Transcript for Episode 497: Off-Season Travel Bliss: Provence and Côte d'Azur Explored

Category: Provence

Discussed in this Episode

  • Toulouse
  • Carcassonne
  • La Cité de Carcassonne
  • Avignon
  • Palais des Papes
  • Pont d'Avignon
  • Arles
  • Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
  • Orange
  • Nîmes
  • Pont du Gard
  • Gordes
  • Roussillon
  • Aix Camp des Milles
  • Nice
  • Castle Hill
  • Promenade des Anglais
  • Monaco
  • Eze
  • Eze Village
  • Eze Sur Mer
  • Antibes
  • Villefranche-sur-Mer
  • Menton
  • Fête du Citron
  • Carnaval Parade in Nice



[00:00:16] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France, episode 497, quatre cent quatre-vingt-dix-sept.

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: Are you curious about exploring Provence and Côte d’Azur off-season? Riana Ang-Canning shares her travel experiences, highlighting hidden gems, delicious foods, and fascinating historical sites in this episode, so stay tuned.

Podcast supporters

[00:00:50] 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 VoiceMap 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:

And Patreon supporters get new episodes as soon as they are ready and ads free, at any level of paid support. If that sounds good to you, be like them, follow the link in the show notes.

The Magazine segment

[00:01:27] Annie Sargent: For the magazine part of the podcast, after the interview today, I’ll discuss the areas in Paris where temporary Olympics things are going on. And quite a bit of that has started already, and also about getting around Paris during the Olympics.

Introduction and Greetings

[00:01:54] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Riana Ang-Canning, and welcome to Join Us in France.

[00:01:58] Riana Ang-Canning: Bonjour Annie. Merci beaucoup.

[00:02:00] Annie Sargent: How are you?

[00:02:01] Riana Ang-Canning: I’m good, how are you?

[00:02:02] Annie Sargent: Wonderful. Lovely to talk to you. So where do you live, Riana?

[00:02:07] Riana Ang-Canning: I’m in Vancouver, Canada.

[00:02:08] Annie Sargent: Canada. Wonderful.

Travel Dates and Companions

[00:02:10] Annie Sargent: And you visited France in February. Okay. So was it early February? Give me the dates of your trip.

[00:02:19] Riana Ang-Canning: It was kind of mid February. We were there from the 7th to the 18th.

[00:02:23] Annie Sargent: Okay. And you visited with your husband, and you’re both in your thirties.

[00:02:28] Riana Ang-Canning: Correct, yes, early 30s.

[00:02:29] Annie Sargent: Okay.

Visiting Provence and Côte d’Azur off-season

[00:02:30] Annie Sargent: So we’re going to talk about visiting Provence and the Côte d’Azur off-season, because this is not something that comes up a lot, but I think it’s a lovely place of France to visit at that time of year, and I’d love to hear from you how things went.

[00:02:44] Riana Ang-Canning: Yeah, absolutely. So I’m a big off-season traveler. That’s kind of my favorite time to go. I just really value like, you know, the low crowds, the low prices, and I don’t mind if the weather’s, you know, not perfect or, you know, if a few things are closed. And especially coming from Canada where it’s a little bit colder, being in, you know, a place like the Côte d’Azur in February is actually quite warm for us.

So that was great. I didn’t feel that off-season really. Yeah, it was great. This is a part of France I hadn’t really spent much time in before. I had been to Nice, but everywhere else was new to me. Provence was brand new to me as well. And it was just amazing to have, you know, Roman ruins, like full arenas all to ourselves because we happened to be there in February instead of July.

So it was, it was a really great time to go.

[00:03:28] Annie Sargent: That’s wonderful.

Challenges of Off-Season Travel

[00:03:29] Annie Sargent: Did you find a lot of places were closed?

[00:03:31] Riana Ang-Canning: We did run into, so there was a few places, so I’m a big travel planner, so I have, you know, all the spreadsheets and the documents and things like that. So I did a lot of research ahead of time, and I did find there were a couple places that were closed, just, you know, not open for the season.

It was more restaurants we ran into that were closed. So that was, I think, if you’re somebody who is a really, really big foodie, if you’re traveling, oh, I have to eat at this place specifically, that might be an issue. We like food, but we’re happy, you know, if this place is closed, we’ll go next door, that sort of thing.

So that there were still restaurants, we never went hungry, by any means, but just, you know, certain ones would be closed and on Google it still says they’re open, but the hours just aren’t up to date, that sort of thing. So we ran into that quite a bit in Provence, not so much in the Côte d’Azur, just, you know, it’s a more lively area, so there was a lot more open there.

[00:04:18] Annie Sargent: So yes, Provence is more inland, the tourist season ends after, you know, November, December, it’s very quiet. Of course, a lot of the restaurants are going to take time off and they might open on weekends only, or they might open for during the school vacation or, but not every day.

A lot of them, because they do work an awful lot when they’re in season.

[00:04:42] Riana Ang-Canning: Right, right. Absolutely. And like I said, it wasn’t a problem. Like we still ate really great. There were always bakeries and, you know, little Vietnamese takeaway or something like that. There was always an option. So it wasn’t a problem for us, just something to be aware of that there’s not as many restaurant options.

[00:04:56] Annie Sargent: Wonderful. Okay.

Travel Itinerary and Transportation

[00:04:57] Annie Sargent: So tell me about your favorites, or perhaps how did you get there? Did you fly into Nice?

[00:05:02] Riana Ang-Canning: Yeah. So we actually flew into Toulouse, and then kind of made our way across. So we went from Toulouse to Avignon and then Avignon to Nice. And then we flew home from Nice.

[00:05:11] Annie Sargent: Okay. And did you take the train to Avignon?

[00:05:14] Riana Ang-Canning: We did, yeah, from Toulouse we did like a quick little day trip in Carcassonne, and then took the train from Carcassonne up to Avignon, and then Avignon, we actually rented a car because we kind of did day trips around the Provence area. And then weirdly, it was cheaper to return the car in Nice, so we actually drove from Avignon to Nice, returned the car, and then from Nice, we did all of our day trips by train, because I had listened to the podcast, and I knew we did not need a car in the Côte d’Azur.

So we did all of that by train, and it was very easy.

[00:05:42] Annie Sargent: Yeah, you planned it just right because it is very true that going, I mean, the train between Toulouse and Avignon is not super fast. It probably took you what, five hours?

[00:05:54] Riana Ang-Canning: Something, yeah, because we stopped in Carcassonne, so I think it was like an hour to Carcassonne, and then a couple hours back up to Avignon.

Exploring Carcassonne

[00:06:00] Annie Sargent: Oh, so what did you do with your luggage when you stopped in Carcassonne?

