Transcript for Episode 374: A Leisurely Trip Through France

Categories: French Customs & Lifestyle, Off the Beaten Track in France

Discussed in this Episode

  • [00:04:39] Travel to France during Covid
  • [00:05:53] The Advantages of staying near Porte Maillot at the Hyatt Regency
  • [00:07:28] Sébillon Restaurant
  • [00:09:20] Getting the Health Pass for France
  • [00:10:46] The Apple Store on the Champs Elysées
  • [00:12:07] Getting lost in Paris
  • [00:13:32] Train to Bordeaux and a walk along the Garonne
  • [00:16:08] Driving to Bergerac and stay at a beautiful Maison d'Hôtes
  • [00:21:51] Why choose a B&B over a hotel
  • [00:22:54] Spending a few days in Bergerac
  • [00:25:36] Bergerac to Domme
  • [00:27:49] The market in Sarlat
  • [00:29:21] Getting all "ducked-out"
  • [00:32:24] Covid rules enforcement in France
  • [00:33:14] Driving to Sancerre
  • [00:35:00] Château de la Bourdaisière near Tours in the Loire Valley
  • [00:40:00] Reading French restaurant menus
  • [00:40:29] Why is wine so cheap at everyday French restaurants?
  • [00:45:12] How to ask for restaurant recommendations from French people
  • [00:48:53] Thank you patrons and donors!
  • [00:49:57] This week in French news and pandemic news
  • [00:54:54] French tip of the week


[00:03:44] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Carl and welcome to Join Us in France.

[00:03:50] Carl Carlson: Thank you for having me again.

[00:03:51] Annie Sargent: It’s lovely to have you back. You were on the podcast a few months back talking about one of your favorite places in France, Sancerre. And that was episode 304. And this time we’re going to talk about, well, a lot of different places, but you spent some time in the Dordogne this time. And so we want to talk about that as well as the time you spent in Paris and a few COVID things and all of that. So you’ve been to France many times, haven’t you, Carl?

[00:04:23] Carl Carlson: Yes, we have, I think some somewhere over 30 times. And, interestingly enough, perhaps, last year was the first year this century that we didn’t spend any time in France. We do try to come every year.

[00:04:39] Travel to France during Covid

[00:04:39] Annie Sargent: So how did COVID affect this trip ?

[00:04:42] Carl Carlson: Well, we weren’t necessarily concerned because we both have been vaccinated t wo times .We had not yet had our boosters. But, listening to your podcasts we realized that the vaccination rate in France was higher than it was here in Hawaii and throughout the United States. And so we might even be safer there in France than we would be here. Having said that, typically when we arrive in Paris. I mean, it’s a long ways from Hawaii and you arrive in Paris and spend a few nights there to try to, catch up in a time zone. And, we normally traveled by the Metro and we also visit little museums and this trip we chose not to do that. We chose to spend just a little bit more time walking around and, avoided the Metro. And the only time we went to a museum was at the end of our trip when we went to the Pompidou Center, to visit the Georgia O’Keefe.

[00:05:46] Annie Sargent: Yeah, the Metro is, it takes a little, I don’t know. It’s, it’s close quarters, isn’t it?

[00:05:53] Carl Carlson:

[00:05:53] The Advantages of staying near Porte Maillot at the Hyatt Regency

[00:05:53] Carl Carlson: It is. And, but the good news is our flight arrived, about quarter to 11 in the morning and it had been delayed. And, but that was a good time to arrive because there’s not much traffic driving into Paris. We like to stay at the Hyatt, Regency Etoile out there and granted that’s the chain hotel, but, it’s not a touristy area and it’s very convenient access to and from the airport, Porte Maillot right there has, auto rental locations. And so it’s a good place to jump off from if you’re going to drive someplace and avoid driving in Paris, once you get a car.

[00:06:34] Annie Sargent: Right.

[00:06:35] Carl Carlson: And then for us, we’ve been to Paris so many times. we’re trekkers. We, love to go for long walks and only a 20 minute walk from there to the Arc de Triomphe, across the périphérique there’s the Blois de Boulogne.

[00:06:53] Annie Sargent: Right.

[00:06:53] Carl Carlson: And I believe you did a podcast on that a while ago. the Bois de Boulogne is I think almost three times the Central Park,in New York. So it’s, it’s big. We like to go up there and go for long walks, you know, see what’s out there and, Again, trying to adjust the time change.

[00:07:14] Carl Carlson: And it’s 12 hours in the Hawaii and Paris time zone. Walking is an excellent way to kind of adjust to the time zone

[00:07:25] Annie Sargent: Right, because 12 hours is brutal.

[00:07:28] Sébillon Restaurant

[00:07:28] Carl Carlson: It can be. And then the other thing, that’s that area, there are a lot of restaurants that we know, this one, right across the périphérique, called Sébillon, which is maybe over a hundred years old at this point. I mean, it’s an old time Paris restaurants and has excellent seafood, it’s only a 10 minute walk there. Sébillon has. One of their specialties is lamb. And they, they prepare it in an old style where they, they bring it to a table in a cart to make harvest. So we always had one of the restaurants we go to regularly.

[00:08:08] Annie Sargent: Sounds lovely.

[00:08:10] Carl Carlson: And, and granted, you know, that is a convention center right there. once you get away from the hotel, you don’t really run into a lot of tourists. A lot of the restaurants that you go to out there, you don’t even hear the sound of English.

