Author Archives

Barefoot Blogger

Traveling wasn't enough for this free spirited female. I needed to live abroad. Now I am happily living in Uzes, France. My blogs are about my adventures as a post-career, solo woman maneuvering her way through everyday life in France and on travels to various parts of the world. I hope you enjoy my adventures, photography and the people and places I run into along my way.

Les Mardis Nocturnes D’Uzes

There’s a party going on every Tuesday night, right under my window. Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes. I’m not complaining. It’s vendors with jewelry, leather goods, wine and, of course, there are musicians.

Nothing compares with the Saturday or Wednesday markets  in Uzes. Yet these Tuesday events, clearly for tourists, have the added attraction of a nighttime ambiance in the Place des Duche.

Tuesday market at the Place de Duche, Uzes

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Zumba in Uzes

The event runs from 6-11pm and starts off with Zumba.The Zumba sessions are led by a local class and visitors are welcome to join in.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Soon the marketplace is busy with people.  By night it’s loud and filled with music and happy sounds.

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

 

Later, musicians take center stage at the Mairie (town hall).

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

 

There is truly something for everyone to enjoy.

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Candy and nougat

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Jewelry vendors with handmade necklaces, bracelets and more

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Crepes made on the spot

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Crepe making with either Nutella or the buttery sugar variety are favorites.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Silver jewelers add initials to bracelets and necklaces

 

 

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Balloons are for kids here in France, too.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Dogs are well-behaved

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes Handmade head dresses are modeled by beautiful young women.

Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes

 

 

No matter how I try to stay in on Tuesday nights, I just can’t miss  Les Mardes Nocturnes D’Uzes. Who could blame me?

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Scarves on sale blow in the summer night’s breeze.

 

Les Mardis Nocturnes d'Uzes

Ruins of the city walls look over Les Mardis Nocturnes d’Uzes

 

For more about Uzès visit here

2014-07-27 22.11.10

Why Nimes is a “Must See” for Roman History Lovers

This a republished post by the Barefoot Blogger from France Today

Why is Nimes a “must see” for Roman history lovers? Because it’s a city where you can literally see, touch and experience Roman life in France during the days of the Roman Empire.

France has so many amazing places to visit it’s hard to decide where to start. If you’re a Roman history buff, you must visit Nimes to learn about Roman life in France. Unlike other places with rich Roman history that are now in ruins, there are many artifacts from Augustus Caesar’s time that are in active use still today.

Roman Life in France

Nimes

Roman Life in France

In Nimes you can walk on the same streets, into the same buildings … literally sit in the same seats as the Romans who once occupied this part of Gaul.

Visiting Nimes is more that seeing “remnants” of a Roman civilization. There are intact, still-standing Roman structures. A Roman temple, a Roman arena, a Roman tower. Places that are enjoyed now by real, 21st century people.

Roman Life in France

Maison Carrée

 

Roman Life in France

Roman Amphitheater , the Arènes de Nîmes

 

Roman Life in France

The Tour Magne

 

Roman Life in France

The Roman History of Nimes

The area that is now Nimes was an established community as early as 400o BC. It was founded as a Roman colony (Colonia Nemausus) by Tiberius Claudius Nero in 45 or 44 B.C. for veterans that had served Julius Caesar under his command in Gaul and the invasion of Egypt. The name “Nemausus” was derived from the name of a Celtic god — the protector of the nearby spring that provided water for the early settlement.

Roman Life in France

Coin of Nemausus circa 40 BC

 

As part of the Roman Empire, Nemausus benefitted from great wealth — especially during the reign of Augustus (27BC-14 AD) and from an era of relative peace, Pax Romana (Roman Peace).  The city reflected its opulence with grand architecture typical of a prosperous Roman colony. Among the most famous, the Maison Carrée was originally a Corinthian temple that dominated the city’s forum.

It is said that Thomas Jefferson became so enamored with the Maison Carrée during a visit to France, as foreign minister to the United States, that he had a clay replica made. He later used the model to design the capitol building of Virginia, his home state.

Roman Life in France

Maison Carrée in Nimes

As part of the Roman Empire, Nemausus benefitted from great wealth — especially during the reign of Augustus (27BC-14 BC) — and from an era of relative peace, Pax Romana (Roman Peace).  The city reflected its opulence with grand architecture typical of a prosperous Roman colony. Among the most famous, the Maison Carrée was originally a Corinthian temple that dominated the city’s forum.

It is said that Thomas Jefferson became so enamored with the Maison Carrée during a visit to France, as foreign minister to the United States, that he had a clay replica made. He later used the model to design the capitol building of Virginia, his home state.

Roman Life in France

Virginia State Capitol Building in Richmond,VA

Roman Life in France

The Arènes de Nimes or the “Amphitheater”

In Roman times, the Arènes de Nimes could hold up to 24,000 spectators spread over 34 rows of terraces.  Divided into four separate areas, each section could be accessed  through hundreds of galleries, stairwells and passages.

Roman Life in France

Aréna in Nimes

The amphitheatre was designed for crowd control and ultimate viewing pleasure. There were no bottlenecks when spectators flooded in and all had unrestricted visibility of the entire arena. Several galleries and entrances were located beneath the arena so that animals and gladiators could access the arena during the Roman games.

The “games” included animal hunts with lions, tigers and elephants and gladiator matches. Executions were held, as well, where those in town who were convicted to death were thrown to the animals as punishment.

Roman Life in France

Inside the Aréna Nimes

 

Roman Life in France

After the times of the Roman Empire, Nimes fell into the hands of the Visigoths, then the Muslims. The Visigoths turned the arena into a fortress or “castrum arena” where the townspeople could gather in the event of an attack. When Pepin the Short, father of Charlemagne, captured the city in 752, the splendor that was Nimes was pretty much in ruins. It was not until 1786 that work began to be restore the arena to its original grandeur.

The Tour Magne (Magne Tower) remains a prominent structure in Nimes, erected during the reign of Augustus in 1 BC. It is said to have been built atop an earlier Celtic/Gallic tower from 15BC- 14BC. The tallest structure for miles around, the Tour Magne was used as part of the fortification that surrounded the city. What remains of the tower can be seen from throughout the city.

Along with the Roman buildings that are still in use today in Nimes, there are ruins of the early civilization that visitors can wander through or view.

