Category: Loire Valley
[00:00:16] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 432 – quatre cent trente-deux.
[00:00:22] 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.
[00:00:36] Today on the podcast
[00:00:36] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a trip report with Claire Ramsdale about gorgeous places in the Loire Valley that you can visit without a car, using the train.
[00:00:47] Annie Sargent: Lots of people want to see these châteaus but don’t want to drive in France. Train to the rescue.
[00:00:54] Podcast supporters
[00:00:54] 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.
[00:01:06] Annie Sargent: You can browse all of that at my boutique JoinUsinFrance.com/boutique.
[00:01:12] After the interview
[00:01:12] Annie Sargent: For the magazine part of the podcast, after the interview I’ll briefly summarize what happened in the strike on May 7th, and talk about the controversy over nutrition labels in Europe.
[00:01:25] Annie Sargent: Perhaps you’ve seen them, the A, B, C, D, E scores on some foods that you can buy in France. Not everybody is happy about them. I’ll also touch on bringing your medications to France. Do you need to do anything special?
[00:01:50] Annie and Claire
[00:01:50] Annie: Bonjour, Claire Ramsdell and welcome to Join Us in France.
[00:01:55] Claire: Bonjour Annie, I’m so excited to chat with you. I’ve listened to the podcast a lot.
[00:01:59] Annie: Oh, wonderful to have you. Today, we have a great episode aboutexploring the Loire Valley without a car, because this is something that comes up a lot. People are a little bit wary of renting a car in France when they haven’t driven in France or perhaps they just don’t want a car and kind of knee jerk reaction is to say, no, you can’t go to Loire Valley without a car.
[00:02:23] Loire Valley by bus
[00:02:23] Annie: But as a matter of fact you can, and there are several châteaus that you can enjoy with the train. And of course, the other possibility is also that you take a bus, the Paris Tourist Office puts on bus tours to the Loire Valley châteaus, but we’re not going to talk about those. That’s just something that you book it with Paris Tourist Office on the side of the Paris City Hall there.
[00:02:48] Annie: And that’s just a very easy, I think it’s a $100 per person. They don’t do very much. They just drive you there, drop you off, tell you come back at X time. And I think they do have a tour guide that talks to you on the way to the château so that you get some explanation.
[00:03:02] Loire Valley by train
[00:03:02] Annie: Anyways, that’s not what we’re talking about today. We’re talking about doing it using the train.
[00:03:07] Claire’s blog
[00:03:07] Annie: Now, Claire, you are the wonderful person behind the blog, The Detour Effect and that’s why you reached out to me because you are always looking for podcasts to talk on, which makes sense.
[00:03:19] Annie: So tell us a little bit about your blog before we get started.
[00:03:22] Claire: Yeah, so The Detour Effect, I talk a lot abouttraveling on a budget, traveling while working remotely. I do a lot of outdoor adventure, travel, hiking that sort of thing. The idea behind The Detour Effect is that sometimes you find more than you were expecting if you’re flexible and you let yourself kind of get off on detours instead of sticking really strictly to a plan. Whenever I’m at home in the States and I work remotely, I can spend as much time as I want in the places that I go to, but obviously when you’re in another country you can’t overstay your welcome. So you got to play by the rules.
[00:03:55] Claire: And so when I am in France, I try to make the most of the time that I have and preferably on a budget as well, trying to fit as much in. And so that usually does mean public transportation. And so a big bucket list item for me was going to the châteaus of the Loire Valley and trying to get there on public transportation.
[00:04:12] Public transportation
[00:04:12] Claire: But like you said, when you google that, a lot of the time the results that come up, people say you really have to have a car, there’s not ways to get to these castles otherwise, and I found that that’s, it’s true for some of them, but not all of them. You can get to a lot of the castles on the train or on buses and shuttles.
[00:04:29] Claire: And actually, you have a couple episodes of the podcast about public transportation that were really helpful as well that I listened to in the lead up to my trip.
[00:04:36] Annie: Yeah, we’ve talked about public transportation a fair bit here because I do believe that it’s a wonderful way to get around if there are solutions. And in this case there are several, but you know, I’m going from memory, but I think there are 400 châteaus along the Loire and the Cher Rivers. And so that’s a lot of châteaus and we’re only going to mention a few that we know are accessible by train. I’m sure there are others where they’re also accessible by regional bus. But we’re going to do the train today.
[00:05:07] Annie: Why don’t you name the châteaus for us?
[00:05:09] Claire: Sure, yeah. Well the four that I went to it was Blois, Amboise, Chambord and Clos Lucé. And then in the midst of my trip, I also learned that you can get to Cheverny and Beauregard on public transportation as well.
[00:05:24] Annie: Right. So today we’ll just talk about Blois, Chambord, Amboise and Clos Lucé. And of course Clos Lucé is very close to Chambord. So those two, I mean, they’re walking distance from one another.
[00:05:35] Claire: Close to Amboise.
[00:05:36] Annie: Amboise. Yes. Sorry. Amboise. Yes. Chambord is the other one, the big one on the other side. Whoops.
[00:05:41] Claire: Right, right, right.
[00:05:43] Annie: All right.
[00:05:44] Claire: Really, really big.
[00:05:44] Annie: Yes. Really. I think that one’s the biggest one.
[00:05:47] Claire: I think it is known for that, yeah, being the biggest one in the Loire Valley.
[00:05:51] How do you visit Loire Valley chateaux without a car?
[00:05:51] Annie: Yeah. Yeah. Alright, so how did you pull it off? Tell us about that.
[00:05:56] Claire: So, well, first I was just googling all the “best of” lists, how to find, what are the castles you can’t miss. And like you said, there’s hundreds you could never visit all of them in one trip. So to narrow it down, I was figuring out which ones you could get to the most easily on public transportation and which ones are kind of all in the same area so that it’s not going to take too much time, you know, you can do it in one weekend.
[00:06:17] Claire: So ultimately, what I realized is that from Paris, you can take the TER train to Blois and it’s only about an hour and a half ride on the train. So I decided to base myself in Blois and then visit all of the castles out from there. Because if you stay in Blois you can then take the TER to Amboise and you can take the Rémi shuttle / navette toChambord and Cheverny and Beauregard. So if you station yourself there you can pretty much reach everything, and then just take the train right back to Paris on the other end. I think you could probably stay in Tours if you wanted to because you can take the TGV to there and then take the TER kind of backtracking towards Blois.
