Category Archives: Life in France

First Time in Paris and Running the Paris Marathon, Episode 164

First Time in Paris and Running the Paris Marathon


First Time in Paris and Running the Paris Marathon, Mike and his wife at the Louvre

On today’s show you’ll hear from Mike Sheppard, his Paris Marathon experience and what it’s like to be in Paris for the first time. Mike is a seasoned runner, but this was his first time in Paris, so he noticed some important details that can help you make your own Paris Marathon experience a success!

Annie also goes on a mini rant about how some travel bloggers send unsuspecting visitors on silly wild goose chases, and she gives so me suggestions about what you can do for the Journées du Patrimoine happening Sept 16 and 17, 2017 all over France.

Recommended in this Episode

French Tip of the Week

“J’aime la France et j’aime penser à mon prochain voyage en France” (I love France and I love to think about my next trip to France).

Check out our upcoming Tours on Addicted to France.
What You Will Learn About in this Episode with Time-Stamps

[05:00] This was Mike Sheppard’s 10th Marathon, but he’s been involved in 150+ races. This was his first Marathon outside of the US.

[06:53] How much time did you spend in planning for this Marathon? About 1 year. It was Mike’s first time in France.

[07:44] Anything surprised you about the Marathon that you wish you knew before? It is a great race for first-time marathon runners because it is a great course. It is a first Marathon for 37% of the Paris Marathon runners.

[09:30] It’s a great 42+ kilometers tour of Paris. You see all the major sights and attractions of Paris: Eiffel Towers, you start on the Champs Elysées and Arc de Triomphe.

[10:45] When you first sign-up to do the race they ask you how long you think it’ll take you to complete the race and based on that they put you in different starting times, in different corrals. In Paris, the first starters get going at 8 AM whereas in the US it’s typically 6 AM.

[13:28] When do you start your race if you announce you’ll finish in 8 hours or something? You start in the way way back!

[13:59] The Paris Marathon also includes people who need adaptive technology, for instance a blind runner with a human guide or wheelchairs, etc. They start before the elite start.

[14:35] How the Paris Marathon Expo works. The Expo takes place at Porte de Versailles, Parc des Expositions. The RATP buses drop you off right in front of the expo. There are a lot of companies there selling clothing and nutrition items. There are a lot of Paris Marathon merchandise there. In Paris you don’t get the “free” Paris Marathon finisher shirt that you can only get after you pass the finish line.

[16:20] You MUST have the medical certificate filled out by your physician. If you don’t have it, you’re going to be out. Your doctor in the US will probably give you a whole physical. They will also ask for your passport. Bring as much photo ID as you can so you can get your bib to start the race. The Expo opens 3 days before race day.

[18:15] The porter-potty situation at the Paris Marathon. In the US, there are lots of porter-potties before you get into the corral. In Paris they put the porter potties inside the corral. This is great because there are fewer people inside the corral than outside.

[19:05] Everybody’s bib has their name and country. 70% of the runners are French, 3% from the USA. You will see more bibs from Germany and UK, etc. The ambiance is great, it’s a happy and fun time.

[21:20] How was security? Security seemed tight, but not so much that Mike felt worried. This happens at most big races.

[22:10] How was it as far as grabbing water or treats for sugar? There were things, but at a Marathon you don’t want to try something you’ve not tried before. There were sugar cubes, fruit, Vitel water. Drink the water before the marathon because it’s good to not be surprised. You may want to bring the stuff you’re used to. There are a lot of food and water stops.

[24:44] There are a lot of spectators for this race, 250,000 people come out to cheer you on. There are organizations along the sides in support of various causes and countries. They had one American section, people from Chicago. There is music everywhere. Drum groups, jazz groups, rock groups. There is music all along the course.

[26:20] Be aware that toilets are not as easy to find at the Paris Marathon as they are at other marathons. When you do see a toilet, use it because you may not see another one for a lot of miles. In some parts of the course there is forest and there were a lot of people, both men and women, relieving themselves in the forest.

[27:60] During the course there are photographers, sometimes there is a sign saying there is a photographer up ahead, remember to look up, pose, do whatever you want to do. Careful not to miss too many of them and put a little distance between you and other runners especially at the finish line.

[30:26] The shirts were a good deal at the Expo, around 25-30€ and if you got 2 you got one free.

[31:14] Tell us about the Finish Line! Going through the finish line is always wonderful. You get the Paris Marathon finisher medal. You’ll see various signs with different shirt sizes, you go to the size you want and you get the shirt. The drinks and food are after the shirts. This area was really congested. You finish at the Arc de Triomphe also, not far from where you started.

[33:20] The metro and buses in Paris are the best he’s ever seen. Efficient, clean (they’re not all like that!) It’s easy to use the Metro.

[34:00] What are some differences between this marathon and others you’ve run? The lack of toilets along the route was a negative, but having so many people from so many countries was great. You may not get your best marathon time because you won’t have a lot of space where you can take-off because there are so many people. It’s a crowded marathon.

[36:00] Tell us about some favorite things you enjoyed in Paris. Mike and his wife didn’t want to leave. The podcast helped (glad to hear that!) It’s important to get tickets that let you skip the line, the lines can be super long otherwise!

[38:50] Get your tickets before you come to France. It’s sometimes intimidating needing to decide what day and what time you want to go do something, but it’ll save you so much time once you’re there! Schedule 2 things for the day, the rest will fill up with coffee breaks and meals and shopping here and there.

