Transcript for Episode 448: In Search of Joan of Arc in the Loire Valley

Categories: French History, Loire Valley

Discussed in this Episode

  • Chinon
  • Loches
  • Sainte-Cahterine-de-Fierbois
  • Orléans
  • Azay-le-Rideau


[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 448 – quatre cent quarante-huit.

[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.

Today on the podcast

[00:00:37] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a trip report with Kim Loftus, where Kim retraced Joan of Arc’s story and path in the Loire Valley. She didn’t only go to Joan of Arc sites, there are so many wonderful things to visit in the Loire Valley that it would be a shame to visit yourself in that way, but they made sure to include places where Joan left her trace.

[00:01:02] Annie Sargent: Now, Joan lived 1412 through 1431, she was born 611 years ago. Most of what was around when she lived has been built over, but some things are left and she left a strong enough legacy that we can still hear it ring today.

The Magazine Part of the Podcast

[00:01:21] Annie Sargent: For the magazine part of the podcast, after the interview today, I’ll discuss why when you visit Paris in high season, so that’s June through September, no matter how well you plan your trip, and I know you wouldn’t hear the sound of my voice right now if you weren’t someone who plans a trip to France carefully, well, you may not get into all the venues you wanted to.

[00:01:47] Annie Sargent: Today, I’ll talk specifically about the catacombs and the Eiffel Tower where demand is so high that it’s frankly overwhelming. I’ll discuss some of the things that you can do if your plans for these places fall through.

Podcast supporters

[00:02:01] 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.

[00:02:15] Annie Sargent: And you can browse all of that at my boutique And if you just want to read details about the tours and read reviews, go to


Annie and Kim

[00:02:37] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Kim Loftus and welcome to Join Us in France.

[00:02:41] Kim Loftus: Bonjour Annie.

Welcome back, Kim!

[00:02:42] Annie Sargent: I should have said welcome back because you were on the show a long time ago. It was episode 284 and we talked about searching for Joan of Arc in rural France. And you’re still looking for sites related to Joan of Arc, aren’t you?

[00:02:59] Kim Loftus: Yes, I am. There are far more than you would think.

[00:03:03] Annie Sargent: Yes. Lots of them. So where did you go this time?

Looking for places related to Joan of Arc

[00:03:06] Kim Loftus: Well, this time we did the trip very different. I went to Paris by myself for the first five days, and then there were places in Paris where Joan led a siege. And then my husband flew in, we rented a car at Charles de Gaulle and drove to the Loire Valley for a week and explored not only the chateaus we wanted to see, that had nothing to do with Joan of Arc, but there are many places in the Loire Valley where she was at and that was my main goal.

[00:03:34] Annie Sargent: Yeah. She was in a lot of places. Most of these places, there’s not that much left to see in connection with her. So, you went looking for statues and plaques and things like that?

Every town has a small statue of Joan of Arc (or a plaque)

[00:03:48] Kim Loftus: Yes. In some places there’s a lot more, like Chinon and Loches, and a little town called Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois. These are all in the central Loire Valley where she… and I forgot the main city Orléans, which was the total cap to our trip. These are cities where she was very active leading troops to take back cities from the English.

[00:04:16] Kim Loftus: And so there’s more there than in other places. But every town, every church, almost nearly every church has at least one sculpture of her, because she’s St. Joan. And it’s a bit of a scavenger hunt to go to some of these little places and pop into church, and see where is their sculpture and or is there a little plaque or something?

[00:04:40] Kim Loftus: The commemorative plaques at the 500th anniversary and the 600th anniversary, those are on monuments typically where she was at, and sometimes those are hard to find, but that’s part of the fun. We would go, we look them up, try to get some information about where it might be, and then go hunt for it.

[00:04:59] Kim Loftus: You walk through a lot of these little villages that you may not stop and take it in. And we really enjoyed some of the little cafes, the little shops and things we found along the way.

[00:05:11] Annie Sargent: Yeah. I make a habit of any church in France where I go, I look for something connected to Joan of Arc, and I usually find something. It’s very unusual for a church to not have a statue or a painting or something that has to do with Joan of Arc. And that’s even in the South of France where she really didn’t spend any time as far as we know, but her memory is still very much alive. And one of these days, Elyse and I will have to do an episode about the Hundred-Year War and Joan of Arc, just something to try and make sense of this whole complicated history, that’s pretty difficult to unravel unless you really dig into it.

[00:05:56] Kim Loftus: Right. The 100 Years War is huge for France. It was their civil, well, your civil war.

[00:06:02] Annie Sargent: Yes, in a way, I mean, it was on the heel of some very difficult time. We had a king that didn’t have any heirs and we had a lot of Bourguignon who were very eager beaver, and it created a lot of trouble. But we’ll have to leave that for another episode, because it’s huge.

Itinerary review with Annie

[00:06:21] Annie Sargent: Let’s talk about some of the places. How did you get ready for this trip? I mean, we did do an itinerary review together, so we talked on the phone and I did some research and stuff,and then you made some choices. So what did you choose?

[00:06:35] Kim Loftus: Your itinerary review was terrific. Because even though I’ve been to France and knew you, I couldn’t get to everything. But when you look at the map, the Loire looks very compact. And it is relatively compact, although the multitudes of chateaus.

[00:06:53] Kim Loftus: So I gave you a list of all the places we would love to go, and your conversation and review really made us realize we have to prioritize. And that’s where having passion for finding Joan of Arc in France really helped because we could prioritize them and still had room, if we passed along something that looked interesting, we still had time to stop and check it out.

[00:07:18] Annie Sargent: Mm-hmm.

[00:07:19] Kim Loftus: But you could do that with any number of interests like: the women who had chateaus, or were they were built for women, is one of the key things I saw just in the trip we took. I mean, you could pick any theme like any of the artists or the architects themselves. There’s lots of different ways you could prioritize that list and make your trip enjoyable.

[00:07:41] Annie Sargent: Yeah. And since we did that itinerary review, I’ve written many more things about the Loire and I have found out that there’s something for everyone in the Loire Valley.

