Category Archives: Trip Report

Trip Report Provence and Chamonix, Episode 83

Provence and Chamonix

Trip Report Provence and Chamonix

Let’s go to Provence and Chamonix with Matt, his wife and two daughters. Matt tells you what it takes to have a grand time in France with your children and shares what their greatest day in France was and why.  Let me warn you: it is NOT on any of the top 10 lists you may have read, this is one of those places that turns out to be a wonderful surprise.

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

Food/Wine Mentioned on the Show: Tapenade, Brandade de Morue, Bergerac Wine, Tartiflette, Reblochon Cheese, Gruyère, Beaufort, Tome de Savoie, Cantal, Merguez,

Places Mentioned on the Show:  Provence and Chamonix, Toulouse, Port-Lauragais Rest Stop, Tarrascon, Beaucaire, Carrières de Lumière, Château des Baux de Provence, Côtes du Rhone Wine Driving Tour, Saintes Maries de la Mer, Tiki in Camargue, Vaison-la-Romaine, Suzette, Arles, Bull Games in Arles, Van Gogh Easles, Lubéron, Abbey de Sénanques,  Joucas, Le Sentier des Ocres in Roussillon, Le Pont du Gard, Musée Haribo (Uzès), Annecy, Alpine Slide, Chamonix, Aiguille du Midi, Mer de Glace, Le Brévent, La Flégère

French Tip of the Week: “attrape-couillon” = something that catches suckers.

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Episode Highlights

  • 4:35′ They had to drive through Toulouse, why didn’t they stop?
  • 5:30′ If you park your car somewhere in France loaded with luggage, will you get robbed? How can you avoid that?
  • 7:10′ Why is the speed limit around cities so low?
  • 9:45′ The Rest Stop Matt mentions near Carcassonne is called Port-Lauragais.
  • 11:30′ Tarrascon, not a touristy city, but a central location.
  • 13:10′ Provence Markets, Six kinds of tapenade and Brandade de Morue.
  • 15:00′ Beaucaire, its market, differences between life in Provence and the South West of France. Cicadas are loud indeed!
  • 17:10′ Carrières de Lumière at Baux de Provence.
  • 21:10 Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. You could also get on a Tiki boat to see the Camargue from the marsh. The church is a must-see if you go!
  • 24:20′ Vaison-la-Romaine, that one was a bust for them because the kids had seen enough Roman Ruins! They weren’t impressed with French pizza either.
  • 25:30′ Côte du Rhone wine driving tour and the town of Suzette. Rosé Côte du Rhone. How wine is priced in France and what wines get exported.
  • 28:00′ Arles and the Bull Games. Those are no-kill bull races where men run around trying to get ribbons off the horns of the bull. Family-friendly atmosphere.
  • 31:00′ Parking in France is a lot easier when you know how to parallel park!
  • 32:15′ French Tip of the Week: “attrape-couillon” = something that catches suckers.
  • 33:00′ Lubéron. They intended to see Gordes, Joucas and Roussillon, but Gordes was too crowded, there was nowhere to park at Abbeye de Sénanque so they just saw it from the road. Parking can be a problem in those super popular areas. They stopped at Joucas and enjoyed it, there is a nice playground there.
  • 36:09′ Le Sentier des Ocres in Roussillon, this is a ocre cliff hike, 45mn, fairly easy.
  • 38:35′ Pont du Gard and Haribo Museum Kids weren’t impressed with the bridge, we discuss some ways to make it better.
  • 42:00′ They rented an apartment right in the middle of Annecy and loved it!
  • 44:00′ Tartiflette and Reblochon and many other cheeses such as Gruyère, Tome de Savoie, Beaufort, Cantal. What were the kid’s favorite foods on this trip? Saucisse de Toulouse, Merguez.
  • 48:00′ Luge, cows and bells. How you buy local cheese or wine  from locals in France.
  • 49:20′ How 4th of July and Bastille Day events compare. Hint: Bastille Day isn’t much to write home about!
  • 52:00′ Chamonix, Aiguille du Midi and Mer de Glace, magical activities. The other side is Le Brévent and Flégère, this was probably their favorite day in the whole trip!