 

Roman Life in France

The Porte d’Auguste, part of the fortifications of Nemausus, Nîmes

 

Roman Life in France

The so-called Temple of Diana, built during the Augustine era
(Photo by Carole Raddato)

 

Roman Life in France

Your Walking Tour of Nimes

The downtown area of the Roman city of Nimes is still alive. The most historic Roman monuments are within walking distance. To reach Les Jardin de la Fontaine, you might want to hop on a local bus. Visit the Temple de Diane while you are there. If you climb up to the highest levels of the terraced stairway, through more  gardens, you will reach the park-like area of Mont Cavalier. Further up the hill is the Tour Magne. It’s a hike to reach the tower, but it’s worth it if you want a view of the city from all directions. Take along plenty of water and, perhaps, a snack so that you can stop and enjoy the view along the way.

Roman Life in France

Historic area of Nimes

 

Step by step guide

  • Nimes can be reached by train, bus and car. The train station (GARE) is in the center of the historic area. Regional buses stop behind the train station as well. From the station, a pedestrian promenade leads straight from the station to the amphitheater.
  • Park at any one of the downtown parking lots. Just follow the blue P signs.  Some of the parking is outside and some in a garage. When I visit Nimes I park at the Marché (city market) that is outlined in purple on the map because it is so close to the Maison Carrée.
  • Start your tour at the Maison Carrée. A  20-minute film runs every 30 minutes during tourist season. It’s excellent and it gives you an overview of the history of Nimes. You can buy combination tickets that give you admission to the film, the amphitheater and the Tour Magne.
  • Walk to the Arèna (amphitheater). There are self-guided tours of the amphitheater with headphones and an audio presentation describing the days of gladiators. Stop along the way to the amphitheater, or afterwards, at any of the many cafes and restaurants for a more leisurely visit.
  • Walk past the Porte d’Auguste to view a part of the fortification that protected the ancient city. It’s not a short walk from the amphitheater, but it’s on the way to your next stop.
  • Les Jardin de la Fontaine is a “modern” part of Nimes that has a rich Roman background. It was built in the 18th century atop the ruins of Roman baths (thermal). You can stroll for hours in the garden enjoying the fountains, canals and seasonal plantings.

 

  • Tour Magne is your last stop. The tower is open for tourists (check the schedule) to wander through inside. A very narrow, spiral stairway leads to a viewing area where you can see the city of Nimes from all angles.

Here’s another reason why you must see Nimes

 Nimes blends the “new” with the “ancient”. A modern world among ancient Roman buildings.The Amphitheatre, for example, is the entertainment center used for rock concerts and other popular musical events. 

 Roman Life in France

Times amphitheater is home for huge music events

Roman history reenactments, with all the pomp and ceremony, are staged in the Nimes amphitheater each year.

 

Amphitheater in Nimes

Then there are the Ferias or bull fights in the amphitheater. The events are popular in the south of France still today and draw crowds for the weekend events. 

 

 

Regardless of the time of year you visit Nimes, there’s a party going on. 

Roman Life in France

Maison Carrée

 

For more information about the arena

Maison Carrée

More places to visit history in Provence

Film trailer of the history of Nimes, on view at the Maison Carrée

 

Roman Life in France

Sete has a sweet tooth

Sete, France: How Sweet It Is

Sète may be a small town on the French Mediterranean coast but it hits above its weight in the gastronomic arena.  Home of the most sought after oysters in France, Sete is known for these specialties: the famous octopus pie (tielle), red labelled gourmet fish soup (Azais Polito ), and hearty macaronade (macaroni and sausages). Sete has a sweet tooth, too.

Nancy McGee of Absolutely Southern France knows Sete like the back of her hand. She’s here to tell us about sweet treats in Sete that are sought after in specialty stores from Paris to China.

The Sètois are proud of their home-grown biscuits, the Zezette and the Navette. Outsiders may think the two biscuits are the same, but those in the know beg to differ. So how do you tell a Navette from a Zezette?

Sete has a sweet toothThe “ Navette”  

Some say that the small hollow slit on top suggests a navette – a “shuttle” in French, or perhaps, a shuttle boat. These little boats, or Les ‘Navettes Cettoises’, were launched by the artisan Biscuiterie Pouget in 1913.

To this day the original machinery, including the oven, are in daily use. To be more exact, the machinery is still operated by the apprentice, Jean-Marie Fabre, who took over the business after Mr. Pouget. If you time your visit right you’ll see how a Navette is made.

The original recipe usually includes orange flower but other flavors are now available: anis, lemon, vanilla and cinnamon.  Biscuiterie Pouget also bakes equally delicious madeleines and fresh macarons in the store – the owners are extremely welcoming and will be happy to let you sample their wares.

Sete has a sweet tooth

The Zezette

Ooh la la, sounds exotic – so what puts the zing in the Zezette? La Zezette differs from La Navette inasmuch as it has a flat top and contains the local Muscat wine. Gaston Bentata, nostalgic for his mother’s cooking and North African roots, started baking these cookies in the late 1970s. In 1994 he commercialised them and in 1995 he formed his business, La Belle Époque. You’ll find the products in major outlets not only throughout France  but in the UK, China, Belgium and Germany.

Sete has a sweet tooth

To learn more about zezettes (and practice your French!) check out this mouth-watering video.

https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/occitanie/zezettes-sete-toute-histoire-689873.html

Sete has a sweet tooth

La Cure Gourmande (The Gourmet Cure)

Not only is the nearby town of Balaruc-les-Bains famous for La Cure (the cure) in its thermal spa, but also for La Cure Gourmande (the Gourmet Cure). This artisan biscuit maker founded in 1989 is a real success story of ‘local boys made good’ on an international scale. You’ll find navettes, madeleines, sweets, biscuits and chocolates in the company’s distinctive colourful stores in 60 countries (Asia, North America, Middle East and Europe) as well as its flagship store in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle/Roissy airport.

Sete has a sweet tooth

All products in La Cure Gourmande are homemade in the south of France in a factory converted from old train station. The sweets are attractively packaged to ‘revive old-fashion and traditional presentation from the beginning of the last century’. Everything is  designed to entice: the colours, the presentation, and the packaging.

All of the boutiques have the same furniture “made in France” the same candy boxes “made in France” Produce  is seasonal (fruit cakes). Ingredients are local. For instance the sea salt from the Camargue is used to make the toffees.

The founder’s daughter is pictured on in the company’s visuals. She is now a 19-year-old student who found a job last summer …. at the production facility.

Plan for a guided tour of the production facility the next time you’re in Sete. 

Bon appetit!

Contact: nancy@absolutelysouthernfrance.com

Website : http://absolutelysouthernfrance.com/

French food, etiquette and more:

Sete or Marseille? Which Has the Best Fish Soup?

Bizarre Holiday Gift Ideas from France

Sea Urchins: Facts, Fiction and How to Eat Them! 

The Romance of Roquefort 

“Cutting the Cheese” and More French Etiquette

Who’s Got the World’s Best Oysters?

