Collioure Travel Tips, Episode 174

Collioure Travel Tips


Our discussion about Collioure starts at [28:24].

On today’s episode, Matthew Gamache takes us to Collioure, a lovely beach town at the very bottom of France next to Spain. Like the French Riviera, Collioure is rocky and picturesque, but being far from the Riviera, the destination is not as pricey or exclusive.

There are a lot of beach towns between Montpellier and the Spanish border, most of them you’ve never heard of because they only attract French families.  The one I went to all the time as a kid is called Valras plage, next to Béziers. It’s a nice long sandy beach, playground on the beach, free concerts several times a week during the summer. It had everything a working class French family on vacation wanted and I had a great time there.

Kids don’t care if it’s scenic or not, they love the sand, the water, the sun. And you’ll hear Matt describe how his daughters loved that part of the vacation. Collioure is also a stone’s throw away from Spain, so if you want to take a little detour into Catalonia, it’s a great place to be. our conversation on Collioure starts at [28:24]. 

On this episode we also talk about: 

  • The Dordogne [07:19]
  • How you’ll find the same vendors at lots of food markets [18:37]
  • How Matt and his family took the TGV between Perpignan and Paris[42:00]
  • Les Grands Buffets in Narbonne [54:00]
  • French History Brief about a powerful man and a woman who didn’t really want him [58:45]

Places Mentioned in this Episode

Beynac, Sarlat, Fond-de-gaume, Niaux, Collioure, Modern Art Museum in Ceret, Les Grands Buffets in Narbonne

Attractions Recommended in this Episode

Les Grands Buffets in Narbonne

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

Collioure city and port taken from the hills

Episode Highlights with time stamps

[05:15] Matt told us about his 2017 trip to Brittany on Episode 166.

Not All Toll Booths in France Will Take Your American Credit Card

[05:50] Only 20% of toll booths took Matt’s American credit card, they went to the booths where they knew they could also pay cash. When you pull up to the booth, choose one that has shows a picture of coins or a green arrow. Those are the ones that are least likely to give you trouble.

Rest Stops of French Toll Roads Are Great

[05:51] Matt thinks that rest stops at French toll roads are great, he’s tried 4 different ones and liked them all! French people complain about rest stop food, but they never tried American ones!

7-Day Stay in Beynac, Dordogne

[07:19] Matt and his family stopped at a house they’ve rented before in Beynac, Dordogne. He told us about it on Episode 82. The Dordogne is Matt’s favorite region in France. It can be crowded at times, but compared to Paris it’s nothing. While in the area, they also went to the Gouffre de Padirac and the Forêt des Singes.

[11:32] They visited Font-de-Gaume, which is a must-see and must reserve in advance. They also saw the Grotte de Rouffignac, the one with the train, which is meh.

Great Food and Wine in the Dordogne!

[14:50] The food in the Dordogne is outstanding, they loved the pork, the duck, the pastries, Bergerac wine. They like to make Kir with the sweet white from Bergerac and a Crême de Cassis. Matt’s daughter is allergic to eggs, so they cook most of their meals and that lets them discover all sorts of great things they don’t always serve at restaurants.

Sarlat Market and How Markets Work in France

[18:37] They went to the Sarlat Wednesday Market, which they realized is about the same as other markets. From one market to another you will find the same vendors. Guide books often tell you to go to the market on this day in this town. That’s silly because if you go on a different day to a different town, you will find the same vendors! The scenery changes a bit, but it doesn’t matter so much which one you go to.

Lascaux IV Is a Must-See in the Dordogne!

[20:25] You must see Lascaux IV. Go to Lascaux during the day and visit Sarlat at night. Sarlat is a good central place to stay in the Dordogne if you’re going to a hotel because you can enjoy it in the evenings and mornings when it’s not as crowded. No river in Sarlat.

Compare Fond-de-Gaume and the Grotte de Niaux

[21:44] Based on recommendations heard on the podcast, they decided to go to the Grotte de Niaux and enjoyed it. Niaux and Fond-de-Gaume are both great because they are the real thing, not reproductions. They are so different, but both great for reasons we discuss in the conversation.

Overnight in Foix

[25:57] They stayed at a bed & breakfast recommended on Episode 114. The kids loved the pool and the trampoline there. The kids particularly loved that day. That’s where they tried Gazpacho cold soup. It’s delicious, their daughter ate 11 quarts of it once she discovered it!

A beach with bathers in Collioure

One Week in Collioure

[28:24] Matt and his family rented an apartment with AC, a terrace and parking. The town is small and fills up fast, it’s important to have your own parking. There are 4 beaches, but they mostly went to the sandy beach because that’s what kids love.