Continue reading Trip Report Provence and Chamonix, Episode 83

Trip Report Loire Valley and Dordogne, Episode 82

Loire Valley and DordogneOn today’s episode Matt from Boston tells us how to have a great vacation in France with young children, specifically in the Loire Valley and Dordogne. Matt tells us how he and his wife and daughters spent three and a half weeks touring around France and what their favorite places were. Today we concentrate on their visit of the Loire Valley and the Dordogne, and as it turns out Dordogne WAS one of their favorites!

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Some of the Topics Discussed on the Show

  • Why did they choose France? Why did they choose late spring?
  • Can they speak French? Did that become a problem? How much French do you really need to be comfortable getting around in France?
  • How did they deal with their daughter’s severe food allergy while in France?
  • French Tip of the Week: How do you say “my daughter is allergic to eggs” in French? “Ma fille est allergique aux oeufs”. Just in case, do what Matt did, print out a card in French that you can show to waiters.
  • How did they like the food in France?
  • What is it like driving in France? See Episode 16 for more on that.
  • Why did they skip Paris?
  • What is it like landing in France in the middle of a huge taxi strike?

A Few Navigation Time Stamps

18:00 Matt talks about driving in France, that it was great and that episode 16 on that subject helped him greatly. He found that French people pretty much don’t speed, don’t pass on the right, don’t honk at you when they disagree with your driving choices, he even loved  the roundabouts. Bring a stand-alone GPS such as a Tom-Tom that rely on GPS signal alone and not maps tied to your smart-phone.

24:45 Matt mentions how it’s lovely that there are so many picnic tables in France. You can bring your own food, it’s encouraged!

29:00 What it is like shopping at French grocery stores? Going to the butcher’s and the open-air market. Great bread everywhere, great fruit and vegetables. Annie explains briefly how food distribution works in France.

35:00 Why some freeways are toll roads in France and others are not.

37:00 How you can deal with hot weather in France if your rental home does not have air-conditioning: open everything up at night and close everything, especially shutters, all day. Go swimming. Don’t cook inside, use the barbecue outside!

Places Mentioned on the Show

Château de Chenonceau, Château du Clos Lucé (Leonardo DaVinci), Beynac, Vitrac, Lascaux, Fond de Gaume, La Roque Saint-Christophe, le Gouffre de Padirac, la Fôret des Singes, Castlenaud-la-Chapelle.

Loire Valley and Dordogne
Chenonceau, photo Andrea Schaffer

Matt’s Detailed Itinerary

Wednesday June 24
• Flew from Boston to Paris via Iceland

Thursday June 25
• Arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport during taxi strike, train terminal very busy, missed our TGV reservations
• TGV to Tours in afternoon, picked up rental car in Tours, drove to B&B in La Croix-en-Touraine
• Picnic dinner from food obtained in Blere
• Kids played on the swing set at the B&B

Friday June 26
• Toured the Chateau du Chenonceau in the morning*
• Toured the Chateau du Clos Luce in the afternoon
• Dinner of pasta with sausages from the butcher in Blere

Saturday June 27
• Drove from La Croix-en-Touraine to Beynac (400 km)
• Settled into our gite
• Dinner of roast chicken from butcher in Beynac with potatoes and veggies

Sunday June 28
• Market day in Saint-Cyprien, kids played at the playground in the town center
• Swimming in the Dordogne River at the beach in Vitrac in the afternoon
• Dinner of Toulouse sausage from the butcher and market veggies

Monday June 29
• Toured Grotte de Lascaux II in the morning*
• Toured La Roque Saint-Christopher after lunch
• Toured the Elevage du Bouyssou goose and duck farm in the early evening*
• Dinner of eggs with lardons over greens

