Transcript for Episode 489: A 21-Day Solo Adventure Through France

Category: Solo in France

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France episode 489, quatre cent quatre vingt neuf.

Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent, and Join Us in France is the podcast where we take a conversational journey through the beauty, culture and flavors of France.

Today on the podcast

[00:00:32] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a trip report with Joel Joslin where he showcases his 21 day solo traveler’s journey through France. And he does it in a wonderfully candid manner. I love that because I love to keep it real.

Podcast supporters

[00:00:47] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my Itinerary Consult Service, my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the Voice Map app, or take a day trip with me around the southwest of France in my electric car.

You can browse all of that at my boutique

Patreon supporters get the episode as soon as it’s ready and ads free.

No magazine segment today

[00:01:14] Annie Sargent: There won’t be a magazine today because I’m away exploring the beautiful Aveyron Department for a few days. I’ll be back next week with details about access around the Olympic sites especially before the opening ceremony.

But I do want to thank all my patrons who have kept this podcast going for a long time. And a shout out this week to new patrons: Patty Mulkeen, Krista Critter, Carol Tumey, Rebecca A. S. and Kristi R. And to all of my current patrons, it’s wonderful to have you on board in the community of francophiles. I’ll post some photos of my Aveyron visit next week, because the new messaging feature of Patreon works really well, so I’m enjoying that.

How do you become a patron and get this podcast ads free? Go to and to support Elyse, go to

And thank you very much.

Annie and Joel

[00:02:34] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Joel, and welcome to Join Us in France!

[00:02:37] Joel Joslin: Hi Annie, thank you for having me.

[00:02:39] Annie Sargent: Lovely to see you, and we have an interesting conversation laid out today. You had a rather long trip to France. You were here for 21 days, and this was a solo trip. So can you tell us when your trip took place and more or less briefly where you went so that then we can dig in more details?

The broad itinerary

[00:03:00] Joel Joslin: Yeah, so I went to France last October 2022, end of September, I guess. I went to spent about a week in Paris, and then five days in Normandy, three days in Brittany, four days in Strasbourg, and three days in Nice.

[00:03:17] Annie Sargent: Oh, so you went all over the place. Did you land into Paris?

[00:03:21] Joel Joslin: Yes.

[00:03:22] Annie Sargent: And flew out of Paris as well?

[00:03:24] Joel Joslin: I flew out of Nice.

[00:03:26] Annie Sargent: Out of Nice, okay. And how did you get around most of that time?

[00:03:30] Joel Joslin: A lot of it was by train, so I went from Paris to Normandy, to Brittany by train is pretty easy. I used a car some in Normandy, which actually… but if I could change one thing about my trip, I probably would have used one less, because I really didn’t really need it, and I could have gotten a more central hotel.

It was helpful for the Aigle de Mont St-Michel, but I probably didn’t need it for the rest of it.

[00:03:50] Annie Sargent: Interesting.

[00:03:51] Joel Joslin: To get from St. Malo, and Brittany to Strasbourg, I had to change trains a couple of times. It was a day mostly on the train, but I didn’t mind it, you know, like a long train ride is a lot more relaxing, like a long drive or flight.

[00:04:04] Annie Sargent: That’s true.

[00:04:05] Joel Joslin: There’s a lot of nice scenery, so it was just a day of rest a little bit. And then I flew Strasbourg to Nice on Volotea. It was like two hours.

[00:04:13] Annie Sargent: Oh yeah, not my favorite airline. Did everything go well?

[00:04:17] Joel Joslin: Yeah, well, it was fine. We have budget lines, super budget lines like that in the US too, I think they’re generally okay for short trips, I think.

[00:04:24] Annie Sargent: Yeah, and it’s true that in France, if it’s like you experienced, if you go from Brittany all the way to Strasbourg, you have to go through Paris, you will have to change trains in Paris, and if you had tried to do Strasbourg to Nice, you probably would have had to go back to Paris as well and change trains in Paris.

So, you know, it’s one of the reasons why the regional airlines are still needed. We can’t do everythingby train, even though lots of French people would like to, but the other issue that comes up is that French trains are not cheap, when you compare them to other countries in Europe, like Spanish trains, Italian trains, German trains, we’re quite expensive by comparison.

And so that’s why we still have a lot of people driving and taking airplanes. Even those not very good Volotea flights that I don’t like, but you know, such is life.

[00:05:15] Joel Joslin: Well, it was so.., Volotea it was so cheap, I didn’t really mind it.

[00:05:19] Annie Sargent: Exactly. It’s very cheap. Yeah, very cheap.

So I’m interested in what you said about Brittany, cause I usually recommend that people take the train into Brittany, but then rent a car, especially if they’re going to do all the landing beaches and all that by themselves.

Perhaps you had a tour, right?

[00:05:36] Joel Joslin: You mean Normandy? Right?

[00:05:37] Annie Sargent: Normandy. Sorry. Sorry. Yes.