Cooking Class in Marseille

What’s Cooking in Marseille? A Day with the Provence Gourmet

For someone who had never spent much time in Marseille, now I’m loving it!  I jumped at the chance to join a cooking class in Marseille with Gilles Conchy of Provence Gourmet. Read on and you’ll see why …

Marseille is a city of wide, busy streets and tight alleys. High end fashions and ethnic robes. Elegant eateries and takeout pizzas. It’s everything you might expect from France’s second largest city, plus a whole lot more. For my return visit to Marseille, I was excited to see it again, especially Les Vieux Port, the Saturday fish market and an inside view of a true “Marseillese” apartment. An invitation from Gilles Conchy to attend a cooking class in Marseille fit the bill in every way.

Cooking Class in Marseille

Gilles arranged for me and his two guests from Toronto to meet him on Saturday morning at the Tourist Office. That meant I needed to stay overnight in Marseille for the next morning’s 9:30 am start. What a pity … lol! I made the most of it by stopping by my new favorite restaurant, Brasserie on Le Vieux Port (OM Cafe),  for a seafood medley plancha-style.

Le Vieux Port Fish Market 

When Gilles met us, we headed right away for the fish market at the port. As colorful as it was, the fish market was a bit disappointing in that there were so few fishermen around selling their catch. Gilles says there are only 20 fishermen in Marseille now who sell at the market — a result of overfishing in the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, the catch of “rockfish” for the fish soup starter on our menu was easy to find. Watch the video and imagine you’re along with us at the fish market in Marseille!

Cooking Class in Marseille

Fresh Market

After our outing at the fish market, we were off to the “fresh market” in Marseille — vegetables, cheese and more.

Cherries and asparagus were in season, so the stalls were filled with the luscious picks from local farmers.

After our stop at the fresh market, then off to the butcher for fresh ground meats.

Onto the wine store for Gilles’ favorite picks from Provence.

 

Next, onto the lovely apartment in downtown where Gilles conducts his Marseille cooking classes. It’s the home of his charming mother, a true Marseillaise who often helps as his sous chef.

Cooking Class in Marseille

A Day with the Provence Gourmet

Now … what we were waiting for. The cooking lessons — and the scrumptious meal to follow.

Our Menu

Fish Soup (the base for Bouillabaisse)

Petits Farçis

Clafoutis aux Cerises with Raspberry Creme

Assorted Cheeses

Wine

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How To Make the Perfect Aioli

A Day with the Provence Gourmet

A perfect day ended with the perfect meal.

Thanks to Gilles, his Mom and my new Canadian friends, Louise and Jerry, for a truly unique, wonderful experience. 

Cooking Class in Marseille

Cooking class in Marseille

A Day with the Provence Gourmet

Plan your day with the Provence Gourmet. Classes are offered in Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. The intimate cooking experience will give you a true taste of Provence. Authentic, classic menus are prepared in Gilles’ charming Provençal home in Marseille, or at his 12-acre countryside home near Saint- Rémy.

Contact the Provence Gourmet at www.provence-gourmet.fr

More about Marseille

The Doors and Windows of Marseille

Marseille is for Foodies

Marseille: A Stormy Past. A Brilliant Future.

 

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane

Oradour-Sur-Glane: A Journey Back in Time

Friends, I’m re-posting this because I feel it is so important for us to remember June 10, 1944.  Thank you for indulging my passion for freedom, compassion and world peace.

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane

Oradour-sur-Glane

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane, June 10, 1944.

Today I’m going to take a giant leap into a place I don’t take you very often. My “real” life and passions.

Since becoming the “Barefoot Blogger” it seems I’ve created a fantasy person. Sometimes I don’t recognise her myself. Here in Barefoot Blogger’s world,  life is beautiful. Travel, fun and friends. Yes, that’s all true. What isn’t revealed, though, is the fact that living in Europe has opened my heart and mind in more ways imaginable: empathy, love and fear. Having never lived in a country that, for centuries, was under siege of war, I now see the ravages of war around me. I hear the stories. I acknowledge the pain. While I feel quite safe and content in my little “tower” in Uzes, I’m connected to the world through the same means of communications as you are. Along with the many good things, awful things are happening around us. Unimaginable things.

That’s why I am sharing my visit to Oradour with you — a village that won’t appear in travel magazines — but it is important. I stopped there on  the way back from the Loire Valley. By writing this post about Oradour, I want to  remind myself  and you, my friends, that history seems to repeat itself … if we allow it.

Back in time

On June 6, 1944 Operation Neptune, known as the “D-Day”, took place on the French beaches of Normandy beginning the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe. While the Allies had a foothold in Europe that would lead to the end of the War, the invasion set madness into motion in other parts of France. Oradour-sur-Glane, a small town near Limoges suffered one of the worse examples of the brutality of the German Army.

Here is an account of the events:

“On 10 June, Diekmann’s battalion sealed off Oradour-sur-Glane and ordered all the inhabitants – and anyone who happened to be in or near the town – to assemble in the village square to have their identity papers examined. The SS also arrested six people who did not live in the village but merely happened to be riding their bicycles through there when the SS unit arrived.

The women and children were locked in the church and the village was looted. The men were led to six barns and sheds, where machine guns were already in place.

According to a survivor’s account, the SS men then began shooting, aiming for their legs. When victims were unable to move, the Nazis covered them with fuel and set the barns on fire. Only six men managed to escape. One of them was later seen walking down a road and was shot dead. In all, 190 Frenchmen died.

The SS men next proceeded to the church and placed an incendiary device beside it. When it was ignited, women and children tried to escape through the doors and windows, only to be met with machine-gun fire. 247 women and 205 children died in the brutal attack. The only survivor was 47-year-old Marguerite Rouffanche. She escaped through a rear sacristy window, followed by a young woman and child.[3] All three were shot, two of them fatally. Rouffanche crawled to some pea bushes and remained hidden overnight until she was found and rescued the next morning. About twenty villagers had fled Oradour-sur-Glane as soon as the SS unit had appeared. That night, the village was partially razed.

Several days later, the survivors were allowed to bury the 642 dead inhabitants of Oradour-sur-Glane who had been killed in just a few hours.”

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane

 

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane, June 10, 1944.

General Charles de Gaulle visited the ruined village of Oradour after the war. He declared the village — site of one of the largest massacres in France during World War II —  a memorial to the cruelty of the German occupation and deemed that it never should be rebuilt. A new village carrying the name was built after the war northwest of the site. Today a memorial museum stands at the entrance to the martyred village, dedicated by French president Jacques Chirac in 1999.

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Down this road, on a summer day in 1944 … The soldiers came. Nobody lives here now. They stayed only a few hours. When they had gone, a community which had lived for a thousand years … was dead.

