Discussed in this Episode
- Day trip to Albi from Toulouse on the train
- Toulouse to Carcassone on the train with one night in Carcassonne
- Carcassonne to Montpellier on the train with 3 nights in Montpellier
- Day trip to Nîmes from Montpellier by train
- Montpellier to Baulieu-sur-Mer on the train
Who was traveling? Ages?
Renee (61) and Bill (67) Bogue
Date of trip?
April 17 to May 4, 2023
What’s a good theme for our conversation?
For those interested in the perfect blend of sunshine, history, great food and seaside walks.
Where did your trip start and where did it end?
Started in Toulouse and ended in Nice
Where did you stop along the way?
Toulouse (Albi day trip)
Montpeleier (Nimes day trip)
Cote d’Azur (day trips to Villefranche-Sur-Mer, St. Jean Cape d’Ali, Monaco/Menton, Antibes) with home base in Beaulieu-Sur-Mer
Rank your favorite activities and places on this trip (list at least 10)
- Villefranche-Sur-Mer to Nice Walking the Coastal Paths
- Cap d’Ail Coastal Path Mala Beach to Monaco
- St. Jean Cap Ferrat walking the coastal route including St. Hospice1/4
- Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
- Private tour with Elyse in Toulouse
- Nimes especially the monuments and park
- Albi church and crossing the river
- Convent des Jacobins – stain glass
- Toulouse architecture, the river and role in the Camino
- Monaco Race track and Casino
- Antibes Fort hike and Billionaire harbor
Did you stay at hotels or apartments? Hotels
Toulouse: Hotel Croix Baragnon – Great location, clean, kind and helpful English speaking staff, website accurately reflects room and facilitiesi and comfy bed. 5 nights
Carcassonne: Hotel Pont du Viex – Small rooftop terrace with magnificent view of the castle especially at night. Clean, nice hotel. 1 night, coffee in room.
Montpelier: Hotel D’Aragon- Nice hotel close to the train station and Place de Comedie. Comfortable bed, clean and helpful English speaking staff. 3 nights
Beaulieu-Sur-Mer: Hotel Fresia. Balcony room overlooking the marina. Close to train station and bus stop making it an excellent home base. Clean, friendly English speaking staff. Excellent value for money. 6 nights
Nice: The Westend- Beautiful hotel in an excellent location. A splurge for our last night. 1 night.
Did you have favorite restaurants?
The Florida (beautiful square, great people watching, food and service good) and La Bibet (history and Art Nouveau)
Pizzeria del Duomo, Albi (on the cathedral square. Amazing salad and friendly service)
Le Bistrot De Tatie Agnes, Nimes – (in alley behind Carre, beautiful salad, amazing view)
Ikonka, Montpelier (select from salads of the day, best meal of the trip, take out and street seating, known as best croissant in Montpellier)
Mahe, Montpelier (wonderful dinner)
Chez Pinot, Times, Les Garcon – wine bars in Montpellier
Tip Top, Monte Carlo (great salad, near casino, great people watching and wine)
What were your favorite foods on this trip? Beautifully prepared and delicious salads. We’re usually too tired for dining late.
How did you get around? Trains? Car rental? Metros? Walk?
We took trains between towns, Uber to and from the airport, subway in Toulouse (to train station with luggage) but mostly walked.
What did you learn about France on this trip?
This was our fifth trip to France so we knew enough to be dangerous. We learned about the Cathars (thanks to the JUIF podcast), the role of Southwest France in the Camino, about the dye color blue,and how much we loved the beautiful the Cote D’Azur. We are always impressed with how clean the cities are and how patient and kind the French are with non French speakers. France has so many diverse regions to offer travelers.
Did you make any mistakes on this trip?
1) Relying on the TI for good sightseeing information. Only count on a map which you can get at your hotel.
3) Uber in Nice. Stay where you are. Ignore the “driver will pick you up in this location”
4) Getting on a bus with money rather than a QR or ticket in Montpelier
Is there something you didn’t like very much and wouldn’t recommend?
Visiting Château de Flaugergues outside on Montpelier. I had read about it years ago in France magazine. Covid was perhaps a hard time for the Chateau. It was challenging to get to with public transportation also.
The “Shaken not Stirred Martini” at the casino. I think they have a bucket in the back marked “For Americans”. Still fun to go though. Also we paid attention to the dress code and it really doesn’t seem to matter before 7 pm.
What tips do you want to share with other visitors?
We got in the “special area” of Monte Carlo Casino without paying 18E by signing up in advance for the Monte Carlo Club (free online).
The coastal walks “ Le Sentier du Littoral” are easy to navigate and are a beautiful way to explore the coast.
We purchased our distance train tickets as soon as our itinerary was firm, saving money. Even though the tickets were in my apple wallet I also printed a copy which was very helpful when our train got canceled as I could hand my ticket at the SNFC rather than my phone (as he took it into the back room).
Pack light! We travel with one carry on each but the older we get the harder it is to make those quick train connections hauling luggage up and down stairs. Don’t expect an elevator to be close by.
Overall was your trip restful or stressful?
This was a trip that we took on a month’s notice to escape the gray, rainy days of Seattle. It was one of our most relaxing, fun, economical trips.
Busy but fun and peaceful. Busy because we are travelers not vacationers. Very peaceful walking along the Core d’Azur, walking in Toulouse at night, drinking wine on the rooftop terrace in Carcassonne pondering the castle at night and sitting on our balcony eating dinner (bread, hummus, cheese, veggies, chocolate and wine) watching billion dollar yachts at night with the lights of Eze in the distance.
Feel free to add anything else you think would be helpful to prepare for our conversation.
Our friend says the “sweet spot” for weather is the 43rd parallel. So what a better place to explore the 43rd parallel than in France. We picked Toulouse as a starting point as iit has an airport with connection from Seattle. We basically followed it all the way to Italy.