Summer                2018
VOL. 22                NO.  2


FRANCE On Your Own banner
  The Independent Traveler's Newsletter


A Hot European Spring and Summer

          Twisted Tongues
                ~  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 c. depiction of 15th-century depiction of French troops attacking English fort - the siege of Orléans. Wikipedia

                                 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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  " I love Paris in the summer, when it sizzles. "

                                                                  -  Cole Porter, lyrics from  "I Love Paris", music by Jerome Kern.

A Hot European Spring and Summer

Bateaux Mouches on River Seine.  Copyright Bateaux Mouches web site.


As everyone knows, the weather in so many countries of the world has been very hot in recent weeks, and in many 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 even the water is too warm with reports of a mass die-off of ocean, river and lake 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 Orléans.  And second, our regional feature on le Centre-Val de Loire (Part I), one of the few regions whose name was left unchanged by the January 2016 redrawing of French regions and of which Orléans is the capital.

We 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.

Last, 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 Pyrénées-Orientales

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 change about two weeks later to Pyrénées-Orientales. Today it is an area of 4115 square kilometers with a population of 422,000.

Let's begin in the Cerdagne . . .

Cerdagne.  Wikipedia

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.

Little Yellow Train.  Courtesy

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     


. . .
  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.
>  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.

>  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 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.]

                                                                                                                                                             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 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.

Phrase:    "Etre 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!

 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 de la Caillotière

Château de la Caillotière

  Château de la Caillotière, has been in the same family for the 200 years since it was built by the current
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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