Transcript for Episode 397: Running into Snags while Visiting France

Table of Contents for this Episode

Categories: France How To, Moving to France

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 397, trois cent quatre-vingt-dix-sept.

[00:00:23] Annie Sargent: 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 about running into snags on her last visit to France. She’s visited France several times, in fact, she’s looking for a place to settle in France. She’s been on the podcast a few times already, but that wasn’t enough to avoid all the snags. Nothing too dire, but worth knowing about if you would like to avoid those situations. Plus she’s a hoot to listen to.

[00:01:07] After my chat with Patty I’ll talk about “skip the line” tickets for the Eiffel Tower. Someone on the Facebook group lost time and money for tickets that were worthless, her daughter was crushed as a result. I’ll tell you how to avoid such scams.

[00:01:23] Thank you, supporters

[00:01:23] 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. And you can browse all of that at my boutique,

[00:01:42] Annie Sargent: I am all caught up with email, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a miracle. It’s a happy day, let me tell you. I was surprised how many of you have expressed interest in the France bootcamp, which will take place from May 21st until May 27th, 2023.

[00:02:01] Annie Sargent: I will coordinate with the school, because it’s a bigger number than what I had anticipated, I’ll talk to them next week and I will email all of you who have expressed interest. If this is the first you’ve heard about this and you’re interested, sign up for the newsletter at and you will get more information via the newsletter.

[00:02:31] Main intervieww

[00:02:31] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Patty, and welcome to Join Us in France.

[00:02:36] Patty Lund: Bonjour Annie, comment ça va?

[00:02:40] Annie Sargent: Ça va tres tres bien et toi?

[00:02:42] Patty Lund: Excellent merci!

[00:02:43] Introduction

[00:02:43] Patty Lund: So Patty was on the podcast with me once before, she was on episode 281, we were talking about the Béarn.

[00:02:53] Annie Sargent: And Patty is one of these wonderful people who would like to move to France someday. And so she’s made several trips to France in order to find a place that’s good for her. And today she’s going to tell us about some snags that they ran into and also the criteria that they use looking for a place. So we want to hear about your snags first because it’s funny.

[00:03:20] Patty Lund: Yeah, well, the snags and also how we fix everything, that’s the most important thing.

[00:03:25] Patty Lund: just felt like I don’t want people to have to go through all the stress that we went through this time, and it never happened to us before. We’re seasoned travelers in France, I lived in Paris back in the 90s, so I’m aware of a lot of things, but we are going to areas that I don’t know. We also went to Burgundy before as well, so we’ve checked several areas.

[00:03:43] The oddities of the Geneva airport

[00:03:43] Patty Lund: So this time we flew into Geneva and we have done that before.

[00:03:48] Patty Lund: weird thing that people might not know is there are two parts of that airport. There’s the Swiss side there’s the French side. Number one, you cannot walk it’s like a border in the middle. You have to have either a ticket to get on the plane or they won’t let you walk in, or you have to take a cab the Swiss side all the way around, the border, and then go to the French side.

[00:04:10] Annie Sargent: Wow.

[00:04:10] Patty Lund: just walk across the airport if you don’t have a ticket, which we didn’t, because we weren’t flying out. We had stayed with friends first in Switzerland and then we went back to the airport just to get the car.


[00:04:19] Patty Lund: car rental on the French side is a lot cheaper than it is on the Swiss side.


[00:04:24] Patty Lund: So I just wanted to make sure people knew, if you fly in there and you’re just hanging out and stay in Geneva or something for a little bit, and then you’re like, oh, let’s go to, you know, rent a car and go to France, make sure you go to the French side, so you get the cheaper car, but it’s little confusing there.

[00:04:39] Set the GPS before you leave

[00:04:39] Patty Lund: So, sure when you get the

[00:04:40] Annie Sargent: Hmm.

[00:04:41] Patty Lund: in the car, you want to set it up immediately before you leave, we didn’t do that. That was stupid.

[00:04:46] Patty Lund: Oh, here’s another thing, you can change the language on the GPS, if people don’t know that.It took a little playing around with, it’s not clear, because if you don’t speak and I speak French pretty well, but I’m trying to read everything in French.

[00:04:56] Maybe that’s something ask at the desk

[00:04:59] Annie Sargent: Yes,

[00:05:00] Patty Lund: like how do I change the language,

[00:05:01] Annie Sargent: yes.

[00:05:02] Patty Lund: can follow it.

[00:05:03] Annie Sargent: Right, because this was a GPS built into the car.

[00:05:06] Patty Lund: Right, but it took a while to figure out how to get to the English bit.

[00:05:09] Patty Lund: But anyway,

[00:05:09] Annie Sargent: Mm-hmm

[00:05:10] Patty Lund: very difficult figuring how to get out of the airport and back into the airport. You don’t want to go back to Switzerland because you have to go over the border, you know, and back and forth. And the border guards don’t really like that.

[00:05:22] Patty Lund: So you’ve got to be careful that you go the right way.

[00:05:24] Switzerland is not in the EU

[00:05:24] Annie Sargent: You know, this is a complication due to the fact that Switzerland is not in the EU, so they have an actual border. All the other countries in the EU, we don’t even have a border. I mean, they’re, there’s usually some sort of flags or signs that you’re now in France, or now in Spain, now in Italy, but there isn’t anything else really.

[00:05:47] Annie Sargent: I mean, there are some border people, they have little buildings and whatever, but they stop very few people and

[00:05:55] you don’t even have to really slow down, I mean, a little bit, but it’s really fast.

[00:06:01] Patty Lund: This too. They don’t honestly, really, they might stop you, they might not, but if they just saw you go over and then you go back again, they’ll definitely stop you

[00:06:09] Patty Lund: you know?

[00:06:10] Annie Sargent: yeah,

[00:06:10] Patty Lund: just slows everything up.

[00:06:11] Then they’re going to have questions, so better not to screw it up.

[00:06:14] And also things are usually cheaper on the French side than on the Swiss side. Switzerland is very, very, very expensive

[00:06:23] Patty Lund: Oh, yes, it is.

[00:06:24] Should I get full insurance on the car rental?

[00:06:24] So another thing we were talking about car rental, the last couple times we got the full insurance. We do have, you know, you get some insurance on your credit card and stuff like that. I would just get the full insurance. It wasn’t crazy expensive either time, and you know, they don’t check the car when you leave, don’t check it when it comes back in. And

[00:06:42] Annie Sargent: Mmm,

[00:06:42] Patty Lund: we got a, like a bill at the end, which was paid for by the insurance with some erroneous garbage that did not, you know, like, oh, there’s a crack in the windshield, which there wasn’t.

[00:06:52] Patty Lund: So you don’t want to get caught with that kind of stuff.

[00:06:54] Patty Lund: I would recommend the insurance, not to deal with that.

[00:06:57] Annie Sargent: Yes, I do that anyway. Like I, honestly, it’s probably 10 bucks extra a day, but that buys you a lot of, what’d you say?

[00:07:06] Annie Sargent: Uh, Peace of mind, yes.

[00:07:10] Annie Sargent: Yes, Yes. Worth it.

[00:07:12] Cheaper to rent a manual car

[00:07:12] Patty Lund: And of course, renting the manual transmission is also course, cheaper to rent than an automatic. So, if you can drive a stick, you’ll save yourself a lot of money.

[00:07:20] Annie Sargent: Oh, I didn’t realize it was cheaper.

[00:07:22] Patty Lund: Yeah, and also adding a driver is also more expensive. So my husband is the one who did all the driving, we didn’t add me because I think it’s like, I don’t know, 10 bucks a day or

[00:07:29] Annie Sargent: it was cheaper Huh?

[00:07:29] Patty Lund: was just not worth it.

[00:07:31] you have to

[00:07:31] Patty Lund: doYou need to make some choices. Yeah.

[00:07:35] How do you pay for tolls when driving in France?

[00:07:35] Patty Lund: Okay. So, on the autoroute, I thought this might be interesting as well, because I’ve seen a lot of people asking about this and some of your Facebook group and things like that. What about tolls? How do you pay for the tolls? Can you use your credit cards?

[00:07:45] Patty Lund: We went everywhere in France using our US credit cards, had no issues.