[00:08:26] Carl Carlson: And how long does it take you to go from that hotel to say Notre Dame ? Notre Dame is a pretty good hike a little over an hour.

[00:08:39] Annie Sargent: Okay. But if you took the Metro,

[00:08:41] Carl Carlson: If you take the Metro maybe 20 minutes, it’s a, it’s a straight shot down, the Champs Elysées and, and then there’s a stop right there. Very close to Notre Dame. So by metro it’s easy if you walked in it’s an hour, maybe a little more. but what the heck we can do that.

[00:09:03] Annie Sargent: So besides not taking the Metro, did it really change anything else? COVID did?

[00:09:08] Carl Carlson: No, not at all. We called or actually I sent an email to the hotel and asked him if there are going to be any restrictions we needed to worry about. And they said, just bring your CDC card.

[00:09:20] Getting the Health Pass for France

[00:09:20] Annie Sargent: They changed the system around November 2nd. So before November 2nd, they wanted you to email, then they said, oh, you need to create an account. but then they completely stopped that. And they said, no, no, now you arrive in France, you go to one of the participating pharmacies and they will take care of you. And there are lots and lots of pharmacies all over Paris and all over France that do this. And there’s a website that lists them all. Well, no, it’s not a list. It’s a map. So I’ll put a link in the show notes to that map for anybody who’s listening, wants to do that.

[00:09:59] Annie Sargent: So, and it’s pretty easy. I mean, you just pay your fee and people ask, you know, what, if I get my third dose, well, I’m afraid you’re going to, you’re going to have to pay the fee, do it again, you know, to, to add because they need to access your documents. And it takes about 15 minutes to do the whole process.

[00:10:19] Carl Carlson: Yeah. And, again, that’s, there’s peace of mind once you have. actually, we, we felt commerce like a badge of honor. We could walk in and flag our QR code.

[00:10:29] Annie Sargent: Yeah. And for a while there, they stopped asking for the, the QR code so much. But now that we’re on an upswing, again, of cases, they ask for it again. So it’s good to have it.

[00:10:46] The Apple Store on the Champs Elysées

[00:10:46] Carl Carlson: Yeah. And we didn’t, at any time feel that it was an imposition or it’s something we shouldn’t have to do. If those are the rules, then what the heck, those are the rules. And there’s a reason. Right. So that’s what we did. But, you know, getting back to Paris for a moment, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the apple store on the Champs Elysées.

[00:11:11] Carl Carlson: We had to go pick up something, and that has to be most elegant Apple store and it’s, I never really thought of an apple store as a destination for a visitor, but it’s worth going by and taking a look.

[00:11:32] Annie Sargent: Yeah. When I’m in Paris and I need the Apple store, I usually go to the one in Saint Germain des Prés, but I walked by the one on the Champs Elysées. I don’t remember if I went in or not, but yeah, it’s probably quite impressive.

[00:11:51] Carl Carlson: It’s a very handsome store, very large in an elegant old building. And, it’s an experience. You know, and so there’s, there’s much more to Paris, I think then going to see all of the big sites. I mean, it’s nice to do that.

[00:12:07] Getting lost in Paris

[00:12:07] Carl Carlson: And we’re fortunate that we’ve done that, but the city itself is almost like a living museum and it’s amazing. The more you look, the more you find, you just walk around, it’s amazing what you end up finding. And I know you have various walking tours, which are informative, but, I think it’s worth it for a traveler just when they’re in Paris to just go get lost. And quite frankly, it’s pretty difficult to get lost.

[00:12:36] Annie Sargent: Right. So this makes all kinds of sense for people who go back to Paris again and again, and again, like you, because you know, you have time, like if, if you get lost or even if you walk through a neighborhood that’s not so impressive. So what? You’ve, you know, you’ve looked at some cute dogs and some nice buildings and you had a nice walk and you’re happy about that.

[00:13:05] Annie Sargent: It’s just people who are only here for a certain time. For them, it’s wiser to plan some more and to do walking tours and to have kind of a plan. Otherwise you’re not going to see as much.

[00:13:21] Carl Carlson: Absolutely. And we’re blessed with the paint in a position to be able to be turned and, visit France at our own pace. If you will.

[00:13:32] Train to Bordeaux and a walk along the Garonne

[00:13:32] Annie Sargent: And so you took the train to Bordeaux.

[00:13:35] Carl Carlson: We did, we picked a taxi from the hotel to Montparnasse station, and what’s interesting. They had a team there that were checking QR codes. And so they checked, we gave them my QR code and they gave us wristband, which allowed us pretty much seamless access to the, to the station and restaurants there.

[00:14:04] Carl Carlson: And then it just facilitated getting on a train. but a two hour train ride for Bordeaux and we were basically on our way to Bergerac and we just thought with a little over two hour train ride and perhaps a two hour drive to Bergerac, how do we just spend a night in Bordeaux? We’d been there before.

[00:14:25] yeah, I was going to ask you why you only did one night in Bordeaux because there’s plenty to see, but if you had been before, that makes sense.

[00:14:34] Carl Carlson: Yeah, we had done that before, but, and as, as talked about earlier, we’re treckers. And so in the morning when we have breakfast, we sprint for a long walk along the river and they have a lovely,riverfront promenade.

