Transcript for Episode 279: Family Vacation in Provence and the French Alps

Categories: Family Travel, Lyon Area, Provence

Discussed in this Episode

  • Why Deepa loves France so much [04:44]
  • Young son loves paragliding [08:28]
  • What they loved in Aix-en-Provence [09:27]
  • Restaurant recommendations in Aix [11:56]
  • Calissons d'Aix [12:43]
  • A visit to Cassis [13:30]
  • Bouillabaisse in Cassis [15:42]
  • Plan enough time for the Pont du gard [17:56]
  • Haribo museum and store [19:14]
  • When are the bull fights in Nîmes? [20:50]
  • In Nîmes don't miss La Maison Carrée [21:28]
  • Lavender fields in Sault [22:23]
  • La Garde Adhémar and Parc naturel régional des Baronnies provençales scenic drive and lavender fields [22:30]
  • Vallon Des Lavandes Lavandin and Lavandor [23:51]
  • Sault is a good place to buy lavander souvenirs [24:40]
  • Watch out for opening times at Notre Dame de Sénanque! [24:54]
  • A visit to Annecy [25:30]
  • Airbnb in Annecy: La Perle de la Vielle ville d’Annecy [26:00]
  • Seeing a doctor in Annecy [27:37]
  • Annecy is picture-perfect! [28:47]
  • Coffee truck in Annecy [29:18]
  • How much French do you need to know? [30:15]
  • Paragliding in Annecy [31:07]
  • Boating on the lake in Annecy [32:46]
  • Most beautiful village of Yvoire [34:05]
  • Mer de Glace or Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix? [35:19]
  • Chamonix or Annecy? [36:12]
  • How to behave in France [37:14]
  • Don't pack too much in each day [38:00]
  • Should you pay attention to Yelp in France? [38:34]
  • A few things about Paris and shopping in Le Marais [41:30]
  • How to get the VAT tax back [42:12]
  • How patrons can get rewards automatically on their smartphone [46:08]

Annie Sargent  00:00

This is Join Us in France Episode 279. Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and today’s episode is a trip report with Deepa Seonie about her family vacation in Provence and the Alps. She came to France with her husband, daughter and son they’re about nine to 12 looks like.


Annie Sargent  00:21

We talked about Aix-en-Provence, Cassis, the Calanques, Nimes, Pont du Gard, the Haribo candy museum, Sault, Lavender fields, Notre Dame de Sénanques and lots more in Provence. They also went to Annecy, Chamonix, Yvoire, Mer de Glace (and how they wish they had done Aiguille du Midi instead).


Annie Sargent  00:49

And Seonie explains how you should not go nuts over Yelp reviews in France because they don’t matter very much and how to get your VAT tax refunded. When you get to the airport to fly home, in general good practice when visiting friends. Anyway, she has a lot of inspiration for all of us.


Annie Sargent  01:08

And I know as I record this, none of us can travel but you know what it will pass and pretty soon we’ll all be traveling again. And of course I’ll also give you a brief update on the pandemic in France after the interview.


Annie Sargent  01:23

Show Notes for this episode are on, the number 279. And if you’re planning a trip to France, this site is chock full of great resources, you should check it out.


Annie Sargent  01:37

A few months back, I wrote and recorded an introduction for a new audio book production of The Hunchback of Notre Dom by Victor Hugo narrated by BJ Harrison, and it is now a finalist for the 2020 independent audio books awards. Congratulations, BJ. It’s a wonderful book. I think you should listen to it. It’s the edition by what’s it called? The classic tales edition.


Annie Sargent  02:39

Bonjour Deepa and welcome to Join Us in France.


Deepa Seonie  02:43

Bonjour. Ne How are you?


Annie Sargent  02:45

I’m very well thank you lovely to talk to you about your trip to France. You went to Aix-en-Provence and also to Annecy. So we’ll talk about both of these places. tell tell us bit about your family and how many were in your group and when you took this trip.


Deepa Seonie  03:05

So we It was a family trip. We went to France in July end of July through August 2019. For 2019. Yes, yeah. And we were there for 14 days. And we went to so we flew into Paris from New York, we are in Northern Virginia, and took the TGV to Aix and then rented a car and went around Aix and Annecy in the car. Then back to Paris, through a TGV from Lyon. Oh,


Annie Sargent  03:40

good. Was was that fairly straightforward the whole TGV you know, airport to TGV to, to get in your car.


Deepa Seonie  03:49

Yes, everything was pretty good. TGV was was super comfortable, and very convenient. Very fast. You’ll be thoroughly enjoyed our trip. Except that when we had to drop off our car in Lyon, that was a little bit of challenge. So I would suggest people give enough time we actually missed our train and caught the next train. But all in good. Always good at the end.


Annie Sargent  04:15

Yes. So dropping off the car was complicated. Well, that can happen anywhere. I suppose. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So first of all, what? So did you have your kids with you?


Deepa Seonie  04:26

Yes. So we were family of four. My kids. They’re 10 and seven. And my husband so all four of us went and we absolutely loved it. Awesome. Yeah. Awesome. Okay, so tell


Annie Sargent  04:38

us a little bit about why did you pick France? Was this your first time in France?


Deepa Seonie  04:44

So this was my second time in France. So France and I go a long way and really the love and for France goes like 20 years back? Well, so when? Yep. So I was born and raised in India, and I learned French in middle school. That was 28 years ago.