[00:07:00] Claire: And there’s a hostel there and obviously it’s a bigger town. Blois is pretty small, it’s a little medieval village. Whereas obviously Tours is much bigger, might have more hotel options, more amenities. But I thought Blois was cute, that’s why I picked it. I just thought it was really charming.
[00:07:13] Annie: Yeah. And it’s lit up really nice at night. Like you said, it’s not very big, but it’s a nice place and it does have a château. It’s not one of the most impressive ones, but I do think you can visit it. And they do light it up at night, so that’s nice.
[00:07:27] Sound and Light Immersive Light Show
[00:07:27] Claire: Yeah, the château in Blois, it has the sound and light immersive light show in the evenings and you can buy a combo ticket where in the daytime you can do like a self-guided tour of the castle and then at night you come back again with that combination ticket to get entry into the sound and light show.
[00:07:45] Claire: And I thought it was really cool. I’ve seen a few sound and light shows, like they have the Van Gogh show in a lot of different cities. It’s kind of like that, but it’s outside, and they project patterns and images over the outer façade of the castle. And then they also, it’s sort of like a history lesson, they have a voice that is telling the history of the castle and the Loire Valley, andIt was really beautiful. I thought it was impressive. They do it from April to September and then also for a brief week or two in October / November.
[00:08:17] The shuttle
[00:08:17] Annie: Now you mentioned a shuttle. What was that called again? Because that’s not one I had heard of before.
[00:08:22] Annie: Tell me about the shuttle.
[00:08:24] Claire: So the R-É-M-I shuttle. That’s the one that’ll bring you from Blois to three castles in the area Chambord, Cheverny or Beauregard. It picks up at two different places in Blois, either just below the tourist office or at the train station, the same one that you would’ve gotten off at from Paris. And it’s 3 Euro to get from Blois to Chambord on that shuttle and then 3 Euro to come back, so it’s 6 Euro round trip. It runs pretty much every single day in the summertime, but if you go in the Spring or the Fall, like April, May or October, November, it only runs on certain days. So you should definitely check the schedule, make sure the timeframe that you’re going to be there lines up. And it only runs certain times of the day, obviously, as well.
[00:09:11] Claire: So you kind of got to check those things and make sure you don’t miss the shuttle ride. But that’s, I think, the easiest way to get from Blois to Chambord, besides, I think the only other way you’d really have to get like a taxi, like an expensive taxi or something.
[00:09:24] Annie: Yeah, yeah. yeah. And so this is a shuttle that drops you off in sometime mid-morning and picks you up again later in the afternoon or something like that.
[00:09:34] Claire: It has two pickup times in Blois in the morning and then the return times are around like three or four in the afternoon. And when it is coming back, when I wrote it, the way it worked was, you went directly from Blois to Chambord and then when you’re returning from Chambord, it does two stops. It stops at Beauregard and Cheverny on the way back.
[00:09:55] Claire: So you could conceivably do like a hop on, hop off and maybe see all of them, but you’d really have to check the timing because it does only have limited return times each day. So it might be hard to fit all three into one day.
[00:10:07] Annie: Very good. And how did you figure these ones out? Did you just go to the tourist office and talk to them?
[00:10:12] The Castle Pass
[00:10:12] Claire: Yeah, how did I know about the shuttle? I think I did ask the people at the tourist office, and actually it would’ve been smart of me to ask a few more questions when I went there because it turns out they have a thing called the Castle Pass, which if you buy it, it gives you entry into all four of the castles that we’re talking about.
[00:10:31] Claire: Or you could do different combinations. You could do just three or you could add Cheverny or Chambord. What I did each time I went to a castle, I just paid the regular entrance ticket to get in. But if I had bought one of these Castle Pass things, it would’ve saved me a little bit of money.
[00:10:45] Claire: You can also, I found out too that the Rémi shuttle, they have a three-in-one package where you get the train ticket from Paris and you get the shuttle ride to the castle and you get entrance into a castle, all in one ticket. But I guess the drawback with that is you only pick one castle. You have to decide if you want it to be Chambord or one of the others.
[00:11:09] Claire: Whereas if you get the Castle Pass, which doesn’t include any train rides, it only includes entrance into castles, you can bundle multiple castles into that. So I guess it depends on how many of them you want to see and how much money you’re trying to save. You decide if you want to do the three-in-one or the Castle Pass.
[00:11:25] Annie: Yeah. And I like that you spent a night or two in Blois because if you don’t, you end up spending, I mean, how long is it between Gare d’Austerlitz and Blois for example?
[00:11:38] Claire: That ride is an hour and a half. Yeah. So once you’re in Blois,I think it, you definitely could not do all four of these in one day. So it is good to stay a couple nights. I think I went to the Blois Château the first day and the sound and light show that evening. And then the second day I rode, it’s only a 20 minute train ride again on the TER to get from the Blois train station to the Amboise train station.
[00:12:03] Claire: Once you’re in Amboise, you can do both the Amboise Castle and the Clos Lucé Castle, which like you said, they’re right next to each other, so it’s really easy to do both on that same day. Then I rode back to Blois. Stayed there another night. The third day I went to Chambord. I did, I could have probably fit another castle into the first day instead of just doing Blois, but I had missed, there’s only one train from Paris in the morning that’s direct.
[00:12:28] Claire: It’s at like 7:30 AM and I missed it. I was standing right in front of it when it took off. So I had to take a different train to Orleans and then a bus to Blois and that kind of set my timing back. I think if I had gotten that 7:30 AM train, I might’ve been able to see the Blois Château and then maybe also taken the shuttle to Chambord or something else.
[00:12:50] Annie: Yeah, that’s a bit early though. Oh, yeah.
[00:12:52] Claire: Yeah, it is. It’s nice to have some time and take a breath.
[00:12:56] Busradar app, blablacar app, trainline app, sncf app
[00:12:56] Annie: Yes, yes, definitely. So you seem, I mean, obviously you’re very adept at finding your way around buses and trains and things like that. But okay, so you missed the train. What did you do next? Because people wonder about these things like, well, what do we do now?