[00:14:51] there’s a lot of green space, gardens. they have their shops for the go there. There’s a long line of shops, just spending an hour or two walking along the river.

[00:15:03] Annie Sargent: That’s great. Yeah, bordeaux is a lovely town. I mean, honestly, yeah, there, there’s some nice walks you can have within the city. And it kind of looks like Paris a little bit more than other Southern towns because it’s that white stone everywhere. And they had a lot of it cleaned up, not that long ago. And so it’s nice and bright. Because for a long time Bordeaux, when I was a kid, Bordeaux was all gray because the stone had gotten old. And then they had a mayor who decided that he was going to give a tax rebates to homeowners who did a facade refurbish. And it worked it. A lot of people did it and it it’s a gorgeous town as a result,

[00:15:58] Carl Carlson: And they have, they have light rails. That’ll get you around the city relatively easily. And, oh, it is a lovely city.

[00:16:08] Driving to Bergerac and stay at a beautiful Maison d’Hôtes

[00:16:08] Annie Sargent: Yeah. And then you went to Bergerac.

[00:16:13] Carl Carlson: We did. And just rented a car there at the station, Saint Pierre, and drove to Bergerac. on a two hour drive, we made a stop along the way. And, we stayed at a wonderful maison d’hôtes called Clos D’Argenson. And, it’s on, route d’Argenson. It’s I believe, maybe you’d call it an old Manor house.

[00:16:42] Carl Carlson: And these two guys from Paris bought it and about three years ago and it picks it up a little bit and I believe there’s five, possibly six rooms, there. And, our room was, was we thought, especially nice in that it had a large sitting room and that we were looking for something like that.

[00:17:07] had a large sitting room bedroom was large, large bathroom. I mean, very pleasant. And the sitting room had huge casement windows that overlooked the garden and the pool area.

[00:17:21] Annie Sargent: Right, I’m looking at it right now. It looks nice.

[00:17:23] Carl Carlson: It’s very nice. And, one of the things that us. put about having a sitting room, Christine likes to do art. And so we go out and, and do our things in the morning.

[00:17:36] Carl Carlson: And then, in the afternoons, we take a nap. And what she likes to do is to sit there and, and work on her art. She does a lot of artwork and sometimes she does needlework. And so in the afternoon when we’re just kind of relaxing after having been out and about, she can sit there and do her thing. And, it’s wonderful. I mean, it’s, I can sit and read or actually in, in many ways, in my case, I get a little antsy and so I just get out and go, but it just makes it very comfortable place to be and stay.

[00:18:17] Annie Sargent: Yeah. And so how far is it to the historical Bergerac medieval center?

[00:18:24] Carl Carlson: Oh, 5 minute walk!

[00:18:25] Annie Sargent: Okay. And how are the beds? Are they soft or are they hard?

[00:18:30] they’re very comfortable. I’m very comfortable. I, although I, I guess I’m blessed. I can sleep anywhere anytime, but, now it was, it was a lovely place to stay and you don’t really think having access to a library as being the highlight of a trip, but maybe. A hundred meters from the accommodation, they had a very clean, modern laverie and have to having traveled for, six days, five nights having access to refresh your clothes.

[00:19:07] Annie Sargent: Right. So laverie is a laundry laundromat.

[00:19:11] Carl Carlson: Yeah, and, right across the street, of course, from the laundromat, they had a cafe and next to it, the Carrefour market.

[00:19:20] Annie Sargent: So we could, we could, we could buy our picnic if we wanted, we could get anything we wanted, it was convenient. and I know you did a podcast on Bergerac. We, we enjoyed it and quite if we had had little bit longer. How long were you there?

[00:19:39] Carl Carlson: We were there three nights and, the accommodation, as I said is, it’s very nice.

[00:19:45] Carl Carlson: it’s run by Francoise and John Lewis and, Françoise’s father, was a, I believe a relatively famous textile designer. And so the prints or the proofs that he used for the textile design, they framed and they hung throughout, the maison. And so the arts where a lot of the artwork was done by Françoise’s father. So it was unique. They had other artwork, of course, but it was unique. And we enjoyed checking it out. They have a dining room that I would say comfortably would sit perhaps eight, they had it set up for, six. And, so we had breakfast in the dining room and a breakfast was incredible. It was large, I mean it had almost anything you wanted. We actually like to drink grapefruit juice in the morning and not everyone wants to provide you jus de pamplemousse, but,they had it. They had like a cheese plate. They had a cold cut plate. They made eggs in the morning there. They had those lovely little touches where on a cheese plate, it put like a raspberry framboise and then put micro greens around it. So it looks like a flower or a plant. I mean, it was just, it was just, done well,

[00:21:13] Carl Carlson: That’s nice. So are these people French?

[00:21:17] Carl Carlson: They’re French. And, they even outside by the pool, there was a little room and they had an honor bar in that room, where you could buy a bottle of wine, and just pay for it in a jar or they had snacks. So it was a comfortable, comfortable place to stay. I think including breakfast and they have their own private parking, a little garage. I think he was 175 Euro at night.

[00:21:49] Annie Sargent: That’s really reasonable.

[00:21:51] Why choose a B&B over a hotel

[00:21:51] Carl Carlson: I thought it was reasonable. We looked at some hotels and then when we consider the cost of parking and other things. Yeah. yes, this made more sense than what would be more comfortable.

