Transcript for Episode 471: The Road Less Traveled in France, Episode 471

Category: Off the Beaten Track in France

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 471, quatre cent soixante et onze.

[00:00:22] 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: Taking the Less Traveled Road in France

[00:00:37] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a trip report with Heather Frankiewicz about the road less traveled in France.

[00:00:44] For instance, Heather went to Le Puy du Fou, which is not a park most English-speaking visitors go to. But should they? Heather might inspire you.

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] Or you can take a day trip with me around the southwest in my electric car. You can browse all of that at my boutique joinusinfrance.com/boutique.

Feedback from Catherine McMillan

[00:01:16] Annie Sargent: And speaking of my Itinerary Consult Service, I want to play some feedback I got about this service from Catherine McMillan. Now, I have to tell you that Catherine, and you won’t hear this because her English is really, really good, but she’s just like me.

[00:01:30] She’s French born and raised. She has been living in the US for a very long time, but she has family all over France and knows the country better than your average bear. Okay. So I was gobsmacked when I got her feedback.

[00:01:46] Merci Catherine et au plaisir de vous rencontrer dans la vraie vie un de ces jours peut être.

[00:01:51] Catherine McMillan: We booked a virtual consultation with Annie as we’re contemplating spending three to four months in the southwest of France next year. We’d only given her some rough criteria for our plan over email, but she was already well prepared when we met. We found Annie to be fun, easy to talk to, and full of creative ideas on the fly.

[00:02:10] We’d gone through a number of permutations of how we would divide our time, but it was Annie who offered up a different suggestion that hit the nail right on the head and made everything fall into place. The day after our call, we received from Annie a document as she had promised. But it’s not just a report, it’s an incredibly complete and thorough Bible that covers every aspect of a trip such as what we’re proposing and is customized to our needs. The net result of this service is that we’re feeling very liberated and extremely well prepared for this adventure.

[00:02:45] Annie is a fountain of knowledge and I have no doubt that IF she doesn’t know something, and that’s a big IF, she’ll either point you in the right direction or will turn around and dig up the answers for you.

[00:02:57] I can’t say enough about Annie and this remarkable resource she offers.

[00:03:01] Merci, Annie!

Bootcamp update

[00:03:02] Annie Sargent: All right, let’s talk about the bootcamp for just a second. Bootcamp May 2024, the idea is that you come to Toulouse on May 10th, the bootcamp starts on the 11th, but please arrive on the 10th. You hang out with Elyse and I, as well as a group of wonderful fellow listeners and francophiles for 10 days, so don’t leave until the 20th, that’ll make your life easier. You will improve your French, I am sure, because you’ll be taking classes every morning. Everybody who was at the bootcamp last year, really enjoyed the classes. We had such a great time overall that we want to do it again.

[00:03:40] There are however, only a limited number of seats, but there are some left. To find out all the details go to joinusinfrance.com/boutique and you can reserve your spot from there as well. But when it’s gone, it’s gone. Or as we say in French: Quand il n’y en a plus,

[00:03:57] il

[00:03:57] y en

[00:03:58] Annie Sargent: aura eu.

No magazine section

[00:03:58] Annie Sargent: There will not be a magazine part of the podcast today because I am producing four episodes this week before I take off to Utah for Christmas. If you are going to be in Utah and would like to meet, we’ll have an open house to meet friends and family. Email me annie@joinusinfrance.com and I will send you an invite.

[00:04:16] It’s going to be an open house on the 20th of December in Provo. But before I let you listen to this wonderful interview, I want to say thank you to my patrons, and a shout out to new patrons this week, Heather Luttweiler and Ginny N.

[00:04:32] Really, patrons are what keeps this podcast going and it has been going for almost 10 years now.

[00:04:39] To join this wonderful community of francophiles, go to patreon.com/joinus.

[00:04:49] And to support Elyse, go to patreon.com/ElysArt.

[00:04:56] And whatever you celebrate this time of year, I wish you Happy Holidays with family and friends.

Road Less Traveled

[00:05:12] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Heather Frackiewicz and welcome to Join Us in France.

[00:05:17] Heather Frankiewicz: Bonjour, Annie.

[00:05:18] Annie Sargent: Lovely to have you. Today, we’re going to talk about your fairly recent trip to France and we’re going to concentrate on the road the less traveled, because that’s what you chose to do. And so I would like to know why did you choose not to go to the big famous places?

[00:05:37] Heather Frankiewicz: Well, my husband and I have both been to France before. I’m a French teacher, so I’ve been to France many, many times, in particular Paris, but also some of the châteaux and other things. And so, we were also looking for ideas on where to maybe retire. So I had told him that we were thinking Brittany and Normandy, and we wanted to go see a lot of those places.

[00:05:58] And I also wanted to see some things that I had never seen before, so we decided to continue our loop around France and go over to see the World War I battlefields, and Reims, and he had never visited Strasbourg, so we went there as well.

[00:06:11] Annie Sargent: You did get around quite a few places. So we’re not going to try and retrace your steps and do this chronologically, but I do want to hear about your favorite things.

When was the trip?

[00:06:21] Annie Sargent: Well, first of all, tell us the dates of your trip and how you got around.

[00:06:24] Heather Frankiewicz: So we arrived in France on the 28th of June, and we were there until July 19th. And we rented a car for most of our trip. I picked it up at the Bordeaux airport and then we drove and then once we got to Strasbourg, we returned it and then we took the TGV back into Paris.

[00:06:40] Annie Sargent: Oh, so you flew into Paris, into Bordeaux.

[00:06:44] Heather Frankiewicz: Into Bordeaux. Yes, we flew from Poland into Bordeaux.

[00:06:47] Annie Sargent: Ah, you were coming from Poland, yes.

Lost luggage

[00:06:49] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah, we had like a six hour layover in Amsterdam. So we got to step out of the airport a little bit and see Amsterdam and that was when they lost our luggage.

[00:06:56] Annie Sargent: Oh, dear. Oh, dear. So how long, how many days did that take to resolve?

[00:07:03] Heather Frankiewicz: Oh, I didn’t get my luggage back until a week after I got home to Phoenix.

[00:07:06] Annie Sargent: Oh, dear.

[00:07:07] Heather Frankiewicz: He got his maybe two weeks into the trip…

[00:07:10] Annie Sargent: Oh, wow. That’s really long. That’s terrible.

[00:07:14] Heather Frankiewicz: And the sad thing is we knew exactly where it was because of the air tags, and it was just sitting. And I contacted them many, many times, and every time it was, oh, well, we haven’t found it, or we did find it, can we deliver it today. And I would say, no, we’re on the road, and then I wouldn’t hear from them for two or three days. I had to keep hounding them.

[00:07:32] And eventually it did come to the United States and it stayed in Las Vegas and then went to Nashville and then finally came to me.

[00:07:38] Annie Sargent: Which is in Arizona.

[00:07:40] Heather Frankiewicz: Yes.

[00:07:41] Annie Sargent: So they went to Nashville from Las Vegas.

[00:07:45] Heather Frankiewicz: Once it got to Las Vegas, the airport, I guess, decided to put it on FedEx. And FedEx has their headquarters in Nashville , so…

[00:07:52] Annie Sargent: Oh my. So how did you manage? Did you have to buy clothes and stuff?