[00:05:38] Joel Joslin: Yeah, so I, well, okay, so I spent, I was in a couple locations in Normandy. I spent the first two days in Rouen, which I really liked Rouen. It’s a very nice town, nice city, but, yeah, if I were to live in France, which I don’t think will ever happen, it’s just hypothetically, I might pick Rouen, because it’s a very, very pretty city and just the right size city for me. And it’s close to Paris, so it’s very good location.

So yeah, I really liked Rouen. And then I got a car for the, like, more western central Normandy. I took a tour for the D-Day stuff, which a lot of those roads are really, really tricky, like the small country roads you have to go through. So I don’t think I could bail out that car either.

[00:06:16] Annie Sargent: Where do you normally drive in the US?

[00:06:18] Joel Joslin: Well, I live in North Carolina.

[00:06:20] Annie Sargent: Okay. Okay.

[00:06:21] Joel Joslin: Central North Carolina, Raleigh Durham.

[00:06:24] Annie Sargent: So it’s interesting because, you know, if you take a tour, you can see a lot very fast. Those tour guides, which company did you do your tour with?

[00:06:34] Joel Joslin: I don’t remember the name.

[00:06:35] Annie Sargent: Was it perhaps Overlord Tours?

[00:06:38] Joel Joslin: I don’t think so.

[00:06:39] Annie Sargent: Okay. Okay. Yeah, there’s a bunch of companies that do this, and there are some companies that will also drive you to the Mont St. Michel, but from Bayeux.

Where was he staying?

[00:06:48] Annie Sargent: Where were you staying in Normandy?

[00:06:50] Joel Joslin: I stayed in like a kind of a countryside hotel. I kind of, in retrospect, I think probably would have been better if I just stayed in Bayeux andjust got in a car to get to Mont St. Michel. That’s the only time I really needed it.

[00:07:02] Annie Sargent: That makes sense. That makes sense. Yeah, you can do a lot in France with just tour guidesand the train. But there is no way to get from Bayeux to Mont St. Michel by train as far as I know.

[00:07:15] Joel Joslin: I think you can go take a train to Rennes and then a shuttle bus, but that seems like so much trouble. Yeah.

[00:07:21] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah, so Dol-de-Bretagne is the place, or Rennes, I think, probably, are places where you could get a train to close, so you get to Dol-de-Bretagne, and then from there you can take a bus. Honestly, that’s for people who have time, and who could, you know, who don’t mind spending a whole day just in transportation.

Most people want to drive to the Mont St. Michel, spend half a day there, and leave the next day. Is that what you did?

[00:07:50] Joel Joslin: Yeah, pretty much. I got delayed going to Mont St. Michel because I got a flat tire on the way. I’m not really used to European roads, but they fixed it after a couple hours. And then I had a pleasant drive there, and yeah, I saw it and left, mid, late afternoon. And yeah, then I dropped my car off at Saint Malo and checked into my hotel.

Assistance for flat tire

[00:08:08] Annie Sargent: Aha. So your flat tire thing, what happened? Did you just call the assistance and they took care of you?

[00:08:15] Joel Joslin: Yeah, it took them a while, but they got to it eventually.

[00:08:17] Annie Sargent: Yeah, usually assistance in France, I mean, you can get any assistance anywhere in France. It’s just a question of waiting, and waiting, and waiting. So they, I assume they towed your car to a repair, to a tire place, and then you waited while they fixed the car?

[00:08:35] Joel Joslin: No, they just replaced it there.

[00:08:36] Annie Sargent: Oh, OK, even better.

[00:08:38] Joel Joslin: I was there three nights in Saint Malo. If I’d been in Brittany one or two more days I would have wanted a car then, but, you know, I wasn’t there that long, so. I did take the ferry to Dinard though.

Mont St. Michel and Saint Malo

[00:08:47] Joel Joslin: How did you like Mont St. Michel, the time you spent there and Saint Malo? I’d love to hear your opinions about these places. I really enjoyed both of them, like,Saint Malo, when there it was like kind of a cloudy drizzly day, which isn’t the best for photos, but it’s, you know, very atmospheric. I really enjoyed Mont St. Michel and Saint Malo, I liked a lot too, I liked walking along the walls and seeing the sea and I liked the really extreme tides.

[00:09:13] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:09:14] Joel Joslin: That at low tide, like there’s land bridges to outer islands and at high tide the waves are attacking the sea walls.

[00:09:21] Annie Sargent: Yes. This weekend, as a matter of fact, is a high tide. We’re recording this in the late October and this weekend is a high tide. And you can see, I mean, this is normal for Saint Malo, you can see the water totally hitting the first row of houses. It’s quite spectacular to see that. I mean, they must have very good windows and doors because they get hit really hard with those windows and doors. Some of these houses are really close to the wall, aren’t they?

[00:09:52] Joel Joslin: Yeah.

And I like the food. There are a lot of good crepes and seafood.

[00:09:55] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. Crepes, you can…and it’s pretty inexpensive too. I mean, seafood is more expensive, but crepes are not very expensive.

[00:10:03] Joel Joslin: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I had a lot of crepes and galettes there.

