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Join Us in France Travel Podcast

Annie Sargent

43
Followers
233
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Join Us in France Travel Podcast

Join Us in France Travel Podcast

Annie Sargent

43
Followers
233
Plays
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About Us

Are you getting ready for a trip to Paris? Provence? Normandy? On this podcast we have conversations about France: we share trip reports, chat with tour guides, share tips on French culture, the basics of French history, explain how to be savvy traveler in France, and share our love of French food, wine and destinations in France. By listening to this show you will learn how to make great choices for your own trip to France no matter what part of France you plan to visit. We're also a great community for Francophiles who can't get enough of France and return year after year.

Latest Episodes

Latin Quarter Highlights

The 5th arrondissement in Paris is one of Annie's favorites. It also goes by the name Latin Quarter which is its historical name. Visitors don't need to worry too much about different names used in this area because often in Paris you change neighborhood just by crossing the street! Good budget hotel at the edge of the Latin Quarter and Saint Germain des Prés: Le Petit Belloy. The rooms are tiny, but if you can get room 602 or room 603 you'll see the Eiffel Tower from your tiny balcony! Latin Quarter Highlights If you're facing the famous bookstore called Shakespeare and Company, you have Notre Dame Cathedral behind you and to your left. To explore the Latin Quarter you'll walk along the Seine river between the bookstore and all the way to the Jardin des Plantes. Along the way you'll come across many "bouquinistes" and their little green book stalls that have been around for over 100 years. The bouquinistes have morphed into souvenir stands to some degree. These are concession stands and some have been in the same hands for a long time. You walk past the Jardin des Plantes and then you take a right. Along the way you'll walk by Quai Saint Bernard along the Jardin des Plantes and there are often groups of dancers doing the tango. You'll also walk by the Institut du Monde Arabe and its marvelous panoramic terrace that you can access for free. You'll get a great view of the backside of Notre Dame from that terrace. The Jardin des Plantes Is a Must-See with Children If you're with children you MUST spend some time at the Jardin des Plantes. Not to be missed is the Galerie de l'Evolution where the building itself is stunning and it's a great place to show how animals have changed over time. The Galerie de Minéralogie is also wonderful. There's a zoo, the garden is beautiful, there are often amazing temporary exhibits. It's free for children but it's not included in the Museum Pass. It is still totally worth it! There are food trucks and lots of places to have a picnic. La Grande Mosquée de Paris This mosque was built by the city of Paris to honor the Muslim soldiers who fought with France during WW1. They are closed on Friday and close at various times during the day. The gardens are beautiful, the restaurant Aux Portes de l'Orient that serves great North African food. Marché Monge This is one of the quaintest outdoor markets in Paris. It's occupies place Monge, you can get there on the metro because it has its own stop. The market is open Wed, Fri and Sat in the morning. It's not very big, about 40 stalls. Arènes de Lutèce Right off rue Monge at number 49 you'll find the entrance to the Arènes de Lutèce. It looks like the entrance to a building, but it is your way into what's left of the old Paris Roman arena. It's a popular place for locals to hang out. You can climb all around. It's not the biggest Roman arena, but it's a fun stop. Place Maubert There is another food market on this plaza, it happens on on Tue, Thu and Sat, also in the morning. Mostly food and a cute place. There are all sorts of food shops that are permanently there. La Sorbonne On rue des Écoles you'll find an old American diner called Breakfast in America and a boulangerie called Paris and Company that won the prize for best baguette in Paris in 2019. La Sorbonne is nearby but you can't visit it unless you have an appointment. It's pretty to look around. Make sure to walk to place de la Sorbonne The Pantheon This monument is on a lot of people's list. It started out as a church but was quickly turned into a monument to the memory of great French men. And for a long time it was men only. Voltaire, Rousseau, Zola, and a lot of completely unknown generals. I don't think they would ever put a general in the Pantheon today. They are looking for people who have made other sorts of contributions to French life. Saint Etienne du Mont Church One of the most beautiful churches in Paris. The church is also very famous because the steps on its side are featured

61 min4 d ago
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Latin Quarter Highlights

Annie and Elyse Chat About Emily in Paris

This episode features our frequent and very popular guest Elyse Rivin. If you enjoy her episodes, please consider supporting her on Patreon. Everybody is talking about Emily in Paris. Elyse and I watched it together and we took some notes on our reactions. I must confess that we only watched two episodes, and we already have a lot to say! This is our perspective from a French perspective. While Elyse isn't technically French, she's lived in France so long she's forgetting her English ;-) Click play, let’s see if you agree with us! Why Is Emily in Paris Getting So Much Attention? Big name newspapers and magazines are all talking about this show which is surprising because it is very new. It probably has to do with the fact that we can't travel right now and going to Paris on TV is better than not going at all. The fact that this show has become controversial is also playing in its favor. People have to see this show that everyone is talking about. Emily in Paris is definitely not a documentary. It is more like one stereotype after another and we point them out in our conversation. Emily in Paris Is Chock-Full of Stereotypes Stereotypes are helpful in fiction because they allow the writer to make points quickly. Nothing much happens in the show, but boy do they spout stereotypes! French men prefer older women. This may be a reference to President Macron, but it's a new stereotype about French people. It's nice that they use French songs in the show but these are not songs that we recognize. When she walks into her new apartment the concierge gives her the evil eye because she doesn't say "bonjour". She says "hi" which shows she assumes everyone knows English. You have to start off by making an effort to speak some French. You should not walk into a business situation in France with zero French and zero understanding of why that's not acceptable. The 5th floor / 4th floor thing comes up several times. Ground level is "rez-de-chaussé" in France, that's 0. We start counting one above ground level whereas Americans say ground level is 1. The Realtor who shows her to her "Chambre de Bonne" that looks nothing like a "Chambre de Bonne" hits on her saying it doesn't matter that she has a boyfriend in America, she needs one in France. The stereotype of French men all being overtly interested in sex. They are typically more subtle than that. Emily shows up at the office on her first day with a shirt that has an Eiffel Tower print on it. She's too flashy. Annie doesn't think the lady at the boulangerie would ever correct someone for using the wrong article, but Elyse says it's happened to her. Sylvie, the boss tells her not to bother to learn French because she'd be terrible at it. On her first day at the job French people explain to Emily how all Americans are fat while they smoke in the office. The fat/smoker thing is established early on in the show and comes back several times. There are many French people who believe that when you stop smoking you gain 5 kilograms. But even with that, French people are quitting smoking fast. Both Annie and Elyse know people who used to smoke and have quit and none who are still smoking. It's only a minority of French people who smoke today, this stereotype is dated. Sylvie says "Without pleasure what are we? Germans?" This is definitely something French people might say and something that would make us laugh. Luke asks Emily why she is shouting. It is true that in France kids are raised to keep their voice down generally and that Americans would do well to be more discreet in France. The whole city is like Ratatouille! Really? That's what she knows about France? Ratatouille and Saving Private Ryan? This is the idiot American stereotype. Everyone gets stereotyped in Emily in Paris! It is true that hall lights are all on short timers in France and that's annoying. But electricity is expensive in France! Now we have phones with flashlights so it's not such a big deal, but growing up in France A

69 min1 w ago
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Annie and Elyse Chat About Emily in Paris