Luggage service

[00:06:03] Riana Ang-Canning: Yeah, so we actually, we use like a luggage service, because there’s not, I thought there might be storage at the train station, but there’s not in Carcassonne. So they have a couple of different, if you just Google Carcassonne luggage service, they just kind of partner with a few little stores in the area, so there was like, it was like a grocery store that we just went in and we said, Hi, we’re here with the luggage, and they said, Yeah, no problem, and they keep your bags all day, I think it was like 5 euro or something like that. Very easy.

[00:06:25] Annie Sargent: Right, right. On my website, you’ll find links to Nanny Bag…

[00:06:29] Riana Ang-Canning: Yes, that was the one.

[00:06:30] Annie Sargent: They have agreements with a lot of stores and sometimes it’s, you know, a glasses store or a grocery store or somewhere where they have some room in the back office, and typically they also accept packages.

So when people are not home during the day, they can get their Amazon packages to the store and then they pick it up when they get home from work. This is really common, and it’s not very expensive and it’s way better than schlepping your luggage all over Carcassonne, right?

[00:06:57] Riana Ang-Canning: Yes, especially, like, that little hill you have to take to get up to the medieval city. Oh, I did not want to have my backpack for that, so that was great.

[00:07:05] Annie Sargent: Yes, yes, yes, yes. So you walked between the train station and the medieval city.

[00:07:11] Riana Ang-Canning: We did, yeah. I had read online that there was a bus, but I couldn’t find it, and I don’t know if that was an off-season thing, or we were just impatient or something, but it was a nice day. It was sunny. We walked in, stopped for lunch, and it was great.

[00:07:23] Annie Sargent: I mean, it’s doable. If you have the time, it’s totally doable. And that way you take the beautiful, the old bridge, can’t remember what the name of the bridge is, but you have a nice view onto the city as you approach the medieval city. I never know what to call it.

The La Cité de Carcassonne is the name, the official name in French, but I guess it’s the citadel, which is a separate thing from the city, the modern city, but it’s not that far away from it and it’s easy to do it on foot. Of course, you could get an Uber or you could get a taxi or you could hoof it.

I mean, honestly, hoofing it is not a big deal.

[00:07:57] Riana Ang-Canning: Yeah, I think it was maybe half an hour. So if you have the time, yeah, like you said, it’s a beautiful walk and you do get to kind of see, you know, the castle rising in the distance, which is kind of fun as you’re walking in. So yeah, we liked it, it was fun to walk over.

[00:08:08] Annie Sargent: And what did you think of the citadel?

[00:08:10] Riana Ang-Canning: Oh, we loved it. So this was one I had also heard of, you know, from your podcast and I’d seen some YouTube videos about it and I just thought it looked so magical. Like, it was just such a cool place. And I had heard, I think it was a conversation you had with Elyse where you were kind of talking about in the summer.

It just gets so busy and I think you were suggesting like another medieval city that people could go to. So we just got so lucky. It was, like I said, February, beautiful, sunny day, and we really had the entire, you know, the castle, the ramparts, all to ourselves. Like, there was one school group that we kind of got ahead, and then just us.

It was incredible. It was so cool to just, you know, walk into these huge rooms and walk along the castle walls and see all these, you know, sculptures. And yeah, it was very cool, felt like something out of a movie.

[00:08:50] Annie Sargent: Yes, yes. And some of the stores I’m sure were closed because, you know, they take vacation, that’s the time of year they take vacation, but there’s plenty open and the chateau does not close, so, yeah. Excellent. And I have to say that even in February on the weekends, sometimes there are more people.

It would just be you and a school group, but we do have plenty of school groups going through places like that in the middle, you know, when it’s not busy, it’s easier to handle the school group when you don’t have lots of people.

[00:09:21] Riana Ang-Canning: For sure. And they were very, very kind. They saw us coming and they let us go ahead because they knew we were just two as opposed to their, you know, 30 or however many they were.

[00:09:28] Annie Sargent: Yeah. How much time would you say you spent visiting the citadel?

[00:09:32] Riana Ang-Canning: I think we were probably up in that old city, just a couple hours, maybe. I think maybe two or three hours. And that, like you were saying, you know, not many shops were open, so we kind of, we did the chateau and the ramparts, and we saw the church, and the Dame Carcass bust, and kind of walked through the streets, and then we were like, okay, that’s kind of it. We got a coffee, and then we were like, okay, like, we’re good to go.

So it was quite quick.

[00:09:56] Annie Sargent: It’s not very big, is it? If you really hurry, you can see it in an hour. If you want a meal or if you want to, you know, to look around some more, then longer than that. Did you try some cassoulet?

[00:10:06] Riana Ang-Canning: No, we didn’t. I looked it up before and I saw that it was mostly the white beans in it, and I’m not a big bean fan, so we skipped that, but we did get the Toulouse sausage, that they were serving it in Carcassonne because we missed it in Toulouse, so we had that for lunch and that was pretty good.

[00:10:20] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. If you don’t like beans, don’t get cassoulet. Yes, that’s for sure.

Getting to Carcassonne by Train

[00:10:26] Annie Sargent: Another point of just organization. So you took just a stop in Carcassonne. Was your train ticket from Toulouse to Carcassonne and then Carcassonne to Avignon, is that what you did?

[00:10:38] Riana Ang-Canning: Yes, yeah. We booked two separate trains. I think in hindsight, I would have rather waited till we got there to book the train tickets because I booked them early. I can’t remember if it saved money or not, but it just forced us, you know, we had to get to Carcassonne at a certain time because I had already booked the train ticket, and then we had to wait until the train, you know, the, I think it was like a 5pm train or something, and we could have, you know, with jet lag, we were up very early, so I would have rather gone to Carcassonne earlier, and I would have rather left earlier too, towards the end, we were kind of like, okay, we have another hour to kill, I don’t really know what to do anymore.

So I think it being the off-season, we would have been okay just walking to the train station and buying tickets that day.

[00:11:15] Annie Sargent: That’s, very true. And also this is not a TGV. So this is a TER train. It’s not a high speed train. So those. You can buy day of without any trouble. TGV, you normally cannot do that. You might be able to buy it on the app the day before, for example, if it’s low season and there’s availability, but with the TER trains, I usually don’t book them in advance. Especially between Toulouse and Carcassonne, there’s a bunch of trains throughout the day.

[00:11:44] Riana Ang-Canning: Right.

[00:11:44] Annie Sargent: Just get the next one when you’re ready.

[00:11:47] Riana Ang-Canning: Yeah, yeah, that’s what we should have done, but it worked out, but good to know for next time.

[00:11:51] Annie Sargent: Yeah, did you have any train changes besides the one in Carcassonne?

[00:11:55] Riana Ang-Canning: Yes, we had to change in, I believe it was Nîmes. I believe, yeah, I think we had to change in Nîmes on our way to Avignon.

[00:12:00] Annie Sargent: Was that easy?