Tuesday June 30 (Very Hot Day!)
• Toured the Gouffre de Padirac in the morning*
• Toured La Foret des Singes after lunch*
• Dinner of pork ribs from the Beynac butcher and veggies grilled on the barbeque*

Wednesday July 1 (Very Hot Day!)
• Toured Castlenaud-la-Chapelle in the morning*
• Swimming in the Dordogne River at the beach in Vitrac in the afternoon
• Dinner of pork ribs and Toulouse sausages from the Beynac butcher and veggies grilled on the barbecue

Thursday July 2
• Market day in Domme, toured Domme in the morning
• Canoed the Dordogne River between Vitrac and Beynac after lunch*
• Toured La Roque-Gageac during canoe ride
• Dinner of duck confit from Beynac butcher, eggs, and greens

Friday July 3 (Very Hot Day!)
• Toured Chateau de Beynac in the morning
• Swimming in the Dordogne River at the beach in Vitrac in the afternoon
• Dinner of pork ribs and sausages from the Beynac butcher and veggies grilled on the barbecue

Saturday July 4 (Happy Independence Day!)
• Drove from Beynac to Tarascon (500 km)
• Saw the Canal du Midi at the rest stop along the way
• Settled in to our gite
• Swam in the pool

Loire Valley and Dordogne
Matt and daughter at Clos Lucé



Corbières and Tarn Trip Report, Episode 78

Corbières and Tarn
Shari and Craig

Corbières and Tarn

One of the most important decisions you have to make when traveling is how much can you fit in and where should home base be? In part 2 of their interview, honeymooners Shari and Craig tell us what they decided to do and what they enjoyed most in the Corbières and in the Tarn. Also in this week’s episode French tips for travelers: phrases you’ll hear all the time in France and won’t necessarily understand unless you train your ear!

How to Order Your Meat in French
  • Bien cuit = Well-done
  • À point = Medium
  • Saignant = Rare
  • Bleu = VERY rare

Mentioned on the Show: Corbières, Aude Department, Camplong d’Aude, Lagrasse, Abbaye de Lagrasse, Le Temps des Courges in Lagrasse, Château de Villerouge-Termènes, Tarn Department, Toulouse, Grand Rond, Jardin des Plantes, Jardin Royal, Musée des Jacobins, L’Entrecôte Restaurant, Saint Sernin Basilica, Japanese Garden at Compans Caffarelli, Puycelsi, Bruniquel, Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val.

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Corbières and Tarn
  • If you can avoid it, don’t come to Toulouse in August because so much is closed, you won’t experience the city as it really is.
  • Bring a GPS that is not linked to a data plan, make sure it includes France maps!
  • Puycelsi, Tarn: Up on a hill, small village, not too hard to park, beautiful greenery and country-side, beautiful classic cars, not crowded on the Sunday they visited. Also very clean and well-maintained.
  • Bruniquel, Tarn et Garonne: Also up on a hill, with a castle on a cliff, looks down over the river, a bit of a hike up because you have to park at the bottom. Castle was not remodeled, some of the rooms were closed because they might be dangerous to walk there. Le Vieux Fusil movie that was filmed there.
  • Penne: Again, this village is on a cliff, Shari and Craig didn’t have time to visit.
  • Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val: Nice place also, white cliffs, canoeing, there were a lot of people on the river.
  • Albi: Shari and Craig enjoyed staying at the Ibis Style, visited the Cathedral, beautiful French Gardens, river. The whole city is beautiful.
  • Another place you might consider in this area: Cordes sur Ciel, Tarn.
  • Toulouse is a good central location to a lot of gorgeous areas in the south of France.
French Tip of the Week

“Tout s’est bien passé ?” = Was everything all right?

“Sur place ou à emporter ?” = Eat here or take away?

In France, should you sit yourself or wait to be seated? At a terrace you sit yourself, the waiter will come to you.

Corbières and Tarn