[00:13:12] Claire: Yeah, well I had downloaded a few apps before my trip, which thank God, because that definitely ended up helping. I had the Trainline app, the Busradar app, the SNCF app and Blablacar as well. And I think I learned about all of those from one of your episodes. The Busradar and Trainline apps, you can compare different buses all throughout Europe.
[00:13:36] Claire: The SNCF one is just France, the national state-ownedcompany. And then Blablacar is for ride shares and also they have Blablabus too. So I had my phone stacked with all of those and so if I ever felt like I wanted to change my plan and maybe do something other than the original train time that I thought I was going to do, or if I was forced to make a new plan because I missed my train, then I could look at those apps and find some other kind of option.
[00:14:02] Claire: And also just Google Maps, you know, you can find, you put it to the transit setting and it helps. But sometimes that’s not updated with maintenance or strikes or sort of last minute changes. I like having those other apps as a backup and I also just asked, I think there is an attendant on site.
[00:14:20] Annie: When I missed my train I ran and asked him what else I could do and he explained that any train headed towards Nantes or Tours should stop in Orleans. So just look for, you know, the next one going to one of those cities and I should be able to still get there and then take the bus to Blois. Mm-hmm.
[00:14:36] e-sim for data
[00:14:36] Claire: Yeah, I use a e-sim, like a sim card.
[00:14:39] Claire: Most people get a physical sim card for their cell phone, but they now have the electronic ones where you don’t have to physically put a new SIM card in your phone. You can just download it. So that’s what I used when I was in France and it worked really well, I had data all the time and I was able to google and use all those apps, even if I didn’t have wifi.
[00:14:57] Paper ticket for the train?
[00:14:57] Annie: One more question about the nitty gritty. So this is a TER train. Did you have a paper ticket and did you have to punch a hole in it?
[00:15:06] Claire: Yes, I had to buy, I used the machine that’s at the train station to buy the ticket. They do also have people at the ticket office that you could get it from, but I bought it from the little machine, and then you have to validate your ticket before you get on or composter, which I actually found kind of confusing because I didn’t know which way to put it in.
[00:15:26] Claire: And I kept having to ask people to help me. I was putting the ticket in the validator and it wouldn’t work and I kept having to ask people to help me with that. But yeah, if you don’t validate it before you get on you could get fined if the ticket agent on the train asks to see your ticket and it’s not validated.
[00:15:41] Annie: Yeah, because that ticket could be used for a number of days and so you could reuse the same ticket endlessly, really. Well, for a while, anyway.
[00:15:49] Claire: Right. So it’s like proof.
[00:15:51] Annie: It’s proof that you’ve used the tickets and that you’re not going to use it again. Alright, very good. I’m not surewhere we left off on our conversation.
[00:15:59] Claire: Well, yeah, I was kind of going to go the same direction you were going about, which ones were my favorites and the details about why these four castles were interesting.
[00:16:07] Claire: Like you said, Chambord was the largest castle. That one, it’s probably what you think about or what you picture in your mind whenever you think of a castle from this era, from the 1400s, 1500s, because of all the turrets and the spires and everything.
[00:16:24] Claire: But it’s a little bit overwhelming. It’s very crowded. I think it’s the most popular of all the castles in the valley. And I found it just overwhelming. But it kind of makes sense when you look at the history of, you know, what it was used for. Francois I, he designed it to be a hunting lodge.
[00:16:42] Claire: He didn’t really live there full-time. They would travel there. And so it actually was not furnished, it didn’t have paintings or anything like that until they came on a hunting trip and they brought all of that with them. And I think, he only maybe spent like seven weeks there in total. So it was not used that much.
[00:16:58] Claire: It took a long time, decades to build, and then it didn’t really get used. It sat abandoned for about 80, 90 years after he died, and then it changed hands, and then it was abandoned again and then changed hands. I sort of got the feeling while I was there that it was sort of sterile and maybe not lived in and sort of far from things so that it was a really interesting vibe in comparison to the smaller ones, like Amboise and Clos Lucé and Blois were, I liked them better, I think because they were a little cozier.
[00:17:28] Claire: They definitely seemed like they had been lived in and that different kings and queens over the centuries lived there. Blois and Amboise are both extremely old. They had things built on that site back in the sixth to ninth centuries and then lots of reconstruction and then the castles as we know them today, were more constructed, you know, between the, I want to say 13th to 17th centuries constant reconstruction all the time.
[00:17:55] Clos Luće and Leonardo DaVinci
[00:17:55] Claire: But I think my favorite was probably Amboise. And that’s where Leonardo DaVinci is buried in the chapel on site, and he lived at Clos Lucé, the one that’s just walking distance away. Clos Luće is really more of a mansion than what you think of as a quintessential castle type of architecture.
[00:18:15] Claire: So that’s another reason that I liked Blois and Amboise the most is that they’re still castles, they’re a little smaller than Chambord, lots of history. But Clos Luće was pretty cool to visit just for the Leonardo DaVinci connection. He lived there for the last three years of his life.
[00:18:30] Annie: The park outside of Clos Luće is interesting. When I went they had big machines that were reproductions of machines thatLeonardo DaVinci had drawn anyway. We’re not sure if he ever built them himself or if they ever worked really, but he had drawn a lot of things. And Amboise next door is definitely the most historical of all of these châteaus because so much happened there.
[00:18:54] Annie: There are a lot of châteaus all over France, as a matter of fact, that get called Château Royal de blah, blah, blah, and they were royal châteaus but the king and his family hardly ever went. There were châteaus in the south of France that were Château Royal whatever, for instance there’s one in what’s the name of that beach,it’s not coming back, anyway, I think the king only went once, in all the years and all the kings.
[00:19:20] Annie: ButAmboise, the family actually lived there. There was even one of the heirs of the throne who died because he was chasing another kid down in the cellar and he hit his head really hard against a wooden beam. Yeah. And that killed the heir of the throne. They actually lived there a lot and so it’s full of a lot more history than a lot of these other châteaus in the Loire Valley or anywhere in France.
[00:19:48] Catherine De Medici and Amboise Castle
[00:19:48] Claire: Yeah, I think Catherine De Medici raised her children in Amboise and then she died at the Blois Château. So there’s a lot of history about her at both of those castles. And I don’t know if you’ve seen that new TV show, The Serpent Queen, have you seen that?
[00:20:02] Annie: No, I have not.