[00:07:49] Patty Lund: easy, it’s super fast. So they work everywhere, we didn’t have any trouble with tolls anywhere. So thing is, there are a lot of tolls in France

[00:07:59] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:07:59] Patty Lund: really expensive compared to the US, I would say.

[00:08:02] Patty Lund: friends of mine who have also gone across

[00:08:04] Annie Sargent: Yes. Um,

[00:08:05] Patty Lund: You

[00:08:05] You can avoid toll roads

[00:08:05] Patty Lund: know, for vacation several times, mentioned that, you know, take a look at where you’re going, does it make sense not get on the autoroute? it might just be like extra hour, but you’ll save yourself like 80 bucks. It could be if you’re going all the way across, you know, something like that. So take a look! Look online, see how much it’ll be for the toll. If you don’t want to spend all that money, my friends just said, screw it, we’re taking the state roads

[00:08:28] Annie Sargent: right.

[00:08:29] Patty Lund: didn’t bother with the autoroute.

[00:08:30] How to plan on the price of toll roads and gas in France

[00:08:30] Annie Sargent: So, to figure out the costs of the freeway, there is a website called Via Michelin, so Via Michelin. It’s like Google maps, but it will estimate the cost in tolls and also in gas, because in Europe gas prices are much higher than in the US. It’s more or less twice what you pay in the US. Typically, to drive between Lyon and Provence, I would figure that it would cost at least 150 Euros between the tolls and the gas. But that’s top of my head kind of calculation. calculation

[00:09:16] Patty Lund: via

[00:09:17] Annie Sargent: Via Michelin. Yeah.

[00:09:19] Annie Sargent: Yes, yes.

[00:09:22] Patty Lund: again, you can figure out, does it make more sense? Does it make more sense to do this? How much extra time would it take and is it worth the money?

[00:09:28] Annie Sargent: Right.

[00:09:28] Patty Lund: know, just a thought, just a thought.

[00:09:30] Toll roads have rest stops

[00:09:30] Annie Sargent: And the biggest difference between taking the tolls, the toll roads and not, is that when you are on the toll roads, you have rest stops. You have bathrooms, you have places to buy a picnic or whatever. So it’s easier, but maybe you don’t mind stopping at whatever village and going to the local restaurant that you’ve never heard of and having your meal there and using the bathroom there, you know.

[00:09:58] Annie Sargent: soI also wanted to mention that if people are like nervous about like, oh, what’s it going to be like driving across on there? You know, with the rest stops, all the stuff, it’s kind of like the US as far as what’s going to be there. of them will have something like The Paul bakery chain. And they’ve got sandwiches in there, they’ve got coffee. It’s better than going into the little, they always have like the little Mini Mart you can buy your food and stuff. You know, we bought some sandwiches in one of those, eh,

[00:10:24] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:10:25] Patty Lund: that, go straight to Paul and get your sandwich there. If you’re just grab the sandwich, it.

[00:10:29] Annie Sargent: Those were gross. You want to just go to the Paul. That’s true!

[00:10:31] And they’ve got good wine.

[00:10:34] Do you need an International driver’s licence in France?

[00:10:34] Patty Lund: I was going to say, make sure you get your AAA international driver’s license, of course, which is mostly for

[00:10:39] Patty Lund: translation.

[00:10:40] Annie Sargent: Why? Did anybody ever ask for it?

[00:10:43] Patty Lund: No, but if you get stopped, you know, they can’t read your license.

[00:10:47] Annie Sargent: Yeah, but they don’t care. They’re used to foreigners havingforeign driver’s license.

[00:10:52] Annie Sargent: I don’t think that’s problem.

[00:10:54] Patty Lund: We get it just in case.

[00:10:55] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:10:55] Annie Sargent: Okay. So, So if you wanted just in case, that’s one thing, but I don’t think anybody’s ever going to ask for it. Yeah. Yep.

[00:11:02] Big snag in France: getting gas

[00:11:02] And then, this was a big snag for us, getting gas. We had several credit cards that we brought with us, and had a couple of debit cards, and none of them worked. I think we tried six at

[00:11:14] Annie Sargent: Mm. wow.

[00:11:15] Patty Lund: them worked.

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

[00:11:17] Patty Lund: another one. None of them worked at that one. And we were getting down to like, you know, like we were almost out of gas and it

[00:11:23] Annie Sargent: So,

[00:11:24] Patty Lund: were getting really nervous.

[00:11:25] Grocery Store Gas Stations and Foreign Cards

[00:11:25] Annie Sargent: So, just a sec, you were going to what sort of gas stations?

[00:11:29] So, we were at an F I don’t know how to say this F Leclerc is that right?

[00:11:32] Annie Sargent: E Leclerc

[00:11:33] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So you went to a

[00:11:34] Annie Sargent: Grocery store, gas station. Which are, that’s the cheapest places to get gas in France, is to go to a gas station attached to a grocery store. Unfortunately, it’s also the gas stations that are not set up for foreign cards. So I’m not surprised that you couldn’t use your foreign cards. That’s what it is. Yes. That’s what it is.

[00:11:57] Annie Sargent: And that’s another advantage of using the toll roads, is that they always take a variety of cards. They’re set up to do a lot more than just your run of the mill French card.

[00:12:12] Patty Lund: All right. Well, we didn’t figure that out. But we did go to several, that wasn’t the only one we went to. We did go to several and it didn’t work at a bunch.

[00:12:19] ahead.

[00:12:19] Patty Lund: what we wound up doing, just so you know, if you get stuck in that situation and that’s like the closest one and you have to stop off at decanter, this is how it works.

[00:12:26] Getting Gas with Cash

[00:12:26] Patty Lund: So we finally got money. That’s a whole other issue, but we had cash they have like a kiosk, and you go through the kiosk and you have to put in the bills and every bill you put in, like you have to, we actually asked the guy, and the guy was so sweet, he was like on his lunch break or something, he just walked us through the whole thing.

[00:12:44] Patty Lund: Oh, you do this and you have to put a bill in and then a ticket comes out. the ticket over to the pump and there’s a code you put in, then you have to put in another code. Anyway, it worked. We got our gas, we were happy, because that was the closest one, we were kind of in the middle of nowhere, there wasn’t like I don’t know that was the closest one where we were. And

[00:13:03] Annie Sargent: Mmm.

[00:13:03] Patty Lund: got it worked out.

[00:13:04] Patty Lund: I was also going to say in a latter part of the trip, when we were Burgundy, there’s another way to do it where you don’t pay ahead of time, you pay after which it was odd to me. After you pump and I don’t remember the name of this gas station, but you pumped, and then I think I asked three people because I was so confused.

[00:13:21] Patty Lund: And then you drive up to the kiosk as you’re leaving, you pay right before you leave. was odd to me. I thought you would always give them money first and then pump.

[00:13:30] Annie Sargent: No, no. I mean, it depends. It could be either way, but in a lot of places where I live… Okay, first of all, we have very few people kiosks left, to pay for gas. So at my local Auchan grocery store, there used to be, well, maybe Auchan is actually the exception, maybe Auchan still has a person. Anyway, some of these grocery stores, they still have a person.

[00:13:57] Annie Sargent: So, as you fill up with gas and when you drive up, there’s going to be a person at a booth, and she’ll just hand you the little machine to pay with your credit card contactless usually. But if your card doesn’t work like that, there’s a human that can either take your cash or try to run your card a different way.

[00:14:22] Annie Sargent: Right.

[00:14:23] Patty Lund: Got it.

[00:14:24] Annie Sargent: But, anymore there’s very few of these people manning the booths and Leclerc in particular, I’ve seen that they have, it’s like a machine on the side of the gas station and you can pay with coins or with bills, but I’ve never done that, but I know it exists. I just, I’ve never used it.

[00:14:46] Patty Lund: But anyway, just as a backup, I thought people should know about it, because boy, we almost ran out of gas

[00:14:52] Patty Lund: to figure this out.

[00:14:53] Not everyone has credit cards in France

[00:14:53] Annie Sargent: And, you know, there are French people who don’t have credit cards, it’s unusual, but there are people who just pay everything with cash. My sister didn’t get a credit card until like five years ago. She was against credit cards. She paid stuff with her check and cash. She didn’t want the complication of having you know, a credit card.