[29:32] Catalan Country. Why so many names? Catalan, Roussillon, Languedoc? This is an area of France where they share a lot of traditions with Catalans from Spain and that’s the oldest designation for this region. Roussillon and Languedoc are newer names applied by the French.

Catalan Food

[31:29] Popular foods in this area are tapas, cured hams, anchovy, gazpacho, vermouth, tapenade, octopus. In Catalan country they serve the fresh anchovy with olive oil on top. It’s not super salty like what you might have in mind. They also make a brandade with anchovy there.

Dali Museum in Figueres Too Crowded. The Modern Art Museum in Ceret Was Great!

[34:15] The Figueres Museum was extremely crowded, so that was a disappointment. But, it is easy to get to from Collioure. They loved the Modern Art Museum in Ceret. It features art from all the artists who lived and painted in the region. Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall painted the area a lot. They also had some Dali there.

Aqualand Water Park

[36:30] Nora tells us about the Aqualand Water Park

[39:12] Is France a good place for a vacation for a kid? Yes, lots of fun things to do, lots of new things to eat. She got to play with some French kids at Foix and they could speak some English.

July 14th Celebrations in Collioure

[40:42] Bastille Day was a regular day other than there was a parade with a band and a few politicians walking around the city. It’s a small town with maybe 12 streets. There was live music but no fireworks.

Perpignan to Paris on the TGV

[42:00] They rode the TGV between Perpignan and Paris and it was easy, fast, much better than driving.

Quick Visit to Paris

Matt and his family usually skip Paris, but this time they decided to make a quick stop there before they headed home. They wanted a quad room walking distance from the Eiffel Tower at a reasonable price, so Montparnasse was great for that.

[43:06] After they got into Paris, they took a taxi between Gare de Lyon and Montparnasse. They had a big room that fit all of them. They just wanted to go to the Eiffel Tower that day. There was no wait for the 2nd floor because they had their tickets in advance.

Flying Out from Orly on Iceland Air

[47:00] They flew out of Orly on Iceland Air. Iceland Air doesn’t have dedicated space in Orly, so you can’t queue up until just a few minutes before take-off. The tickets are cheap and the service not stellar.

How Much Does it Cost to Rent an Apartment in France?

[49:00] Matt rents apartments for a week most places they go, it costs about $100/night for 4 people. Provence is significantly more expensive than that. They paid $50 per room in the Loire. They had a Suite on the Gulf of Morbihan  and that was $150 for the 4 of them. The ability to rent apartments at inexpensive prices has completely changed the way families can travel. If you rent an apartment, self-cater, and stay away from super touristy places, traveling is not that expensive.

Conclusion

The ability to rent an apartment for a week in France makes it possible to families to enjoy “slow travel” at affordable prices. Families take their time and visit various off the beaten track places in France without breaking the banks.

Support the show on Patreon.


RSS | iTunes | Android | Stitcher Radio | TuneIn Radio

Narrow colorful street in Collioure

Best Destinations in Corsica, Episode 173

Best Destinations in Corsica


What are the best destinations in Corsica? William Ciardiello tells us how he made friends in Corsica and how they showed him a fantastic time in Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean that is not on  many people’s radar, but is stunning in every way: landscape, food, wine, activities, all are outstanding on Corsica!

Coming up with a list of best destinations in Corsica is difficult because there are so many! But with the help of locals who live there year-round, William helps us curate a list of best destinations in Corsica and some of the best this French island has to offer. 

Recommended in this Episode: La Ferme de Campo di Monte, a good place to stay would be Corte because it’s in the center.

Places Mentioned in this Episode: Corsica, Saint Florent, Cap Corse, Bastia, Murato, Bonifacio, Santa Guilia, Sant’Antunino, Calinzana, Corte

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

William and his hosts in from of the Sea; Best Destinations in Corsica

What You Will Hear About in this Episode with Time Stamps

On today’s episode William lists all the best destinations in Corsica as he discovered them with a family of locals he became friends with after hosting their son in America.

[02:36] William meets an organization called Education First looking for host families for international students.

How Long Do You Need to Visit Corsica?

[04:34] William originally thought 2 or 3 days would be enough, but his hosts insisted that you need a week in Corsica because it’s a big island. The family he visited is Chaulet family in Bastia,  Corsica: Karl, Diane, Lukas & Lilwen.

Ferry Ride Between Nice and Bastia

[07:11] It’s a 4-hour ferry ride between Nice and Bastia, it’s about $60 and you can take a car if you need to.