[00:07:56] Heather Frankiewicz: We ended up going, our very first day in Bordeaux, it was on the trip from the plane from Amsterdam to Bordeaux, but ten minutes after takeoff, the pilot announced, hey, we got some bad news, the conveyor belt in the baggage area has broken, and so only six bags are on this plane. But our choices were to wait at the airport or to get you where you were going and then deliver the bags later.

[00:08:17] And I said, okay, fine, they’ll probably get there, you know, in a couple of days. And the woman in front of me, she was French, she immediately said, oh, la, la, la, la. And she was panicking because she said, all of our suitcases, we have a bunch of meat.

[00:08:28] Annie Sargent: Oh, dear.

[00:08:29] Heather Frankiewicz: And I was thinking, it’s not really your problem anymore, now it’s the airport’s problem.

[00:08:34] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Oh, wow. Wow. So you managed to find what you needed for the time you were in France.

[00:08:40] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah. We went shopping. I would have rather not had to spend the first day in Bordeaux shopping, but we did, we got several things, and then KLM did pay for them. Luckily, almost every single place I had booked had a washer and dryer, or at least a washer, so we were able to just wash things over and over again, and it cut down on how much we had to carry.

[00:09:00] Annie Sargent: Definitely. That’s, see, look on the bright side of life, you know, that’s great. That’s great. Okay.

Car rental

[00:09:07] Annie Sargent: So then you rented a car. It was fine. I’m assuming this was not your first time driving in France.

[00:09:13] Heather Frankiewicz: I rented a car a couple more times in France. I don’t drive in Paris. I try to avoid the big cities. But I did rent the car. It was kind of funny because we got the car, got in the car, my husband turned to me and he said, how comfortable are you driving in France? And I thought, well, it’s kind of late to be asking that now because our entire trip is based on us driving around.

[00:09:32] Annie Sargent: Yeah, now you’re, you’re going, you’re going to do it. So, did you get any tickets?

[00:09:37] Heather Frankiewicz: Not yet, fingers crossed, because the last time I was in France in 2018, I did get a ticket, but not for like three months after I came home.

[00:09:46] Annie Sargent: Yeah, July 19th, it could still happen.

[00:09:49] Heather Frankiewicz: It can still happen.

[00:09:50] I was really careful though, and it was a tiny little Toyota, and it did not have a lot of power. So, if the speed limit was 130 or, you know, 110, I would set it to be like, 122.

[00:10:02] Just make sure that I didn’t go any faster than that, and I honestly don’t know that it could have gone any faster than that.

[00:10:08] Annie Sargent: Was it a Toyota Yaris?

[00:10:09] Heather Frankiewicz: Yep. Yes, it was.

[00:10:10] Annie Sargent: Yeah. The wimpiest car in the universe. My husband has one of those. I won’t talk about the Yaris.

[00:10:17] Heather Frankiewicz: It was kind of a downgrade, because we had just bought a Tesla Model 3 here at home, and we’re used to driving that, and then we got over here, and it’s like, you can floor it , and it’s not going anywhere.

[00:10:27] Annie Sargent: I apologize, Toyota owners, you know, the Yaris is just not okay. It is not okay. But that’s all right. Yeah. So because you drive a Tesla at home, it would have been fairly easy to rent a Tesla here because it’s on the same, you charge with the same app, you find the chargers.

[00:10:47] I mean, it’s exactly the same. You could have done that, but perhaps it wasn’t an option?

[00:10:51] Heather Frankiewicz: I had looked into renting electric. They, I’m glad we didn’t though, because there were two of the places where we stayed where the parking was very, very tight. And even with the Yaris, it was hard to get it in the space. So I don’t know if I could have managed that with the Tesla, and I would have been much, much more stressed trying to park it, knowing that it was a more expensive, bigger car.

[00:11:11] And I wasn’t sure how easy it was going to be to get around to all the superchargers.

[00:11:16] And so I said, eh, we’ll just get a little tiny vehicle and I know how to get gas.

[00:11:20] Annie Sargent: Yeah, well, yeah, I still remember.

[00:11:23] Heather Frankiewicz: Well, once we got there, I was like, oh, there’s electric chargers all over the place. But I don’t think we ever went by a single supercharger. We just didn’t happen to pass one.

[00:11:32] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so the superchargers are kind of hidden. You have to know where they are, but they are everywhere as well. The other brands of chargers are ubiquitous at this point. Everywhere you stop, if you stop on the freeway, or places like that, the one problem that remains is you cannot use your credit card to start the charge on most of those chargers.

[00:11:56] Heather Frankiewicz: We ran into someone like that. She was, it was a Japanese tourist in Strasbourg and she was picking up her electric vehicle and she couldn’t charge it. And the poor guy behind the counter was trying to explain to her in French that you had to have the app and she didn’t really understand. So I went over and I helped her to know you have to get the app.

[00:12:13] So, yeah, it’s a confusing process for people that are not really familiar with it.

[00:12:16] Annie Sargent: Yeah. And these apps are all different and you think you set it up right and then you go to charge and it doesn’t work and you waste 10 minutes calling them and you have to find someone who speaks English. Anyway, if you use a Tesla at home, renting a Tesla in France is a no brainer. But anything else I would wait until that payment thing is sorted out, it’s not going to be much longer.

[00:12:37] So, I think, you know, within a year, perhaps this will have completely changed.

[00:12:42] Heather Frankiewicz: Maybe next year.

[00:12:43] Annie Sargent: Yeah, maybe next year.

Places you loved – Le Puy du Fou

[00:12:45] Annie Sargent: So let’s talk about the places you loved on your trip, and these are places that we haven’t talked about so much. Especially the very first one, Le Puy du Fou.

[00:12:54] Heather Frankiewicz: Mm hmm.

[00:12:54] Annie Sargent: I think it’s come up, but not that much.

[00:12:57] Heather Frankiewicz: Well, I have seen so many ads for it, being a French teacher, I like to use lots of authentic resources in my classroom. And I had seen some ads, some YouTube trailers, and things for it. And my husband and I are both very much into history, so I looked into it and I said, I’ve got to go this time.

[00:13:12] And so we kind of planned our trip that at some point we would be near Le Puy du Fou. And we went and we had a great time. Very crowded though, so if you want to see the shows, you have to get in line for those. We only ended up seeing one live show, but there was enough to see and all the other things that, that we felt that our day was spent really well.

[00:13:30] Annie Sargent: Okay, so describe what’s there because most people haven’t heard about it.

[00:13:34] Heather Frankiewicz: So it’s got a lot of different historical themes, and there are some shows where they do live action things, so you’ve got all these actors, and animals, and horses, and they do tricks, and there are special effects, and they tell the story, and then there are some where it’s more of a walkthrough, it’s not a ride or anything, think of Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland.

[00:13:53] So everything’s built and it’s really neat, but as you walk through, you see all these different things throughout history and it tells you stories. And in some of them, you have some live action, things kind of mixed in. You have the characters that are mixed in. And then there are, of course, little shops and places to eat all around.

[00:14:10] So it’s like Disneyland without rides.

[00:14:13] But you really, you have to like history to get into it. If you don’t speak French, they do have an app that’ll translate it for you, but if you’re not into history, you’re probably not going to like it all that much.