[00:15:15] Annie Sargent: And then she gave up because she can’t live without a card really.

[00:15:20] Patty Lund: I think that’s fascinating because when I lived in Paris back in the nineties, I thought French were way ahead of the game because they had the card bleue. was paying with card bleue, when I was there,

[00:15:28] Patty Lund: way before everybody was here. Like everything, like every little small thing.

[00:15:32] Annie Sargent: Well, you still have people who are, you know, don’t want change.

[00:15:35] Patty Lund: Yeah.

[00:15:36] Getting money from the ATMs in France

[00:15:36] speaking of money, the other thing that I wanted to talk about was getting money from the ATMs and also money exchange. I always bring a little bit of cash with me, which I usually will just, you know, switch it at the airport.

[00:15:47] Patty Lund: I know it’s not the best rate, yada, yada, but I just, you know, I like to have a little bit of cash on hand,

[00:15:51] Annie Sargent: Mm-hmm. Mmm.

[00:15:52] Patty Lund: times when you need it.

[00:15:53] Patty Lund: Well, again, come intoParis, got into Geneva. And so in Geneva I went and I said, okay, take my cash over here, you know, we’ll switch it out. And they said, well, we got to switch it to Swiss Francs first, then into Euros and you’ll lose a lot.

[00:16:09] Annie Sargent: Ah,

[00:16:10] Patty Lund: like, oh, that’s terrible. I don’t want to do that, that’s too much. So I didn’t. So we didn’t have cash or not enough anyway.

[00:16:17] Annie Sargent: But, there you were at a some sort of money exchange place, at The at the airport.

[00:16:23] Patty Lund: Right. Right.

[00:16:23] Patty Lund: So, then we decided no we’re not going to do that. And we’ll just use our credit cards. That’ll be fine. We drove across and then of course, had all these issues the gas.

[00:16:33] Annie Sargent: Yes.

[00:16:33] Patty Lund: we figured, all right, before we get gas, we got to go get cash. So the closest big town to where we were, now we were in Aude, the biggest city is Carcassonne and that was pretty close to where we were staying. we drove over to Carcassonne, we went to their airport first, Carcassonne has a regional airport, which I believe has a Ryan Air, don’t they? So, I figured they would have to have some kind of exchange if they have people coming from the UK.

[00:16:58] Annie Sargent: No, it’s teeny tiny.

[00:17:00] Patty Lund: It is, and they do not have exchange.

[00:17:02] Annie Sargent: No,

[00:17:03] Annie Sargent: I’m not surprised by that.

[00:17:04] Patty Lund: No, I was. So we walked around

[00:17:06] Patty Lund: Carcassonne, to all the big banks to see if they could exchange anything, And our cards were not working in the ATM. So finally, I was just I don’t know why this happened, I brought a different debit card with me this time. I have a Venmo debit card.

[00:17:23] Venmo Doesn’t Work in France?

[00:17:23] Annie Sargent: Hmm. I have money in my Venmo account and it just takes it out of that, right?

[00:17:27] Patty Lund: Apparently it doesn’t work outside of the US.

[00:17:30] Patty Lund: And I didn’t know that.

[00:17:31] Annie Sargent: Venmo is like PayPal, right? It’s a money transfer service.

[00:17:35] Patty Lund: Yeah. Yeah. it’s like between friends. So, and I know they don’t have that nobody uses Venmo Europe. It’s a US. PayPal, they do, that. You can use PayPal over there, but Venmo no.

[00:17:49] Annie Sargent: Right.

[00:17:50] Even as the cash card, it didn’t work, which I was like, but I have money in here. Why is this not working?

[00:17:56] Patty Lund: But it

[00:17:56] Patty Lund: didn’t work. So, my husband wound up having to call his credit union and having them turn on something, because they didn’t know he was out of the country or whatever. And then it finally worked. We’ve never had that issue before.

[00:18:09] Annie Sargent: But, probably you hadn’t tried to use Venmo before.

[00:18:12] Patty Lund: Yeah. That was my issue,

[00:18:14] Annie Sargent: yeah.

[00:18:14] Credit Cards Depend on the Vendors’ Setup

[00:18:14] Annie Sargent: Yeah. People ask me all the time, can I use my Costco credit card or my Amazon credit card? And the answer is, I don’t know, because it really depends how the vendors set it up. Some credit cards are not recognized everywhere in the world.

[00:18:32] Annie Sargent: It’s just a fact. So you just need to know that. And so the more, kind of generic, big bank kind of card you have, you know, Wells Fargo is going to work most places.

[00:18:44] Patty Lund: And it depends on what it is too, because like, for instance, I told you last time when we were in Toulouse and we were renting bikes, that was the one place where the bike rental did work. But we tried to rent in Paris with our credit cards that they didn’t the Velib or whatever, they didn’t take American credit cards. I don’t know if they

[00:19:00] Annie Sargent: Um, but. Yeah. I don’t know

[00:19:02] Annie Sargent: either.

[00:19:02] Patty Lund: Just depends.

[00:19:03] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:19:04] Annie Sargent: So it’s better if you come with different credit cards from different, you know, have a Capital One, have a Wells Fargo, whatever. Even if it’s an account you don’t use that much, it’s good to have different credit cards too, because maybe one of them is going to work.

[00:19:23] American Express Doesn’t Work Most Places

[00:19:23] Annie Sargent: American Express does not work most places in France. It’s pretty much useless, actually, so don’t count on that one. uh,

[00:19:32] Patty Lund: fancy, it’s fine. But anywhere else, they don’t want to pay the extra, there’s a fee that the vendor has to pay and they don’t want to pay that.

[00:19:39] Annie Sargent: The only place I use my Amex in France is at Carrefour grocery store where they take American Express, but I have a French American Express, and even that doesn’t get taken most places. I can’t buy groceries anywhere but Carrefour with my American Express.

[00:19:59] Annie Sargent: know

[00:19:59] Patty Lund: they had a French American express. That’s funny.

[00:20:01] Annie Sargent: There is, there is, and it’s linked to Air France for miles. It’s not as good the American kind of cards, but that’s why we got it. It’s because once in a while, it’s good to have to rent a car or whatever, but we can’t use it very much.

[00:20:18] Annie Sargent: So, banks and cards, it’s a bit complicated and you have to be prepared. But as a rule, I would not go to a person at the airport to exchange money.

[00:20:32] Order Euros from your bank in US

[00:20:32] Annie Sargent: I would just use a credit card, but what if it doesn’t work? So, the other thing you can do is order currency. You can order Euros from your bank in the US before you leave.

[00:20:46] Annie Sargent: Right. But it takes a while. And it’s the same in France. If I go to my bank in France and I say, I want to get $500, they’ll get it for me, but it’ll take a couple of weeks. They don’t have foreign currency on hand.

[00:21:02] Patty Lund: Right. So for me, it’s just better come into the airport, just get a couple dollars just so you have some cash in case you need it for something like that. yeah,

[00:21:10] Patty Lund: stranded on the side of the road.

[00:21:11] Oh, I agree.

[00:21:12] Driving and parking

[00:21:12] So another thing I wanted talk about wasthe, well, a little bit more about driving and parking, like the GPS situation. We were using Google Maps on our phones, and that worked quite well, even the GPS though, like will send you to like sometimes down one way street or the wrong way and stuff like that.

[00:21:28] It sent us on a couple of goose chases, I felt like trying to find somerestaurants in very rural areas. We almost lost the undercarriage of the car in one of the places. I was like,

[00:21:37] Annie Sargent: oof.

[00:21:37] Patty Lund: she sending us?

[00:21:39] Annie Sargent: Oof. Yeah, you have to be careful, you know? Don’t just trust the GPS!

[00:21:45] Patty Lund: We were staying in a little Airbnb in town, I think you guys talked about it in one of your previous episodes. It’s called Saint Hilaire..

[00:21:53] Annie Sargent: the

[00:21:53] Patty Lund: It’s really small, it has a big Abbey, it’s where sparkling wine was founded. The monks figured it out there. And so it’s really small and where

[00:22:02] Annie Sargent: Mm,

[00:22:02] Patty Lund: were staying, you couldn’t drive a car down that street, it was so narrow. You had to park like up by the Abbey or something

[00:22:09] Annie Sargent: yeah.