Food and Food Budget

[00:10:05] Annie Sargent: Did you get tired of eating out all the time?

[00:10:08] Joel Joslin: Not really, I mean, I tended to, the way I did it, I tended, like, breakfast, most of the time I would just go to a boulangerie and get a croissant or something with my coffee. Then for lunch, I’d sit down and get something like a cheese plate or maybe a sandwich or something like that. And then for dinner, I’d get, something a big, like, three or four course meal, so that way I could kind of pace myself how much I ate out.

[00:10:33] Annie Sargent: Yeah. What sort of budget did you have for food on this trip? Do you remember? More or less?

[00:10:39] Joel Joslin: I think for breakfast and lunch, I went fairly cheap. For dinner, I spent a little more, but I didn’t go to, like, super high priced places. I would usually get, for dinner, I’d usually get, like two drinks, starter, main course and dessert, maybe one other thing, and I tried to stay under fifties, maybe sixty euros for it. Which was, especially once I got out of Paris, wasn’t that difficult.

[00:11:04] Annie Sargent: Yeah, yeah, Paris is always more expensive for everything. Anyway. Okay. So, was three nights in Saint Malo too long perhaps?

[00:11:13] Joel Joslin: Not really. I mean, I was kind of exhausted, so it was nice to take it a little slow. One more night would have, there would, and I think, and I could go, I rode the ferry over to check out Dinard a little bit too.

[00:11:24] Annie Sargent: Uh-huh.

[00:11:25] Joel Joslin: One more night would have been too much though, but without a car, but if I stayed any longer, I would have wanted to get a car and drive around.

[00:11:33] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No, it’s a really beautiful place and lots of good weather at times, at times, not always. So, late September to October, Do you feel like you lucked out on the weather or not so much?

[00:11:45] Joel Joslin: Yeah, I would say so. It didn’t rain that much and the temperature was good.

Chartres Cathedral

[00:11:48] Annie Sargent: All right, let’s get into your favorites. Like I asked you to rank your favorites that you saw on this trip. So this is where we jump around a little bit. But you listed the first as Chartres Cathedral. Tell me more.

[00:12:01] Joel Joslin: I took a day trip there from Paris, and it was, was very beautiful, and I liked the chateau village too. I almost wanted to spend a night there, but I ended up going back to Paris. Yeah, I really enjoyed that. It was very beautiful.

[00:12:15] Annie Sargent: And it felt like a village to you.

[00:12:17] Joel Joslin: Yeah, yeah.

[00:12:19] Annie Sargent: It’s a city, but it’s not a huge city. I mean, when you’re out of Paris, it feels like a very small place, doesn’t it?

[00:12:26] Joel Joslin: Sure. Yeah, Mont St. Michel I really liked. I really enjoyed Strasbourg, and I took a group tour of the Alsatian countryside. We went to─ Mittelwihr, Eguisheim, and Colmar.

[00:12:38] Annie Sargent: Very nice, was this a bus tour or something, or was it the, like a small vehicle?

[00:12:43] Joel Joslin: It was a van.

[00:12:44] Annie Sargent: And was it all English speakers in the van?

[00:12:47] Joel Joslin: Yeah, I think most of the others were from Germany, but they spoke English.

[00:12:50] Annie Sargent: And what about the food in Alsace? It’s very different from the rest of the country, isn’t it?

[00:12:55] Joel Joslin: Yeah, yeah, the food was, I liked the food, it was very different.

You know, more German, obviously. I had some really good sausage and some really good Black Forest cake. The last meal I had in Strasbourg wasn’t the best. I think I picked kind of a tourist trap place, but besides that, I enjoyed the food.

[00:13:13] Annie Sargent: How much time did you spend planning your evening meals? I mean, at lunchtime, obviously you kept it simple, but for your evening meals, are you the type of person who does a ton of research or you just like to go with the flow?

[00:13:25] Joel Joslin: Usually, I mean, I wouldn’t pick them out days in advance. I would usually try to get a reservation for where I was going to eat in the evening by afternoon to make sure they’d have a spot for me. But yeah, I would just, I’d go by, like, hotel recommendations a lot of the time, or think guidebooks in a couple cases, and, or just what seemed good to me.

[00:13:46] Annie Sargent: Hopefully you listened to the podcast before you went as well?

[00:13:49] Joel Joslin: Yeah, I listen to some episodes. Yeah.

[00:13:52] Annie Sargent: Because there are some good recommendations on the podcast as well. So that’s very cool.

St-Paul de Vence

[00:13:56] Annie Sargent: All right. And then the other things that you list are in the South, St-Paul de Vence.

[00:14:01] Joel Joslin: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, I was in Nice three days, which was a good day, way to end the trip. Yeah. And I spent one day, well, morning, I think I went to the Forum for the same day. I also went to the Chagall Museum, but anyway, I went, yeah, I took the bus to Saint Paul de Vence and yes, just spent a few hours there. It was very nice.