[00:20:03] Claire: A lot of the scenes are shot at these castles, I think the double helix staircase that was designed supposedly, I don’t know if they know for sure by Leonardo DaVinci at Chambord. There’s a scene where they’re all in front of that staircase. And then there’s another scene where I think she’s at the Blois Château and she’s talking about how she’s going to gift Chaumont to another person. It’s kind of fun to watch that show and see all these places that now I’ve actually been to.
[00:20:28] Claire: But yeah, the Amboise one has a lot of history and the Blois Château as well because there was a murder there. Duke of Guise was murdered by Henry III and his ashes were thrown into the Loire. And they say Joan of Arc was blessed there in 1429, just before she went to fight the English at Orleans.
[00:20:48] Claire: And there’s, you know, since it was reconstructed so many times over the years, there’s four different architectural styles. Each king had their own style. So it’s kind of like a patchwork of renaissance and classicism and gothic architecture. Yeah, it’s kind of hard to keep up with. It’s sort of game of thronesy.
[00:21:03] Claire: And when you really start to read about the different kings that lived in each place and how many times they changed hands and the different conflicts that were happening in the valley at these times.
[00:21:13] Annie: Yeah. Especially the early French Kings. It was very much like Game of Thrones. I mean, they were ruthless. They killed one another. Anybody who was seen as a threat was murdered. So it, it was very cutthroat early in the French dynasties. Afterwards it got a little bit less violent, but yeah, it was a lot of weird stuff going on.
[00:21:37] Claire: I was reading that after the a hundred years war and different conflicts,the châteaus really became more about, you know, showing off and pleasure, using them for trips and things like that as opposed to actually being defensive structures.
[00:21:51] Getting back to Paris on Blablacar
[00:21:51] Annie: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. All right. So how did you get back to Paris? Apparently you used Blablacar, right?
[00:21:58] Claire: Yeah. So I thought I would be able to retrace my steps by taking, you know, the hour and a half TER train just back to Austerlitz. But there was maintenance going on, so I had to scramble and figure out some other way to get back. They told me that I wouldn’t be able to take that same train again for a few days and I really had to get back, I didn’t have a few days.
[00:22:17] Claire: So I ended up taking the TER to Orleans and then BlaBlabus from there to Paris. So I was able to kind of last minute use those apps on my phone to piece that together.
[00:22:27] Claire: And yeah, it was pretty easy though. I mean, it’s a little stressful in the moment, but it’s pretty easy to find a ticket.
[00:22:33] There are always backups
[00:22:33] Annie: Yeah, there are always surprises when you travel and especially in France,there’s strikes, like right now we have a problem with getting gasoline because there’s a strike. And so you have to be a little bit nimble. And I think really, if you’re good at using your phone and searching for options and you keep your ear out for the apps that are helpful, you’re going to find something.
[00:22:59] Annie: And yes, it might delay you, it might not be what you wanted, but really, there’s usually a solution. And regional buses are pretty good in France, usually.
[00:23:09] Claire: Yeah, it seems like there’s always a backup option, like there’s really no cause to panic if your first option doesn’t work out.
[00:23:16] Annie: Right, and if for example, there is a problem on a train line and the train for some reason cannot continue, usually the SNCF will get buses, will bus people to, I mean the people who are in that train, right? To wherever they were going. They have options. No, you’re not going to be abandoned in the middle of the track.
[00:23:37] Annie: They will take care of you, but you will be delayed. And, you know, if you’re someone who’s on a tight schedule and you have made a lot of reservations here and there, it could be very upsetting, you know, but it’s not the end of the world.
[00:23:50] Don’t use public transportation if your schedule is tight and inflexible
[00:23:50] Claire: Yeah. I think you have to have a little flexibility. I wouldn’t plan this Loire Valley public transportation trip too tightly up against some other type of trip that you might have planned for the day after, the day before. Luckily, I had the whole three days that I could spend and it wasn’t really a super tight schedule, so I could kind of be a little flexible with it and I think that’s why it went so easily.
[00:24:11] Claire: Because like if I had a guided trip that I really needed to make the time for or something like that, then it might have been more stressful.
[00:24:19] Anything that didn’t work out?
[00:24:19] Annie: Yeah. So is there anything that did not work out that you would warn people against?
[00:24:24] Claire: Well, so whenever I went to Amboise where Leonardo da Vinci is buried or entombed in the chapel, they happened to be doing a lot of construction during that time. And so I couldn’t go in, I couldn’t really even see the outside of the chapel because of all the construction stuff around it.
[00:24:39] Claire: So that was kind of disappointing, you know, that’s a big reason why you want to visit there, but it’s not really something you can plan around. I think they’ve announced that it’s on and off construction happening throughout the year and I don’t think they have set dates that they’re telling people that that’s going on.
[00:24:56] Claire: So, you know, just take it with a grain of salt. Hopefully that’ll be done, maybe going into 2023 and I hope it’ll be finished.
[00:25:04] Claire: The Chambord castle also has a lot of construction going on at the upper ramparts right now. Not sure when that’ll be finished, so if you’re trying to get good pictures of the exterior of the castle, it’s going to look a little wonky.
[00:25:17] Claire: You know, it’s not the best time for photography. But it doesn’t affect your ability to go inside and go up to the roof and wander around and look at the view and all of that. It’s not a huge reason to not go, it’s just if you’re a photographer maybe that could be a bit disappointing.
[00:25:31] Annie: Well, and since you have a blog, you want good photos, right? And so I’m like, when I show up somewhere, I’m like, oh, crap, I can’t…
[00:25:38] Annie: The other thing that happens is when they’re shooting a movie. Oh, they have movie equipment everywhere. Like you can’t get a good picture of movie equipment.
[00:25:47] Claire: Yeah. And you’re so right about, with my website and social media and everything, I really want to get the best picture as possible but yeah, you just got to get creative.
[00:25:57] Annie: You need good photos.
[00:25:58] Claire: But I think sometimes that’s hard anyway, if it’s crowded with lots of people, it can be kind of hard to get photos without anybody in them, so that might be a reason to focus on some of the less populated ones.
