Transcript for Episode 391: Looking for a place to call your own in France

Table of Contents for this Episode

Category: Moving to France

[00:00:00] Intro

[00:00:00](Annie, BEFORE YOU REVIEW, contact me. This project has been hell. There are things that still need to be done and it is 1:30AM here, and Descript is a piece of crap. I have finished correcting everywhere but where I could not, I’ve highlighted. The OUTRO is corrected but it’s not added at the end of the composition because it does not work. There’s a bug with Descript. I’ve been with them on support for like one hour. Nothing. I’m starting to get fed up with this software. Their ‘re-alignment’ engine has failed for some reason, and it just won’t take my corrections, no matter what. If you scroll down around minute 35 or so, you will see some RED highlighted text. That’s where it failed to accept the corrections and all hell broke loose. All the text that is underlined with a black dotted line from that point onwards, is still ‘in limbo’. Descript support have ‘escalated it to the technical team’… like that has ever done anything.)

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France episode 391. Trois cent quatre-vingt onze. Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France, everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy, and news related to travel to France.

[00:00:40] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a conversation with Patty Lund, who landed in Switzerland and then made her way to the Southwest of France, through Burgundy and down the Rhone valley.

[00:00:53] Annie Sargent: Her trip took place in February and March, 2022. She’ll tell us about a village of books and art, the carnival in Limoux, another village of books near Carcassonne, and a wonderful Michelin restaurant and much more.

[00:01:10] Annie Sargent: Patty and her husband are actively looking for a place to call their own in France, and they are leaving no stone unturned, as you will hear.

[00:01:20] Annie Sargent: After my chat with Patty, I’ll share a rather scary personal update, travel tips and news, and at long last, some details about the French immersion, Join Us in France Reunions that I’m planning for all who would like to join me in France for real, May 21st through May 27th, 2023 in Toulouse.

[00:01:43] Annie Sargent: I’ll be emailing everyone on my email list about that, and if you’re not on the email list, go to to sign up and hear the news. And when you get the email, write back, letting me know that you are interested. I’m building a list.

[00:02:04] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my itinerary consult service and my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app. You can browse all of that at my boutique,

[00:02:23] Annie Sargent: Someone left this review of my Latin Quarter tour this week. Excellent tour, take your time, it’s worth it. We split it up into two afternoons and entered a number of the places Annie mentioned. Particularly enjoyed time at the Jardin du Luxembourg, Eglise Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, Jardin des Plantes, and watching Pétanque on Sunday afternoon in the Arene. Thank you, Annie.

[00:02:51] Annie Sargent: Well, thank you whoever you are, who left this review. That was very nice. I’m glad this VoiceMap tour made your visit to Paris more enjoyable.

[00:03:09] Looking for a place to call your own in France

[00:03:09] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Patty and welcome to Join Us in France.

[00:03:13] Patty Lund: Bonjour Annie!

[00:03:15] Annie Sargent: Lovely to talk to you again about your trip.

[00:03:18] Patty’s trip

[00:03:18] Annie Sargent: It’s kind of a interesting trip. You landed in Switzerland, made your way down Burgundy,

[00:03:26] Patty Lund: no, first we rented the car and then we drove all the way across to Aude, the area Which is spelled A U D E, for the Americans who have no idea because I certainly didn’t. Then, we kind of went a little bit into Ariège, which is the next department over it’s right there.

[00:03:41] Patty Lund: And then we drove through to, it’s a really it’s 6, 7, 7 hours or something across to get back to Geneva airport. So what we did was we stopped at, we have friends who were kind of close to Avignon, a little town in that area. We stayed with them overnight, and then we went and stayed in the south of Burgundy for three days, so that we’d be close to Geneva airport, we were all the way on the other side.

[00:04:03] Okay. So you went South first and then you made your way back up.

[00:04:07] Patty Lund: Yeah.

[00:04:08] Why the trip?

[00:04:08] Annie Sargent: Okay. And you’re doing all this because you’re hoping to find a wonderful place for you to move to someday. Five years is the goal. Yes, exactly.

[00:04:16] Annie Sargent: So you have kind of a different point of view on things. You don’t look for the tourist attractions necessarily, but more like, would I want to live there?

[00:04:29] Patty Lund: Right. We’re looking to see how would it feel to live in this place? That’s not to say we didn’t do some touristy stuff. We did, you know, you’re in Carcassonne you want to go to see the fortifications. You want to do the whole thing, you know?

[00:04:41] But we weren’t going from museum to museum, we could see a lot of cathedrals to be honest, a lot of churches, but just kind of get the feel of the place basically.

[00:04:48] Patty Lund: So

[00:04:48] Annie Sargent: So

[00:04:48] The places she enjoyed

[00:04:48] Annie Sargent: Tell us about the places you enjoyed.

[00:04:51] Loved Montolieu

[00:04:51] Patty Lund: So top of my list, I really loved Montolieu , which is a small village. It’s only got like 800 people that live there. It’s called the village of books and art. They have 18 bookstores in this village and there’s only 800 people that live there, which is crazy. And then they’ve got all these art galleries and lovely shops and places to eat.

[00:05:18] Patty Lund: And it was just charming and artistic. Oh my gosh, they have a, La Rue de la Poésie, a poetry street. You just wander through and read all the poetry that’s tacked up on the walls all over the place. It was just delightful.

[00:05:31] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that sounds like fun.

[00:05:33] Annie Sargent: But that sounds like a town that’s trying to attract a lot of visitors, at least in the warm season, right?

[00:05:41] Worst season for tourism

[00:05:41] Patty Lund: I don’t know, because again, our trip took place in February and March, which is pretty much the worst season for tourism.

[00:05:49] Annie Sargent: Yes.

[00:05:50] Patty Lund: You know? So a lot of things, and this was one of the reasons we wanted to do this, because a lot of stuff is closed. A lot of stuff, like a lot of these little towns close up and they’re pretty dead.

[00:06:00] Patty Lund: And that was a good thing to see for us, to see what’s still around.

[00:06:03] Carnival in Limoux

[00:06:03] Patty Lund: What is still lively, for instance Limoux has the carnival, which goes on every weekend and basically almost every weekend in the winter. I think it’s January through April, right? That’s great, because it keeps everything kind of alive and hopping, and we did get to see it, which was super fun.

[00:06:21] Patty Lund: We were there, we happened to go. We weren’t actually planning on wandering around that day. We just went in to like grab a bite to eat, because it was not far from where we were staying. We were staying in St. Hilaire, and so we popped on in there and it happened to be Fat Tuesday and they had it again on Fat Tuesday as well as the weekend.

[00:06:38] Patty Lund: So, oh my gosh, that is crazy. That is the funnest thing ever. Have you done that?

[00:06:43] Annie Sargent: Carnaval de Limoux? No. I haven’t spent enough time there. I should.

[00:06:49] Patty Lund: It’s really fun. It’s really fun. It’s like, I think you talked about it with Elyse a little bit. It’s like they have these bands that come out and everybody’s costumed, and they have those white masks and they throw confetti, like you would not believe. I don’t think I’ll ever get the confetti.

[00:07:06] Patty Lund: I’m still finding it in my clothes, I’m still finding it in my bag, confetti keeps coming out of everywhere. At the end of the night, like when we were leaving from our restaurant, the whole square was white with confetti. That’s how much was on there.

[00:07:20] Patty Lund: I mean, they just throw it on everybody. They take handfuls of it and it’s like, it’s in your shirt, you know?

[00:07:27] Annie Sargent: And that would really liven up the winter time. It would really make it something to look forward to in the middle of the winter, because Limoux it’s lovely, but it’s not super touristy, and so, it’s kind of real life and it’s great that they have this big festival in the middle of the winter.

[00:07:44] Patty Lund: Yeah. And then the crazy thing is, because they go around the whole square and take a different side each time. So they do this parade sort of thing, like three times in the day, it’s maybe four, I’m not entirely sure that there’s a schedule and it’s several times a day. And they’ll do one side of the square and then another side of the square, and then they go inside of one of the cafes there, and they just play with the people there, they tease you, you know, everybody’s got a different character and they’re just, so somebody came up to us and was playing, he was dressed as like an old witch with green hair and long fingernails and stuff.