[00:22:03] Annie Sargent: And also when you stay at a place like that, they have recommendations for restaurants and places to visit and things like that. Not that it’s hard to find a good restaurant in Bergerac, but it’s good to know of the ones you should prioritize, I guess.

[00:22:19] Carl Carlson: Yeah. You, you have a personal touch because you have hosts who, they’re not hovering around, but should you need them they’re there to help you. And, that’s very, that’s excellent. Their English was pretty good. We spoke both in French and English. my wife’s French is pretty good. I can communicate a little, but their English was good enough if we spoke no French, we would have been fine.

[00:22:46] Annie Sargent: Okay. Good to know. Very good recommendation, thank you.

[00:22:51] Carl Carlson: Yeah, I, I would certainly recommend that.

[00:22:54] Spending a few days in Bergerac

[00:22:54] Annie Sargent: What did you enjoy doing in Bergerac?

[00:22:59] Carl Carlson: Well, in your podcast, you had talked earlier about visiting a Cathedral and there’s a church and, and a chateau. in our case, again, we like to trek. And so we walked down to the river and there’s a lovely, promenade along the river. And then it goes through a, a nice little residential area. And so from going for a long walk. Two hours a little more than two hours along the river. this very nice. and, we saw rowers. I we saw teams of women training and in rowing skull, and also, some single skull.

[00:23:42] Carl Carlson: And that’s always interesting. I mean, we paddle here I’ve been paddling in paddling in the six men canoe all my life and, so it’s interesting to see the water sport there.

[00:23:52] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:23:53] Carl Carlson: And then another, another morning, there is a variant of the Chemin de Compostelle that goes through Bergerac. And so the second morning we took that for a way.

[00:24:05] We had planned to going to a neighboring village and then,it followed the road followed the small country road more than a single track trail. And there was traffic on the road off and on it, we just, and in the end we made it a six mile round trip, which, which was, I mean, that’s a nice, not enough hikes for us, but it’s, it’s, you know, it’s lovely.

[00:24:30] Carl Carlson: And the city itself is very picturesque. along the river, of course, there were a nice views of the city from either side of the river and then the old town, I love the half timber, buildings in the old house. I think one can go see the sites or one can ingest, settle into the rhythm of life there and poke around, which is really what we did.

[00:24:57] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So how many days do you wish you could have stayed?

[00:25:03] Carl Carlson: Well, I think another night, skip Bordeaux and have spent another night there. Just take a, she had just driven there and, because we had a car, we then would have gone out and looked at some things and gone perhaps up to the Chateau. But, when we travel, we don’t like to rush. We kind of like to move at our own pace. And as we’ve spoken to a little earlier, we don’t need to, and we’re blessed that we can do it that way.

[00:25:33] Carl Carlson: Yeah, no, it’s lovely.

[00:25:36] Bergerac to Domme

[00:25:36] Carl Carlson: From Bergerac we drove to Domme, it’s about a hour and a half drive to Domme. And again, we had been to Domme before, but we like the village and we have friends who rent a farmhouse.

[00:25:54] Carl Carlson: You may have to help me pronounce it. and it’s about halfway, between Bergerac and Domme. le Buisson de Cadouin?

[00:26:08] Annie Sargent: Ah, yes, Cadouin! Buisson de Cadouin.

[00:26:12] Carl Carlson: It’s a nice little village. We were gonna stay with them, but our schedules changed. but we did, we stopped in the village and there was market day going on and that’s always nice. We spent a little bit of time there, looking at village life and in the market and then drove on to Domme.

[00:26:35] Annie Sargent: Yeah, it’s a really small village. It’s a couple thousand people.

[00:26:40] Carl Carlson: Yeah. It’s, it’s not very large. and then we drove to a Domme and,course it is by Laroque and Beyn ac and, and then Domme itself again, we’ve been there. We stayed at a hotel, L’Esplanade. and up there, there’s a, it’s a nice hotel. They have a marvelous restaurant. There’s a great view from, the hotel looking down into the river valley in the afternoon there’ll be hot air balloons, coming up and, we had lunch there, on arrival. the restaurant here at that hotel is excellent.

[00:27:17] Carl Carlson: And, can we just kind of walked around the village. There’s a park adjacent to the hotel and that the village is small, but again, If you check out every street and alley and you’ll find little restaurants or shops and whatever, look at the architecture of the village. it, it just, it’s an enjoyable place to be.

[00:27:40] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a, it’s a cute little town and it’s a Bastide, which makes it kind of easy to find your way around.

[00:27:49] The market in Sarlat

[00:27:49] Carl Carlson: Right. And good Bastide down. Yeah. and that night we had dinner at property called Belvedere that overlooked the valley, which was simple, but nice. And then the next day, we drove up to Sarlat. we had been there before, but, it is such a beautiful city and it turned out it was their market day also. We weren’t aware of that. Really planned to check the schedule. But we walked around, walked around the village, walked around the market and toyed with having lunch, but, ended up, going to a, a nice restaurant there in Laroche, for, for lunch. And then eventually back to Domme just to kind of hang out.

[00:28:33] Carl Carlson: But the market market day in Sarlat is really worth, worth a visit. If one hasn’t already done that, it’s large and it’s, it’s quite busy and, it’s fun to just kind of sit in and people watch.