[00:26:08] Claire: I did learn the Chaumont castle, I think that one’s maybe not as busy because it’s a little harder to get to. I didn’t realize that I could go there on public transportation, but I did find out that if you ride the TER one stop further than the Blois train station to, I think it’s called Ussé – Chaumont, if you get off there instead there’s a shuttle. It’s not the Rémi shuttle, it’s called A-Z-A-L-Y-S. That’ll take you to the Chaumont Château. And that one’s known for the International Garden Festival. And they have at night, the garden’s lit up for a walk and I think they’re supposed to have a nice restaurant.
[00:26:46] Don’t try to visit too many
[00:26:46] Claire: The more research I do, the more places that I figure out I could have gone. And so maybe that’s in the category of things that didn’t work out, that could have been nice to do. But again, you only have so much time. And also I started to get a bit of castle fatigue, I think just doing four was good because it’s a lot of walking.
[00:27:04] Claire: I don’t know if you’ve ever heard about, is it called museum fatigue, where for some reason people get very tired in museums even though you’re not walking that much, but you’re just ambling around and I kind of felt that way visiting the castles. So I think just doing a handful is enough and it would be hard to enjoy any more than that.
[00:27:22] Annie: Yeah. When I plan itineraries with people, I tell them not to do more than two. And ideally, you know, if it’s a major one, like if you’re going to Amboise or Chambord or a big one like that, just do that one and then spend the time, the rest of the time in one of the gardens, because they all have lovely gardens.
[00:27:41] Annie: And if you don’t have to rush around so much, it’s a lot more enjoyable if you spend a few days. You know, like you could, you could be in Paris, decide, oh, I’m going to go spend three nights in Blois and I’m going to explore around there on public transportation. And I think that would be immensely enjoyable.
[00:28:00] Claire: Yeah, and you can also explore the towns. The towns themselves are really quaint and charming and cool and have good restaurants and churches and things like that. So yeah, if you budget a little extra time.
[00:28:12] Annie: Yeah. And just like all French towns, they havean open air market at some point in the week, they probably have, what do you call those, it’s like an open air market, they probably have a lot of these things that, these are for the bigger towns.
[00:28:24] Annie: It’s not going to be in the middle of nowhere. But there’s lots to enjoy in those towns.
[00:28:29] Not like big cities, not always open
[00:28:29] Annie: And also one of the decisions you need to make is how, like, do you want to have a place that when you get back to it at night, there are restaurant options and perhaps a little bit of nightlife.
[00:28:41] Annie: I mean, it’s the Loire Valley, you know, It’s not going to be hot, hot, hot.
[00:28:45] Annie: But you might have a, you know, a bar that stays open late or perhaps some live music or something or concert or something. And this is also really, really, it depends on what time of the year you go. In July, August and during school vacation, French kids school vacations, a lot more is happening because they know they’re going to have visitors. If you go in February, do check ahead of time what the opening hours are, if it’s going to open at all, if the transportation you were planning on is going to be open, because these are not, like, it’s not Paris.
[00:29:21] Annie: That’s why sometimes it just makes sense to go to Paris and enjoy a few days in Paris because everything’s open. It’s year round in Paris. It’s big enough, there’s enough visitors. But in the Southwest where I live, or even in Provence and what have you, there are a lot of attractions that they close.
[00:29:40] Annie: As soon as the school kids finish their vacation in November, so that’s going to be first or second week of November, depending on the year, they close till April, a lot of these places. You have restaurants that close that long. You have hotels that close that long.
[00:29:55] Annie: So in those months you might want to be in a big city because there are things to do in the big city that you’re not going to find in smaller places.
[00:30:04] Claire: Right, and the shuttle, it does run from April 9th to November 6th.
[00:30:09] Claire: So yeah, in the wintertime, yeah, you called it with those exact months, in the wintertime I’m not sure what the option would be possibly, maybe they have a winter schedule, but I didn’t see it.
[00:30:19] Claire: I was surprised because you hear so much about the Loire Valley and the châteaus and how beautiful it is that I was surprised when I was there to see that it was very low key, very sort of relaxed attitude and very small towns like you’re saying. And I obviously enjoyed that. That was like seeing a different pace than what I saw in the cities and a whole different perspective on France. But yeah, it was surprising because I’m sure, you know, a few hundred years ago it was very bustling. Wasn’t the capital? The capital used to be Tours, so that’s why all the châteaus were in the Loire Valley closer to there and then they moved.
[00:30:53] Annie: Yes, yes, at one point the capital has moved. Yeah.
[00:30:56] Claire: Yeah. So I’m sure it would’ve been different then, but yeah, now it was very sort of quiet actually, except at Chambord.
[00:31:02] Hotel Le Pavillon
[00:31:02] Annie: Where did you stay when you were doing this and can you recommend it?
[00:31:06] Claire: I stayed at a hotel called Le Pavillon, which was on the other side of the Loire River from where the château is. But it’s, you know, it’s not that far of a walk. You walk over the bridge to get there and it’s right on the river. I actually really liked it. I think if you look online, it’s not like a luxury hotel, it’s not rated super highly, but it was perfect for what I needed because it didn’t, it was affordable and it was right on the river and walking distance from everything. The room was a good size. I thought it was great and the people were nice to me, even though I was butchering the French language, the people at the hotel and at the breakfast were very kind. So yeah, I liked it.
[00:31:41] Claire: I think most people probably try to get a hotel that’s on the same side of the river as the château just to be a little bit closer to the center of Blois. But it’s a small town anyway, it doesn’t make that big of a difference if you stay on the other side of the river.
[00:31:53] Tips for visiting France
[00:31:53] Annie: Mm-hmm. Do you have tips for people visiting France in general? You know, when they’re preparing a trip to France, what should they pay attention to?
[00:32:01] Claire: Well, I would definitely say you can take public transportation a lot more often than you think, than you might think you can. I used it to get pretty much everywhere. I went to Giverny and Fontainebleau, and pretty much, I went to Strasbourg. Everywhere on trains.
[00:32:14] Claire: And I definitely would recommend the e-sim for your phone because it’s more affordable than a physical SIM card and you’re not going to get stuck in a year-long contract like you might with a physical sim card, even though you’re only visiting France for maybe a few weeks.
[00:32:28] Claire: I do have just very specific tips about places that I enjoyed going to. I really liked, you know, certain restaurants in Paris and that sort of thing. I liked this place called Le Vieux Belleville, the old Bellville in Paris, which is a restaurant where every Tuesday they have Édith Piaf night and they pass out lyric sheets and they want the diners to sing along with the singer and the accordionist.