[00:07:52] Annie Sargent: Okay, the biggest and the most famous is Chambord. Okay. So you go there for that, and then Château de Blois, that’s like the architectural jewel. It was rebuilt over several decades, and they kept some of the old parts, so you get to see the way the château evolved, which is, it makes, I mean, it’s magnificent. Cheverny is probably the best preserved, I mean, it’s not as old as some of the other ones, as well. Anyway, they all have something, right? They have something that’s special about them, but the thing is there’s a hundred plus chateaus in the Loire, so it’s really hard.

[00:08:37] Annie Sargent: And you saw some that were a little bit, I mean, you saw some that were, I haven’t been yet, so that’s really cool that you went looking. Why don’t you tell us more about these chateaus that you visited and what you saw there?


[00:08:49] Kim Loftus: Okay, so one of the really important places, château that I wanted to visit was Chinon. There’s a great story about how Joan of Arc was introduced to the Prince who was intended to be King. He became Charles VII, so she was, the story goes that she was led into this room of multitudes of nobles, and she had to pick out who the Prince was, in French is the Dauphin.

[00:09:15] Kim Loftus: And so there’s this whole story about how she identified him because she was being inspired by Saint Catherine and others, and were told which one he was, and she went up to him and said, I have a secret for you and I’m going to lead you to become crowned King. It was really important to see that place. And there’s a lot of damage to it, but it’s beautiful. Chinon, it looks like the village itself would’ve been a great place to stay for a few days, because it’s, there’s wineries there and lots of restaurants had, seems like there was a lot of food and winery kind of themed things to do there.

[00:09:59] Kim Loftus: And it’s along, of course, the river, which I don’t remember which one, but it’s up on a hill.


[00:10:04] Kim Loftus: And they have recreated, they use a couple of places we went use histopads, which are, it’s like an iPad, but they have through video or other technology, you take these into the rooms and it shows you what the room would’ve looked like.

[00:10:22] Kim Loftus: In

[00:10:22] Kim Loftus: Yes.

[00:10:23] Kim Loftus: its heyday kinda. And so those are really cool.

[00:10:27] Annie Sargent: Yes. So, Chinon is on the Vienne River, and histopads are fantastic. So usually they will have somewhere, when they give you a histopad, for the most part, they will have somewhere in the room that you need to point your histopad to, and it’ll then reveal, kind of it overlaps how it looked like long ago, but it’s digital recreation.

[00:10:55] Annie Sargent: But it’s really fun to have the digital recreation of what it looked like long ago and see it in context of the room. It’s really fun and really easy, I mean, even children can use these things. It’s really fun, and a lot of places do that.

[00:11:11] Kim Loftus: Yep. And it’s like a 360 so you can go all the way around the room, look up at the ceiling, down at the floor. It recreates the entire space that you’re in from hundreds of years ago. And some of these are, have changed a lot cause they were from four, five hundred years ago.

[00:11:29] Kim Loftus: And it really helps you. You think you know what it may have looked like, but these really recreate it for you.

[00:11:36] Kim Loftus: We did these in two places at Chinon and chateaus Loches, that was the other one.

[00:11:42] Annie Sargent: So, about Chinon, it’s not a very big town. You were there in May, 2022, was there much of a nightlife, places to go eat at night and things like that?

[00:11:54] Kim Loftus: Well, we didn’t stay there. That’s what I’m saying, it would be an ideal place, it seemed, for several days. We did, we arrived and had lunch at a little roadside cafe and then went on the tour, which is a self-guided tour with the histopads. And we stayed in a B&B within an hour away called Sans Souci.

[00:12:19] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:12:20] Kim Loftus: Yes, it was lovely and it was actually in your Join Us in France group that I had posted some questions. That was another way I prepared for the trip questions and people would share all their wonderful info, and Matthew or James, the owners of that B&B replied. And I think I was asking about what would be more centrally located and they said, Hey, if you’re interested, we have a B&B in Luzille.

[00:12:54] Kim Loftus: And it is out in the little, it’s in the country, but it was just, it was an idyllic place. And they are incredibly hospitable and very, they want to help you find your way to everything. And one of them, Matthew, I think, has an interest in Joan of Arc. So they’ve been to some of the places, so that was fun to go and tell them what we found each day.

[00:13:18] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so this is, this town is a little bit, I mean, I would call it is it’s kind of to the west of most of the Loire Valley chateaus. I mean, Blois, Chambord are much further to the East, but still it’s a good, it’s really hard to decide where you’re going to stay when you visit the Loire Valley because you’re going to have to drive no matter what you do.

[00:13:42] Kim Loftus: Right. That was, that location we stayed there two nights because it was ideal to get to Chinon, Loches, Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Azay-le-Rideau and I believe, and Chenonceau maybe.

[00:13:57] Kim Loftus: When we went to Chambord, we stayed nearby Chambord, and it was on a, we were making our way back to Paris in Orléans. Our goal was Orléans,

[00:14:07] Kim Loftus: So yeah, we picked places to stay at least a couple nights, and then do things within that area.

[00:14:14] Annie Sargent: Yeah. That’s a good way to do it. That’s a, I think that’s a very smart way to do it. Now, you’re going to have to spend time in the car because there’s no way to get around that. They are scattered all over the area.

[00:14:28] Kim Loftus: Yeah, it’s a beautiful area.

[00:14:30] Kim Loftus: We like driving, especially, we like driving in the countryside, we don’t like driving in the city, so it’s not a favorite thing. Out in these little villages and stuff, those are fun.

[00:14:41] Annie Sargent: Yes. Okay.


[00:14:43] Annie Sargent: Then you also, you started talking about Loches and then we got back to Chinon, but tell us about Loches a little bit.

[00:14:49] Kim Loftus: Loches was a surprise, we didn’t, I mean, I knew I wanted to go there because Joan had went there to petition for more forces before she led the siege in the Loire Valley. And didn’t really know what it was. But there’s a chateau and a dungeon to tour, and the day we arrived it was market day.

[00:15:12] Kim Loftus: So there it’s a medieval village with small streets and it was just packed full of vendors of all kinds of everything from food and clothing and gifts and local produce and it looked like it was senior day because there were more older people shopping than families at the point we were there.