Deepa Seonie  05:06

And we had in our school we had a French student exchange program. So a student from France. She came and stayed with us in our house for 17 days. Wow. And the follow. And the following year. We also Indian students were to go and stay in endo at their family’s homes for 17 days. Unfortunately, my my dad canceled my trip. Oh, for whatever reason. Yes, I that was I was going to be in ninth grade at that time the entire crew went but I didn’t.


Deepa Seonie  05:44

So that left such an impact on me that I always wanted to visit friends. Yeah. And back in 2014. I spent three days in Paris. And that wasn’t enough. So when we were planning our trip. For the summer of this year, we decided France and then I wanted to check off my bucket list of 17 days in France. So we did 14 days and three days from earlier I completed my 17 days so


Annie Sargent  06:14

Oh, that’s great.


Deepa Seonie  06:18

yes, a 28 years later, I got my 17 days.


Annie Sargent  06:22

You got your 17 days! That’s a lovely story.


Deepa Seonie  06:27

While that chap has closed, my love for France hasn’t so now anytime we talk about vacation, I want to go back to France. Looking at tickets, keep looking at Okay, where we can go and there are just so many beautiful places in France.


Annie Sargent  06:45

All right. So this time you you visited Provence and Aix in particular, do you want to tell us what that was like for you?


Deepa Seonie  06:55

Um, so. When we were looking at Which cities to visit? We looked at, we actually heard, thanks to whoever, who suggested me Join Us in France group and the podcast. I think it was so good. And we I heard a lot of podcasts to understand where we wanted to go. France is a big country and every place is so unique. And I mean, you can never go wrong no matter which city you pick. But you could


Annie Sargent  07:30

You go wrong you there’s some places in France that are not as interesting.


Deepa Seonie  07:36

So know, depending on like, where all I’ve seen, I’ve heard a lot of podcasts and I felt that we had, we could not go wrong with all the cities that you talked about. And when we were looking at we said, okay, Paris has to be there. You can never go with Paris. never go wrong with Paris. So we wanted to definitely include Paris. And that was our flight taking into Paris anyway. And then we started looking at, okay, south, east or Southwest. We thought about Toulouse, and then we we settled with Aix because we were we absolutely loved the idea of, of being there and seeing the lavender fields. Yes. So so we and and the timing was perfect.


Annie Sargent  08:26

Yes, it was the right time.


Deepa Seonie  08:28

It was the right time. So we said okay, Aix will be it and I met a few people and they highly recommended Aix. We were thinking of Nice. So but then we said okay, Aix and for Annecy, my son loves paragliding. Hmm. And he did his research and seems like Annecy is definitely the top places to paraglide


Annie Sargent  08:53

Ooh, so how old is he again? 11?


Deepa Seonie  08:56



Annie Sargent  08:56

And he likes paragliding?


Deepa Seonie  08:59

He loves paragliding


Annie Sargent  09:00

Whoo, you you’ve got a brave little kid there.


Deepa Seonie  09:06

Yeah, I mean, he and he did it for 20 minutes and he wanted to go longer. Unfortunately. Those guys are very busy and we couldn’t get another slot for him. Yeah.


Annie Sargent  09:17

Wow. Okay. So So did you. Did you stay in a hotel or go with an Airbnb?


Deepa Seonie  09:27

So, in Provence and Annecy we stayed at Airbnb S Yes. both places. Okay.


Annie Sargent  09:33

Did you so was your AB Airbnb in Aix?


Deepa Seonie  09:37

Yes, it was in Aix and very close to the the city center. So we could walk it was like 10 minutes away. So it was perfect, nice, bright location.


Annie Sargent  09:50

And x is not a very big city Anyway, you know?


Deepa Seonie  09:54

Yeah. It’s it. It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful.


Annie Sargent  09:58

So what did you like particularly in Aix?


Deepa Seonie  10:03

so we really like the feel of a small town and beautiful boutiques and I loved walking around the streets and the Cours. Me. Cours Mirabeau?


Annie Sargent  10:15

Cours Mirabeau, yes.


Deepa Seonie  10:19

Yeah. So the open markets they would have at night and they would go for really long at night and we really enjoyed that. We and then outside in the city center, they had restaurants and then the all the open air they had a beautiful setting with all lights. It was just beautiful. Just walking around was a pleasure. You don’t have to have an agenda. When you are in Aix you can just walk around and it’s so


Annie Sargent  10:48

Nice, right you I mean, I suppose you could go see the cathedral you could go into a museum are two, but if you don’t love that kind of thing, you could just walk around it’s very nice nice restaurants nice cafes. Yeah. Yeah, yes.


Deepa Seonie  11:06

Yeah, we went to the cathedral to Yeah, we saw that. It was very nice. And the boutiques and if you’re into shopping Yes,


Annie Sargent  11:15

Yeah. lots lots of interesting little boutique stores with Yeah. Interesting clothes. And yeah, you mentioned hats in your notes and lots of you know, I took so many pictures of just stores because they were arranged really well. You know, they have a knack for making things really pretty.


Deepa Seonie  11:38

Yeah, yes. That’s so true. Unfortunately, for me, I couldn’t shop that much because we had a small car. And yeah, and we had to go back and we had to go to Annecy and other places after Aix. Yeah.