[00:08:18] Patty Lund: And he came over and he’s playing with my husband’s hair and stuff like that. It just gets silly. They’re just getting silly. So that was super fun. And, that was not far from where we were staying.

[00:08:27] Wine from the Abbey

[00:08:27] Patty Lund: We stayed in St. Hilaire, which is where they have this old Abbey. And that is where they came up with sparkling wine, the monks there came up with that and then it went up to the Champagne region afterwards.

[00:08:42] Patty Lund: So they stole it. We tasted the original one, the Blanquette de Limoux, that’s the original sparkling wine. We had it in Limoux and it was delicious.

[00:08:51] Annie Sargent: It’s good, yeah.

[00:08:51] Patty Lund: We had the actual one from the Abbey and it’s quite sweet. They make it exactly the way the monks did it. It’s kind of sweet.

[00:08:58] Annie Sargent: I like it.

[00:08:59] Patty Lund: It was almost like cider.

[00:09:00] Annie Sargent: I like that. I’m not into the super dry bubbly wines.

[00:09:05] Patty Lund: Then you would. Yeah. Then it’s perfect.

[00:09:07] Annie Sargent: I like the demi sec, you know, the Blanquette de Limoux is perfect for me. Like perfect.

[00:09:14] Patty Lund: Yeah, I liked the one, not the one that we got at the actual Abbey, because that one was a little too sweet. The other one that I had, I thought it was perfect. What’s the Italian one? Prosecco. Yeah. Like Prosecco. That’s definitely it.

[00:09:26] Montolieu

[00:09:26] Annie Sargent: So you went too fast there, because you started talking about Montolieu and I wanted to ask you, what is it close to? Like where is it?

[00:09:37] Patty Lund: Montolieu is,it’s closer up, it’s like in-between Carcassonne and Toulouse.

[00:09:42] Annie Sargent: How do I not know about this? Montolieu

[00:09:44] Patty Lund: I kind of happened onto it. It’s small. It’s really small. It’s on a hill, there’s a river underneath. It’s got a beautiful view. It’s just a lovely little place. You should definitely pop in and check it out.

[00:09:55] Annie Sargent: Yeah, Montolieu so it is close, c’est a Bram.

[00:10:02] Annie Sargent: Oh, okay.

[00:10:03] Patty Lund: Close to Bram, that’s right. It’s close to Bram.

[00:10:05] I think that might be where my friend is going for her writers’ retreat in June.

[00:10:12] Patty Lund: Could be, they have a lot of stuff, all set up for writers area.

[00:10:15] Annie Sargent: Yeah. I have a friend in LA, actually, who’s an author. And this year she’s coming to do a writers’ retreat. I know she told me it was by Bram, so you know, I didn’t ask any more questions, because I knew where that was.

[00:10:30] Annie Sargent: Okay.

[00:10:31] Bram

[00:10:31] We didn’t get a chance to check out Bram, because we found Montolieu like right at the end, like the last day we were there, and I’m like, oh no, I love this place, it’s too bad. But I know Bram has a train station and that’s like 10 minutes away, so that’s not too bad.

[00:10:46] Annie Sargent: Yes. Yeah. Not a lot of trains stop there. But at least they have it.

[00:10:50] Quillan

[00:10:50] Annie Sargent: We did check out Quillan. I heard a lot of Brits moved there. Yeah. And we did an episode about Quillan. Let’s see, which was it? An American who moved there. It was episode 239.

[00:11:05] Patty Lund: Yes. Yeah, exactly. I think that’s another reason why I wanted to check it out, and again, that’s where we went to the pharmacist and that’s where I heard the English, which has come what got me to the pharmacist.

[00:11:16] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:11:17] Patty Lund: For sure.

[00:11:17] That’s a lot of nice places in the Aude department, honestly, you know.

[00:11:22] Patty Lund: Oh, really cute. Yeah.

[00:11:24] Patty Lund: But I will say, that one was kind of closed up. There wasn’t a lot going on there. A lot of the restaurants and stuff were closed, that kind of thing. A lot of the closed.

[00:11:31] Annie Sargent: Quillan, you mean?


[00:11:32] Patty Lund: Yeah. So I’m sure during the summer and spring it’s gorgeous. It’s got to be amazing, because so cute, but in the winter it’s a little quiet, I would think.

[00:11:42] Annie Sargent: And this happens a lot. This really is a common, you know, story everywhere in rural France. People just don’t do much in the winter time. And then, as soon as spring comes back, okay, now we have events, life starts up again, but yeah, a lot of places get awfully quiet in the winter.

[00:12:04] Annie Sargent: And I think for somebody like you, who lives in LA, it might be a bit much. Like it might be too quiet.

[00:12:11] Patty Lund: I agree, and that’s why I want to have someplace near enough where we can go in and have stuff to do. There will be things to do.

[00:12:18] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:12:18] Carcassonne

[00:12:18] Okay. So let’s see. Of course we went to Carcassonne, of course you have to. And actually this was my second trip to Carcassonne, I went backpacking when I was 21.

[00:12:26] Patty Lund: And I don’t even know this is, you know, clearly pre-internet, I don’t even know how I found out about it. Most Americans I talked to they’ve never heard of it, or they only know it as the board game, there’s a board game called Carcassonne.

[00:12:37] Annie Sargent: Yes. Yes.

[00:12:39] Patty Lund: They don’t know it’s an actual place. I actually look at the photos that I had from the first time I was there. And it hasn’t really changed from the outside, but from the inside, they have that fantastic audio tour. It’s really good. It was really well done.

[00:12:52] Annie Sargent: Which audio tour is it that you took? Was it the one done by the tourist office?

[00:12:56] It was the self-guided tour that when you go up to the kiosk, up to the front of, you know, it’s a little thing you hold up to your ear. It’s not from the tourist office, it’s right inside the walled city, it’s right in there.

[00:13:06] Annie Sargent: I haven’t ever taken that one.

[00:13:07] Patty Lund: They have their own, it was great.

[00:13:08] Patty Lund: It was really well done.

[00:13:10] Annie Sargent: Cool.

[00:13:10] Two-Michelin-star restaurant

[00:13:10] And, then we also had, because you know, again, I have a chef husband, so we had to have a fancy schmancy meal. And we were celebrating both of our birthdays during this trip. And so, this was, I picked out a restaurant in Switzerland, which is where we started out. And then he picked out this restaurant in Carcassonne for us and it was spectacular.

[00:13:29] Patty Lund: It was called La Table de Franck Putelat, two-Michelin-star restaurant. Wow.

[00:13:35] Annie Sargent: Was it within the walls of the old city? It’s not in the old, no, I don’t believe it’s in the wall, well I may be wrong about that, but I don’t think it is. It’s not in the touristy part.

[00:13:47] Annie Sargent: Oh, okay. Okay. That’s fine.

[00:13:48] Patty Lund: Amazing service. We had the black truffle dinner, so it was all black truffles and everything. It was, oh, a delight, fabulous and gorgeous too, a really interesting, stylistic restaurant. You have to choose your own knife, it was like, which Laguiole knife do you want?

[00:14:04] Patty Lund: I’m like, I get to pick a knife? Like, what’s the difference? You know? They have a jewelry case of this, it looked like a jewelry case of desserts they gave out. It was like, I just it’s over the top. We met the chef afterwards. Didn’t even ask, they’re like, Hey, do you want to meet the chef? We’re like, yeah.

[00:14:20] Patty Lund: Okay, sure. Come on. Come on in the kitchen. Okay, great. So yeah, it was great. That was a great experience. Let’s see where else.

[00:14:28] Patty Lund: Also Carcassonne, a lot of the stuff was closed in theold city walking around, all the chotsky people are there, but some of the nice restaurants were closed inside of there.

[00:14:36] Patty Lund: So that’s another thing to keep in mind if you go this time of year.

[00:14:38] Annie Sargent: Yes. Oh, okay. So I just looked it up. No, La Table de Franck Putelat is not within the city, it’s not far, it’s 700 meters away, but.