[00:15:31] Kim Loftus: So it was delightful. At that time I was working in a retirement community and I felt right at home. And it was great because the vendors were happily telling you about their products and that it wasn’t busy, so I could practice a little French. And my husband, who didn’t really speak any French, was finding he could patch together conversations about products he was interested. And so that was a surprise and great fun in addition to touring the Chateau and the dungeon. And then there was a little church.

[00:16:06] Kim Loftus: And Charles VII, like many kings of France and princes had a mistress. And this one, this community also was the home of Anne Sorel, who was his longtime mistress and really influenced some of his decisions that he made along the way.

[00:16:24] Kim Loftus: So she’s buried in the church in the Chateau and has, there’s a beautiful tomb sculpture of her that’s so unusual with her, I think she was very, she was a patron of the arts and so she had one of the premier sculptors of the time create her tomb.

Sainte Catherine de Fierbois

[00:16:42] Annie Sargent: Then you went to a place called Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, which I have not heard of, so I would like to know about this place.

[00:16:51] Kim Loftus: Yeah. This is a really small village and there’s a legend about Joan with this village that may or may not be true, but supposedly, while she was at Chinon,convincing the prince that she needed more troops and getting ready for that, she also was told by the one of her voices, one of the saints, that there is a sword under the altar, she should send someone to get it. And they did. And so the stories evolved over time. They’ve never been able to prove it. That it was the sort of Charles Martel who was someone from early French history.

[00:17:31] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:17:32] Annie Sargent: Yes. He’s famous in French lore.His name comes up.

[00:17:35] Kim Loftus: It’s lore, yeah, just like the sword.

[00:17:38] Kim Loftus: And then supposedly she placed, soldiers wouldafter a successful battle or maybe when it didn’t go so well, they would leave their armor or arms at a church back in this era as tribute.I don’t really know what they meant to accomplish.

[00:17:56] Kim Loftus: It’s like they were leaving it to God and hoping that he would honor them somehow. But so supposedly she left this sword eventually at Saint Denis in Paris.

[00:18:08] Annie Sargent: Oh.

[00:18:09] Kim Loftus: And then somewhere along the way, it disappeared. So it’s not around, they don’t know where it’s, so, there’s no way to find out if it’s really that sword. So it’s all part of the legend.

[00:18:19] Kim Loftus: It makes it fun. And we almost didn’t go to this little village because I was reading that during World War II the church actually was destroyed, and it’s been rebuilt. So I was like, well, do we really want to go? But it was right on the way back to the B&B, so we did stop in. And of course, like a lot of times we stopped someplace and everything’s closed, because it’s that afternoon time where everyone’s home for lunch. We had the town square to ourselves, we had the church to ourselves, and it’s also a stop on the Compostela Trail. And there’s across kitty corner from the church, there’s another building with plaques on there explaining this.

[00:19:02] Kim Loftus: And I didn’t know that. So we ended up finding more things to explore and look around at. We found this centennial marker, but this was the one marker where the bronzeplaque of Joan’s bust was missing. They always have these big rectangular cement plaques with the commemorative language. And then there’s this beautiful bronze plaque on there of Joan and that one was gone, I’ve never seen they’re always intact.


[00:19:32] Annie Sargent: Weird. Yeah. So that was probably the route to Compostela that started in Paris. They would, it would make sense that they would, from Paris, just head down that direction. Cool. Very cool. And then you went to Azay-le-Rideau.

[00:19:46] Kim Loftus: Right. Yep, we got there. You have to remember, if you’re going to get in these chateaus, you have to go earlier than we did. And we were trying to squeeze these in one more thing. Azay-le-Rideau was near the B&B, so we didn’t get there until four and they closed at five and we weren’t allowed to go inside but you can walk the grounds until they close them. As we walked around, it’s another tiny village that looks like it would be worth a whole day to explore and enjoy. There is a very old church there called St. Symphorien.

[00:20:23] Kim Loftus: It was started in 1099, so over the doorway is a beautiful relief that is from the Romanesque era, you know, faces and creatures and it looks like you can still see some of the paint that was decorating that, and maybe they repainted it somewhere along the way, but that was an interesting little church.

[00:20:45] Annie Sargent: So you saw Chinon, Losche, Sainte Catherine de Fierbois and Azay-le-Rideau. You saw while staying at Sans Souci at that B&B, Sans Souci.

[00:20:55] Kim Loftus: Correct.

Le Brame de Sologne

[00:20:56] Annie Sargent: Very nice. And then you moved on to another place called Le Brame de Sologne.

[00:21:05] Kim Loftus: Right. We booked that because I knew it was not far from Chambord. But I didn’t realize how close to Chambord it really was. It was ideal location. It’s another little town along the Loire River. And it’s also not far from Chinon.

[00:21:24] Kim Loftus: We stayed there, we got there, stayed overnight, and then spent most of the next day at Chambord before moving on.

[00:21:31] Kim Loftus: We asked the hotel to recommend a restaurant, and that was one of our most delightful, local restaurants.

[00:21:39] Kim Loftus: The little village is called Thoury, and the restaurant we ate at was La Salamandra. They didn’t speak any English and so it was great to practice, and my husband had some local beer that he hadn’t seen, which he enjoyed trying new things. He had an artisan, a 1515 he said was chocolatey, which was very different.

[00:22:04] Annie Sargent: Wow. Cool. When you’re staying somewhere at B&B, it’s always worth asking the hosts where they think you might eat, because they, they’ve probably tried a few places and they’ve probably made recommendations to lots of people and have heard back. So it’s a good bet to ask them. And yes, in these kinds of places in France, perhaps they won’t speak English, but that’s, I mean, that’s fine, right?

[00:22:32] Kim Loftus: Right. Yeah. We had some restaurants we looked up and asked the desk about them, and they were like, they’re not open. And she actually called and made a reservation for us. And what we found helps us is if we go early, like right early, soon after they open, we’re one of the first seatings because we’re going to need a little help figuring out maybe what we need and they’re not as busy yet, so they’re more patient with us. So I think that’s ideal, to eat early. And not everybody likes to do that, but itworks for us.

