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Discussed in this Episode
- Pont du Gard
- Petit Lubéron
- Chateau de Lacoste and the Marquis de Sade
- Sentier des Ocres
- Le Colorado Provençal
- Notre Dame de la Garde in Marseille
- Le Panier in Marseille
- La Savonnerie de la Licorne in Marseille
- Cour Julien in Marseille (better restaurants than near the port!)
- Is Marseille a nice city to visit? Un Petit Cabanon restaurant in Marseille
- Bistro le 5 in Ménerbes
- Le Clos les Eydins
- Volver restaurant in Uzès
- Nuit Blanche
- La Maison d'Uzès and La Table d'Uzès
- La Fourchette
- Pass "La Liberté" in Arles
- Hiring a professional photographer
Annie Sargent 00:00
This is Join Us in France, Episode 268. Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent. And on a typical episode of Join Us in France, I talk with someone who’s visited cool places in France, and tells us about it. About once a month I chat with my friend Elyse, who is a licensed tour guide in France, and loves to talk about local history and art. And some episodes are just me demystifying France for you because as a French person, I want to give you the tools you need to have a great time in France. And man, are there a lot of misconceptions about brands circulating out there?
Annie Sargent 00:39
On today’s episode, a conversation with Denise Tham from Canada about her 10 day honeymoon in Provence. They stayed in Avignon, visited Arles, the Pont du Gard, Uzès, drove around the Petit Lubéron and they found a lovely Bed and Breakfast there that she recommends and Marseille. Denise’s husband is a chef. So they paid attention to restaurants and have great recommendations for lovely places to eat. They did this trip with a combination of train and car rental, which is really smart.
Annie Sargent 01:17
Show Notes for this episode are on Joinusinfrance.com/268. That’s the number 268. And if you’re planning a trip to France, this site is chock full of great resources. You should check it out.
Annie Sargent 02:04
Bonjour Denise and welcome to Join Us in France!
Denise Tham 02:08
Thank you for having me.
Annie Sargent 02:09
It’s very nice to have you all the way from Canada.
Denise Tham 02:13
Yeah, it’s good to be here.
Annie Sargent 02:15
So today we’re going to talk about your honeymoon in the… in Provence. Well, was it Provence exactly or did you you weren’t on the Riviera, right? You were in Provence.
Denise Tham 02:25
No, not the Riviera, mostly in the Lubéron and part of the Gard area, which I guess technically is not Provence.
Annie Sargent 02:33
Sure. It’s Occitanie technically Yes, yeah. Very nice. And when when was your honeymoon?
Denise Tham 02:40
So we were traveling for 10 days from September 24 to October 3 this year.
Annie Sargent 02:48
Oh, wow. You’re brand new newlywed. Congratulations.
Denise Tham 02:52
Thank you so much.
Annie Sargent 02:54
That’s exciting. Okay, so you’re from Canada. And it was this your first trip to France?
Denise Tham 03:00
So it was my third trip to France. I’ve been in Paris and the Loire region and Burgundy before.
Annie Sargent 03:08
Denise Tham 03:09
But this was my husband’s first time in France.
Annie Sargent 03:12
Wow, exciting. And why did you pick France for your honeymoon? That’s kind of an obvious question, but let’s try.
Denise Tham 03:18
Well. So my husband is a chef. So he he doesn’t speak French, but he speaks kitchen French and of course, there’s a strong culinary tradition. So it’s very exciting for him to finally be able to experience that. And I’ve always wanted to go to promise but usually my previous trips to France, it wasn’t a good time of year like it was maybe a bit too cold to go down south. So this time, I thought, okay, end of September beginning of October, it’s still warm but not too hot. So it’s actually perfect time of year and I would really recommend it as a good time to visit.
Annie Sargent 03:59
I agree. All right, so let’s talk about what you did exactly. And some of the things you enjoyed, particularly. And it’s great that your husband’s a chef, because probably he had some opinions about the restaurants you went to, so that’s good to know!
Denise Tham 04:15
Yes. So we flew direct from Toronto to Paris to Charles de Gaulle. But we didn’t spend any time in Paris. We thought we’d save that for an entire separate trip. So from Charles de Gaulle, we actually took the train straight to Avignon. And then we were there for a couple of days. We picked up the rental car, and then we drove around to the Gard area and then drove through the Lubéron. And then we drove to Marseille, dropped the car off there. You don’t want to drive in Marseille, then and then train back to Paris. So that was kind of an outline of our trip.
Annie Sargent 04:57
Right And did you feel like there was an adequate amount of time everywhere you went?
Denise Tham 05:01
Oh, you know, it’s never enough. But, you know, with with a balance of seeing, seeing a few different things and also having a few days to kind of take it slow and relax, it was a good pace. You know, maybe in hindsight, a couple more days would have been even better. But I think that’s the case with any trip. If it’s a good destination, you always want to have more time.
Annie Sargent 05:27
So, of all these places, which one would you say was your favorite?
Denise Tham 05:31
So I think there’s a small town near the Pont du Gard called Uzès. Yes, and we really ended up enjoying that one. It’s, it’s not too big. It’s not too touristy. You can just kind of take your time. We have actually plan to also go to Nîmes. But we, we loved Uzès so much. We just stayed there the whole day. We were we were going to try to squeeze the two in one day, and you know, I think with this whole region, you if you spend too much time running around and trying to pack too much into your schedule, you might miss the enjoyment.