[00:12:01] Riana Ang-Canning: Yeah, super easy. I think our train was a little bit delayed, but it was actually,

I think we had 27, I’m just looking at my notes here, we had 27 minutes for the transfer, and then it was actually our train from Nîmes to Avignon that was a bit delayed, so that was fine. We were already on, you know, we were on the last train, so we could take our time.

[00:12:16] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Typically, 30 minutes to change trains is plenty. I mean, if it’s a ginormous train station, like the stations in Paris, I like to take my time, so I want more time. But a station like Nîmes is not that big. I mean, there’s maybe what, five, six tracks?

[00:12:36] Riana Ang-Canning: Right. Yeah, it was very easy. Came down and we were like, okay, we’ll just sit on a bench and wait.

[00:12:41] Annie Sargent: Yeah, just sit on a bench and wait..

Yeah. Fantastic. All right.

Arrival in Avignon, Palais des Papes

[00:12:44] Annie Sargent: So, then the second thing you list as your favorite is Palais des Papes in Avignon. So when you got to Avignon, did you go directly to the Palais des Papes?

[00:12:52] Riana Ang-Canning: Pretty much, yeah, we were staying, and you’ll have to help me with my French here, it was the Place de l’Horloge?

[00:12:58] Annie Sargent: Place de l’Horloge. Yeah. So it’s right by the Palais des Papes.

[00:13:01] Riana Ang-Canning: Exactly. Yeah, so we stayed right there. It was very, very convenient, being in the old town, being able to walk everywhere. So we did go to the Palais des Papes pretty, pretty soon.

Our tickets were actually for 1 pm, I had booked the tickets in advance, but we showed up at 11:30 and it was pouring rain and we said, Oh, is there any chance we could, you know, come in? We’re already here. And they were like, Oh yeah, come on in. No problem. So that’s an off-season perk. I don’t think that would have happened in July.

They would have said, no, no, no, come back. It was incredible. We had such a great time at the Palais des Papes. It’s huge. I didn’t understand from the pictures and online how big it is and how many different rooms you get to discover. And then they give you a histopad, which is kind of like a tablet type thing.

And you take that from room to room and it kind of shows you, you know, what it looked like during different phases of its life. And you can click around and, oh, you know, what were they eating and where were they sitting, and that sort of thing. So that was very, very cool. To be able to kind of see the older version of the place you’re standing.

And then they had the Pope’s rooms, and we went up to the rooftop, and it was very cool. We didn’t go to the garden, and I think that was the right choice in the off-season. Just that day was very, very rainy. So I don’t think we would’ve enjoyed being out there and, you know, nothing’s in bloom in February. So that was okay to skip. But yeah, we had a great time, that was definitely a big highlight of the trip.

[00:14:14] Annie Sargent: Yeah, I love those histopads. I think when they have them available, you should always take them because it makes it so nice to, and especially in Avignon, they make it easy. I mean, you point it at, there’s like a thing in the center of the room, usually, that you point the histopad to and boom, it just brings you what you need to know.

And then you can, you know, look around, change page, click on this, tap on that, and it’s really fun. And you can’t go, I mean, you can’t do it wrong. Even people who are a bit, you know, I mean, I know you’re young, but there are people who are older and kind of a bit averse to technology, but there’s really no way to mess that up.

You just point it at something and then tap.

[00:14:56] Riana Ang-Canning: Yes. Yeah. Very easy. And even like, you know, little, there’s little four or five year olds running around with their own little histopads and they were having a great time with it too. So it’s really, yeah, it’s really span the ages, you know, toddler up to grandmother, everyone had their histopad and was having a good time with it.

[00:15:09] Annie Sargent: And how much time would you say you spent in the Palais des Papes?

[00:15:13] Riana Ang-Canning: Probably, maybe an hour or two.Yeah, there was, and it was kind of cool, like you were saying with the histopad, there were different options, you know, if you just wanted to look at it and kind of see the visuals, but you could click into little things, read something, watch a movie. So you could kind of spend a bit more time there.

And then again, it being off-season, it just wasn’t very busy. So we never had to, you know, queue to go into a room or anything like that, or wait for the crowds to move. It was always pretty, pretty empty, there were people, but it was easy to walk around and have space to ourselves, which was quite nice.

And then our ticket also included access to the Pont d’Avignon, the bridge. So that was cool that we got to go see that as well.

[00:15:45] Annie Sargent: Yeah. I mean… you know… it’s a bridge that’s… that’s half gone. Yeah.

[00:15:51] Riana Ang-Canning: Yes, yes, I don’t think I would have gone to it had it not been included in the ticket. I would have just looked at it from the land, I guess. But since it was included, we walked along it, walked to as far as you can go, had a little audio guide. So it was a nice little addition.

The hotel

[00:16:04] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Did you like your hotel besides the location, which is obviously very good?

[00:16:09] Riana Ang-Canning: Yeah, it was pretty good. It was, kind of like a budget style hotel. So it was quite small, you know, not a ton of space, but there was, you know, a bed and a private bathroom and a little desk, I guess, and mini bar. It worked for us and, you know, we wanted to be central and we didn’t need to spend a ton of money on the room because we weren’t going to spend a lot of time there.

And there wasn’t any parking included, but we kind of knew that going in, like, if you’re staying in the city center in the old town, it’s hard to get the parking included. But they did include a discount on the city parking. So if you’re in one of the city parking lots, so that came in handy because we picked up our rental car the next day.

So we did 2 nights in the city parking lot. And I think they gave us like 20% off or something like that.

[00:16:46] Annie Sargent: That’s pretty good. And you parked in the parking garage underneath the Palais des Papes?

[00:16:50] Riana Ang-Canning: Correct. Yes.

[00:16:51] Annie Sargent: I like that one because it doesn’t smell bad.

[00:16:55] Riana Ang-Canning: Good to know. Good to know. Yeah. We were a little bit nervous about getting in. Because you know, if you miss the entrance and you kind of have to circle the whole city, so that was a little nerve wracking, but once we got it the first time, we’re like, okay, we know where we’re going.

[00:17:07] Annie Sargent: That entrance is a little bit strange, you know, because you have to go under this kind of circular little thing, you’re like, ooh…

[00:17:14] Riana Ang-Canning: Yeah. Yeah. You feel like you’re driving away from it and then you cut back in.

[00:17:19] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Very good.

Visiting Arles and Roman Sites

[00:17:20] Annie Sargent: All right. Tell us about the other places that you enjoyed. Arles. You went to Arles on, did you go on the train or did you drive to Arles?

[00:17:29] Riana Ang-Canning: We drove, yeah, so we kind of planned out like two different sort of day trips while we were in Provence, so one we did Arles and Saint Rémy de Provence, and then the next day we did Orange and Arles, or sorry, and Nîmes, I always get them mixed up.

So yeah, Arles we loved, we got a really gorgeous, sunny day, which, you know, in February is wonderful, and we bought one of the little passes that kind of takes you around to the different Roman sites.

