Guest Notes for Episode 440: Budget Family Travel in France

Categories: Family Travel, France on a Budget

Who was traveling? Ages?

Dad James (42), Mom Jessica (44), Son Rylan (would turn 8 on 9.20.22), Daughter Avery (10).

Date of trip?   August 15 2022 to Sept 30 2022, 6 weeks

What do you think we should name the episode? What’s a good theme for our conversation?  Traveling in France on a budget.  Using Gites, cooking meals in from market-sourced foods, and experiencing the culture first hand in the small countryside towns where English is not always spoken.

Rank your favorite activities and places on this trip (list at least 10)

  • Swimming in Collioure;
  • Kayaking the Dordogne;
  • Fois Gras and baguettes–baguettes and crossants overall;
  • beef throughout country especially in burgundy;
  • market days (Bayeux Marche Saint Jean; Ceret amazing market did twice);
  • Savador Dali museum (Montmartre?);
  • Mont St. Michel.
  • Bayeux,
  • Tours,
  • Amboise,
  • Montignac (Lascaux IV) and even Moulins were all very pleasant towns.

Did you stay at hotels or apartments? Please list them and write a sentence or two of what you liked and didn’t like about each.  Gites; la petit oie in Rouvrou was amazing.  Only problem is it’s in a very small town with no walkable services.  Very affordable.

Ceret Gite:  right smackdab in middle of town which was an amazing experience.  But budget and therefore not the best beds, kind of dirty at times.  Owner very helpful and pleasant.

Also stayed at a farm called Le Pressoir de Villefrault.  The owner is Amandine

Did you have favorite restaurants? Please list them and say what city they were in.  Chez Simone, Collioure, right on beach; Cam Jordi, Ceret; Bistro Marguerite, Paris; L’Ambroisie, Pont d’Ouilly.

What were your favorite foods on this trip?

Breads of all types, butter and dairy in Normandy, beef in Normandy, Oysters from Normandy, Camembert from Normandy, Fois Gras from dordogne, Armagnac, Wines from Roussion and Cote de Catalans wines were memorable given the cheap price.  Pizza machines were really fun!

How did you get around? Trains? Car rental? Metros? Walk?

Car rental, then metro/bus in paris.

What did you learn about France on this trip?

People were more friendly and relaxed than we expected.  But they’re not overly so.  We learned that the local products are truly special and it’s not all hype.  We learned that France can be somewhat of a budget option.

Did you make any mistakes on this trip?

Couple of speeding tickets though not sure that is too avoidable.  Had some chances to really use French lessons but was just a bit too slow and didn’t speak quickly enough.  We were sometimes just a bit too timid in trying to become involved in the culture–but we learned and got a lot better as trip went on.


Is there something you didn’t like very much and wouldn’t recommend?

Sure, Montreuil -Bellay disappointed.  Place was dead.  Beautiful castle and town.  We ended up hanging out down by this smokey campground which turned into a wild night so we made lemonade on that one!

Arromanche-les-bains beach was muddy and a bit odd.  But if you asked my kids they would say it was great.  Tough for me to recommend that town or any towns on the coast.

Canourgue was a disappointment–we just stopped for one night.  Interesting town but not much going on.

What tips do you want to share with other visitors?  I highly recommend trying to learn French before you go.  What a fun language, and even if you don’t end up speaking it much, it helps to understand the signs, menus, etc.  Better overall experience.

If you are staying on a budget, get your hands dirty in markets, and don’t be too shy.  It’s tough.

Get off the beaten path to save money at some interesting Gites.  And when driving, be very careful on speed and going through towns.  We took driving ultra-seriously and avoided even a hint of danger in 40 days.

Overall was your trip restful or stressful?

Very restful.  Very few stressful situations.  Extremely positive memories of France.  We are actually going to get five more nights in Paris at the end of our around the world trip and kids and wife are so excited.  As someone who wasn’t always sure France would be a place I’d want to go, I could not be happier with our experience.

How did the podcast and other trip reports help you prepare for your trip?

Any of the towns we were to visit I would search up a cast and that really helped as far as Collioure, Mont St. Michel, Normandy/Omaha, Lascaux IV and Dordogne.

Feel free to add anything else you think would be helpful to prepare for our conversation.  My mantra is that Americans can try harder to engage in the French culture.  I think many of your listeners feel the same way.  I really enjoyed and will continue to enjoy working on my French speaking and am humbled by the times I looked silly and ordered the wrong thing, etc.  My lasting impressions are all the other times that my family and I felt like we were getting the most out of the country and culture and were enjoying all the greatness in a relaxed fashion.

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Categories: Family Travel, France on a Budget