[00:14:51] Patty Lund: That was great. Definitely worth going to for a fancy meal, although nobody dresses up for fancy meals anymore, by the way. We were the only ones dressed up. Everybody else kind of came in jeans and sneakers, which I was surprised at, but, okay.

[00:15:04] Narbonne

[00:15:04] Patty Lund: So we went to Narbonne. Now, we’re not looking at moving close to there, but I figured that would be like the closest we would be to get to the ocean or, you know, Mediterranean. So, I figured let’s check it out. Let’s go, and we really enjoyed the city of Narbonne. They have that beautiful cathedral with the best gargoyles, but we didn’t love the beach area.

[00:15:29] Patty Lund: And I know there are better beaches, probably. What would you recommend as a beach in that area? Because Narbonne itself, the beach was not that charming.

[00:15:36] Annie Sargent: I would go to Valras-Plage,

[00:15:37] Annie Sargent: because that’s the one where I grew up going. So, I know the town and the beach and I like it. It was just a day trip, we figured we’d check it out. We had the great seafood over there, of course.

[00:15:49] Mirepoix and Ariège

[00:15:49] Patty Lund: We also went to Mirepoix in Ariège. We did a couple things in Ariège because right next door. I mean, Mirepoix it feels like you’re in the Aude, but you’re in Ariège.

[00:16:00] Patty Lund: Right. It’s right there. And that was just delightful. It’s this gorgeous Square in the middle with these colonnades all the way around. And I believe they have a market building that they were working on that. So that was kind of covered up, but the rest of it was so beautiful.

[00:16:18] Patty Lund: All these wonderful places to eat. It was a spectacular day, so everybody was outside. They have a nice summer festival in Mirepoix. It’s a theater festival. I think it’s a street theater festival. And I can’t remember when it is, but I’ve been to that.

[00:16:38] Patty Lund: That seemed like a place I would like.

[00:16:40] Annie Sargent: In early August.

[00:16:41] Patty Lund: But, yeah, that’s definitely worth a stop if anybody’s around. That to me seemed like it might be an area we might want to live near or in, because we liked that a lot.

[00:16:48] Ariège

[00:16:48] Patty Lund: We did a few places in Ariège. We just took a day and kind of checked out a couple of things.

[00:16:52] Patty Lund: We went to actually, we went twice.

[00:16:54] Foix

[00:16:54] Patty Lund: We went to Foix as well, which they have that huge medieval castle. I thought, because it seemed like a larger town, you know, like a small city that it might have a lot of stuff and it might be good. And it’s also very close to the mountains apparently, so I thought, okay, this, maybe this could be good, but it felt a little removed.

[00:17:13] Annie Sargent: It is a sleepy town.

[00:17:15] Patty Lund: It was lovely. The medieval castle is amazing. If you like medieval stuff, that should be one of your number one places to go in France, I think. They have costume demonstrations, we saw them do the trebuchet that, you know, the thing that’s like a catapult and it throws us up fate.

[00:17:29] Patty Lund: They did it for us. We could see them do it, you know? And the museum is really good there, so if you like medieval stuff, I would definitely go there. But as far as living there, it’s pretty, but it’s like, I think it just felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. That was my feeling.

[00:17:43] It’s wet

[00:17:43] Annie Sargent: Yeah, it is wet.

[00:17:45] Patty Lund: Oh, is it?

[00:17:46] Annie Sargent: Yes. So keep that in mind, we have friends who have a lovely mountain house, in a tiny place called Enveitg. And, it’s a 20 minute drive from Foix, and I’ve been there in different times of the year, but it’s always super wet. So.

[00:18:10] Patty Lund: See, these are the things you don’t know until you’re there, like for a while. So I’m like trying to figure out how to narrow it down, because you want to be in a place for several seasons, so you can see things like that, like, oh, this place gets godawful hot, or this place is wet or this place…

[00:18:27] Annie Sargent: Look, you can tell by looking at the scenery. If it’s very green, lots of big trees, big bushes, whatever, it’s wet.

[00:18:36] Patty Lund: It’s going to be wet. Yeah.

[00:18:39] Annie Sargent: So, and if you’re in the Aude, like in Carcassonne, where you have short shrubs and not a lot of greenery, it’s dry. That’s how you can tell.

[00:18:50] Patty Lund: Yeah, it’s tough because I would like it to be not too wet, but at the same time I like greenery, so it doesn’t really go together, anyway.

[00:18:58] Annie Sargent: Yeah, I hear you.

[00:19:02] Skiing

[00:19:02] Patty Lund: So then of course we wanted to check out a ski station, because my husband is a snowboarder. And so we went to Ax-Les-Thermes. There’s a ski area there, I think it was called the Trois Domaines, I think is the name of it.

[00:19:13] Annie Sargent: Yes. Yes. I’ve never skied there, but I’ve been through there quite a few times. Yes.

[00:19:20] Patty Lund: That was great. It was the longest ski lift I’ve ever been on, it took like 20 minutes to go from like the downtown part of Ax-Les-Thermes. You parked your car, you go over and then it’s like this really long lift just went forever. And then you finally get to where you can choose which ski lifts go on from there.

[00:19:36] Annie Sargent: And it was actually a pretty large ski area and really inexpensive. My husband’s very excited because it’s like, wow, it’s a lot cheaper than the States, a lot cheaper than the States. So that turns out really good. Yeah, but there’s not that much snow. So, if you’re looking to ski in the Pyrenees, you have to know that the skiing season is pretty short, because it’s just not like the Rockies. I mean, I lived in, you know, near Salt Lake forever, and there you get lots of snow, but in the Pyrenees no, it’s often kind of thin, it’s not the same.

[00:20:16] Patty Lund: You know, they had a lot of the snowmaking play machines as well, of course, but it just, it’s nice, if it’s something that’s close, you know, where you can just pop up and come back down and whatever.

[00:20:25] Annie Sargent: Yes.

[00:20:26] Patty Lund: So it was just good to check it out. We wanted to check it out and see what it was like.

[00:20:29] And then they also have the thermal bath. That’s something I would love to have, wherever we go. I love going to the bath. I that’s one of my favorite things and they have one, and it was like 20 euros for two hours. Just lovely, after you’re wandering around, if you’re hiking all day or whatever, it’s just lovely.

[00:20:48] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:20:48] Clientele

[00:20:48] Annie Sargent: So what kind of clientele was there? Talk to me about age range.

[00:20:54] Patty Lund: All over the board. It wasn’t specifically like a party one, it wasn’t like old people, it was kind of all over the board.

[00:21:01] Annie Sargent: Okay. My sister-in-law has been to that one. I don’t particularly like baths and stuff like that, so I don’t know very much about it, but I know my sister-in-law likes it, and she’s my age.

[00:21:11] I don’t like the ones that have that sulfur smell, I really don’t like that. And they only had one stinky sulfur kind of room. We called it the Dutch oven room and got the heck out of there.

[00:21:25] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so they have other things, that’s good.

[00:21:28] Patty Lund: Oh, and they also have a thermal pool right in the middle of town and everybody just goes over and takes their shoes off and sits and puts some feet on it.

[00:21:35] Patty Lund: That was kind of fun.

[00:21:36] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:21:36] Castelnaudary

[00:21:36] We went to Castelnaudary really quickly, didn’t like it though. It’s a great stop on the canal.

[00:21:41] Patty Lund: It’s just not charming, it seemed like a large enough town where it had stuff, but We didn’t like it. So we left.

[00:21:47] Annie Sargent: Yeah, no, that’s fair. I thought it was okay. I thought it was going to be worse because I went not that long ago and I didn’t have a particularly good impression of it from driving through the town as a child, on our way to Valras-Plage actually, because back then there wasn’t the freeway. So we had to go drive through all the towns.

[00:22:09] Annie Sargent: And so, I didn’t have great memories of that place, but when we went well, it was right in the middle of the pandemic and we had a few weeks where we could actually go do something, and we were so happy to be out of the house anyway.

[00:22:24] Patty Lund: Yeah.

