We are based in France and have really enjoyed our trips so far. The biggest surprise is the quiet and beautiful countryside away from the cities. We love the extensive agriculture areas. The mix of countryside and history is really a highlight for us.
We find the road system in France to be easy to use, though the toll roads are very expensive. This is a good reason to enjoy the back country as France has some of the most beautiful countryside we have seen in Europe. Camping is extremely easy in France with numerous campgrounds and the fantastic system of Aires de camping that many towns have. Wild camping is generally allowed with some common sense, and we have done more wild camping in France than anywhere else in our travels. Links to our high lights are in blue below.
Ron- Albi. We ended up in Albi by accident one day when we could not find a decent route to another city we wanted to go to. I loved the setting with a 12th century bridge still in use to cross the Tam River. It has an interesting cathedral which is the largest brick cathedral in the world. The old bishops castle has been converted to a museum which features Toulouse-Lautrec one of our favorite artists. The area around Albi features Galliac wines which are varietals that go back to Roman times and are not generally available in the US. I had a great time around Albi.
Ton-Provence. I liked the countryside and the small villages full of cafes and art. The food and wine was of course great.
Honorable mention. The fields of Canola. I just like looking at all of the yellow fields as we are driving thru France when the canola is in bloom.
Ron- Olive oil factory near Gordes. I struggled to find a true disappointment in France. This one is a bit of a stretch. We had been wanting to visit an olive oil factory for much of the trip and found one near Gordes. Greta Garmin sent us there on a convoluted back road route, only for me to later realize the place was only a couple of kilometers from where we had spent the night. When we got there, there was no tour as advertised, and the workers there were a bit cold and disinterested. After poking around for a few minutes we moved on.
Ton- Everything is closed on Sunday. I hate losing the chance to shop and see places one day a week.
FAVORITE FOOD OR DRINK
Ron- This was hard to pick, but I finally settled on Norman Mussels. Mussels were not a food I associated with France, but I do now. They come in large cauldrons holding a couple of pounds of steamed mussels in a delicious broth. Pared with Norman Cider (another surprise for me as I generally do not like cider) it is a simple but delicious meal.
Ton-The food in Alsace. I really liked Tarte Flambe and their version of Sauerkraut. We also found the best beer in France in Alsace. I also enjoyed the cider.
Ron-How rural and open the countryside is away from Paris. My vision before visiting was that it would feel much more crowded than the US. I was wrong, in many ways it reminds me of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, or parts of the mid-west. The farms are larger than you expect, there is not much traffic between towns, and the pace of life is slow and relaxed.
Ton-Jean Pierre Mortet. Jean Pierre welcomed us to his winery with open arms. I enjoyed his passion, and it was very interesting to see how a true family run winery operates. His dad was also a character.
We have broken down our posts by regions we have visited below.
Languedoc is another region we have just touched as we passed thru.
The Loire Valley is another beautiful area in France. We have just touched on it on both of our trips in 2018. We have more
We visited Normandy and Brittany unexpectedly in the Fall of 2018 after being urged to do it by nearly everyone we met. Besides the D-Day
We stopped for a couple of nights to try out some Beaujolais wine, and to visit a volcanic mountain, this area really appealed to us.
We made a couple of stops in Aquitaine, primarily to visit the famous Bordeaux wine country. I
We have not really explored this region, but just stopped a couple of times coming and going. Ron really liked Albi.
On our first trip we spent a lot of time in Provence and it lived up to its reputation. Provence was one of Ton’s favorite
In the Fall of 2019 we visited the French Riviera for the first time. This area may be the most upscale area in France. It
Paris and Ile de France
So far we have used Paris as our airport for entry on our trips. On our original trip we spent several days in Paris.
We visited Alsace for the first time in 2019 and it is one of our favorite parts of France. While the tourism infrastructure is well
Burgundy reminds both of us of Oregon. The land looks a lot like the Willamette Valley where we live, and they grow the same wine
In the spring of 2019 we took our first trip to the Champagne Region. As well as tasting some good wine, and trying to develop