Annie Sargent 06:11
Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s true anywhere in France really. I mean, people have a tendency to really want to pack a lot of things in and I, I tend to not agree with that. I mean, if you’re, if you’re meticulous planner, and everything goes just right, yes, you can do a lot of things. But it’s, it’s a lot to ask.
Denise Tham 06:34
Yeah. So aside from is as our other favorite where we spent three nights in the Lubéron and we stayed in a really lovely Bed and Breakfast in Bonnieu and that was a really good base to go to some of those hilltop towns and just drive around and wander. I mean, you don’t really have an agenda. You just kind of see where the day takes you. And so that was really nice.
Denise Tham 07:02
And there’s so many towns that’s the challenge. You know, I did a lot of research before we went and they all look so picturesque but we really enjoyed Roussillon which which is in that ochre deposit so it’s everything is that beautiful red orange color. And it’s it really sets it apart from some of the other towns, just the look of it. And so we we really enjoyed that.
Annie Sargent 07:31
Wonderful. Okay, so let’s take it from the top. Your first night was your first two nights we’re in Avignon.
Denise Tham 07:37
That’s right. We rented an apartment right in the town center. So it was perfect for us.
Annie Sargent 07:43
Until you found this apartment on booking.com
Denise Tham 07:47
Annie Sargent 07:48
Yeah, yeah, people a lot of people don’t know that you can look for apartments on booking but there’s a on the on the left side. there’s a there’s a whole ton of things that you can select so if you want a villa or an apartment or something, you can select it there and it’s, it makes it makes it easy to find stuff.
Denise Tham 08:08
It does and I do book a lot of my hotels through booking so you if you use them a lot, I don’t really know technically how it works, but you get some loyalty points and they give you some discounts. And, and the apartment was lovely. The host was great. He met us personally. And I was talking to him and he doesn’t list it on Airbnb or any other, you know, vrbo or anything else because sometimes people kind of listed on multiple sites, but he just did it on booking and it was great. I had a nice actually quite large outdoor terrace. So we were eating our breakfast there every morning, outside.
Annie Sargent 08:50
That’s very nice. Yeah. And I should mention that I have an affiliate relationship with booking so if you go to JoinUsinFrance.com at the bottom of any page, you’ll see an ad for booking. And if you click on that, the show gets a little commission. And I don’t think it cost any extra. I mean, I haven’t been able to test it, but I think it’s exactly the same price for you. It’s just that they give a little commission so full disclosure.
Denise Tham 09:20
That’s great, I’ll try that next time, yeah.
Annie Sargent 09:24
Full disclosure, okay. And you and so did you cook for yourself? Did you make your husband cook on his honeymoon?
Denise Tham 09:33
We went out a lot. But yeah, the, one of the B and B’s we stayed in the in Bonnieu, that one had a lovely kind of kitchen by the pool like in a separate building kind of outdoor.
Annie Sargent 09:48
Oh, yeah. Yes, very French. French people love those.
Denise Tham 09:52
That’s what I thought. Yeah. So it’s not part of the main house. It’s just the standalone kitchen. Yes. And by that point, we were sort of in the middle of the trip. So as much as the restaurants were wonderful, it does get a bit like intense eating such big, heavy meals every day. So it was a welcome change. And also it gives us the opportunity to check out the markets and buy some of the fresh produce and seafood so he made like a seafood stew and we you just have some by Garand cheese so so I I really thought that was a good idea to cook some meals in the middle of the trip.
Annie Sargent 10:34
Yeah, that’s great. So in Avignon you had you there’s a couple of places you seem to have liked: La Fourchette and L’Agape.
Denise Tham 10:42
Yes, yes. So I should say I did all the researching for accommodations and most of the sightseeing, but my husband, he I just left all the restaurants to him. He did a lot of research. It’s very difficult because you come all the way and you don’t want to have a bad meal, you know.
Annie Sargent 11:00
Denise Tham 11:01
So so we had these two lovely dinners and Avignon, both of them very close to the center. So within the walls portion of the city. And La Fourchette is a bit more traditional. I understand it’s been around for many years, and I had the beef stew there it’s their signature dish from what they told me. So that was very good and profiteroles.
Annie Sargent 11:29
Denise Tham 11:30
And L’Agape is a little bit more modern, a little… Some kind of other influences and the cuisine and they had some lovely fish. Yes, so both were excellent. And you can choose like a menu with two courses or you could do three courses. So you don’t fancy ish but not not like it’s not super casual, but it’s also not very, very formal. You don’t have to dress up or anything.
Annie Sargent 12:02
Did you have to reserve or? I assume that late October probably late September? Probably not.
Denise Tham 12:07
Well, you know what we did reserve be reserved in Canada like before we came Oh, because the restaurants is very important to us. So we don’t want to risk it. And you know what I would say both restaurants we were dining midweek. And as as we were sitting there, we did see a few times people walked in trying to get a table and they were turned down. So even in end of September, and Tuesday or Wednesday, I think it was it’s, if you really have your heart set, I would say just to be safe, reserve. Then you do it online, or did you call them? I think he emailed them. Okay. Yeah.
Annie Sargent 12:47
Very good. That makes it easy. Yes. Very nice. And then you went to Arles also. What did you think? This is a place that people either love it or they think meh!
Denise Tham 12:59
We loved it! It was perfect for a day trip, you know, so at this point we didn’t have the rental car we just took the train from Avignon, which is quite easy.