Some of the Best Destinations in Corsica

[09:11] Corsica is an usual place, a vacation place full of history. It’s a Mediterranean island, southeast of France, west of Italy, North of Sardinia. It’s the 4th largest island in the Mediterranean (after Sicily, Sardinia & Cyprus). 3,351 square miles. Stunning coastline and mountains of up to almost 9,000 feet high. 330,000 population in Bastia.

Under Genoese rule, Corsica we ceded to France in 1769 to repay debt to Louis XV. Corsica has been a part of France for over 200 years. It is the birthplace of Napoleon in 1769. French is official language on Corsica though many still speak Corsican. June temperatures in the low to mid 80’s, humid but not a lot of rainfall.

[12:00] Bastia is hilly like San Francisco. They had lovely views from the apartment where they were staying.  As soon as they arrived, their host took them on a overview drive of northern part of the island and on the mountain roads.

[14:18] They weren’t sure what there is to do on Corsica, they thought they’d just be lounging around on the beach, but that’s not what happened. Their host took the week off work and planned things for every day they were there.

Scenic port in Corsica; Best Destinations in Corsica

Saint Florent, Cap Corse

[14:38] Saint Florent is a small and very beautiful small town (we call them “commune” in French). There are about 2,000 people with Pleasure boats, yachts, bars, restaurants. Cap Corse is a fishing village, rock like peninsula, genoese tower, ruins, beautiful.

Bastia Petit Train Touristique

[16:17] Bastia is the 2nd largest city on Corsica, about 43,000 people. The geography of Bastia looks like San Francisco. There are hills—between the sea and the mountain. It’s a port city-2 ports, old and new.  The train takes you Saint Nicolas Square and its Napoléon Statue, the Port, the Citadelle, the Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Bastia, Eglise St. Jean Baptiste, and Bastia Cathedral.

Driving to Murato

[18:00] Small mountain town, about 600 people
@3,700 feet elevation
San Michele Church
Checkered appearance, 2-tone layering of stone
The legend says that this church was built by angels.

Best Dining Experience in Our Lives!

[19:00] The ate at a restaurant  called La Ferme de Campo di Monte
Winding road from Murato ends in a short dirt road to the restaurant.

There were beautiful valley and mountain views, stone buildings. Start with aperitif by the pond. Very attractive and well-appointed dining room. There were small dining rooms, with about 6 tables each. The owner explained the menu in Italian-thought she was giving choices but she was listing everything that was to come.

The 5-course set menu dinner includes wine, grappa and coffee
All home-cooked and copious—Corsican food
Hearty vegetable (minestrone-like) soup.
Corsican charcuterie with courgetti beignets, sautéed veal, meat lasagna, potent and huge cheese basket (sheep and goat milk), souffled beignets (dumpling-like) with clementine preserves, lots of grappa.

You need a reservation to eat there, the restaurant doesn’t open if not enough people. Best dining experience of my life–location, food, scenery, atmosphere, company, all of it was amazing!

Relaxing Sunday in Bastia

[28:00] Slept in, went to market in Bastia, got some local cheese (brocciu), rotisserie chicken, potatoes for home. Went to the local beach and had some gelato. The have a lot of gelato stands in Bastia and it was all delicious.

Visiting Bonifacio, Most Beautiful Place They Saw!

[30:00] Bonifacio was the most beautiful place the saw on Corsica.
Southern tip of Corsica, @3 hours from Bastia
Southernmost commune in Metropolitan France @3,000 population
Limestone outcroppings, large cliffs and smaller ones contrast with deep blue water of the Mediterranean Sea
2-sections of city—vielle ville (old town) and haute ville (high town) plus the harbor.

9th century citadel in the high town where parking is difficult. You can see northern coast of Sardinia from Bonifacio. There are grottoes, a citadel, cemetery Marin de Bonifacio. You can also see the Gouvernail de la Corse—20th century fortification, long steep stairway (168 steps) from cemetery. Polyphonies Corse—a cappella, hymns (poster for church concert)

Corsica Food Specialties

Pizza, menu board of traditional Corsican fare:
Aubergine a la Bonificienne
Ravioli au brocciu
Assiette de Charcuterie
Civet de sanglier
Saute de veau Corse
Fête de la musique (each town music festival on 1st day of summer)

Stop at a Beach Santa Guilia on the return to Bastia.