So we went to the crypts, we went to the arena, we went to the thermal baths, we went to the cloisters and just, they’re all quite small. I mean, the arena is pretty large, but the other sites are quite small and it’s pretty easy, just, you know, pop in, tour around, maybe 10-20 minutes, but again, it was, was really cool to see.

You know, we don’t really see Roman sites like that back home. And again, it being February, most of those sites, it was just us. We were the only ones in the crypts, the only ones in the thermal baths. So that was very cool to have these ancient sites all to ourselves.

[00:18:23] Annie Sargent: Yeah. No, it’s a beautiful place. I really like Arles. You know, some people say, Oh, it’s too.. It’s city… I don’t know, it’s grungy, whatever. I don’t think, I mean, the city center is not grungy. It depends on where you’re staying, really. But you didn’t stay there, so…

[00:18:38] Riana Ang-Canning: Yeah, we loved it.

[00:18:39] Annie Sargent: Wonderful.


[00:18:40] Annie Sargent: And you went to Orange. Now, I’m not as familiar with Orange, but the Roman theater is beautiful, isn’t it?

[00:18:46] Riana Ang-Canning: Yes, it’s so beautiful. That was probably the one that really blew us away the most. I remember sort of walking over to it from the parking and my husband was like, it’s so big! I can’t believe how huge it is! Like, he just had no idea. And they really do a great job, you know, we got the audio guide, it came with the ticket, and they do such a great job of really walking you through the different phases of what it was used for and why it was important.

And I think more so than the arenas in Nîmes and Arles, the Orange one is really, really well preserved, there’s not scaffolding all over the place, it looks like, you know, from back in the day. And then they even have this cool section, kind of, in the middle of the theatre, you kind of go behind the, I guess, the stands, and they kind of have these little caves where they have different interactive exhibits, there’s games for kids and there’s TV shows and you can, you know, check out the food they used to eat and the clothes they used to wear, so it was very cool. I think we were probably there an hour or two, but we could have spent a full day, you know, just exploring.

I was blown away. I thought we’d be there, you know, 20 minutes, you see it, you walk out kind of thing, but they really did a great job of sort of making it very interactive, very engaging. That was probably my favorite of all the different Roman sites we saw.

[00:19:50] Annie Sargent: Huh. That’s fantastic to know. It’s important to know that in France, we have a lot of new generation type of people and I have a cousin, who works in this arena and they really try to implement a lot of newer styles of, you know, explaining the art, explaining the history, explaining the ruins.

And I think they do a fantastic job compared to what they did 20 years ago, where, you know, pretty much 20 years ago, you had people around to tell you don’t touch, don’t sit, don’t anything, don’t take photos, you know.

And now it’s the opposite. Even for accessibility, for sight impaired people, they will give them like, you know, a smaller version of the site that they can touch andthings like that.

It’s really fun to see how much effort they put into things and they can really make a huge difference in how you experience a place. So that’s good to know. I haven’t been to the Orange amphitheater for years, and so I don’t think I saw what you saw, I need to go back.

[00:20:54] Riana Ang-Canning: Yeah, it’s great. It’s great. Yeah, I highly recommend it. And again, February, there was like four other people there. You know, we had the whole place to ourselves, beautiful photos. It was a lot of fun.

[00:21:02] Annie Sargent: Yeah. And I’m lucky because I live nearby. I can actually drive for a few hours, and there I am, so… perfect.

Nîmes Arena

[00:21:09] Annie Sargent: Now you also went to the arena in Nîmes. Can you compare them?

[00:21:14] Riana Ang-Canning: Yeah, I think at that point, I did find the Arles and Nîmes arenas quite similar. I think the Nîmes one felt bigger, I don’t know if it actually was, we didn’t measure anything. It felt a little bit bigger, and it was a little harder to get around, I guess, just some of the steps and that sort of thing, they had different slopes.

It was also raining that day and obviously, you know, part of the arena is exposed, so it’s a little bit slippery. The one part I did like about the amphitheater in Nîmes is that they had an audio guide, whereas the one in Arles, that wasn’t, I don’t know if it’s an off-season thing, but that wasn’t an option for us.

They just sort of let us in. So we did get a little bit more context about, you know, what was going on here. And they had some cool, just plaques really, but sort of describing the different type of gladiators and their different costumes and their weapons and stuff like that, which is, you know, we have no idea about, I just thought there was, oh yeah, one type of gladiator, you know, he has a sword, but there’s all these different types. That was kind of cool.

That was probably my favorite part learning about that.

[00:22:09] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yeah. There’s different types of killing machines.

Pont du Gard at night

[00:22:15] Annie Sargent: You went to the Pont du Gard at night.

[00:22:18] Riana Ang-Canning: Yes, yeah, so I had, in doing my research, I had learned that the Pont du Gard is actually open, and I don’t know if this is all year round, but it’s open from 8 am until midnight. So even though the tourist shop and the gift shop and that sort of thing, those close at 5 pm, but the actual access to the bridge is until midnight. So I thought, oh, great, we can spend all day, you know, at these other sites, and then we’ll just visit the Pont du Gard on our way back. Which was kind of cool. And I had read that it was going to be lit up, and I think in my head, I thought like, Oh, yeah, you know, big, big lights, like, we’ll definitely be able to see it.

It’s not quite that bright, it’s still quite dark. So when we showed up at midnight, it was just us. And then there was one electric car charging in the parking lot. So I thought of you and your electric car.

[00:22:58] Annie Sargent: Oh, I’m glad to hear it works again because I couldn’t get my electric car to start the charge on that one. They would, it had been busted for months when I, and I actually called them and I said, you got to fix this cause this is a major tourist site, we need to charge.

And so…

[00:23:13] Riana Ang-Canning: It worked. It worked.

[00:23:15] Annie Sargent: That’s good.

Exploring Pont du Gard at Night

[00:23:16] Riana Ang-Canning: Yes, your call affected change. Yeah, there was one car charging and just us. And then, so we had the bridge all to ourselves. Again, like I said, it was quite dark, so we had to use our phone flashlights just to make sure, you know, we weren’t going to trip on the way.

But it was cool to kind of have, you know, this site that is, I’m sure, usually packed with people trying to see it, to be able to walk right down to it, and, you know, we didn’t go in the water, obviously, but kind of getting close enough and seeing pictures. I would like to go back during the day, you know, at another point, but seeing it at night was also a cool experience.

[00:23:44] Annie Sargent: So do they light the bridge at all?

[00:23:46] Riana Ang-Canning: Yeah, there’s sort of like a soft, kind of purpley light on it, so you can see it. It’s not like you’re going in pitch black. It’s just not, I think in my head I thought it was going to be, you know, like stage lights, like really,really lit up. It’s not quite that bright, but it is viewable.