Annie Sargent  11:52

Yeah. You didn have a lot of luggage.


Deepa Seonie  11:55

Yeah, you can’t have a lot of luggage


Annie Sargent  11:57

Yeah. So are there some some restaurants you recommend in Aix?


Deepa Seonie  12:02

Yeah, so if you like Mediterranean I think we had the best Mediterranean in Aix and the restaurants name is Devon de toi ch


Annie Sargent  12:14

Ah, close! So it’s Divan d’Antioche


Deepa Seonie  12:18

Yes, yeah, we loved their food we had we actually went there twice. It was so good. It’s the best Mediterranean we’ve had so far. So we really enjoyed that.


Annie Sargent  12:28

That’s a good recommendation. Thank you.


Deepa Seonie  12:32

And then there is a French restaurant Charlotte that we really enjoyed in x so highly recommend that as well. Mm hmm.


Annie Sargent  12:40

Okay, what else did you try there?


Deepa Seonie  12:43

So, of course we went by a lot of recommendations by you and we tried the calissons.


Annie Sargent  12:49



Deepa Seonie  12:50

And will loved them


Annie Sargent  12:51

You love yes, now, that’s funny cuz you wrote you wrote per recommendation by Annie. We bought Calissons. Look, your memory is bad, Elyse likes calissons, I despise them. She’s the one who was recommending the calissons. I don’t think they’re any good. But that’s just me. There’s, there’s very few foods I can’t eat. And that’s one of them. Yeah, but most people love them. So,


Deepa Seonie  13:20

yeah, yeah, we also bought them home. And every now and then when it’s like a special occasion, when I’m missing France, that’s when I would have the calisson.


Annie Sargent  13:30

Very nice. Very nice. So then the next day you went to Cassis? Not sorry, not supposed to say the s, Cassis.


Deepa Seonie  13:38

Yes, yes. Yes. Yes. And we did the boat tour for two hours.


Annie Sargent  13:43

As yes, so you went to the Calanques.


Deepa Seonie  13:46

Yes. We we saw all of them. There is a shorter tour as well. But we recommend the two hour Yeah. Every minute. Yeah. So it was


Annie Sargent  13:57

Like this wasn’t this fast boat. It was a more of a comfortable boat that doesn’t go so fast. Yeah, yeah, that’s that’s the one we did.


Deepa Seonie  14:07

Yeah. And what I’ve, what? We were told that earlier, they would actually stop. So people could get out, but they don’t do that anymore. So they would every every spot, they would just stop for a few minutes. So you could take pictures. Yeah. Go to the next one. Yeah,


Annie Sargent  14:26

Yeah, it’s a liability to let people swim. What if they drown? You know, like he.


Deepa Seonie  14:35

Yeah. So one thing for Cassis, we recommend going on a weekday than a weekend because parking can be hard on a weekend and I think you mentioned that in one of your podcasts as well. So we changed our itinerary around so that we could go on a week, weekday and parking was a breeze.


Annie Sargent  14:58

That’s okay. That’s good. The only problem with Cassis and parking is that you probably have a three hour maximum. Like it’s you have to pay for parking even if you park on the street. There’s I don’t know that there’s any free parking in Cassis but the so you have to go back and feed the meter again right.


Deepa Seonie  15:22

Or you have to do that we were there. We were there so we we got parking in the parking lot.


Annie Sargent  15:28

And okay, you could stay all day.


Deepa Seonie  15:32

Yeah, we stayed the entire day there. Okay.


Annie Sargent  15:35

That’s good. That’s good. Very nice. So what did you think of Cassis? What was your impression?


Deepa Seonie  15:42

It was very beautiful. And we we had the Bouillabaisse at Nino the restaurant.


Annie Sargent  15:50



Deepa Seonie  15:51

And it was very, very good.


Annie Sargent  15:53

Did your kids like fish?


Deepa Seonie  15:56

Yes, we really like the fish and the host was very nice. And he explained how we, we didn’t know how to eat it. I guess there is a certain procedure of how they serve and how you’re supposed to eat. And he was very kind to tell us what we had to do how to do the spread, right. Yeah. And then dip the bread in the, in the dish itself. So yeah. Was the whole ceremony which we really enjoyed. Yeah. So


Annie Sargent  16:28

That’s great.


Deepa Seonie  16:30

Yeah. And then for, for lunch, we went to a restaurant called Le Bonaparte


Annie Sargent  16:37

Le Bonaparte, Yes. Yeah. Like Napoleon Bonaparte.


Deepa Seonie  16:41

Yeah, it was it was just amazing. And their daily special was awesome. So highly recommend that restaurant.


Annie Sargent  16:48

Very good. Yeah, daily specials are really good. Usually. I mean, once in a while you find you get a dud, but typically it’s a good choice.


Deepa Seonie  16:56

Yeah, I agree. And we just would use pick pit from the daily special and the house wine. Oh my god the house wine were so good! I think we got spoiled we were having wine with every meal and coming back home it’s like okay


Deepa Seonie  17:14

what do we do now? What do we do now? Exactly the bread the wine the cheese? Where’s that?