[00:32:52] Claire: It was so fun. People stood up and were dancing and singing and I love Édith Piaf, so that was like awesome for me. And yeah, that was great. So, you know, I have individual recommendations like that. But otherwise, coming to France, I was surprised that it really, as an American was not that confusing to figure out what’s going on.
[00:33:09] Claire: You know, you drive on the same side of the road, road signs and stuff have pictures that make it obvious what they’re talking about, even if your French is not that great and you can’t read the words as much. And using the apps on your phone that I might use back home, I can still use them in France.
[00:33:22] Claire: Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised that I was not just confused the entire time and I didn’t struggle too much.
[00:33:30] Her previous trips to France
[00:33:30] Annie: How many times have you come to France so far?
[00:33:32] Claire: Before this trip, I think I only had, oh, twice. I went when I was a kid and I did all the typical touristy things like going to the Louvre and everything. And then I came in 2019 because I was going to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc.
[00:33:47] Claire: And that was awesome. Well, that year I wasn’t able to finish it because there was a glacier scare. They thought a glacier was going to crash into Courmayeur and they evacuated. But I came back this year to finish it. That was actually the purpose of my trip this year. And then I just expanded my trip by going to Paris and the Loire Valley and these other places at the same time. But yeah, so I guess that’s three, three trips.
[00:34:09] Claire: But this is the one that I really did the most exploring on my own and really learned the most.
[00:34:14] Loire Valley on a bike
[00:34:14] Annie: Did you consider doing any of the Loire Valley on a bike? Because that’s something really popular that a lot of people do.
[00:34:20] Claire: I didn’t really, I did see that you could rent bikes a lot of places. And at the Chambord Castle you could rent bikes, boats, they had all different exhibits besides just the castle too. But it’s not something I thought about in advance.
[00:34:32] Annie: Hmm. Interesting. Yeah, I mean, that would be my first thought. But then if you do rent a bike somewhere, there’s not a lot of bike shops that will let you return it somewhere else. I know OuiBike does it, but I’m not sure other places will do that. So a lot of these places you’d have to do kind of a round trip and then move on to the next place and do another round trip. But there are a lot of bike shops in France. And along the Loire Valley, it has a good reputation for bike paths being well-maintained and lots of bike shops to rent and repair if you need to.
[00:35:07] There are a lot of campsites in the Loire Valley
[00:35:07] Claire: I also saw a lot of campsites in the Loire Valley and I think some of those had bike rentals as well.
[00:35:13] Claire: So, yeah, there’s a lot of different options depending on whatever your flavor of choice is with camping and hotels or cars versus transit versus bikes.
[00:35:22] Annie: Yep. Yep. All right. Well, Claire, thank you so much for talking to me. This has been very interesting. I hope it encourages some people to visit these places when they go to Paris and get out of Paris a little bit. Go see the rest of the country. You can do a lot without a car.
[00:35:38] Claire: Now, there are places where you definitely need a car. These are few châteaus and there’s many, many more that you can’t get to. So if you have your heart set on seeing this one particular one that you can’t get to without a car, then I’m afraid, you know, you’re going to have to. But Blablacar is an option, Uber is an option. You get as close as you can and then you call an Uber, see if they’ll take you to the Château. Yeah. Yeah. Get creative. I think that’s the overall lesson.
[00:36:02] Annie: Yep. you very much, Claire.
[00:36:04] Claire: Thanks, Annie. I really appreciate chatting with you.
[00:36:09] Annie Sargent: Again, I want to thank my patrons for supporting this show and giving back. Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing that. You can see them at Patreon.com/joinus. Thank you all for supporting the show. Some of you have been doing it for a long time, you are amazing.
[00:36:38] New patrons
[00:36:38] Annie Sargent: And a shout out this week to new patrons: James Lesmeister, Stephanie Ramsey and Karina Janova. Thank you so much for becoming patrons and making this podcast possible.
[00:36:52] Patreons rewards
[00:36:52] Annie Sargent: Patrons, all patrons, I would like you to install the Patreon app on your phone, it’ll help you enjoy your rewards while on the go, including audio and video rewards.
[00:37:06] Annie Sargent: I published three Patreon rewards this week. One was a short article that I wrote and read slowly for folks who want to improve their French comprehension. Another language one where I read the names of all the metro stations on line one of the Paris Metro, and I have to credit Patricia Perry for giving me the idea to do that.
[00:37:34] Annie Sargent: Because proper names can be trouble, right? I read out the names of new patrons each week and I’m sure I butcher some of them. I try not to and I hope you give me credit for at least trying not to butcher them. Well, you can now try not to butcher the names of Metro Stations on line one as well, and I’ll continue doing that with all the names of the metro stations, names of villages, names of places, because I think people really have a hard time pronouncing French names.
[00:38:04] Annie Sargent: And I also published my favorite photos of France so far this year for patrons. So there you go.
[00:38:11] Annie Sargent: My thanks also to Marjorie Sandra, Rhea Dacayan and William Paugh for sending in a one-time donation using the green button on any page on JoinUsinFrance.Com that says “Tip Your Guide”.
[00:38:27] Annie Sargent: Marjorie wrote: “This is probably the best podcast I have come across yet in all topics. The information you share is direct, relevant and without an agenda, a rare find these days. Your podcasts have been so helpful in planning my upcoming trip to France. Thank you”.
[00:38:45] Annie Sargent: Wow. Thank you, Marjorie. I do like to keep it real and my only agenda is to help you have a grand time in France.
[00:38:53] Annie Sargent: It’s the fact that there’s more money to be made by not being such an open book. But I have wonderful listeners who support the show and that’s fantastic. Merci.
[00:39:03] Annie Sargent: And William wrote: “I really enjoyed your podcast. My wife and I will be doing a month long trip to France in September this year and we’ll utilize many ideas from your podcast”.
[00:39:15] Annie Sargent: Well, thank you, William. I’m sure it will help you do that.
[00:39:18] Preparing a trip to France?
[00:39:18] Annie Sargent: If you’re 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 do it. Search the website as well, lots of things you can find if you just hit that search button.