[40:40] Bloggers and websites will make all sorts of recommendations for specific bakeries and restaurants, etc. Annie cautions against going a long distance just to go to a specific bakery. Guess what? In Paris there are fantastic bakeries everywhere! You don’t need to go to that one café where somebody famous was spotted! As you walk around Paris you will find good food everywhere! Asking where you can get the best yogurt in Paris is asking the wrong question because there is good yogurt in France period!

[45:35] Was it difficult for you to find food suitable to an athlete’s diet in Paris? No, it’s easy to find an Italian place and go have some pasta. Mike recommends the dinner cruise on Bâteaux Parisiens because the food was great there. Sometimes there weren’t sure what they were ordering, but it always worked out.

[48:30] Everybody was really friendly even though Mike and his wife don’t speak French. Saying “bonjour” goes a long way! Bonjour is the magic word in France. We say “bonjour” to bus drivers and everyone.

[49:41] If you say “hello” in the US the same way you do in France, people will wonder what you’re up to! In America you don’t say hello when you enter into an elevator, but in France you do!

[50:56] Hiring a private photographer in Paris was really nice. The photographer follows you around for 3 hours and they give you the SD card. The photographer does no editing, which saves them a lot of time. This was between 200 € and 300 € for the whole time.

[53:09] In Paris, it’s fun just looking at the cars that are going around. You see a lot of Smart cars and Citroën and Peugeot.

[54:35] The Paris Marathon a great for first-tme marathon runners. The average age is 41. Don’t be intimidated by the size of it. French people enjoy the ambiance at sports events. It’s fun to see everybody getting along.

[60:50] JeFile, the App you need to install to get a spot to walk up the Notre Dame Towers.

[63:15] List of new events on the occasion of the Journées du Patrimoine Sept 16 and 17, 2017. First time opening to the public this year are:

  • The Cour de Cassation near the Sainte Chapelle
  • The Paris Catholic Institute
  • The residence of the Mexican Ambassador in Paris as well as the Mexican Embassy
  • Maison Lancel
  • The Movie Studio called Porte des Lilas Cinema

Conclusion

As Mike points out so well in the episode, the Paris Marathon attracts a lot of runners, but it is a great choice for first-time marathon runners because the scenery is so beautiful, the ambiance is great, and it is appropriate for both competitive and “laid-back” marathon runners. Mike also says some really nice things both about the show and Paris in general, so it was a pleasure talking to him!

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First Time in Paris and Running the Paris Marathon, view from La Concorde

 

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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

Paris Packing List, Episode 137

Paris Packing List

Fancy older woman wering a hat and jewelry
You may run into this person in Paris, but she’s the exception, not the rule.

Some people fret about what’s acceptable to wear in France, and it is true that there are some things you should NOT wear in France. Annie is in a good situation to talk about that because being someone who doesn’t worry much about clothing, she’s made every mistake in the book since moving home to France. But she’s working on it! Being an artist, Elyse worries a lot more about being stylish and has excellent tips to share. Click Continue reading to see our recommended Paris Packing List!

If you love our approach to travel and want to tour France with us, visit Addicted to France to look at upcoming tours.

Paris Packing List Episode Highlights

Join the Mailing list to get your Free Paris Packing List.

  • [4’11”] Americans tend to dress more casually than French people.
  • [6′] There is a Paris Style.
  • [7’50”] How to dress for Paris specifically.
  • [8’30”] No Bermuda shorts, sexy short shorts only for very young women.
  • [10’50”] Paris brings out the dressiness in people, but don’t get too dressy.
  • [11’30”] People don’t dress up to go out at night as much as they used to and you will not get turned away for not wearing a jacket and tie in Paris.
  • [13′] You can wear business casual even at the Symphony in France.
  • [14’10] Scarves will dress up any outfit as a decorative element for both men and women.
  • [15′] Practical tip: bring interchangeable items in dark solid colors and add colorful scarves or wraps. Women can bring summer dresses and capris.
  • [16’20”] Shoes: no sandals with socks, no clunky “nurse’s shoes”, but it’s OK to wear sandals and casual shoes.
  • [17’45] Men wear capris in France!
  • [18’20] Annie’s faux-pas at the Disneyland Hotel and at Louis Vuiton in Paris.
  • [22’44”] How to up your clothing game as a tourist in Paris: accessorize, wear a leather jacket (or a crochet jacket, or any sort of jacket), clothes that are cut closer to the body.
  • [24’20”] Change your outfit at the end of the day, women don’t wear t-shirts with words.
  • [26′] Some women in Paris wear dresses and high-heels, but they are not the majority. When walking a lot, wear closed shoes where your feet can’t move around too much.
  • [28’27”] No shorts for women over 30 in the city. Capris are fine. Sun-dresses and skirts are commonly worn in France.
  • [29’25”] Whatever you wear, you MUST have a bag that zips and goes across your torso. Men should not have their wallet in the back pocket of their pants.
  • [30′] Clean pants and a nice polo shirt works great for men, even if you are going to a nice restaurant.
  • [31′] A lot depends on who you hang out with. Fancy situations call for fancier clothes and accessories.
  • [32’44”] Layers are important in the winter.
  • [35′] French people wear fitting clothes, but don’t do it if you’re uncomfortable.
  • [38′] No baseball caps, berets are for old folks, Panama hats are stylish and can be worn by both men and women.
  • [40″] If you’re a “fluffy person” (aka fat) do what you want, wear what you want, don’t worry about what other people think. You don’t have to wear black.

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