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.

Continue reading “Bram in 1 day”

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.

Continue reading “Valence in 1 day”

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.

Continue reading “Mâcon in 1 day”

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!

Continue reading “Turckheim on a whim”

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.

Continue reading “Munster for lunch”

Belfort in 1 day

If you read our most recent blog post, France’s Favorite Monument, you had a clue about the city we were off to explore today. We were especially interested in watching the TV program that aired just over a year ago to see who the 2020 winner would be since we’d visited some of the 14 candidates. The competition included the Chateâu and gardens of Villandry, the Imperial Chapel in Ajaccio, Corsica, Nice’s onion-domed Cathedral St. Nicolas, the stunning stained glass of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and the one that received our vote, the Canal-du-Midi that runs through Carcassonne. Even though we hadn’t seen the others, we’d at least heard of all but one, the Citadel and Lion of Belfort, so that went on our list of future vacation destinations. With travel restrictions within the country lifted for the fully-vaccinated, it was time to make good use of our Senior Discount Railcards for another trip.

Continue reading “Belfort in 1 day”

France’s favorite monument


Monuments, do we have monuments! According to the Ministry of Culture there were 45,684 structures in 2020 that had protected status because of their “historical, artistic or architectural interest.” Television channel France 3 annually asks residents to vote on their favorite and this year’s winner was announced on Wednesday night. (If you scroll through the photos below to the bottom, you’ll see who won.) While visitor numbers might be an indication of popularity, that doesn’t necessarily translate into being chosen as number one. Crowds flock to the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Versailles, Mont St. Michel, and even to our own medieval walled city of Carcassonne which is the fifth most visited place in France. The Favorite Monument winner last year, however, was the Citadel and Lion of Belfort, about 55 km/35 miles from the border with Switzerland and in 2015 it was the Belfry of Arras, two hours north of Paris. Who were the candidates this year?

Continue reading “France’s favorite monument”