Winter                     2017
VOL. 21                   NO.  1


FRANCE On Your Own banner
  The Independent Traveler's Newsletter


By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea . .

Twisted Tongues
      ~  Challenging French phrases

Ici et Là

Property Buying Forecast for France in 2017
     by Charlie Heckstall-Smith

          A Dream Became a Reality
          Le Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval
            by Jo Anne Marquardt

Plage des Lutins, Ile de Noirmoutier.  Copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

Plage des Lutins, Île de Noirmoutier  

In our next issue:

The Bookshelf:  A review of
Les Parisiennes - How the Women of Paris Live, Loved,
and Died Under Nazi Occupation
by Anne Sebba

Village France:
Small Towns and Charming Villages
you'll want to visit

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 " . . . The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.."
- Jacques Cousteau


Western France has a very long Atlantic coastline, the largest forest in Europe, islands
just off shore for exploring, towns both large and small, and perhaps the perfect place
to spend your vacation nearly any time of year.  Boasting excellent weather and blessed 
by the Gulf Stream, Atlantic France is a diverse and popular destination.
We are resurrecting a past article, with some updates of course, to introduce you
to this very pleasant French region.


  The Atlantic Coast of France


The Vendee.  WikipediaTHE VENDÉE

you drive south along the Atlantic coast in the Pays de la Loire, cross the river at Saint-Nazaire in the département of the Loire-Atlantique ~ a bustling region of industry and shipping.  It isn't long before you enter the coastal département of Atlantic FranceVendée -- a land of wetlands, bocages, islands and an endless devotion to nature and wildlife. 

is a region rich with marshes (marais) along the Atlantic, known also in France as the Bay of Biscay or Golfe de Gascogne.  Here one finds sparkling salt marshes transformed into oyster beds or tidal beds for harvesting sea salt.  There are sand dunes, great stretches of clean beaches and sheep or cattle grazing in the meadows.

Île de Noirmoutier . . .

We recommend driving south on the D213 through Pornic, a once fortified town and now a popular resort, as far as Bourgneuf-en-Retz along the Baie de Bourgneuf.  It is here that the road forks to the right, becoming the D758.  Continue to Beauvoir-sur-Mer where there is a road, Passage du Gois, to reach the Île only during low tide (the D948), But, to play it safe, drive  bit farther on the D22 direction la Barre de Monts and Fromentine.  You can reach the Île easily from here. 

The approach to the island is over a bridge and along a fairly narrow spit of land before you reach the larger part of the island.  Highlights are the town of Noirmoutier-en-l'Île which has an incredible ancient church built in 677 on the site of an abbey built three years earlier (Église St-Philbert) across from an imposing fortress, and the smaller town of Bois de la Chaise where you can dine or enjoy the Baie beach.  Beautiful little beaches can be accessed around the island, and a large marina is at Port de Morin. 

. . . and Sea Salt

The island is most famous for growing potatoes and harvesting sea salt.  As we were leaving the island, we stopped at a small stand whose salt is very fine (Fleur de Sel), unlike the coarser salt we found in Brittany's Guérande.  Why is French sea salt so special?  It has been harvested as far back as the year 868 in Guérande, and that town and the nearby islands of Noirmoutier and Ré have the only remaining, traditionally hand-harvested salt marshes in France.  In Noirmoutier, the salt is called Sel Marin de Noirmoutier.   It is harvested using a lousse a de fleur (rake) from salt beds that have occurred naturally as channels filled with sea water; the salt in the water is air and sun dried after the tide recedes and then accumulates in shallow ponds.  Originally, women only were allowed to harvest the salt as it was felt that men were too rough with the rakes.  The salt crystallizes in two layers:  the coarse and heavier salt settles to the bottom and the Fleur de Sel, finer gourmet salt, floats to the top.  Chefs the world over prize the Fleur de Sel, not using it for cooking, but for finishing a dish. 

Don't let anyone tell you that table salt (refined and 99% sodium chloride) and sea salt are one in the same.  Sea salt is unrefined and contains 84 elements found in the sea, and is unadulterated without anti-caking additives or bleaching.  And, it tastes so much better!  Do purchase sea salt when possible along the Atlantic Coast of France. 

                                                                                                                                                continued on page 2


. .
  with a click  

to read more about the Atlantic Coast of France from the Vendée to the Pyrénées-Atlantiques ~  the towns, the beaches and the wonderful sea.

>  follow Jo Anne Marquardt as she fulfills her dream to see the incredible construction by a dedicated postman in the département of the Drome.  You will be amazed.


>  and learn about France's housing market in the months to come from Charlie Heckstall-Smith whose expertise is in the Côte d'Azur.

> and perhaps find an event or activity that interests you in the US or France in our Ici et Là column ~ and be sure to see our newest Ici et Là feature:  Did You Know? 


FRANCE On Your Own is always open
 to receiving articles from our readers
about their experiences in France.  We
can't guarantee when we will publish
 those we accept, but we will do our best to
include them for our other readers to enjoy.
[No payments are made for submissions used,  but
 we will promote your France-related book or project.]

                                                                                                                            contributed by Arthur Gillette

Welcome to Twisted Tongues, a French word game everyone can play.  Can you come up with the correct translation of the phrase in question?  You'll be surprised by how it differs from what you first thought it meant.

Answer from our Autumn issue:   "Quelle salade!"  Does that mean "What a salad!"?  Yes, it is a nice phrase to compliment your dinner hostess, but in slang it means  "What a mess!"

Phrase:   "J'ai la dent."  Does that mean "I have a tooth"?  Literally, yes, although it is never used that way. In slang it is much different. Can you guess?

Look for the correct translation in our Spring 2017 newsletter.  Have fun!

 We will continue to include Arthur Gillette's "Twisted Tongues" in our newsletter
until we exhaust the selection he kindly provided.  We hope you enjoy them as much as he
enjoyed the French language.  We are sure he would want us to continue the game . . .

                                                                                                               SPONSORING THIS ISSUE                                                                                                                      

Domaine de Biar & Camargue Horse
Domaine de Biar

For the experience of a lifetime make your next French bed and breakfast destination
Domaine de Biar just outside of the delightful city of Montpellier in the south of France.
The accommodations are luxurious, and you can enjoy the spa and solarium, swim in the pool
or spend time with the Domaine's horseman to learn all about the 25 wonderful
 Camargue horses that are permanent residents at the Domaine.  Wine tastings
can be arranged and the Domaine is available for weddings and other celebrations.

Click here or  on the photo for more information and reservations.

                                                                                                                                                                                         next page page 2
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Recommendations are not guarantees of satisfaction and are made only
to assist travelers with suggestions and web sites that we have found very useful.