Crêpes, macarons, cider, cheese, lavender, green sea snails—this is the list two lady friends who traveled to France gave me yesterday when they heard I was going to some of the same places, and French wine and champagne were not even on it! No doubt because my friends are foodies.

Although this trip has been in the works for months, only now, a week before take off, am I getting excited. Next Thursday I’ll be on my way to Paris to embark on a river cruise on the Seine to Normandy. No classes, meetings, performance gigs, appointments, commitments, house-and-yard work, or other obligations of home until November.

Vacations like these for islanders like me are so memorable, we like to share the experience. When I asked for advice on where to eat, because there will be two or three days on our own in the city before boarding the Viking Rinda, I was given a bon voyage gift of Patricia Wells’s The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris—a 450-page tome. (“You should not have a bad meal at most of the restaurants listed here. But this doesn’t mean you can’t,” the author writes.) I am amused.

With Viking River Cruises, Pete and I scheduled a short seven days on the river and three days ashore. I am so grateful, feel very fortunate. Our itinerary is set, and Viking takes care of everything. Since a delightful vacation to see the Christmas markets in the old towns along the Danube in Austria, we are attracted to being pampered with this form of water travel, on a longship designed to carry about 150 people in 95 cabins. It’s not bareboat cruising that we have done in the past, which required that we be responsible and very adventurous, nor is it an ocean liner that is too big and comparatively less intimate.

As for the Paris restaurant guide, the recommended reservations went in this morning via the Internet, and I have time to study the chapters on restaurant and dining protocol before our departure.

I think it’s time to start packing my bag.