Louis Vuitton Foundation

This episode features our frequent and very popular guest Elyse Rivin. If you enjoy her episodes, please consider supporting her on Patreon. On today's episode of the podcast, Annie and Elyse have a conversation about the Louis Vuitton Foundation and the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris. The Louis Vuitton Foundation and Museum are to the West of Paris, just outside of the périphérique (that’s the Paris belt road). It is easily accessible by metro (line 1). This museum is worth it just to see the building, but the art inside occasional steals the show! And we also talk about the Jardin d'Acclimatation, an amusement park that kids would enjoy. The two are linked in a way because the city donated the land for this building and it was part of the Jardin d'Acclimatation. The Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris The reason why this building is so remarkable is that it was designed by architect Frank Gehry. One of the richest men in the world, Bernard Arnault was the instigator of this project. Arnault owns a lot of modern and contemporary art and he wanted to display it in a beautiful place. Gehry buildings are always innovative in both form and material and this one completely lives up to the hype! Gehry is a creator of public buildings such as museums. For instance he also designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain which is also extraordinary. Gehry has not designed a lot of homes other than his own in Santa Monica. Frank Gehry found some of his inspiration for the Vuitton Foundation in the landscape of the Jardin d'Acclimatation and from the Grand Palais in Paris. Surprising Things About the Louis Vuitton Foundation The Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris has a lot of levels, nook and crannies, and yet it works as a museum space. This is surprising because so many oddly shaped museums are simply confusing. This museum is the property of the Vuitton Foundation, but it will become the property of the city of Paris starting in 2062. The Jardin d'Acclimatation Today The Jardin d'Acclimatation has a complicated and very unethical history. We explain why in the episode. We don't recommend you go back in time to visit the original Jardin d'Acclimatation. But today it's a great day out with your kids! It's a fairly small theme park with rides, refreshments, gardens, farm animals, birds, but no more large zoo animals. It has come a long way! The Bois de Boulogne is nearby and also a great visit. If you're interested in parks in general, you should listen to episode 290 to decide which ones to put first on your list. More episodes about Museums in Paris Email | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter Did you get my VoiceMap Paris tours yet? They are designed for people who want to see the best of Paris neighborhoods and put what they are looking at into historical context. There are so many great stories in Paris. Don't walk right past them without having a clue what happened there! You can buy them directly from the VoiceMap app or click here to order activation codes at the podcast listener discount price. Discussed in this Episode Vuitton Foundation Jardin d'Acclimatation Support the Show Tip Your GuideExtrasPatreonAudio ToursMerchandise Categories: Family Travel, French Châteaux, Museums in Paris, Paris

49 min2 w ago
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Louis Vuitton Foundation

French Kings and the Catholic Church

In today's episode Annie Sargent talks to Jason Sager about the difficult relationship between French Kings and the Catholic church. And we couldn't get through this topic without talking about the French Wars of Religion. And it’s not just Kings, all of France has a complicated relationship with the Catholic church, even today! Just this morning I was talking to one of my neighbors and she brought up the fact that she goes to church regularly but she’s not a grenouille de bénitier. I bet you’ve never heard that expression. A grenouille de bénitier is a person who goes to church so much that she’s compared to a frog who lives in the font where they keep the holy water at the entrance of a Catholic church. You don’t have an expression like that in English, do you? That’s because as far as I know there is no English-speaking country where being a "churchy" person makes you stand out as an odd duck. You’ll get a heavy dose of French history and French culture in today’s episode. French People and the Catholic Church To set the stage, in the early 1500s world-wide you have Columbus sailing off from Spain. A lot of Chateaux were being built on the Loire Valley. François I wanted to be Emperor (but didn't manage). Leonardo da Vinci moved to France. But this is also the time when the wars of religion were happening in France. The Reformation Martin Luther's reformation also happened at that time. 1517-1522 is when he was excommunicated from the Catholic church. This began as a German reformation movement but it moved into France rapidly with John Calvin particularly who started his own reformed church in France. French Protestants are known as Huguenots in France. Huguenots This is something French Kings didn't like to see because they saw themselves as the protectors of the Catholic faith and they didn't want to see a different religion thrive in France. And the Huguenots religion spread very quickly in France, which made it an even bigger perceived threat. By 1560 about 10% of France was already Protestant. Members of the nobility also converted to the new religion. A lot of Bourbons were Protestants. The King of Navarre became a Protestant. Henri II before he died in an accident established a "chambre ardente" with the goal to eliminate the Huguenots from France. He died too soon to see if it worked. By 1560 there were already a lot of Protestants in France. France was supposed to be "la fille ainée de l'Eglise" or the eldest daughter of the church. François I wanted to be called "the most Christian King" to reinforce his relationship with the Catholic church. Henry XVIII in England wanted the title "defneder of the faith" from the Pope to establish himself as an equal to the French King. A Dangerous Situation By 1560 there are a lot of tensions between the Catholics and the rising Protestant minority in France. When Henri II died an untimely death it rattled the structure of power in France. He had 3 sons, but they were too young, so his wife, Catherine de Medici, became the regent. She was terribly unpopular because she was Italian and also a woman. The king, François II was the official king, but he was always in poor health and died of tuberculosis 18 months into his reign. His brother Charles IX succeeded him, but he was also too young to reign by himself. The situation was volatile and uncertain, especially when you take into account the high level of religious strife. Catherine de Medici always tried to find compromises between the Catholics and the Huguenots because she didn't think eliminating the Protestants would work. On the other hand, the Guise family who were ultra Catholic really believed in eliminating the Protestants. Duc de Guise at Vassy The Duc de Guise went through the town of Vassy where Protestants were allowed so long as they didn't worship within the walls of the city. He realized that they were breaking the law and worshiping inside the city. He sent his men to stop them from doing so and a fir

57 min3 w ago
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French Kings and the Catholic Church

A Slice of Life in the Hilltop Village of Sancerre

Returning to the same place over and over again is not something most visitors do, but my guest today, Carl Carlson, has been to Sancerre many times. He and his wife Christine are from Hawaii, but have been going back to Sancerre for at least a couple of weeks almost every year since 2004. We've talked about Sancerre before on the podcast because that's where the language school Coeur de France is situated. It turns out that Carl knows Gérard and Marianne who own the school. They've been introduced to many other people in the village and it's almost a second home to them, even if they rent a different accommodation each time. Sancerre is world famous because of the wine they produce there. It is one on my favorites! It's easy to get to by car, but also by train. The nearest train station are in Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire, Nevers or Bourges. Carl likes to rent a car at Porte-Maillot so he avoids driving inside of Paris. That's a good idea for most people actually. What Makes Sancerre Special Carl and his wife like the fact that few people in the village speak English, therefore forcing them to practice their French. It's not touristy per se. There are visitors that come for the wine business and for the language school, but it's not a destination that so many people flock to. What Do You Do for 3 Weeks in Sancerre? Carl's idea is not to have much of a schedule. He enjoys settling in to the rhythm of the village and not rush anywhere. They like to go to the local café to the Auberge Joseph Mellot for dinner the day they arrive. The next day they go to the village café for breakfast. There's a nice open-air market in Cosne on Sunday and Wednesday mornings. You'll find the list of all the establishments they like to visit in the Guest Notes. There's also a dairy truck that comes by and they sell wonderful yogurt and butter. Café Librairie is a favorite too. It's about getting to know people and getting to know their schedule. You need to have the mindset that you will go with the flow. If you're too uptight, you won't get along. The village is picturesque, there is a central square with boutiques, wine establishments (aka "caves"), cafés, a one star restaurant. There are a lot of wine tasting and wine buying opportunities. The vintners in the area do well. Sancerre wines sell for a minimum of 12€ at French grocery stores. Most are around 20€ per bottle, which is expensive for France. Why Not Every French Wine Is Sold in the US It's difficult for small wine producers to get into the US market because there are a lot of mandatory steps, paperwork and taxes to pay along the way. They must go through specific brokers in France, then importers and licensed agents get involved on the US side. And then it goes to the many retailers. Many hands touch that bottle of wine and the price increases every time. It may only be worth it if a producer can ship wine by the container-full. Local Wines Carl enjoys the wines of Jean Reverdy et Fils in Verdigny. It's only a 15 minute drive from Sancerre. They've become friends. Those wines are now availble in Hawaii where the Sauvignon Blanc sells for around $20 a bottle. They also make a rosé with their Pinot Noir. Chavignol is another wine producing village near Sancerre. André Bourgeois is a large producer there and they export a lot to Hawaii and the US in general. There's a nice little restaurant there called Au Ptit Gouter. This is also where they produce the cheese called Crotins de Chavignol. Great Places to Visit Around Sancerre Carl recommends the pottery village of La Borne. Guédelon aka Château de Guédelon is an amazing experiment. They are constructing a medieval castle and village with the tools and methods they had in the Middle Ages. They do everything themselves, including cutting the stone, growing and cutting the timber, etc. The work is done by hand, the workers wear period costumes. It's been going on for over 25 years and it's really interesting to visit. It's like a science

56 minSEP 28
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A Slice of Life in the Hilltop Village of Sancerre