It’s worth seeing. If you haven’t seen the Pont du Gard yet, it’s still quite cool to see.

[00:24:03] Annie Sargent: Yeah. The mood must be very different than during the day. I’ve only been there during the day, so I don’t know, but it would be cool.

[00:24:08] Riana Ang-Canning: Yeah, it was cool. It was cool. Yeah, I’d like to contrast it. I’d like to go back.

[00:24:11] Annie Sargent: So at that time is the parking lot because you have to pay for the parking lot during the day. So did you have to pay for the parking lot even at midnight?

[00:24:19] Riana Ang-Canning: Yes, yeah, they still have the little, the bar that comes down, so to access the parking lot, you still have to pay, and then the bar lifts up. Though we were thinking about it, we were like, oh, we probably could have just pulled over right beside the parking lot and run down, taken a picture, and come back with, but, you know, I think it was only 5 euro or 8 euro or something like that, so we’re like, okay, we’re happy to pay. You know, we want to support the site, so happy to pay.

[00:24:40] Annie Sargent: Yeah, because when you go into the parking lot, the entrance to the site is not very far, it probably adds, what 300 yards to your walk?

It’s not that much.

[00:24:49] Riana Ang-Canning: It’s very easy. Yeah.

[00:24:50] Annie Sargent: Very nice.

(Mid-roll ad spot)


Visiting Gordes and the Off-Season Market

[00:24:53] Annie Sargent: All right, now let’s go to Gordes.

Yes, yeah, so this was sort of our way from Avignon to Nîmes. We did sort of a wide road trip so we could hit a couple of Luberon villages. So we went to Gordes, we saw the Bories villages, the stone houses, just outside of Gordes, and then we were also there for the Tuesday market. I think this is another kind of consideration of the off-season.

I imagine the market is a lot bigger in the summer. It was pretty quiet. There was, you know, four or five stalls, but it was still really nice. You know, we still got that market feel and all the vendors were so kind, you know, Oh, come and try this. Like, where are you from? Have you had this before?

So it was very nice. We left with some very good cheese, and some very expensive almonds, because I don’t think my husband understood how the pricing was being done.

Ah. Was it almonds or was it nougat?

It was almonds. We had tried the nougat, and then they had a couple different, just the nuts on their own. And my husband loves almonds, so he bought those, but I think he thought the price was, you know, per bag, but it was like per however many grams or something like that. So it just, yeah, yeah, exactly.

I mean, they were delicious. So he says, I’m not a big almond fan. He says, you know, best almonds he’s ever had, but just, I think we got home and we were like, Oh, that was like, you know, $30 Canadian we just spent on a bag of almonds.

Yeah, it’s lot, yeah.

Yeah, when you don’t understand what’s happening, it’s… you know that’s the beauty and the problem with markets is sometimes they charge more… and I’m not surprised that it was very small in, I mean, in the summer, there are more vendors, but there’s not that much room for the market in Gordes.

It’s not the biggest one in Provence by any means, but you would have more variety, you know, if you had four or five vendors, that’s very small.

Yes. Yes. It was, you know, one nut person, one cheese person, one bread person, that was kind of it.


Still nice to see, but yeah, not the same experience I’m sure as in the summer.

Yeah. Yeah.

Quick Stop at Roussillon

[00:26:41] Annie Sargent: You also went to Roussillon.

We did, yes. That was just sort of a quick stop. I just really wanted to see, you know, the ochre buildings and the small town. And that was very, very quiet. Like, I think there might have been one, two restaurants open in the whole town there. So that was definitely just more of a walk around and sort of see the buildings.

We didn’t spend a ton of time there. We kind of popped into one shop and bought a little olive oil or something like that. And then kind of carried on, but it was beautiful. I’m glad we did stop.


Christmas in Provence: A Word of Caution

[00:27:07] Annie Sargent: So yes, sometimes people say, oh, you know, they have this idea that Christmas in Provence must be fantastic. I really recommend against it because Christmas is a… it’s a family thing. And if you go to Provence, everything’s going to be closed. Like they just don’t, so they will have like Sentons markets and they will have specific Christmas markets, but only on weekends, only for, perhaps like in November, they might have one in December, they might have one. And that’s it because people are spending time with their families, shopping for themselves, for gifts, whatever. And so it’s a bad idea to go to Provence for Christmas.

Just putting it out there that it’s going to be dead, okay? Don’t go. Christmas in France, you go to Paris or you go to Strasbourg, lots of activity there, but not Provence.

All right.

Aix Camp des Milles: A Powerful Experience

[00:28:00] Annie Sargent: You went to Aix Camp des Milles. Hmm. Tell me about that.

Don’t know about this one. Yes. So this was actually really fascinating, I had a hard time finding it. I don’t even remember it popped up on some website and I thought, Oh, that’s very interesting. So it’s one of the only internment camps, like a World War II internment camp in France, that’s open to the public and that has sort of been turned into a memorial.

It was so well done. I think we were there for maybe two or three hours. We could have spent another two or three hours. It was really, really,you know, I want to say fascinating, obviously a very dark history, one of those places that just felt so important to be there and to learn. We learned that it was originally a factory and then they kind of turned it into an internment camp in sort of the early 1930s.

And then as the war picked up and when the Vichy government was, you know, sort of working with the Nazi government, they kind of turned it into an internment camp for Jewish people. And then eventually, it was a deportation camp where they actually sent people to Auschwitz from this camp.

So it has this, you know, really, horrible dark history, but they’ve done such a great job at kind of telling that story, just like really wonderful set up, they had the audio guide, of course, and they have all these different pieces of memorabilia that you can look at and read. And then you kind of do a tour sort of through the building and you get to see like, oh, here’s where people slept, and here’s the bathrooms. They turned one area into a theater because, you know, they needed to entertain themselves and still embrace their humanity. And you can see on the wall where they wrote, like, here’s what’s playing at the theater tonight.

Like, you can see the marks and stuff like that. And it was just so, it was so powerful to be there and so well done. I hope if anyone’s hearing this and this is something, you know, of interest, if you, I guess, enjoy is a weird word, but if you go to these sort of dark history places and you do want to learn about them, I definitely, definitely recommend Camp des Milles.

It was very powerful to be there. And again, it was, you know, us and two other people in February. A great time to go and really take your time and slowly get through the exhibit. It was very powerful, I’m glad we did it.

I went to something similar to this, but it’s near Toulouse. It was Noé, is the town of Noé had a internment camp, but it’s only open to schools. They open it to school children. I don’t think the general public can go. So this is really good to know that there’s something like that near Aix.

Yeah, I think it’s like maybe 20 minutes outside of Aix, so definitely very doable if you’re in that area.

And if you have a car.

Right, yes, there might have been a bus that goes out, I didn’t look into it, but I saw buses, you know, on the street, so I’m sure there’s other ways to get there.

Yeah. Wonderful.