[00:22:24] Annie Sargent: Maybe that was it, maybe we were just really happy to be somewhere besides the inside of our house. So that might be why, but I thought it was okay. But I do know it’s a good stop for people who are traveling on the Canal de Midi.

[00:22:39] Patty Lund: Yeah, and I think, again, we just kind of are going with our gut. Because it’s like, you go somewhere, we’ve walked around, it wasn’t like we just drove through. We got out, there’s a windmill at the top, we walked all the way up and checked it out, it was lovely. But just didn’t get a feeling from that town.

[00:22:53] Patty Lund: Like I just don’t, I don’t get that feeling. And he, my husband was like, yeah, I don’t have it either. Let’s go. That was it. The reason why some people also like it, is because it has really easy access now to Toulouse because of the freeway.

[00:23:09] Patty Lund: Yes, that’s true.

[00:23:10] Annie Sargent: So, you know, if that’s important, that’s another reason, but if you didn’t like it, you didn’t like it. You should trust your So that was pretty much the end of the Aude portion of the trip.

[00:23:21] Traveling back across South

[00:23:21] Patty Lund: And then we drove across, back across the bottom of France there. we wanted to break up the trip because we wanted to be closer to the airport, Geneva airport. We didn’t want to be making that seven hour drive the day before, because you got to take the car back, yada yada yada.

[00:23:35] Uzès

[00:23:35] Patty Lund: So we broke the trip in half and stayed overnight with some French friends. They live in a town called Cavillargues, which is right by Avignon. I had been the Avignon before, but I had never been to Uzès.

[00:23:48] Annie Sargent: Ah, yes.

[00:23:48] Patty Lund: So on the way I was like, why don’t we stop off at Uzès, I’ve always wanted to see it. Uzès looks like Provence. It’s so pretty!

[00:23:55] Patty Lund: I didn’t know that. It looks just like Provence.

[00:23:58] Very much. So Uzès is still technically in the Occitanie region. It’s right by the Pont du Gard. And it is a lovely town that does feel like a provençale town and not an Occitanie town, even though it’s still in Occitanie, you know.

[00:24:19] Patty Lund: It’s just got all that golden, like limestone everywhere, and just the buildings I just felt, I was like, Ooh, I feel like I’m back in Aix-en-Provence or something, that’s what it felt like. Beautiful, really lovely place.


[00:24:30] Market in Uzès

[00:24:30] Annie Sargent: The things to do there that are pretty interesting are of course, there’s a nice market, I think it’s twice a week, I think it’s Wednesday and Saturday, but you better check because this is off the top of my head.

[00:24:43] Candy Museum

[00:24:43] Annie Sargent: And they also have the Musée Haribo, so Haribo is the candy.

[00:24:50] Patty Lund: Haribo, the gummy bears?

[00:24:51] Annie Sargent: Yes.

[00:24:53] Patty Lund: Oh God.

[00:24:54] Annie Sargent: They have the candy museum. It’s a factory and candy museum. And I love it. The problem is when you exit the museum, you exit through the museum store and they sell you kilos and kilos of candy. And you can’t get a small bag of anything there.

[00:25:14] Annie Sargent: You have to buy like 500 grams of gummy bears. It’s like the Costco of gummy bears over over there.

[00:25:20] Annie Sargent: It’s way too many gummy bears, and the problem is, you know you’ll eat them, but you really shouldn’t.

[00:25:26] Patty Lund: Well, we were really just stopping off for lunch, we were on the way and we met up with a friend of a friend who we had that I’d never met. Then she had recommended a restaurant and it turned out to be fantastic, so it was a nice little stop, but we weren’t really doing a lot there.

[00:25:38] I don’t think we could afford to live there, but it was lovely.

[00:25:41] Annie Sargent: It’s expensive.

[00:25:42] Patty Lund: It was pretty quiet, but she said it’s nuts in the summer. She said there are so many people there.

[00:25:46] Annie Sargent: Yes, it’s very popular. Now, the restaurant where you had your nice meal, was it like in the Central Plaza where all the other restaurants are?

[00:25:55] Patty Lund: Yes, I think it was called Penn in English. I think it was called Penn.

[00:25:58] Annie Sargent: Okay. Okay.

[00:25:59] Patty Lund: And in Uzès you also have a nice little walk along the river. Yeah, we did that.

[00:26:06] It’s so charming, boy, it’s just pretty.

[00:26:08] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:26:09] Patty Lund: Love the architecture there.

[00:26:11] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:26:11] And then, oh, I was going to say a goofy thing about staying with our friends, they don’t speak English, right. I had met them in Paris many years ago, I was going to see the Lapin Agile, the cabaret show on Montmartre.

[00:26:25] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:26:26] Patty Lund: And I was with a friend and we were walking up Montmartre, that it goes in this couple was also walking up. And we were confused where we were going, they looked confused, we finally said are you guys going to Lapin Agile? They were like, yeah. Are you too? Yeah, you are. Let’s all go together. So we, all four of us walked over there together, and we were too early and so we said, why don’t we just go grab a cup of coffee or drink or something until it opens?

[00:26:48] Patty Lund: So, four of us wound up chatting for a long time, they sat next to us, as we just talked and talked. They turned out to be the sweetest people.They came out to see my show when I was playing in Switzerland, they came to see me there. When we were in Dijon last time, they came out and they met us in Dijon, and they drove all the way up because they’re just nice people.

[00:27:06] Rouille de Seiche

[00:27:06] Patty Lund: So they said, stay with us for a night. Okay. So they made a local dish, that I’d never had called, Rouille de Seiche.

[00:27:13] Annie Sargent: Rouille de Seiche.

[00:27:16] Patty Lund: It translates as rusty cuttlefish.

[00:27:18] Annie Sargent: Huh.

[00:27:19] Patty Lund: So it was super soft. It was yummy.

[00:27:21] Annie Sargent: Rouille de Seiche.

[00:27:24] Patty Lund: Is that how you say it, Rouille de Seiche?

[00:27:26] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so la rouille is like a very heavy, what’d you call

[00:27:30] Annie Sargent: Tomato.

[00:27:30] Annie Sargent: It’s tomato and

[00:27:32] Patty Lund: Garlic and

[00:27:34] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:27:35] Patty Lund: It was yummy.

[00:27:36] Annie Sargent: It’s a recipe from Sète apparently. Interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever had that.

[00:27:43] Patty Lund: And they had other things that I’d never had, they made a homemade walnuts wine. They had some interesting stuff at their house.

[00:27:50] Annie Sargent: Yeah. I mean, the walnut wine is normal, like lots of people have that.

[00:27:55] Patty Lund: She was so sweet. I brought like a little gift bag of stuff that I had bought in Montolieu, like all local stuff from Montolieu. And I felt really bad because she gave me a gift bag and it was a lot of the same kind of stuff. It was like, we exchanged the same things.

[00:28:10] Birthday in Lyon

[00:28:10] Patty Lund: Anyway. So then, we were going up to Burgundy and on the way it was my birthday and I said, I really would like stop off in Lyon and go to Cafe Comptoir Abel. They have the most amazing Lyonnaise salad. I just love it. And I hate frisée. I do not like frisée salad, but for some reason, this salad, they make it good. I don’t know. It works. I love it.

[00:28:35] Annie Sargent: So Lyonnaise salad is a salad with frisée, so it’s a specific kind of lettuce. It has bacon, des lardons, and eggs. Yeah.

[00:28:48] Patty Lund: Those eggs, runny eggs they got to be runny. Oh, they cook them perfect there. Oh, they’re so good.

[00:28:52] Annie Sargent: And it is hard to do, it really is hard to get your eggs just right for the Salade Lyonnaise. I have tried and sometimes I do great, and sometimes not so good.

[00:29:03] Patty Lund: Oh man, that place it’s just divine andbecause it’s my birthday and I don’t care, I’m like, I’m going to order something else, even though that was plenty.

[00:29:09] Annie Sargent: Hm.

[00:29:10] Patty Lund: I also got the chicken with the Morel mushrooms. Oh my God, that was delicious. Morel is so expensive over here, but they’re like, it was just covered in them.

[00:29:19] Patty Lund: It was so great.