The Auvergne Cheese Route

Today, Annie Sargent brings you a conversation with Elyse Rivin about the Route des Fromages AOP d’Auvergne. The word Auvergne designates an old French province around its capital Clermont-Ferrand. Today it is part of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and it is just a little west of Lyon and the Alps. This episode features our frequent and very popular guest Elyse Rivin. If you enjoy her episodes, please consider supporting her on Patreon. The Auvergne region produces a lot of wonderful cheeses and they are going to be the stars of the show: Bleu d’Auvergne, Cantal, Fourme d’Ambert, Saint-Nectaire, and Salers. Elyse tells us about the small towns that produce those cheeses and what you might see there when you visit. Another excellent show that takes us off the beaten track in France! The 4 departments that we'll be talking about are the Cantal (15), the Puy-de-Dôme (63), Haute-Loire (43), Allier (03). The Auvergne Cheese Route There are many cheeses produced in the Auvergne area, but these are the 5 that have an AOP designation. This stands for Appellation d'Origine Protégée and it's a European label that certifies that this particular product is produced in a specific geographical area. When you drive around the Auvergne you will see road signs that indicate the Route des Fromages. Here are the Auvergne cheese route AOP cheeses we discuss in this episode, and they are all made of cow milk: Cantal Cheese Cantal cheese is one of the oldest cheeses in France. It's somewhat similar to a cheddar. It is made in huge wheels that weight 40 kilograms. You can buy it young (1-2 months) or entre-deux (3-5 months) and vieux (6 months or more). Louis XIV loves Cantal cheese and had it brought to Versailles in great quantities, which contributed to its popularity and fame. Cantal cheese is produced in large quantities and there are production sites all over the Cantal. If you're in France at Christmas time, look for Cantal de Noël, it's a treat! Salers Cheese Unlike the Cantal cheese, Salers cheese is a more exclusive cheese produced only between April 15 and November 15 from the Salers breed of cows that are grass-fed at high elevations. The production is limited to the areas of Cantal, the Mont Doré and Cézallier. Salers cheese can only be made with raw milk, unlike all the others we'll talk about today that can be made with either raw or pasteurized milk. Salers is usually sold in specialty cheese shops and not at the supermarket because it is not sold year-round. This cheese is also only made at the farm, there are no industrial large quantities production facilities for the Salers cheese. Saint-Nectaire Cheese This cheese has a creamy texture and nutty flavor, it is Annie's favorite cheese. It's a flat wheel that's 1.7 kilograms. In France, you can buy the "fermier" kind that is made with raw milk or the pasteurized milk. It can have a fairly strong flavor if you leave it out for a couple of hours before serving it. Bleu d'Auvergne Cheese There is a lot of bleu d'Auvergne produced in France. It is similar to Roquefort, but it is milder. Bleu d'Auvergne is produced all over the Auvergne. It is creamier than Roquefort. You normally don't find bleu d'Auvergne made with raw milk. Bleu d'Auvergne comes in a small cylinder. Fourme d'Ambert Cheese This is the smoothest, creamiest and mildest blue cheese made in France. It is a cylinder. This is a good blue cheese to start with if you're not sure you can take a strong Roquefort. There Are 40 Stops on the The Auvergne Cheese Route You can't see all of them unless you plan to spend a month. But why wouldn't you? This is a great area for active recreational activities. It's also great for people who like to see scenic vistas and great medieval villages. Here are a few we think are noteworthy. Great Towns Around the Auvergne The town of Salers is beautiful. We also like the small city if Saint Flour. Riom is somewhat touristy, it even has a tourist train! Issoire is beautiful and is conn

67 minSEP 21
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The Auvergne Cheese Route

Day-Trips Around Bordeaux

On today's episode, Annie chats with Ira about her favorite day-trips around Bordeaux. Ira is in a great position to tell us about that because she moved to Bordeaux full time a few years ago and has gotten to know the area very well. We talk about several wine routes you can drive, about the Bassin d’Arcachon which is dear to my heart as I explain in the episode, the Entre Deux Mers area, and about general tips about visiting this area. Ira publishes a blog called Lost in Bordeaux that I can heartily recommend. Day-Trips Around Bordeaux There is a fair bit of information about Bordaux and Saint-Émilion on-line, but not so much about the other gems in the area. The purpose of this episode is to make you aware of the many wonderful places you can visit around Bordeaux! Before you get going around Bordeaux, it's worth repeating that Bordeaux itself is worth a full day. The city has a lot to offer. If you land in Paris from North America and take the TGV to Bordeaux directly from the CDG airport, you'll arrive in Bordeaux by the middle of the afternoon France time. It would be ideal to spend that first half-day in Bordeaux and then at least one more full day. It's worth it just for the gastronomy and all the great wine bars! Places You Can Visit Around Bordeaux Bordeaux is in the Gironde department, in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. One of the things that make it special is that there are so many different types of activities to do in this part of France. Having said that, many of the attractions we'll discuss are hard to get to without a car. You should book your car in advance, especially if you need an automatic. Understand that in France last-minute car rentals are terribly expensive. Wine Activities You can't come to Bordeaux and ignore the wine. There are 5 sub wine regions in Bordeaux and you could do a wine route dedicated to each of them. Each would look different, taste different, have a different history. Saint-Émilion Do understand that Saint-Émilion is the most "touristy" wine area of the Bordeaux region, especially during "vendange" season which is Sept and Oct. This town is the easiest to visit by train. The train station in Saint-Émilion is a 15-20 minute walk to the center of the town, but there are taxis, it's easy to do. In Saint-Émilion you MUST take the tour that they offer at the tourist office otherwise you won't get into the monolithic church that is so interesting there. You should plan ahead and book a tour, they have them available in English as well. There are a lot of wineries to visit around Saint-Émilion and for some of those you need a car. If you come in the summer or harvest season, book in advance, they don't like people just showing up. But, if you didn't book in advance, at the Tourist Office they have a list of 3 or 4 chateaux that are open that day for drop-in visitors. Also book your restaurant in Saint-Émilion unless you just want to get a sandwich at a boulangerie because all the good places are full. This is more important than ever because with the pandemic all venues are limited to how many people they can host and this will probably be the case going forward to some time. Pomerole Pomerole is another lovely wine village and area you can visit. It's not as touristy. The town itself if tiny, not much to see. But there are lots of wineries around there including Château Pétrus but most of us can't afford that because it is priced in the thousands per bottle. A more approachable chateau there is called Château Beauregard and it's also very nice. Médoc The Médoc area includes some of the most expensive wines in the world, but it's not as touristy as the others. Médoc is more spread-out all over the Médoc peninsula. They are all along this road with beautiful châteaux sprinkled throughout. You'll see many family-owned wineries, much smaller labels you've probably never heard of. Again, it's important to select a few places you want to visit and book them in advance because, like m

60 minSEP 14
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Day-Trips Around Bordeaux

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a Place of Refuge

Today I bring you a conversation with Cindy McBrayer about Le Chambon-sur-Lignon a place of refuge. During WW2 this small town and neighboring villages became a heaven for Jewish children who were on the run from the Germans and from French authorities who collaborated with them. Would you like to be a recipe tester for Annie's cookbook? Email her! I’m always surprised by how many novels get released today but are set in WW2! This is a fascinating time period when humanity’s best and humanity’s worst had to battle it out and decide who was going to come out on top. The folks of Le Chambon sur Lignon made the most generous and courageous choice and we talk about it today. It’s also a lovely place to visit and definitely off the beaten track. I should mention that we often refer to it as Chambon in the episode, but it’s Le Chambon-sur-Lignon that we’re talking about, there’s another town 2.5 hours drive away called Chambon, don’t go to the wrong place! Recommended in this Episode Lovely inn in Rochepaule, 30 minutes away from Le Chambon. Hotel L’Escapade (converted private school). Owners live on site, and have a well-known, lovely small restaurant “Restaurant Maryse et Eric”. Reservations recommended. Books About Le Chambon The latest, and an EXCELLENT book about Le Chambon, then and NOW….is The Plateau, by Maggie Paxon. If you can only read one, make it this one! Article about Le Chambon from Time Magazine Village of Secrets, Defying the Nazis in Vichy, France, by Caroline Moorehead A Good Place to Hide, How One French Village Saved Thousands of Lives during WWII, by Peter Grose. This one is easy to read. Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, by Phillip Hallie Hidden on the Mountain, by Karen Gray Ruelle. (stories from surviving children) More episodes about French History Email | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter Did you get my VoiceMap Paris tours yet? They are designed for people who want to see the best of Paris neighborhoods and put what they are looking at into historical context. There are so many great stories in Paris. Don't walk right past them without having a clue what happened there! You can buy them directly from the VoiceMap app or click here to order activation codes at the podcast listener discount price. Discussed in this Episode Le Chambon-sur-Lignon WW2 sites in Lyon Izieu Les Cevennes Tence WW2 book recommendations Driving in France Support the Show Tip Your GuideExtrasPatreonAudio ToursMerchandise If you enjoyed this episode, you should also listen to related episode(s): Wine Touring in Beaune, Burgundy, Episode 128 Top Attractions in Lyon, Episode 113 Chamonix, Annecy, and the Alps, Episode 121 Cindy McBrayer in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon Read more about this episode Guest Notes Categories: Active Vacations in France, French History, Lyon Area