[00:39:35] Annie Sargent: You can also hire me to be your itinerary consultant. Here’s how it works. You purchase the service on JoinUsinFrance.com/boutique. Then you fill out a document to tell me what you have in mind. We make a phone appointment and we chat for about an hour. And then I send you a document with the plan we discussed.
[00:39:54] Annie Sargent: Now, my time is always booked up several weeks in advance, you can see the date for my next availability on the only page where you can buy this service. That’s at the Join Us in France Boutique. And 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.
[00:40:18] Annie’s GPS self-guided tours on the VoiceMap app
[00:40:18] Annie Sargent: I’ve produced six tours, well seven actually, one in French too. And they are designed to show you around different iconic neighborhoods of Paris, The Eiffel Tower, that one is either in French or in English, Ile de la Cité, le Marais, Montmartre, Saint Germain des Prés and the Latin Quarter.
[00:40:37] Annie Sargent: If all you do is walk one of my tours each morning when you’re in Paris and go into some of the places that I take you to on the tour, you’ll have a fantastic time in Paris, and it certainly beats bumbling around trying to summarize all the things you’ve heard or read somewhere. Who told me about this? Who told me about that? Oh, I can’t remember what it is. Oh, I don’t know how to spell it, you know, oh, Google Maps won’t cooperate, that sort of thing. Okay. Take a look at the VoiceMap tours. JoinUsinFrance.com/boutique.
[00:41:09] Travel question of the week, prescription medication
[00:41:09] Annie Sargent: Now, travel question of the week. Do you need to do anything special when bringing prescription medications to France?
[00:41:17] Annie Sargent: All right. First, bring your prescription, or at least have a photo of your prescription in your phone. Secondly, put your prescription medications in your carry on, not in your checked luggage, if you have that. People wonder if they have to bring their pills in the original bottle or if they can put them in baggies or in a pill box.
[00:41:42] Annie Sargent: Now, unless you’re bringing pounds and pounds of prescription medications, in which case someone might suspect that you have some sort of retail business going on, you know, you don’t need the original bottles. If you’re bringing normal amounts of medicine, you know, even if you take 10 pills a day, I mean, French people take 10 pills a day as well, you know, some of us. It’s okay in those cases. If you’re just doing the normal, you know, I bring my pills for two weeks, there’s nothing special that you need to do. If you bring opioids and you have a prescription for those, there’s nothing to worry about.
[00:42:18] Annie Sargent: Yeah. If you’re diabetic and you’re bringing needles and insulin for your trip, no worries, just put the insulin pens in a plastic bag because it’s liquid, needles go in you carry on. Have your prescription with you, it won’t even make any difference. It’s like so easy. Nobody cares about this stuff.
[00:42:37] Annie Sargent: If you are bringing supplements, just be reasonable with the amounts. If you bring your multivitamin, your B12, your D3, whatever it is, yeah, no problem. It’s normal. Now if you bring like a carry on full of supplements because for some reason you need that, then leave them in the original supplement bottle because that way it’s clear what they are.
[00:42:59] Annie Sargent: So to summarize, unless you’re bringing a weird amount of pills, don’t worry about it. There you go. But do bring your prescription just in case you need medical help, because they’ll need to know exactly what you’re taking and in what amounts.
[00:43:13] Passport renewals delays
[00:43:13] Annie Sargent: I also got this feedback from Nancy Pincombe Docksai , she said the US State Department is experiencing delays in processing passport renewals, with some taking up to three months.
[00:43:28] Annie Sargent: As of this morning, they are telling travelers who haven’t received their new passports and are traveling international in less than a week to call the National Passport Information Center at 1877487278 to make an appointment at a passport agency. So if you’re traveling this year, check your passport. I did and I’m good for another two years. So there you go.
[00:43:55] It’s strike season in France again!
[00:43:55] Annie Sargent: This week in French news, we’re in the middle of strike season in France. You never know when strike season is going to be. This year it’s been January through hopefully, the end of March.
[00:44:12] Annie Sargent: Here’s what happened this week. Overall, the size of demonstrations and strikers was the same as the first strike against this retirement age thing in January.
[00:44:24] Annie Sargent: So the first strike was surprisingly big because French people really don’t want to work any longer. But that fizzled a bit and now they managed to bring out about the same number of strikers. So French people are upset, they don’t want to work anymore. Like they, they’re not in love with their jobs, okay?
[00:44:43] Annie Sargent: This is not news to anybody who knows French people. But a lot of time has passed since this law was introduced in January. So the Senate is going to vote this Friday, then it goes to a commission, then there’s back to another vote in Parliament. A lot will happen in the next few days, but the end is near.
[00:45:04] Annie Sargent: “It’s not over till the fat lady sings” or in French “la messe est dite”. Meaning Mass has been said, the issue is dead and buried. Okay, so that’s the image. It’s funny in English, it’s the fat lady that sings in French is the Mass has been said.
[00:45:23] Annie Sargent: So will they continue to announce strikes? Yes, of course they will. Why wouldn’t they? Yes, we will continue to have strikes in France. Such is life.
[00:45:36] Annie Sargent: But there will be a few compromises. Both governments and unions will claim victory of course, but the law is going to pass one way or the other because time is running out and we don’t have a choice.
[00:45:48] Why nobody knows how big a strike next week is going to be
[00:45:48] Annie Sargent: It’s either we work longer or we get smaller pensions, which is it going to be? So here’s my advice to you. Number one, do not hyperventilate every time someone announces a strike. Announcements mean nothing. Nothing at all. Here’s why. No matter what they announced, nobody knows how big a strike is going to be until the night before the strike happens.
[00:46:20] Annie Sargent: So don’t ask me what’s going to happen with strikes, you know, a month from now. I don’t know for sure, but I can read the tea leaves. And the predictions I gave you a couple of weeks ago about this week were 100% correct. But I cannot offer guarantees and neither can anybody else. Workers announce whether they’re going to strike or not the night before a strike, hear me out, the night before a strike. They don’t have to tell us any sooner. So even if they announce that in three weeks they’re going to strike again, it means nothing. We’ll know the night before who’s going to actually show up and strike. Because if they strike, they don’t get paid.
[00:47:03] Frequent strikers in France
[00:47:03] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So that’s how it works. But we do know who strikes often. It’s SNCF, so that’s the trains, and RATP, that’s the Paris Metro and buses. That’s it. They are the ones who strike 90% of the time. Less common, we have teachers, but that changes nothing for visitors, and it’s not that common anyway, air traffic controllers and airline staff, but that’s not on international flights usually, so it only affects people who take domestic flights within France.