Food Trucks along the River

[00:23:10] Kim Loftus: Before I forget, the other thing, and it started in this little town along the river Muides-sur-Loire. We found along the Loire many of these villages were what we would call a food truck along at a place by the river, and they would have, this place had a, they were made out of pallets, so there was outdoor seating, and you ordered your drink and maybe a little snack, and you sat watching the river go by. And we were surrounded by locals and they had their dogs and their children, and it was just a beautiful late afternoon. And we enjoyed like listening to their conversations and laughter and watching the kids play with the dog.

[00:23:54] Annie Sargent: That’s cool.

[00:23:54] Kim Loftus: We started looking for these.

[00:23:56] Annie Sargent: You often have little kind of, I don’t know what to call them, they’re not a restaurant. They’re a kind of semi-permanent thing on the side of the road.

[00:24:07] Kim Loftus: It’s what, we in the US, we have a lot of food trucks, but these don’t really move. They’re, they seem to be there for the season and they really only sell like beer and wine and maybe some little snack like nuts or, I’m trying to think what we ate, maybe some bread and cheese, but very simple.

[00:24:27] Annie Sargent: If they have food at all, it’s going to be something, like we have a tiny little chalet in the town next to ours, and it’s a permanent chalet, like it’s been there for years and they just do pizza. That’s it, you know? And they have a couple of kind of like, they look like, I mean, you can sit yourself on those, but they look like tree trunks that have been cut off, and you can sit on that and enjoy little pizza and chitchat with whoever’s coming by to get pizza.

[00:24:56] Annie Sargent: It’s just a very casual thing that French people like. You just go somewhere and hang out for a bit.

[00:25:05] Kim Loftus: Yep. Yep. And we found another one in, I believe it was Meung-sur-Loire and it was just a really lovely little place to take a break and watch the river go by and people-watch.


[00:25:21] Annie Sargent: Yeah. It’s excellent. So you mentioned that you spent the whole day at Chambord.

[00:25:26] Annie Sargent: What did you think of that?

[00:25:28] Kim Loftus: Most of the day. Yeah. It takes most of that and it’s, we did a self-guided tour and it was busy when we arrived, but it was not so much when we left. And there are numbers of events you can attend that we didn’t do. There was some sort of a horse show that we could have bought an additional ticket for.

[00:25:50] Kim Loftus: There are other types of tours you can add on to your visit. But we just did the self-guided because I wasn’t sure what we were going, how long it would take, and we decided we’d just do that. And if we had more time we could go back and add on something but that took most of the day and we were starving and had to get some lunch.

[00:26:11] Kim Loftus: On site they have lots of options for food. You can bring a picnic. But they had a takeaway sandwich counter and they had a sit-down terrace restaurant and Peter was all about taking a sandwich and walking and I was like, I had to sit down.

[00:26:28] Kim Loftus: I was exhausted. So I sat, had lunch by myself and he wandered around with his jambon and butter.

[00:26:38] Annie Sargent: Yeah, jambon-beurre.

[00:26:42] Annie Sargent: Well, that’s fine. Chambord is huge. The gardens are very large and they do have events. If you check their website, between May and September, they have a lot of special events all the time. It’s a very big chateau. It’s a big operation. It attracts a lot of people.

[00:27:02] Annie Sargent: So, yeah, if you can’t do anything else, you have to walk up to the very top and see, see it from the top. Cause you can walk around the roof structure and you get such beautiful views and you get to see all thesculpting in the stone. It’s gorgeous.

[00:27:20] Kim Loftus: Yes. And that was, we did that, we made our way all up to the top. In May of earlier this year the outside was being renovated, so there was lots of scaffolding.

[00:27:30] Kim Loftus: It’s going to be gorgeous when it’s finished, but there was still plenty of exposed building to see. And you, and it’s just really cool to see the design of the chateau reflected in the gardens, like the patterns repeat. It would’ve been really ideal maybe to stay even closer and then rent bikes to do the grounds like, because the grounds are extensive. But there was no way I was, I mean at this point in the trip, we’d put in a lot of miles on our feet and so we were quickly tiring every day, which is typical for us, but…

[00:28:06] Kim Loftus: It’s a beautiful place and I’m glad we did what we did, but if you wanted to explore more, there’s definitely more to do. Because it was a hunting lodge, so a lot of what they, their events are related to, like the horses or the equipment they would’ve used and things like that.

[00:28:22] Annie Sargent: Yeah. yep. And that’s the true of a lot of these places. People think, oh, we might run out of things to do, but you rarely do in a big place like Chambord, you don’t, I mean there’s, you could spend several days and have a good time, honestly.

[00:28:38] Annie Sargent: Most visitors who are likely to listen to this podcast are not going to do that, but French people will take it slower and will spend a day, a full day, perhaps two at a place like Chambord.

[00:28:52] Kim Loftus: Yeah, and I think in your Join Us in France group there was advice like that. You’ll appreciate it if you spend most of the day there, if not more.

[00:29:01] Kim Loftus: And that’s what we did. But we had, we had places to go, we had to move along and get to Orléans for the festival.

[00:29:08] Annie Sargent: But you made some more stops along the way.


[00:29:11] Kim Loftus: Yes. These were all, these were significant, these were very small towns along the Loire, but they were Joan of Arc related. In Beaugency, that was a lovely little stop where she led the siege and kicked the English out, and also at Meung-sur-Loire she took back a river. And both of them are small towns and they’re right along, they’re one after the other on your way to Orléans which I guess it’s northeast. And they have, they both have churches, they both have little castles, timber frame houses, the bridge over the river, just there’s lots there. And if you go to the visitor center and ask them, what do you have on Joan of Arc, they were great. They told me exactly how to find the markers or, and there was more things related to Joan than I even knew about, so we’re really glad we stopped at the visitor center and asked those questions.

Orléans, Fetes de Jeanne d’Arc

[00:30:08] Annie Sargent: Very good. All right, and then you moved on to Orléans.