A Day in Nice

[00:30:27] Annie Sargent: All right. You went to Nice. Tell me about Nice.

Yes! From, you know, kind of doing that road trip through the Luberon, Aix, we drove over to Nice, dropped the car, and then everything else was day trips just by train. So we spent the first day in Nice, a beautiful day, we did a food tour, so got to learn about all the different Nice specialties.

And then we went up to Castle Hill, saw the gorgeous views. I heard your advice that there’s an elevator, so we definitely took the elevator up, didn’t have to do the stairs, which was great. And then just ended the day, you know, on the Promenade des Anglais, there was a beautiful Sunset restaurant that we sat at and had drinks and carpaccio, and it was just like a beautiful, beautiful day on the coast.

That’s great. Yeah. Nice, it’s just a pleasant town, you know, if you can take it easy, and the weather is generally very nice year round. I mean, you might get there on a super windy day, that’s not fun, but besides the wind, you know, it’s ideal, really.

Yes, it was beautiful.

Yes, and so the specialties of Nice, you probably had socca?

Yes, we had socca, we hadpissaladiere.

Pissaladiere yes!

Yes, with all onions, and then we had thepan bagnat, it’s like a niçoise salad, but on a sandwich.We had that. And then they were also telling us that,what is it? Swiss chard is like a big thing in Nice, and they make desserts actually out of it.

Oh yes the pie! Yes, yes, the little pie with a, it was so strange to see like green vegetables with, you know, sugar on top. And it was like, what is this? It was delicious, but it was very…

You liked it, huh? I tried it and I was like, ooh, ooh, I don’t really like this!

I love Swiss chard pie. I make quiche with Swiss chard in it.

And I love that. But with the sweet, I was like, hmm, no!

But I mean, I ate it. It’s not like it was disgusting. It was just odd.

Yeah, our group was pretty split because we had a food tour, I think there was, you know, 12 or 15 of us. I think half of the people were like, oh, what is that? And the other half was like, oh, not bad. So it was divisive for sure.

Okay. All right. How many days did you spend visiting Nice? Just that one day?

Yeah, so we were in Nice for five nights, but we only really had the one full day in Nice. I had been to Nice before many, many years ago, so it was, you know, kind of familiar to me. We just kept learning about all these cool places on the Côte d’Azur that we wanted to see, so we didn’t have as much time to be just in Nice.

Okay. So where else did you go?

Monaco and Eze: A Day Trip

[00:32:49] Annie Sargent: So the next day we did Monaco, kind of in the morning, and then Eze in the, I guess, late afternoon. So that was quite cool to go up to Monaco, very hilly, lots of hills.

Got our work out for sure. We got to see the changing of the guard, we went into the cathedral, the church where, you know, Grace Kellyis buried, and lots of beautiful views, we saw the casino.

We didn’t go in.We’re not that fancy, but we just took our pictures outside, so that was quite cool, that was something. I had been to Monaco before, but my husband hadn’t, so he wanted to kind of, you know, tick that off the bucket list. You got to see all the super yachts and things like that.

Yeah. And so did you go to the oceanography kind of museum? No.

No, we didn’t. We thought about doing that, yeah, I thought it was going to be cool, I’d actually read something online that said it was quite similar to the aquarium we have here in Vancouver. I thought, oh, well, maybe we’re okay then, we could skip it, and I just, you know, we sort of said, let’s spend the whole day in Monaco, and if we have time, we’ll go to Eze.

And I wanted to go to Eze, because that was new to me, so, I sort of left it with my husband, I was like, hey, if you really want to go to the aquarium, or somewhere else, we can, I’d rather go to Eze, and he’s like, okay, okay, we can go to Eze.

Good. So, how did you get to Eze?

We took a bus, so there’s a bus from Monaco that goes to Eze. I will just caution, I’m sure this is an off-season thing, it doesn’t go that often, so check the schedule, and the easiest way to do it, just because Google Maps was kind of giving us different information, but the easiest way is to just pop into the Tourist Information Centre, it’s just up by the casino,and they can give you the up to date schedule.

Because of course we pop in and the next time the bus is coming is like two hours from now, so it doesn’t leave that often. So definitely check that schedule first. But very easy, it just takes you straight to Eze Village, so not down by the water, which was great. And then to get back to Nice from Eze we took the bus as well.

I think there’s some construction or something going on. So it doesn’t go all the way to Nice right now. They’re doing something on that, I think it’s usually like, you know, there’s a certain bus that goes all the way into Nice. So instead, it took us to the train station and then we took the train.

Aha, aha. Okay. All right. Very good. That’s good to know that you can take the bus from Monaco into Eze, because then it takes you up to the bottom of the medieval village.Because if you take the train to Eze, you’re going to be at the very bottom of the hill. You’re going to be sea level.

And then you have to go all the way up to the medieval village and then all the way up to the top of the village. It’s a lot of ups.

Yes. It’s a lot of, yes, because even where the bus dropped us off, I was like, oh, this is quite a hill to get up to the top of the village. So I can’t even imagine if we started, you know, 45 minutes, an hour lower than that at the ocean level. So yes, I had heard that on your podcast and I said, okay, for sure we’re looking for, you know, Eze Village, not Eze Sur Mer, like we don’t want that one.

Yes, Eze Sur Mer is, yeah, on the beach, well, at sea level.

Okay, very good. And then you take the bus from Eze Village to Nice. Yeah, so that one, I think, I’m sure the construction will be over soon, but that one, the bus actually went to Eze Sur Mer. So it dropped us off at the train station.

And then you took the train.

Correct. Yeah.

Yeah, getting the bus to get down to Eze sur Mer is easy because it’s right by the little grocery store at the bottom of Eze Village and so you just stand there and eventually a bus will come to take you down to where you can get on the train.

Okay. Very good. Very good. All right. Let’s see.

And the garden, you loved the garden. I mean, was it ok February? Yeah, it was great, it was still, I don’t know if this is how it is in the summer, but most of the plants are sort of like, you know, a cacti sort of thing. So they’re year round. It looked beautiful. And that was kind of the only thing we really did in Eze just by the time we showed up, there was, I think, maybe half an hour or an hour left of the garden being open.

So by the time we finished, you know, walking around and taking in the views and all of our photos and stuff, the rest of Eze was pretty much shut down. Like, all the shops and stuff.

There’s not that much to do in Eze honestly, even in high season. I mean, there are little art galleries, there are some places where you can get some food, but not that many of them. You have a very hoity-toity hotel. Mostly you go to Eze for the views and for the garden.

Oh, good. Okay. Then we didn’t miss out.

You did not miss out very much, no.

Antibes and Villefranche-sur-Mer

[00:37:01] Annie Sargent: Oh, you went to Villefranche-sur-Mer.