[00:14:22] Annie Sargent: So that was, yeah, because getting to Saint Paul de Vence is not the easiest thing in the world. So probably the tourist office told you how to get the bus or something?

[00:14:30] Joel Joslin: I think I followed a guide I’d read before about it. Yeah, but the bus drive, I mean, well, once you get out of the city anyway, it’s very scenic.

[00:14:38] Annie Sargent: Yes. So what, I forgot to ask at the beginning, how many times had you visited France before? Was this your first time or?

[00:14:45] Joel Joslin: I had been once before, in like 2015, I think, I went to, went to Britain, and then I went to Paris for a few days at the end. And Paris, that was the best part of the trip, so I wanted to go back and see more of France. So, yeah, actually, Paris, the trip got, I’ve told you about before, the trip got off to a little bit of a rough start because I got sick a few days into Paris.

I wasn’t like seriously sick, just a mild cold. If it had happened like late in the trip, I just pushed through it, but it was early, so I decided I just got to rest this off, so I spent like a whole day and at least half of two more days just lying in my hotel room.

[00:15:22] Annie Sargent: Did you have to see a doctor or no?

[00:15:23] Joel Joslin: No, no, it was nothing serious.

[00:15:25] Annie Sargent: Yeah. That’s a bummer when you get sick and you waste, I mean, I guess you need to get better. So, you know, you spend some time in bed, I guess that’s just how it’s going to go.

[00:15:36] Joel Joslin: Mm hmm.

[00:15:36] Annie Sargent: In Paris, did you have things you wanted to do or are you just the type of travel you, you strike me as the type of traveler who just shows up somewhere and looks around.

[00:15:45] Joel Joslin: There have been some museums I wanted to go to. I did like the Musée Rodin. I made it there. Yeah, there were a few different things I wanted to do, but I had to cancel a lot of it.

[00:15:54] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So Paris was not the best part of the trip, but then things got better. But you know, this happens to a lot of people. They make plans and then they can’t follow the plan as, as well as they had hoped for because something happens, you know, a family member gets sick or they get sick or whatever.


[00:16:10] Joel Joslin: Yeah, yeah, and while I was, like, in my hotel, just sitting in my hotel in Paris, also ended up just making a few other last minute changes to the itinerary, like, just basically dropping a couple one or two night places and just consolidating a little bit, which I think was for the best.

[00:16:27] Annie Sargent: Mm hmm. you did. I mean, you had a lot of things on your 21 days, it’s not impossible. It’s just, you know, you got around a lot of different places and always complicates your life a little bit.

In Nice

[00:16:40] Annie Sargent: Around Nice, did you see anything else besides Saint Paul de Vence?

[00:16:44] Joel Joslin: I went to the Chagall Museum and I took a walking tour.

[00:16:47] Annie Sargent: All right. A walking tour with a group or a VoiceMap?

[00:16:50] Joel Joslin: Like a, yeah, the group.

We went up to the chateau, and yeah, it was, so yeah, I really enjoyed Nice.

[00:16:57] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

So did you go up to the château that, whereas there’s no chateau, or did you go to a chateau that actually exists? Because I don’t remember a chateau that was occupied during the war.

[00:17:07] Joel Joslin: Well, there’s like this, there’s a fort, like you have to take an elevator part of the way.

[00:17:12] Annie Sargent: Okay, okay.

[00:17:13] Joel Joslin: There’s a big rampart overlooking the sea.

[00:17:15] Annie Sargent: So the Château Hill is what it is.

[00:17:17] Joel Joslin: Yeah, and then there’s the ruins of an old chateau a little behind that. Yeah. yeah, I really like the food in Nice too.

It’s like, nice mix of Mediterranean freshness and French complexity, I guess.

[00:17:30] Annie Sargent: Yeah, no, it’s, it’s really good. They serve you the best pizzas in Nice. I love, I love all the pizzas.

And, if you go to the episodes that we’ve had about Nice, especially the one with the lady that wrote the VoiceMap tour, I can’t remember her name or the episode number, I’ll put it in the show notes, but she recommended a lot of really good restaurants in Nice because she’s been living there for decades.

And so she’s tried them all. And so she, she had a few that, you know, come out on top.

[00:17:58] Joel Joslin: I don’t remember most of the restaurants now. I did write, send you one, Femme du Boulangerie, which isn’t just a bakery. Yeah, I enjoyed my dinner there so much. I had lunch there a couple days later. Yeah.

[00:18:10] Annie Sargent: THat’s a good sign.

[00:18:11] Joel Joslin: Yeah, I enjoyed pretty much every meal I had in Nice. I had one of those, I forget what it’s called, but it’s basically a Niçoise salad sandwich.

with olive oil drizzled all over it.

[00:18:20] Annie Sargent: Ah, yes, Pam Bagnard, Pam Bagnard, with tuna fish in it, right?

[00:18:25] Joel Joslin: That was really good. Yeah, had that for lunch one day.


[00:18:27] Joel Joslin:(Mid-roll advert)

[00:18:28] Annie Sargent: Very good. Oh, all right, and now we yank back to Strasbourg because you liked the Strasbourg Cathedral and some museums. I would like to hear what, which ones, and what you recommend people do there.