[00:28:52] Annie Sargent: Yeah, it’s a very fun market and it’s, it attracts a lot of people, including a lot of visitors, but, you know, it’s just very pleasant and they have a lot of local strawberries when they’re in season and they have, truffles when they’re in season. They have foie gras of course when, it’s time for Christmas. So it’s a lovely, lovely market.

[00:29:21] Getting all “ducked-out”

[00:29:21] Carl Carlson: Yeah. Well, you mentioned foie gras, as you know, that part of France is known for duck and, we have, we, I mean, I had a bit of duck for a in Bergerac but by the time we got to Domme, let me just say I had a duck salad at lunch at the hotel. And it was, it was very nice, but by then I was ducked out and Christine doesn’t like Christine doesn’t particularly care for ducks. Yeah. So, it, it, it was nice to have other choices on the, on the menu.

[00:29:55] Annie Sargent: I get easily ducked out my husband doesn’t, but I, you know, I enjoy duck once in awhile foie gras at Christmas. Okay. But I don’t like go out of my way to order these menu items. But in the Dordogne, it’s like really hard to get away from the duck.

[00:30:17] Carl Carlson: Right. It’s there. Yeah. and then that evening, we had dinner at,L’Esplanade and I got to say that dining room is very nice. The service is very good and the quality of that food is very good. It’s a little pricey, but, it’s for, the level of service and the food and the location, I thought it was a very good crowd, and interest, interestingly enough, when they had dinner, when we were seated, there were four other tables being served, and I believe those four tables were all French. And I think there’s 10 or maybe possibly 12 tables available.

[00:30:57] Carl Carlson: And then just before we were finishing dinner, hostess sat, somebody relatively close to us and they were speaking English. We couldn’t help overhearing the conversation.

[00:31:10] Carl Carlson: And it turns out this gentleman was from Hawaii and, actually was currently living on an island of Maui. Well, I was born on Maui and of course, Christina and I live in Kona in Hawaii. So what are the chances of having dinner in, in a Bastide in rural France with six tables being served and two of the six being from Hawaii?

[00:31:40] Annie Sargent: It’s an extraordinary happenstance, I guess.

[00:31:44] Carl Carlson: It was! It was an interesting coincidence. So we had a bit, a nice chat with him.

[00:31:51] Carl Carlson: And so we took off the drive to Sancerre and it’s,it’s a long drive, five and a half hours. Most of it, on the autoroute. But that morning when we were in Domme, it was raining and I was surprised it was somewhat of a warm rain. It wasn’t as cold as I thought it’d be. So the traffic on the autoroute was a little slower than normal, which is okay because there’s rain very hard.

[00:32:24] Covid rules enforcement in France

[00:32:24] Carl Carlson: And we. So drive up into several stops at various aires, and four rest stop and, and refreshments or whatever. and talk about COVID that’s the aire, the three aires that we stopped on in, on that, autoroute they were very strict on the wearing of masks.

[00:32:47] Annie Sargent: Oh yeah.

[00:32:48] Carl Carlson: Anybody walked in without a mask, they were told immediately.

[00:32:51] Oh yeah. You can walk into any building in France without a mask on. They won’t let you.

[00:32:59] Carl Carlson: Well, we noticed that, but I noticed the aires seemed to be stricter than the other. They were very forward.

[00:33:07] Annie Sargent: And by aire you mean aire de repos. So these are the rest stops along the freeway.

[00:33:14] Driving to Sancerre

[00:33:14] Carl Carlson: The rest stops on the freeway. So eventually, we saw the sign to Bourges and Bourges is not far from, Sancerre. And,that gave us a feeling that we were getting close to home, if you will. And then,there are surrounding villages around Sancerre that we know well. In Sancerre, we stayed at an Airbnb. It was a nice place to stay, again Janet had a nice sitting room, big kitchen, and maybe a little bit more than we really needed. Because it’s two bedrooms and a loft. Very convenient and nice place to stay. And in Sancerre, we talked about it in a previous podcast, but you know, we, we do enjoy going back and we go back regularly and. I think every year, other than 2020, since 2004.

[00:34:14] Carl Carlson: And what’s unique again for us in that village is Nouvelle Place there at the center of the medieval village. And it’s surrounded by a number of restaurants and shops. and right off the Nouvelle Place, there are other restaurants and other shops and, our friend, Olivier has a Café Librairie, is a bookstore cafe that we go to and we just sit and hang out and talk to Olivier and our other friends come in, you know, hanging out it’s kind of a slice of life, or really just settled into settled into the rhythm of life that they have there.

[00:35:00] Château de la Bourdaisière near Tours in the Loire Valley

[00:35:00] Annie Sargent: And then I wanted you to tell me about this Châteaux you went to near Tours, Château de la Bourdaisière .

[00:35:09] Carl Carlson: Christine found it. We subscribe to a magazine called France magazine. And, one of the articles in that magazine was about gardens in the Loire. And, we have been to a lot of, Chateau gardens or just botanical gardens, in the area around Sancerre. And when we saw this article and it mentioned the Château, we just thought it’d be unique. And we looked it up and found out that it wasn’t too pricey to stay in a, in a Chateau and visit the garden. We just thought let’s go do it. So it’s just outside of Tours, in Montlouis-sur-Loire. it’s very picturesque,about a two and a half hour drive from Sancerre to get there.