We did, yes, yes, so that was our second day. We did Antibes in the morning and then Villefranche-sur-Mer in the afternoon. If you’ll allow me, I loved Antibes, if I could just rave about that for a minute. It was my favorite town. Like, we got there, we spent, you know, the first 10 minutes just walking into town and I was telling my husband, I was like, okay, we have to come back, like, how do we get here next year?

I love it. I want to, you know, I want to move here. I was such a fan. It was just, oh, it was everything, you know, it’s right on the coast, so the water it was so beautiful, and it was lively, but it wasn’t crowded, but, you know, we walked through the Marché Provençal. But it was February! Exactly, exactly, yes, I was talking with another friend, and she said, like, oh, if you liked it in February, you will not like it in July.

Not the same in July and August. No, no, but yeah, it was beautiful, you know, we saw the nomad statue, we went to the Picasso Museum, we sat by the beach, we had a really good brunch. It was, yeah, it was a beautiful, beautiful time, and then we ended that day, we went toVillefranche-sur-Mer, and we just sat by the water there, you know, we got a giant bowl of mussels, and just sort of, you know, joie de vivre, like, just sat back and enjoyed the mussels.

We kind of walked through the town a little bit afterwards, but it was mostly just enjoying the food and the views and each other’s company. It was lovely.

Fantastic. That sounds good.

Menton Lemon Festival, Fête du Citron

[00:38:14] Annie Sargent: You went to the Fête du Citron, so I want to hear about that.

That’s a big event.

Yes. Yes. So that was the famous Lemon Festival in Menton. They do that every year, and sort of to celebrate their, you know, their prized lemon that they have.

So that was very cool. And it was definitely the busiest part of our trip. Everything else is a little bit more sleepy. And this was, you know, you get on the train, it’s like, oh, there’s no seats, we have to stand. Like, it is crowded. You get off the train and it’s, you know, single file walking to kind of get to the main area of the festival.

So they have these ginormous sculptures made out of lemons and oranges. I think just lemons and oranges. So the theme for 2024 was the Olympics, I guess sort of in honor of, you know, the Olympics coming to Paris. So there was Roman wrestlers, and there was Greek temples, there was a skateboarder and there was a swimmer, and there was rowers. And it was just so cool, these ginormous, I don’t even know, 20 feet, 30 feet tall statues and monuments sort of made out of citrus fruit. So it was very, very cool to see all of that in person and kind of admire the handiwork.

And then from there we kind of just walked through the old town, you know, they have lots of their lemon products for sale, of course, anything you could put a lemon in, or scent with lemon, they will be selling.

So you got lemon beer, and lemon soap, and lemon candy, you know, picked up few things. And then we just ended our time, you know, at the water, we just sat at one of the restaurants and had a pizza with lemon, and lemonade, and some other lemon, like, juice or something like that, you know, we had a couple more lemon products. So that was very cool.

We weren’t able to stay for the parade, unfortunately, that was, like, our last day of our trip, so we wanted to head back to Nice. But a friend of mine stayed for the parade, and she said that, because, as you’ll hear in a second, we went to the carnival parade in Nice that night instead. And a friend said that we made the right choice, that the carnival parade in Nice is better than the Fête de Citron parade in Menton.

Yes. Very good to know. Yeah. So yes, they happen at the same time, and you know, you have to pick sometimes. That’s great. That’s wonderful.

So to go to the Fête du Citron, I mean, do they sell tickets to get a better view and to beat stands or to be sitting down? Or how does that work?

Yeah, so if you wanted to go to the parade, you can buy tickets, there are stands, you know, seats that you can sit in. But if you just want to go see the sculptures, they have them kind of set up in, I’m forgetting the name of it, but there’s kind of like a garden space just by, you know, five minutes from the train station, and that’s all free. So you can walk through that, see the sculptures, they have lots of stands selling, you know, all the lemon products, so all of that is completely free.

And that’s great, because that’s all, you know, all we wanted to do was just sort of see the giant sculptures, that was quite cool.

But it is quite crowded.

Very crowded.

It’s a big attraction.

Yes, yeah, very crowded on the train from Nice, very crowded once you get there. Yeah, definitely the busiest, the busiest area we had been the whole trip, that was the busiest part.


Nice Carnival Parade

[00:41:09] Annie Sargent: And the carnival in Nice, what was that like?

That was incredible. So that was so fun. That was our last night in Nice. So we got ourselves tickets to go see the parade, because they have a few different carnival events, like sort of, you know, daytime events, nighttime parades, booths, that sort of thing. So we got tickets to the nighttime parade, because I kind of heard that’s like the one to go to, if you can only go to one.

It was so much fun. We had seats kind of up in the nosebleeds of the bleachers, but still a great view. I don’t think there’s a bad view. And the theme this year was the King of Pop, so it was a lot of pop culture, you know, TV shows, all these different characters that you would recognize.

And it was, oh, it was just amazing, like, really cool, cool floats that came by, and you could, you know, see all the details, and they had all these different, you know, dance troupes, and marching bands, and magicians, and acrobats, and it was just, like, a feast for the eyes the whole time. They were playing really fun music, mostly English music, which was very handy for us.

So we were singing along, dancing, we bought ourselves little like masquerade masks just to kind of be part of the fun. It was great. Yeah, we had a really, really good time.

Fantastic. Are the tickets expensive, or are they affordable?

I don’t think they were too bad. I think it was maybe 20 euro or something like that. I think they have like a zone A and a zone B. So we were in zone A, which I think is slightly better seats. But again, like I said, right at the back, which was fine because you’re looking down.

So it’s not like anyone’s really blocking your view or anything like that. So yeah, it was good. But when I went to buy the tickets, when I first looked, I think back in November or something like that, they weren’t released yet. And then I looked again, must have been January, and there were only a few seats left.

So you want to, if you do want to go, you want to make sure that you’re on it with the tickets. Because yeah, I think there was, the seats we got were the last pair together.

Yeah, so you just want to be careful if you’re buying for a group. Definitely make sure you know when the tickets are released and you’re paying attention, buying them on time.

Wonderful. Wow.

Conclusion and Reflections

[00:43:04] Annie Sargent: Well, Riana, we’ve been talking too long, I’m afraid we’re going to have to say goodbye, but this was fascinating. You brought up a lot of things that are new that we hadn’t discussed on the podcast before. So this is excellent information. Thank you so much.

Thank you. Thank you for letting me ramble for too long.

No, I had fun. Thank you for participating in the podcast. Did you listen to it a lot before to get ready?

I did. Yes, I love travel planning. So as soon as we booked this trip, right to my podcast, I was like, Hey, you know, I need something on in France. And I had heard of the podcast before, but I, you know, I didn’t have a trip planned. So as soon as I saw it, I was like, here we go. And I binged every episode you have on Provence and Côte d’Azur. And it was so great.

[00:43:43] Riana Ang-Canning: I’m learning about new places, getting good tips. So yeah, highly recommend.