[00:14:24] Annie Sargent: Right. So in France, it’s very popular. Like you said, it’s full all the time, but it’s also a little bit controversial because they tell stories.

[00:14:34] Heather Frankiewicz: Mm hmm.

[00:14:35] Annie Sargent: It’s stories, okay? So yes, it’s stories based on history, but they take a lot of license with the, with the history and, you know, PhD historians are constantly telling them, well, this is incorrect, this is outdated, we don’t know, we don’t think like that anymore, that’s, you know, so there’s a lot of controversy about it. But it’s a pleasant place to be for a day.

[00:15:01] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah, and the weather was nice. I was worried that it was either going to be raining the whole time, or just really, really hot, and it ended up to rain for about five or ten minutes, and then it was nice the rest of the day. So, it was very enjoyable, very pleasant way to spend the day.

[00:15:14] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so tell us where it is, more or less, so people can situate it.

[00:15:18] Heather Frankiewicz: It’s kind of, sort of between Brittany and the Loire Valley, I think technically it’s that it was in the, well, not where all the castles are, but like a little bit to the east of that.

[00:15:30] Annie Sargent: Let’s see, I’m going to look it up, because I don’t actually know where it is. It’s in a town called Les Epesses. And Les Epesses is, let’s see, I’m looking at this, what is it nearby? Oh, it’s a little south east of Nantes. It’s like between Nantes and Poitiers. Okay. Okay.

[00:15:56] Yeah, that’s exactly what you said. It’s between Nantes and Poitiers, so probably you could, this is the sort of thing you could add to, if you’re going to Brittany and then heading to the Loire Valley, you could swing around and see it. Did you sleep there at the park or…?

[00:16:13] Heather Frankiewicz: No. They had a lot of places that you could stay, but instead we rented an Airbnb for one night in a little rural area. They had horses, and geese, and stuff, and it was just like a little private entrance place, and so we stayed there. It was only, you know, maybe 10, 15 minutes away from Puy de Fou, and it was perfect.

[00:16:32] Annie Sargent: Did you list the name of that Airbnb?

[00:16:35] Let’s see.

[00:16:36] Heather Frankiewicz: I can send you all of our Airbnbs if you want.

[00:16:38] Annie Sargent: Oh, yes, you did, you did. You said it was in Cerizay, so a small house unit attached to a house in the country. Quiet and peaceful, but you need to get groceries, and you have to drive. Okay, that’s very cool. Yeah, I bet there’s not a million Airbnbs in Cerizay.

[00:16:56] Heather Frankiewicz: Probably not. I think that they definitely advertised that it was close to Puy du Fou, so they probably get people frequently enough that are there for that reason, but I don’t imagine they get lots of people who just go to see Cerizay.

[00:17:08] Annie Sargent: Yeah, no, there’s probably nothing there.

[00:17:10] Yeah. So there’s going to be the list of the places where you stayed in the show notes or in the guest notes. We’ll see. But this being Airbnb, sometimes you go looking for it and you’ll find it because it’s rented out or something. It’s not available for your dates.

[00:17:26] Well, the same happens with booking really. I don’t like this, that they don’t show you everything that there is. If it’s booked out, they just hide it. I’m like, well, I wanted to know it was there, you know? What if I change dates?

[00:17:38] Heather Frankiewicz: Exactly.

Night at the castle

[00:17:39] Annie Sargent: Anyway, so you like the Puy du Fou, then the next thing you put down is staying in a castle.

[00:17:46] Heather Frankiewicz: Yes, we stayed in a castle when I was looking at all our Airbnb things, it just happened to pop up that there was this castle, and I said, hey, I’ve never stayed in a castle. I’ve been to France so many times, but this is one thing I’ve never done. I rented the castle for a couple nights, and the couple there are so sweet, very, very kind.

[00:18:06] Big history buffs, and they know all sorts of things about the castle and about their family’s history, and so they gave us a little tour, and we saw the oldest parts. They said it was from the 1420s, and they showed us the different sections that had been added since, and told us all about the family history. And there were some things having to do with the marriage of Henry IV and Marguerite de Navarre, and the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and it was just gorgeous. It was walking distance to a town, where you could go through this beautiful private drive and end up at a bakery. And my husband learned that sheep have tails if you don’t cut them off.

[00:18:39] Annie Sargent: Ah, yeah. Yeah.

[00:18:41] Heather Frankiewicz: And so, and he found some mushrooms in the forest, so… he was pretty happy.

[00:18:46] Annie Sargent: Did he eat them?

[00:18:47] Heather Frankiewicz: He didn’t. He took them back and he said, look, there’s mushrooms. And they said, oh, yes, they’re not quite ready yet. Of course, you know, he’s from Poland, so he knows all about his mushrooms, but we didn’t really cook in the castle. We had a kitchen, but we didn’t really cook.

[00:18:59] Annie Sargent: Right, right. You said it was in the town of VAY. So I went looking for the castle in Vay and la mairie de Vay, so the city hall, has a page about this castle, and they give you the link to the Airbnb and you can, you know, they’re like, yay, come stay here. You know? It’s cute. It’s very nice.

[00:19:20] Definitely off the beaten track.

[00:19:23] Heather Frankiewicz: But it was wonderful and my husband, he loves finding things that have gone missing, and he’s really good at it too. And as soon as he looked at the history book from this castle saying that, oh well there’s this whole entire section that was around the castle and now there’s no trace, he’s like, I think I could find it.

[00:19:37] If I just stayed here I could find it for them.

[00:19:40] Annie Sargent: Oh, cool.

[00:19:41] Heather Frankiewicz: Okay, but unfortunately we’re moving on, so you won’t be able to stay here.

Celebrating La Fête Nationale

[00:19:45] Annie Sargent: So the third thing you list is celebrating La Fête Nationale. So where were you for the 14th of July?

[00:19:52] Heather Frankiewicz: We were in Paris. I planned that we would take the train in from Strasbourg to Paris on July 13th so that we’d have time to get some groceries and get situated and then be able to spend the 14th doing fun things. We went to the Bal des Pompiers on the 13th. And I told them, this is a very French thing to do and most Americans are not ever going to get to do this.

[00:20:13] So, took a little walk and went to the fire station where people were hanging out with the firefighters and, you know, just having a good time. And next, we walked down to the, well, we took the metro into the center of town and we stood on the bridge and we watched La Patrouille fly overhead and took some great pictures and just enjoyed being out for all the partying.

[00:20:34] Annie Sargent: Which bridge did you stand on? Do you remember? There’s a lot of them.

[00:20:38] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah, there’s a lot of them. I honestly don’t remember which one it was. We looked for one that wasn’t particularly crowded.

[00:20:43] It was right by the Louvre.

[00:20:45] Annie Sargent: Okay, so Pont des Arts, Pont des Arts could have been…

[00:20:50] Heather Frankiewicz: I did not see any locks on the bridge, so I don’t think it was…

[00:20:53] Annie Sargent: Pont Neuf is also by there.

[00:20:55] Heather Frankiewicz: It might have been, yeah, I think it might have been.

[00:20:58] Annie Sargent: Cool. Yeah. That’s one way to do it. You know, you walk along the Seine and you find one and they fly over the river, right?