52 minSEP 7
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Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a Place of Refuge

Castelnaudary: Cassoulet in Cathar Country

In this episode Annie and Elyse talk about the lovely city of Castelnaudary. But this being our 300ths episode we also celebrate the moment, discuss our motivations in continuing to produce the podcast and our history. We also talk about Annie's southern French accent (which is shared by our current Prime Minister Jean Castex). And how could we talk about Castelnaudary without talking about Cassoulet? Castelnaudary is, after all, the world-capital of this delicious dish. A major Amazon depot is going to be established in Castelnaudary so that should bring in younger people. But it is a medium city and quite a few English expats and a good standard of living. Castelnaudary is a major stop on the Canal du Midi and has an impressive set of 5 locks followed by a "Grand Bassin" and an artificial island called Ile de la Cybèle. Did the Cassoulet Originate in Castelnaudary? Anatole France certainly thought so! There was also a cookbook in the 1600s that describes a stew that sounds a lot like Cassoulet! Cassoulet got its name from the dish Cassole or Cassolette. Cassoulet in Castelnaudary is made with goose (not duck) and doesn't have bread crumb on top. Restaurant Recommendation Annie and David ate at a restaurant called Chez David and it was delicious. They claim to make it from scratch and cook it for 7 hours. Make a reservation, it's not very big and it fills up! Cassoulet is a mix of slow cooked goose, pork and beans. They have a special white bean from Castelnaudary, but it's quite expensive and it just tastes like a white bean. Making Cassoulet from scratch in America is not easy, but you could make it if you use chicken thighs, pork ribs and Italian sausage. When in Castelnaudary, Do the Walking Tour! The Tourist Office has put together a nice 4k walking tour that will take your through all the interesting sites in the city. Careful around the church, you want to be on Rue du Collège or you might get lost. Discussed in this Episode Castelnaudary Cassoulet and Canal du Midi [11:22] Le Lauragais [13:01] Wheat growing area [14:04] A lot of British people lived in Castelnaudary [14:40] Castelnaudary economy [14:53] Castelnaudary is a good choice for people looking for a nice place to live in France that is not too expensive [16:13] Ruins of the Castle [17:26] Castelnaudary and the 100 Years War [18:02] Pieere Paul Riquet and the Canal du Midi [19:28] Grand Bassin in Castelnaudary [20:13] Ile de la Cybèle [20:48] The importance of the Canal du Midi [21:39] About the Cassoulet and its origins [28:40] Why Castelnaudary claims Cassoulet started there [29:50] Cassoulet comes from Cassole [31:39] The difference in Cassoulet recipes between Toulouse Carcassonne and Castelnaudary [31:37] Cassoulet is time-consuming and ingredients are hard to find in the US [34:36] You don't need a cassolette to make Cassoulet [37:16] How do you know if you're getting home-made Cassoulet? [38:25] Restaurants that claim their Cassoulet is home-made [38:41] The intestinal consequences to eating Cassoulet [40:37] Castelnaudary is off the beaten track and lovely [41:59] Is it a transat or a chaise longue? [42:53] Seuil de Naurouze [43:12] Cugarel Windmill in Castelnaudary [44:21] The Lauragais is pretty [44:37] Starting a podcast is a steep learning curve [46:55] More day trips from Toulouse Email | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter Did you get my VoiceMap Paris tours yet? They are designed for people who want to see the best of Paris neighborhoods and put what they are looking at into historical context. There are so many great stories in Paris. Don't walk right past them without having a clue what happened there! You can buy them directly from the VoiceMap app or click here to order activation codes at the podcast listener discount price. Support the Show Tip Your GuideExtrasPatreonAudio ToursMerchandise If you enjoyed this episode, you should also listen to related episode(s): Sorèze and Revel, Great Day Trips from Toulouse, Episode 156

58 minAUG 31
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Castelnaudary: Cassoulet in Cathar Country

5 Favorite Chateaux in the Loire Valley

On today's episode, Annie Sargent brings you a trip report with Rick McGuirk about his 5 favorite chateaux in the Loire Valley. There are so many chateaux along the Loire Valley that it’s hard to choose which ones to go to and which ones to skip. You could spend a couple of months there if you wanted to see them all. So, just in case you don't have that kind of time, let's see which ones are must-sees. Rick and his wife have visited France many times, but this was their first time exploring the Loire Valley. They don't speak French beyond "bonjour", "au revoir" and "une carafe d'eau" but that wasn't a problem. So long as you know the magic word in French, you'll be OK! 5 Favorite Chateaux in the Loire Valley On this trip they stayed in Paris for 5 days then took the TGV from Montparnasse to Gare de Saint-Pierre-des-Corps in Tour where they picked up a rental car. It is wise to reserve your rental car from home, especially if you'd like to drive an automatic! Distances between the chateaux are usually 30 to 45 minute drive and those drives are scenic and enjoyable. Rick's top 5 Chambord Cheverny Chemonceau Amboise Vilandry Take-Away from this Episode You could visit the 5 favorite chateaux in the Loire Valley in 2 days, but 3 would be better. They saw 10 places in 4 days as listed below, and it would have been better to cut a couple of them off. Maybe I should have asked him for a top 6 list so that he could have included Azay-le-Rideau which I've enjoyed personally. If you need to choose between staying in Chinon or staying in Amboise, Amboise is probably a better choice because it is a bigger cleaner town and there are more dining and shopping choices. Keep in mind that the Loire Valley is not where you go for great night-life but rather for gorgeous architecture, gardens and scenery. It is a peaceful, quiet soul-full type of vacation. Most of these chateaux are in rural France, pay attention to opening and closing times and the infrequent availability of stores compared to what you're used to. Hotels Recommended in this Episode They stayed at a lovely quaint hotel in Chinon for 2 nights. French manor house with lovely furniture, beams on the ceiling, beautiful floors. Amazing breakfast. But Chinon the city is a smaller town, it may be difficult to find anything open in the middle of the day, especially if you're on foot. They enjoyed La Cabane à Vin in Chinon. They preferred the city of Amboise where they found a lovely hotel. An old remodeled manor house with spacious rooms, wonderful staff, great location overlooking the Loire River and central to the town. Plus the staff was extra kind to them when they found out that Rick's mother-in-law passed away while they were in France. Vilandry The formal gardens are spectacular in October: flowers, pears, pretty grounds. This is a beautiful French Garden style and there are nice gardens behind the chateau as well. Definitely plan time to explore the grounds. Vilandry is furnished more than other chateaux, but the best part is seeing the grounds. Azay-le-Rideau More furniture and amazing rooms at Azay-le-Rideau, but the grounds weren't as nice as Vilandry even though the water all around the chateau is beautiful. Abbey Royale de Fontevraud Finding the parking-lot can be tricky, it's a big place, somewhat empty, has a lot of both illustrious and infamous history. It was not a favorite of theirs. Chateau d'Ussé About a 30 minute drive, easy to find with a GPS. The building itself is amazing. They say it was the inspiration for Disney's Cinderella Castle. A lot of the chateau is in great condition, so are the stables. The Café Dechemin Eric had a great view onto the chateau but the food was just OK. Chateau de Chinon This is more of a fortress than a chateau, the views from the chateau are lovely, but the place itself has a lot of military history. The chateau at Amboise might be a better choice if you can only see one. They had dinner at a restaurant called Au Chapeau Roug