[00:22:09] Patty Lund: and you know, that’s very narrow roads. So again, something that Americans might not think about, you know, just park really close into the wall and pull your mirrors in. We don’t to think about those things because we don’t have to use it that often,

[00:22:23] Patty Lund: it’s so wide out here, you know?

[00:22:24] Paying for Parking

[00:22:24] But, the nice thing in the South where we were, I didn’t have to pay for parking barely anywhere, like The only thing I think we had to pay when we went to the ski area, and that was it.

[00:22:35] Yeah. You don’t pay for parking in villages that are not super touristy.

[00:22:40] Patty Lund: I don’t even think we even paid in Carcassonne.

[00:22:42] Annie Sargent: Yes. In Carcassonne you have, yeah. It’s a bigger city. So you have to pay.

[00:22:46] Patty Lund: No, but I think, I don’t think we had to, we didn’t have to pay there.

[00:22:49] We were right by entrance to the castle and we were right there, by the bridge.

[00:22:52] Annie Sargent: I’ve paid there plenty of times, maybe they made it free because they wanted to attract more. Because French people are really unhappy about paying for parking anywhere. So there are places, I know inAigues-Morte they made a big deal about not charging for parking anymore, right after the pandemic, because they wanted to bring visitors back.

[00:23:15] Annie Sargent: So they just

[00:23:16] Patty Lund:might you park for free. So maybe Carcassonne did the same thing, because I haven’t been in a long time, but I paid at that


[00:23:24] Annie Sargent: lot, plenty of times myself. So I know it’s not always free. Yeah.

[00:23:28] Annie Sargent: Yeah

[00:23:29] Patty Lund: Well, it looked like was a paying spot, so we asked several people because we couldn’t find anywhere to pay and several people like, nope, you don’t have to pay, I don’t know if they said not today, I don’t remember honestly, but we didn’t have to pay. I did check on it. So, anyway. Okay.

[00:23:43] Phone service in France

[00:23:43] Patty Lund: And then the

[00:23:44] Annie Sargent: Hmm. Yeah. tip that I had, so this time we had switched our

[00:23:46] Annie Sargent: Cool. Okay.

[00:23:47] Patty Lund: service. had Verizon before and they would charge you like, what 10 bucks a day for internet use, and it just gets to be crazy expensive, and you don’t want to open your phone every day and check out every like, oh, I got to pay 10 bucks just to check a couple of things.

[00:24:03] Patty Lund: So we switched to T-Mobile they don’t charge you anything extra for getting the internet in wherever in the world, I guess. So, it was free, boy that saved our butts quite a few times.

[00:24:14] Skiing Adventures

[00:24:14] Patty Lund: We went skiing or snowboarding, my husband’s a big snowboarder, so we went several times. And twice, I’m not joking, twice, snowboarded a different town. Like he came, he didn’t come back. He didn’t come back we started, he wound up somewhere else!

[00:24:32] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:24:34] Patty Lund: So, thank God, we were able to, you know, text each other, call each other where the heck are you, you know? And then we had to drive out over and get him, you know, that kind of thing.

[00:24:41] Patty Lund: So thank God!

[00:24:42] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that happens quite a bit actually in the Alps and in the Pyrenees, because the ski resorts are so close that you can start in one and end up in the other. And then

[00:24:53] you’re like, oh, how do I get back?

[00:24:55] Annie Sargent: Well, you call someone to come get you.

[00:24:59] Patty Lund: Yeah, that might be a whole other episode you could do because it’s a little bit different going to a ski station over there, which it’s a ski station, not a ski resort, that took me a while to figure out as well. It’s just, first of all they’re a lot cheaper over there,

[00:25:11] Patty Lund: which awesome.

[00:25:13] Patty Lund: And you can also just go up. You don’t have to ski, you can go up hang out, have your vin chaud your mulled wine and sit out and look at the mountains. It’s beautiful. We went to Ax-les-Thermes and only is it like the ski station, but also when you’re done, they have the thermal bath down at the bottom.

[00:25:31] Patty Lund: And that was delightful as well. That, we don’t have anything like that. The bath situation, we don’t have that sort of thing here, 20 bucks for a couple hours, hang out in the hot water and, oh, delightful.

[00:25:42] Annie Sargent: Huh? I, yeah, I didn’t realize that you didn’t have that. But in Utah, the ski resorts, you can just go hang out at the chalet or whatever. I’ve done that when the family goes to ski, I don’t, I’m a terrible skier, so I don’t ski, but I just wait for them in the chalet and have a drink. And you can

[00:26:03] Annie Sargent: definitely do

[00:26:03] Annie Sargent:that heretoo.

[00:26:05] Patty Lund: I guess the difference is it was cheaper.

[00:26:07] Patty Lund: you’re not actually coming down the mountain, like on skis or a snowboard, they charge you less. So that was nice.

[00:26:12] Annie Sargent: Yes, I was shocked last time we were in Utah, how much the day passes were. Like, really it’s a couple hundred, like really for a day?

[00:26:21] Patty Lund: Yeah. And I think it was 40 in the Pyrenees.

[00:26:24] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:26:25] Annie Sargent: It’s probably a little more in the Alps, but not so much in the Pyrenees.

[00:26:30] Patty Lund: We went in the Alps too, when we were in Switzerland and that wasn’t bad either, it was certainly not like California, at all.

[00:26:35] Patty Lund: So, that was great.

[00:26:36] Patty Lund: So those are my tips from this particular trip and how screwy all those little weird things we ran into, which we hadn’t before.

[00:26:42] Annie Sargent: People worry about those things a lot, you have to be prepared for some snags whenever you travel internationally.

[00:26:49] Annie Sargent: But if you are really worried about it, I would say one good thing to do would be to order some cash at home from your bank at home, before you come. That way you know, you’ll always have that.

[00:27:01] Annie Sargent: Also, if you use one of the bigger banks, you can talk to them about, you know, maybe the small credit unions aren’t quite set up right.

[00:27:12] Annie Sargent: hard to know. Yeah, it’s hard to know. So for stuff like that I would typically go to a bigger bank and make sure you can use it internationally and you should be fine.

[00:27:25] Annie Sargent: It used to be much harder, long ago. But of course, if you tried to use stuff like Venmo, like with PayPal, I don’t have a PayPal credit card in Europe. I know they have one in the US, but there isn’t one in Europe. So I have to just transfer money from PayPal to my regular French bank account and use that.

[00:27:47] Annie Sargent: There are complications with banks like that.

[00:27:51] Criteria when looking for a place to move to in France

[00:27:51] Annie Sargent: So let’s talk a little bit about what your criteria is when you’re looking for a place to move to in France. What is important to you?

[00:28:01] Patty Lund: Well, you know, we looked at two areas already and so it’s the criteria are morphing a little bit, as we check out more things. I think probably the first, probably the biggest one, which I didn’t even write down on the thing I sent you, but probably the biggest one is, is the costs.

[00:28:16] You know, we don’t want to sell our house in the States, we want to be able to rent it out. So we want something that’s pretty inexpensive. It’ll be a second house. But we are looking move there permanently. So the price is important. So what’s kind of informingour decisions as to where we’re going to check out really a lot of the real estate sites.

[00:28:33] Patty Lund: We’re

[00:28:33] Annie Sargent: mm-hmm

[00:28:34] Patty Lund: all the immobiliers

[00:28:35] Patty Lund: and checking out all the different areas, I look ’em up on the map, see where that is. I start to make a little, I check them out, I check out with the population of the town I check out what services are there, is there like a bakery? Is there you know, restaurant, is there a Tabac, you know little store,what’s there?

[00:28:50] Patty Lund: And then how close is it to a bigger town? How close is it to Carcassonne or Toulouse or whatever, like a larger city that has the hospital and the big stuff, you know what I

[00:29:00] Patty Lund: mean? And, you know, some place where you can go see the theater or stuff like that, museums and all that thing. That’s a big part of it, the weather of course,

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

[00:29:09] Patty Lund: part of it as well. We don’t want it to be wintery all the time. We’re not going to be in the Grand Est or anything like that.