Annie Sargent 13:09
Denise Tham 13:10
And we got they had different bundles or city passes. So we got a pass called “La Liberté”. And I forget, I think it’s something like 12 euros, 15 euros, something like that. And you can get entrance to a long list of monuments and up to five museums.
Annie Sargent 13:33
Denise Tham 13:33
And the pass is actually good for like you don’t have to do it all in one day. Of course we try to do as much in one day, but actually we didn’t of course see everything that’s included. So we left our passes with the rental apartment owner and we told him why don’t you give this to the next guests because who use it and it has a lot of the main Roman kind of monuments like Les Arènes in the the ancient theater, they have a the old Roman baths. And so…
Annie Sargent 14:08
Yeah, I think Arles is just a, if you like Roman, the Roman period and the type of history, it’s just fantastic. They have so many places you can visit and they’re kept very well I think.
Denise Tham 14:23
Yes. And they’re all very close together. Yeah. And so so it’s very walkable. Yeah, yeah, I mean it is it’s quite touristy in the sense that, you know, you walk down certain main roads and there’s tons of gift shops all selling the same thing. You know, but I think it’s touristy for a good reason. You know, there’s a lot of the Roman ruins and also the places you can visit where Van Gogh did some of his paintings, you know, so yes, it was a nice leisurely day and we also visited the museum there too which is an art museum. They have some more modern art. They have a few Picasso’s. They had a photography exhibit when we were there. And it’s not a huge museum so you really feel like you know, you can take it in an hour or two hours and right and get the highlights. And that was quite enjoyable too.
Annie Sargent 15:20
Excellent. All right, so then you move down to the Gard.
Denise Tham 15:24
Mm hmm. Yeah. So I’m in the Gard area. So by that point, we were in the rental car we were driving and
Annie Sargent 15:31
You picked it up at the train station, presumably?
Denise Tham 15:35
Yes, we picked it up at the TGV, like the Avignon TGV station because there’s the city center station. But most of the rental car pickups are in the other train station, which is a little bit outside of town, but not very far at all.
Annie Sargent 15:50
Denise Tham 15:51
So so we drove first to the Pont du Gard, you know. It’s, you know, it’s stunning. It’s really impressive feat of architecture and how it’s still standing after so many years. And actually I listened to your podcast, there was some episodes mentioning the Pont du Gard and different ways to see it. So we enjoy just walking. They they do have the option you can kayak right below. And we saw people doing that, but we we decided to just walk and we looked at the museum I think a lot of people don’t go to the museum. Right.
Denise Tham 15:55
It’s, you know, it’s stunning. It’s really impressive feat of architecture and how it’s still standing after so many years. And actually I listened to your podcast, there was some episodes mentioning the Pont du Gard and different ways to see it. So we enjoy just walking. They they do have the option you can kayak right below. And we saw people doing that, but we we decided to just walk and we looked at the museum I think a lot of people don’t go to the museum. Right.
Annie Sargent 15:56
What did you think of that?
Annie Sargent 15:58
But it’s nice!
Denise Tham 16:34
It is nice. And there’s a movie theater and they have a short film. So but it was really not crowded at all in the indoor building.
Annie Sargent 16:44
Denise Tham 16:45
Yeah. So so the Pont du Gard was quite impressive and we enjoyed that. And then we checked into our b&b which is not in Uzès. It’s actually in a very small town called Baron. I think it’s like less than 1000 people living in that town. It gets very small. But that’s what we want. I do feel it’s so quiet. You’re really in the country. There’s vineyards around. And it’s a really small property like just six rooms I believe. So it’s it’s quite intimate and the hosts were the loveliest people. So that was it’s actually I think when you stay in a b&b like part of the experience is talking to the host getting to know them, and also the other guests, you know, around the breakfast area around the swimming pool. And so it gets us really nice.
Annie Sargent 17:44
Did you also find that one on booking.com or another one?
Denise Tham 17:47
Oh, my goodness, they’re in around Provence and the Luberon and Gard area. There’s just so many beautiful properties like it’s really, really hard to choose, but there is a website called Mr. And Mrs. Smith, and that website has a very small number of kind of boutique style properties. And I found this, I found it there. And then I was talking to the hosts about how they list themselves on that website. And they said, Oh, yes, Mr. And Mrs. Smith, they come and view the properties at least once a year like to make sure it’s still up to the same standard. And they send secret guests like they will come but they will announce and and they’re undercover so I thought that was interesting. But so it was a very unique property. The couple that owns it there. One is French and one is from Belgium.
Annie Sargent 18:13
Denise Tham 18:13
And they have this bnb between, I don’t know something like May until October like they were almost going to close it right after we left when they close it down for the season.
Annie Sargent 19:07
Denise Tham 19:07
And then they go to Reunion Island for the rest of the year. I thought my goodness, this is no wonder they’re so relaxed and happy! Yeah, and so they they didn’t have a restaurant in the bnb. But at night, they have a private chef that comes in and you have to reserve because it’s such a small number of guests so they have to know how much food to prepare. And certain nights you can eat there in the facility with the private chef. Outdoors. So that was really special.
Annie Sargent 19:49
That’s very nice. Okay, and then you visited Uzès this which you liked a lot.
Denise Tham 19:54
Yes, yes. So Uzès we I went to the spa, my house husband does not like massages. So he wandered around while I was getting my treatment. And they there’s a spa it’s a L’Occitane spa, like, affiliated with that company. L’Occitane de Provence.