[00:18:40] Joel Joslin: Yeah, the cathedral’s really nice, it’s got a big square around it with a lot of cool stuff, and there’s a museum about the cathedral nearby. There’s like kind of this triple museum of like, I think, fine arts decorations and ancient stuff. I only made the fine arts one, but it’s really nice.

And then there’s the, a few blocks away, there’s the Museum of the City of Strasbourg,

which,yeah, I really enjoyed that too. Part of it was closed for renovations or something.

[00:19:08] Annie Sargent: It’s a very good one. I think that was my favorite, The History of Strasbourg, because I just like history.

[00:19:16] Joel Joslin: Yeah. I took the boat tour too.

[00:19:18] Annie Sargent: Yes, the boat tours are fantastic in Strasbourg. I love that. I thought that was really done better than most cities.

[00:19:26] Joel Joslin: Yeah, yeah, it was really nice. Yeah.

[00:19:28] Annie Sargent: You had mentioned Rouen in the beginning, but you did a walking tour in Rouen. Was it again a group tour?

[00:19:34] Joel Joslin: Where?

[00:19:35] Annie Sargent: Rouen.

[00:19:35] Joel Joslin: Oh, Rouen, I don’t think I did a walking tour there.

[00:19:38] Annie Sargent: Okay. Oh, you said walking around Rouen.

So you just liked the city.

[00:19:44] Joel Joslin: Yeah.

[00:19:44] Annie Sargent: Did you find it that different from other cities? Like, is it very different from Strasbourg or…?

[00:19:50] Joel Joslin: It’s not like, hugely different, I just like the feel of it.

And I went to like the Joan of Arc, the place where they have the trial reenacted and one or two other spots.

D-Day Beach Tour

[00:19:58] Annie Sargent: All right, so, your D-Day beach tour. Do you remember all the places where they took you?

[00:20:04] Joel Joslin: We went to Pointe du Hoc. No, I’m butchering pronunciation there, but. Yeah, yes.

I think, one of the beaches, maybe Omaha and the cemetery. It was a half day tour.

[00:20:16] Annie Sargent: Oh yeah, then, and did you feel that was too much, like some people really love these historical tours, did you feel it was too much, did you feel it was just enough?

[00:20:26] Joel Joslin: I thought it was just the right amount.

[00:20:27] Annie Sargent: Uh Huh. They didn’t throw too much history at you all at once?

[00:20:30] Joel Joslin: No, I mean, it was, it felt just right.

[00:20:33] Annie Sargent: Are you generally a history, like a history fan, do you read history books or anything like that?

[00:20:38] Joel Joslin: Yeah, yeah, I do.

[00:20:39] Annie Sargent: Mm-hmm

[00:20:40] Joel Joslin: I actually have a history degree, undergrad.

[00:20:42] Annie Sargent: Oh, there you go. So, did you specialize in anything?

[00:20:46] Joel Joslin: Not really, no.

[00:20:47] Annie Sargent: Just a general… but did you do much European history or mostly US history?

[00:20:52] Joel Joslin: I did more European. My, actually my senior seminar relevant to this was about the French Revolution, but now I work in computer science.

[00:20:59] Annie Sargent: Very good, very good.

Gustave Moreau Museum

[00:21:01] Annie Sargent: Now, you went to a museum in Paris that I have not seen, it’s the Gustave Moreau Museum.

[00:21:07] Joel Joslin: Yeah, yeah, that was, I forgot about that one. Yeah, it’s about the French painter Gustave Moreau. It’s pretty small, but has a lot of nice paintings. Yeah, I did that the first day I was there.

[00:21:17] Annie Sargent: So is that, so did you like it because it’s a smaller museum that you can get through quickly or?

[00:21:24] Joel Joslin: Yeah, it was a good size, and it had a lot of nice paintings.

[00:21:27] Annie Sargent: Yeah. It sounds like you, you like medium sized cities, perhaps medium sized museums, you don’t love the Louvre, you know, like spend the whole day in the Louvre.

[00:21:36] Joel Joslin: I actually, I actually do enjoy the Louvre. I’ve been there once, I didn’t make it there this time, but someday maybe I’ll go again and see more of it.

[00:21:44] Annie Sargent: Are there things that you wish you had known about Paris, or about France in general that you want to share with everybody that you just discovered or you were surprised by or whatever?

[00:21:56] Joel Joslin: I don’t know, like if the biggest thing I would have probably changed from the final itinerary I ended up with, like I said, was just staying in Bayeux for like West Central Normandy and just getting a car the day I went to Mont St. Michel and then Saint Malo.

I was mostly good about avoiding tourist traps, but there were one or two I ended up in for restaurants, so I just, you know, you probably don’t want to go, at least for, like, dinner, you probably don’t want to go to places that are, like, on the squares facing the big sites. A few blocks back, it’ll be.