Thank you so much. And thank you for sharing with everybody else.

Of course. Thank you. Merci Beaucoup.

Au revoir, Riana.

Au revoir.

Thank you, patrons

[00:43:54] Annie Sargent: Again, I want to thank my patrons for giving back and supporting the show. Patreon supporters get new episodes as soon as they are ready and ads free. If that sounds good to you, be like them, follow the link in the show notes.

And patrons get more exclusive rewards you can see them at And a shout out this week to one new patron Rowena, who I know is hiking the Camino this week, because she was one of the 2024 bootcampers. So sending hugs to you, Rowena. I hope all this rain we’re having in France this spring is not making it too difficult for you.

And to all my current patrons, it is wonderful to have you on board in the community of travel enthusiasts and francophiles who keep this podcast going.

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This week, I published a date for my June Zoom with patrons, and I look forward to chatting with all of you. If you’ve been a patron for one year or more and you’re going to be in Paris, message me within Patreon and I’ll give you a free code to one of my VoiceMap tours. This is also good for people who just joined, but select yearly support at the $5 level.

Latin Quarter and Montmartre Tour Review

[00:45:19] Annie Sargent: Somebody left this review of my tour this week, about the Latin Quarter. ‘Great tour, I’ve lived in Paris for over two years, but I learned so much today’. Ha ha. Yes. I go digging quite deep for those tours.

About my Montmartre tour: ‘Excellent audio tours, really appreciated all the commentary about the sites we passed and saw. Also appreciate the suggestions for places to stop and eat or shop’.

Thank you very much for those reviews. And podcast listeners get a big discount for buying these tours from the boutique on my website. So check those out.

If the podcast is super helpful to you, but you still have questions, I offer two levels of Itinerary Consultations on Zoom to help you plan for your trip.

The VIP service, where you get a lot of information and day by day suggestions, etc. And the Bonjour service, it’s a lot cheaper, because we just talk for an hour and I answer all your questions. I send you some documents to read up as well, but it takes much less of my time. It’s all explained on

For my personal update, I’m in Spain in Villanova this week. The weather is amazing here. It’s so sunny. It’s not very hot yet, it’s fantastic. I got my feet wet and decided it’s not warm enough for me yet to swim, but lots of people are enjoying the water, the beach, it’s fantastic. And not super busy yet, so it’s a great time to be chilling after a very busy month of May for me.

Olympics 2024, Metro Closures

[00:46:58] Annie Sargent: And my friend Patricia is visiting this week from Paris, so that’s wonderful! It’s wonderful to hang out with her! She was happy to leave the rain behind. So was I, it was raining in Toulouse when I left. But she’ll need to head back soon because she’ll be one of the Olympics volunteers helping visitors navigate transportation around the Grand Palais and Alexander III areas, so…

And she was telling me about metro station closures, which are a pain, even for people like her, who know and use the Paris Metro a lot. So I decided to share some of that information and, you know, pull you in on it.

There are going to be temporary competition sites in Paris, of course. They started going up in March, 2024, and they will be in place until November this year.

So, some areas of Paris are going to be affected more than others. And these are Place de la Concorde, so if you don’t know Paris very well, that’s a big plaza, not very far from the Orangerie Museum. Not far from the American Embassy, by the way.

Champ de Mars, that’s the big grassy space by the Eiffel Tower. The Trocadéro, and that’s the other side of the Eiffel Tower, it’s the beautiful plaza, it’s further, it’s higher up, also by the Eiffel Tower. The Grand Palais and Alexander III Bridge, and that’s the gorgeous steel and glass building and the bridge that’s got all the gold and art deco.

Anyway, beautiful parts of Paris, very central, and those are going to be the most affected places. They are going to close metro stations, some of them are already closed as a matter of fact, and when they close a metro station, it means that you cannot enter it or change trains there. So, metros will not stop at these stations.

It’s like the metro station doesn’t exist anymore. You might as well forget it was ever there because it’s not there for several months. And, you know, some of these stations are already closed and will remain closed until after the Olympics. So even if you’re not going to be in Paris for the Olympics, you will be affected by this.

So it’s really important that you use a transportation app that will give you up to date information. Most apps like Google Maps, Apple Maps, CityMapper, which I like, the RATP app will update frequently. But the app they want you to use is called Paris 2024, and that’s the official Olympic transportation app.

I’ll post a photo of it in the show notes for this episode, so you can find it easily, it’s a light blue and a pink image that says Paris 2024.

Install that app and get familiar with it because it knows about all the granular details of the transportation difficulties in Paris for the next few months.


[00:49:45] Annie Sargent: And if like me, you have your favorite app for Paris, perhaps use both, you know, it’ll make your life easier.

Also in the show notes, I’ll share the map the government put together so locals can anticipate road closures and all of that. And there will be many. This morning I heard that there were 440 kilometers of traffic jams in Paris.

That’s what, 300 miles, because of road closures for the Olympics, and the fact that so many world leaders are in Paris for the D-Day 80th anniversary celebrations. That’s the day I’m recording this intro. As always, I always tell you to not drive in Paris, not even on a good day, but especially if something special is going on, like world leaders visiting for something important, or the Olympics, you will be stuck in traffic. So I’ll put a link to that map. You know, you can zoom in on it and see granularly if one street that you’re interested in is going to be affected. So that’s a really good map.

During the Olympics, Use the RER to get into the city

[00:50:54] Annie Sargent: During the Olympics, folks landing in Paris should probably consider using the RER to get into the city. Now, I normally recommend taxis because they make your life easy, it’s a set price, it’s very, very seamless.

But it’s possible the taxis will be really, really slow, even though they can take bus lanes. You definitely will want to avoid Uber during the Olympics because they cannot use the bus lanes and they are just like any other car and they are going to be stuck in traffic a lot.

If you can walk, do that. Leave early and hoof it. Or use the metro, understanding that some stations will be closed, and if the station is closed, it’ll probably stop at the next one. It’s possible it’ll skip two stations, but typically they just skip the one.

So, be prepared for disruptions in transportation going forward in Paris, and until well after the Olympics, because some of this stuff is not going to be all put away until November 2024.

My thanks to podcast editors Anne and Cristian Cotovan, who produced the transcripts.

Next week on the podcast

[00:52:06] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, a report on Bootcamp 2024.

There were nine participants who talked to me, in a very loud cafe, because the Olympic flame was coming through Toulouse . And so it was, I didn’t realize how many people would be in this cafe. It’s normally, if you go in back, it’s not that bad, but anyway, it’s neither here nor there, that is done, Cristian did a good job getting the sound as good as possible, and I think you will enjoy this episode.

And remember, patrons get an ad-free version of this episode, all it takes is two bucks a month and you don’t have to put up with the ads anymore.

Click on the link in the show notes of this episode to be like them. Thank you so much for listening and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together. Au revoir.


[00:52:57] 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: Provence