Annie Sargent  17:21

Oh, there’s good food in America too but nothing beats Indian food. I love Indian cuisine. I if you didn’t have to keep so many so many spices to make the thing you need so many spices but Oh, so good. So good. Yeah. All right. So that’s Cassis and it looks like you would recommend people go


Deepa Seonie  17:45

Yes, highly recommend Cassis. Aix is beautiful. Yeah, you can go wrong with me. All right. No, I wouldn’t change anythging


Annie Sargent  17:56

Yeah, it looks like you did it really smart! So on the third day you went to Nîmes, Pont du Gard, Uzès and Haribo Museum. Yes!


Deepa Seonie  18:07

So Pont du Gard, so we underestimated how much time we would spend there. And, and we had to sort of rush through through it. So I would if I had to do some if I had to change anything, I would spend more time there and just plan our itinerary the way so that you get good three, four hours there. Yeah. So we were at the end, we were struggling and then we actually missed the open market in Uzès that we had heard about in the podcast, unfortunately, there was some event on that particular day in Uzès and so they closed the open markets earlier, which were,


Annie Sargent  18:50

Yeah, if it’s raining, nobody comes to buy so they go home.


Deepa Seonie  18:54

Yeah, yeah. So Pont du Gard was very nice. My son is a lot into history. So of course the museum was was a dream for him reading everything. Yeah was what he wanted to do and then we had to rush him and he was not happy. Oh


Annie Sargent  19:14

it is a good little museum it’s worth going definitely Yes,


Deepa Seonie  19:17

definitely. Yeah. So Haribo I highly recommend the store. We didn’t do the tour of the factory. Yeah, but we went to the store the store yeah and it was it was just amazing the the variety they had we we don’t have. We get our Haribo in the US. But it we don’t get as much variety on the choices that you get over there. And yes, i i agree hundred percent with you. The strawberry flavor is amazing.


Annie Sargent  19:55

Yes, yes, the little strawberries a fantastic So Haribo, for those of you who don’t know, it’s it’s a candy brand. And they have a museum that shows how they make the candy and the big store where you can buy everything in massive quantities. And it’s wonderful by the smell in there or so good.


Deepa Seonie  20:20

Yeah. It’s great. Yeah, like my kids went all out and I’m like, Okay, go ahead.


Annie Sargent  20:28

Yeah, you need a trip. do that before think before Halloween. That would be awesome.


Deepa Seonie  20:37

My kids wouldn’t, wouldn’t give it away. Keep it close to the heart. They still have them. But now though, sharing


Annie Sargent  20:48

that you also managed to go to Nîmes.


Deepa Seonie  20:51

Yeah, we did. And so we wanted to see the bullfight. And I researched researched, couldn’t find really, when the bull fights happen. Yeah. But now we know that they happen in June and September. So we went there, we saw the arena, which was nice. And then we wanted to rush back to Aix.


Annie Sargent  21:19

And Nîmes was a big city to us and we said, okay, we saw the arena and went back to Aix. Yeah,


Annie Sargent  21:28

Yeah. Another place that I would I would recommend not to miss in Nîmes is the the temple. It’s not called the temple. What is it called? It’s like a Roman. Hang on. I need to Google it cause I can’t think of the name.  La Maison Carrée. That’s what it’s called. It’s a Roman temple. It’s gorgeous. But it’s a little ways away from the arena so I can see why you didn’t see both. But that’s something for other people to consider and and go to that if they have the time. Yeah, you you you packed in a lot of stuff in that day three.


Deepa Seonie  22:10

Yes, yes, there was a lot and yeah, we we’ve learned many things in one day. Yeah replaces beautiful. You need to just take it in. Yes. Just so.


Annie Sargent  22:23

Yeah, yeah. So day four you went to Sault.


Deepa Seonie  22:28

Yeah, yeah, we went to Sault. So we did so the timing was was perfect for certain areas for lavender fields not so much for the others. So we did the research and found that salt still had the lavender fields in bloom. So we did a loop. We went to La Garde Adhémar. That was a beautiful little village. It was really really small village. We had lunch there, it was beautiful. And then we drove through the National Park


Annie Sargent  23:01

Yeah Parc naturel régional des Baronnies provençales. Very nice.


Deepa Seonie  23:06

Yes, yes. And it was a very scenic drive. We chose that over the highway. And it was perfect. And we stopped over at different lavender fields. And we also clicked the pictures I I believe I shared them with you. Yeah. And we were lucky to find a spot the olive grove which my husband loves olives. So he was very excited about that. Yeah. And my and my kids saw the snails growing on like on bushes and that was friends. That was like amazing.


Annie Sargent  23:39

We weren’t growing on them. They were eating them. That’s what snails do! They eat the bushes and then and then they go hide under the rocks. Cool.


Deepa Seonie  23:51

For lavender. So we went to this salon called Vallon Des Lavandes .


Annie Sargent  23:58



Deepa Seonie  23:58

Vallon Des Lavandes, it was a slight detour from D164. And so this is a little place they have. They do tours as well. But at that time when we went they didn’t have tours, but the host explained as different kinds of lavenders and we bought the lavandin, the lavandor and yes at that place.


Annie Sargent  24:27

Yes, yes, yes. Yeah, that’s very nice.


Deepa Seonie  24:31

Yeah. And, and it was much cheaper than the market. We got big bottles. We got them home. We still use them and yeah, it’s


Annie Sargent  24:38



Deepa Seonie  24:40

Nice. So for Sault we recommend so if for it’s a great place to buy lavender products as souvenirs, there are little boutiques, little shops there and they have tons of stuff.