[00:47:38] Annie Sargent: Trash collectors strike once in a while. We don’t like it, but I mean, you can still have a vacation even if there’s, you know, trash piling up outside of the restaurant. We don’t like it, but yeah. Refineries can strike, but last time this happened, the government was, you know, caught with their pants down.
[00:47:56] Annie Sargent: They didn’t do what they needed to fast enough, so next time it happens, they’ll force these people back to work sooner. And occasionally, you have taxi drivers and truck drivers that strike, but it’s not so common. So what can you do about it? On strike day, stay put. Walk where you need to go, don’t plan on visiting national museums or city parks.
[00:48:21] Annie Sargent: I know it’s not ideal, but it’s manageable. Restaurants and hotels never strike. VoiceMap tours never strike. Churches don’t close. Streets don’t close unless there’s a demonstration going through. Folks who were in Paris on March 7th reported that it was a normal day, so long as they didn’t try to use public transportation.
[00:48:43] Annie Sargent: And I feel sorry for the people who need to commute to work and back and forth and all that, but for visitors, there’s a lot of other things you can do, than take the metro. Okay? Walk and enjoy your day and don’t worry about it so much because it is a fact that it will happen again and again and again.
[00:49:01] Annie Sargent: This is France. We strike. Sorry.
[00:49:04] Nutritional labels
[00:49:04] Annie Sargent: Let’s talk about nutritional labels because it’s pretty funny. You might have noticed that some products in grocery stores in France display an A B C D rating. It’s called Nutri-score. Nutri-score. And I’ll put a link to that in the show notes. Very often it’s the store brand version of a product that shows the rating and a similar product made by Danone or Président, or Bonduelle isn’t going to show it.
[00:49:33] Annie Sargent: So let me give you a few examples. Let’s say I want to buy flavored yogurt, the no-brand version of the yogurt will have a B rating on it. And right next to it, usually they sell the flavored yogurt by Danone or by Yoplait or something, and it won’t have a rating on it because Yoplait has not decided to put those on. Perhaps they don’t have to yet.
[00:49:56] Annie Sargent: Consumers can assume that if flavored yogurt is a B in general, it’s a B, right? If you go to the cookie aisle, most cookies are either a D or an E. If you buy lardons, so that’s bacon, bacon bits kind of things, it’ll mostly have an E rating on it.
[00:50:14] Annie Sargent: Now, the Carrefour brand will have the E on it and the branded stuff won’t have it. Not everything gets a rating. I’ve never seen ratings on apples, but the bag of lettuce I bought yesterday shows an A. So if you’re health conscious, you could limit your purchases to A or B items and do great.
[00:50:35] Annie Sargent: Like breads are usually a B. Eggs are a B. It has to do with energy density, sugar content, fat content, salt content, fiber content, protein content. And I’m not super health conscious, but I do pay attention to it. And sometimes I talk myself out of buying a product just because I notice it’s an E, you know?
[00:50:54] Annie Sargent: And I know I should stay away from those. It doesn’t work every day, but it works some of the time anyway. It’s like the fast food restaurants in the US displaying the calorie content, it started happening a few years ago. That has stopped me from ordering some things at restaurants, right?
[00:51:11] Annie Sargent: I mean, I’m sure it’s the same for you. So there are 27 countries in the EU and big surprise, they don’t all agree on when Nutri-score should be made mandatory. Italy is leading the charge against the Nutri-score because it turns out noodles don’t have a lot, you know, they’re not super nutritious. But if they applied an E on every bottle of French wine, which is about as nutritious as it is, right? We’d have a revolution over here as well.
[00:51:42] Annie Sargent: Polish people, they don’t want an E on their sausages. You know, it makes sense, right? It’s trivial but these things really matter to people. Can the EU really force a French candy maker like the Callissons d’Aix, for instance, that we’ve mentioned many times on the podcast? Well, they would probably have to stick a D or an E on their product.
[00:52:03] Annie Sargent: I’ve never seen a rating for foie gras, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a D or an E, you know? So what will happen to our culinary traditions if we do this? I think nothing will happen because I see the ratings and I still buy the products with a D or an E sometimes anyway and I’m not sure why that is, but store brands have made agreements to be more transparent about these things than the big brands. At any rate, that’s a big controversy this week in the EU is are they going to force me to stick a label on my name, you know, the cheesy product that gets a D or an E.
[00:52:45] Personal Update
[00:52:45] Annie Sargent: For my personal update this week, I’m hoping the winter is coming to an end in Toulouse. It looks like it. This week, we’ve had some much needed rain, but it’s warmed up a lot. Plants are waking up. Birds are not hitting the bird feeder quite as much as they were, so it’s all good.
[00:53:03] Annie Sargent: Last Sunday, Elyse and I went to Montmaurin for a lovely visit of a gallo-romaine Villa and the Musée de l’Aurignacien in Aurignac. It’s a wonderful place for people who are interested in archeology and anthropology. Lots to see just south of Toulouse in the Comminges area. And with the nicer weather I’ve been enjoying a drive somewhere each week to visit things not too far from home and it’s been lovely.
[00:53:33] Annie Sargent: We ate in the funkiest restaurant I’ve seen in a long time with Elyse last Sunday, and you never know when you go rural, you never know. We’ll do an episode about all of this at some point.
[00:53:44] Share the podcast trailer
[00:53:44] Annie Sargent: You can help your friends plan their visit to France, go to JoinUsinFrance.com/trailer and share the trailer for this podcast with them, it’s short, it’s sweet and it might just be what they need to hear to get them started planning their trip to France.
[00:54:02] Annie Sargent: Show notes and the full transcript for this episode are on JoinUsinFrance.com/432 the numeral.
[00:54:10] Annie Sargent: And a big thank you to podcast editor Cristian Cotovan who produces the transcript so you can find in which episode we talked about that place that you’re interested in.
[00:54:22] Next week on the podcast
[00:54:22] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode with Elyse about the Rugby World Cup , send questions or feedback to annie@JoinUsinFrance.Com. Thank you so much for listening and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together.
[00:54:37] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2023 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial, No Derivatives license.
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Category: Loire Valley