Excerpt from the British documentary, The World at War, narrated by Laurence Olivier

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane, June 10, 1944.

Personal revelation

I literally wept when I reached the ruins of the children’s school and read the names — “Binet” — so similar to my own. Farther down the road, my spirits lifted as I saw a young family in the distance.

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane

 

Seeing them from behind, I found myself running up to stop them in the road. It was a sunny, holiday weekend. Here was a family visiting Oradour when others would be at Disneyland. I had to find out why they were there. The lovely young woman told me her family had been among those who died during the massacre. Her grandmother brought her to Oradour when she was the age of her children. She wanted them to see the same, to feel the same, to remember the past.

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane

 

Remember Oradour-sur-Glane

 

iRemember Oradour-sur-Glane

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

travel guide to Dordogne

Travel Guide to Dordogne: Hints, Finds and Faux-Pas

After a week-long visit to Dordogne I’d like to pass on some personal thoughts that could be helpful to you planning a trip. A travel guide to Dordogne, of sorts, that gives some tips on do’s and don’ts we discovered.  

Planning Hints and Faux-Pas

Narrow it down Dordogne is a big place — the third largest department in metropolitan France. If you have only a few days to visit, choose your route with the intention to visit only one, maybe two, places each day. Our first two days we made too many stops, then we slowed down our pace. You don’t want to return from your trip and it’s all a “blur.”

travel guide to Dordogne

Map of Dordogne region

“Home” base – Changing places to stay every night is exhausting for me. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. If possible, find a central location and “camp out” there for two or three nights. Our mistake on this trip was that our home base was in the middle of nowhere. Even finding a place for a meal was a problem. So stay in a village where you can buy a glass of wine, or two, when you arrive back in the evening.

A place to relax – Your “home” base is probably not going to be your “place to relax.” You’ll be busy traveling from there to hither and beyond. Choose to spend a couple of nights where you can “chill”. Make it towards the end of your holiday, perhaps, so you’ll be relaxed when you return home.  Choose something special — a little village by the river, or at a chateau.

travel guide to Dordogne

Chateau Mercues

Travel guide to Dordogne

Bad weather alternatives – As  much as you hate to think about bad weather during your holiday, it happens. We were fortunate to be close to Lascaux, so we spent our one day of rain underground, in a cave. No caves? Shopping and wine tastings are great alternatives, too!

travel guide to Dordogne

Painted caves at Lascaux

Time to dine – One thing you don’t want to miss about the Dordogne is the food. If you wish to enjoy the canard, the fois gras, the cheese, the wine …. remember you’re in France. In some towns and villages, restaurants serve dinner starting a 7:00 pm. During heavy tourist season you may be more fortunate to find businesses that have longer hours, but don’t always count on it. Plan your day accordingly. Stock up on cheese, bread, wine and fruit that you can enjoy in your room — just in case.  Take plenty of water bottles that you can fill whenever you stop.

travel guide to Dordogne

Photo opportunities – As much as I hate to admit it, getting up early in the morning is a good idea if you want great photos from the Dordogne. My friend, Julie, has some fabulous sunrise shots. For example, the best shots of Rocamadore are taken early in the morning, before the sun shines right into your camera lens. Bring several camera batteries, chargers and, if possible, more than one camera. My iPhone, iPad and camera were all put into action at one time or another.

travel guide to Dordogne

This photo of Rocamadore could have been so much better!

Travel guide to Dordogne

Driving hazards

If you plan to drive through the Dordogne — which is fabulous, by the way — be prepared for “interesting” road conditions along the way.

Maps vs. GPS – I love my Garmin GPS. However … there were a few places we wanted to go that Garmin didn’t recognise. That’s because we didn’t program it before we left on the trip. Oh dear. That’s where my map-reading friend, Julie came in. She had every map of this part of France that’s been printed, I believe. If you want to use a GPS, check the route beforehand.

Curvy roads, one-way roads and bridges – If you think you are used to back road driving, Dordogne is a test to your skills. Roads that lead to some of the most charming places are way off the beaten path. In many cases, you’ll think the road you’re on is a path.

Travel guide to Dordogne

Favorite places 

Click on each of the links below to read about my favorite places we visited and view the photos.

Rocamadore

Sarlat

Lascaux

 

Best finds

Albi’s Saint Cecil Cathedral and Toulouse-Latrec Museum

Abbey in Brantome

Saturday market in Sarlat

 

Whatever you do … eat fois gras! 

 

For more on the Dordogne

7 Days in Dordogne: Step-by-Step 

7 Days in Dordogne: Albi to Cahors

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

7 Days In Dordogne: Lascaux to Brantôme

7 Days in Dordogne: Rocamadour

7 Days in Dordogne: Market Day in Sarlat

7 Days in Dordogne: Up, Up and Away!

7 Days in Dordogne: The Finale

motivational-quotes-17

 

 

 

7 Days in Dordogne: The Finale

After six days in Dordogne with my Colorado friend, it was time for the grand finale. We threw caution to the wind and took our very first hot air balloon ride over the Loire Valley. Visiting Chenonceau no less.

The tour of the Château at Chenonceau is not exactly what you’d expect from a tour of the Dordogne region of France. It’s in the Loire Valley. We drove a long way to get there, but it was worth it in every way — and from every angle.

Visiting Chenonceau

First, a boat ride on the River Cher.

A summer event that everyone looks forward to attending is Uzès Fete Votive

River boat launch at Chenonceaux

 

Visiting Chenonceau

River view of the Chateau at Chenonceau

 

 

Visiting Chenonceau

 

Visiting Chenonceau

 

Visiting Chenonceau

 

Visiting Chenonceau

 

…and if that wasn’t enough…

Balloon over Château Chenonceau

Visiting Chenonceau

Balloon ride over the Chateau at Chenonceau and the Loire Valley

Visiting Chenonceau

 

Visiting Chenonceau

Visiting Chenonceau

 

Visiting Chenonceau

 

Visiting Chenonceau

 

Visiting Chenonceau

 

Visiting Chenonceau

Balloon over Chateau at Chenonceau and the Loire Valley

 

My first balloon ride!!!

balloon over Château Chenonceau

 

A toast to Julie and to me for a fun and memorable reunion! Here’s to friends! 

May they be with us for a reason, for a season … for a lifetime!

For more about the Dordogne

7 Days in Dordogne: Step-by-Step 

7 Days in Dordogne: Albi to Cahors

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

7 Days In Dordogne: Lascaux to Brantôme

7 Days in Dordogne: Rocamadour

7 Days in Dordogne: Market Day in Sarlat

7 Days in Dordogne: Up, Up and Away!

 

friends-foreva-colorful-graphic

7 Days in Dordogne: Up, Up and Away!

What a day! What a way to end the week traveling and touring in Dordogne. Let’s just say, it ended on a very high note.