[00:22:30] Annie Sargent: Yeah. so that’s always an interesting question is, you know, touristy, what’s touristy? Well, sometimes, and this is a reality in France in minor towns, you don’t really have a lot of choice. Like tomorrow, Elyse and I are going to visit some towns in the Gers, so it’s a rural department, where we’re going is two hour drive from Toulouse and we’re not going to find a lot of restaurants, you know, there’s not, we might have a choice between two or three.

So it’s in cases like that, you have to go to the restaurant that’s open on the town square because that’s what’s open, you know. Otherwise it’s going to be a sandwich or a grocery store stop or something,

[00:23:18] Joel Joslin: Sure, yeah, just mostly medium to large cities.

[00:23:22] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Medium large cities, you usually get more, a lot more choice and I don’t know, touristy to me doesn’t, I mean, obviously you’re a visitor from the US, you’re a tourist.

And so there’s no shame in going to touristy places so long as you get a good experience, a good meal for a decent price. If the prices are inflated, or if the food is just not so interesting or whatever, that’s a different matter.

[00:23:51] Joel Joslin: Yeah, I had a, I ended up, I did have dinner at a couple places like that, but I enjoyed the vast majority of the meals I had a lot, so…

[00:24:00] Annie Sargent: Yeah. What’s your favorite thing to order when you’re in France?

[00:24:03] Joel Joslin: Let’s see, I like, well, this is a really basic answer, the croissants are really good, I liked escargots, the cheese, I’d usually get some large meat thing for dinner or occasionally fish.

[00:24:15] Annie Sargent: So is, like, if they have escargot as an appetizer, you will always take that?

[00:24:20] Joel Joslin: Most of the time.

[00:24:22] Annie Sargent: That’s funny to me because that’s what tourists do. French people don’t typically order escargot because we can have it any time and you know… But visitors, they want to try the escargot, of course they do. And it’s pretty tasty because all that butter and garlic, mmm, it’s good.

[00:24:39] Joel Joslin: Yeah.

[00:24:42] Annie Sargent: That’s good.Let’s see. Ah, you went, you had a soufflé at one of the restaurants you mentioned in your notes.

[00:24:49] Joel Joslin: Oh yes, yes. It was a dessert soufflé with like this caramel sauce. It was very good.

[00:24:54] Annie Sargent: Mmm, yes, yes, soufflé is something else.

[00:24:59] Joel Joslin: Pantruchet. Yeah, I was one of two restaurants and I guess it’s been a year since the trip so I can’t remember every restaurant I ate at, but that was one of the best restaurants I ate in Paris.

[00:25:09] Annie Sargent: It’s called what? Le pain ou le Le lapin

[00:25:11] Joel Joslin: Le Pantruche.

[00:25:12] Annie Sargent: Okay. Interesting. I’ll try and find it and put a…

[00:25:15] Joel Joslin: And yeah, there’s also another restaurant in Paris Pony. I went there a couple times. It was a good place to go to while I was sick because it was near my hotel and it’s just, it’s like a good brasserie slash bar slash burgers, like the kind of no fuss food you want when you’re sick. It was good.

[00:25:34] Annie Sargent:

What did you learn about France on this trip

[00:25:34] Annie Sargent: One of the questions I ask on the form is what did you learn about France on this trip? And your answer is I learned how varied and diverse the country is.

I’d like you to, you know, tell me more about this because you did get around to a lot of different regions.

[00:25:49] Joel Joslin: Right, so, well, first there’s just a whole lot of different landscapes there, there’s the coasts in Brittany, and the mountains and hills around Alsace, and then Nice, which is also coastal, but a completely different kind, and then there’s lots of different cultures, Paris is Paris, of course, and then Alsace is more German, Nice is more Italian and also a little British. Kind of funny, it’s an Italian-French town that was, lot of it was built by the British.

[00:26:16] Annie Sargent: Yeah, there were a lot of, a lot of British move there. The weather is pleasant.

[00:26:21] Joel Joslin: The cuisine and food is very different from region to region too.

[00:26:24] Annie Sargent: Mm hmm.

Did you make any mistakes on this trip?

[00:26:25] Annie Sargent: Very good. So, the last question we’re going to get into is, did you make any mistakes on this trip? And this is where I want you to take your time and just tell me about the mistakes because other people, we want them to avoid mistakes if they can.

[00:26:37] Joel Joslin: Yeah, I mentioned I didn’t really need a car in Normandy except for getting to Mont St. Michel, so, I wasn’t there long enough that I really needed one besides that. I think my initial itinerary was busier with more stops than I ended up with, so I did end up changing it, while I was in Paris, so it worked out pretty well, but I think the one I had planned was a little bit more aggressive, and I think that would have been a mistake .

[00:27:03] Annie Sargent: So what did you remove?

[00:27:05] Joel Joslin: Uh, I moved a few, a few things, like, I was originally gonna, spend a night in Mont St. Michel, and go to a couple other places in Provence besides Nice. Strasbourg actually was originally going to be a day trip from Paris, and I ended up changing that around, I was too sick to go there. And yeah, so it was actually pretty different, but I think the final itinerary worked out pretty well.