[00:29:19] Patty Lund: Oh, so great.

[00:29:21] Annie Sargent: They are expensive here too, but maybe not as much as in California.


[00:29:25] Annie Sargent: They can’t grow Morel in California. Like it’s too dry.

[00:29:31] Patty Lund: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. But this was, this place is as charming as anything. It’s one of the old Bouchon and it’s all like, you know, old wood and it’s so cute in there.

[00:29:40] Patty Lund: I love that place.

[00:29:42] In Burgundy

[00:29:42] Patty Lund: And then up in Burgundy, now we had been to Burgundy on one of our previous trips, but we missed some of the Southern part, so I wanted to see some of the Southern part that was closer to Geneva, because we have a lot of friends that live close by to Geneva.

[00:29:54] Patty Lund: So we thought, okay, let’s see if we can find something in France, that’s just, you know, somewhat over the border.

[00:30:00] Lons-le-Saunier

[00:30:00] Patty Lund: So we stayed in Lons-le-Saunier, do you know it?

[00:30:03] Annie Sargent: No, I do not.

[00:30:04] It’s kind of a little industrial, it felt a bit seedy. The place we stayed in was really nice. Oh, what they make there is the laughing cow cheese, the La Vache Qui Rit.

[00:30:14] Annie Sargent: Okay.

[00:30:15] Patty Lund: So they have the big, huge factory and you can take a tour of that or whatever. You know what, they do this cool thing where they take old castles and they break them up into apartments.

[00:30:25] Annie Sargent: Oh, yes.

[00:30:25] Patty Lund: Which is great. So we rented, we had an Airbnb that was like a, it looked like a library.

[00:30:30] Patty Lund: It was like the library of the castle turned into a one bedroom apartment and it was lovely.

[00:30:36] But I don’t think that would be where we want to live.

[00:30:38] Annie Sargent: Right. So you enjoyed the Airbnb, but not the place so much.

[00:30:42] Chalon-sur-Saône

[00:30:42] The town itself, it was okay, I didn’t love it. We went to Chalon-sur-Saône, am I saying that right?

[00:30:47] Patty Lund: Yeah.We really enjoyed that town. That was a really cute town, a larger town. It’s got a big Sunday market.

[00:30:55] Patty Lund: And I like when they have a market on a Sunday, because everything is closed on a Sunday anyway, you can at least go to get your fresh stuff, and thought that was great. And it’s on the lovely Place du Saint-Vincent, so it was just, ah, that was a lovely town. Liked that one.

[00:31:09] Annie Sargent: I think Chalon-sur-Saône might be where they have the Museum of Photography.

[00:31:15] Patty Lund: Yes. The name of the person escapes.

[00:31:18] Patty Lund: Nicéphore House Museum.

[00:31:20] He started photography or something,

[00:31:22] Annie Sargent: Yes. Well, one of them, you know.

[00:31:24] Annie Sargent: It’s a pretty good little museum,

[00:31:26] Annie Sargent: I like photography, so it was good to see all these old boxes and what they did with them. I thought it was a lovely museum.

[00:31:35] Patty Lund: You know, again, I think if, because we’re planning to move there, so once we get there, I think we’ll do all the touristy stuff, because we’ll be there, you know? But I did put mark that down because that look looked pretty interesting, we walked by it and I’m like, yeah, that looks like a good museum. So I will check that out.

[00:31:48] Baume-les-Messieurs

[00:31:48] Patty Lund: And then the one place that really hit me really, like, I love this so much becauseI love historic stuff, I love that feeling of going back in time and we went to Baume-les-Messieurs, which was absolutely stunning, it’s a medieval town, it’s in a valley and it’s surrounded by cliff.

[00:32:10] Patty Lund: I mean really impressive, and it looks like you’re walking back in time, because nothing, I mean, there’s nothing new. You really feel like you’re going back in time. It’s absolutely gorgeous, super well-preserved. There’s a river that goes through the town. You can wander around. It’s super cute. There’s an Abbey there.

[00:32:26] Annie Sargent: Waterfall?

[00:32:28] Coming to that one, because that’s a whole other steps, fantastic too. There was a fantastic restaurant in town called the Le Grand Jardin, that was fantastic. And then you get in your car again, you have to, I’m sure you could hike over there, no problem. But if you’re pressed for time, it’s a drive to further into the valley. And then there’s this stunning waterfall. I think that’s what called it, wow, that is spectacular. It is just gorgeous. And there’s nobody there. It was so pretty. You can go above the falls as well, and look over that.

[00:33:01] Patty Lund: You can continue going up. I think you can climb. We didn’t do this, but I think you can climb up the cliff and there’s like a hike that, I don’t even know where it starts, but you can go basically across the Jura and it lands in like,

[00:33:15] Annie Sargent: Huh, it looks like the kind of white cliffs that you have in the as well. So I wonder if they had cave dwellings in this area.

[00:33:27] We actually saw a few of those in Aude in some places, but not, I didn’t see it there. That doesn’t mean they’re not there. we didn’t see It

[00:33:34] Annie Sargent: It looks like a lovely little town.

[00:33:37] Patty Lund: That is one that I would say it’s worth going out of your way to go.

[00:33:40] Wow.

[00:33:41] Patty Lund: I think it’s back. It was really fantastic. I loved it.

[00:33:44] Patty Lund: Loved it. I took so many pictures. It was ridiculous.

[00:33:47] Annie Sargent: Great.

[00:33:48] Patty Lund: And then we took off the next day for Geneva airport. So that was the whole trip. We got a lot in, we saw a lot. I don’t know if we made our list any smaller or larger…

[00:33:57] Annie Sargent: I know, it sounds like you’re just making it longer.

[00:34:01] Certain things we chopped out, we’re like, nope, too dead, nope, too small, we don’t like this. But, then there were other ones I’m like, what’s this place? This is great. Put that on the list.

[00:34:10] Annie Sargent: Yeah for you, I think you need a town that has some music, some festivals, some good food. If it had a music and a food festival, you’d be in hog heaven. Well, of course maybe you’d need like ski resorts, not too far as well. Ah, that is going to be hard, but you can do it.

[00:34:30] Patty Lund: I know, see, I was excited about Limoux because I’m a pianist and they have a piano museum and it was closed. I’m like, oh, I wanted to check it out.

[00:34:43] Annie Sargent: yeah. Piano museum.

[00:34:44] Annie Sargent: fun. I think they have a piano festival at some point, and I, wasn’t the right time of year for that, but, or a competition, they have something that they do with pianos in that museum. So I was really like, oh, I was so excited to go check it out.

[00:34:55] Patty Lund: But oh, well, it happens.

[00:34:56] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Next time. Hopefully next time.

[00:35:00] Patty Lund: Exactly.

[00:35:02] Looking at a place with the eyes of a potential resident

[00:35:02] Annie Sargent: Well, another thing is, even if you end up not finding the right place, and even if you changed your mind, which I’m not saying you will, but you know, even if you decided no, we’re not going to move to France after all. Well, look at all these exciting places you visited along the way.

[00:35:19] Annie Sargent: So, that’s really a wonderful way to explore a country is to think about what if I lived here, what would I like about it? What would I not like about it? Because lots of people see a place like, what are the museums, what time they open, stuff like that. And you don’t do that at all with your approach, which I think is refreshing.

[00:35:45] Places where they don’t switch to English the second they hear your accent

[00:35:45] Patty Lund: I love it because number one, you get into conversations with people which, if you’re going from place to place, and you’re only going to touristy places, you’re only going to run into other tourists. Really.

[00:35:54] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:35:54] Patty Lund: So it’s nice to like, meet the locals and, you know, see what’s up. And it’s just good to get a feel for the place.

[00:36:01] Patty Lund: And I barely used English, I mean, this is a problem when you’re like Paris or something. If you’re trying to practice your French and they hear your accent and they devolve into English and you’re like, no, I would like, you know,

[00:36:14] Annie Sargent: but

[00:36:14] Patty Lund: but

[00:36:15] Annie Sargent: French is good enough that even in Paris, they probably would continue in French.

