Agde in 1 day

The first time that we had ever heard of today’s destination was when we were traveling for a day trip to Sète and the train announcement said that the next stop would be what sounded to us like “Ah-guh-duh”; three syllables for only four letters. A neighbor happened to be on the same train and while we were stopped at the station said to us, with a wink and a nod, “You know, there’s a nude beach here”. No, I can’t say that we knew that. Heck, we didn’t even know how to pronounce it! That was close to five years ago and since then we’ve learned that with about 500 beaches, campgrounds, and other naturiste places, France is the number one destination in the world for clothing-optional activities. However, that was not what drew us to this place on the Hérault river (photo above) that the Greeks in 650 BC called “Agathé Tyché” that translates to “Good Fortune”. 

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The almost perfect vacationers

One of the online French newspapers that I look at each morning always has a “View From…” section where they summarize an article written in a foreign newspaper about life in France. The topic is often politics but there are a fair number of discussions regarding food, wine, and culture. A headline that caught my eye was “The French, those almost perfect vacationers” in the section “View from the United Kingdom”. I was really curious to see why this writer from the London-based The Daily Telegraph would rate our new neighbors and friends as the ideal holidaymakers. I became even more intrigued when I saw that the title in English in the original newspaper story was actually “The beautiful corners of France that the French don’t want you to know about.” Lost in translation?

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Bram in 1 day

From Carcassonne the railroad tracks go east, west, and south. In the last 6 years while living here we’ve used them to travel to other countries as far as London, Amsterdam, and Venice. Within France they’ve taken us to the borders with all eight surrounding countries plus the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel, and the Mediterranean Sea. Although we’ve passed by the next station down the line from here, originally called Eburomagus (Yew Market) by the Romans in 600 BC, we were always on the way to a distant destination. With a journey time of only 10 minutes and a rail fare starting at 1 euro, it was time to hop aboard and visit the town now known as Bram.

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Valence in 1 day

We get inspiration for our vacations from a variety of sources. Our train map of Europe that highlights the scenic routes is our number one choice. TV programs such as “100 Places You Must See”, “Beautiful Escapes” and “Invitation to Travel” give us plenty of ideas, sometimes in other countries, but right now we’re staying closer to home right here in France. In the US we were frequent watchers of house hunting shows and that habit hasn’t changed but here each episode begins with a quick overview of the city being featured where you get a bird’s eye view of the most picturesque parts. When we saw canals, fountains, Parisian-style architecture, cobbled streets, and open squares filled with sidewalk cafés we knew that we would have fun in Valence.

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Mâcon in 1 day

We used to live in the Atlanta, Georgia area not too far from the city of Macon that was named for statesman Nathaniel Macon in 1823. Now that our home is in France, we’re still fairly close to a city with that same name except this one has a circumflex accent mark (^) and its origin dates to around 50 BC when Julius Caesar referred to it in Latin as Matisco, meaning “wooded hill at the water’s edge” that gradually evolved into its present day form by the middle of the 18th century. Coinciding with that time period was when native son and author Alphonse de Lamartine was his most prolific and we followed numbered bronze plaques honoring him on a heritage trail to trace 2000 years of history.

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Turckheim on a whim

Last week I wrote about our trip to Munster that we made from our temporary “home base” in Mulhouse. We used a local train for the roundtrip and since we didn’t travel during rush hour the ticket allowed a stopover along the way. We had seen photos of this traditional Alsatian town so we thought it would be worth the hour that the tourist office suggests it would take to follow their “historic circuit” through this charming place that got started in 743. Normally we research all of the sites we hope to visit prior to leaving the train station but this time we simply followed the route on the map (link below) taking photos along the way. Some of these we could identify (click on a gallery photo to see the file name below) but others are simply private homes that appealed to us and hopefully to you too. Enjoy the wander!

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Munster for lunch

On a 2-week vacation to Amsterdam a few years ago, we had time to take several day trips to other cities including some that we knew because of their connection to food; Edam and Gouda, for example. According to the National Interprofessional Center for the Dairy Economy there are at least 1200 types of cheese in France, many of them named for the place where it’s produced. We live about 150 km (93 miles) from Roquefort with its famous “Blue” and how often have we had baked Brie or a round of Camembert? On our recent stay in the region of Alsace, we were looking for towns near our base of Mulhouse when “Munster” caught our attention on the map. We remembered the sound-a-like Muenster cheese from the US so we wanted to see if this might be where that originated.

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