[00:27:28] Annie Sargent: Uh huh. So you have to be nimble. I mean, that’s just a fact. And because you were traveling by yourself, you were able to. It’s harder when you’re with you know, your significant other, or with your parents, or with your friends, or because getting everybody to agree on one thing is pretty difficult.

[00:27:47] Joel Joslin: Yeah, so the first half of the trip had some ups and downs, but on the whole, I think it all turned out really well.

[00:27:53] Annie Sargent: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. It’s funny. You said, I forgot that I generally do not enjoy driving in Europe.

[00:27:59] Joel Joslin: Yeah, yeah,

[00:28:00] Annie Sargent: Yeah. The narrow roads, did you rent a big car or how big was this car you got?

[00:28:05] Joel Joslin: It wasn’t that big. I don’t know what brand it was, but, yeah, it was medium, it was medium sized, but I don’t know, it’s just like the roads in the US, most parts of the US are a lot wider, so like just getting used to the European roads is tricky.

[00:28:23] Annie Sargent: Yeah. It is, it is,when you are not used to it it’s… yeah you said you got a flat tire from hitting a curb, it happened to me once as well, it happens to all of us.

[00:28:32] Joel Joslin: Yeah.

[00:28:33] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that’s just never, never a good thing, but, honestly, there are places, and in Normandy, if you’re not going to do a tour, you can’t get to those places without a car, so it just depends. If your plan is to take a tour, then you don’t need a car really, ever, because if you set yourself, if you’re in Bayeux, and you take a Normandy beach tour, and then you take another tour to take you to Mont St. Michel, which you can do, some companies do that, then that’s it, you don’t need a car for Normandy at all.

I was talking to somebody just a few days ago, who was interested intouring around Occitanie where I live, and it’s, I, you know, like, I don’t know how you do it without, it’s either a tour, like if you want to go to the Dordogne, if you’re in Toulouse and you want to go to the Dordogne, it’s either a tour or a private driver, or you rent a car.

You know, you can’t get to those places. You know, it’s just a fact. And there’s so many places where you don’t need a car, you know, at all, like, it’s fine, it’s fine.

[00:29:38] Joel Joslin: And like, the one nice thing. Then you get tours, like, sometimes you can go through places a little faster than you’d like, like, I didn’t, I wasn’t able to see as much as Colmar as I ideally would like on the tour, but the nice thing is, since you don’t have to concentrate on driving, you can just, like, enjoy the scenery as much as you want.

[00:29:54] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:29:55] Joel Joslin: And the Alsatian countryside is very beautiful.

[00:29:58] Annie Sargent: Very nice, isn’t it? And the other way to enjoy it is to just take buses. They have a good regional bus system. But it’s, again, it’s for people who have time. So if you’re going to be in Strasbourg for a few days, you can take a bus to most of these villages, a public bus, like a city bus, regional bus, I guess. And that will take you, typically that bus is going to be full of teenagers who don’t have a driver’s license yet and older people who don’t want to drive anymore, and they take the bus. And you have a bus like pretty much every hour to go to these places like Colmar and Riquevire and all that. So, you can do it on the bus, but it takes longer, everything takes longer if you do it that way.

A tour is really the most efficient way to do it, they will just take you. And sometimes they yank you out a little bit too fast. It sounds like perhaps in Colmar they said, let’s move on a little too fast.

[00:30:51] Joel Joslin: Yeah, yeah, I was, I had actually been hoping to do the Unterlinden, which I wasn’t able to, but maybe someday.

[00:30:57] Annie Sargent: You mean, did you say Unterlinden? You didn’t get to see the museum?

[00:31:01] Joel Joslin: Yeah.

[00:31:01] Annie Sargent: Ah, yeah, yeah.

And it is a big museum. I mean, you can just go to the retable, to the, you know, the altarpiece, and just see that, but it is true that if you want to see the whole museum, it would take a good two, perhaps three hours.

You know, it’s not one of the tiny ones, that we have in some places.

And one of the things that you mentioned is that perhaps your itinerary was overambitious and that’s a, that’s good advice for most people just to…

[00:31:29] Joel Joslin: I’d say it was, the original one I had planned was too ambitious. And then the one I revised, like, I was, you know, I was in my hotel room a lot in Paris, and I realized, yeah, especially now that I’m sick, this is just too much. So I, like, fortunately I was able to just call the hotels and get a few things shifted around.

So, yeah, it worked out, it worked out, the itinerary I ended up with worked out pretty well.

Internet access

[00:31:54] Annie Sargent: And what did you do for internet access? Did you purchase a plan? What did you do?

[00:31:59] Joel Joslin: Yeah, I bought an international plan, and also the hotels had Wi Fi, so, you know, I could use it there a lot.

[00:32:05] Annie Sargent: And it sounds like you didn’t use apps particularly to book your hotels or whatever. Did you mostly call them? Yeah.

[00:32:13] Joel Joslin: Yeah, mostly I did it through the hotel’s website, that tends to be the cheapest.