[00:30:14] Kim Loftus: Yes, this was like the, got-to-do-this-someday-in-my-life thing. Orléans has celebrated,it’s called Fetes de Jeanne d’Arc.

[00:30:24] Kim Loftus: It’s a 10 day celebration. They’ve been doing this for years, and it takes place like the end of April, first part of May. And we timed it so we got there the last three days of the celebration. Because there’s a parade and all kinds of other activities going on in the town. It’s a huge event for them. And it exceeded all my geeky expectations.

[00:30:56] Annie Sargent: Why?

[00:30:57] Kim Loftus: One of the things they do in maybe January, February is they choose a young woman from their village to represent Joan in the parade. And this year it was actually a descendant, she’s a many times great niece of Joan. Her name was Clotilde Fouguet d’Arc, and she was a descendant of one of her brothers.

[00:31:21] Kim Loftus: So it just made it, that alone would’ve sealed the deal for me. But I’ve always wanted to see one of the light and sound shows that’s projected on the cathedrals in one of a village or one of the towns. And that’s the one of the main things of this festival is they retell the story after Joan and her troops kicked the English out of Orelans andalleviated the siege.

[00:31:49] Kim Loftus: They’d been under a siege, like there was no one going in and out of the city for a long time. There’s this whole story about her leading the troops over the Loire Bridge and coming down this long road, a boulevard to the front of the cathedral, and then celebrating masks in the victory. And so the projection on the cathedral is seen all along this long boulevard and it’s an enormous cathedral. And there are speakers all along this boulevard and you’re waiting and waiting and it’s getting darker and suddenly there’s they project fire on the building. You can see this glowy, it looks, it’s so cool. And then you start to hear horse hooves clumping on the street.

[00:32:35] Kim Loftus: Clumping is the right word, but you know that sound they make when they walk with their horseshoe on a street.

[00:32:41] Annie Sargent: Clip, clop, clip, clop.

[00:32:43] Kim Loftus: Yes. And you can hear it. Because of how they place the speakers along, it’s coming closer and closer and the lights are getting brighter on the Cathedral and suddenly, you know, when they get close enough, you can start to hear voices talking like they’re portraying what it would’ve been like for having Joan and the troops coming into the city and arriving up to the cathedral. So someone like me, I had goosebumps and was like, oh my gosh. And then when she, when that makes its way up to the cathedral, the whole light show takes place and there’s a narrator talking about Joan, how the battle went and what happened, and I didn’t understand all of it, but the projections on the Cathedral are just incredible. We’ve never seen anything like it. We don’t have anything like it in the US.

[00:33:34] Annie Sargent: And so this was St. Croix Cathedral, right?

[00:33:37] Kim Loftus: That’s right. The cathedral itself, we’ve explored that during the day, there’s a chapel to Joan and it’s really, there were numerous events in there over the three days that we were there celebrating this lifting of the siege, and there are standards for all of the we, the soldier, family leaders, in the cathedral.

[00:34:01] Kim Loftus: So there’s a banner for Joan’s family. Once, once the prince was crown King, he noble Joan’s family, and that’s why they’re called D’Arc.

[00:34:11] Annie Sargent: Right, right.

[00:34:12] Kim Loftus: Their nobility name. So that they have their little thing there. And the church itself is massive and beautiful and it’s all dressed up for this festival, because there’s lots of events in there.

[00:34:24] Annie Sargent: So you liked Orléans?

[00:34:25] Kim Loftus: We did, we enjoyed it. And we stayed in a lovely little hotel, Hôtel de l’Abeille. Yes. And so they have little bees on there in the hotel, but it’s also, it’s a local owned, small boutique hotel, ideal location in, they have all kinds of Joan of Arc sculptures and artwork on the walls, so of course loved it. They had a delicious breakfast and their staff was great. It’s all antiques, like not only Joan of Arc decorations, but it’s a really cool little French hotel.

Biking along the Loire trail

[00:35:05] Annie Sargent: Nice. And your husband rented a bike and did a bike ride along the Loire?

[00:35:12] Kim Loftus: Yes. So he, he does a lot of biking here at home and we always watch the Tour de France, enjoy all that. When he saw there were several bike rentals in Orléans and there’s this beautiful path along the river, he’s like, I’ve got to do that. So one day he rented a bike and he went out along the Loire trail.

[00:35:36] Annie Sargent: Mm-hmm.

Jousting on Boats

[00:35:37] Kim Loftus: And he was so glad he did because he came across some really wonderful things, including what looked like a club, having jousting in boats.

[00:35:47] Kim Loftus: And he just said it was so delightful. It was like there were three or four people in a boat and they were jousting. They would come at each other, and it all looked like it was for fun. It was all for fun. But there were, they had, they must have had something on them, so he knew they were teams, like they had colors or something.

[00:36:06] Kim Loftus: But he filmed it a little bit and showed me later and I thought, I have never, I never came across anything about that. So I’m glad he did.

[00:36:16] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so the place that’s famous for doing jousting on boats is Sète every summer. This is on the Mediterranean. Every summer they put on big, I mean, it’s a big show, lots and lots of people come to watch it. And they joust and the, and of course you, the idea is to have the other person fall into the water and yeah, it’s fun.

[00:36:41] Kim Loftus: Yeah, he said it was funny, and everyone was enjoying it was a beautiful day. But he also noticed there were a lot of bikers who were all set to, they had camping gear on their bikes, and then we looked it up you can ride your bike from place to place, and there’s camping sites. And it was, he was very impressed with the trail and the beauty of it right along the river.

[00:37:03] Annie Sargent: That’s great. Yeah. The riding bikes along the river, the Loire River is a favorite for a lot of people. So that, that’s really good to know. That’s good to know.

[00:37:14] Annie Sargent: And then you mentioned a restaurant, a halal restaurant, Assiette Gourmande.

[00:37:22] Kim Loftus: Right. It was not far from the hotel and it was our last night in Orléans. And so we picked this place and again, we went early. And they didn’t speak any English and they were very helpful. And then my chicken and mushroom dish was excellent. Just, I still think about it.