[00:29:15] We don’t mind a little bit of snow, but I don’t want it to be like cold all the time and I don’t want it to be windy all the time. I really enjoyed our trip to Normandy, I don’t want to live up there. It’s too bad because boy, there’s some really beautiful properties in Normandy and Brittany.

[00:29:27] they’re so

[00:29:27] Annie Sargent: Yeah. yeah.

[00:29:28] Patty Lund: And they’re so cheap, but I just don’t want that weather for us. So that’s part of it as well, and then we’d like to be in a village. I don’t want to be in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere with nobody to talk to, and I don’t want to be in the middle of the city because I’m kind of done with cities.

[00:29:43] Patty Lund: I love cities, you know, when I was younger and I’m kind of like, all right, I’m done with LA and the urban sprawl.

[00:29:49] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:29:50] Annie Sargent: I want greenery. want trees. Definitely not much of that in LA.

[00:29:55] Some French villages pack a lot of people in a small space

[00:29:55] Patty Lund: Yeah, exactly. And then another thing that I realized while on this trip, when you’re driving around some of these small villages, it’s not necessarily like they’re going to be all full of trees and charming.

[00:30:05] Annie Sargent: this the village that we stayed in Saint Hilaire were very few trees,

[00:30:09] Patty Lund: Very, very narrow streets. You’re right up on top of everybody. You might get a little teeny, tiny, tiny backyard, this place had a little one. But I still didn’t feel like we were, you know, even though the town was small and you could walk outside, you know walk down the street and you could see all the greenery, but like looking out your window, you’re looking at dingy, know, stone.

[00:30:32] Annie Sargent: Right. So that’s what we’d call maison de village. So there is a ton of French villages that are older villages. They were established 200, 300 years ago and they built very narrow, very close together. Because these were not rich people, and so they couldn’t afford sprawling anything, much land or anything.

[00:30:58] Annie Sargent: So these are maison de village and they are typically pretty tight together. Now, as people got a little wealthier, they would buy a piece of land not far from the village, and establish something bigger. But yeah, you can have villages where people are on top of each other.

[00:31:18] Patty Lund: Yeah. And it’s interesting though, because we stayed in the place we stayed in, I also wanted to check out because I really love the architecture of the stone homes. I love how that looks.

[00:31:26] Patty Lund: But what’s it like to live, and I’ve

[00:31:28] Annie Sargent: where people

[00:31:28] Patty Lund: some people were saying, you get dust everywhere..

[00:31:32] Patty Lund: You know, it’s damp, it’s cold, this that the other thing.I’m like I want to see for myself, let’s go and we’re going to be there in winter. Let’s go. You know, because I’ve read about the Aude specifically, you come in like February, March, and you’re okay with the weather during that time of year, you’ll love it the rest of the year.

[00:31:49] Annie Sargent: Right,

[00:31:49] Patty Lund: Because it’s the worst time to go.


[00:31:50] Annie Sargent: Yes.

[00:31:51] Some old French houses don’t have good heating systems

[00:31:51] Patty Lund: So honestly, I loved the house. I thought the house was adorable. It did get pretty chilly. I will be honest as much as I loved my Airbnb, it was a little cold.

[00:32:02] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Amala

[00:32:02] Patty Lund: a, what do you call it?

[00:32:03] Patty Lund: A poêle.

[00:32:05] Annie Sargent: Poêle, yeah.

[00:32:06] Which is like a stove what do you call that in English?

[00:32:09] Patty Lund: I don’t even know.

[00:32:10] Annie Sargent: It’s a wood,

[00:32:11] Annie Sargent: wood stove. Wood burning stove. Yes.

[00:32:14] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:32:14] Patty Lund: Right. that they had one of those in there, and then they had these little they looked like radiators, little ones in each of the rooms.

[00:32:23] Fine for the bedroom, those worked fine for the bedroom, not for the downstairs. It was like living room, dining room, kitchen altogether.

[00:32:29] Patty Lund: And boy, that room never got warm enough

[00:32:31] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:32:32] Patty Lund: we couldn’t get the fire going, so that didn’t help.

[00:32:35] Annie’s brother Bergerie

[00:32:35] Annie Sargent: Oh, so this is funny that you mentioned that because yesterday, I was in my brother’s house in the countryside and he bought this big sprawling bergerie. So this is the kind of place where they used to have the animals on the ground level, and the people lived above the animals. Very poor people, obviously.

[00:32:56] Annie Sargent: Okay. These were not wealthy people, but it is a stonehouse, it has beautiful beams, wooden beams everywhere, and he’s been renovating it. And he is running into a problem trying to heat the place because this is not in the Aude, but very close to the Ariege, so it’s the very south of the Haute Garonne and it is pretty wet and quite cold in the winter.

[00:33:25] Annie Sargent: It’s mountainous, let’s put it that way.

[00:33:28] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Right outside of his door, you can see beautiful, tall big hills and it’s green, green, green, green. Yeah, yeah. Lots of rain. I mean, stuff like that.

[00:33:38] Annie Sargent: But, the problem is how do you heat the house? And so he’s now remodeling some of the rooms downstairs, he started with the rooms upstairs, but they are so big that it’s impossible to heat.

[00:33:52] Annie Sargent: And a lot of these wood burning stoves, yes, if you can get them going, they put out a lot of energy, but most of them don’t have a fan. And so the heat stays right around the stove and it doesn’t move around and you feel cold in the house. Like I’ve been at his house any time of year and I always wear warm clothes, even in June, because it’s always colder than where I live in a modern house with modern heating systems.

[00:34:28] And for the most part, he can’t, because he’s looked at doing thepompes à chaleur. So in France we can buy heat pumps that will both heat and cool, and we can do that because temperatures don’t, it never gets super, super cold. Okay? If you’re in the right range, heat pumps are perfect because they save you a lot of money and they are a very efficient way to heat moderate, you know, sized rooms, but he can’t even do that there.

[00:35:02] Annie Sargent: So, yesterday we had a long conversation about how I’m going to get, you know, because he wants to retire there and he’s like, we don’t want to be freezing year round.

[00:35:11] Patty Lund: Are you don’t think about if the place that you get doesn’t have the heat that you need, then you’re going to have to spend more money. So there’s all these things you kind have to, like, you have to weigh out all your different, you’re not going to find the perfect thing that place that’s got everything you want.

[00:35:24] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:35:25] Do you pick the village first or the house first?

[00:35:25] Patty Lund: You know, and I’m running up against, you know, we find the perfect village and then wait for something to come available, like a house to come available? Or do you just a house that you love and hope that the village is nice. You know what I mean? Because I’d like a nice village, that’s got like charm and it’s got like, they do some festivals and fun things, you know, that kind of

[00:35:45] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:35:45] Patty Lund: It’s it’s tough. We’d like to be close to a train station would be nice, it would be nice to be within like an hour, an hour and a half of an airport, things like that.

[00:35:54] Some small villages in France don’t have a boulangerie, they have a bread truck instead

[00:35:54] Patty Lund: Here’s one thing I kind of want to talk to you about or ask you about, so some of these smaller villages, you know, like, so we stayed in this, it was a pretty small village,

[00:36:02] they had a little Tabac / grocery store and then they had a pharmacy, and a restaurant and a bakery.

[00:36:08] Annie Sargent: Okay.

[00:36:09] Patty Lund: Pretty much, a school, you know, that’s about the size of the whole thing. And so the little grocery store, you know, you could pretty much get everything you needed to make some meals and stuff, which was great.

[00:36:19] Patty Lund: Oh, and by the way, we got thethe duck in the duck fat. What’s it called? What, what? Le confit de canard. Yeah. I always forget the word confit. Yeah. Confit de canard. It’s great from the grocery store. It was delicious. Anyway.

[00:36:32] Annie Sargent: Of course it is.

[00:36:34] Patty Lund: We got a bunch of stuff and we were making dinner a lot and stuff.

[00:36:37] Patty Lund: That was great. I know there are some, I don’t know if we want to call it a hamlet or smaller villages where they don’t have a store. And then some of them, it says they have like a bread truck.

[00:36:47] Patty Lund: Like, how does the whole thing, like, is it every day? How do these things work?

[00:36:51] Service Trucks Visiting Small Villages

[00:36:51] Annie Sargent: So they come once week.

