Category Archives: Travel in France & beyond

Scenic route to Clermont-Ferrand

Lecoq Park entrance in Clermont-Ferrand

Our motto might be, “If there’s a train station there, we’ll go. If it’s via a scenic route, we’ll go there twice just to take in all of the views from both sides of the train.” In the case of Clermont-Ferrand, a city in central France that’s been inhabited since prehistoric times, we didn’t even have to backtrack because we went up one set of tracks (la ligne des Causses/de l’Aubrac) and came home on another (la ligne des Cévennes), both of them colored green on the map to indicate journeys not to be missed. In store for us were tracks clinging to the cliff sides, wide gorges with rivers below, tunnels, castles, a viaduct built by Gustave Eiffel in 1885 and a dinner reservation that first evening at the most popular restaurant in town. Read the rest of this entry

Beaune day trip

The hospice well

With a title like “Wine Capital of Burgundy” how could we not visit the city of Beaune (sounds like “bone” in English) especially since it’s only 18 minutes by train from where we were staying in Dijon? In the US we were big fans of public television, PBS, and especially travel videos from Rick Steves which is where we got our first glimpse of what this part of the Côte d’Or region had to offer. Thanks to YouTube, portions of those recordings are still available so with our memories refreshed it was time to see for ourselves why a famous New York City newspaper wrote an article entitled, “Seduced by Beaune in Burgundy”. Read the rest of this entry

Dijon in 2 days

Maille mustard founded in 1747

If you thought of mustard when you read today’s blog post title, you have good reason. It was the ancient Romans who originally brought the seeds to France, leading to kings enjoying it on their dinner tables as early as the 13th century. In 1777 businessmen Maurice Gris (Grey) and August Poupon, in their original factory that still exists today in Dijon are credited with creating and popularizing the condiment. Another well-known brand, Maille, also has its shop in town proudly proclaiming “Founded in 1747”. You might know this area for that hearty stew, bœuf bourguignon, and that bold red Burgundy wine that goes so well with this dish. On our way to northern France we stopped off for a couple of days to see what else the region had to offer. Read the rest of this entry

Happy Valentine’s Day

A flower in chocolate

We’ve just returned from a few days in Burgundy (Bourgogne) well known for their wines by the same name followed by a long celebration weekend a little further north in Nancy. We’d been invited to a birthday party as part of the famille de coeur by our French friends whom we met more than 30 years ago. It was quite touching to be counted in as members of the “family of the heart” and so appropriate for this time of year just prior to February 14. Even the chocolate shop windows were decorated to keep with the theme (or so we pretended) and we’ll share some photos with you now plus much more about our visit to Dijon in the next post. In the meantime we wish you a Joyeuse Saint Valentin! Read the rest of this entry

Castelnaudary day trip

Windmill moulin de Cugarel

Last November I wrote that although we no longer celebrate Thanksgiving, thanks to the generosity of our neighbors we don’t miss out on any of the warmth associated with that holiday. After reading that post about this area’s comfort food, cassoulet, friends Sally and Larry suggested making a trip to Castelnaudary to try the dish ourselves in one of the restaurants certified by the Grande Confrérie du Cassoulet as serving the authentic meal. Not wanting to miss out on a tasty lunch nor the chance to explore a neighboring town that was once a stop along the ancient Roman road between Narbonne and Toulouse, we readily accepted their invitation. Read the rest of this entry

A light look at Lourdes

The Gave de Pau river runnning through Lourdes

The French word for “heavy”, if you’re talking about feminine nouns is lourdes which is exactly the same spelling as the town in the Pyrenees that is a major pilgrimage site for Catholics. According to legend, Bernadette Soubirous saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary there in 1858 and believers soon started arriving at the cave (grotto) hoping for a cure. Although I have long wanted to visit the town for its historical significance, Bill said that it would “take a miracle” to convince him to go. Given that today’s blog post was supposed to be about our planned but now postponed side trip from Bordeaux to Cognac because the tasting rooms weren’t open during the holidays, I’d say that we achieved that lofty goal. Hop aboard the train with us for our next destination: Lourdes. Read the rest of this entry

Secret, lost, hidden, invisible Bordeaux

Bakery oven from 1765

On our first trip to Bordeaux last summer (Bordeaux in 4 days) we hit most of the highlights that make it to the “must-see” lists for this capital of wine. For our second visit I thought it might be fun to look for some more out-of-the-way places that don’t typically make it to a tourist’s itinerary but would still be interesting for us to see. The title of today’s post includes some of the search terms I used in compiling a lineup of sites, shops, restaurants, views, and other alluring locations for us to stop into or at least pass by. Thanks to a blog post about Invisible Bordeaux (website below) we found several links back across the Atlantic ocean. Read the rest of this entry

A new life in Lille

Tales of a Brit who moved to northern France

Southern Fried French

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

wcs

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

Chez Loulou

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

The Vicious Cycle

A man searches for meaning...in between leg shavings

Post-Industrial Eating

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An Italian Point Of View

Alan and Tracy's Expat Adventures