VOL. 21 NO. 2
Independent Traveler's Newsletter
IN THIS ISSUE:
Happily 'Lost' in the French
~ Challenging French phrases
Ici et Là
ART EXPO - LES CARRIÈRES, LES BAUX
by Anita Rieu-Sicart
FROM SOCCA TO FOIE GRAS
~ Nice to Sarlat
by Kim Defforge
The Source of the River Seine at
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
newsletter is best viewed with a Firefox
browser with a full screen. It is not
roamed the countryside searching for
answers to things I did not understand."
HAPPILY 'LOST' IN THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE . . . discovering France's most beautiful
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 DIVERSITY . . .
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
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,
upon the region your are visiting,
Spanish, German and Italian may also be spoken. Learn a few
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.
to begin . . .
The 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
Collonges-la-Rouge, Charles Ceyrac, to bring together the small, often
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:
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.
Les 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, cafés, 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
LOOK INSIDE . . 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.]
TONGUES . . .
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.
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!
will continue to include Arthur
Gillette's "Twisted Tongues" in our newsletter
The Medieval splendor
of Château d'Agel creates an ambiance you will never find
Click here or
on the photo for more information and reservations.
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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.