Spring                      2017
VOL. 21                   NO.  2


FRANCE On Your Own banner
  The Independent Traveler's Newsletter


Happily 'Lost' in the French Countryside
 discovering France's most
beautiful villages

          Twisted Tongues
             ~  Challenging French phrases 
Ici et Là

   by Anita Rieu-Sicart

            Nice to Sarlat
            by Kim Defforge

The Source of the Seine.  Copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights resserved.

The Source of the River Seine at
Source-Seine just northwest of Dijon
in Burgundy's Côte d'Or département


The Bookshelf: Les Parisiennes
    How the Women of Paris Lived,
       Loved & Died Under Nazi Occupation

    by Anne Sebba

In our next issue:

The Loire Valley including
                    - the River
                    - the Royal Châteaux
                    - Wines of the Loire

and more!

  This newsletter is best viewed with a Firefox browser with a full screen.  It is not formatted for printing.

                                                                                       " I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand."                                
-  Leonardo da Vinci

HAPPILY 'LOST' IN THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE . . . discovering France's most beautiful villages

You arrive at one of Paris' airports, take a taxi into the city, and spend a lot of time enjoying the
culture, cuisine and excitement that Paris has to offer.  But, being in any country's most important city
 is not seeing the country itself ~  the farmlands and forests, the rivers and villages along their banks,
the townsfolk greeting friends on the way to the boulangerie or at the outdoor market.  In order to see and appreciate
'France profonde' we suggest you rent a car and explore the country on the D (route départemental)
or N (route nationale) roads, take along a Michelin map or road atlas (GPS doesn't always take you where you want to go)
 and even risk getting lost for a short time.  Be sure the tank is full, your phone is charged, and enjoy the real France!


The more you travel through France, the more you will be impressed by how diverse the landscape and architecture are.  From verdant Brittany with its sturdy granite houses to the foothills of the Alps in the Savoie, from the sunny Côte d'Azur of Provence to the rugged Auvergne and its dormant volcanoes ~ you will remember each for its uniqueness.  The cuisine changes from region to region as do the wines, and there are places where a French patois (Old French meaning 'local or regional dialect') is spoken as well as other languages ~ you may hear Basque, Alsatian, Catalan, Corsican or Breton to mention only a few.

For travelers hesitant to visit the French countryside because they do not speak French very well or at all, English is spoken by so many people in France and, depending upon the region your are visiting, Spanish, German and Italian may also be spoken.  Learn a few French phrases that you might need in a restaurant, at your hotel or with a salesperson in a shop  ~ the French will appreciate your effort, and you will do just fine. 

The geography of France's countryside is especially appealing.  It is a land of rivers with their sources in the many mountain ranges ~ the Alps, the Pyrénées, the Voges, the Jura and the Massif Central ~ and following a river during your visit will take you to some very interesting towns and villages.  The River Sarthe in the Pays de la Loire is one we recommend.  Find the source of your favorite river ~ something that often comes as a surprise as we found at the source of the Seine: a tiny trickle of water from an underground spring [photo at left].  France's forests are in every region, and the iconic rows of plane trees along the country highways are uniquely French.

Where to begin  . . .

Les Baux-de-Provence.  Photo credit: www.chateau-baux-provence.comThe choice is yours, so decide what regions of France you want to explore, areas you have never been before, or places you wish to revisit.  We think you will especially enjoy referencing the organization known as The Most Beautiful Villages of France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France) ~ founded in 1981 by the mayor of Collonges-la-Rouge, Charles Ceyrac, to bring together the small, often overlooked, villages into his new association.  His goal was to preserve the culture and  the heritage of these villages while stemming the flow of rural exodus.  By 1982, he had 66 mayors joining him.

Standards had to be met, of course, and the primary qualifications for membership were and still are: 

  • the hamlet or village must have a maximum population of 2,000 inhabitants
  • it should have at least 2 protected sites or monuments, either listed or registered on the supplementary list of historic monuments
  • there must be mass support for the application for membership showing a decision by the town council.
If a village meets the above three requirements, it will have an evaluation inspection followed by a meeting of the Quality Committee to decide on accepting or denying membership, and finally a charter is presented to the mayor of the village making acceptance official.  Of all the 32,000 villages throughout rural France, currently 155 are members of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.

As you drive through France, you will come upon little villages along the way that may not be a part of this association and which may be quite special in their own way.  It's so easy to enjoy visiting any or all of them!  Here are some of Les Plus Beaux Villages that might interest you, indicating the
département of France where you will find them.  Enjoy your virtual tour, and then plan for the real thing when you next visit France.

Map Bouches-du-RhoneLes Baux-de-Provence (Bouches-de-Rhône) is a charming village both old and new ~ the newer part with shops and restaurants, the older (ville morte) is the ruins of what once existed [photo of both at right].  Les Baux was occupied as far back as the Bronze Age but came into its own in Medieval times.  The massive fortress and the little town it oversees were built in the 10th century and ruled for 500 years by the powerful and often cruel Lords of Baux.  It had its most influential period in the 15th century under new rulers, the Comtes de Provence.  In the 16th century, when ruled by the kings of France, conflicts and wars dominated, and King Louis XIII had the fortress destroyed in 1633. 

Today, it is a popular travel destination south of Avignon, surrounded by vineyards and orchards, and it offers visitors shops, caf
és, good restaurants and spectacular panoramic views.  Be sure to read Anita Rieu-Sicart's article in this issue about the Art Expo taking place now in Les Baux:  the  Carrières de Lumières ~ a projection of art accompanied by music.    
                                                                                                                                                                                                  continued on page 3                                                                                                                                                                                                    

. .
  with a click  

> 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? 


to travel far and wide into the French countryside for a virtual visit to many appealing communes and villages as we continue to be Happily Lost in the French Countryside.


>  and tag along with Anita Rieu-Sicart to Les Baux-de- Provence to enjoy the Carrières de Lumières Art Expo and its musical accompaniment.

>  to read Kim Defforge's article about Nice and Sarlat ~ the first where she lived for many years and the second where she enjoys her new home and offers Manoir Fontaine de l'Amour holiday rental ~ in From Socca to Fois Gras.


The Bookshelf:  our review of Les Parisiennes   ~ a book by Anne Sebba, telling how the women of Paris dealt with their day-to-day lives, struggles and fears during the Occupation in World War II.       


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 receive, 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 Winter issue:   "J'ai la dent."   Does that mean "I have a tooth"?  Literally, yes, but the slang meaning is "I'm quite hungry." 

Phrase:  ""Tirer ses grègues"  may mean to "pull up one's socks".  But what do you think the slang meaning is?

Look for the correct translation in our Summer 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                                                                                                                      

Château d'Agel, Occitanie

Château d'Agel

The Medieval splendor of Château d'Agel creates an ambiance you will never find
in a hotel.  Among the Minervois and Corbières vineyards of the Hérault, guests can enjoy the
peaceful surroundings, a fine swimming pool and day trips to Carcassonne, the Canal
du Midi or the Mediterranean beaches at Gruissan and Narbonne Plage.

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

                                                                                                                                                                                         next page page 2
©1997-2017 Cold Spring Press   All Rights Reserved
Recommendations are not guarantees of satisfaction and are made only
to assist travelers with suggestions and web sites that we have found very useful.