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
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
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
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
Growing up, I wanted to be a microbiologist until I got to college and found out that in addition to biology you had to also be good at chemistry. Bill’s a wiz at that but I still can’t tell the difference between emulsify, liquefy, and puree—unless those are blender settings, of course. That explains why, when I only caught snippets of the conversation between him and our friend Sally regarding something about oil and wine, I didn’t pay close attention. It was only when I saw them get out their calendars to schedule a day trip that I understood that we would be visiting an olive grove and a winery. Naturally there would have to be time for lunch, so let’s go! Read the rest of this entry
Last Sunday I talked about our trip up to Nancy, France. This is the conclusion of that adventure.
An advantage of buying a city’s museum pass is that it generally saves you money over individual tickets but it also entices you to visit places you might not have otherwise gone. Atlanta, where we used to live, has the world’s largest aquarium and it is truly spectacular so going to the one in Nancy wasn’t high on our list but it was part of the package, so we went. What a nice surprise in a couple of ways. It was well laid out as far as what sea creatures you were seeing and in what environment they generally lived. The bonus was seeing small groups of school children being escorted by teachers and aquarium staff explaining to the youngsters what they were seeing and why it was important to protect the animals and the planet. Read the rest of this entry
Although we’re less than 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Spain, we can’t get there from here because our favorite mode of transportation, the train, doesn’t cope well with climbing to the 3400 meter summit of the Pyrenees where the border runs along the mountaintop. When we’re going that far south, the tracks first head east towards the Mediterranean before turning to Spain and passing through a city that has existed on both sides of the border: Perpignan. Not unlike Montpellier, where there is little evidence of the 2000-year-old Roman influence found in so many other locations in France, this southern capital wasn’t established until the 10th century. Read the rest of this entry