61 minAUG 24
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5 Favorite Chateaux in the Loire Valley

Latest Episodes

Latin Quarter Highlights

The 5th arrondissement in Paris is one of Annie's favorites. It also goes by the name Latin Quarter which is its historical name. Visitors don't need to worry too much about different names used in this area because often in Paris you change neighborhood just by crossing the street! Good budget hotel at the edge of the Latin Quarter and Saint Germain des Prés: Le Petit Belloy. The rooms are tiny, but if you can get room 602 or room 603 you'll see the Eiffel Tower from your tiny balcony! Latin Quarter Highlights If you're facing the famous bookstore called Shakespeare and Company, you have Notre Dame Cathedral behind you and to your left. To explore the Latin Quarter you'll walk along the Seine river between the bookstore and all the way to the Jardin des Plantes. Along the way you'll come across many "bouquinistes" and their little green book stalls that have been around for over 100 years. The bouquinistes have morphed into souvenir stands to some degree. These are concession stands and some have been in the same hands for a long time. You walk past the Jardin des Plantes and then you take a right. Along the way you'll walk by Quai Saint Bernard along the Jardin des Plantes and there are often groups of dancers doing the tango. You'll also walk by the Institut du Monde Arabe and its marvelous panoramic terrace that you can access for free. You'll get a great view of the backside of Notre Dame from that terrace. The Jardin des Plantes Is a Must-See with Children If you're with children you MUST spend some time at the Jardin des Plantes. Not to be missed is the Galerie de l'Evolution where the building itself is stunning and it's a great place to show how animals have changed over time. The Galerie de Minéralogie is also wonderful. There's a zoo, the garden is beautiful, there are often amazing temporary exhibits. It's free for children but it's not included in the Museum Pass. It is still totally worth it! There are food trucks and lots of places to have a picnic. La Grande Mosquée de Paris This mosque was built by the city of Paris to honor the Muslim soldiers who fought with France during WW1. They are closed on Friday and close at various times during the day. The gardens are beautiful, the restaurant Aux Portes de l'Orient that serves great North African food. Marché Monge This is one of the quaintest outdoor markets in Paris. It's occupies place Monge, you can get there on the metro because it has its own stop. The market is open Wed, Fri and Sat in the morning. It's not very big, about 40 stalls. Arènes de Lutèce Right off rue Monge at number 49 you'll find the entrance to the Arènes de Lutèce. It looks like the entrance to a building, but it is your way into what's left of the old Paris Roman arena. It's a popular place for locals to hang out. You can climb all around. It's not the biggest Roman arena, but it's a fun stop. Place Maubert There is another food market on this plaza, it happens on on Tue, Thu and Sat, also in the morning. Mostly food and a cute place. There are all sorts of food shops that are permanently there. La Sorbonne On rue des Écoles you'll find an old American diner called Breakfast in America and a boulangerie called Paris and Company that won the prize for best baguette in Paris in 2019. La Sorbonne is nearby but you can't visit it unless you have an appointment. It's pretty to look around. Make sure to walk to place de la Sorbonne The Pantheon This monument is on a lot of people's list. It started out as a church but was quickly turned into a monument to the memory of great French men. And for a long time it was men only. Voltaire, Rousseau, Zola, and a lot of completely unknown generals. I don't think they would ever put a general in the Pantheon today. They are looking for people who have made other sorts of contributions to French life. Saint Etienne du Mont Church One of the most beautiful churches in Paris. The church is also very famous because the steps on its side are featured

61 min4 d ago
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Latin Quarter Highlights

Annie and Elyse Chat About Emily in Paris

This episode features our frequent and very popular guest Elyse Rivin. If you enjoy her episodes, please consider supporting her on Patreon. Everybody is talking about Emily in Paris. Elyse and I watched it together and we took some notes on our reactions. I must confess that we only watched two episodes, and we already have a lot to say! This is our perspective from a French perspective. While Elyse isn't technically French, she's lived in France so long she's forgetting her English ;-) Click play, let’s see if you agree with us! Why Is Emily in Paris Getting So Much Attention? Big name newspapers and magazines are all talking about this show which is surprising because it is very new. It probably has to do with the fact that we can't travel right now and going to Paris on TV is better than not going at all. The fact that this show has become controversial is also playing in its favor. People have to see this show that everyone is talking about. Emily in Paris is definitely not a documentary. It is more like one stereotype after another and we point them out in our conversation. Emily in Paris Is Chock-Full of Stereotypes Stereotypes are helpful in fiction because they allow the writer to make points quickly. Nothing much happens in the show, but boy do they spout stereotypes! French men prefer older women. This may be a reference to President Macron, but it's a new stereotype about French people. It's nice that they use French songs in the show but these are not songs that we recognize. When she walks into her new apartment the concierge gives her the evil eye because she doesn't say "bonjour". She says "hi" which shows she assumes everyone knows English. You have to start off by making an effort to speak some French. You should not walk into a business situation in France with zero French and zero understanding of why that's not acceptable. The 5th floor / 4th floor thing comes up several times. Ground level is "rez-de-chaussé" in France, that's 0. We start counting one above ground level whereas Americans say ground level is 1. The Realtor who shows her to her "Chambre de Bonne" that looks nothing like a "Chambre de Bonne" hits on her saying it doesn't matter that she has a boyfriend in America, she needs one in France. The stereotype of French men all being overtly interested in sex. They are typically more subtle than that. Emily shows up at the office on her first day with a shirt that has an Eiffel Tower print on it. She's too flashy. Annie doesn't think the lady at the boulangerie would ever correct someone for using the wrong article, but Elyse says it's happened to her. Sylvie, the boss tells her not to bother to learn French because she'd be terrible at it. On her first day at the job French people explain to Emily how all Americans are fat while they smoke in the office. The fat/smoker thing is established early on in the show and comes back several times. There are many French people who believe that when you stop smoking you gain 5 kilograms. But even with that, French people are quitting smoking fast. Both Annie and Elyse know people who used to smoke and have quit and none who are still smoking. It's only a minority of French people who smoke today, this stereotype is dated. Sylvie says "Without pleasure what are we? Germans?" This is definitely something French people might say and something that would make us laugh. Luke asks Emily why she is shouting. It is true that in France kids are raised to keep their voice down generally and that Americans would do well to be more discreet in France. The whole city is like Ratatouille! Really? That's what she knows about France? Ratatouille and Saving Private Ryan? This is the idiot American stereotype. Everyone gets stereotyped in Emily in Paris! It is true that hall lights are all on short timers in France and that's annoying. But electricity is expensive in France! Now we have phones with flashlights so it's not such a big deal, but growing up in France A

69 min1 w ago
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Annie and Elyse Chat About Emily in Paris