[00:21:05] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah, so we just, we were walking, and I said, hey, this one’s not very busy, let’s go on this one, and so we stood there for a little while, and the crowds got bigger, but we had a good spot, so when they came over, we were able to see.There were a few tourists that were walking by going, what’s everybody doing, why is everybody standing on the bridge? And people were telling them, watch, watch, and one of the, the Bateau Mouches was going under the bridge and the people were completely oblivious.

[00:21:27] They’re all looking at us and taking pictures and waving and we’re all pointing, going, turn around, turn around, and then finally somebody just went, wait a minute, here comes the planes.

[00:21:34] Annie Sargent: And then what else did you do that day?

[00:21:37] Heather Frankiewicz: Oh, we kind of just walked around, looked at some various things, we walked by Notre Dame, I had hoped to go stand on the zero kilometer marker so that I would get my trip back to Paris. I do that every time and unfortunately you can’t get to it.

[00:21:50] Annie Sargent: It’s still covered up. I don’t, I think they might open that section last when they’re really ready to open.

[00:21:57] Heather Frankiewicz: It’s like, well, I hope to get to Paris again someday, but I haven’t done my superstition, so we’ll see if that works.

[00:22:03] Annie Sargent: Yeah, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. You’re probably okay. Did you see the fireworks?

[00:22:09] Heather Frankiewicz: A little bit. We were pretty tired at that time. We had been in Europe for about four weeks, and so we were just a little bit worn out, and decided to just, we did watch the concert on TV in the apartment, and then ended up, you know, just staying in for the night.

[00:22:24] Annie Sargent: Yeah, there’s always a concert at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, and they start with the good stuff, the classical music, and then they end with the crappy stuff, the hip hop and whatever. So please, nobody go to the classical music bit because they have some amazing performers every year and it’s free and it’s fantastic and as the night wears on, it just gets worse and worse. In my opinion, of course, in my opinion.

[00:22:49] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah, I was thinking, I said, well, maybe I could take my husband and then I realized he really doesn’t like the crowds and this probably isn’t the best for him, so…

[00:22:56] Annie Sargent: Yeah, if you don’t want crowds, do not go to that, yeah.

[00:22:59] Heather Frankiewicz: I think I had pushed it already with the Bal des pompiers.

[00:23:02] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yes, it’s a popular event. I mean, people love that, it’s just a really fun thing to do.

[00:23:09] Heather Frankiewicz: And then he saw it on TV and he’s like: Oh, I’m glad I’m not there. And I thought, Oh, I’m glad I didn’t take him.

[00:23:16] Annie Sargent: That’s good.

Chilling on the Normandy beachfront

[00:23:18] Annie Sargent: All right. So the fourth thing you list is chilling on the Normandy beachfront. Where did you go and what did you do?

[00:23:26] Heather Frankiewicz: So we stayed in a little place called Bernières-sur-Mer, and it was a tiny, tiny little apartment, but it was up on the top story of a four story building. And we had a balcony where you were literally just step outside and you could, you were right on the beach. It was wonderful. Yes, it was beautiful. And we just spent a lot of time sitting on our balcony, enjoying the breeze and the weather and watching the tide come in.

[00:23:50] It was right next to the Canadian House, which was a huge, huge thing in World War II for the Canadians. And so we walked up and down and visited some of the other little tiny towns along the way. We didn’t really drive around and I had thought, well, maybe we’ll drive around here and see some of the different things that were in the area.

[00:24:08] But we’ve already been to the D-Day cemeteries for the American Cemetery and we had already visited Pointe du Hoc and all of those things, The Caen Peace Memorial.

[00:24:18] So instead we decided to just relax and enjoy a few days on the beach doing French beach things instead of touristy things where we drive everywhere.

[00:24:27] And he loved it. Yeah, he loved it because he’s a big fan of the beach. He just loves to go out and listen to the waves come in and walk in the sand.

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

[00:24:36] Heather Frankiewicz: It’s pretty nice.

[00:24:37] Annie Sargent: Was it very busy? Were there a lot of visitors at that time of year?

[00:24:40] Heather Frankiewicz: It was starting to get busy. It wasn’t as crowded as I’m sure it got just a little bit later, but there were some people there. I would guess that a lot of the places were rented out. There were quite a few French people that were starting their vacation because it was in July.

[00:24:53] It was in the very beginning of July.

[00:24:55] Annie Sargent: Mm hmm.

[00:24:56] Heather Frankiewicz: So some of them are starting to show up.

[00:24:58] Annie Sargent: And you had good weather?

[00:24:59] Heather Frankiewicz: You know, it didn’t rain at all. It wasn’t too hot. It was perfect. We were surprised because our entire trip, we had really expected. I had told them it’s been hot, the last time I was in Europe, it was really hot.

[00:25:09] We went to Ireland first and it didn’t rain at all. Then we went to Poland and it was beautiful every single day, not too hot, not too cold. And then the same thing happened in France. And even when they were on the news talking about how hot it was in Southern Europe, it was still beautiful where we were.

[00:25:23] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. So this year, July was different than last year. This year, it was much milder in most of France. Corsica and Provence were the exception. They got really, really hot at some point in July. But the rest, even Toulouse was not super hot. I mean, it was warm. You know, it’s summer warm, but not uncomfortable.

[00:25:44] And Paris, it rained quite a bit in Paris, it was cooler. Normandy and Brittany were also quite a bit cooler. But this, today, the week we’re recording, we were recording late August and we are slammed with a hundred plus degrees all week, so, I’m happily indoors with the air conditioning on, so…

[00:26:05] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah, we were watching the news and they kept talking too about Arizona because Arizona had had a heat wave. They were saying, oh, it’s been 30 plus days of over 110. And we’re thinking, oh, our poor kids back at home.

[00:26:16] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:26:17] Heather Frankiewicz: It’s so hot there. And then we got to come home and enjoy that. But the week after we left is when some of the big rainstorms came in Paris.

[00:26:24] They said that they were having some pretty big floods and stuff.

[00:26:27] So I said, well, we got out of there just in time.

[00:26:29] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that’s what’s happening with climate change is, you know, the weather is changing and unpredictable in many ways. And so you just have to be ready for a little bit of everything, I guess.

[00:26:41] Heather Frankiewicz: That’s why when we went shopping for clothes, after they lost our luggage, I was a little bit worried that, well, I’m going to have to buy several things. Because is it going to be hot the whole time we’re here? Is it going to be cold the whole time we’re here? Because there’s no telling.

[00:26:53] Annie Sargent: Yeah. You can’t tell. You can’t. Yeah. You don’t know. All right. So Normandy beachfront is a big hit with you.

[00:26:59] Heather Frankiewicz: It was a nice relaxing few days.

Walking around Vannes

[00:27:00] Annie Sargent: Yeah, then number five is walking around Vannes, so that’s south of Brittany. Tell us about that.

[00:27:07] Heather Frankiewicz: So this is another one of those little places where I thought, well, this might not be a bad place to go check out. Maybe we can retire there or spend a few months each year there if we like it, because we were looking for something where it’s not a teeny tiny town, because we do want some of the amenities of a city, but we don’t want too many people.