Annie Sargent 20:15
Denise Tham 20:16
Yeah. Which we know in Canada, it’s
Annie Sargent 20:18
just all over the world. Yeah, it’s all over. So
Denise Tham 20:21
It was kind of neat to be in France and actually get to go to a spa that uses all their products, you know,
Annie Sargent 20:26
In Occitanie, no less.
Denise Tham 20:28
Exactly. And and you know, you can get a massage, but they also have their version of a Roman bath like a kind of hammam and then they have the bath there. So before after your treatment, you can kind of hang around and enjoy those facilities. And then we ate lunch there. So it’s inside a host hotel called La Maison d’Uzès. And then their restaurant is called La Table d’Uzès.
Annie Sargent 21:00
Denise Tham 21:01
And the restaurant has one Michelin star. So that was our fanciest meal but it was lunch. So it was actually like
Annie Sargent 21:08
Denise Tham 21:09
It wasn’t my husband got three course lunch, 35 euros, something like that. And for me, I did a spa and lunch package, you get a one hour massage and then you get the three course lunch. And it’s almost like you’re getting the lunch for free because it was like 100 euros. But then the massage is like 100 euro.
Annie Sargent 21:30
Right, right, right. Oh, that’s cool.
Denise Tham 21:33
That’s that’s my tip for anyone if you’re wanting to visit like the quite a luxurious property, one of those Relais & Chateau properties. And you don’t really want to spend so much money to stay there. You can go for lunch and a lot of them have this lunch and spa deal because I looked at quite a few. So very, very fancy. Yeah. Really, really pampered for sure.
Annie Sargent 21:59
Excellent. And then you went to an exhibit the Bauhaus
Denise Tham 22:04
Yes, so they had the Bauhaus exhibit actually so on the night that we were on the day at rather that we were in Uzès they were doing a Nuit Blanche. Like when they all the galleries stay open late and it’s sort of open doors and everything is open and you can walk around so we didn’t actually stay all the way into the night but during the daytime, different galleries were already preparing. So no, we got to see that. Yeah, and this year is the Bauhaus I think 100 year anniversary. So just around Europe, they are doing a lot of celebrations. And so that was a free exhibit.
Denise Tham 22:49
And the medieval garden, I would say if anyone is going to Uzès, the medieval garden is really quite interesting, even if you’re not really into plants or flowers. They it’s, it’s small when you go there, they give you an herbal tea that they made there like a tisane and they have a tower you can walk up to the top although don’t do it if you’re claustrophobic it’s very, very close like you you can’t have a person going up and a person going down at the same time.
Annie Sargent 23:25
Hum very that tight, hum?
Denise Tham 23:27
Which is tricky because when you’re in the bottom, you don’t know if someone is going to come down
Annie Sargent 23:31
Yeah, you have to kind of call ahead.
Denise Tham 23:34
Exactly. But once you’re at the top, you have this panoramic view over the whole town. It’s beautiful view there. And then the garden. Of course, if you are interested in a lot of plants, they have a section on medicinal plants, they have poisonous plants, they have different kinds of flowers, with some explanations so you can actually spend a good amount of time in that garden.
Annie Sargent 24:00
Hmm, lovely. And then a nice restaurant for dinner.
Denise Tham 24:04
Yes. So our host recommended a restaurant called Volver, which is not really in any town. I mean, it’s sort of also the highway between Uzès and Baron. So it’s sort of just a random house on the side of the road. And actually, when we went that night, our hosts were dining there, too. So we know it’s, it’s good because
Annie Sargent 24:31
Denise Tham 24:32
They choose to go there. And, again, not fancy, but they had a wonderful octopus. And you can eat inside or outside. And just just really not fussy. Not too, too stuffy. Just good. homemade food. So that was very enjoyable.
Annie Sargent 24:52
Yeah. Excellent. And then you move down to the Petit Lubéron. I mean, that’s, that’s very nice.
Denise Tham 25:01
Yeah, so I mean, you know, when when I was doing my research in the area, the Lubéron is sort of that quintessential Provence experience that most North Americans are thinking of when they go go to that part of France with the lavender fields are the sunflowers. Of course, this time of year the lavender is not really. Yeah, it’s it’s, I mean, there’s some fields, you see that the lavender used to be there.
Annie Sargent 25:29
Denise Tham 25:30
Where it’s a little bit purplish. You can see there’s some remnants, but yet it’s not the way it would be in July. But, yeah, so we we drove there, and we stayed in another bnb called Le Clos les Eydins in Bonnieux. It’s in Bonnieux but it’s actually like, on the, I don’t wanna say lower level, but it’s it’s at the bottom of the hill.
Annie Sargent 26:01
Denise Tham 26:02
Because a lot of the restaurants and and sites are at the top of the hill. So, which I did not realize, like these things are hard to appreciate until you’re actually there. Yeah, the region. The region is very hilly. Yes. And so some things look on the map very, very close together.
Annie Sargent 26:25
Denise Tham 26:26
Yeah, because the driving like, if you’re going to the top of the hill, it’s all these hairpin turns back and forth. So it takes a little longer than you might think. Yeah, to go between. So that’s why we were very glad that we were in a town that’s really close to so many other small towns, right. So I mean, we could have gone further but we really stayed within a 15-20 minute radius of our b&b. The whole Three and a half days that we were there.