Louis Vuitton Foundation

This episode features our frequent and very popular guest Elyse Rivin. If you enjoy her episodes, please consider supporting her on Patreon. On today's episode of the podcast, Annie and Elyse have a conversation about the Louis Vuitton Foundation and the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris. The Louis Vuitton Foundation and Museum are to the West of Paris, just outside of the périphérique (that’s the Paris belt road). It is easily accessible by metro (line 1). This museum is worth it just to see the building, but the art inside occasional steals the show! And we also talk about the Jardin d'Acclimatation, an amusement park that kids would enjoy. The two are linked in a way because the city donated the land for this building and it was part of the Jardin d'Acclimatation. The Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris The reason why this building is so remarkable is that it was designed by architect Frank Gehry. One of the richest men in the world, Bernard Arnault was the instigator of this project. Arnault owns a lot of modern and contemporary art and he wanted to display it in a beautiful place. Gehry buildings are always innovative in both form and material and this one completely lives up to the hype! Gehry is a creator of public buildings such as museums. For instance he also designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain which is also extraordinary. Gehry has not designed a lot of homes other than his own in Santa Monica. Frank Gehry found some of his inspiration for the Vuitton Foundation in the landscape of the Jardin d'Acclimatation and from the Grand Palais in Paris. Surprising Things About the Louis Vuitton Foundation The Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris has a lot of levels, nook and crannies, and yet it works as a museum space. This is surprising because so many oddly shaped museums are simply confusing. This museum is the property of the Vuitton Foundation, but it will become the property of the city of Paris starting in 2062. The Jardin d'Acclimatation Today The Jardin d'Acclimatation has a complicated and very unethical history. We explain why in the episode. We don't recommend you go back in time to visit the original Jardin d'Acclimatation. But today it's a great day out with your kids! It's a fairly small theme park with rides, refreshments, gardens, farm animals, birds, but no more large zoo animals. It has come a long way! The Bois de Boulogne is nearby and also a great visit. If you're interested in parks in general, you should listen to episode 290 to decide which ones to put first on your list. More episodes about Museums in Paris Email | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter Did you get my VoiceMap Paris tours yet? They are designed for people who want to see the best of Paris neighborhoods and put what they are looking at into historical context. There are so many great stories in Paris. Don't walk right past them without having a clue what happened there! You can buy them directly from the VoiceMap app or click here to order activation codes at the podcast listener discount price. Discussed in this Episode Vuitton Foundation Jardin d'Acclimatation Support the Show Tip Your GuideExtrasPatreonAudio ToursMerchandise Categories: Family Travel, French Châteaux, Museums in Paris, Paris

49 min2 w ago
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Louis Vuitton Foundation

French Kings and the Catholic Church

In today's episode Annie Sargent talks to Jason Sager about the difficult relationship between French Kings and the Catholic church. And we couldn't get through this topic without talking about the French Wars of Religion. And it’s not just Kings, all of France has a complicated relationship with the Catholic church, even today! Just this morning I was talking to one of my neighbors and she brought up the fact that she goes to church regularly but she’s not a grenouille de bénitier. I bet you’ve never heard that expression. A grenouille de bénitier is a person who goes to church so much that she’s compared to a frog who lives in the font where they keep the holy water at the entrance of a Catholic church. You don’t have an expression like that in English, do you? That’s because as far as I know there is no English-speaking country where being a "churchy" person makes you stand out as an odd duck. You’ll get a heavy dose of French history and French culture in today’s episode. French People and the Catholic Church To set the stage, in the early 1500s world-wide you have Columbus sailing off from Spain. A lot of Chateaux were being built on the Loire Valley. François I wanted to be Emperor (but didn't manage). Leonardo da Vinci moved to France. But this is also the time when the wars of religion were happening in France. The Reformation Martin Luther's reformation also happened at that time. 1517-1522 is when he was excommunicated from the Catholic church. This began as a German reformation movement but it moved into France rapidly with John Calvin particularly who started his own reformed church in France. French Protestants are known as Huguenots in France. Huguenots This is something French Kings didn't like to see because they saw themselves as the protectors of the Catholic faith and they didn't want to see a different religion thrive in France. And the Huguenots religion spread very quickly in France, which made it an even bigger perceived threat. By 1560 about 10% of France was already Protestant. Members of the nobility also converted to the new religion. A lot of Bourbons were Protestants. The King of Navarre became a Protestant. Henri II before he died in an accident established a "chambre ardente" with the goal to eliminate the Huguenots from France. He died too soon to see if it worked. By 1560 there were already a lot of Protestants in France. France was supposed to be "la fille ainée de l'Eglise" or the eldest daughter of the church. François I wanted to be called "the most Christian King" to reinforce his relationship with the Catholic church. Henry XVIII in England wanted the title "defneder of the faith" from the Pope to establish himself as an equal to the French King. A Dangerous Situation By 1560 there are a lot of tensions between the Catholics and the rising Protestant minority in France. When Henri II died an untimely death it rattled the structure of power in France. He had 3 sons, but they were too young, so his wife, Catherine de Medici, became the regent. She was terribly unpopular because she was Italian and also a woman. The king, François II was the official king, but he was always in poor health and died of tuberculosis 18 months into his reign. His brother Charles IX succeeded him, but he was also too young to reign by himself. The situation was volatile and uncertain, especially when you take into account the high level of religious strife. Catherine de Medici always tried to find compromises between the Catholics and the Huguenots because she didn't think eliminating the Protestants would work. On the other hand, the Guise family who were ultra Catholic really believed in eliminating the Protestants. Duc de Guise at Vassy The Duc de Guise went through the town of Vassy where Protestants were allowed so long as they didn't worship within the walls of the city. He realized that they were breaking the law and worshiping inside the city. He sent his men to stop them from doing so and a fir

57 min3 w ago
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French Kings and the Catholic Church

A Slice of Life in the Hilltop Village of Sancerre

Returning to the same place over and over again is not something most visitors do, but my guest today, Carl Carlson, has been to Sancerre many times. He and his wife Christine are from Hawaii, but have been going back to Sancerre for at least a couple of weeks almost every year since 2004. We've talked about Sancerre before on the podcast because that's where the language school Coeur de France is situated. It turns out that Carl knows Gérard and Marianne who own the school. They've been introduced to many other people in the village and it's almost a second home to them, even if they rent a different accommodation each time. Sancerre is world famous because of the wine they produce there. It is one on my favorites! It's easy to get to by car, but also by train. The nearest train station are in Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire, Nevers or Bourges. Carl likes to rent a car at Porte-Maillot so he avoids driving inside of Paris. That's a good idea for most people actually. What Makes Sancerre Special Carl and his wife like the fact that few people in the village speak English, therefore forcing them to practice their French. It's not touristy per se. There are visitors that come for the wine business and for the language school, but it's not a destination that so many people flock to. What Do You Do for 3 Weeks in Sancerre? Carl's idea is not to have much of a schedule. He enjoys settling in to the rhythm of the village and not rush anywhere. They like to go to the local café to the Auberge Joseph Mellot for dinner the day they arrive. The next day they go to the village café for breakfast. There's a nice open-air market in Cosne on Sunday and Wednesday mornings. You'll find the list of all the establishments they like to visit in the Guest Notes. There's also a dairy truck that comes by and they sell wonderful yogurt and butter. Café Librairie is a favorite too. It's about getting to know people and getting to know their schedule. You need to have the mindset that you will go with the flow. If you're too uptight, you won't get along. The village is picturesque, there is a central square with boutiques, wine establishments (aka "caves"), cafés, a one star restaurant. There are a lot of wine tasting and wine buying opportunities. The vintners in the area do well. Sancerre wines sell for a minimum of 12€ at French grocery stores. Most are around 20€ per bottle, which is expensive for France. Why Not Every French Wine Is Sold in the US It's difficult for small wine producers to get into the US market because there are a lot of mandatory steps, paperwork and taxes to pay along the way. They must go through specific brokers in France, then importers and licensed agents get involved on the US side. And then it goes to the many retailers. Many hands touch that bottle of wine and the price increases every time. It may only be worth it if a producer can ship wine by the container-full. Local Wines Carl enjoys the wines of Jean Reverdy et Fils in Verdigny. It's only a 15 minute drive from Sancerre. They've become friends. Those wines are now availble in Hawaii where the Sauvignon Blanc sells for around $20 a bottle. They also make a rosé with their Pinot Noir. Chavignol is another wine producing village near Sancerre. André Bourgeois is a large producer there and they export a lot to Hawaii and the US in general. There's a nice little restaurant there called Au Ptit Gouter. This is also where they produce the cheese called Crotins de Chavignol. Great Places to Visit Around Sancerre Carl recommends the pottery village of La Borne. Guédelon aka Château de Guédelon is an amazing experiment. They are constructing a medieval castle and village with the tools and methods they had in the Middle Ages. They do everything themselves, including cutting the stone, growing and cutting the timber, etc. The work is done by hand, the workers wear period costumes. It's been going on for over 25 years and it's really interesting to visit. It's like a science

56 minSEP 28
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A Slice of Life in the Hilltop Village of Sancerre