[00:27:24] And so we went there and we found that it’s just the right size. It’s a sizable number of people, all the different things that you need. But it’s not too busy and too crowded. So we were there, we got to take a walk around and see the, like the marina. They were having some, the end of some triathlon or something when we were there, so we got to see a lot of the people come across the finish line.

Dental problems while in France

[00:27:45] Heather Frankiewicz: And that is where my husband lost his crown.

[00:27:48] So, we ended up looking for a dentist who could do an emergency one, temporary, and we never did find one. Yeah, we went to a dentist office first thing in the morning, and they said, well, we can’t do anything for you, you need to call 15.

[00:28:00] And so, we called 15, and they said, go to the hospital. So, we went to the hospital, and they said: No, there’s nobody here, call 15.

[00:28:06] When we told them what we did, they said, oh, well, why don’t you just try going to a dentist and see if someone can do it? And at that point he said, well, it’s not really hurting that badly. So we just went to a pharmacist and they gave him some gel that he could put on it that took away the pain.

[00:28:19] And he came home and got it fixed. So that was kind of a runaround.

[00:28:22] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that’s always a problem. If you break a tooth on vacation…

[00:28:26] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah.

[00:28:27] Annie Sargent: Dentists are very busy and you’d have to, I mean, how I would deal with this, if it were me, I would not call 15 because even though that’s what you’re supposed to do, I mean, they don’t have a dentist on call at the hospital most of the time, unless there’s something really strange happening.

[00:28:45] So you just go to several dental offices and plead your case, you know.

[00:28:49] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah.

[00:28:50] Annie Sargent: If you can tell them I can come back at a drop of a hat, you know, if you tell them here’s my phone, text me and I’ll be right over. They will probably take you eventually, but you have to be really on it, like, you know, it has to be…

[00:29:03] Yeah. And especially in the summer, when half of them are on vacation anyway, that would be hard.

[00:29:09] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah, if it had been hurting him quite a bit, I would have insisted, Okay, we’re just going to take a whole day and we’re going to go to all the dentists in this town. We’re going to find someone who can at the very least just glue something in there so that it doesn’t hurt you anymore. He was like, eh, it’s annoying, but as long as I don’t eat on it or I don’t put something cold on it, it’s OK

[00:29:26] It was okay, yeah. Well, if it’s a crown, normally, unless you split it, you know, you really hit it hard, that’s different.

[00:29:34] All right, so that’s Vannes, pretty, pretty town, definitely. How many days did you spend there?

[00:29:39] We were there for two days.

[00:29:41] Annie Sargent: Two days, yeah. And it was sufficient.

[00:29:42] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah, because we went around, we went in the old town, walked around the ramparts, got to visit that, there was a lake not far from where we are, so we walked around that a little bit. Just enjoyed taking a slower, slower couple of days, getting kebab downstairs. Going shopping.

French Taco

[00:30:01] Annie Sargent: Yeah, there’s a photo of your husband eating a French taco and looking puzzled.

[00:30:06] Heather Frankiewicz: I told him when we got to Paris, I said, I’m going to take you to get French tacos because it’s such a thing to get tacos here in Arizona, but everybody has their favorite little hole-in-the-wall taco place.

[00:30:17] It’s funny because, you know, you’ll mention Taco Bell and it’s like, yeah, that’s not Mexican food.

[00:30:21] But I took him there and I said, you have to try a French taco. It’s not a taco. It’s good for what it is. If you understand that it’s not Mexican tacos, you won’t be disappointed. And so I tried to get him to tell me what he wanted on it. He wouldn’t. He’s like, I have no idea. Oh, fine. Click, click, click on the little kiosk, you’re getting this. And he liked it.

[00:30:40] He said, this is not tacos, but he ate it all.

[00:30:42] Annie Sargent: It is not tacos, but it’s okay, it’s okay. I don’t order them either. I mean, to me if it says taco, it has to be a, you know, Mexican taco. I can’t have this French taco business. I’m not that open minded.

[00:30:55] Heather Frankiewicz: Most of my students are Mexican American, and so I show them, I show them the O’takos. We watch some of the Fast Good Food videos on YouTube, where he goes to O’takos, and they’re always like, this, it looks good, but this is not a taco.

[00:31:10] Annie Sargent: No, it is not a taco. If we had more Mexicans in France, which we have very few of them, perhaps they would have rebelled, but nobody was here to put their foot down and say, this is not a taco. Everybody went with it. Like, okay, it’s a taco, new name, we hadn’t heard that before. It’s misappropriation, I guess, of a perfectly good word.

[00:31:31] Heather Frankiewicz: If they just picked a different name for it, I think, yeah, call it something else, and people would have been fine. Just call it a wrap.

[00:31:37] Annie Sargent: Yes, yes.

[00:31:38] But we can’t say wrap, … un wrap… that would not go well. And a wrap is like a, something that they do in the McDonald’s does that, or perhaps it’s, hmm, I can’t remember, one of the fast foods that does that, it’s like, they put some lettuce and some, some crunchy stuff and yeah, McDonald’s does that.

[00:31:55] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah, because he got a goat cheese wrap at one point.

[00:31:58] Annie Sargent: There you go.

[00:31:58] Heather Frankiewicz: He said, I can’t believe I’m eating goat cheese in McDonald’s. I said, well, this is French McDonald’s, it’s not same.

[00:32:04] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s good. Those are good.

Champagne

[00:32:07] Annie Sargent: All right. Now, we’re heading to Champagne. La Champagne. You went to a champagne cellar. Tell us about that.

[00:32:13] Heather Frankiewicz: So we were staying in a little teeny tiny town. There was no services, nothing at all there, but the woman who owned the Airbnb that we stayed in, she was friends with a man who had a champagne cellar. And so she sent us his way, and we went there, and we came in and didn’t have an appointment or anything, and he just said, oh, you guys want a tour? And I said, sure, and so he took us down into the cellar, and he talked to us for a good, you know, 50 minutes.

[00:32:38] Showed us around, showed us all the different bottles. Then we went upstairs and there was a family from Belgium that had had arrived. They sat at the table with us and he opened up a bunch of bottles and started handing out the samples. So my husband really enjoyed them. I ended up buying several bottles for him that we brought home.

[00:32:54] It was a wonderful experience, because we got to really understand everything was going on. And my husband said, well, I went to see the Don Perignon cellars when I was here in the army like 30 years ago. Yeah, well, they’ll charge you to go take your tour at their place.

[00:33:09] This guy was completely free and it was much more personalized. It was just the two of us for the tour.

[00:33:14] Annie Sargent: Wow.

[00:33:14] We had a great time and the champagne was excellent. See, I wouldn’t have thought that this could happen in Champagne. So, this happens all the time in the southwest of France, but in Champagne, that’s… So what was the name of the champagne?

[00:33:28] Heather Frankiewicz: Philippe Morlet is the name of the cellar.

[00:33:30]

[00:33:30] Annie Sargent: I’m going to, I’m going to jot it down so I can put it in the show notes because I don’t think you put that in your… Philippe Morlet.

[00:33:38] Heather Frankiewicz: And it’s in a little teeny tiny town.

[00:33:41] Annie Sargent: Okay, very good. Excellent.

Sucinio Castle

[00:33:43] Annie Sargent: You went to the Sucinio Castle. I have never heard of this one.

