Friday, February 12, 2010

France planning and such

The above gite is near Carennac in the Lot region. This is a converted barn.

This is one of two gites in the Dordogne converted from a farmhouse, near Sarlat.

I have been at a standstill this week. Just can't think of what to post. The main reason is that things are a little boring right now around here. The weather is horrible for Florida standards, we are still working on getting the weight down so any kitchen work has become boring.

Looking forward to the winter Olympics and getting to know Canada a little better. We spent some time in Vancouver a few years ago. It is a beautiful city. Stayed at what was called a Bed and Breakfast on Vancouver Island. Of course, the area around us was gorgeous, but it was our very early days of researching bed and breakfasts and the 'room' we reserved was a bed in the laundry room of a house. I believe it was just a 2 night stay. The lady of the house made us a nice breakfast, but after this we really worked on our research a little more.

Our plans for our late April trip to Europe are just about complete. Only one decision needs to be made (take train or plane) back to Paris from Lyon for the trip home. This will be our sixth trip to France since 2001. We did make a short trip into Alsace-Lorraine in 1981 when we had our daughters with us and again in 1991. It is a favorite area for us.

Our first trip was a week in Paris in 2001. In 2005 we went to Burgundy and Provence. Wanting to see more of this wonderful country we were growing to love, in 2006 we were located in the Loire Valley and Normandy. In 2007, it was the Dordogne and Languedoc area. The Dordogne was a favorite so the next year we went back to the Dordogne and the Lot area. This year we will be in the Alsace-Lorraine area, skip into the Black Forest of Germany for a short visit, and then into central France, to the Auvergne region.

Each trip is planned around the wine and food and the beautiful scenery available to us. We totally submerge ourselves into living French. We rent gites, which are small apartments or homes or for a short visit, we stay in bed and breakfasts. So many wonderful places are available (44,000 in France alone) and the Trout is my researcher into possibilities in the areas where we are going and then we settle on a favorite.

I have mentioned in the early days of my blog that we lived in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1968-69 when the Trout was in the American Army. We learned to live like Europeans and eat like Europeans and it was a life changing experience for us. We learned to enjoy wine and fine food and the importance of walking (lots of walking on cobblestone streets).

So 10 more weeks of careful planning ahead. We travel very, very light. Lots of hand washing and we usually are fortunate enough to have a washer in our apartment. I am still learning how a French washer works. It takes a long time to do a load of wash. Like half a day. Translating temperatures from Celsius into Fahrenheit and then all the slots for soap, softener, bleach, etc. And because the loads take so long, I do try to mix lots of clothes together. I remember one year in the Lot, one of the Trout's navy blue socks mistakenly slipped into a load of white things... like my underwear. I ended up with navy blue everything. Very fashionable, I'm sure!!

So have a good weekend. Kiss your Valentine!!


  1. If I may, take the train back to Paris ... the fast train is so much more convienent than the plane- unless you have a connecting flight out of Paris the same day. If you do, make sure you arrive and leave from the same airport .. if not, better take the train.

  2. Laura, I am thrilled you commented. That is the way we were leaning. We will not learn CDG until early afternoon the next day. Will need to find a hotel near the airport that night.

  3. Oh would I love to travel with you. My husband and I just this morning said we need to go back sometime and see more. And then we were just there last fall. It does get in your heart I think. Your trip sounds wonderful. How exciting. We haven't decided yet where we will travel next, but definitely thinking.

    A cup of tea will be sent soon.

  4. Susan you should have stopped over in our neck of the woods prior to Vancouver. ;) I am so excited for you! and your upcoming venture back to France. Can't wait to hear about your wonderful experiences.

  5. Your trip sounds perfect. I would take the train back to Paris... but then, if I could, I would live on a train. But if you have the time, the train would give you a chance to unwind and see the countryside before you jet back to the states.

  6. Anonymous6:48 PM

    Susan, your pictures of the gîtes brought back wonderful memories. Both were lovely houses in great locations.

    As others have mentioned, I would take the train to Paris and avoid the hassle of flying.

    It will be France again for us in Sept. We never tire of it.

    Have a wonderful trip!

  7. A year ago I was planning my trip to Paris. The planning stage is so much a part of the fun. I'm envious of how much of France you've seen. I'm just dying to go back again.

    We took the train from Paris to Brussels and it was wonderful. We were able to see so much of the countryside and it was very comfortable. I recomment the train.

  8. To anonymous (Ginny), yes we have stayed in the same gites and shared experiences. I am glad you will also be going back. Thanks for commenting.

    We have taken the bullet train once before in France, from Avignon to Paris. It looks like we will take it from Lyon to Paris this time. Train travel in Europe is so great. We Americans are really missing something by not having better train communication in the US.

  9. After watching the Olympic open ceremonies I want to see the whole country!! Such rugged beauty! Your planning has to be nearly as fun as the trip!

  10. Some very beautiful places in France mentioned here.
    Interesting that you were in Heidelberg. We had friends and the husband was a civilian at the US army base and we spent several summer holidays there living just outside Heidelberg. Love the castle there.
    Hope you have a great time on yur April trip.

  11. Anonymous6:19 PM

    Susan, we seem to travel in the same manner. I look forward to reading your account of your April trip.

    For our upcoming trip, we've rented a gîte near Vaison-la-Romaine, in the Drome Provençale, and another in Callian, in the Var. New regions to be explored and experienced.


  12. Your trip sounds terrific. I wish we were going again this year, but it looks like it will be next year. Your laundry room at the bed and breakfast was something!

    We've never stayed in a gite but the two you've shown there look lovely. we rented a house for two months in Saint-Remy and experienced French washing machines and French dishwashers. The laundry did take almost half a day. It wasn't any fun to iron the sheets either. Shopping for detergent was an interesting experience also.

    Our shower had mildew after a month and we had to find bleach, which wasn't in the supermarket. That proved quite an experience too and learned the word for bleach in French.

    I know you'll have a wonderful time. Have you read the book "Joie de Vivre?" The author, Robert, owns some restaurants in NYC and also has a home in the Lot. The book tells about which markets are the best, etc. I highly recommend it if you haven't read it. Sorry to go on so long.

  13. I am just in the preliminary planning stages of a trip to Provence for next summer so I appreciate all of your good advice. I know what you mean about having a problem with posts when you are on a diet. I feel like my creativity is stiffled. But I have lost 6 pounds so I will soldier on. Love that gite.