Lukas and William playing ball; Best Destinations in Corsica

Visit to Sant’Antunino

[38:45] The viewed Île Rousse from the road
Coastline, beaches reddish island in the blue sea

[40:] Sant’Antunino, another favorite, gorgeous place.
It’s a mountain town, tiny population (weekend residents)
Winding roads lead to it with great views of the sea
Village of steep narrow lanes/pathways
Cars park at base, but it wasn’t too crowded on a week-day.
The visited the Church of the Annunciation. You can easily spend 2 or 3 hours at Sant’Antinino.

Visit of Calinzana (near Calvi)

[42:00] Domaine Orsini Vineyard, Corsican wines are getting more and more popular, especially rosé. This wineyard also tried some  jams (confitures), fruit paste (Pâtes de fruits) and nougats.  Great vineyard to visit even if you’re not a wine lover.

Cooking American Foods for their Hosts

[45:35] Willian cooking his favorite meatball with French ingredients. Not as straightforward as you might think in a different kitchen and with metric ingredients, but finding genuine Italian products was not an issue in Corsica!

Shopping at a Hypermart, large supermarket + department store.
Baseball—catch in the park

Last Day in Corsica in Corte

[52:00] The apartment where they stayed didn’t have AC, so to cool off they went to the middle of the island where it’s cooler. Geographical heart of the island. This is where they got off of their comfort zone again because it was really steep.

[54:25] Picnic on the Gorges de la Restonica
Steep decline from road, slippery rocks
Picnic under the waterfall, very cooling
Corte—university town, @7,000 people
University of Corsica Pasquale Paoli 4,400 students
Modern and very old—nice contrast, also beautiful.
Citadelle, fortress.

Corte would be a great central place to stay for people who want to explore Corsica. Ajaccio is the only place they didn’t get to in Corsica. It’s the cruise ship port in Corsica for Royal Caribbean so some listeners may have stopped there on a cruise ship. Otherwise that are not a lot of American visitors who ever make it to Corsica.

Be Polite and French People Will Love You (Corsicans Will Too!)

[64:00] Make an effort to be polite and the magic words that will get you everything in France. Don’t ever “demand service” in France, it never works. Being overly polite works a lot better!

[65:00] Consider doing student exchange, it is great! You will make lifelong friends, and you may get to experience the best destinations in Corsica.

Conclusion

Even if you don’t have friends on Corsica as William and his partner did, you now have a list of all the best destinations in Corsica. Corsica gets visitors from Europe, but very few Americans even know about it. Corsica has a definite culture of its own. There is a separatist movement in Corsica that gets the headlines every now and then and has for a long time.

William keeps wanting to visit Hawaii where his son lives, but now that he’s seen Corsica, he’s not sure it will measure up. Have you seen both Hawaii and Corsica? What do you think?

[70:00] Annie’s Personal Update

[82:00] French Tip of the Week: “il y a un problème, la voiture ne démarre pas !”

Support the show on Patreon.


RSS | iTunes | Android | Stitcher Radio | TuneIn Radio

Traditional French Recipes for Thanksgiving, Episode 172

Traditional French Recipes for Thanksgiving


Today we talk about traditional French recipes for Thanksgiving. By that we mean recipes you can use to bring a little bit of France into your own family traditions, although you will hear in the episode that Annie and Elyse don’t quite agree on what that means.

We don’t talk about “French cut green beans” (which are NOT a thing in France!) but rather talk about all the traditional French foods that would fit in well on your Thanksgiving table. Sometimes putting together a Thanksgiving Feast in France requires a some creativity, but Annie and Elyse do it with good humor. 

Whether or not there is room on your Thanksgiving table for new dishes imported from France, we hope you have fun listening to this episode and have a wonderful celebration with your friends and family! And remember: you should try some traditional French recipes for Thanksgiving!

Leave a Voice Mail for the Show: 1-801-806-1015

The Extra for email subscribers this week is a classic French recipe card. This is going to be a tested recipe with measurements in both metric and Imperial so you can hit it out of the park the first time you make it.

If you’re interested in this episode, don’t miss Table Manners in France, Episode 93.

Recommended in this episode

Balsamic Glaze, Foie GrasRoasted ChestnutsTapenadePitted PrunesTruffles, Macarons

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

 Roasted Chestnuts; Traditional French Recipes for Thanksgiving

Episode Highlights with time stamps

Typical French Salads that Work Great for Thanksgiving

[08:25] Salade de chèvre chaud. This is a green salad with grilled goat cheese toast on top. To make this recipe, Annie uses a balsamic glaze to decorate the plate first. The goat cheese we mention is pictured below. You don’t have to get that brand, but this one works well. I am quite sure I have seen this food item in America at the better grocery stores such as Target.

[12:20] Salade de foie gras. You can get foie gras on Amazon, serve on a bed of lettuce with some lightly toasted white bread.