[00:36:52] Annie Sargent: So, even I’m very close to Toulouse, I’m 20 minutes drive from Toulouse, but we still have some trucks that come by to sell stuff in the village. Because our village has 1800 people, I think the lastcount. It’s pretty small, so we have a hairdresser truck and a dog grooming truck.

[00:37:17] Patty Lund: You have a hairdresser truck.

[00:37:19] Annie Sargent: Yes. And we have

[00:37:21] Annie Sargent: abooks, well bibliothèque what do you call that?

[00:37:24] A library, book truck that comes by.

[00:37:27] Patty Lund: Wow.

[00:37:28] Yeah, so we have, I think these are the three that I see all the time and they come. Like the dog groomer comes once a month and it’s impossible to get an appointment, I’ve given up.

[00:37:39] Patty Lund: I did see, I did see a dog groomer truck. I did see that.

[00:37:41] Annie Sargent: Yes, that dog grooming truck is very busy. The hairdresser truck, I don’t know, because we have two hairdressers in the village. Like why would you go in the truck? But anyway, that’s not my jam, I’ve never tried to. And usually the bread trucks, they come once a week. And so people make their own bread at home because everybody, you know, in villages like that, people have bread machines anymore. So they make their…

[00:38:08] Patty Lund: I was going to say, because you can’t, if you’re going to get like a baguette, you can’t get a baguette once a week. If you want to get a baguette, like every other day, you wouldn’t be able to do it because it would go bad,

[00:38:17] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:38:17] Patty Lund: Couldn’t.

[00:38:17] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah, and I have a cousin who lives, I mean, she lives, near Nimes, and she has, it’s in a much bigger town, but she lives kind of far away from the bakery, so they have to get in the car to get to the bakery. She’s just been making bread at home in the bread machine. So when they go into the town they buy fresh bread, but otherwise, they just eat bread from the machine. Yeah.

[00:38:44] Food vending machines in France

[00:38:44] Patty Lund: I guess. Yeah. Oh, they have the other cool thing that I really, I like this idea, I was starting to see, I’m starting to see this more and more, and maybe it’s just because we’re looking at more rural areas of France, I don’t know. But the machines where you can, like, they sell the craziest stuff in machines, we saw like a steak tartar machine.

[00:39:02] Patty Lund: It’s crazy, everything is out there.

[00:39:05] Patty Lund: Oh my gosh. There’s like a machine, there was a pizza machine, there’s a machine for everything.

[00:39:08] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. The pizza vending machines are funny.

[00:39:13] Patty Lund: The whole thing is funny to me. I love this one.

[00:39:15] Patty Lund: They had an organic fruits and vegetables machine, like a vending machine. So like, it would be like five euros and it would say like, boite the salad or boite de whatever, and it would have, so this is all salad stuff.

[00:39:30] Patty Lund: This one’s going to be like all like, you know, potatoes and onions and blah, blah, blah. And you could, you know, this one’s all like a fruit basket.

[00:39:37] Annie Sargent: So it sounds like what they do is like a mix of different things.

[00:39:42] Patty Lund: Yeah, it was great. I thought that was the coolest thing. I was like, this is great. It’s on there, like.

[00:39:46] Annie Sargent: Right. So they do this in stores as well, where they will sell you in a box or yeah, they will sell you everything you need to make ratatouille. It’s there or everything you need to make Pot-au-feu and all you have to do is just add the meat and you have everything, the seasonings, the vegetables it’s all there.

[00:40:10] Annie Sargent: Add your meat if you’re making Pot-au-feu, in ratatouille obviously you don’t add meat, but yeah.

[00:40:17] Annie Sargent: Yeah,

[00:40:17] Rural France is totally different from life in large French cities[00:40:17] How does the town vote

[00:40:17] Annie Sargent: Rural France is something else. I mean, it’s completely different from life in the big cities, but it has its charm, you know. Another thing you should consider, and probably I’m thinking of this because we’re in the middle of a presidential election, but is how does that town vote?

[00:40:36] Patty Lund: I’m aware of that on some level, I know you’ve talked about because in that area is Bezier and I know they,

[00:40:41] Patty Lund: That’s a little different.

[00:40:42] Annie Sargent: Ugh.

[00:40:43] Patty Lund: That is how I feel about things.

[00:40:45] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:40:46] Annie Sargent: So, yes. I mean, you don’t have to make your decision based on that, but at least be aware that maybe that town is not quite aligned with you politically, but maybe you don’t care because French people don’t tend to be near as aggressive about their politics as Americans are. That’s the cool thing, you can argue with your friends there and you’re still friends with them the next day.

[00:41:12] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, yeah, yesterday we were again at my brother’s place, and we don’t agree on politics, but we still had a nice conversation, we made some jokes about, know, Marine Le Pen whatever, and, yeah. You know, it was fine and he’s going to vote the way he’s going to vote and I’m going to vote the way I’m going to vote, but we can joke around about it.

[00:41:35] Annie Sargent: And it’s not, it was probably 2% of the conversation. Like it doesn’t dominate the conversation the way it does in the US, I find. I think thatAmerican news outlet have gotten really good at poking the bear, you know, constantly trying to, completely trying to move your, you know, get you to react, and it’s not healthy, I don’t think.

[00:42:02] Looking for an artsy community

[00:42:02] Patty Lund: Yeah. I mean, again, we have so many things that we’re looking at. It’s hard to kind of parse all of this stuff, but we are, it would be nice to find kind of an artsy community because you know, I’m a performer, and my husband is a chef. And so it would be nice to find, you know, like-minded folks.

[00:42:18] But it’s hard to find, that’s hard to find. We did find one fabulous village. I’m, you probably already know of it already, but it’s called Montolieu.

[00:42:27] Patty Lund: And that’s an artsy community, it’s they call it the village of books and art and it’s small, it’s like 800 people, but there’s like 18 bookstores in this tiny little town and great food. And that’s the other cool thing about rural France, you could be in the middle of nowhere and you get, you can get amazing food.

[00:42:46] You’re going to get great bread, it’s not going to be like garbage and it’s not chains and stuff like that.

[00:42:50] Patty Lund: I mean, there are chains, you know what I mean? You can get, yeah. What’s that terrible American chain that’s said where, buffalo?

[00:42:55] Annie Sargent: Buffalo Grill. Oh, God, we almost, we wanted to go to one just to see how bad it is.

[00:43:00] Annie Sargent: It’s not good, I mean. Okay, I have to admit I have eaten there because sometimes you’re on the freeway and you want an actual meal and there’s a Buffalo Grill. So, okay, we’ll just go to the Buffalo Grill, but it’s not great. They do one thing good though. One of the sides you can choose is like a half corn on the cob and that is good. Their corn on the cob is good.

[00:43:25] Patty Lund: That’s not hard to screw up.

[00:43:27] Annie Sargent: That’s true. That’s true. But, so, you know, but maybe once a year we eat at a Buffalo Grill because we’re on the road and, you know, it’s just easier. But French people like it, you know, but French people also like Burger King and McDonald’s and things like that. So, yeah.

[00:43:46] Annie Sargent:

[00:43:46] In rural France you end up cooking for yourself a lot

[00:43:46] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Oh, we go eat at a Burger King once a month. That’s it, we just get it out of the system, have the greasy burger and done. And then you don’t run into Burger King all the time, like you do in the US, because there’s one at every street corner, it seems like. So here it’s a more, especially if you’re in rural France, you’re going to have to cook for yourself because there’s going to be some restaurants, but you can’t go to the same restaurant all the time.

[00:44:12] Not many ethnic food restaurants

[00:44:12] Patty Lund: Yeah. And another thing that I know is going to be a big change for us to get used to is that there are not as many ethnic restaurants around.

[00:44:20] Annie Sargent: Right.

[00:44:21] Patty Lund: Plenty of French food, a couple of other things, like in that area of France, you’re going to get a bunch of Spanish food. It was pretty easy to find Tapas in a lot of places.

[00:44:29] Italian food is generally, you know, pizza of course is everywhere. But, like Asian, we love Asian food, a lot of different kinds of Asian food.