Annie Sargent 27:03
Right. There’s so much to see like…
Denise Tham 27:05
There really is. Yeah. So you can do you know, some people go nuts and you’re going to like four villages in a day because you can. And some of the small villages there’s really not not too much in terms of attractions per se it’s more wandering around. Some are very sleepy. But we the the day that we did the most is I think we did three, yes, three towns. We did Ménerbes which I think Peter Mayle, either lived there or spent a lot of time there writing those books. So I think that’s their claim to fame.
Denise Tham 27:47
And Ménerbes along with a few of the other towns in the Lubéron. They’re listed as something like most beautiful towns in France, there’s some listing so that’s one of them. Although, you know, I don’t know how They decide. They’re they’re all beautiful in their own way. So Ménerbes we went. And there’s a nice Bistro there called Bistro le 5. And it’s right overlooking the valley. So a lot of people go there that was recommended to us by our b&b hosts.
Annie Sargent 28:22
Denise Tham 28:23
It would It’s beautiful. I mean, you just you just sit there in a lounge chair and it’s funny. We were there a bit late so they weren’t serving lunch anymore. But they do stay open throughout the day, which is good to know. Because some restaurants you know, they close in the afternoon. Yes. So this one they have a snack menu for the afternoon.
Annie Sargent 28:42
Denise Tham 28:42
Yeah. So we had some sardines and we had some goat cheese salad. And honestly, it was filling enough, really so we said wow, this is a snack. I don’t I don’t know what the entre is going to be like! So then and then we drove onward to Lacoste.
Annie Sargent 29:04
Denise Tham 29:06
Which is famous for their Chateau.
Annie Sargent 29:08
Denise Tham 29:09
The Chateau you know, used to be the residence of the Marquis de Sade.
Annie Sargent 29:15
Oh! I forgot about that!
Denise Tham 29:17
Yeah, but about a decade or so ago it’s bought by the fashion designer, Pierre Cardin who hosts some I think performances there outdoor performances in the summer. Because it’s a castle but it’s it’s in ruins.
Annie Sargent 29:32
Denise Tham 29:33
It’s not a castle like Versailles you walk around inside you can’t go in. But it’s quite quite interesting to walk outside and walk around it and then from there, you can walk a bit further and then that takes you into the town center. Although it was Sunday when we went so really, most things were closed. People are in their home. Practicing piano or walking their dog so it was quite quiet.
Annie Sargent 30:05
It felt sleepy.
Denise Tham 30:07
Yeah. But you know it was nice because there was one cafe that was open. And we just sat there. And then we went on were to Goult GOULT
Annie Sargent 30:21
I’m not sure how they said it. I would say GOULT, but I’m not sure.
Denise Tham 30:26
Yeah, yeah, again and these places are easy to find parking. I was worried I’m the one who is a little bit more of a I don’t want to say a stressed out traveler but I prepare a lot. I don’t want to be stuck looking for parking. But actually there’s no problem I think maybe only during the weekends in high season. I’ve heard. You know the if you go late in the day, the parking lot is full, but we had no problem.
Annie Sargent 30:53
Denise Tham 30:54
You could easily go around and you’re not thinking oh my gosh, I paid for parking. I have to stay for a long time kind of thing. Yeah. Yeah. And then Roussillon was another day.
Annie Sargent 31:07
I see. Okay.
Denise Tham 31:08
We spent we spent a bit more time at Roussillon because on the edge of the town there’s this place called Sentier des Ocres. Pardon my pronounciation.
Annie Sargent 31:20
No, you’re saying it good. Sentier des Ocres.
Denise Tham 31:23
Yeah. So they have some they have to hiking trails like different loops and you can really be in there with the ochre deposits and get some really nice photos and walk around. So I definitely recommend doing that.
Annie Sargent 31:41
That’s very scenic, it’s beautiful.
Denise Tham 31:43
It is, it’s kind of I mean there is if you go further east, there is a you know, more ochre deposits and they call it Le Colorado Provençal. We didn’t make it out that far, but it is I haven’t been to Colorado, but I’ve been to Arizona, you know, where they had these red rock parks? And it looks like that, and no one would have expected that in the south of France.
Annie Sargent 32:10
Yeah, it’s kind of an oddity.
Denise Tham 32:12
Yeah. So it’s beautiful. And honestly, they have the two different hiking groups. We did the shorter one because we were kind of getting hungry. But the shorter one is 30 minutes. It’s, it’s very short. So if you really want to get a bit more of a proper hike, I would say try the longer one.
Annie Sargent 32:31
Denise Tham 32:32
The shorter one is good, though. You know, you have people with maybe some mobility impairment there is some up and down but it’s quite, quite gentle, I would say. Yeah. And and then of course, there’s Roussillon the actual town itself and more shops and boutiques and cats walking around. It’s
Annie Sargent 32:55
Pottery stores. You’d think French people buy pottery all the time with all the stores that they have in in touristy places.
Denise Tham 33:06
Annie Sargent 33:07
Very nice. Oh, and then you hired a photographer?
Denise Tham 33:11
Oh, yes. So we did so for our last night in the liberal region we did a little sunset photoshoot just to capture the memories. I’ve never done that before on a vacation. But you know, after we just got married, when you’re getting married you you really learn about and research photography and, and that kind of thing. So it was that’s how I got the idea. And I would say like, we started our photos on the actual property of the bnb. So we were telling some of the friends that we met there and you know, at first I was a little embarrassed. I’m like, Oh my goodness. Doesn’t it look kind of narcissistic? But you know what, like, all the other trips we’ve done as a couple we end up coming home. Home and then we have a bunch of selfies.
