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France with Teenagers, Episode 159

France with Teenagers, Episode 159


France with Teenagers, Henry in his sister in front of Napoleon's tomb

Visiting France with your teenagers? On this episode Annie talks to Henry Caulkins, a 13 year-old from Arizona who shares what he liked and didn’t like about his vacation in France. He’s got recommendations for your teens and what they can do to have a great time. His mother, Nancy Caulkins also  talks about her favorite ice-cream place in Paris, just in time for the summer!

Places Mentioned in this Episode: Bayeux, Mont-Saint-Michel, Montrichard, Chenonceau, Cheverny, Paris, Senoble Ice Cream.

If you enjoyed this episode, also check out: Paris with Children, South-West of France with Children, Two Dads and a Child in Paris,  Visiting France with Children.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.
What You Will Learn About in this Episode with Time-Stamps

4’20 What surprised you about France? It’s really clean and the architecture is amazing.

5’08 What all did you do on your trip to France? Landed in Paris and headed to Normandy first, then the Loire Valley, then Paris.

7’40 Of all of those things, what was your least favorite? Did you even like the museums? The Louvre wasn’t a favorite because it’s too big and takes too long. Loved the Orsay Museum.

9’22 Did you eat any strange foods in France? He loved the croissants, not a fan of osso-bucco. Didn’t get to try Orangina.

10’52 Did you see any strange-looking French people?  No, a few homeless people, but not too many. French kids are lucky because they have so many cool things to visit. Quality of life seems really good in France.

13’17 What is it like in Normandy for the D-Day celebrations?

14’32 Are there other parts of France you’d like to see? I’d like to see more of Paris and the South-West

15’20 Most people don’t think of Normandy as a place that’s cool for young people? How come you liked it so much?

16’38 What did you think of the Loire Valley?

18′ What advice would you give to kids and teens who come to France?  What are some good things to do before they come?

  • Read some history
  • Try some French food

20’15 Nancy’s favorite ice cream place in Paris: Senoble.

Conclusion

France is fun for people at every age. It was wonderful to talk to a young man who enjoys WWII history and made the most of his family vacation to broaden his horizons and quench his curiosity. Thanks for coming on the show Henry!

 

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An Exploration of French Wines, Episode 158

An Exploration of French Wines, Episode 158


An Exploration of French Wines, Dave Walsh and his family

Introduction

Let me tell you a secret, folks. When you come to France and you go buy some wine, you are going to be surprised! Let’s say you step into a supermarket in Paris on your way back to your hotel one night. You will not find a section for Merlot and a section for Pinot Noir. Nope, what you will see is words like Corbière and Bordeaux and Loire. But what’s in those wines? If you love Cabernet and hate Merlot, how do know which one to avoid in France?

In comes today’s guest: French wine scholar Dave Walsh. “French Wine Scholar” is a certification that he took and it’s pretty clear he is passionate and knowledgeable about the subject. Dave is better than a sommelier because he’s not trying to sell you anything. He is simply trying to help you make sense of it all.

We chat about things like what’s a “terroir”? What does history have to do with wine-making? What are the basics you need to understand? How do you know what wine to pick to match your taste?  And, of course, we chat about the varieties of wines each French region uses.

Also note that below the fold, you will find a table that shows grape varieties used in various French wine regions. Make this your own cheat sheet that shows what French wines you’ll enjoy best.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

 If you like this episode, you should also check out: Wine Touring in Beaune, Burgundy, the Wine Museum in Paris, French Wine Regions and Loire Valley Wines

What You Will Learn About in this Episode

 