My traveling companion and long-lost and found friend from grade school, Julie, and I put some serious miles behind us. We drove over four hours straight from Sarlat to Tours. I’m dropping Julie off at the train station in Tours tomorrow and heading back toward Uzes. Julie’s going on to Paris for a few days before returning to Colorado.

Before we ended our “reunion” tour, we were giving ourselves the last “treat” of our journey. As you may remember, we planned two special treats for the trip. One was an overnight stay and dinner in a chateau.  The last we scheduled for today. We ventured into the Loire Valley to see one of the most magical royal chateaus in France. More than that, we experienced the chateau from every angle possible.

Touring Chenonceau

The Château at Chenonceau 

Known as the “Ladies Château,” Chenonceau was built in the 16th century on the remains of a 14th century castle and mill belonging to the Marquay family. There are writings, however, that mention the castle and mill as early as the 11th century. Still intact from the Marquay era is the chateau’s well and the Marques tower which was restored in the Renaissance style.

The property is in the Loire Valley and has been inhabited throughout history by the mistress of a King, Queens, heiresses and business tycoons. It is currently owned by a member of the Menier family, famous for their chocolates.

I’ll leave the history and stories of the château for a later post. Today will be a photo tour. A most unusual one, too. I was particularly interested in the “crooks and crannies” of the place since everything else is in hundreds of books.

Touring in Dordogne

Château at Chenonceau

Touring in Dordogne

 

Touring in Dordogne

 

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

 

Touring in Dordogne: Chenonceau 


Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Touring in Dordogne

Part 2…stay tuned…

For more on the Dordogne

7 Days in Dordogne: Step-by-Step 

7 Days in Dordogne: Albi to Cahors

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

7 Days In Dordogne: Lascaux to Brantôme

7 Days in Dordogne: Rocamadour

7 Days in Dordogne: Market Day in Sarlat

7 Days in Dordogne: The Finale

 

 

inspirational-travel-quotes-13

 

7 Days in Dordogne: Market Day in Sarlat

Sarlat. You’re the winner. Of all the places I’ve been on my Dordogne tour these past five days,  I like you the best. Take a look at market day in Sarlat!

Ok. I’m a sucker for market days.

Market Day in Sarlat

Market day in Sarlat

Market day in Sarlat

Market day in Sarlat
Market day in Sarlat

Market day in Sarlat

 

Maybe what I fell in love with in Sarlat was the cool hand-made bag I bought from this guy…

Market day in Sarlat

 

Or the foie gras…
Market day in Sarlat

Market day in Sarlat

Market day in Sarlat

 

Or the walnuts (“noix” not “noisette”)



Market day in Sarlat

Perhaps it was the buildings and the alleyways
Market day in Sarlat
Market day in Sarlat
Market day in Sarlat
Market day in Sarlat

Market day in Sarlat

 

…and the amazing church where I could feel the Spirit…

Sarlat
Sarlat
Sarlat
Sarlat

I wish you could have been there to taste the galette and the cider.



Market day in Sarlat

The macaroons…

Market day in Sarlat

I’m sure you’d feel the same. 

Sarlat

It was so much fun we almost ended up with feathers braided in our hair!

Market day in Sarlat

Tomorrow’s adventure? A surprise!

Stay tuned…

For more about the Dordogne

7 Days in Dordogne: Step-by-Step 

7 Days in Dordogne: Albi to Cahors

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

7 Days In Dordogne: Lascaux to Brantôme

7 Days in Dordogne: Rocamadour

Visit Rocamadour

7 Days in Dordogne: Rocamadour

Day five in the seven-day Dordogne marathon trip with my long-time friend, Julie, was one thing we looked forward to the most– Visit Rocamadour.

The village carved into a hill, Rocamadour, takes at least a half-day to explore. It is recommended you arrive early to catch the best view because it is east-facing. Oh well…today we took our time leaving the hotel and probably enjoyed the visit more because we were rested. There are lots of hills and steps to climb.

Visit Rocamadour

Walking tour map of Rocamadour

 

Visit Rocamadour

Walking tour map Rocamadour

Visit Rocamadour

Rocamadour

 

Visit Rocamadour

I’d heard of Rocamadore many times, and seen pictures, I knew little about its history. Did you know the name of the village is really “Roc-Amadore” and it was named for Saint Amadore? Did you know that Saint Amadore was thought by many to be Zacchaeus of the Bible. Did you know a bone of Saint Amadore’s is enshrined at the chapel in Rocamadour?

Visit Rocamadour

Relic Bone of Zacchaeus

 

That’s only the beginning of the tales and legends of the place so many have visited. The eleventh century. Rocamadour is, in fact, a pilgrim’s center.

Visit Rocamadour

 

Aside from being along the trail of Compostella, Rocamadore’s holy relics bring worshippers there to “admire” to “contemplate” and to “pray.”

Visit Rocamadour
Visit Rocamadour

 

Admiring” Rocamodore is easy. 

Visit Rocamadour
Visit Rocamadour
Visit Rocamadour
Visit Rocamadour
Visit Rocamadour
Visit Rocamadour


“Contemplating” wasn’t easy with the crowds of people everywhere, even though vacation season is over. 

 

Visit Rocamadour

Praying” is inevitable when you realize the importance of the shrines throughout the village.

 

Visit Rocamadour

Remains of Saint Amadour inside

Visit Rocamadour
Visit Rocamadour

 

Almost every town you visit in France has a memorial to their war dead. Rocamadore is no exception. Mostly remembered are the veterans of the “Great War” — World War I

Visit Rocamadour

Statue honoring war dead in Rocamadour

Visit Rocamadour
Visit Rocamadour
Visit Rocamadour

 

Of course, a day in France always means great food. That’s a given. And what’s a meal without a pichet of rose? 

Visit Rocamadour

Beautiful lamp chops!

Truly, I adore Roc-AMADORE.

Visit Rocamadour
Tomorrow.. Market day in Sarlat.

Stay tuned…

For more on the Dordogne

7 Days in Dordogne: Step-by-Step 

7 Days in Dordogne: Albi to Cahors

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

7 Days In Dordogne: Lascaux to Brantôme

7 Days in Dordogne: Market Day in Sarlat

7 Days in Dordogne: Up, Up and Away!

7 Days in Dordogne: The Finale

 

inspirational-travel-quote-10

 

Wish for France

7 Days In Dordogne: Lascaux to Brantôme

Caves, canals and missteps describe day four of the Dordogne seven day adventure. 