There are a couple apps I used. I used Omio for trains.

[00:32:21] Annie Sargent: Omio?

[00:32:22] Joel Joslin: Yeah, O M I O. Yeah, it just, it’s for booking trains in Europe, I don’t know if they do other continents, but it just puts most regional trains together into one search, and then you can book from there.

[00:32:34] Annie Sargent: That’s pretty good. I mean, I don’t think I’ve heard about this one before.

[00:32:38] Joel Joslin: Yeah, it’s pretty handy.

[00:32:39] Annie Sargent: Sounds good.

France vs Italy?

[00:32:39] Joel Joslin: I went to Italy recently and I used it there too.

[00:32:41] Annie Sargent: Aha,so compare France and Italy now.

[00:32:45] Joel Joslin: I really, I really enjoyed both, I think I, I think I liked France a little better, but yeah, I really enjoyed both.

[00:32:52] Annie Sargent: In what ways? Is it the food? Is it the people? Is it the scenery? Is it the museums? The diversity perhaps? I think France is more diverse.

[00:33:01] Joel Joslin: Yeah, the food, I think the scenery, both have a lot of beautiful scenery, but I’d give a slight advantage to France probably. And yeah, I like, France seems to have more like different types of food, of things in the country, more the diversity. But I really enjoy both of them.

[00:33:16] Annie Sargent: Yeah, in Italy, it felt like it was one church after another. So many gorgeous churches in Italy. It’s unbelievable.

[00:33:23] Joel Joslin: Yeah. Yeah. I like gothic churches a little better than Baroque, so there’s that too.

[00:33:28] Annie Sargent: Ah, yes. Yeah. That’s a big, that’s a big one, because in Italy, they’re mostly baroque, you know, and in Nice as well, it’s a lot of Baroque churches, they’re beautiful, but yeah.

Final thoughts

[00:33:39] Annie Sargent: Okay, let’s see. So, overall, you thought your trip was restful.

[00:33:44] Joel Joslin: Yeah.

[00:33:45] Annie Sargent: Doesn’t sound like you have major regrets.

[00:33:47] Joel Joslin: Right, yeah, the regrets are, I mean, like, I wish I hadn’t gotten sick in Paris, and a couple other things, like, could have picked a different hotel for part of Normandy, but yeah, I don’t have any, like, really major regrets.

Yeah. Yeah. Was the budget reasonable? Did you find France more expensive or less expensive than Italy overall?

I’d say, a little less, Paris is probably more expensive than Rome, but once I got out of Paris, I felt like everything gets a lot cheaper, and Italy, you know, Venice and Florence are still expensive. Especially Florence, I was surprised how expensive Florence was.

I did go to Ravenna, which is a small city that was pretty cheap, but on the whole, I thought France was cheaper. The budget was mostly reasonable, there were a couple things I could have done differently to save some money, but overall, yeah, for the length of time, I didn’t feel like it was excessive.

[00:34:40] Annie Sargent: It was a long time to stay, you know, and which more and more people are trying to stay longer because international flights are getting more expensive, and I think typically it is better to stay a couple of weeks if you can, three weeks is a lot for most people.

[00:34:57] Joel Joslin: Yeah. Italy was two weeks, so my next international trip, we’ll see.

[00:35:01] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Do you travel a lot internationally typically?

[00:35:04] Joel Joslin: I’ve taken three international trips. The first one was in 2015, and then the second one wasn’t until 2022, so that’s a long gap. I always had stuff going on, like I had to move, or finances, or COVID, of course.

[00:35:17] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Our favorite thing COVID.

[00:35:19] Joel Joslin: Ideally I’d like to take an international trip every year, but we’ll see.

Yeah. I love the photo you sent me with the helmet.Oh, yeah, yeah, like, that was a good picture from the Strasbourg Museum, yeah.

[00:35:32] Annie Sargent: Yes, I tried on the helmet as well, didn’t do as good a job as you did. I think everybody tries on that helmet.

Yeah. Well, fantastic talking to you. It’s good to talk to somebody who is willing to admit that things didn’t go 100 percent perfectly, but over three weeks, what are the odds that nothing would go wrong, right?

Even in real life, if you think about your real life in three weeks, well, something upsetting is going to happen, probably at one point or another, unless you have a very charmed life. Some boss, or coworker, or someone is going to annoy you, right?

Yeah. yeah. When you ask me my favorite foods, I don’t think I mentioned the desserts, so I’ll say I really like a lot of the sweets. Fantastic.

Well, Joel, thank you so much. And well, thank you for talking to me, thank you for beinga good sport about the vicissitudes of recording a podcast, and I wish you some, some more wonderful trips.

[00:36:29] Joel Joslin: All right, well, yeah, thank you for having me on, Annie. Have a good day.

[00:36:32] Annie Sargent: Merci beaucoup. Au revoir.

[00:36:33] Joel Joslin: Au revoir.


[00:36:33] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France travel podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2024 by AddictedToFrance. It is released under a Creative Commons, attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives license.


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Category: Solo in France