[00:35:58] Carl Carlson: And there are rooms in the Chateau itself, and then they have some adjacent buildings that have rooms, and then they have, they have a large, domain where they have hiking trails. 5k trail. If you want to follow their paths. The domain has a large forest. You have some vineyards and as you walk through the forest, they have various forms of forest art. And by that basically they take tree limbs and manufacture swirls or arches or whatever you could think of, kind of, kind of unique things.

[00:36:40] they have, they had kind of a gland kind of an open metal area, obviously do large parties and functions. And just off of that, there was a, there was a trail and there was a hugging tree to have set up with a tree hugger you’re you’re at home there. So we, we both gave the tree a hug to make sure it was happy and it certainly made us happy.

[00:37:13] Annie Sargent: That’s great!

[00:37:15] Carl Carlson: And then, you know, it’s, it’s kind of unique. They had, in the garden, the garden was. They had a lot of flowers and vegetables and, beehives and, and they have a garden set up nice. But it’s also, I guess, one of the things that you need to put out there is there a conservatory for tomatoes and they have over 600 varieties of tomatoes, there in the garden, and they have an annual tomato festival, which I believe is in September. And so we missed that cause we were there in October. But they also have a what amounts to a conservatory of dahlias. And we have dahlias in our garden at home. And interestingly enough, they had a variety of Dahlia called Aloha and. So, it was pleasant just to kind of poke around the garden and see your various proprieties and how they cultured different plants and vines and, and whatever.

[00:38:24] Carl Carlson: And, so it was a nice place to stay. It. The rooms had big, large rooms, large bathroom. breakfast is in a dining room, in a Chateaux, small dining room, a very nice breakfast right off the kitchen. And then the dinners are available at one of the buildings next door. the dinners were not, were not elegant.

[00:38:49] Carl Carlson: They were, they were quite simple. We, we ended up having dinner there just to keep. So we didn’t have to drive, right.

[00:38:56] Annie Sargent: Sometimes when you’re staying at a Chateau, it would take a long time to go out to dinner and come back. And so you might as well eat at the Chateau.

[00:39:06] Carl Carlson: And that’s what we did. We did have lunch, next door, and a little village, Montlouis-sur-Loire. And that was, that was an interesting, interesting little restaurant, is very local. We found that, on the, on the web, but it was very local. There were only local people there having lunch. And the restaurant, was kind of half building, half cave, and it was built into the cliff and,what was interesting that noone really spoke English. If they knew a few words, but, my, my French was much better than any of their English and, we didn’t, and we don’t need for them to speak English. We prefer actually, when we travel, we prefer to have to try to, use our French.

[00:40:00] Reading French restaurant menus

[00:40:00] Carl Carlson: Menus can be somewhat challenging because French menus aren’t necessarily literal. But we’ve generally figured it out. And, Christine likes to have, have fish and they had an excellent fish there. And, and I had, I had their lamb, which, which was good. And, it was a nice, nice place to eat. and wine was maybe three Euro a glass or something. Tell me it was very inexpensive.

[00:40:29] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:40:29] Why is wine so cheap at everyday French restaurants?

[00:40:29] And if I may let, let me jump back to Bergerac for a moment. When, when talking about wine, very close to our accommodation, like maybe a hundred meters, maybe closer, there was a restaurant that we had dinner at and, it was, it was simple. And as you would in France, you can order a pichet of various sizes and they had 0.375, 0.5 and 0.75,you know, liter pichets. They were priced at three euros, six euros and nine euros.

[00:41:07] Annie Sargent: Wow.

[00:41:08] You can’t get a glass of wine at a restaurant here in Hawaii for nine euros.

[00:41:12] Annie Sargent: No, no. Yeah. That’s different about France. Yeah.

[00:41:18] Carl Carlson: The wine was drinkable. It really was.

[00:41:21] Annie Sargent: Yeah. You can’t serve bad wine, even if it’s inexpensive, people will just give you a hard time, so…

[00:41:29] Carl Carlson: They won’t come back.

[00:41:30] Annie Sargent: Right.

[00:41:32] Carl Carlson: But back to the chateau, I would recommend it. we’re coming back next year. This time it’ll be in May when we come back and we’re toying with, spending a few more nights there and using that as a location to explore the area. I’d like to go into Tours and walk around Tours. Haven’t done that.

[00:41:52] Carl Carlson: Does the Chateau have a pool and maybe air conditioning? It does not have air conditioning.

[00:41:59] Annie Sargent: Maybe some of the newer buildings do. Sometimes that’s what they do. The rooms in the Chateau are not air conditioned, but if you book in the periphery, you know, they usually have newer constructions that are more modern and have air conditioning.

[00:42:16] Carl Carlson: And the Chateau was interesting. the windows you can’t open, the windows, windows are, closed and locked. You’re unable to open and get fresh air. I think they do that because they don’t have air. they do have heating. Right. But, I don’t, I don’t believe, I don’t believe they had air. Hmm.

[00:42:38] Annie Sargent: Okay. And how about a pool?

[00:42:40] Carl Carlson: I don’t think so. I didn’t see it I don’t, I don’t recall it (correction: they do have a pool)..

[00:42:46] Annie Sargent: So, it wasn’t a fancy chateau stay? Because most chateaus will have a nice pool and all that.

[00:42:51] Carl Carlson: Yeah, no, this wasn’t an over the top fancy Chateau. This one really was for people that wanted to visit their forests and their garden. And it’s, it’s old. But it was comfortable.

