and gradually works further afield; the history buffs will know how long it should take them to get to the landing beaches; the brocante addicts have a calendar of local markets and dealers and the foodies can only think of making beelines for the farmers markets and the best restaurants in the area.
But I hear there is a new traveller: the Shopper. The visitor who is happy to visit the Champs Elysée providing he can queue outside Abercrombie or Louis Vuitton, or for whom the beautiful Quartier St Germain is earmarked only as home to LaDurée.
The iconic department stores Printemps and Galerie Lafayette in Paris, have turned large areas over only to fashionable luxury brands. If you walk through the store, you may be surprised to see really long queues in front of the Prada, Gucci and Loewe desks. Although those makes are available world wide.
So why does this bother me?! .... I have an old fashioned approach to travel - that it is for broadening the mind, for seeing something new, for understanding what is different in the world.
When I travel I really do not want to find a carbon copy of what I know already. I want to be surprised, to be delighted and to be taken outside my comfort zone. I love to buy stuff when I travel, but preferably something unique to the destination. This lust for the big names is part of the shrinking of the world. The dumbing down of society that scares me so much.
If I were visiting Paris I would prefer les Invalides to Le Tanneur, Pigalle to Prada, la Bastille to Balmain and le Marais to Mariage and Frères
So tell me frankly, am I hopelessly out of sync with my time, or do you feel the same way?