Airport Hotels

[00:37:44] Annie Sargent: Wonderful. Okay. One last thing I want to talk about is that you had to spend some time at the hotels, at hotels at the airport. So on this trip, you stayed both at the Ibis Hotel by the airport, the CDG airport and the Hilton. Tell us a little bit about these two hotels.

[00:38:07] Kim Loftus: Okay, so this, my trip was back when you had to have a negative Covid test for return home. And unfortunately, I tested positive the day before departure. And my husband was negative. And I’m like, you have to go home tomorrow and I’ll figure out what to do. So we had a reservation at the Ibis, where we’d stayed before, but it was hot by then. They said the air conditioning was on, it wasn’t. And I don’t remember, there was something else, but we were like, this is just not as comfortable a place for your last night before leaving. We like staying at the Charles de Gaulle because our departure is in the morning and we don’t have to try to get to the airport.

[00:38:50] Kim Loftus: Our goal is to get a good night’s sleep and just eat breakfast, go into the airport, and you’re done.

[00:38:56] Kim Loftus: So we just decided we wouldn’t stay there again. And then when had to stay longer and then go home I booked a room at the Hilton, which is right, I don’t know what this little area where the Ibis is. There are several hotels including the Hilton, and I believe there’s a Novotel, and I really enjoyed the Hilton. One, because at that point I was also working remote.

[00:39:22] Kim Loftus: I had taken my laptop in case this happened. So the Hilton had, I actually had a desk in my room and it was a large room. I didn’t need all the room compared to the Ibis. They’re very tiny, which is fine. But because I worked that day, I had everything I needed and there was a lovely hotel restaurant.

[00:39:42] Kim Loftus: I, so my last meal was in the hotel restaurant that it was a fish dish that I really enjoyed. I would recommend staying at the Hilton instead of Ibis, unless things change.

[00:39:56] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. Well, you never know. But yeah, I mean, Ibis is pretty basic, and if it’s just one night, okay, whatever. But if you’re going to stay a couple of nights. So how long did you have to stay at the Hilton before you could fly home?

[00:40:09] Kim Loftus: Well, so when Peter flew home, I actually took a cab back into Paris, because at the beginning of the trip I had stayed in the 8th arrondissement and I really liked that area. And because I knew I was going to work remote, kind of keep to myself until I tested negative, I went, I got a hotel a block away from where I stayed in the eighth and I stayed there until the night before departure. I stayed at the Hilton. So we just stay at the airport one night.

No more Covid rules

[00:40:43] Annie Sargent: Yeah, no, very good. That’s excellent. Wow, what a trip you had. And this was all like May, 2022, so I know it feels like Covid was a lifetime ago, but it wasn’t that long ago.

[00:40:56] Annie Sargent: You know, just six months ago.

[00:40:58] Annie Sargent: A week or two after I got home they changed the requirements. So I was right at the tail end of that. Yeah. And FYI, there are no more Covid rules, anything in France, nothing. People, every now and then somebody emails me and says, so do I need to get this or that related to Covid? I’m like, no, nothing. Not a thing. Do what you want. At this point, most of us are vaccinated.

[00:41:25] Annie Sargent: Even if we test positive, it’s not a big deal. So life goes on. Thank goodness.

[00:41:32] Kim Loftus: The one thing I would say is, even after Covid, if you’re ill and you need help figuring out what you might take, like the pharmacies were so helpful and I was so embarrassed to go in and say, Hey, I’m testing positive for Covid, where you know, I need ibuprofen or whatever.

[00:41:54] Kim Loftus: I just was so afraid they were going to cart me off to jail somewhere. But they were all very gracious and very helpful and sympathetic.

[00:42:01] Annie Sargent: No, they don’t cart you off to jail for having Covid because they see about a hundred people a day that have covid. Today, even still, like people still test positive and then they go to the pharmacy and they’re like, oh, give me something for the headache, anyway.

[00:42:20] Annie Sargent: Kim, it was lovely talking to you. Thank you so much. And well, I’m going to meet you for real at the bootcamp, so that’s, I look forward to that. That’s going to be great.

[00:42:29] Kim Loftus: That is going to be fantastic. May will be here sooner than I can imagine.

[00:42:35] Annie Sargent: Very soon, and I just placed an order for a sound system. One of the tour guide sound systems where you put something on your ear and you listen so that Elyse doesn’t have to scream. So we’ll have that it, it should arrive in the next few days, and then I’m going to have to test it. I’m going to have to find some unsuspecting tourists and say, okay, let’s test this.

[00:42:58] Annie Sargent: You put this on and I’m going to talk to you.

[00:43:02] Kim Loftus: Yeah, that’s great.

[00:43:03] Annie Sargent: All right, Kim.

[00:43:04] Annie Sargent: Thank you very much and have a wonderful time until we meet in May.

[00:43:10] Kim Loftus: Merci Annie, Au revoir!


Thank you, Patrons

[00:43:20] Annie Sargent: I want to thank my patrons for supporting the show and giving back. Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing that, 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 fantastic!

[00:43:37] Annie Sargent: And a shout out this week to new patrons, Helena Sweeney and Scott Weston. Thank you so much for becoming patrons and making this podcast possible.

[00:43:48] Annie Sargent: And patrons, I would like to encourage 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. And I am working on reworking some of these Patreon rewards and adding a Zoom meeting to the lineup.

Prepare for your trip to France

[00:44:06] Annie Sargent: If you are gearing up for a journey to France and listening to as many episodes as possible to prepare, keep doing it, you are doing it right! This podcast is an excellent resource to help you get ready for your own trip to France.

[00:44:19] Annie Sargent: You can also take advantage of my expertise as your personal itinerary consultant. To get started, simply follow these steps.

[00:44:26] Annie Sargent: Number one, purchase the service at

[00:44:31] Annie Sargent: Number two, complete a questionnaire to share your travel ideas and preferences.

[00:44:36] Annie Sargent: Number three, schedule a phone appointment during which we’ll discuss your plans for about an hour. Jot down all your questions because we’ll have plenty of time to discuss.

[00:44:46] Annie Sargent: And number four, after our conversation I’ll send you a comprehensive document outlining the itinerary that we discussed. Please note that my schedule tends to be really, really booked up. Right now it’s to the end of July.

