Traveling with the Stars: Robert Wagner

Actor Robert Wagner, who appears occasionally on CBS' Two and a Half Men, chronicles his six decades in show business in his bestselling memoir Pieces of My Heart, which will be released in paperback on Sept. 15. He spent part of the 1960s living in Italy and France but now resides in Aspen., Colo., with actress Jill St. John, his wife of 19 years. He shares his travel highlights and tips with Kelly Carter for USA TODAY.

Q: Where have you been recently that you liked or were surprised by?

A: I was in Beaune (in the Burgundy region). I had driven through there before but this time was a tremendous experience. I was really taken by it. I love the French country. I was able to appreciate it and accept it more this time. Some friends of ours asked us to go with them and this one man is very much into wine. He was able to open some doors for me at cellars that were incredible. I hadn't been aware of those wines in that part of the world. I stayed at L'Hôtel de Beaune. It was just wonderful. I'm not very good at those long dinners. I'm more of a bistro and country cooking (man). That's what I like — simplicity… and this time was such a simple travel experience for me and that always makes it better.

Q: What's the best place you've ever visited?

A: I lived in Saint Paul de Vence, France, for a year in the 1960s. What did I do? I lived. I drank it all in. I took it into my soul. I did a movie. I had given up my apartment in Rome. Oh, it was a wonderful time. I lived at La Colombe d'Or and I never thought that would happen to me. David Niven had introduced me to the hotel and I had heard about it. I got to know the people who ran it, the Roux family. I just loved it there. I felt so at home and they were so warm to me and nice. It was a great privilege to be able to stay there for that length of time. I've been back several times. It's very romantic. I was back there with my (second) wife (Marion Marshall), who is the mother of my daughter Katie. I was back there with Natalie (he married actress Natalie Wood twice) and with Jill. That whole valley is so captivating and the warmth and feeling of the people and the feeling of life is there. I had no obligations then. Natalie and I had divorced and I was kind of on my own. And then Marion and I went there. Timing is it. It just worked for me and I was able to take it in, thank God.

Now all of these places have changed so much because of the people who have found them and go there. It's just become overpowering. The thing about traveling for me is the culture and being able to engage yourself in it. You find that the basic needs and wants and caring are all the same, particularly when you see people with children and young people.

Q: What's the most surprising/unexpected place you're ever visited?

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