[00:36:21] Patty Lund: It depends. We only had one person that as soon as he had to look at our passports or no, he didn’t even look at our passports, they were asking, where are you from? You know? Because they mark it down in their little book when you go into the museum or whatever. Right. And so the guy was, yeah, we’re like American and that was it.

[00:36:35] Patty Lund: And then he was speaking English. He was so excited. Oh, look at this, we’re in a tiny little town and got Americans and there were no Americans anywhere, by the way. There was nobody in these areas. these areas,

[00:36:45] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:36:46] Patty Lund: Brits, some Brits, but no, it was, you know, pandemic still going on, yada, yada. But you know, I’m just saying it was, didn’t hear any American accents anywhere.

[00:36:56] Getting to a good level of fluency in French

[00:36:56] Annie Sargent: Yeah, I think you need to get good enough in French. It needs to feel like you’re comfortable having an everyday conversation in French, without constantly pausing to look for words and backtracking into English, if you’re like really comfortable just chatting, then probably people will be really comfortable chatting with you in French.

[00:37:22] Annie Sargent: It’s when people are awkward about it, like they, they know barely enough to try, but not quite enough to have a conversation. You know what changed it for me, because I’ve studied a lot. And I’ve lived there. And I got to say, when I lived in Paris, I could not have a conversation. Really. And I couldn’t understand a conversation either. I could read it pretty well, but I just would, they speak so fast, you know?

[00:37:47] Using iTalki to struggle through and converse in French

[00:37:47] Patty Lund: But what really did it for me was number one, we’ve been taking classes one-on-one lessons on iTalki before we went. So you kind of, you’re having a one-on-one conversation with somebody, and I always tell the teacher, would you just let me speak. For like, let’s just talk for half an hour, and please don’t stop me unless you really can’t understand what I’m trying to say.

[00:38:08] Annie Sargent: Yes.

[00:38:09] Patty Lund: Otherwise, just let me struggle through it and try to get through it. And it also takes, you know, a fair amount of guts because you kind of look like an idiot a little bit in the beginning, you just do, you’re going to feel, and you just got to be brave and just go through it and just do it, just strike up the conversation and see what happens and let it go.

[00:38:29] Patty Lund: And then after a while you get the confidence. Once you get the confidence, things are fine.

[00:38:33] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. You just need to feel comfortable using that language. And it’s a hard place to get to, but having one-on-one conversations with people, whether it’s online or in real life, that would really help. And when I taught English, at different times in my life, I would tell people, look, you need to be doing the talking because my English is okay.

[00:39:00] Annie Sargent: I don’t need to practice. You’re the one who needs to practice. So tell me about this picture. Tell me about this vacation. Tell me about whatever, because you need to do the talking. If you’re not saying a word, then you’re never going to get good.

[00:39:17] Patty Lund: It takes some time, you know, so, but I would definitely tell people to kind of, you know, brush up on your French before you go to this area of France, that would definitely help you.

[00:39:27] Annie Sargent: Yes. Yes. And if you’re going to go rural France, it really helps. In Paris, but in rural France, you really will use your French a lot. So, that’s really important.

[00:39:38] Patty Lund: And then you see the real France though.

[00:39:40] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:39:42] Annie Sargent: Well, not that Paris is not real. It is real, but it’s just

[00:39:45] Patty Lund: Yeah,

[00:39:45] Annie Sargent: different, you know, it’s the it’s the capital.

[00:39:48] Annie Sargent: All right. Well, thank you so much, Patty.

[00:39:50] Annie Sargent: That was really interesting. And I look forward to hearing again about more places you’re going to explore, but maybe not the wet places.

[00:40:02] Annie Sargent: Maybe

[00:40:04] Annie Sargent: Merci

[00:40:05] Patty Lund: beaucoup.

[00:40:06] Annie Sargent: Merci beaucoup.

[00:40:08] Annie Sargent: Au

[00:40:10] Annie Sargent: I want to thank my patrons for supporting the show and giving ba

[00:40:10] Thank you Patrons!

[00:40:10] ck. Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing so you can see them at, P A T R E O N, Join Us no spaces or dashes. Thank you all so much for supporting the show. Some of you have been doing it for a long time.

[00:40:33] Annie Sargent: You are wonderful, and a shout out this week to new patrons, Sarah Burnett, Sarah B, Megan Kressin, Michelle Olender, Jennifer Jerzyk. That’s a hard name to say, isn’t it, Jennifer? And Joan Mills. Thank you so much for becoming patrons and making this podcast possible.

[00:40:57] Annie Sargent: This week, I published a video for patrons where my friend, Isabelle shares her tips for those of you who want to learn French. She’s been teaching French in America for 30 years, but she is from Marseille originally, and she has wonderful suggestions for all of you.

[00:41:13] Annie Sargent: If you’re preparing a trip to France and listening to as many episodes as you can to get ready, keep listening, we love that. Search the website as well, because it’s really hard to remember all the places that we’ve talked about, but if you search, hopefully you know how to spell these names, they’re a bit tricky aren’t they? Uh, If you search, you will find it and you will see the links to all the places where we talked about them.

[00:41:39] Itinerary Consult with Annie

[00:41:39] You can also hire me to be your itinerary consultant. Here’s how it works, you purchase the service at the boutique, Then you tell me about your dream trip to France and I get to work on all the things I think you need to know, you know, need to be pointed to, uh, in order to have a great trip to France. And then we talk about it for as long as an hour. So you get to ask me all your questions and, it’s kind of, uh, you know, get excited for your, uh, for your trip to France.

[00:42:11] Annie Sargent: But this service is popular, so pay attention to the date up until which I am already booked up so that there are no surprises.

[00:42:22] Annie Sargent: And if you cannot talk to me because I’m all booked up and you’re going soon, you can still take me in your pocket by getting my GPS self-guided tours on the VoiceMap app. I’ve produced five tours in Paris and they are designed to show you around different iconic neighborhoods.

[00:42:39] Annie Sargent: In the tour, I tell you about all the things around you, the museums, the churches, the famous spots, the cafes, the restaurants, the people who made this area so iconic.

[00:42:49] Annie Sargent: And if you walk one of my tours, and do not stop at any of the places, then it’ll take probably 60 to 90 minutes. If you stop at all the places I recommend, it could take as much as a day. So you’re in charge of the schedule, it’s complete freedom. And I make sure that you get to see a wonderful neighborhood in some detail, you know, not just like, wow, drive by it.

[00:43:14] Annie Sargent: These tours are also quite inexpensive and you can either buy them directly from me, going to where you get a very nice discount, because we can bypass the royalty that normally goes to the app store and that’s 30%, so, you know, it’s a big chunk. So no excuse, you will have a wonderful time in Paris. I guarantee it.

[00:43:39] Annie Sargent: If you enjoyed this episode, you might also want to listen to episode 281, where Patty talked about exploring the Béarn uh, as a possible place to call her own. I don’t think she’s decided yet. Maybe we should help her, should we? Okay.

[00:43:56] Travel tips and news

[00:43:56] Annie Sargent: Travel tips and news.

[00:43:58] What is the best way to enter the Louvre?

[00:43:58] Annie Sargent: Somebody asked, Joanne actually asked, what is the best place to enter the Louvre?

[00:44:06] Annie Sargent: Okay. So, on the ticket for the Louvre, it says Pyramid Entrance. And she says, is that required? We thought that the carrousel entrance was better. And here’s my answer. All visitors enter the Louvre under the pyramid. So it doesn’t matter how you get under the pyramid. Okay. There’s different ways to get under the pyramid.

[00:44:29] Annie Sargent: The thing is, the line you see on the surface, right outside of the pyramid, is usually the longest, because that’s the line for security. They won’t check your ticket there, they’ll just run you through security. And it’s usually a very long line. So the Carrousel entranceis usually a much shorter line because fewer people know about it, but you still enter the Louvre under the pyramid. All of these entrances lead under the pyramid at any rate. And Carrousel is a shopping mall underneath the Louvre. There are two sets of stairs to get into it, right on the right and the left of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, and there’s also one on Rue de Rivoli. So pick your entrance, but at any rate, you will all end up under the pyramid where you choose which wing of the Louvre you enter. You enter Richelieu, Denon or Sully. Okay.