[00:33:50] Heather Frankiewicz: I hadn’t either, so it was, again, one of those things that I had never done before. It was, when we were staying in Vannes, we said, what do you want to do today? And they said, oh, I don’t know, let’s take a look. And it was, we were on our way to the castle, but we knew that we couldn’t check in until a little bit late because the owners were going to be out for the day.

[00:34:08] So we had lots of time to kill on our way from Vannes. So we drove maybe 30, 40 minutes down the coast and found this little castle. Well, it’s not really little. And it has been renovated. It doesn’t have a lot of furniture in it, but the building itself has been renovated. And it was fun. They had a room full of medieval costumes that you could try on, which everyone was trying on. Everyone that came in the room was looking at the helmets and the cloaks and things and getting dressed…

[00:34:35] Annie Sargent: Oh, that’s why there’s a photo of your husband with weird clothes on.

[00:34:39] That’s what it is. Okay. I thought he dressed like that every day.

[00:34:43] Heather Frankiewicz: Well, the rest of the family, we tease him because he’s from Poland and we keep telling him he’s a peasant, his ancestors were peasants. So we tease him about being a peasant and he really looks the part when he did this. But he had fun in that. They have sheep and donkeys and all sorts of animals, and if you go on the weekends, they have archery exhibitions and different farm life, old time things, but that wasn’t happening when we were there.

[00:35:09] Annie Sargent: So this is interesting because it’s not very far from Carnac. It’s not very far from Guérande. So if you’re visiting, you know, the south of Brittany, it would be a fun thing to add to your list. That’s great. Quiberon is right there. We have talked about that as well on the podcast. Belle-Île-en-Mer is not far.

[00:35:29] Pornique is not very far. So an excellent suggestion, just a little northwest of Nantes. It’s like, if you go from Nantes and you hug the coast, you’re going to hit a lot of these places.

[00:35:42] Heather Frankiewicz: And it’s right on the coast, so if you want to see the beach, there’s a little path that you could walk along and get to the sandy beaches. Nobody’s swimming there, but you know, it’s a nice little walk. And my husband was laughing because they had a sign on the side that said No Toilettes Sauvages.

[00:35:57] And so he went, you know, what does that mean? I said, well…

[00:36:00] Annie Sargent: Don’t do your business out here.

[00:36:06] Heather Frankiewicz: And it’s so overgrown along the path, it’s like you probably don’t want to unless you want to get bit by a variety of animals and bugs and stuff.

[00:36:14] Annie Sargent: Good. Yeah. Good. Get bitten, that’s how we get back at you.

[00:36:19] Heather Frankiewicz: It goes through a bird sanctuary.

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

[00:36:22] Heather Frankiewicz: Path goes through bird sanctuary. So there were lots of little birds to see and it was a nice little, little walk.

[00:36:28] Annie Sargent: Fun. Yeah. See, that’s what I liked about this conversation is that you really took it easy. Like you, you were on vacation. You didn’t rush. You took your time. That’s wonderful.

Walking around Strasbourg

[00:36:39] Annie Sargent: And then, the eighth thing you list is walking around Strasbourg.

[00:36:45] Heather Frankiewicz: Mm-Hmm, . So I had been to Strassburg before with my kids, back in 2018. And I liked it. I thought it was a really neat city. Very walkable, and it’s got good public transportation and I knew that you could take the TGV or the ISA, the Dutch or German train back to Paris from there.

[00:37:00] So I figured, well, that’s a good place for us to leave our car and take the train. So we will end our trip there before going to Paris. And so we went into Strasbourg and we were in the perfect location. It was another Airbnb. It was a little bit outside the main city, but we were right in front of a tram stop.

[00:37:16] So it was super easy to get into the center of town. We went in and we saw, eh, all the things in Strasbourg. We went to Le Petite France. We saw the cathedral, saw all of that. And then of course, you can take the train and go into Germany very easily. So we went across the border, went into Koln for an hour or two, and then just hopped on the train and came right back.

[00:37:35] Annie Sargent: Very nice. Yeah, Strasbourg is a really pleasant city and there’s much more you could do around there. There’s the wine route you could do. There’s beautiful little towns right around there. I mean, it’s just a lovely place where you could spend a whole week and not run out of things to do really.

[00:37:51] Or you could do it like you did, just go over there and spend a day or two.

[00:37:55] Heather Frankiewicz: We were walking distance from a Auchan hypermarché, might have been after I, he got used to the grocery stores and then I mistakenly took him to one of the hypermarché, and he fell in love with these stupid things. And now from then on he just wanted to go to the hypermarché, he was like, we need bread, well let’s go to the hypermarché, and I said, oh, you don’t have to go to the really, really big store if you’re only getting, you know, bread and cheese for tonight. But he loves to just go up and down the aisles and look and see what they have that was different.

[00:38:24] Annie Sargent: I’m like that too. I like to look at the stores wherever I go. I just like, and the hypermarché can be quite spectacular. Auchan is a major brand of hypermarché and they usually have good stuff. I mean, you know. It’s like, in Toulouse, they’re famous for their fish section. They have better fish than most supermarkets.

[00:38:44] So that’s, if I want fish, I go there.

[00:38:46] Heather Frankiewicz: They did have a very nice supermarket section. I like to get things, like, for my classroom and stuff. That’s where I like to buy my souvenirs to bring back, because they don’t want to get any of the touristy things, because you don’t need a tshirt or a keychain or whatever. So I like to go to the supermarket and get, you know, bath stuff or chocolate, cookies, things like that.

[00:39:05] Annie Sargent: Yeah, French chocolate, like even just a regular bar of chocolate is better, I think.

[00:39:11] Tastes better. It tastes better.

[00:39:12] Heather Frankiewicz: And they had an entire aisle of just chocolate, so I took some pictures of that so I could bring it back and show my students, yeah, this is your chocolate choices.

[00:39:19] Annie Sargent: Yes. So imagine the size of the cereal aisle in America. Well, we have that for chocolate and candy.

[00:39:27] Heather Frankiewicz: We didn’t go out to eat all that much. We usually ate lunch out at a restaurant, but we almost always would go to the grocery store, to the little markets and get things for dinner. And so one thing that my husband tried that really he liked was the grated carrot salad.

[00:39:42] He loved it. So yeah, he was buying that all the time.

[00:39:45] Annie Sargent: Yes.

[00:39:46] Heather Frankiewicz: Because I made it at home and he didn’t eat it. But here we are in France and all of a sudden you’ve decided it’s delicious.

[00:39:51] Annie Sargent: Well, it’s different because I don’t know what they put in it, but it’s like the dressing, it has this different mouthfeel to it than the one I make at home as well. I can’t explain why. I prefer the homemade stuff, but I can see my husband also likes the store stuff. And yeah, that’s cool.

VR Notre Dame experience

[00:40:09] Annie Sargent: All right, you went, number nine is the VR Notre Dame experience.

[00:40:16] Heather Frankiewicz: So that is, they have two locations, one of them is out in La Défense. And the other one is right near the Notre Dame Cathedral. And since you can’t go in the cathedral, you can do the VR experience. And they’re really cool. They give you a little computer in the backpack that they put on you.

