VOL. 22 NO. 2
Independent Traveler's Newsletter
IN THIS ISSUE:
A Hot European Spring and Summer
~ Challenging French phrases
Ici et Là
~ A Walk Through Paris - A Radical Exploration
a book by by Eric Hazan
Orléans ~ The "Heart of France"
15th Century depiction of French attacking
English fort during the Seige of Orléans
FEATURING: Le Centre-Val de Loire
A Hidden Gem in the French Countryside
~ Second in a series ~ Saint James
Saving the Oldest Church in Paris
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It is not
" I love Paris in the
summer, when it sizzles. "
- Cole Porter, lyrics from "I Love Paris", music by Jerome
A Hot European Spring and Summer
As everyone knows, the weather in
so many countries of the world has been very hot in recent weeks, and
places extremely dry, with temperatures as high as 90° Fahrenheit
above the Arctic Circle in Norway! Fires from Greece to Sweden
have raged with fire fighters coming from all over Europe offering
their help. For those travelers visiting France this summer, the
heat can be quite unexpected. If you are on beaches of the
Atlantic or Mediterranean, you may find some relief at the sea, but
water is too warm with reports of a mass die-off of ocean, river and
fish around the globe as oxygen in the water is depleted.
Hopefully, it is not too late to slow the human contribution to climate
change, although it seems some drastic steps must be taken.
If you are in Paris, or
plan to visit the city, a Seine River cruise is a great way to see the
highlights away from the heat of city streets. The
Bateaux Mouches and Bateaux Parisienes are options, and the Batobus (a
service of Bateaux Parisiens) makes 9 stops along the Seine. You
can get on or off at any of them, visit the attractions and board again
to continue to the next stop. The boat stops at Beaugrenelle/Île aux Cygnes, Eiffel
Tower, Musée d'Orsay, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Notre-Dame, Jardin des Plantes, Hôtel de Ville, Louvre, and Champs-Élysées. We like to board
at the Eiffel Tower, ride to the Orsay, Notre-Dame and the
Louvre and elsewhere and return to the Eiffel Tower. It is
a convenient way to
visit places along the Seine without walking, taking a taxi or the
Métro, especially when you want to see a lot in one day.
Of course, boat rides on the Seine are enjoyable any time of
year. You might consider a lunch or dinner cruise ~ easy to see
the menus and book online.
In this issue we went into our
archives for some still applicable articles about traveling in
France. The first is a feature we did on the city of
Orléans back in 1999 but having been there since we can now
recommend the perfect place to stay
~ a marvelous château nearby with a distinct connection to
second, our regional feature on le
Centre-Val de Loire (Part I), one of the few regions whose name
was left unchanged by
2016 redrawing of French regions and of which Orléans is the
are also pleased to bring you a contribution from Linda Mathieu who has
not written for us before. She has lived in Paris for many years
and now also has a home on the Atlantic coast in the
Charente-Maritime. She writes about the wonderful French auto, le Deux Chevaux, literally
translated "the two horses", named for the two horsepower engine that
kept it on the assembly lines from 1948 until 1990. Better known
as the Citroën 2CV, when visiting France they can still be found
reliably plugging along throughout the country.
but not least, as we did iin our Summer 1998 newsletter exactly 20
years ago we offer Félicitations
Les Bleus on your World Cup Victory July 15th!
Bill Bradley - American athlete and politician
A Visit to
Occitanie & the Pyrénées ~ Part II ~ the
Are you looking for unique places on your next visit to France? Do you want to have the best of nature at your fingertips ~ the Mediterranean, the mountains and the opportunity to take in some wine country visits as well? Then the fourth département of Occitanie in our series, the Pyrénées-Orientales ~ bordering the Pyrénées mountain range and Spain ~ is for you.