[00:45:01] Annie Sargent: So, secure your spot and let’s create memorable French adventures just for you.

VoiceMap app self-guided tours of Paris

[00:45:08] Annie Sargent: And if my schedule is fully booked and you cannot consult with me directly, you can still take me along in your pocket by getting my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app. I have seven immersive tours each showcasing a distinct iconic neighborhood of Paris. You can choose from Eiffel Tower, Ile de la Cité, Le Marais, Montmartre, Saint Germain des Prés or the Latin Quarter.

[00:45:36] Annie Sargent: With my guided tours, you can not worry about a thing, fully immerse yourself in the Parisian ambiance, and you will not need to fight with Google Maps. Just follow the sound of my voice and look around.

[00:45:49] Annie Sargent: You can access my tours directly from the VoiceMap app. But if you purchase tour codes from, you’ll receive a special listener discount.

[00:46:03] Annie Sargent: The difference is if you buy the codes from me, it’s not immediate. So if you need the codes immediately, please buy through the VoiceMap app.

Getting tickets for highly sought-after attractions in Paris


[00:46:12] Annie Sargent: Let’s talk about getting tickets to those really sought-after sites in Paris.

[00:46:18] Annie Sargent: So today, we’ll discuss the Eiffel Tower and the Catacombs, but there are similar problems with getting tickets to the Louvre and the Orsay Museum. I’ve mentioned it on the podcast before, but let me say this very important tidbit again.

[00:46:34] Annie Sargent: When you buy so-called skip the line tickets, the only line you’re skipping is the ticket line. It doesn’t matter who you buy from, you will still need to go through the security line.

[00:46:48] Annie Sargent: And at the Eiffel Tower there’s also a line to get on the elevator.

[00:46:53] Annie Sargent: Who sells skip the line tickets?

[00:46:56] Annie Sargent: Well, Viatour and Get Your Guide are the two that I run into all the time, but I’m sure there are others. They make a lot of money buying up all the tickets the instant they become available, then selling them for two or three times the face value price. How do they manage to get the tickets the instant they become available? They have staff, writing computer scripts that constantly ping the servers to buy as many tickets as they can. The folks who run the Eiffel Tower and the Catacombs, they know this is happening and they want to slow them down, but they can’t stop it completely because they also want to sell tickets online, right? It’s like a… how do you deal with this?

[00:47:39] Annie Sargent: So they change the rules frequently, and they keep the computers guessing, but making a thousand guesses a second is easy for computers to do and very hard for a human to do.

[00:47:51] Annie Sargent: So, the computers always win and the people are always confused. That’s unfortunately how it works.

[00:47:58] Annie Sargent: Today, I read this on the Join Us in France Facebook group from someone called Erika. She wrote: “The catacombs of Paris was a top priority for my son. I was having issues getting tickets in advance on the official site since it appears they only booked seven day priors. I booked through Viatour and they canceled our reservation the night before our tour. We went to the catacombs anyway to see if we could get in. We were not the only ones that this had happened to. The docents let us buy tickets there, which were a hundred Euros cheaper. Be aware that tour operators are not reliable, and if this happens to you, just go and they will try to accommodate you.”

[00:48:43] Annie Sargent: So let me now read some of the reactions to this post. Somebody says: “On my bucket list.” Yeah, that’s the problem. It’s on a lot of people’s bucket list and there are people who will not bat an eye at paying a hundred more than the face value of the tickets for these places. And, yeah, yeah. That’s just how it is.

[00:49:04] Annie Sargent: Someone else says: “We use Viatour in Spain and had no issues at all.” It’s true. Sometimes it works out, right? Sometimes it works out, it’s just times when it doesn’t that it’s a problem.

[00:49:14] Annie Sargent: Someone else says: “They canceled my tour too!” So it happens to people.

[00:49:20] Annie Sargent: Somebody else says: “FYI, when I was there, I had pre-purchase tickets through the official site, they were turning away people that didn’t have tickets.” Yes, this is important, just showing up does not always work. Sometimes it does, sometimes it does not.

[00:49:37] Annie Sargent: And another person says: “Third party vendors are speculative and greedy. Sometimes people miss seeing something, but there is so much to see and do in Paris!”

[00:49:48] Annie Sargent: Yes, that’s the message I’m going to try and put across today.

[00:49:51] Annie Sargent: And lastly, one person says: “I never recommend Viatour, they are a third party and sell other people’s tours, customers pays more and tour provider gets less.”

Paris in High Season

[00:50:02] Annie Sargent: Yes, that is sadly true. So, the thing is, if you are visiting Paris in June, July, August, September, this is high season, all of it is high season. And this year, high season is out of control busy.

[00:50:19] Annie Sargent: Lots of venues are putting limits on the number of visitors because staff cannot handle this huge increase of visitors. So what can you do? Well, dial the expectations back, please. I know you don’t want to hear this, but nobody dies if you cannot go up the Eiffel Tower.

[00:50:37] Annie Sargent: Right now, if you go to the official Eiffel Tower site, it says: ” High demand for the summer. Because demand is so high for the summer, I’m just translating this by sight from the French. Okay. I’m sure they say something similar in the English site. Because of high demand this summer, e-tickets for visits to the summit or to the second floor via the elevators are just about sold out until the end of July.

[00:51:05] Annie Sargent: E-tickets to get to the second floor through the stairs are sold J-14. So, when you see that J-14, it’s Jour which means day minus 14 days. And then they say: L’achat en caisse est toujours possible le jour de votre visite pour un usage immédiat. So that means you can still buy tickets at the register on the day of your visit to be used immediately. So, they don’t want you to show up and say, I want a ticket for tomorrow, they will not sell you that. But they, if you are there and you stood in line, they will probably sell you a ticket for that day.

[00:51:46] Annie Sargent: So, perhaps you can stand in line and get tickets, perhaps you’ll decide that it’s not worth it and move on, you know, it’s up to you to decide. But this business of J-14 is really important. Every site in Paris does this anymore. They just set a specific day when the tickets go on sale, and because of Viatour and Get Your Guide, they keep switching how many days that is.