Annie Sargent 34:02
Right. Which are fine. But it’s not the same.
Denise Tham 34:05
Well, we had some photos that we asked someone to take for us and it’s a little lopsided. So, for
Annie Sargent 34:10
A professional is good.
Denise Tham 34:16
Yeah, it was it was really nice and actually, again, I, I researched a lot of photographers trying to find one that’s bilingual. They’re quite reasonable in at least what I found in that region. A lot of them are also wedding photographers that do portraits on the side.
Annie Sargent 34:36
Denise Tham 34:36
And you know, for 90 minute shoot, you know, you’re looking between like 100-250 euros, and then they give you all these edited photos that you can print and make a book. So, you know, I thought it was a nice thing to do, and we have a nice way to capture those memories.
Annie Sargent 34:57
I agree. I agree. It’s good to have a pro photographer. It makes all the difference.
Denise Tham 35:02
Yeah, yeah. So so that was a time and deliberate on and as I said, that was the particular bnb with the outdoor kitchen that we
Annie Sargent 35:12
So you cooked there.
Denise Tham 35:13
There was, yeah, two dinners we cooked. And, you know, sometimes other people were cooking or, you know, using the fridge to store things. So you you socialize with the other guests, and it’s a really nice chance to meet people. I mean, one time, there was another group of people from the US, and they were cooking and we ended up sitting under the stars together all night drinking wine, and you know, just sharing our different experiences. So
Annie Sargent 35:42
Denise Tham 35:43
That was really nice, relaxing. Yeah.
Annie Sargent 35:46
Good. And then you have your last night.
Denise Tham 35:49
Yeah, so so we drove to Marseille, which was a quick drive actually, like faster than we expected. We stopped just briefly at Lourmarin. Yeah, so we drove straight to the rental car to drop off our car.
Annie Sargent 36:08
Denise Tham 36:09
Yeah. And the rental cars are again near the train station. Yeah. Central station. So that was pretty easy. And then, yes, so we had about one and a half days in Marseille because our train was the following day, but late in the afternoon. So we we had a lunch reservation at Un Petit Cabanon. Again, like kind of mid range French cuisine
Annie Sargent 36:44
Was it good?
Denise Tham 36:45
It was good. I’m trying to remember
Annie Sargent 36:49
Maybe not too memorable
Denise Tham 36:51
it, I’m sure I remember it being good, but it was not, you know, yeah, top ??? and after lunch, we hiked up to the highest point to Notre Dame de la Garde.
Annie Sargent 37:06
Denise Tham 37:07
Which is the big Cathedral. Yeah. And it’s funny because as we were walking in the sun, even, you might say, beginning of October, it’s still very warm, like high 20s. So we were feeling the sun. And there’s, there is a little tourist train that can take you up there.
Annie Sargent 37:26
Denise Tham 37:26
It’s kind of funny cuz it looks really like a little train like, children’s train that like, and we were looking at those people say, Oh my goodness, look at those people. And because it moves so slow that train and it looks a little cute and you know,
Annie Sargent 37:41
Yeah, it’s a little tourists train. Yeah.
Denise Tham 37:43
And we thought, oh, wow, we’re just gonna walk. And then as you’re going towards the top, we started thinking, Oh, man, those people were smart. We were like sweating like it was
Annie Sargent 37:54
And it’s not an interesting walk up. No, no, there’s nothing much. I mean, you know, I’ve done it both ways. I’d take a little train, yeah.
Denise Tham 38:03
Now you know what? I would take take the train. Normally when I travel I just use public transit and I don’t do a lot of these like tourist type of things. But I would say and particularly I mean we’re young and pretty, pretty good shape I like to think but if you did have any issues it’s cuz some parts is quite up hill. Yeah, like steep. So anyway, it Yeah, I think from from the
Annie Sargent 38:31
I think there’s a public bus also that will take you up there. But I think once I don’t remember, we walked down the hill once and I thought, well, this is boring.
Denise Tham 38:43
Yeah, there’s nothing particularly scenic. But once you get up to the top, it’s worth it.
Annie Sargent 38:48
Very nice. Yeah.
Denise Tham 38:50
Yeah, just a stunning, stunning architecture of the church itself, huh? With the striked kind of pattern.
Annie Sargent 38:59
Yeah, it’s very unusual, it’s very recognizable.
Denise Tham 39:02
Exactly. And, and then really you can it’s almost a 360 view of the city. Yeah. So it was a great for us to do on our, you know, almost the first thing we did when we got in the town. Because then that way you get your bearings, you can kind of see where certain landmarks are from above. So that was quite helpful. Yeah, and you know, the rest of the day, we did a little bit of shopping and just more wandering around.
Annie Sargent 39:34
So you went to the Mucem I’ve never been there. What is it like?
Denise Tham 39:38
Okay, so the new Mucem, we went the following day, and it was built in 2013. And Marseille was the Europe Capital of Culture that year. So I think they were building it in preparation for that to showcase the old port area, kind of revitalize it, huh? It’s it’s definitely worth going to actually the majority of the building, it’s free.