[00:45:34] Annie Sargent: So that’s how it works. Everybody enters under the pyramid.

[00:45:38] Getting your Covid test before you fly home

[00:45:38] Annie Sargent: Let’s talk about getting your COVID test before you fly home quickly.

[00:45:43] Annie Sargent: The COVID test is still mandatory for American visitors. It’s not for Canadians. Rules are different for every country, but if a COVID test is mandatory for you to return to the US, first of all, that’s stupid, because there’s plenty of COVID in the US, so it’s not like you’re going to be bringing in anything new, but you can get a COVID test at just about any pharmacy in France.

[00:46:11] Annie Sargent: And we have a lot of pharmacies. The test costs about 25 euros per person and it doesn’t take very long to get the results. Maybe 20 minutes, 30 minutes. It’s possible that they will email you like two hours later. I’ve seen that happen as well, but it’s at any rate it’s fairly quick. Okay.

[00:46:30] Annie Sargent: But, if you’re traveling on a Monday, well, then you have to find a pharmacy that’s open on a Sunday, and there are fewer pharmacies open on Sundays, than on the other days of the week. The same happens if you’re traveling home the day after a national holiday. Today’s a national holiday. There aren’t that many pharmacies open today, so that makes it a bit more difficult to find a pharmacy.

[00:46:57] Annie Sargent: In that case, I mean, talk to the pharmacy near your hotel or your apartment, ask them, tell them I need to take a test on this day, ask them what they recommend.

[00:47:09] Annie Sargent: Okay. Talking to people always works. You just need to talk to people and ask them locals, like people who live right there, because they know the rules for right there. It’s a lot better than asking Facebook. Let me tell ya.

[00:47:22] Ascension is a national holiday in France

[00:47:22] Annie Sargent: So I just mentioned that today is a holiday. It’s a national holiday. It’s L’Ascension. It’s a Christian holiday. Sometimes you might wonder why in France, we have a Christian holiday. We are a secular country, but nevermind. We love Ascension because it’s always on a Thursday, and that means that you can take Friday off and then you get a four-day weekend.

[00:47:46] Annie Sargent: And it’s always on a Thursday because it’s pegged 40 days after Easter. And lots of people in my neighborhood are gone for the weekend. This means that the roads are busy, transportation, you know, whether they be taxi, buses, trains, airplanes, whatever, very busy this weekend. Hotels are busy, restaurants are busy, venues are busier than normal. And this happens every year. So the month of May and the month of June in France, you have to watch out for these national holidays, because we have several of them.

[00:48:21] Grotte Cosquer, a replica of a painted cave in Marseille

[00:48:21] Annie Sargent: I want to tell you about a replica of a painted cave, that’s opening on June 4th in Marseille. It’s a, it’s a grotte, Grotte Cosquer. We have talked about it on the podcast before. It’s an underwater cave. Now, they’ve made a replica of it and you can go see it when you visit Marseille, which is wonderful because we have, you know, replicas of painted caves, and by painted caves, I mean, caves that were painted, you know, 30,000 years ago, sometimes longer.

[00:48:57] Annie Sargent: But on average it’s 30,000 years and they are very, very popular. There is one called Lascaux IV . So that’s in the Dordonne and the other one is Chauvet in the Ardeche department. And now we have Cosquer , but that one is in the center of a city. So it’s easy to get to by metro if you want. Okay. So you don’t need to rent a car to get to that one, you can just take a metro.

[00:49:23] Annie Sargent: The original cave is underwater today and it’s in the Calanques between Cassis and Marseille, but when it was painted between 30,000 and 20,000 years ago, they accessed it by land.

[00:49:37] Annie Sargent: The cave was discovered by someone called Henri Cosquer in 1985. He was the owner of a diving club in Cassis, as well as a company that performed, you know, underwater jobs kind of things.

[00:49:49] Annie Sargent: And he spent his leisure time looking around the cliffs of Cassis underwater.

[00:49:54] Annie Sargent: He found a cavity 37 meters below the surface, and he went in because he’s nuts. He soon realized that this was bigger than he could do that day, and he came back with the right equipment, uh, you know, several weeks later.

[00:50:11] Annie Sargent: And I mean, he didn’t know what he had. He just came back when he could, right. And also I mean, it’s the Mediterranean, the weather, you know, all of these things. So it took a long time for him to realize what he had. Because after this opening, there is a long passage, very narrow passage that opens into a cave. And I think it’s 175 meters long, that narrow passage.

[00:50:37] Annie Sargent: So it’s quite difficult to get to the opening. But then the opening, is, you know, it’s like getting into a big cave like, it has stalactites and stalagmites.

[00:50:48] Annie Sargent: Some of it is underwater, some of it is not.

[00:50:51] Annie Sargent: And he didn’t realize for a long time that this was a painted cave, but then he’s saw prints, hand prints, and he thought who came here to do hand prints like this? You know, anyway, beautiful, beautiful story, and a wonderful cave to visit, a replica of a painted cave in Marseille.

[00:51:11] French Immersion with Join Us in France

[00:51:11] Annie Sargent: Let’s talk about the join Us in France Reunion and French Immersion Week.

[00:51:16] Annie Sargent: I started talking about this before the pandemic and so I’m very excited to say that I think it’s going to happen this time, but it’s not going to be till next May.

[00:51:28] Annie Sargent: And we need plenty of time to plan this, because I know a lot of you are planners and you know, you need to clear your schedule for this. It’ll take place May 21st until May 27th and it’s in Toulouse. I’ve decided that I should partner with an experienced language school in Toulouse. The school is Langue Onze. I visited them, I know people who’ve taken classes from them. It’s a wonderful school, a great location. They have great teachers at every level. And they can even arrange accommodations in Toulouse at a great price, for those of you who would like to do that. But of course you can also go to a hotel if you wish, whatever. There will be language classes in the morning, and they’ll put you in the right group for your level of proficiency. They even take complete beginners. Uh, I asked them to kind of keep it light and fun because you know, none of you are going to be studying for a certification. Most of their students are there studying for certification, but it’ll be a week of fun in French. That’s what I would like it to be.

[00:52:33] Annie Sargent: And then, so that’s going to be morning with the classes and then in the afternoon, we’ll visit something cool. In Toulouse or somewhere in one of the nearby towns.

[00:52:43] Annie Sargent: The details of the visits, the details of the restaurants and all the activities are not worked out yet. But of course, Elyse and I will be with you every afternoon, and we’ll get to show off our wonderful city.

[00:52:56] Annie Sargent: So it will be a great reunion.

[00:52:58] Annie Sargent: Okay. Like I said at the start of the show, I’ll email everyone who has joined my email list to get a feel for how many of you are interested and discuss all the details. But for now, just save the date May 21st until May 27th, 2023 in Toulouse.

[00:53:17] Annie Sargent: And who knows? If this one goes great and we love it, we could do this every year in May in a different city. How about that? That’d be fun.

[00:53:26] So if you’re interested, you can email me to let me know that you are interested or reply to the email I’ll send next week about this, so you’ll have to tell me something right. Now, you have to talk to me and I’ll talk about this every week on the episode, because I hope that a lot of you will join me and Elyse in France for real.


[00:53:47] Fire at Annie’s house

[00:53:47] Annie Sargent: Now for something a lot less fun for my personal update, my husband and I were woken up at 2:30 in the morning by a phone call from a neighbor, because there was a fire at our house.

[00:54:02] Annie Sargent: By the time this neighbor woke us up, several people had already called the firemen and the firemen were on their way, but they didn’t get there right away, right away. It took a few minutes. Thankfully, this was not in our house, but it was on the electrical box, which in France usually gets put on the fence.

[00:54:23] Annie Sargent: Most houses in France have a brick fence. And usually, in the middle of the brick fence somewhere, there’s some sort of plastic box, large plastic box. And that’s where the utilities come in. And that’s what caught on fire, is the place where the power comes into our house.