[00:40:32] And then they put your VR headset. And you’re in a big room. And walking around, you can see where other people are. It’ll show you the outline of their bodies so that you don’t walk into anyone, but you really do feel like you are walking through Notre Dame. It’s not just the physical place, but it’s historical place, they walk you through time. See it being constructed, you see the different areas, they take you up to get a closer look at the stained glass windows, and it’s just, it’s an amazing experience if you’re there and you can’t go in Notre Dame because it’s still closed, but you want to get an idea of what it does look like inside. It’s really neat.

[00:41:05] Annie Sargent: Yeah. We did a full review of this experience. The one that I took it, I did it at La Défense. So it’s even cooler if you can do it right by Notre Dame. I mean, it’s better. You don’t have to schlep it all the way to La Défense. That was episode 378 of the podcast, if you want to hear more details about how it went.

[00:41:24] I thought it was really, really cool.

[00:41:27] Heather Frankiewicz: And it turns out that you can buy one if you have VR at home on the Oculus Quest, you can actually buy that for about 10$.

[00:41:34] Annie Sargent: Wow.

[00:41:35] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah, so I came home and I bought it, and my husband’s already walked through it a couple times. But we went to La Défense, and you get like a dual ticket with the City des Histoires that’s there, which is a pretty neat historical thing, a walk through historical thing where they have dioramas and things, but they also have the live action, so it reminded me of Puy du Fou a little bit.

[00:41:56] But there were a few times when we went into the room and my husband had headphones on because he was listening to the English. But you go in, there’s this, it’s an old French school room, and this French teacher, he comes up to me, he’s like asking questions and stuff, and you read this on the board, and I’m just like, okay, and then he started asking me questions, and I was like, I don’t know, I really don’t know, he said, why not, where did you go to school? Arizona State University, and I didn’t study all the French literature.

[00:42:23] But you know, he was being in character.

[00:42:26] Annie Sargent: Yeah. So what was the name of that place? It’s called Ah, La Cité de l’Histoire, peut être, non?

[00:42:31] Heather Frankiewicz: I remember looking at it and thinking, oh, okay. It seems like there’s, like, they divide it into different sections. So I’m not sure, but it’s in the museum where the Notre Dame in La Défense is.

[00:42:41] Annie Sargent: So I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. It sounds, I have not been there. My friend Patricia, she suggested that we go last time I was in Paris, but we ran out of time. There’s never enough time to do everything I want to in Paris.

[00:42:55] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah, I don’t think I would’ve made a special trip just for that, but because it was with the Notre Dame experience.

[00:42:59] Annie Sargent: Yeah. You could do both.

[00:43:01] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah, and then the shopping mall.

[00:43:03] Annie Sargent: Why not?

The best baguette in Paris

[00:43:03] Annie Sargent: Then number 10 is trying the best baguette in Paris.

[00:43:07] Heather Frankiewicz: Yes.

[00:43:07] Annie Sargent: Was it really the best?

[00:43:09] Heather Frankiewicz: It actually was, I think it’s the best baguette I’ve ever had.

[00:43:11] Annie Sargent: Really? Oh cool.

[00:43:13] Heather Frankiewicz: So, they have that contest every year to figure out who’s got the best baguette in Paris, and whoever does gets to supply the French president’s palace with baguettes for the rest of the year. And I noticed it was not far from where we were, so we took a little walk, and went to the place, and I bought two of them, and they came out of the oven, like, maybe five minutes before we got there, because they were nice and hot. And the woman even said, oh, be careful, they’re still a little hot, and I gave them to my husband to hold, we go outside, and he goes, why did you buy two?

[00:43:41] And then he smelled it, as so many people do. He took the tip off and he ate it, and he goes, that’s really good.

[00:43:46] Annie Sargent: That’s why you buy two.

[00:43:48] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah, exactly, and we’re walking along, and he’s just like, sneaking pieces of it. We get there, and there’s maybe four inches left of the one baguette, and I said, see, that’s why we bought two, because now we have one for dinner , because you ate the other one .

[00:44:01] It was delicious.

[00:44:02] Annie Sargent: That’s good. Well, I’m glad to hear it was the best baguette you’ve ever had because sometimes people say, oh, you know, it was good, but I don’t know. Just a baguette or something.

[00:44:10] Heather Frankiewicz: It was amazing, and I always tell my students about this contest, and I say, you know, it’s really amazing how much the French égalité comes into things like this. Because I can’t go get anything that an American president is eating, because it’s probably too expensive, and it’s reserved for the people that are in power. But anybody can go into this bakery, and for like a $1.30, you can buy yourself the exact same baguette that Macron is eating.

[00:44:33] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:44:34] Heather Frankiewicz: It’s going to be delicious. It’s going to be an amazing experience.

[00:44:37] Annie Sargent: I wouldn’t make a special trip just to go to that, but if it’s not far from where you are, why not?

[00:44:42] Heather Frankiewicz: Exactly.

[00:44:43] Annie Sargent: You can include it in your day.

[00:44:45] Heather Frankiewicz: It’s near the Père-Lachaise Cemetery, so we’ll go there, we went to the cemetery, visited Chopin’s grave, walked around a little bit and just kept going and found the baguette and had that.

What has she larned from this trip?

[00:44:56] Annie Sargent: Very nice. Very nice. All right. So since you’ve been to France so many times, is there anything you learned about France on this trip?

[00:45:04] Heather Frankiewicz: Well, we got to do some of the things that are not typical, like trying to find a dentist. Because the airplane or airline lost my bags, I got to go clothes shopping more than I ever have before. I had put half of my medication in the bag and half of it on me. And so I was going to run out of that, so I went to the pharmacy and it was so easy. I just showed her the bottle and I said, Hey, they lost my luggage. She goes, Oh, you need this? I said, yes. And she just went back and pulled it off the shelf. And it was actually cheaper to just buy it cash than it usually is when I buy it with my insurance here in the States.

[00:45:38] No questions, like she didn’t say, well, I need a prescription, I need to call somebody or anything. It was just, she looked at it and I get to see that the pharmacy, that everything’s already prepackaged because here they have to fill your prescription. And so you wait, they’re going to go to the big back in the bottle and they’re going to pull it out and they’re going to count how many you get, and in France, it’s all prepackaged.

[00:45:57] So she just had to go quickly and pull it off the shelf and say, here you go.

[00:46:00] Annie Sargent: Yeah. You get a box of 28 or whatever.

[00:46:03] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah.

[00:46:03] Annie Sargent: Well, it must not have been narcotics or something like that. I mean, it must have been something that’s kind of innocuous and yeah, they won’t give it to you. Like it’s not. Yeah. And if you have the pill bottle with the original doctor’s name and all of that, they probably will trust you.

[00:46:19] I mean, if it’s not, if you’re not asking for anything out of the ordinary.

[00:46:23] I mean, it’s a good idea to take your medication in your carry on if you can, you know, take all of it in your carry on, but you were in Europe for a long time. So, I mean, that explains that, I guess.

[00:46:35] Heather Frankiewicz: Well, and also I was like, okay, so I’m going to have one of it in my backpack. Well, if my backpack gets stolen, it’s got all my meds. Now I have nothing.

[00:46:42] Annie Sargent: That’s true.