Annie Sargent  24:54

Cool. And then you also went to Notre Dame de Sénanques obviously


Deepa Seonie  25:00

Yes, yes, we did, but it was closed by the time we got there. We got to see it from far. Yeah,


Annie Sargent  25:08

yeah. Also you couldn’t get Oh yeah, there’s a gate. Yeah, you can’t get close to it, can you? Yeah. Huh. So how late did you get there?


Deepa Seonie  25:19

Um, it was late. It was maybe six o’clock or so. It was it was. Yeah. So it’s important. I guess it’s important to see the hours before you make the trip down. But no regrets. We got to see it. It was beautiful.


Annie Sargent  25:35

Yeah, yeah, you you did pack a lot of stuff in most of your days. And so sometimes when you show up it’s closed. You know, that’s, yeah, that’s what happens. Okay, let’s move on to to your time in Annecy because I can see the clock is moving quickly. So you drove, right? You went from Aix, you  drove to Annecy, and it was uneventful?


Deepa Seonie  25:59

Yes, you At the drivers was easy. And we enjoyed our drive. And, and in An necy we stayed at La Perle de la Vielle ville d’Annecy. And it’s in the Old Town district of Annecy. And this was again an Airbnb, we highly recommend the place the host is is just amazing. He was very, very kind to us.


Deepa Seonie  26:25

And the interesting thing about this accommodation was that this is in a 200 year old building. Sure. And, and yet the apartment was very modern. It was a very small apartment. It worked perfectly for the family of four. Yeah, and but it was he, the host, told us that he actually had a designer, work with him to make it modern and make the most of the space so this was great. And the open markets were right under the building, so it was perfect. We got to Go to the open markets for breakfast.


Annie Sargent  27:03

Nice. Very nice. Yeah. So I’ll put first mean up, I’ll put a link if I can find the link to this specific. Sometimes they’re not available anymore and so the link disappears. But I’ll at least give you the name of this particular Airbnb. It’ll be in the show notes and you’ll also be able to, from the show notes, you’ll see a button that says guest notes, and you’ll see everything that Deepa has written for us so you’ll get to see it all.


Deepa Seonie  27:36

Perfect. Yeah. And the hostname is Ivan. He was very nice. I mean, my son felt sick. In Aix. And yeah, it was a little. The last day of Aix, we had a little trouble finding the doctor. We couldn’t. Folks couldn’t understand the doctors couldn’t understand the English and it was a little trouble and then He said, Okay, you know what, let’s drive down to Annecy. And we’ll figure it out. And on our way, we heard your podcast on doctors. And it really put us to ease. Yeah. And and then when we got to Annecy, our host, he made an appointment with his doctor after that. It was like, so easy. Yeah, it was unbelievably easy. Yeah,


Annie Sargent  28:26

Yeah. Once you understand how the system works, and I can’t remember the episode number, but we did a whole episode about what what to do if you need a doctor in France and just search Join Us in France for seeing a doctor or something like that. You’ll find it Yeah, yeah. Yeah.


Deepa Seonie  28:47

So Annecy is, is is postcard. It’s like a postcard. It is picture perfect. It’s where my I think I left my heart. It was very, very beautiful. And the mountains the lake. It was just magnificent. Yes, very beautiful. And I have a long list of restaurant recommendations. So if you’ll have the link it’ll be perfect. So we can go through that.


Deepa Seonie  29:18

But one thing is there that when in Annecy drink the coffee from a coffee truck called La boutique. And it was delicious. I love their cappuccino. And so the two days we actually three days we managed to have coffee from him because when we went to the doctor found the same truck near the doctor coffee from him then and we said hey, there’s one day when you’re not going to be there. We’re What do we do? And then he suggested that there is a Haven coffee and kitchen cafe and they buy coffee from him. So we went there when the open market wasn’t there. So


Annie Sargent  30:02

That’s great!


Deepa Seonie  30:04

But the brunch was also very good along with the amazing coffee we had.


Annie Sargent  30:08

So that’s great. So you managed to talk to a lot of people. Did you use your French? Or could these people speak English?


Deepa Seonie  30:15

Yeah. So we spoke in English, but we started off with little words that we learned in in French. And then we learned the tricks. And after your podcast, we said, okay, we heard your podcast and we said, we got to make an effort, and we made a little bit of effort. And then then it was just that people will go above and beyond to help us out. Right. That’s what we saw. And yeah, you start with the Bonjour you end with Au revoir. And that, that that was your key to getting people to become friendly with you.


Annie Sargent  30:51

Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s like the magic word.


Deepa Seonie  30:55

Yeah, yeah. And it’s a beautiful language too. I mean, you have to make other people comfortable like you can just start off with English and expect.


Annie Sargent  31:07

Alright, so let’s talk about I want to hear about this paragliding business that your son did. Where did you get that?


Deepa Seonie  31:16

So paragliding I don’t have in my notes, but it was not too far away from the old town and see, it was probably a 20 minute drive. And I can I can send you an email on the I think it was KDO, KDO paragliding company. Okay Really? Yeah very professional. I sent you the link yeah


Annie Sargent  31:43

to be sure. Yeah. Yeah, cuz I’m sure there’s other crazy people who want to do that.