[00:44:36] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:44:36] Patty Lund: That’s harder. We foundsushi at the Leclerc supermarket,

[00:44:43] Patty Lund: But that’s it. Like, I really did not see sushi places. We didn’t see Vietnamese or Korean or anything Mexican, you know, we’re from California, no Mexican no nothing.

[00:44:50] Patty Lund: Oh, mexican forget it. Yeah.

[00:44:52] Annie Sargent: No, very few, very few. I mean, there’s we have one, no, we have two decent Mexican restaurants in Toulouse and it’s a big city. It’s million people in the Metro area and we have two Mexican places that are both run by Mexican families. So, you know, and it’s more mexican than Tex Mex or, you know, it’s not American Mexican, it’s Mexican Mexican. So like, no chimichangas. I was like, oh, I was so disappointed, I like the chimichangas. They are very fatty and terrible for you, but they taste good. And they were like, that’s not Mexican.

[00:45:32] Patty Lund: We did find a Persian place.

[00:45:35] Patty Lund: Strangely, in Foix. We were in Foix.

[00:45:37] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:45:38] Patty Lund: Which is kind of pretty, fairly remote. I mean, it’s a decent size, but it’s kind of, it’s almost all the way up in the mountains there.

[00:45:45] Patty Lund: And we were like, oh, Persian place. Oh, this is good. It was a Sunday, everything was closed.

[00:45:49] Patty Lund: I’m like, perfect. Let’s go. That sounds great. Let’s go in and have that. It wasn’t great, just because they come from there doesn’t mean they’re good cooks, you know?

[00:45:56] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Exactly.

[00:45:58] Patty Lund: I was like, this is disappointing. I thought to be really good. I love Persian food but no.

[00:46:03] Annie Sargent: Not that one. Yeah.

[00:46:05] Patty Lund: Not that one, no.

[00:46:06] Annie Sargent: Okay. Well, it’s lovely to talk to you about all of these things. Thank you for sharing all these tips. That’s very helpful to a lot of people to at least be aware that, you know, they might run into some problems.

[00:46:19] Rural France is very different from Paris!

[00:46:19] Annie Sargent: Now, of course, if you’re just going to Paris or big cities, obviously it’s not the same. But if you’re going to rural France, something, there are some things you need to take into consideration.


[00:46:30] Patty Lund: Yeah. Like, for just really quickly, like what we’re going to, you know, Toulouse would be probably the largest city. That was two hours from where we were. So for instance, we were still there while the, while you had to have the Pass Sanitaire,

[00:46:43] Annie Sargent: Mm-hmm

[00:46:44] Patty Lund: I know they lifted that,

[00:46:45] Annie Sargent: yeah,

[00:46:45] Patty Lund: But at the time we had to go get it.

[00:46:47] We’re wandering around trying to like find a

[00:46:50] Annie Sargent: Pharmacy. Mm,

[00:46:51] Patty Lund: That would do it, and on the list there was nothing, except Toulouse. I’m like, are you kidding? We got to drive all, that’s two hours away and two hours back, we’re going to waste a half a day just doing that, you know?

[00:47:03] Patty Lund: We’ve been to Toulouse, we went to Toulouse on the previous trip. No offense, I love it. I just didn’t want to do it again. You see some new stuff. I was like, oh, man. So we heard these people speak in English wandered by and said, hey, do you have any idea where we could get this Pass Sanitaire thing transferred, any idea?

[00:47:18] Patty Lund: She said, no, I don’t know. But you know, this pharmacist was super nice. We live here. So go ahead and ask her. We went in, she was super sweet. She said, I’ll call and find out how to do it. I’ll do it for you. And she did, that was the nicest thing.

[00:47:28] In rural France you do great if you talk to people and ask for help

[00:47:28] Annie Sargent: That’s really nice. Yeah, talking to people is always good, talk to everybody. That’s how you get by in France, in rural France anyway. You talk to everybody, you say bonjour to everybody, you smile at people, friendly. And one day, if you need help with anything, they’ll be happy to help you.

[00:47:50] Yeah, super helpful. Yeah. I agree. And bring a translator, have your translator app ready to go.

[00:47:55] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So yes, if you can speak some French,not be a sourpuss, people will help you.

[00:48:01] Annie Sargent: Thank you so much, Patty.

[00:48:03] Patty Lund: You’re welcome. It was a pleasure.

[00:48:05] Thank you, patrons

[00:48:05] Annie Sargent: Again, I want to thank my patrons for supporting the show and giving back. I say this every week, but I really, really mean it. Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing so, you can see them at Thank you all for supporting the show, some of you have been doing it for many years now, you are amazing.

[00:48:31] Annie Sargent: And a shout out this week to new patrons. Oz, Susanna Perez, Susie Sullivan, Jennifer Peterson and Linda Lapp. Thank you so much for becoming patrons and making this podcast possible.

[00:48:47] New tier for patrons

[00:48:47] I will be announcing a new tier for patrons next week on the podcast. It’s on the occasion of the French Revolution, July 14th. Some will stay the same, but some will change as well. Stay tuned for that, and I will do a video for my patrons as well.

[00:49:02] Annie Sargent: Speaking of videos, my videos of my drive in the Ariege is now right side up, and I hope that by the time you hear this, it’ll be out for patrons.

[00:49:12] Annie Sargent: My thanks also to Rebecca Kenny for sending in a one-time donation by using the green button on any page on JoinUsinFrance.Com that says, Tip your guide. I did an itinerary review with Rebecca So she talked with me about her upcoming trip to France, and it’s really nice to realize that she liked it so much, that she also wanted to tip her guide. Merci, Rebecca, that’s very thoughtful of you.

[00:49:37] Thinking of visiting France?

[00:49:37] Annie Sargent: If you are preparing a trip to France and listening to as many episodes as you can to get ready, keep listening to the podcast because that’s a great way to get ready for your own trip to France. Search the website as well, because we’ve talked about a lot of things. We’re coming up to 400 episodes, can you imagine?

[00:49:54] Hire me to be your itinerary consultant

[00:49:54] Annie Sargent: You can also hire me to be your itinerary consultant, I’ve made some changes last few weeks to the service to make it better. Here’s how it works now, you purchase the service on, then you fill out a document to tell me what you have in mind, we make a phone appointment and chat for about an hour. And then I send you the document with the plan we discussed. And of course, you get to ask me questions afterwards, if you need to.

[00:50:24] Annie Sargent: Now remember that my time is always booked up. Right now, the soonest you can talk to me is August 18th, I think off the top of my head. Anyway, it’s several weeks in advance. You’ll see the date for my next appointment availability on the only page where you can buy this service at, so pay attention to that date because if I’m booked up, you know, there’s only one of me, so hopefully we can make it work.

[00:50:49] Self-guided tours

[00:50:49] Annie Sargent: But if you cannot talk to me because I’m all booked up, you can still take me in your pocket by getting my GPS self-guided tour on the VoiceMap app. I’ve produced five tours and they are designed to show you around different iconic neighborhoods of Paris.

[00:51:05] People love those tours, they make life so much easier when you’re in Paris, because all you got to do is open your ears and I will talk to you and tell you where to go and what next wonderful thing to discover in a specific neighborhood of Paris.

[00:51:20] Annie Sargent: So take a look at these tours,

[00:51:25] Should I get “Skip the line tickets at the Eiffel Tower”?

[00:51:25] Annie Sargent: All right, travel question of the week, let’s talk about “skip the line” tickets in Paris and specifically, at the Eiffel Tower. Now, I know nobody wants to be in a ticket line or in a line if you don’t have to, right? I get that, but you need to proceed with caution.

[00:51:43] Annie Sargent: The first question you should ask yourself is, what line are we skipping here? I can tell you from experience that the only line you can skip at the Eiffel Tower is the ticket line. There is also a security line and a line to get on the elevator. And there’s nothing you can do to avoid the security and the elevator lines. You know, in France, just throwing money at things most of the time it doesn’t work.

[00:52:09] Annie Sargent: Perhaps you can buy your tickets in advance from the official Eiffel Tower website, which is It’s a mouthful. Getting tickets in advance is not as easy as you think because they only become available 60 days ahead of time. So timing to purchase the tickets is important and those tickets, they sell quickly. You know, all the time, they sell quickly. There are companies buying up all the tickets the second they are available, and they tack on an extra 50 Euros on each ticket, and they go out and sell them as “skip the line” tickets. Now that’s when it goes well, because okay, you paid 50 bucks more than you needed to, but at least you got tickets.