  • 2’30 Guiguettes in Paris this summer.
  • 6′ New cultural center at Boulogne Billancourt
  • 7’30 Wine Scholar Program, why is France such a unique wine country?
  • 11’30 The Wine Scholar Program explains the history of French wines.
  • 14’35 French wine, much like the rest of France, are full of exceptions.
  • 15’30 Wine Folly
  • 16’30 The Champagne Region: labels should say “méthode traditionelle” instead of “méthode champenoise”
  • 19′ The color of the wine comes from leaving the juice in contact with the skin for more or less time.
  • 21′ The sweetness of champagne goes from “brut” (dry) all the way to “doux” (sweet).
  • 22’30 The acidity of the wine balances the sugar. A wine with more acid can have more sugar in it, but you don’t taste it, it won’t taste sugary at all.
  • 24′ Burgundy: high priced wines, renowned wineries. Aligoté.
  • 26′ What the word “terroir” means in French. It’s the growing environment which includes the type of soil, rocky or not, windy or not, dry, wet, etc.
  • 31′ In Burgundy they don’t blend wines like they do in the rest of France.
  • 33′ Movie “Ce qui nous lie
  • 33’30 Bordeaux wines: the history of Bordeaux wines has been tumultuous because Chinese buyers love wines from this region.
  • 36′ Wine blending, why they do it.
  • 38′ South-West wines such as Fronton that most folks don’t know about.
  • 39’30 Annie hates non blended Negrette wines, Elyse doesn’t mind them, but she also thinks Montmartre wine is OK.
  • 41′ Cahors wines are mostly Malbec, Madiran is also a popular grape in the South-West. Corbières wines are also lovely.
  • 42’30 Loire Valley wines.
  • 45’30 Rhone Valley wines; Côtes du Rhône wines are a great value.
  • 48’10 Languedoc-Roussillon makes the most wine by volume.
  • 48’30 The relationship between climate and wine characteristics: in areas that get a lot of sun, grapes tend to thicken their skin when the sun hits them. If the skin is thicker, you will get more color, more tanins, more of certain aromatics. Areas that get less sun have wines with less vibrant colors, and the wine is more delicate. That’s why warmer regions produce beefier, heavier wines.
  • 50′ With its long history with wine-making, France has had the time to stipulate which grapes are grown in specific areas. There were also political considerations. Burgundy was not part of France for a long time and when the French King (Charles the Bald) finally took over, he decreed that they were not to have any Gamay and use Pinot Noir instead.
  • 51’40 The rules pertaining to which grapes are grown in which region are old, but they are also ever-changing. Changes will need to be made to take climate change into account.
  • 52’15 Wines from the Alsace region. This area has a unique history and they also produce a wide variety of (mostly) white wines. 80% of Alsace  wines are not blended.
  • 53’15 Languedoc-Roussillon is a massive wine-growing region that makes 5% of wine production world-wide and 1/3 of France’s production.
  • 54’56 A lot of organic wine is produced in the Languedoc-Roussillon because the wind makes it so they don’t have to spray so much.
  • 55’31 When is it OK to stop by a vineyard and when is it not? Don’t do it in Burgundy, it will only work half of the time in the Bordeaux are, but you can totally stop by unannounced in the Languedoc-Roussillon area.
  • 56’30 Tastings in Napa vs. in France. Depending on the time of year, you may stop in at a very busy time of year. Check the websites. But in the Languedoc-Roussillon, they are casual about visitors.
  • 58’15 Beaume-de-Venise is an example of how wine regions don’t always overlap 100% with geographical regions.
  • 60′ French people do drink a lot of rosé as soon as the weather warms up. We drink more rosé than whites. Not many wines.
  • 61′ Rosé Piscine is very popular in the summer, so are rosé wines mixed with a little grapefruit juice.
  • 65′ Do French people think of wine as a food? Yes, the wine is part of the meal, it’s almost like one block that goes together.
  • 68′ I don’t know if the average Americans drink more than French overall because we don’t binge.
  • 70′ The health message people shouldn’t drink alcohol every day but rather take days off is starting to percolate through to French people. French people are also moving towards higher quality wines.
  • 86′ Feedback from Nancy Caulkins about the Canal Saint-Martin.

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Conclusion

French wines are not rocket science, but they are certainly different from what people are used to in most of the world. I’ve heard people say that soon enough French wine makers will all list varietals on their labels. Really? I’m not seeing that very much. I’ve also heard that American wine makers are trying to brand more by region. Yes, I do think that’s happening actually! I cannot predict the future, but I can tell you that if you remember some of the things Dave shared on today’s episode, the wine section at the French grocery store will now make a lot more sense than it did before!

Continue reading An Exploration of French Wines, Episode 158

Insider Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris, Episode 157

Insider Tips for Visiting Disneyland Paris


Disneyland Paris, Debbie's family in front of the Disneyland Castle

This episode is a trip report with Debbie Raises who shares her insider tips for visiting Disneyland Paris. Debbie and her family live “close to the magic” and hour away from the Walt Disney World in Florida. They have a long history with Disney, she and her husband went on a Disney honeymoon, her husband works for Disney, and they know the parks inside and out. For today’s show she has prepared a list of tips you won’t want to miss to make your next trip to Disneyland Paris as successful as hers. Debbie and her family were at the resort for 3 and a half days in June 2017.

Hotels recommended in this episode: the Sequoia Lodge and the Vienna House Dream Castle at Disneyland Paris (one of the few places in France where you can get a basic room with 2 queen beds).