Overcast and rainy weather changed our planned route for day four of our Dordogne seven day adventure Good thing we are driving. Instead of Rocamadour we headed for the painted cave at Lascaux.

The route to Lascaux from our hotel wasn’t very long so we gave ourselves a little time before setting out. Interestingly, the curvy roads and scenery along part of the way reminded us North Carolina girls of our own Blue Ridge Mountains. Same trees, same rocks and hills. Or so it seemed.

Before reaching Lascaux, we read we were to buy tickets at the tourist office in the nearby town of Montignac. Not so. After stopping there…and a brief visit to an art exhibit in the local church where I came close to buying these handmade items…

Dordogne seven day adventure

Art and craft exhibit in Montignac

Dordogne seven day adventure

Dordogne seven day adventure

 

…we went to the Lascaux park site for tickets. Or let’s say, we set off to find our way there.

Hint: If you are navigating with a Garmin or other device, shut it off here. Follow the printed road signs to Lascaux. If not, you’ll spend your precious time going in circles.

Dordogne Seven Day Adventure: Lascaux II

Lascaux I is the original, authentic, painted cave found by four boys and their dog in 1940. The cave was closed in 1963 to prevent the drawings being destroyed by human contact — mostly CO2. Lascaux II was opened to the public in 1983 as an exact replica of the original. Lascaux IV, a new, modern park and more exhibits, is under construction. It is supposed to open this year. Hmmm…

Photos were not allowed within the cave, but these photos may give you an idea of the park area and surroundings.

Dordogne seven day adventure

Lascaux

Dordogne seven day adventure
After lunch at a brasserie in Montignac, we dead-headed for Brantôme, mostly driving on a super-highway.

Yes, foie gras again. A Dordogne hamburger, that is, with thin slices of duck breast, too.

 

Dordogne seven day adventure
Dordogne Seven Day Adventure: Brantome

Oh la la! Step aside, Sarlat, I may like Brantôme best yet! What a beautiful town!

 

Dordogne seven day adventure

Brantôme

By the time we’d left Montignac, the sun was shining. The perfect setting for Brantôme. The town is straight out of a fairytale, complete with knights in shiny armour.

 

Dordogne seven day adventure

 

Brantôme is on an island surrounded by the River Dronne. The centerpiece of the town is the abbey, founded by cave-dwelling monks in the eight century.

 

Dordogne seven day adventure
The abbey, the caves and the bell-tower, said to be the oldest is France, are must-sees. The carvings in the cave and the tale of the Abbey though the centuries is remarkable. It’s one of my favorite sites along this journey.

 

Dordogne seven day adventure
Dordogne seven day adventure

Dordogne seven day adventure

Dordogne seven day adventure

Dordogne seven day adventure

Hint: If you plan to have dinner in Brantôme you’ll have to wait until 7 pm. 

Back to Sarlat

When we discovered we wouldn’t find a place to eat dinner in Brantôme, and it was after 6pm and a two hour drive back to our hotel, we decided to go straight to the neighborhood restaurant near our hotel.

Arriving back in Marquay, the hotel manager, Joel, gave directions to the cafe …only a few steps away in the village.nAlas, when we arrived, the restaurant was closed. We dragged our hungry selves back to the hotel where Joel had another suggestion.

“Just five minutes down the road,” he  said, drawing a map with curved lines and “x’s.”

 

Back in the car we went …in the dark. By the time we had traveled for ten minutes or so, we knew we had missed the turn to the restaurant. Oh well, Sarlat was five minutes away.

 “Stop at the first place that’s open,” we said, almost simultaneously.

The first place was a bar that served pizzas. It appeared to be men-only.

“Never mind” the waiter was gorgeous.

Dordogne seven day adventure

When I told him he looked like a movie star, but I couldn’t remember his name, the handsome man looked puzzled. When I told him the star was married to Penelope Cruz,  he said: “Javier Bardem.”

We all burst into laughter.

Dordogne seven day adventure
The black cloud that had gathered over our evening was lifted.  And the pizza was delicious.

Tomorrow, Rocamodore.

Stay tuned…

For more on the Dordogne

7 Days in Dordogne: Step-by-Step 

7 Days in Dordogne: Albi to Cahors

7 Days In Dordogne: Lascaux to Brantôme

7 Days in Dordogne: Rocamadour

7 Days in Dordogne: Market Day in Sarlat

7 Days in Dordogne: Up, Up and Away!

7 Days in Dordogne: The Finale

 


 

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

On the third day of the seven day Dordogne tour with my friend since kindergarten, we finally got it right.  

We narrowed down the “to do” list for our seven day Dordogne tour to a manageable number of places to see in one day. We came up with the concepts of “walkabouts” and “drive by photo shootings.” In other words, there are places where we want to park the car and walk around, and there are others we just want to drive through and take pictures on the run.

We’ve gotten quite good at spotting a perfect photo opportunity, slowing the car down to a near-stop, then Julie taking a picture out the window.

Today’s adventure started after we took more photos and checked out of our “dream” Chateau Mercués outside Cahors.

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Chateau Mercués

 

Seven Day Dordogne Tour: Home of Josephine Baker

First stop: Les Milandes, Chateau built by Caumont family in the 1400’s and former home of Josephine Baker. 

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Chateau Les Milandes

The self-guided tour through the chateau and the immaculate grounds was well worth the time and 3.5 euros fee. Costumes and possessions of the American songstress and philanthropist, who dazzled Paris during the 30’s at the Follies Bergere were displayed throughout the chateau. Most rooms had the furnishings and decorations that were owned and used by Baker and her large family, the “Rainbow Tribe,” while living there. (No inside photos allowed.)

 

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Seven Day Dordogne Tour:  Roque Gageac

As if carved into the side of cliffs, Le Rogue Gageac is a small and friendly tourist town alongside the Dordogne. There were lots of tourists, but not so many as we imagined had filled the town a few weeks earlier.

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Le Rogue Gageac

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Le Rogue Gageac

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Le Rogue Gageac

It was here we began to see our first signs of foie gras– the duck delicacy found famously in this part of the world.

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Seven Day Dordogne Tour
Could there be anything better than a salad with duck gizzards, slices of smoked duck and foi gras, and a cold glass of beer on a day with temperatures in the high 90’s? (35 degrees Celsius)

Seven Day Dordogne Tour: Domme

The picturesque town above the Dordogne valley was a bit of a surprise to me. I thought it was going to be much larger than it is. While quite a nice place with cute shops and cafes, Domme was a quick stop for us. Parking the car for an hour and walking around taking photos was quite enough for us to say we’d “done” Domme

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Domme

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Domme

 

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Domme

 

I will say,  if we had not already stopped for lunch, this spot that looks over the valley would have given us a great view.