[00:52:12] Annie Sargent: All the time, like, so Eiffel Tower was 60 days, then it went to 30 days, now who knows what it is, you know? So, just know if you want tickets to the Eiffel Tower, it’s going to be difficult to get them.

[00:52:24] Annie Sargent: The easy way to do this is to do what I recommend in my tour, and I will recommend it to you right now. So, you don’t even have to buy my tour to get the advice. What you do is you show up before the Eiffel Tower opens. If you happen to walk my tour, I recommend you start that at sunrise and you have about 40 minutes after sunrise when the light is absolutely glorious. And if you do that, no matter what time sunrise is, you are going to get to the Eiffel Tower, down the hill, by before it opens.

[00:52:59] Annie Sargent: Then when you get there, you will see a line and it’s going to say line for people who have a ticket, line for people who don’t have a ticket, line for people who are going to the restaurant, line for people who, I don’t know, have a headache. It doesn’t matter. It all goes to the same security booth, all of them.

[00:53:17] Annie Sargent: So just stand in the shortest line, okay? Doesn’t matter. Then, once you pass security, you are underneath the secured area of the Eiffel Tower, and you can see the ticket line. If you show up as soon as they open, probably there’s not going to be that many people there. You can be in line, get your ticket and do it first thing in the morning.

[00:53:39] Annie Sargent: If you decide that it’s too many people, perhaps you couldn’t show up right as they open, perhaps it’s now 11:00 AM or noon or whatever, and everybody and their dogs is there. Well perhaps, you know, perhaps it’s not worth it to you, but at least you’ll walk around underneath the Eiffel Tower and that’s a pretty cool experience in its own right. Okay? It’s a good thing to do.

[00:54:04] Annie Sargent: I would ask you to not reward Viatour and Get Your Guide by paying them top dollars for a service that they may cancel at the last minute. Just don’t buy those tickets. You’re encouraging them if you do, you know, don’t buy them. So, what do I recommend that you do?

[00:54:21] Annie Sargent: Like I said, walk my tour, get to the tower before it opens, go through security, and if you still don’t want to wait in that line, then do something else around the Eiffel Tower.

What else can you do around Eiffel Tour

[00:54:33] Annie Sargent: Here’s a few ideas. You could take a river cruise. There’s a dock right by the Eiffel Tower. You could get on the Batobus, which is the hop on, hop off boat, not the bus, the boat. It’s better than the bus, you really don’t want to get on that bus.

[00:54:49] Annie Sargent: You can get on bus number 69. That’s a city bus that goes not very far from the Eiffel Tower, and you can use it like a hop on, hop off bus, except instead of paying 30 bucks, you pay, you know, one ticket, one metro ticket every time you get on and off. It’s pretty inexpensive if you do it that way. And it goes through a lot of wonderful sites in Paris that you’ll want to stop at and look at.

[00:55:14] Annie Sargent: You could walk to Rue Cler, which is kind a cool street. It will be very busy because Rick Steves recommend it. So it’s going to be mobbed, but whatever. That one is way better to do in the wintertime when it’s normal people.

[00:55:28] Annie Sargent: You could go to the Rodin Museum or Les Invalides, which is the Army Museum. The Rodin Museum can be visited in two hours, you know. Les Invalides is more like four hours, but for museum people, that’s great.

[00:55:42] Annie Sargent: Or you could walk back to the Trocadero and visit one of the museums there, you know, there’s no way you can be bored in that area.

[00:55:50] Annie Sargent: And there’s many other things. I didn’t list everything. I just gave you a few, okay? There’s many more.

The Catacombs

[00:55:55] Annie Sargent: How about the catacombs? Well, if you cannot buy a ticket a week early, you can go to the area and see if they will sell you a same day ticket. Again, it’s best not to do this at 11 or noon when everybody else is also showing up. Go be there before opening time is best. But if you cannot get tickets, here’s what else you can do.

[00:56:17] Annie Sargent: Right there across the catacombs, you have the Musée de la Libération de Paris, an amazing museum, especially for history buffs. But kids will also like going down to the bunker. You also have Rue Daguère a really cool food shopping street. Just as cool as Rue Cler, but not as many visitors. You know, a few, but not as many.

[00:56:39] Annie Sargent: There’s the Montparnasse cemetery, just as cool as Père Lachaise, not as famous, but it’s really, really cool and lots of people are buried there too, lots of famous people are buried there too.

[00:56:51] Annie Sargent: You could have a meal at La Coupole. It’s a big restaurant, reservations are not usually necessary. La Fondation Cartier is nearby as well, you could visit that.

[00:57:02] Annie Sargent: Normally, I would recommend that you go up the Tour Montparnasse to enjoy the view from the top, but access to the terrace is closed right now because the owner of the building and the tour operator as they’re suing one another, it may not be resolved for some time, but even without the Tour Montparnasse, there is so much to do around the catacombs.

[00:57:20] Annie Sargent: So, don’t sweat it, there’s a lot to do in Paris. Don’t let a minor issue with not being able to get a ticket ruin your vacation. Roll with the flow and take the opportunity to explore new places that are not as famous, but just as wonderful. And of course, consider visiting places in France other than Paris. That’s pretty obvious, but lots of people don’t, they just think Paris, is it? Like, you know, you go to Paris, the end. Well, in Paris right now, half of the world is there. It’s whew. It’s pretty hard. So consider going somewhere else. And we’ve had lots of podcast episodes about cool things you can do outside of Paris.

[00:58:04] Annie Sargent: My thanks to podcast editors Anne and Cristian Cotovan, who produced the transcripts.

[00:58:09] Annie Sargent: These are wonderful resources that allow you to easily locate the episode where we discuss places that are of interest to you.

[00:58:17] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode with Elyse Rivin about the Aude department number 11, so you can hear about one of these wonderful places in France where they never turn away visitors, not even in high season. I think you will enjoy it.

[00:58:36] Annie Sargent: Thank you for listening, and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together. Au revoir!


[00:58:43] 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.

[00:58:59] Annie Sargent:

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Categories: French History, Loire Valley