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This is Join Us in France episode 281, bonjour I'm Annie Sargent and in this episode of the podcast, I bring you a conversation with Patty Lund who was really fun to talk to, I think she will cheer you up! She is checking out places in France where they might want to move at some point. On this trip she and her husband explored the area of Béarn and Pau because it's close to the mountains (they love snowboarding), also close to great surfing around Biarritz, and the Béarn is an area with almost zero non-French tourists, which means house prices are still reasonable as long as you stay away from cities.
They were based out of Sauveterre-de-Béarn (an hour from Biarritz) and from there spiraled out to several scenic villages such as Navarrenx, Salies-de-Béarn, Oloron Sainte Marie and more that we talk about and you will find them all listed in the guest notes for episode 281.
Exploring the Béarn
A lot of villages in the Béarn on the Chemin de Compostelle (Compostella pilgramage route) which means many of them have a huge Basilica church for little population today. That's one of the things that makes them wonderful. Another thing is many of these villages have interesting people living there. She talks to me about one restaurateur that aims to have zero waste. In France we produce less garbage anyway, but how do you get to zero waste?
She decided to talk to me on the podcast about this area because there isn't much information in English about it on-line. And I am grateful for that because it IS way too hard to get good information about minor travel destinations. The sad reality is that if you want to make a living in the travel blog business you need to talk about the things that people search by the millions and never "waste your time" with places that don't get much search volume. So, they all talk about Paris. It could be something totally inconsequential in Paris, but it has to be Paris.
How to Find Genuine France
As a result, there are a lot of places in France that never get talked about because travel bloggers know they won't get the clicks. So, here's a tip for you listeners. If you're looking for information a place in France that is not on the top 10, don't stay on the first page of results on Google. They'll show you results from Trip Advisor forums and Booking.com and because those site "rank" well, but really the information is useless there. Imagine some unknown person took the time to write up all this info about that one little known place that's so delightful, that blog will appear on page 3 or 10 of the results because it doesn't rank. So, click on the results on the first page if you must, but also go to page 2 and 3 and possibly 4 and 5 too. Go deeper.
Also, Patty explains that you should use French terms to find local information because there are few (or zero) sites in English about these places in France. Say you'd like to know if there is a food festival or a local event of some sort. If you use the word "festival" in your search you'll find a lot fewer results than if you use the word "fête". We have a word "festival" in French but the connotation is big event with 50,000 people or more. If you're looking for a local village event they won't call it a festival, they'll call it a "fête". She mentions a fun salt festival they ran into, which the locals called "Fête du sel". If you don't know what the right word is, send me an email, I'm happy to answer such questions for my listeners firstname.lastname@example.org
Patty shares some great restaurant recommendations in the southwest of France too!
Anyway, this is a fun episode, I'll give you my personal update after the interview and I think you should stick around for that because I may be losing my marbles!
Discussed in this Episode
- Sauveterre de Béarn [10:00]
- Navarrenx [16:42]
- Salies de Béarn [19:35]
- Oloron Sainte Marie [22:39]
- Xavier Cheese Shop in Toulouse [26:28]
- Pau [28:18]
- There is little urban sprawl in France [29:00]
- Favorite restaurants on this trip [31:58]
- Visit other cities besides Paris! [40:33]
- Not every town in France is equally charming [43:44]
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If you enjoyed this episode, you should also listen to related episode(s):
- The Rules of Driving in France, Episode 16
- A Great Visit to the Chateau of Pau, Episode 191
- Bordeaux, France a Historical Perspective, Episode 44
- Basque Country, Episode 60
- Bayonne France in the Basque Country, Episode 47