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Domme

 

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Domme

 

Seven Day Dordogne Tour: Sarlat

If I didn’t love Uzes so much, Sarlat could possibly be my next home. Oh my! To die for! 

 

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Sarlat

After a “drive by photo shooting” in Beynac-et-Cazenet where the pictures of the town and chateau are still in Julie’s camera, we landed in Sarlat.

Today’s visit to Sarlat was short — mostly to find where to park and where to go on Saturday for market day. I can tell I want to spend more time exploring the place, its shops, cafes and intriguing back street.

 

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Sarlat

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Sarlat

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Sarlat

 

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Sarlat

 

Seven Day Dordogne Tour: Marquay

I’m not certain how we decided on this spot to stay for the next three nights, but the tiny village of Marquay is giving us a welcomed respite from our hurried pace.

 

Seven Day Dordogne Tour

Marquay

Actually, the small, family-owned hotel outside Sarlat is a good jumping off place for each of the next days on our trip. A “home base,” so to speak. It’s a far cry from the luxurious chateau last night, but it’s cozy and friendly, and everything we need to recharge and move on.

 

 

Next stop: Lascaux 

 

Stay tuned…

 

7 Days in Dordogne: Albi to Cahors

Day two on the week-long car tour from Uzes to Tours, through the Dordogne with my long-time friend, Julie, was hurried and hot–35 degrees centigrade. Happily we ended up in total luxury–a chateau!

There are two luxuries Julie and I splurged on during our 7-day Dordogne auto tour. One was to spend a night in a hilltop chateau and enjoy a fancy dinner. The other I’ll divulge later.

Check this out!

Dordogne auto tour

Château de Mercuès near Cahors

Château de Mercuès near Cahors is a dream come true! The thirteenth century chateau with its vineyards that produce superb Georges Vigouroux wines is a haven for travelers in search of history, truffles, saffron and Malbec.

 

Dordogne auto tour

Wine storage at Château de Mercuès

Dordogne auto tour
Dordogne auto tour

Starting the Dordogne Auto Tour

After a stop and start, scenic ride from Albi, through Galliac, Montauban, Lauzerte and Cahors, we landed at the Chateau in the late afternoon. Had we known better, we would have gone straight  to Cahors, spent time there, then we would have enjoyed a more leisurely visit at the chateau. Oh well…now I’ll just have to go back sometime!

 

Dordogne auto tour
We had plenty of time for dinner at the chateau, thank goodness. Plus a private tour of the winery with the hotel manager.

Here’s just a sample to whet your appetite. More details later.

 

Dordogne auto tour

Wine tasting with the General Manager at Château de Mercuès

 

Dordogne auto tour

Dinner menu at Château de Mercuès

 

Dordogne auto tour

Dordogne auto tour

Dordogne auto tour
Dordogne auto tour
Dordogne auto tour

 

Tomorrow, Sarlat! Stay tuned…

For more on the Dordogne

7 Days in Dordogne: Step-by-Step 

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

7 Days In Dordogne: Lascaux to Brantôme

7 Days in Dordogne: Rocamadour

7 Days in Dordogne: Market Day in Sarlat

7 Days in Dordogne: Up, Up and Away!

7 Days in Dordogne: The Finale

 


Dordogne travel guide

7 Days in Dordogne: Step-by-Step 

A couple of years ago a friend from my growing up days in Charlotte, North Carolina and I reconnected on FaceBook. She now lives in Denver, Colorado. We were in school together from kindergarten through high school. Julie came to visit me in France after a cruise on the Seine. Together we took off to wander through Dordogne.

I challenged myself to record the highlights of our stops and share them with you along the way.  Here goes…

Day one: Uzes to Albi

A full day at Pont du Gard and Nimes meant we got a late start from Uzes today. Oh well…it’s a pleasure trip, so being rested to start was important.  Nevertheless, we were on the road and at our first stop — lunch — by 1:30. We had no idea where we’d take our first break, but decided we’d get beyond the major roads to Albi. Our goal was to reach Albi before the close of the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum at 6pm. Pulling off the road at du Bois du Four, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, there was a hotel, bar and restaurant. After a plat du jour of roasted chicken, potato au gratin and a corgette tartine, we rushed out to get back on the road.

Albi and Toulouse-Lautrec

The new Garmin for the car proved its worth in getting us “almost” directly to Albi. A few turnarounds is par for the course on any trip I make, it seems. Still we made it to check into the hotel and run across the Tarn River bridge to the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum.

It was so worth the rush!

The museum contains, perhaps, the largest number of pieces of original artwork, by one famous artist, that I have ever seen in one place. The exposition reveals the story of Toulouse-Lautec’s life as well as the evolution of his style. The presence of his work in the magnificent La Berbie Palace, in the center of town, is an homage to the respect Albi holds for one of its favorite sons.

Sainte Cécil Cathedral

As impressive as the rich collection of Toulouse-Lautrec’s work at the la Berbie Palace in Albi is the Sainte Cécil Cathedral. The gigantic religious structure is a testament to respect the area has for art, religion and architecture through the ages.

The project to build the cathedral was started in the thirteenth century. It’s history, that follows the tribulations and the triumphants of French religion and culture from that time, is a story unto itself that I promise to explore. Meanwhile, the beauty and reverence of the place is breathtaking.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Because no day in France is complete without rosé and cheese, we finished our near-200 mile journey with hot chèvre and a creamy, cold gazpacho at a bistro near the banks of le Tarn.

dordogne travel guide

Stay tuned….

For more on the Dordogne

7 Days in Dordogne: Albi to Cahors

7 Days in Dordogne: Cahors to Sarlat

7 Days In Dordogne: Lascaux to Brantôme

7 Days in Dordogne: Rocamadour

7 Days in Dordogne: Market Day in Sarlat

7 Days in Dordogne: Up, Up and Away!

7 Days in Dordogne: The Finale

 

Albi to Cahors

travel-quotes-book

Visit Uzés France

Visit Uzés, France: Inside the Château de Duché

Any who visit Uzés, France are in awe of the Château de Duché. It’s the centerpiece of the town and home to the Duke of Uzés — the oldest ducal peerage in France.

If France was still a kingdom, the Duke of Uzés would rank just below “princes of the blood.” It is he who would announce Le Roi est mort. Vive le Roi! at each state funeral, and defend the honour of the queen mother.”

The Château de Duché was built in the 12th century by Lord Bermonde of the House of Crussol. Along with the château, three distinctive towers were erected within the wall of the medieval town. The most prominent tower of all carries his name — Bermonde Tower. All of the structures are standing today. The wall has disappeared and the wall’s watchtower is in ruins.