[00:54:42] Annie Sargent: And in France, we have 240 power. You know, in America you only have 110. In France, it’s some serious, serious power, and if the hardware gets weak, which is what happened, then it can start a fire and sure enough, it did. I had never seen it, it was very frightening, very disconcerting. Thank God, it was just the fence and not in the garage, because that would have been really, really bad. It took us a while to, I didn’t hear a thing.

[00:55:13] Annie Sargent: If the neighbors hadn’t seen it, the neighbors kept hearing popping sounds and they started seeing flames and they called the fire brigade. I heard nothing. I saw nothing. I was just dead to the world. So, by the time we got out, the fire had been going for at least five minutes. There were big, big flames.

[00:55:35] Our neighbor’s garbage cans. Our neighbor always parks his can out right in front of those electrical boxes and his garbage can was on fire. Well, it was melted by the time I saw it, there was nothing left of it. Uh, it, it was just shocking, surreal.

[00:55:52] Annie Sargent: I don’t know how to put it, frightening, you know. So there was in my pajamas, surrounded by neighbors, wondering how far this fire might spread. And I was really hoping the fireman, you know, it was like, oh, come on, get here, please, firemen, get here. I mean, I knew not to douse it withwater. I had a water hose right there, but I knew not to do that.

[00:56:11] Annie Sargent: Anyway, as soon as the fire people arrived, they started putting out the fire with a big extinguisher. Uh, They didn’t use water either, obviously. And then, big, thick black smoke went up. It was, it smelled horrible. It was just nasty. But the fire wasn’t completely out until the power company person showed up a few minutes later. Apparently, when there’s a fire like that, the fire people ask a few questions and they knew it was an electrical fire. So they had called the electric company at the same time and they arrived just a couple of minutes away from each other.

[00:56:48] Annie Sargent: And when he showed up ..The power company guy, when he showed up, he talked to the fireman and one woman, there was one woman. Then they went to turn off the power for the whole cul-de-sac. We live in a dead end street and he went to the substation or something, I’m not sure. And then the fire was properly put out.

[00:57:07] Annie Sargent: The fire people waited around for quite a long time, making sure that it was all out. And the power company person told us that crews would come the next day to start repairs. And I have to admit, I did not believe him because, well, I didn’t believe anything. I thought, hopefully this is a nightmare. But he said, you know, they’ll come tomorrow to start fixing things.

[00:57:32] Annie Sargent: And I was like, no, everything that has to do with construction is so slow in France. Like how could it be tomorrow? And I asked him, what do you think caused this? And he said, it’s really hard to be sure, but he said, generally it’s just wear and tear, and that it’s really hard to be sure, but where the wires come in from the street and hook up to the wires inside the house, there’s some sort of metal plate there. And apparently that metal plate sometimes wears out. I don’t, I don’t know anything about electricity, but he said it’s most likely equipment.

[00:58:07] Annie Sargent: And he tried to make a joke saying that it was like his knees, you know, they were getting old and my knees are getting old too, but I didn’t laugh at the time. Maybe I should have. But he said, we’ll fix it tomorrow. And you know what? He wasn’t lying. By the time I woke up the next morning, uh, when I eventually could go back to sleep, first crew had already started to clean up.

[00:58:30] Annie Sargent: They showed up with shovels, picks, a jackhammer and a giant vacuum cleaner. I had never seen anything like it, it was like a vacuum cleaner with like, the hose was like a foot wide. It was huge. And they just dug up big holes all around the wires. They exposed everything, just opened it up so they could jump in and out.

[00:58:53] Annie Sargent: These were, these are like holes, half of the height of these guys. And as long as, I mean, they could have laid completely across there and it goes under our fence, right. I didn’t realize all of this was there. And they also had earth moving equipment, but I think they did everything by hand.

[00:59:11] They didn’t bring any machines into my garden cause I would have seen tracks for that, but they didn’t. And that giant vacuum cleaner was amazing.

[00:59:22] Annie Sargent: Anyway, as soon as the cleanup crew was done, the electrician crew showed up within like five minutes. They timed this really well.

[00:59:32] Annie Sargent: And the electrician team included a guy who lives in our village and he said his youngest kid is still in the village school. So he was really sweet, you know, inquiring, if weren’t too shaken up. Because typically, people are just professional and don’t want to know about your feelings, but he really wanted to know if we were okay, you know? Which was very nice and yes, I was shaken up, but it was surprising to see them moving and working so quickly.

[01:00:02] Annie Sargent: And so this was first thing in the morning. And by late that afternoon, we had power back. So fire started around 2:00 AM, and by 6:00 PM the next day, well, no, the same day, we had power back, which is lightning fast, I think.

[01:00:21] Annie Sargent: And they inspected all the power boxes of the neighborhoods and decided they were fine.

[01:00:26] Annie Sargent: And they restored power to them too, because they lost power too, because our box burned, but then our right next door neighbor, his box also burned because it was right next to ours. So both of us had no box, no electrical counter left. Uh, so they had to do that all new for both of us, but we have, uh, two other houses in the cul-de-sac and they were out of power for almost that long, but they were restored.

[01:00:54] Annie Sargent: It was, you know, it was safe.

[01:00:56] Annie Sargent: But in the meantime, neighbors on our other side had thrown an extension cord over our common fence and told us, you know, plug in your fridge and freezer, so you don’t lose anything. That was really super nice. So all’s well that ends well, but it was not a pleasant experience.

[01:01:15] Annie Sargent: Uh, we lost a full day of work cause we couldn’t do anything, but we lost nothing else, thank God. You know, I’m so glad because I talked to you last week about the fact that I ordered an electric car, but I don’t have it yet, of course. It’s not going to just going to be a few more weeks, but imagine that I had just received my electric car, and just per chance I plugged it into charge that night.

[01:01:40] Annie Sargent: And that’s the day the electric counter catches on fire. Well, obviously I would have thought it was the brand new car that was doing it, right? Well, no, it would have had nothing to do with the brand new car. It’s just wear and tear apparently. And when the fire started, the only thing that was running at our house, well besides a few phones that were plugged in for recharging, was the water heater.

[01:02:03] And I know water heaters draw a lot of power, but it does that every night. So it wasn’t anything new. It just happened, because these things, you know, happen. And the power company will pay for all the repairs, because it’s their fault, really, it’s their equipment that that caught fire. They’ll pay for a fence to be repaired, and there’s a big tree. I was worried about the big tree because there was huge flames, and the flames burned several branches, but not the whole tree. And they’ll send, you know, a professional to trim the dead branches. And the next day I gave the tree a lot of water because I was worried about it. I was like, oh, that poor tree is going to die, but I think it’ll be okay.

[01:02:46] Annie Sargent: It’ll probably just pick right up.

[01:02:49] Annie Sargent: And we had friends who were visiting from the US at the same time, so it was a lot going on and I’m trying to catch up on work, but I am so grateful for the patience of the itinerary review people, because I had to email some and just tell them, I’m sorry, I’m not going to be ready.

[01:03:05] Annie Sargent: I mean, I’ll talk to them but uh, I can’t send them their document on time, and I’m extremely grateful to the firefighters and even the electricians. I mean, at least they knew what they were doing and I did not.

[01:03:18] Annie Sargent: So you know, I’m hoping that next week will be utterly uneventful and boring, and that I will not have anything to update you on, besides putting out a normal podcast. How about that?

[01:03:34] Annie Sargent: Show notes and full transcript for this episode are on The numeral 3 91. Transcripts make the website very easy to search and thank you Christian for doing those for me.

[01:03:53] Annie Sargent: I want you to use the transcripts because they make planning a trip to France pretty easy, and you can help your Francophile friends plan their visit to France. Go to, click on the Share buttons on the side and tag your friend. And I think they will be grateful that you helped them find relevant and genuine information about how things work in France.

[01:04:22] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode with Elyse on the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. One of my favorite places, as you know, if you’ve walked my Latin Quarter tour.

[01:04:35] Annie Sargent: Send questions or feedback to Thank you so much for listening.

[01:04:42] Annie Sargent: Thank you for your support of the show, and I hope you join me next time, so we can look around France together. Au revoir.

[01:04:51] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France travel podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and copyright 2022, by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No derivatives license. .

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Category: Moving to France