Deepa Seonie  31:48

Yes. So, my son has done paragliding in Austria. Before and, and but this was he said this was we this this was totally different. It was beautiful. And, like just the view of the mountains and the view of the late I think made it whole lot of difference and yeah. And he loved it. He did a 20 minute and he wanted again. You wanted to do it again but those people are packed they’re very busy. Yeah, it’s hard to find another slot.


Annie Sargent  32:23

Well the thing is they can only they can only fly on certain days the weather has to be appropriate. And so on those days, they’re packed and then there’s days where they can’t do anything. So it’s makes a big difference. And you also you also got a boat to to go enjoy the lake.


Deepa Seonie  32:46

Yes, we did a motorboat and we we enjoyed the lake and we swam in the lake which was which was very nice a different experience. But having done that I I would recommend a paddle boat over a motorboat. It’s just makes it easier to to use the paddle boat and I think that’s why they were more paddle boats than motorboat because the idea is not to go around the lake. It’s to just enjoy where you are and enjoy just swimming in the lake. It’s more of that and it’s not really. I mean, we didn’t go through around the lake,


Annie Sargent  33:27

right? So was the water very cold.


Deepa Seonie  33:31

No, it wasn’t actually.


Annie Sargent  33:35

Very nice. Yeah, cuz the only lakes I’ve ever swam in were in Utah and they’re high mountain lakes. And you freeze. It’s very cool.


Deepa Seonie  33:48

Now, it was nice. It was a good day. It was a perfect day. We had to move things around like you said, because one day it was going to rain so we changed our plans and We did the paragliding on a good day. So we moved things around.


Annie Sargent  34:05

So in your second day you went to Yvoire


Deepa Seonie  34:08

Yes, Yvoire. And this was not on our itinerary until we got to Annecy and talk to our host. And he highly recommended this village. And it’s by Lake Geneva. And it has the spectacular views. I mean, and the village itself is so beautiful, and a lot of flowers and beautiful homes. And it was just, it was like, as if I’min a dream.


Annie Sargent  34:39

Oh, yeah. Well, I’m gonna have to look and see if I can find photos. of Yvoire. I’ve heard of it. I think other people have mentioned it on the podcast before. But just in fact, I mean, it’s just a village right? But you spend the whole day there.


Deepa Seonie  34:53

Yes, we did. And we really loved it. We had lunch there. And then we spent the entire day and I Actually when we we got back we were doing some research and it’s it’s considered one of the most beautiful villages in France.


Annie Sargent  35:09

Okay. Okay. Not unsurprising. There’s so many beautiful places up in the mountains that way that it’s just gorgeous.


Deepa Seonie  35:18



Annie Sargent  35:19

Okay. And then the next day you went to Chamonix.


Deepa Seonie  35:22

Yeah, we went to Chamonix. And my son has asthma. So we were debating between Mer de Glace and Aiguille du Midi


Annie Sargent  35:33

Right Mer de Glace or Aiguille du Midi. Yeah, with the altitude maybe. Yeah.


Deepa Seonie  35:39

Yeah. So we chose Mer de Glace. We like the we did like the, the ice cave that was there. But if I have to do it all over again, we would do Aiguille du Midi.


Annie Sargent  35:58

Okay. That’s good to know. I’ve several people have kind of hinted at that but they preferred Aiguille du Midi to Mer de Glace.


Deepa Seonie  36:09

Yeah, yeah.


Annie Sargent  36:12

So and you say oh yeah I would. Oh so you said if I were to do this again I would skip Chamonix and visit another village instead. So you didn’t think you didn’t like Chamonix as much as you like Annecy.


Deepa Seonie  36:27

So yes, we’ve been to Switzerland, and we seen brief. I can’t remember anymore. Of course, I’m going blank on that. So having done that, we thought, okay, you know, we’ve done something similar, but, like villages in France, that’s very, they’re very unique. So if, if you’ve done Switzerland and gone to the mountaintop, I can’t remember it would be okay to skip.


Annie Sargent  37:00



Deepa Seonie  37:02

That’s just, that’s just our perspective. That’s what like our family thought.


Annie Sargent  37:06

Okay. Yeah. Well, and that,


Deepa Seonie  37:09

And that may be because of we didn’t get to do the Aiguille du Midi, maybe it would be different.


Annie Sargent  37:14

Sure. Sure. You might. Yes. You might have liked it better if you had gotten to do Aiguille du Midi. That’s for sure. Yeah. And then you have some general tips and ideas about how to behave in France. Of course, the first one you already talked about, always say Bonjour et Au revoir.


Deepa Seonie  37:34

Yes, yes, yes. And it’s good to carry your swimsuits. Because wherever there’s water, you can go in. Maybe you learn this much later. And there was no turning back. But yeah, and


Annie Sargent  37:50

Right, both in Cassis and the Pont du Gard you could have swam.


Deepa Seonie  37:53

Yeah, yeah. But we didn’t have the swimsuits. Yeah. And one thing you all and other than Next thing that I was I have in my notes was not to have too many things in a day. I think we packed too many things in each day. You may not want to do that. Just Just take the every places unique if you just enjoy that and be on a relaxed mode, I think you get more out of your day.


Annie Sargent  38:24

Yeah. So you could take Deepa’s list and just remove one thing. And then you’ll be good to go.