The Auvergne Cheese Route

Today, Annie Sargent brings you a conversation with Elyse Rivin about the Route des Fromages AOP d’Auvergne. The word Auvergne designates an old French province around its capital Clermont-Ferrand. Today it is part of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and it is just a little west of Lyon and the Alps. This episode features our frequent and very popular guest Elyse Rivin. If you enjoy her episodes, please consider supporting her on Patreon. The Auvergne region produces a lot of wonderful cheeses and they are going to be the stars of the show: Bleu d’Auvergne, Cantal, Fourme d’Ambert, Saint-Nectaire, and Salers. Elyse tells us about the small towns that produce those cheeses and what you might see there when you visit. Another excellent show that takes us off the beaten track in France! The 4 departments that we'll be talking about are the Cantal (15), the Puy-de-Dôme (63), Haute-Loire (43), Allier (03). The Auvergne Cheese Route There are many cheeses produced in the Auvergne area, but these are the 5 that have an AOP designation. This stands for Appellation d'Origine Protégée and it's a European label that certifies that this particular product is produced in a specific geographical area. When you drive around the Auvergne you will see road signs that indicate the Route des Fromages. Here are the Auvergne cheese route AOP cheeses we discuss in this episode, and they are all made of cow milk: Cantal Cheese Cantal cheese is one of the oldest cheeses in France. It's somewhat similar to a cheddar. It is made in huge wheels that weight 40 kilograms. You can buy it young (1-2 months) or entre-deux (3-5 months) and vieux (6 months or more). Louis XIV loves Cantal cheese and had it brought to Versailles in great quantities, which contributed to its popularity and fame. Cantal cheese is produced in large quantities and there are production sites all over the Cantal. If you're in France at Christmas time, look for Cantal de Noël, it's a treat! Salers Cheese Unlike the Cantal cheese, Salers cheese is a more exclusive cheese produced only between April 15 and November 15 from the Salers breed of cows that are grass-fed at high elevations. The production is limited to the areas of Cantal, the Mont Doré and Cézallier. Salers cheese can only be made with raw milk, unlike all the others we'll talk about today that can be made with either raw or pasteurized milk. Salers is usually sold in specialty cheese shops and not at the supermarket because it is not sold year-round. This cheese is also only made at the farm, there are no industrial large quantities production facilities for the Salers cheese. Saint-Nectaire Cheese This cheese has a creamy texture and nutty flavor, it is Annie's favorite cheese. It's a flat wheel that's 1.7 kilograms. In France, you can buy the "fermier" kind that is made with raw milk or the pasteurized milk. It can have a fairly strong flavor if you leave it out for a couple of hours before serving it. Bleu d'Auvergne Cheese There is a lot of bleu d'Auvergne produced in France. It is similar to Roquefort, but it is milder. Bleu d'Auvergne is produced all over the Auvergne. It is creamier than Roquefort. You normally don't find bleu d'Auvergne made with raw milk. Bleu d'Auvergne comes in a small cylinder. Fourme d'Ambert Cheese This is the smoothest, creamiest and mildest blue cheese made in France. It is a cylinder. This is a good blue cheese to start with if you're not sure you can take a strong Roquefort. There Are 40 Stops on the The Auvergne Cheese Route You can't see all of them unless you plan to spend a month. But why wouldn't you? This is a great area for active recreational activities. It's also great for people who like to see scenic vistas and great medieval villages. Here are a few we think are noteworthy. Great Towns Around the Auvergne The town of Salers is beautiful. We also like the small city if Saint Flour. Riom is somewhat touristy, it even has a tourist train! Issoire is beautiful and is conn

67 minSEP 21
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The Auvergne Cheese Route

Day-Trips Around Bordeaux

On today's episode, Annie chats with Ira about her favorite day-trips around Bordeaux. Ira is in a great position to tell us about that because she moved to Bordeaux full time a few years ago and has gotten to know the area very well. We talk about several wine routes you can drive, about the Bassin d’Arcachon which is dear to my heart as I explain in the episode, the Entre Deux Mers area, and about general tips about visiting this area. Ira publishes a blog called Lost in Bordeaux that I can heartily recommend. Day-Trips Around Bordeaux There is a fair bit of information about Bordaux and Saint-Émilion on-line, but not so much about the other gems in the area. The purpose of this episode is to make you aware of the many wonderful places you can visit around Bordeaux! Before you get going around Bordeaux, it's worth repeating that Bordeaux itself is worth a full day. The city has a lot to offer. If you land in Paris from North America and take the TGV to Bordeaux directly from the CDG airport, you'll arrive in Bordeaux by the middle of the afternoon France time. It would be ideal to spend that first half-day in Bordeaux and then at least one more full day. It's worth it just for the gastronomy and all the great wine bars! Places You Can Visit Around Bordeaux Bordeaux is in the Gironde department, in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. One of the things that make it special is that there are so many different types of activities to do in this part of France. Having said that, many of the attractions we'll discuss are hard to get to without a car. You should book your car in advance, especially if you need an automatic. Understand that in France last-minute car rentals are terribly expensive. Wine Activities You can't come to Bordeaux and ignore the wine. There are 5 sub wine regions in Bordeaux and you could do a wine route dedicated to each of them. Each would look different, taste different, have a different history. Saint-Émilion Do understand that Saint-Émilion is the most "touristy" wine area of the Bordeaux region, especially during "vendange" season which is Sept and Oct. This town is the easiest to visit by train. The train station in Saint-Émilion is a 15-20 minute walk to the center of the town, but there are taxis, it's easy to do. In Saint-Émilion you MUST take the tour that they offer at the tourist office otherwise you won't get into the monolithic church that is so interesting there. You should plan ahead and book a tour, they have them available in English as well. There are a lot of wineries to visit around Saint-Émilion and for some of those you need a car. If you come in the summer or harvest season, book in advance, they don't like people just showing up. But, if you didn't book in advance, at the Tourist Office they have a list of 3 or 4 chateaux that are open that day for drop-in visitors. Also book your restaurant in Saint-Émilion unless you just want to get a sandwich at a boulangerie because all the good places are full. This is more important than ever because with the pandemic all venues are limited to how many people they can host and this will probably be the case going forward to some time. Pomerole Pomerole is another lovely wine village and area you can visit. It's not as touristy. The town itself if tiny, not much to see. But there are lots of wineries around there including Château Pétrus but most of us can't afford that because it is priced in the thousands per bottle. A more approachable chateau there is called Château Beauregard and it's also very nice. Médoc The Médoc area includes some of the most expensive wines in the world, but it's not as touristy as the others. Médoc is more spread-out all over the Médoc peninsula. They are all along this road with beautiful châteaux sprinkled throughout. You'll see many family-owned wineries, much smaller labels you've probably never heard of. Again, it's important to select a few places you want to visit and book them in advance because, like m

60 minSEP 14
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Day-Trips Around Bordeaux

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a Place of Refuge

Today I bring you a conversation with Cindy McBrayer about Le Chambon-sur-Lignon a place of refuge. During WW2 this small town and neighboring villages became a heaven for Jewish children who were on the run from the Germans and from French authorities who collaborated with them. Would you like to be a recipe tester for Annie's cookbook? Email her! I’m always surprised by how many novels get released today but are set in WW2! This is a fascinating time period when humanity’s best and humanity’s worst had to battle it out and decide who was going to come out on top. The folks of Le Chambon sur Lignon made the most generous and courageous choice and we talk about it today. It’s also a lovely place to visit and definitely off the beaten track. I should mention that we often refer to it as Chambon in the episode, but it’s Le Chambon-sur-Lignon that we’re talking about, there’s another town 2.5 hours drive away called Chambon, don’t go to the wrong place! Recommended in this Episode Lovely inn in Rochepaule, 30 minutes away from Le Chambon. Hotel L’Escapade (converted private school). Owners live on site, and have a well-known, lovely small restaurant “Restaurant Maryse et Eric”. Reservations recommended. Books About Le Chambon The latest, and an EXCELLENT book about Le Chambon, then and NOW….is The Plateau, by Maggie Paxon. If you can only read one, make it this one! Article about Le Chambon from Time Magazine Village of Secrets, Defying the Nazis in Vichy, France, by Caroline Moorehead A Good Place to Hide, How One French Village Saved Thousands of Lives during WWII, by Peter Grose. This one is easy to read. Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, by Phillip Hallie Hidden on the Mountain, by Karen Gray Ruelle. (stories from surviving children) More episodes about French History Email | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter Did you get my VoiceMap Paris tours yet? They are designed for people who want to see the best of Paris neighborhoods and put what they are looking at into historical context. There are so many great stories in Paris. Don't walk right past them without having a clue what happened there! You can buy them directly from the VoiceMap app or click here to order activation codes at the podcast listener discount price. Discussed in this Episode Le Chambon-sur-Lignon WW2 sites in Lyon Izieu Les Cevennes Tence WW2 book recommendations Driving in France Support the Show Tip Your GuideExtrasPatreonAudio ToursMerchandise If you enjoyed this episode, you should also listen to related episode(s): Wine Touring in Beaune, Burgundy, Episode 128 Top Attractions in Lyon, Episode 113 Chamonix, Annecy, and the Alps, Episode 121 Cindy McBrayer in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon Read more about this episode Guest Notes Categories: Active Vacations in France, French History, Lyon Area