[00:43:05] Annie Sargent: That’s good. Well, it sounds like you had yourself another great trip to France COVID and all. And honestly, we don’t know when this COVID is going to end. And so, you know, if you can travel safely and, live a little,now that we have vaccines and all that, I think it’s pretty safe to, to get around. And like you mentioned a few times, in France, everybody wears masks indoors. I don’t know what it’s like in Hawaii, but here you can’t walk into a grocery store without a mask. No way.

[00:43:43] Carl Carlson: Yeah, we have, we have the same rules here in Hawaii. Indoor wear a mask outdoors not required. but we were, we were very comfortable, in France. We, I mean, we would not, we were not threatened in any way. and again, we’re, we’re both vaccinated and we’ve subsequently had our boosters and we just felt we were safe.

[00:44:05] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. And they’re really, really pushing the boosters in France.

[00:44:09] Carl Carlson: Yeah, no, that’s a good thing.

[00:44:10] Carl Carlson: I don’t know what our time is like, but if we had another minute or two, I’d like to mention one other village, we had lunch in.

[00:44:17] Annie Sargent: Let’s do that!

[00:44:18] Carl Carlson: When we were at Sancerre, we took a drive to, a village called I think it’s pronounced Aubigny-sur-Nère. And it’s about, about an hours drive west of Sancerre, a little Northwest.

[00:44:33] Carl Carlson: And I had been there before. Christine normally would be going to Coeur de France in the language school and taking classes. And so what she was having her classes, I would drive around the villages, but she didn’t take classes this trip. And so we drove there and it was their, their market day. They had a market set up on the main street and she asked, we didn’t know where to go have lunch. So she just asked one of the vendors and he called a woman who was a resident and she was great. I mean, how do you ask somebody where to grab lunch? They have no clue what you want to do.

[00:45:12] How to ask for restaurant recommendations from French people

[00:45:12] Carl Carlson: But she said, if you want gourmand, go up this street. She pointed at that one direction. And if you want simple, go down the street at another direction. And so we, we did the gourmand, and it was, about a hundred meters away. it was a very nice hotel restaurant, check in after you enter in the lobby and the here again, the receptionist would teach you in the restaurant and, I don’t have open me was the, has a relationship with the Scott.

[00:45:49] Carl Carlson: And there was a relationship with the Stewart clan. And so when we were having lunch and again, it’s there, I think everybody else in the restaurant were French, when we’re having lunch in the restaurant, it looked like it was, the special days that people go out to have lunch. We saw a lot of families and they were kind of dressed in their Sunday best.

[00:46:13] Carl Carlson: And I was glad that we had cleaned up a little bit to go to lunch, but, we noticed that the way people paid l’addition to go walk back to the hotel lobby.

[00:46:33] Carl Carlson: As we were watching people to kind of figure out how things work. We noticed that people that actually went and they were dressed in Tweed and you don’t see a lot of tweed in France. and so we looked at them and it, they were addressed more like they were from Edinburgh than they were, then it would have been France. But we surmised that it might’ve been a gathering of the clan or at least the remnants of the clan, so to speak, they were French, but they were dressed like Scott.

[00:47:08] Annie Sargent: Interesting. Very, colorful, I guess.

[00:47:13] Carl Carlson: Yeah. Very, very colorful. But you know, you don’t see a lot of tweed or at least I, I haven’t noticed a lot of tweed in France.

[00:47:20] Annie Sargent: No, no, it’s not a, it’s not a common item. Thank you so much. You give us a lot of recommendations for great places to stay, to eat, places, to visit. And really, I love how you take your time when you’re in France. It’s a leisurely trip to France. It’s not the normal, you know, boom, boom, boom, we got to do all of these things. It’s more like we’ll talk to somebody and figure out where we can have a nice lunch and that’s a beautiful way to enjoy France if you have the time.

[00:47:56] Carl Carlson: Yeah. And it’s, you know, it’s one of those serendipitous finds. If it’s an experience that you can’t get just kind of happen.

[00:48:06] Annie Sargent: All right. Thank you so much, Carl. I always enjoy talking to you because your point of view is very different as somebody who’s been to France so many times. It’s like, you’re almost French, like you’re honorary French or something.

[00:48:23] Carl Carlson: Well, perhaps. Thank you for saying that. And I enjoy talking to you and thank you so much for doing your podcast. been a listener from almost day one and Christina, and I look forward to, hearing you on Monday.

[00:48:35] Annie Sargent: Thank you very much, Carl.

[00:48:37] Carl Carlson: Thank you.

[00:48:38] Annie Sargent: Au revoir !

[00:48:40] Carl Carlson: Au revoir !


[00:48:53] Thank you patrons and donors!

[00:48:53] Annie Sargent: Again, I want to thank by patrons for supporting the show and giving back patrons get exclusive rewards for doing so, you can see them @ P a T R E O N. Join Us no spaces or dashes. Thank you all for supporting the show. Some of you have been doing it for a long time. You are amazing.

[00:49:18] Annie Sargent: And a shout out this week to new patrons. Jean Kunkle and Elise Larson. Thank you so much for becoming patrons and making this podcast possible. This week, I published my January insights on French food to patrons. I’m trying to talk myself into losing a few pounds and just to prove that it cannot be done at least for me, I’ll record a video for patrons on how to make the best crepes at home because La Chandeleur is coming up and I want you to be ready. Uh, French before are full of contradictions, aren’t we?