Deepa Seonie  38:30



Annie Sargent  38:32

That’s good.


Deepa Seonie  38:34

And and for restaurants. So what we learned almost at the end of the trip, not to go crazy over Yelp ratings. Yeah. Because the some of the best meals we had were, didn’t have many ratings on Yelp. And then we realized that okay, as long as you’ve chosen French cuisine, and you see some locals dining in there, go for it.


Annie Sargent  39:01

Yeah, I think it’s important for people to understand that getting a lot of Yelp reviews is an art. And some restaurants are good at it. They’re good at asking people, you know, to review and bla bla bla, and there’s restaurants that they don’t even know what Yelp is. These are French people who probably have never used the app. They’ve they they don’t know. You know, they don’t care. They to them. It’s like, what, what is this? So don’t don’t worry too much about Yelp reviews or TripAdvisor reviews, because you’re dealing with French people, especially in the French countryside, that they they don’t necessarily even they’ve never asked anyone to leave a review because they know what the heck Yelp is!


Deepa Seonie  39:48

Yeah, that’s a good point Annie. We never thought like that, and interestingly enough, in any restaurant we went to, they didn’t even ask okay or suggested that we give them a review or anything like that? No,


Annie Sargent  40:02

No, it’s not important to most French people. It’s really, I don’t I don’t think I have ever been in a group of French people. And we said, let’s go out to eat and somebody pulled out their phone to look at Yelp.That is … That has never happened ever. Like, you know, no. French people don’t go like that they just walk around, sniff around. Maybe they’ve eaten somewhere before and they liked it. So they remember and we go there but we just don’t like yeah, we don’t spend as much time with our devices. I think still in France, you know, some but not as much.


Deepa Seonie  40:40

Well, that’s great, because in America, that’s what happens. First thing is like you open up Yelp.


Annie Sargent  40:44

Yeah, right. But, oh, America knew that Americans need to read a review before they buy toilet paper. I don’t understand, like, What’s so hard about buying toilet paper? You’ve used it a whole life. Surely you can recognize what makes a good one and a bad one, so, go with that. But then when people feel that they want to review I’m like, No, no, no, no. Anyway, so that’s just me. That’s that’s grumpy French person.


Deepa Seonie  41:14

No, you’re so right. You’re so right. So yeah, we had great food. Out of all the days I could barely remember any restaurant. We didn’t we were we didn’t have good wine. We didn’t have good food. We ended Paris. I’ve just a few things about Paris before we end. Yes. Le Marais. I absolutely fell in love with that place and the shopping. I would spend an entire day over there which I didn’t have shopping there. Yeah, don’t shop anywhere but just go to low buy. Yes.


Annie Sargent  41:49

And again, you don’t need specific recommendations because you can just walk around the Marais. Like if you take my walking tour, I take you on all the big shopping streets. The tour does. And you can pause it at any time and we’ll go in and see but even if you don’t have a tour, just walk around. It’s full of lovely stores.


Deepa Seonie  42:12

Yeah, I agree. Yeah. And I have a few tips in my notes about tax returns so people may want to


Annie Sargent  42:24

Oh, so yeah, this is something I know absolutely nothing about. So you can get taxed by shop at a store for over 175 Okay. So it has to be over a certain amount.


Deepa Seonie  42:37

You have to get a tax return and over 175 except for in gal and this has to be in one store. Except for in gallerie Lafayette in Paris where you can shop at different stores and collectively if you have 175 euro worth of shopping, you can get a tax return. And the way the tax return works is that you have to go to a particular gate at the airport to get your papers stamped and it must be done before you get into the security line or even before you give your luggage because they may ask you actually not made they definitely asked to see the items that you purchased like for us we bought the perfumes so of course they we had to show them and you can i mean it’s it’s bigger bottle so they have to be checked in. Yeah, you want to go to the gate get your tax paper stamped. And then when you go in, that’s where the office is where they handle taxes.


Annie Sargent  43:47

Okay, that’s very good to know. Yeah, cuz since I live in France, I can’t. I have to pay VAT tax, you know, but Well, that’s very good to know. Okay, Deepa, we need to We’ve been talking a long time we need to bring this to an end. But you have been absolutely delightful. I’m so grateful for people like you come on the podcast and share recommendations. And people always ask for recommendations for specific things. And you gave a lot of very specific recommendations, and they’re going to be in your guest notes. So I think people will enjoy reading those.


Deepa Seonie  44:23

Wonderful. Thank you so much, Annie for giving me the opportunity to be here. I love your podcast. I wish I had known about your past podcasts much earlier, but absolutely enjoy listening to them. I feel close to France, still listening to your podcasts. And I always recommend your podcast to every person I know. So Absolutely. Thank you so much.


Annie Sargent  44:49

Thank you Deepa, your’re wonderful. Thank you. Merci et au revoir.


Deepa Seonie  44:55

Au revoir !


Annie Sargent  44:57

Thank you Ciara Powell and Robby Nunley for pledging to support the show on Patreon this week. Patrons enjoy several rewards and you’ll find them listed@ that’s pa t ar e o n. Join us no spaces or dashes. I share exclusive content with my patrons, including help with your French comprehension stories about France, photos, and membership into a secret Facebook group. And of course patrons can message me directly through Patreon. And these messages are always top priority.