Annie Sargent 40:07
Denise Tham 40:08
You can a walk around the architecture I sent a I hope I sent you a picture. But it’s it’s beautiful. There’s some
Annie Sargent 40:17
No, you didn’t, you’re ging to have to do that
Denise Tham 40:19
It’s garden. Okay, I put it on the group, I put it on the Facebook group. The end there’s quite a lot of benches and picnic tables. So actually, even if you just don’t want to go and see the exhibits, but you want to
Annie Sargent 40:33
Enjoy the area
Denise Tham 40:35
There’s actually a lot of places to hang out, huh? It’s almost like they’re welcoming you to sit there, which you know, sometimes isn’t the case. So it’s
Annie Sargent 40:45
Yeah, it’s nice,
Denise Tham 40:46
Beautiful view and then the exhibits, they have some temporary exhibits. We didn’t see them all. You can buy a ticket and then the price varies depending on how many exhibits you want to see.
Annie Sargent 41:01
Denise Tham 41:02
There was one about it. It was called Island time. And it was a theme was islands around the world. And they were talking about, you know, mythical islands, they were talking about islands as prisons. They were talking about, you know, islands in film and literature. And that that was kind of one of them is a simple and it was quite broad and range and quite interesting.
Denise Tham 41:30
And then there was another exhibit about more of the Mediterranean region and the agricultural history. That was a little dry for me. And literally talking about how do you farm the land and
Annie Sargent 41:46
yeah, not an interest of yours.
Denise Tham 41:50
But if it is, I would say sure. Oh, sure. Sure. So quite a quite a range of exhibits. They do have I would say they have two restaurants in there. And one is like a cafeteria style more casual one buffet rather. But it was very expensive. So we didn’t go there. And then they have a fine dining restaurant. But again, really expensive and kind of quite mixed reviews when I was looking so we actually, we left and then we went to Le Panier area to walk around to find somewhere for lunch.
Denise Tham 42:27
But But the problem is you got to time yourself because if you end up spending too long and then the lunch restaurants have closed, right? Only those really tourist trap ones are open. You know, the ones that serve the lunch service continu kind of thing like Yeah, all through the day. So the lunch was. Yeah, yeah. So I would say try try to time yourself properly.
Annie Sargent 42:56
Right. And then you went to this La Savonnerie de la Licorne and I’m kinda interested in that because I love soaps.
Denise Tham 43:02
Yeah so you know as Mark say is famous for their soaps made traditionally with all of the oil, you know and the soaps they’re not like super fancy but you know you can see them at the store kind of the soap and then they put the stamp with their logo
Annie Sargent 43:23
Oh, so you can see the manufacturing a little bit
Denise Tham 43:26
Yeah so this this one it has a few locations in Marseille so I don’t know if all of them you can see the people making the soaps, but again in my research it seemed that this is one of the last ones that’s making the soap the traditional way. I bought some souvenirs there. It’s good to do shopping on your last stop so you’re not carrying the goodies around everywhere you go.
Annie Sargent 43:55
Denise Tham 43:56
And the the one the branch that I went to is in the area called Le cour Julien, no, what is it pardon me? Because there’s an area there’s like a street and then there’s all kinds of restaurants and cafe
Annie Sargent 44:15
Well you can send it to me later and I’ll add it to the show notes. Okay if you can’t find it but I do love those little soaps they don’t have to be fun Provence especially, but I have rediscovered the joy of washing my body with a bar of soap and it’s so much better than the than the bottled stuff.
Annie Sargent 44:34
I don’t know why i guess i grew up on bars of soap right? And then everybody went to these bottled whatever. Yeah, yeah, yes. Yes. And and I have a good friend who’s been on the podcast Actually, I can’t remember episode but she we were visiting Nice and she bought a bunch of bars of soap and and i I said, Well, I’ll buy a couple. Let’s see.
Denise Tham 45:03
And I love them. I’m totally converted how beautiful you can get the lavender one, which is very typical. Or the lemon verbena. So I did look at my Google document and it is called the Cour Julien.
Annie Sargent 45:18
Denise Tham 45:19
And that’s the name of the street area. So they have boutiques, they have some used bookstores and I went I went both at night and then I went in the day. They also have like some street art.
Annie Sargent 45:32
Denise Tham 45:32
So it’s it’s quite fun to walk around there and the restaurants are a lot better than the ones near the port. Yeah,
Annie Sargent 45:41
Yeah. So I to finish up, I want to ask you for your general overview of Marseille because this is this is something that people will argue about endlessly. There are people who say, Oh, don’t go to Marseille. It’s awful. I think it’s a fine city to go if you just don’t go to the projects like, you know,
Denise Tham 46:02
Yeah, yeah, I, we were a few people. We were talking about it in the Facebook group, you know, like I kind of expected my say to have that a bit rough around the edges type of vibe, because from what I had heard, you know.
Denise Tham 46:19
But that doesn’t really bother me. It’s not it’s not a polished place like, Goult or something. Yeah. But it has a lot of character. Yeah, it’s definitely very multicultural, which I think is a strength, I mean. Yeah, I was staying near the train station. And there were a lot of kebabs. There was a lot of traditional hamams. I don’t ever regret not having a chance to visit my mom there. Lots of North African communities. I mean, I think maybe if some people want to have like a very classic or traditional French experience You know, they might be surprised that there’s actually, you know, a lot of multi ethnic areas.
Annie Sargent 47:05
Denise Tham 47:06
Areas but, you know, I would say like some of the reputation that it’s a little less clean I that was my experience and I saw a lot of graffiti. Hmm I mean, there’s street are in the Cour Julien are these beautiful murals, but then just all over the city, there was a lot of just random graffiti, graffiti that is not pretty, you know, like just tags, just people writing their names. And it’s unfortunate, you know.