[00:52:55] Annie Sargent: There are also scammers that will sell you tickets that do not exist. Now, maybe you think that if you buy through a company like Viatour or Trip Advisor, you won’t have that problem. Well, not really, because anybody can sign up at Viatour as a guide. They don’t investigate each person who signs up as a tour provider.

[00:53:16] Annie Sargent: And of course, eventually, if a person is a scammer, it’ll get back to the company and they’ll kick them out, but by then they’ve created 10 more profiles and are scamming lots more people. So, of course you can call Viatour and you can ask for your money back, but they’ll probably tell you that they’re not responsible for what their subcontractors do.

[00:53:37] Annie Sargent: And unfortunately, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time and energy getting your money back, which is really sad. The Eiffel Tower today has as many visitors as before the pandemic. We’re back to 2019 numbers of visitors, even though Asian visitors are mostly not back in Paris yet.

[00:53:56] The busiest times at the Eiffel Tower

[00:53:56] Annie Sargent: The busiest weeks for the Eiffel Tower are between mid-June and mid September. And the busiest times of those days are between 11:00 AM and 8:00 PM. So, if you cannot buy tickets ahead of time on the official website, don’t buy “skip the line” tickets from anyone. Instead, be in line at the tower at 9:00 AM, as soon as they open or after 8:00 PM. They let people in until 10:30 PM. So, you know, you won’t skip the line, I mean you’ll still have to go through the security line first, the ticket line second, and then the elevator line third, but it shouldn’t take too long because you’re not going at the busiest time of the day. Control what you can, which is what time do you show up? That’s what you can control.

[00:54:48] Annie Sargent: And I’m very grateful to this person who posted about this on Facebook, because she spoke up and she admitted to getting scammed and she told us not to fall for it. It’s awful when you’re scammed, you lose money, you lose time, you get really aggravated. In this case, she had promised her daughter and the daughter was sad. But people, they often end up blaming themselves and they never talk about the scam.

[00:55:13] Annie Sargent: It’s not your fault if you gets scammed, it’s a scammer’s fault, obviously. And unfortunately, such petty crime is impossible to stop. They can’t even stop people who do death threats online, so how do you think they’re going to stop people, anonymous people from swindling a few hundred euros from unsuspecting visitors?

[00:55:32] Annie Sargent: So, if you listen to the travel updates like this one, at the end of each episode, you learn how things work in France, which will help you figure out when something isn’t quite right. In this instance, the person sold tickets to the very top with a champagne experience.

[00:55:47] Annie Sargent: Well, in reality, nobody can tell you for sure that you’ll get to the top because it depends on the weather. If it’s windy or stormy, nobody goes to the top. If they’re short on personnel, they close the top. If there’s something special going on for some activity, whatever, they close the top. They do movies, they do interviews, they do all sorts of things at the very top of the Eiffel Tower, and so they close it at times. And you do not know two months in advance that the top is going to be opened or closed. And legitimate tour guides don’t make promises like that.

[00:56:20] Annie Sargent: So, of course, probably this person didn’t think about all of that because why would she, you know. But the basic premise of a scam is that scammers tell people what they want to hear.

[00:56:31] Annie Sargent: So don’t get so attached to the idea of having a glass of champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower that you’ll pay anything for it. If you cannot get official tickets from the official If you can’t get tickets there don’t get the tickets, just plan on being there first thing in the morning or late afternoon, 8:00 PM. And you know, you’ll be fine. And remember, in France, money does not talk the way it does in the US, okay?

[00:57:04] Annie Sargent: It just doesn’t like, they’re like, oh yeah, you want to pay three times as much and get in first? No, no, not happening. And also don’t put so much pressure on yourself that you have to have everything work out just right in Paris, okay? If it works out, wonderful. If not, maybe it’ll work out better on your next visit.

[00:57:23] Annie Sargent: Remember, it’s your vacation, enjoy the moment, don’t get so worked up. And you cannot buy easy access to the Eiffel Tower, no matter what they say on those sites. If there’s a line, don’t feel entitled to skip it.

[00:57:36] If you want the shortest line on any given day, go at 9:00 AM or after 8:00 PM. And, you know, I have to blame Google for this too, because if you search for Eiffel Tower tickets, they put Viatour, Get Your Guide and TripAdvisor ahead of, okay? Would it kill them to always list the official vetted website first?

[00:58:01] Covid update

[00:58:01] Unfortunately, I have to give you a COVID update. I mentioned last week that COVID infections are on the rise again in France, we had 200,000 new infections detected in France yesterday. The variant du jour is spreading like wildfire.

[00:58:18] Annie Sargent: Now, obviously, most of these people are not getting very sick, they’re not dying in the hospitals, but still they are testing positive. There is talk of asking visitors for vaccination certificates again. French officials have been dropping hints that they might ask foreign visitors to produce a vaccine certificate to come into France, again. I really don’t think visitors are the problem, but politicians, you know, they’re always looking to do something, even if that something is not better than doing nothing. But at any rate, you may be asked to prove vaccination status before entering France.

[00:58:55] Annie Sargent: Again, it is not official yet. I will let you know if and when it becomes official.

[00:59:03] This week in French news

[00:59:03] Annie Sargent: This week in French news, our prime minister, Élisabeth Borne is giving a major policy speech today. She and Macron are still trying to get a majority, but when I listen to news from I don’t know, Ukraine, the US, other countries, I figure French problems are very, very small problems by comparison.

[00:59:24] I’ve got nothing to complain about. Macron is not going to pass all the laws that he would like to. I agree with him on policy more often than not, but you know, he didn’t get the majority, so he’s going to have to bring people along to his viewpoint if he wants to pass laws.

[00:59:40] Annie Sargent: That’s how it works. So, not ideal, but we’re doing fine, anyway.

[00:59:44] Personal update

[00:59:44] Annie Sargent: For my personal update this week, well, everything’s fine. I did not catch COVID, so far so good. Right? But I also did not get to go to L’Abbey de Fontfroide as I said, I was hoping to, hopefully next weekend.

[00:59:59] Podcasters are busy people!

[00:59:59] You know, being a podcaster is a really busy thing, because you have to run so many things at the same time. You have to advance so many projects at the same times, you know, there’s patreon stuff, there’s bootcamp stuff, there’s podcast production, there’s interviewing people. I’ve recorded three interviews the last two days, there’s you know, putting files in the right place so I don’t lose them, there’s answering emails and I love to hear from you, but you know, it’s a lot to do and the days are just too short.

[01:00:31] Annie Sargent: So, I haven’t had much of a personal life this week. My electric car is still wonderful. And hopefully next weekend I get to go do a nice long ride. My knee is still a bum knee. I’m trying to get an appointment with a rheumatologist as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I might have to wait a little bit.

[01:00:50] It looks like September is going to be the earliest date, but every now and then I get a ping from the appointment booking service saying, oh, an earlier date has opened up, do you want it? And by the time I go to get it, it’s gone, but hopefully I’ll catch one of those and I’ll get to go a little sooner.

[01:01:09] Annie Sargent: But anyway, everything’s fine at my house and we are very grateful for that.

[01:01:15] Show notes and transcript

[01:01:15] Annie Sargent: Show notes and full transcript for this episode are on, the numeral. And of course there are transcripts to make the website easy to search, and I hope you use them.

[01:01:29] Annie Sargent: And please help a Francophile friend plan their visit to France. Go to JoinUsinFrance.Com click on the share buttons on the side, on the left side and tag your friend. They will thank you.

[01:01:41] Next week on the podcast

[01:01:41] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode with Elyse Rivin, my good friend about the Abbaye de Sénanque. She was there recently and we just recorded that episode, it was a lot of fun, I think you will enjoy it.

[01:01:54] Annie Sargent: Send questions or feedback to annie@JoinUsinFrance.Com.

[01:01:58] Annie Sargent: Thank you so much for listening, and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together.

[01:02:05] Annie Sargent: Au Revoir!

[01:02:06] 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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Categories: France How To, Moving to France