[00:46:43] Heather Frankiewicz: So I was like, well, we’ll split it. I had extra anyway, just in case. And it just turns out that the extra got a little vacation in Amsterdam.

[00:46:51] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:46:52] Heather Frankiewicz: Actually it was sitting in the Bordeaux airport for a good three weeks.

[00:46:55] Annie Sargent: You just mentioned getting your bag stolen, did that ever happen in France on any of your trips?

[00:47:00] Heather Frankiewicz: No, it didn’t. I’m always like really, really careful about it, but I think it can happen to anybody.

[00:47:06] So I just try to always keep my eyes on things. Now, we did have some woman on the Metro start yelling: Pickpocket! Pickpocket! And I said, yeah, that’s not necessarily true. She could be one of the pickpockets trying to get your attention, so you just kind of have to ignore them.

[00:47:22] Annie Sargent: Yeah, just to distract you so that somebody can walk by you and take your stuff.

Looking for a place to retire

[00:47:26] Annie Sargent: Any advice you have for people who are listening to this and thinking maybe they’d like to do the same, like come and look around for a place to retire? Did you come to any conclusions about this retirement project?

[00:47:40] Heather Frankiewicz: Well, my husband ended up liking Normandy the best, so if we end up going over there, that’s probably where we’re going to be. He realized he does not want to be in any of the bigger cities, so he doesn’t want to be in Bordeaux, or Paris, anything where it’s very tightly congested in the center. I would say if you’re going to rent a car, rent it someplace a little bit out of the way, don’t rent it in Paris, but, you know, either go to the suburbs or go to a smaller town, so that you can get used to driving, if you’ve never driven in France before, or if you just want to go to big cities. Just take a little bit of relaxing time, don’t plan that every single day you’re going to be running around to do something, some days it’s good to just stay and sit on the beach and read a book, or you know, take a nap.

[00:48:20] Annie Sargent: Yeah. No, it’s true too many people, I mean, I suppose I understand. They’re coming to France. They think it might be my last chance to visit, and so they want to hurry and see a lot of stuff. But you know, if you have a perfectly good beach in front of you, just why don’t you sit and enjoy it for a while?

[00:48:38] Heather Frankiewicz: When we went from Strasbourg into Paris, when I was booking the tickets, I had the choice of the TGV or the German ICE train. And it was when France was still going through a lot of strikes. They were talking about, oh, the train lines are going to be on strike and everything. I said, well, you know what, I’ve taken the TGV before, I’ll go ahead and I’ll book a ticket for the German train, because it was leaving around the same time.

[00:48:57] So I booked the ticket for the German train, and did make a seat reservation, and then when we got on the train, the train was packed. There were people just sitting in the aisles and stuff, and there were people in our seats, but they didn’t have a reservation, so they had to get up and move.

[00:49:10] That’s when I found out that the German trains will way overbook their trains, and it’s okay to buy a seat ticket or a ticket without a reservation, and that means you get on the train, but you don’t necessarily have a seat. And so that train was packed. All the little cars there was like 15 people sitting in between the cars, and then people sitting, and people standing the whole trip.

[00:49:28] And my husband said, I can’t believe that this is crazy and I said well the TGV this wouldn’t happen because they don’t sell you a seat or a ticket without actually having a seat for you. So from now on I’m like you know what, we’ll just take the TGV. But at the time it was, there might be strikes do we really want to risk it?

[00:49:45] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Well, and the TGV is, typically, I mean, famously one of the more expensive train companies in Europe. So perhaps it’s 20 percent more than the ticket on the German train. I’m not sure. I haven’t priced them, but yeah, it could be a little more money, but I didn’t realize that you could just get a ticket without a seat.

[00:50:05] That… not on the TGV, no.

[00:50:07] Heather Frankiewicz: Exactly. And I was like, this is not like this on the TGV because he said, I thought it was going to be much different. I said, well, the TGV is different. He did not like it though. He loves trains, but he said it was too fast. It was making him sick when he looked out the window.

[00:50:18] Annie Sargent: Oh really?

[00:50:19] Heather Frankiewicz: So he kept staring down at his phone the whole time just to keep from getting sick.

[00:50:22] Annie Sargent: It is very fast. I mean, it’s airplane fast, except you’re on the ground.

[00:50:26] Heather Frankiewicz: Yeah.

[00:50:27] Annie Sargent: It is a very, very fastexperience.

Any final advice?

[00:50:30] Annie Sargent: Any advice, any last thing we didn’t mention that you would like to? Sounds like we went through a lot of this stuff.

[00:50:36] Heather Frankiewicz: Just, if you go, think about your comfort level, as far as where you want to stay, hotels are great if you want to have a hands off experience where you don’t have to really talk to a lot of people. But if you really want to get a sense of what it’s like to live in France, stay in an Airbnb where you actually are sharing a place with someone and talk to them a little bit.

[00:50:52] Some of our best memories were from places where we stayed in someone’s home or attached to someone’s home and they showed us around or they were able to give us suggestions on where to go and were very welcoming.

[00:51:03] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so how did you find those? Like, is it a tick box on Airbnb?

[00:51:08] Heather Frankiewicz: You can rent the whole place, you can rent a room in a place, you can rent like a separate dwelling that’s attached to a place, and so you can really say the comfort level that you have with that. And my husband is not comfortable at all with that, but I said, you know, we’re staying in this castle and the person’s going to be there because they live in this castle.

[00:51:25] And it was perfect. He didn’t mind, because they were on the other side of the castle.

[00:51:29] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You felt like you had some privacy, which they would give you privacy. I mean, can you imagine if you rent a room at somebody’s place and you leave a review that says, Oh, this person was spying on us.

[00:51:41] Heather Frankiewicz: And I’ve stayed in multiple places, when I took my kids in 2018, there was a few places where we actually stayed in a home with someone. And I was very appreciative because one night I got food poisoning, and I was sick as a dog, and the older couple that owned the home, they kept my kids busy.

[00:51:57] Like, there’s a, don’t worry about it, we’re going to keep them entertained, just, you know, you rest and stuff. And it was so nice of them, that they spent time with them. And the kids were old enough to keep themselves busy, they were like 15 and 18, and 18 at the time. But still, it was like, I just feel horrible, and they were very, very kind.

[00:52:12] Annie Sargent: That’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. Well, I hope you find your perfect place in Normandy and come back to tell us about it. Because I mean, you don’t look old enough to be retiring, but you say it’s in a couple of years, so…

[00:52:26] Heather Frankiewicz: I’m in my 29th year of being a teacher, and when I hit 30, you know, I’m technically old enough, I’ve got my points to retire right now, but if I can make it to 30 years, the amount that I get goes way up in my pension, so…

[00:52:38] Annie Sargent: Fantastic. Well, Heather, thank you so much for sharing. I honestly could not do this podcast without wonderful people like you who listen and then come on the podcast. That’s how it works, folks. So if you have a great experience and you sent me wonderful notes and it was very easy to work with you. So thank you so much.

[00:52:57] Heather Frankiewicz: Merci beaucoup,

[00:52:59] Annie Sargent: Merci, Heather. A bientôt. Au revoir.

[00:53:02] Heather Frankiewicz: Au revoir.

Copyright

[00:53:08] 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: Off the Beaten Track in France