Annie Sargent 47:33
Denise Tham 47:34
Sort of spoils it. But But otherwise, I mean, I think some people on the Facebook group were asking about feeling safe or not like walking around at night and I would say absolutely, like even by the train station, which is not the nicest area no coming home from dinner at night. Even if I wasn’t with my husband, I would feel fine. You keep your wits about you like you would in any big city. I mean, is a big city. Yeah. But But yeah, I would say, I’m glad that we made time for it.
Annie Sargent 48:06
Excellent. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show that was very informative. And did you find the Lubéron to be as romantic as you had hoped? I did.
Denise Tham 48:20
I had high expectations. Oh my goodness, I was looking at all the pictures and wondering, is it really that stunning and it is, in fact, the pictures don’t even really capture. So definitely. It’s somewhere I want to come back.
Denise Tham 48:38
And definitely recommend. All right.
Annie Sargent 48:41
Thank you so much, Denise. You’ve been a delight to talk to and I will put your notes on Join Us in france.com where people can see all of the places you went to all the names all spelled out and everything.
Denise Tham 48:54
Annie Sargent 48:55
And thank you again for coming on the podcast because I really couldn’t do this without So many people like you are very generous with their time.
Denise Tham 49:03
And thank you for making this podcast because this is how I discovered a lot of tips and it made the trip a lot smoother. With all your advice, particularly the episodes about the driving. I use that a lot. So thank you so much.
Annie Sargent 49:16
You are very welcome. Okay, au revoir !
Denise Tham 49:21
Au revoir !
Annie Sargent 49:21
Thank you, Lynn Krug, John w Glass, Scott, Michelle Lewis, Brad and Laurel Bui.I’m not sure how to say that in English B UI for pledging to support this show on Patreon this week. Patrons enjoys several rewards that you’ll find listed at patreon.com forward slash join us that’s pa t ar e o n.com. Join us with no spaces or dashes.
Annie Sargent 49:53
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Annie Sargent 50:26
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Annie Sargent 50:50
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Annie Sargent 51:01
And if you’d like to support the show without spending a penny you wouldn’t have otherwise, before you go shopping on Amazon, go to the bottom of any page on Join Us in france.com and click on the Amazon ad or the booking ad, they both do the same thing. Because you came to those sites through join us I get a small commission, and it does not cost you a penny more. And that’s wonderful because it pays for the bills for the show, you know, the transcription, the putting together all the graphics, the I mean, all of these things like hosting the data files, the audio file, all that stuff costs money.
Annie Sargent 51:47
For my personal update this week, I’ve been working hard on the Saint Germain des Prés tour for the VoiceMap app. I’ve done three already. And so you think this fourth one would be easier. It is easier in many ways. But you still have to make a lot of decisions. Like I’ve got 90% of the spots where I want to take you completely nailed down I know what I don’t want you to miss. Now the question is what order Should I take you in?
Annie Sargent 52:16
With the Montmartre tour It was pretty obvious I wanted to avoid steps as much as possible and end with the Sacré Coeur because that’s a much better experience in my opinion. But with Saint Germain you know, there’s so many great places I could start and there are places that I would I enjoy going to just just to look like there’s the oldest tree in Paris is in Saint Germain, but it’s kind of out of the way a little bit to add some walking to the tour. So like I should escape it today at it anyway, if I don’t put it in the tour. You know, I’ll talk about it on the podcast anyway.
Annie Sargent 52:52
So you know, when I’m writing a tour and hunting around for the best stories to take you to, I tend to keep my head down and not do very much else.
Annie Sargent 53:03
But there’s the bird counts on Sunday and there’s no way I’m gonna miss that. Even though it’s going to be hard I give the birds so many seeds that sometimes I have like 30 – 40 birds at once. I’m going to have a hard time determining what, what species of bird I’m looking at, but I’ll try, we’ll see.
Annie Sargent 53:24
And we’re going to the yearly Panto on Saturday. That’s, that’s an English tradition. And we’ve much enjoyed it as a family since moving to since moving back to to France, with our daughter, you know, she was seven when we left the US. And so we wanted to keep her hearing English, not just from us, but from other people. So she knew that you know, English is an, we speak English, it’s normal. And so we started going to the panto, and then we started having friends who were in the panto this year. I don’t think we know anybody who’s in the panto, but it’s Just hide hilarious. It’s very funny. And it’s very silly. So we, even though she’s 21 now, we, we keep going every year. It’s it’s very fun.
Annie Sargent 54:12
And next week I’ll also batch produce three episodes. For the weeks I’ll be away in Paris. So these will be episodes with no thank us no personal update, and probably really basic show notes. Because I’m batch producing and I won’t have anything to say. But I’ll be back to my normal thorough show notes and transcripts later in February.
Annie Sargent 54:39
Lots of people don’t think to look for a podcast to help them plan their trip to France, so please tell them about it. They’ll find the Join Us in France Travel Podcast anywhere they get their podcast, but also Spotify. And I get a lot of listeners on Spotify these days, Pandora, Apple podcasts and like I said anywhere you podcasts.
Annie Sargent 55:00
Send questions or feedback to any edge Join Us in France. com Have a great week of trip planning or a great wonderful week in France and I’ll talk to you next week. Au revoir !
Annie Sargent 55:12
The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written and produced by Annie Sargent and copyright 2020 by addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution non commercial no derivatives license.