Annie Sargent  45:33

I shared a new lunch break French last week. It’s a bit of a riddle about a French heroine. And I just realized when I was writing this that I misspelled the word in the episode. I didn’t realize that heroine with an E is a female who is a hero and heroine without the E is the drug. English never ceases to entrap me Anyway, the French is quite good, even if my English sometimes leaves to be desired.


Annie Sargent  46:08

And patrons, you can get all of these rewards automatically delivered to your smartphone. To learn how to do that, if you just like you do with a podcast, right, you subscribe to a podcast through an RSS feed. Well, there’s a private RSS feed for patrons. And if you haven’t done that yet, log into Patreon. Go to the tab that says My membership. And what you want to look for is something called the Private RSS link. Read that carefully it will tell you how to do it. And then every time I publish a new reward, you’ll get it automatically on your smartphone. So visit to see all the different reward tiers and thank you so much for giving back.


Annie Sargent  46:59

My thanks all To Judy Dennis for sending in a one time donation, using a green button on any page on Join Us in That says tip your guide, Judy wrote, hi Annie. Hope this helped in some small way to keep your podcast going. While no one is traveling. I have been listening for a year or so now and your podcast and website were a fabulous resource for our trip to France last year. Still love listening and so entertaining and informative. Keep up the good work and stay well.


Annie Sargent  47:31

So thank you so much, Judy. Sorry, I can’t read. And thank you for your support. Thank you to all of you who support me, even though you cannot travel right now. I had conversations with tour guides this week who are at a loss as to what to do right now. And it’s not like tour guides are the only ones suffering a loss of income this month. So yeah, it’s it’s it’s difficult on all of us.


Annie Sargent  47:57

And you know what you can support the show with without spending a penny you wouldn’t have otherwise, before you go shopping on Amazon, go to the bottom of any page on and click on the Amazon ad, because you came to Amazon through my site, I get a small commission, and it does not cost you a penny more. And thank you so much for remembering to do that. For my personal update this week. This is week three of the confinement things have not changed much in France. But Hallelujah, the number of new infections is leveling off.


Annie Sargent  48:32

We hope it starts going down soon it’s too soon to tell. Alas, the number of people who will die is not going to change because the disease will run its course so that will probably keep going up for a while. But last I heard there were still 2000 open ICU beds in France. And you know that might seem low to you. But France is not that big of a country and there’s a chance that the medical system won’t be overwhelmed.


Annie Sargent  49:00

They’ve been shipping critical patients to different areas of the country where they have more staff and more bad and, and all that. I haven’t left my house other than my regulated dog walk every day, and it’s getting old. But when I consider the alternative, I’m really, really lucky to be here. I will probably have to go shopping sometime next week. I was hoping for 10 days without grocery shopping. And I think I’ll make it to two full weeks so who I feel I feel really bad for the people of New York as there are now more infected people in New York City alone than in the whole of France.


Annie Sargent  49:44

Whatever, wherever you are in the world, stay home, you. You don’t need whatever you think you need. You don’t need to go to the store to get something just stay home. And of course eventually you’ll need food but If you plan things well, you won’t need to go out for that very much. And I don’t know about you, but in France grocery delivery, or pick up is hopelessly behind. I placed an order five days ago still no signs of getting a pickup appointment. I guess I’ll just have to go to the store.


Annie Sargent  50:20

I’ve decided that next time I go to the store, I’ll wear gloves, which I did last time plus a mask. You can buy masks in France right now. And I can’t sew to save my life. So I decided to make a mask with get this a dog pee pad, staples and rubber bands. I have some pee pads at home because we have an old dog that takes diuretics. So he sometimes has leaks when he sleeps. And there’s this video of an Italian woman showing how to make those pee pad masks on Facebook. If you want the link up, I can send it to you. Just just email me and I’ll send it to you So I made some and, and they’re fine. It’s pretty easy to do. But the trouble is they are so airtight that I can’t breathe through those things.


Annie Sargent  51:09

So I’ll try sports tube you know these things that you use when running or it’s kind of a elastically tube that goes over your goes on your neck, and it goes over your mouth and nose. And I saw a doctor recommend that if you use a scarf or a bandana, you can add folded paper towels inside, and that should be good enough for the grocery store. So I’ll try that. Who would have guessed? I’d be talking about wearing a mask to the grocery store two months ago. This is so bizarre. And you know, if I wear a mask to the grocery store, nobody will care. So there! So be really, really careful out there. There are still people who aren’t scared enough of this virus and they will sometimes get right up to you.


Annie Sargent  51:56

I’d love to know how you’re doing how you’re adjusting to the new reality. of this life. If you follow the show on any social media I post to talk back, would you? I’d love to hear. You’ll find me as Addicted to France on Instagram @ParisPodcast on Twitter, and Join Us in France on both Facebook and Pinterest.


Annie Sargent  52:19

I am wishing you the best stay home, plan your trip. Don’t Don’t make a date yet. It’s way too soon for that. And I’ll be very happy to see you in France soon, but not just yet.


Annie Sargent  52:33

If you enjoyed this episode, share it with someone. You’re my only advertising send feedback or questions to Have a wonderful week. Stay safe and I’ll talk to you next Sunday. Au revoir 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

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Categories: Family Travel, Lyon Area, Provence