Its capital, Perpignan, the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca in the 13th century, displays a strong Catalan influence found in the city's Medieval center. This département oozes history, offers the cuisine and culture of the Catalans, and is where you will find the Via Domitia ~ the oldest Roman road in Gaul and one of the oldest Roman roads anywhere. Over 70,000 miles in length, it links Rome to Cadiz, Spain, with its final French leg in the Pyrénées-Orientales. Built in 118 BC by Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, it was constructed about the same time as today's Narbonne in the Aude département, known then as Colonia Narbo Martius.
Before the Treaty of the
Pyrénées in 1659 this département
was part of the old Principality of Catalonia under the Crown of Aragon
where the people spoke Catalan. The current département was formed
during the French Revolution in February of 1790 and named Roussillon, consistent with the
pre-Revolutionary province of Roussillon; this naming conflict required
the need for a name
two weeks later to Pyrénées-Orientales.
Today it is an area of 4115 square kilometers with a population of
The region of Cerdagne (France) or Cerdanya (Spanish), is equally divided between France and Spain [see map left]. The red portion is in France, and the small orange area within it is Llívia as is the white patch in the map above ~ more about that follows. Cerdagne is the westernmost area of the Pyrénées-Orientales, and it is believed that early inhabitants spoke a form of old Basque. Later in its tumultuous history, it was invaded by the Vandals and other Germanic peoples, it was part of the Visigoth kingdom, and eventually was conquered by the Muslims in the early 700s. It was in 785 that it came under Frankish rule when it was conquered by Charlemagne after the surrender of Girona. Today its only main towns are Puigcerdà on the Spanish side and Bourg-Madame on the French side. We crossed into Spain at Bourg-Madame many years ago when passports still had to be shown to the border agents.
When in the Cerdagne you might want to take a ride on Le Petit Train Jaune, the Little Yellow Train,
also known as the Ligne de Cerdagne, whose construction began in 1903. Its route is 69 kilometers
(43 miles) long and the train climbs to 5,226 feet ~ to the highest railway station in France.
It crosses two bridges and goes through nineteen tunnels on a single track, so there are a few 'passing loops'.
Power generators on the River Tet keep this electric train in motion. You will notice it is not just yellow but
has some red coloring as well ~ homage to the Catalan flag. Some of the cars are open in good weather, and
because local roads were improved over the years, it has become more of a tourist attraction than necessary
transportation for locals. You may want to begin your yellow train journey at Villefranche-le-Conflent the starting
point in the eastern Pyrénées 50 kms inland from Perpignan and designated one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France.
continued on page three
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 read about Orléans, conveniently located in the Loire Valley not very far by auto from Paris, Burgundy and, of course, all that the Val de Loire has to offer.
~> to come along with us to the Centre-Val de Loire where the treasures of France from Chartres to Gien and all the forests, lakes and river valleys in between can be explored and enjoyed.
> for some fun as Linda Mathieu experiences a Citroën 2CV and tells us about its interesting history as it became an iconic symbol of France.
> for a peek into A Walk Through Paris, a detailed account of the city's history, street by street, following the meridian that divides the City of Light into east and west.
FRANCE On Your Own invites articles
from our readers about their time in France.
We can't guarantee when we will publish all
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 March 2018 ssue: "Chanter en yaourt" does not mean "Singing in
yogurt." The slang meaning
is to be speaking in another language ~ and not very well ~ or using fake words. A good example
would be a French person fudging his or her way through an English tune
or pretending to know the words to a song.
gonflé" Does it mean to be
blown up? No. What do you think the slang meaning is?
Look for the correct translation in our November 2018 newsletter. Have fun!
will continue to include Arthur
Gillette's "Twisted Tongues" in our newsletter
owners' ancestor. It is an especially pretty château named for the quail that were once found on the estate.
This château is rented by the week, offers 6 bedrooms, four of which are en suite, and can comfortably
accommodate thirteen people. It is perfect for a family holiday. There is a swimming pool and tennis court,
and cooking lessons and horseback riding lessons can be arranged. The location makes day trips to the
attractions of the Western Loire very convenient. And, we want to add, the cost to rent the château is
exceptionally reasonable. Contact us for more information or to make your reservation.
Click here or
on the photo to learn more.
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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.