[14:40] Endive salad with Walnuts and Blue Cheese. Use the white chicory to make this.

French Soups for Thanksgiving

[17:00] Sweet Potato Ginger Soup. In France we can get a variety of sweet potatoes now as well as butternut squash and “potimaron”. You can get acorn squash in France so far.

[19:54] French Onion Soup. The secret is a bit of brandy or marsala wine.

[26:06] Soupe Auvergnate aux Chataîgnes. This is made with roasted chestnuts and if you’re looking for new yet satisfying flavors, you will love it.

French Side Dishes You Can Make for Thanksgiving

Gratin Dauphinois or Potatoes au Gratin. This one is made mostly of butter, cream and a little bit of cheese, plus sliced potatoes, of course. I recommend you serve that in individual dishes. It is better for portion control.

[27:44] Tapenade is another very French side dish you could serve as a nibble on toast. It is very salty, but if you want to bring a little bit of Provence sunshine into your celebrations, tapenade might be the ticket for you!

[28:19] Oysters on the half shell. Extremely typical of French festive foods. Oysters are the perfect food: tasty, low-calorie, nothing but protein. Of all the foods we’ve suggested so far, oysters are the healthiest. in France we serve this as a fist course.

[29:05] Pruneaux au lard. Pitted prunes wrapped with bacon. This is typical of the South West of France where Annie is from. If you start adding that to your traditional french thanksgiving recipes roster, people will ask you to make it again and again. The only trick is don’t cook the bacon so much that you can’t wrap it around the prune!

Traditional French Recipes for Thanksgiving that Work for Vegetarians / Vegans

[29:44] Œuf en cocotte. Would work for vegetarian guests, not vegan. Delicious with small amounts of truffles.

[33:05]  Vegan Stuffing with Chestnuts. This is often done for Christmas, but it would work well for Thanksgiving. Dried bread, chopped up, a can of roasted peeled chestnuts, chopped up apricots. No eggs or meat, cooked inside the turkey, but you could bake it outside of the turkey.

French People Don’t Celebrate Thanksgiving

[34:45] Buying whole turkeys in France for Thanksgiving is impossible unless you go to a butcher. You can only find turkey parts until Christmas. And you won’t find the nice round Thanksgiving turkey.

[36:32] Another very French thing you could do without too much effort is to go get some fabulous bread to accompany your  Thanksgiving feast. Walnut bread, fig bread, focaccia bread, olive bread.

Traditional French Desserts You Can Use for Thanksgiving

[37:06] A typical French dessert is Clafoutis, and this is something you can make in advance. It’s a lighter dessert.

[38:10] Pear Cake with Black Pepper

[39:00] With French-Style Apple Tart you have to slice your apples evenly an

[40:00] Tarte Tatin is very French, but it’s more difficult to make at home, but so delicious with ice-cream!

[41:00] Here’s something easy: to bring some traditional French recipes for Thanksgiving wherever you live, buy some macarons. The ones from Costco as pretty good. You don’t have to tell them they are store-bought! The great thing about macarons is that they are light, will go down easy at the end of a big meal, and everyone wants to try them.

[42:30] Make Walnut Pie instead of Pecan Pie.

[42:00] No pumpkin pies in France!

[43:00] Serve a cheese platter at the end of your meal with some fruit. For important meals in France we serve both a cheese platter at the end of the meal and desserts! Note that we never serve a cheese platter as an appetizer in France. We may have cheese nibbles, but the platter is for the end of the meal.

Conclusion

So, will you do it? Will you include traditional French recipes for Thanksgiving? We think you should because it’s fun to bring a new twist to same-old, same-old. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration listeners!

Thanksgiving Table on a White Theme; Traditional French Recipes for Thanksgiving

In France This Week

[48:47] Link to reserve a ticket for Dame de Coeur November 8, 9, 10 and 11.

[51:16] No Christmas Market on the Champs Elysées this year. I did an episode about it last year Christmas Market on the Champs Elysées. The city of Paris wants to go towards a classier Christmas Market going forward. In the meantime, you will be able to enjoy other Christmas Markets in Paris in 2017.

French Tip of the Week

[56:00] “une bonne journée”

Historical Tidbit

[57:30] How the people of Paris ate in the Middle Ages.

Voice Mail Feedback on Pickpockets in Paris

[61:30] John Murray tells us what happened to him in the Paris metro.

Support the show on Patreon.


RSS | iTunes | Android | Stitcher Radio | TuneIn Radio

French-Style Home-Made Apple Pie; Traditional French Recipes for Thanksgiving

Sharing the Best of France