[00:49:57] This week in French news and pandemic news

[00:49:57] Annie Sargent: This week in French news, the French parliament, unanimously outlawed conversion therapy. The practice where no good therapists say they’ll transform a gay or transgendered youth into a straight person. No more of that in France.

[00:50:15] Annie Sargent: Also this week, a French genealogist managed to identify a person who had inherited a hundred thousand euros from his estranged father, the man who is in his 40s had been living on the streets for a long time. So we all hope that he uses his newfound wealth to settle into an apartment somewhere and take good care of himself.

[00:50:39] Annie Sargent: The city of Arras has launched an investigation into who shot the Peregrine Falcon that lived on the roof of their cathedral. They found his body riddled with pellets and upon autopsy decided that he had died of pellets and pneumonia. The Peregrine Falcon is a protected species in France.

[00:51:02] Annie Sargent: Emmanuel Macron has taken his turn at the head of the European Union because it’s a rotating presidency, while at the same time, running the country and potentially running for a second term. Interestingly, Macron has not declared that he’s a candidate for a second term, even though the election is less than three months away. This is normal for France sitting presidents have not historically declared any sooner than February.

[00:51:31] Annie Sargent: Just because he hasn’t declared that he’s running doesn’t mean that they’re not doing polls. And my Macron is comfortably ahead for the first round of voting. As you know, we vote in two rounds in France.

[00:51:45] Annie Sargent: A private company called Orpea ( they run nursing homes in France) got slapped with a terrible investigative report by a journalist who published a book called Le Fossoyeur (that’s a grave figger in French). We mostly have not for profit nursing homes in France and they are run by associations. Associations of course have employees, but the whole purpose is not to attract investors and make as much money as possible. It is to further the goals of the association, right? Orpea on the other hand is for profit. And it’s been all over the news this week that they cut too many corners. So if you listen to episode 322 of the podcast about growing old in France, take note, Orpea got plenty of bad press this week.

[00:52:41] Annie Sargent: In pandemic news, France is not out of the Omicron wave by any stretch of the imagination. Things are easing off in Paris to some degree, but not in my department la Haute Garonne as of yet. I know lots of people who test positive and must isolate. So it’s not just numbers on a screen for me.

[00:53:05] Annie Sargent: 21,000 classrooms. I’ve had to close last week in France because either teachers or students have tested positive and some testing for the Baccalauréats had to be postponed from March to May as a result.

[00:53:20] Annie Sargent: Currently in France, we have 3,656 people in critical care for COVID-19 and an average of 262 deaths per day. So that’s a 7.2% chance of dying once you’re sick enough to go into critical care. And those are bad odds in my book.

[00:53:42] Annie Sargent: We’re still trying to convince the unvaccinated that they have a lot more to fear from the virus than from the vaccine, but lots of them are terribly misinformed and stubborn on top of that. So it’s a slow process.

[00:53:56] Annie Sargent: One bit of good news. The number of people in critical care is down by 4% compared to last week. So the number of untimely deaths should be heading down soon.

[00:54:09] Annie Sargent: Some days as many as 500,000 people test positive in France, which is alarming. That’s new people, testing positive. Why do so many of us test positive? Because only 46.8% of French people have had a third dose of the vaccine. And if you only have two doses, you can get infected quite easily with Omicron. It doesn’t mean that you’ll get deathly ill, but testing positive is common when you only have two doses. It’s actually possible to test positive with three doses as well, but not near as likely. Moral of the story. Get your third shot if you haven’t already, and don’t let this virus infect you so we can all get on with our lives.

[00:54:54] French tip of the week

[00:54:54] Annie Sargent: The French tip of the week: il fait un froid de canard.

[00:54:58] Annie Sargent: I keep talking to people who live near the Mediterranean, and they say that they had a lovely month of January. With cold temperatures, but sun every day. Well, not so for Toulouse where Elyse and I live. We’ve had nothing but low clouds, foggy days, some mornings it starts with a freezing fog and the fog stays on all day.

[00:55:21] Annie Sargent: Il fait un froid de canard vous dis-je ! Please ! Someone rescue me and send some sun. Il fait un froid de canard. Translated literally it is ducky cold or quacky cold. Don’t ask me why we associate ducks with the cold. I have no idea. Est-ce qu’il fait il fait un froid de canard chez vous ? Patience ! C’est le mois de janvier, ça va passer !

[00:55:42] Annie Sargent: On another personal note, I’ll be going to Paris in February to work on some VoiceMap tours. A posh hotel in Paris called the Mandarin Oriental has asked to license my Ile de la Cité tour, but they want a custom version of it that starts and ends at their hotel. So I’ll do that. And I will also work on a tour of my own to be announced soon. I look forward to going back to Paris and hoofing it all over the place!

[00:56:22] Annie Sargent: You’ll find the episode page for our conversation with Carl at From there, you’ll be able to see all those wonderful accommodations and restaurants that Carl mentioned and see a transcript of the episode.

[00:56:39] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast and episode with Elyse on the lovely city of Dijon in Burgundy.

[00:56:45] Annie Sargent: If you have great photos of Dijon that you wouldn’t mind me using to illustrate the episode, email them to me: Thank you for listening, and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together. Au revoir !


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Categories: French Customs & Lifestyle, Off the Beaten Track in France