52 minSEP 7
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Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a Place of Refuge

Castelnaudary: Cassoulet in Cathar Country

In this episode Annie and Elyse talk about the lovely city of Castelnaudary. But this being our 300ths episode we also celebrate the moment, discuss our motivations in continuing to produce the podcast and our history. We also talk about Annie's southern French accent (which is shared by our current Prime Minister Jean Castex). And how could we talk about Castelnaudary without talking about Cassoulet? Castelnaudary is, after all, the world-capital of this delicious dish. A major Amazon depot is going to be established in Castelnaudary so that should bring in younger people. But it is a medium city and quite a few English expats and a good standard of living. Castelnaudary is a major stop on the Canal du Midi and has an impressive set of 5 locks followed by a "Grand Bassin" and an artificial island called Ile de la Cybèle. Did the Cassoulet Originate in Castelnaudary? Anatole France certainly thought so! There was also a cookbook in the 1600s that describes a stew that sounds a lot like Cassoulet! Cassoulet got its name from the dish Cassole or Cassolette. Cassoulet in Castelnaudary is made with goose (not duck) and doesn't have bread crumb on top. Restaurant Recommendation Annie and David ate at a restaurant called Chez David and it was delicious. They claim to make it from scratch and cook it for 7 hours. Make a reservation, it's not very big and it fills up! Cassoulet is a mix of slow cooked goose, pork and beans. They have a special white bean from Castelnaudary, but it's quite expensive and it just tastes like a white bean. Making Cassoulet from scratch in America is not easy, but you could make it if you use chicken thighs, pork ribs and Italian sausage. When in Castelnaudary, Do the Walking Tour! The Tourist Office has put together a nice 4k walking tour that will take your through all the interesting sites in the city. Careful around the church, you want to be on Rue du Collège or you might get lost. Discussed in this Episode Castelnaudary Cassoulet and Canal du Midi [11:22] Le Lauragais [13:01] Wheat growing area [14:04] A lot of British people lived in Castelnaudary [14:40] Castelnaudary economy [14:53] Castelnaudary is a good choice for people looking for a nice place to live in France that is not too expensive [16:13] Ruins of the Castle [17:26] Castelnaudary and the 100 Years War [18:02] Pieere Paul Riquet and the Canal du Midi [19:28] Grand Bassin in Castelnaudary [20:13] Ile de la Cybèle [20:48] The importance of the Canal du Midi [21:39] About the Cassoulet and its origins [28:40] Why Castelnaudary claims Cassoulet started there [29:50] Cassoulet comes from Cassole [31:39] The difference in Cassoulet recipes between Toulouse Carcassonne and Castelnaudary [31:37] Cassoulet is time-consuming and ingredients are hard to find in the US [34:36] You don't need a cassolette to make Cassoulet [37:16] How do you know if you're getting home-made Cassoulet? [38:25] Restaurants that claim their Cassoulet is home-made [38:41] The intestinal consequences to eating Cassoulet [40:37] Castelnaudary is off the beaten track and lovely [41:59] Is it a transat or a chaise longue? [42:53] Seuil de Naurouze [43:12] Cugarel Windmill in Castelnaudary [44:21] The Lauragais is pretty [44:37] Starting a podcast is a steep learning curve [46:55] More day trips from Toulouse Email | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter Did you get my VoiceMap Paris tours yet? They are designed for people who want to see the best of Paris neighborhoods and put what they are looking at into historical context. There are so many great stories in Paris. Don't walk right past them without having a clue what happened there! You can buy them directly from the VoiceMap app or click here to order activation codes at the podcast listener discount price. Support the Show Tip Your GuideExtrasPatreonAudio ToursMerchandise If you enjoyed this episode, you should also listen to related episode(s): Sorèze and Revel, Great Day Trips from Toulouse, Episode 156

58 minAUG 31
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Castelnaudary: Cassoulet in Cathar Country

5 Favorite Chateaux in the Loire Valley

On today's episode, Annie Sargent brings you a trip report with Rick McGuirk about his 5 favorite chateaux in the Loire Valley. There are so many chateaux along the Loire Valley that it’s hard to choose which ones to go to and which ones to skip. You could spend a couple of months there if you wanted to see them all. So, just in case you don't have that kind of time, let's see which ones are must-sees. Rick and his wife have visited France many times, but this was their first time exploring the Loire Valley. They don't speak French beyond "bonjour", "au revoir" and "une carafe d'eau" but that wasn't a problem. So long as you know the magic word in French, you'll be OK! 5 Favorite Chateaux in the Loire Valley On this trip they stayed in Paris for 5 days then took the TGV from Montparnasse to Gare de Saint-Pierre-des-Corps in Tour where they picked up a rental car. It is wise to reserve your rental car from home, especially if you'd like to drive an automatic! Distances between the chateaux are usually 30 to 45 minute drive and those drives are scenic and enjoyable. Rick's top 5 Chambord Cheverny Chemonceau Amboise Vilandry Take-Away from this Episode You could visit the 5 favorite chateaux in the Loire Valley in 2 days, but 3 would be better. They saw 10 places in 4 days as listed below, and it would have been better to cut a couple of them off. Maybe I should have asked him for a top 6 list so that he could have included Azay-le-Rideau which I've enjoyed personally. If you need to choose between staying in Chinon or staying in Amboise, Amboise is probably a better choice because it is a bigger cleaner town and there are more dining and shopping choices. Keep in mind that the Loire Valley is not where you go for great night-life but rather for gorgeous architecture, gardens and scenery. It is a peaceful, quiet soul-full type of vacation. Most of these chateaux are in rural France, pay attention to opening and closing times and the infrequent availability of stores compared to what you're used to. Hotels Recommended in this Episode They stayed at a lovely quaint hotel in Chinon for 2 nights. French manor house with lovely furniture, beams on the ceiling, beautiful floors. Amazing breakfast. But Chinon the city is a smaller town, it may be difficult to find anything open in the middle of the day, especially if you're on foot. They enjoyed La Cabane à Vin in Chinon. They preferred the city of Amboise where they found a lovely hotel. An old remodeled manor house with spacious rooms, wonderful staff, great location overlooking the Loire River and central to the town. Plus the staff was extra kind to them when they found out that Rick's mother-in-law passed away while they were in France. Vilandry The formal gardens are spectacular in October: flowers, pears, pretty grounds. This is a beautiful French Garden style and there are nice gardens behind the chateau as well. Definitely plan time to explore the grounds. Vilandry is furnished more than other chateaux, but the best part is seeing the grounds. Azay-le-Rideau More furniture and amazing rooms at Azay-le-Rideau, but the grounds weren't as nice as Vilandry even though the water all around the chateau is beautiful. Abbey Royale de Fontevraud Finding the parking-lot can be tricky, it's a big place, somewhat empty, has a lot of both illustrious and infamous history. It was not a favorite of theirs. Chateau d'Ussé About a 30 minute drive, easy to find with a GPS. The building itself is amazing. They say it was the inspiration for Disney's Cinderella Castle. A lot of the chateau is in great condition, so are the stables. The Café Dechemin Eric had a great view onto the chateau but the food was just OK. Chateau de Chinon This is more of a fortress than a chateau, the views from the chateau are lovely, but the place itself has a lot of military history. The chateau at Amboise might be a better choice if you can only see one. They had dinner at a restaurant called Au Chapeau Roug

61 minAUG 24
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5 Favorite Chateaux in the Loire Valley

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