You should also listen to Tips for Using Uber in Paris

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

 What You Will Learn About in this Episode

  • 2’45 Introduction
  • 4′ Why come to France? For Disneyland Paris!
  • 4’45 Should we stay at Disneyland Paris (DLP) the whole time or spend a few nights in the city of Paris? It’s a 45 minutes RER ride between DLP and Paris center, we recommend you choose a more central hotel in Paris.
  • 6:15 Is it easy to take the RER to Disneyland Paris? Yes, extremely!
  • 7′ Shall we take an Uber to go to Disneyland Paris? It’s a great choice if there are 3 or 4 of you.
  • 8′ Do you mostly travel to Disney? What other types of trips do you do?
  • 10′ The 4 days you spent in Paris, what did you visit?  They went to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame, and took a day trip to Versailles
  • 10’45 Sunset is late in France in the summer.
  • 11’30 What are similarities and differences between Disneyland Paris and other parks you’ve visited.
    • For the most part, it is the same.
    • The Disneyland Paris Fast-Pass system is different: the time window is shorter than in other parks.
    • Main Street USA is cobblestone, which is cool!
    • The Liberty Arcade is an area that runs along Main Street USA and it’s a good place to get out of the sun or rain or shop on your way out of the park.
  • 16′ Did most cast members speak good English? Yes, they knew how to talk about their area of expertise for sure, some knew a lot more. The maps are also in all sorts of languages, including English.
  • 18’20 Disneyland Paris feels really safe because everyone has to go through a metal detector and a bag check. Unlike the center of Paris, there are no pick-pockets, the premises are watched closely.
  • 20’16 Tell us about Disneyland village.
  • 20’33 The rides at Disneyland Paris are more thrill rides: Hyperspace Mountain goes upside down. The Indiana Jones ride also goes upside down. The Big Thunder ride is also more thrilling. That’s because Europeans like more of a thrill park. At Disney World there are thrill rides, but they are spread around four parks.
  • 22’40 Disneyland Paris is missing a couple of old attractions: no Tikkie Bird, no Jungle Cruise. There aren’t enough indoors attractions where it’s air-conditioned.
  • 24′ There is also a Studios park, it was a little bit disappointing to Debbie and her family. They have to Rock-and-Roller coaster, the Tower of Terror. The Crush coaster was great there, and the new Ratatouille ride. Ratatouille is a high tech ride that they don’t have yet in other parks.
  • 25’22 Description of the Ratatouille Ride. The whole area is themed like Paris. This ride is unique to France, so is Crush coaster.
  • 27′ Attendance in June was moderate, Debbie thought it would be quieter because French kids weren’t out of school yet, but it was busy.
  • 28′ How many days are enough at Disneyland Paris?
  • 28’50 Are there some things you wish you knew before you came?
    • Make sure you know what attractions are open and closed. There’s an App now that shows what’s under refurbishment. They were thinking of coming in March, but a lot of rides were closed in anticipation of the 25th Anniversary celebration.
    • Make sure you know if your hotel has AC, they often don’t in France, don’t assume!
    • There are a lot of quick serve restaurants with interesting themes. Some of them close at unexpected times. Toad Hall wasn’t open as much as they thought it should be, that will show on the App too.
  • 34’15 Are the restaurants different at Disneyland Paris? The themes are really well done in Paris.
  • 35’15 How did you like the food?
  • 34′ What’s a good daily budget for food? More or less 16€-20€ per person per meal.
  • 37’30 There were no problems paying with credit cards anywhere, no need to carry cash.
  • 38′ What sit-down restaurants did you try? They tried Bistro Chez Rémi. The Silver Spur smelled really good, but they didn’t get to try it. In the village they tried Buffalo Bill Wild West Show (a must-do for French people!), it’s a dinner show, very fun.   King Ludwig’s had German food and it was very good.
  • 41’20 They stayed at the Sequoia Lodge which has a pool and is 15 minutes walk to the park. It’s a mid-range price hotel. This is a Disneyland hotel.
  • 42’39 Annie stayed at an out-lying hotel called the Vienna House Dream Castle at Disneyland Paris which had 2 queen-sized beds in one room. The wait-time for the bus was sometimes a bit long.
  • 47′ What was your favorite thing that you did on this trip?
  • 48’30 What didn’t you like? They didn’t like the train because it takes forever as there is only one on the track, and there isn’t much to see along the route. The back lot tour was also a disappointment because it was boring.
  • 51’30 What are some tips you want to share with the listeners?
    • Don’t buy the photo pass because there are too few photographers out.
  • 55′ The night-time show projected on the castle was lovely!
  • 57′ If you need transportation to or from the airport, the Magical Shuttle is a really good option. You can schedule it in advance.

Conclusion

Disneyland Paris was really magical, Debbie, her husband and children all enjoyed it very much. By some measures, the Disneyland Paris park is the most visited attraction in France. It is especially perfect for families with children between ages 5 and 12 or 13.

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Booking.com

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