Visit Uzes, France

visit uzes franceThe gothic chapel, a striking feature of the château’s courtyard with its glittering red tiled roof, was added in the 15th century. During the 16th century, the cháteau underwent extensive renovations. Duke Antoine — the first peer of France, ordained by Charles IX — ordered refurbishments that morphed the medieval castle into an elegant Renaissance cháteau. The courtyard became the main attraction.

The château served as a defense unit during the War of Religion and the Revolution.  It was never attacked or destroyed. As the town went through various phases of wealth and decline, the château was used as a school dormitory, workshops and classrooms. During WWII the buildings were occupied by the Germans.Jacques de Crussol, the current resident of the Château de Duché and 17th Duke of Uzès has this to say about the state of Uzes during the era of his grandfather (1943-1999).

“Uzès was then steadily declining. The population of eight thousand at the time of Louis XIV had dropped to three and a half thousand. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes had already prompted some of the inhabitants to leave. Since the Revolution, the town had lost the bishopric and its tenure, the silk industry was practically non-existent, the Piémont régiment had gone, and so had the sub-prefecture. The arcades surrounding the Place aux Herbes rested on makeshift supports and many houses were in a state of neglect.”

It was the Duke’s grandmother, Anne de Rochechouart de Mortemart, who lobbied the Minister of Culture under Charles de Gaulle to list Uzés as a protected site, enabling the chatéau and the town to find funding for the much needed restorations. Due to the efforts of the Duchess of Uzes, a law is now in place in France that similarly benefits other cultural and historic sites throughout the country. The gutsy grandmother was the first woman in France to be granted a driver’s license. She was instrumental in campaigning for women’s rights, including the right to vote.

Tour of the Château de Duché

I’ve spent day after day staring at the Duché from my apartment windows and I’ve taken hundreds of photos every angle. Finally I found the perfect opportunity to visit inside — along with hundreds of other sightseers — during the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine or European Heritage Days. 

Come along and let’s take a tour.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Visit Uzes, France

 

 

Why Do I Love France?

Why do I love France? That’s a question I’m asked by those who wonder why, after four years, I’m still here.

A French Collection asked five bloggers who write about France, including moi, “Why do you love France?” After reading each response, perhaps you’ll understand how we feel and why we’re so anxious to share this wonderful place with the world.

Why do you love France? 

Maybe it’s the romantic appeal of beautiful towns and villages, the proud French people and their traditions, mouth-watering food, historical buildings and gardens,  priceless art or diverse landscapes?  Or maybe its simply the appeal of sunshine, long lunches and a carefree life.

Everyone’s love affair with France starts differently and to showcase that I asked my five favourite French bloggers/writers to share with us what they love most about France and how they share their passion with others.  You’ll see they share their love of France through publishing magazines, writing books, leading tour groups, running gîtes and online shops.  Each story is different and engaging.

You will be fascinated at how their love affair of France has changed their work and personal lives.  So let’s meet them and read what each has to say

Love france

…(read more)

 

 

 

 

My Life and Travels in France: The Beginning

Life and Travels in France

 

As long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of “faraway places” — like the ones Mother told me about when I was  a child. Escaping into the fairytale world I visited in my mind was my way of dealing with real life.

“Going to China, or maybe Siam, I have the whole world to see,” she would sing in her less than perfect soprano voice.

We didn’t travel much when I was growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina. My mother was a nurse anaesthetist and worked long hours, often on weekends. My father was a merchant and took only a one-week vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as I can remember. So as soon as I was old enough to travel alone, I took off. First stop, New York City to visit my favorite aunt, Rose.

Life and Travels in France

Aunt Rose

Aunt Rose was one of those “bigger-than-life” idols to me. A 1937 graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Pharmacy, and the only female in her class, she was fondly known as the “May West of Chapel Hill.”  We bonded during my first trip to New York. I could see that, even at 50 years old, Aunt Rose was a dead ringer for May West, the Hollywood queen — from the perfectly coiffed blond hair, to the long false eyelashes and blue eye shadow, to the buxom figure.

Aunt Rose owned New York — or so this sixteen year old ingénue from the Carolinas assumed. With only one day dedicated to sightseeing in the city, Rose drove her car from Jamaica Estates, parked it, and handed me our tickets for the Gray Line City Tour. That was my first lessonTake a guided tour of the new place you’re visiting. Do it on the first day. A tour gives you the highlights of the area and helps you figure out where you want to return to explore. A guided tour also makes it easier to understand a city map and to get your head compass oriented.

I learned my second travel lesson that day : wear comfortable shoes. After leaving the guided tour, we walked for miles through Chinatown and Little Italy. Fortunately we stopped along the way, popping into noodle shops and cafes with Italian pastries.

Before the day was over,  my senses were on over-drive.  I was hooked. Right then, I made a pact with myself that I would visit the “real” Italy and China .. and more. My unquenchable quest to see the world had begun.

The Barefoot Blogger is a solo female, retired from a career in corporate marketing and divorced after 40 years of marriage. Four years ago, on a whim and following a dream, she moved from South Carolina to Uzes, France.

Travels for work and play have taken me through Europe, into parts of southeast Asia, West Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, Istanbul and Nepal.

“Life is an adventure” and I want to explore as much as my body and my budget will bear.

Life and Travels in France

Come along as I learn about the world and myself. Especially as I stumble through France where I don’t speak the language. I promise you fun along the way … and we’ll all learn a lot, too.

If you’d like, share this blog with your friends and we’ll all travel to faraway places together!

Follow and chat with me and my friends on these social media sites: 

FaceBook

Twitter

Pinterest

LinkedIn

Life and Travels in France

“The meaning of life is to give life a meaning”

“The Golden Girls” Loving Italy: Day 16-20 Nova Siri

Ever heard of Nova Siri?  Neither had I until the Golden Girls’ adventure took me to the coastal resort town in the “instep” of  Italy’s boot.

Visit Nova Siri

After 15 days of jumping from place to place in France and Italy, the Golden Girls were ready for a little rest and relaxation. As par for this journey, we picked a spot on the map because it was there and headed to Nova Siri, Italy to spend time unwinding on a beach. 

One of the Golden Girls is a double crystal, diamond-crusted, ruby slipper, 24-karat gold medallion member of a worldwide timeshare group. She suggested we try out the four-star timeshare beach resort in Nova Siri. It wasn’t her first choice, but every other place we looked was booked solid.

She had never traveled to Europe and she was so excited about finding a timeshare that I didn’t have the nerve to tell her “four-star” in Europe is not quite up to the same standards as in the US.

It didn’t really matter to me if we had luxury accommodations. My incentive was to see the “instep” of Italy’s “boot” and the Ionian Sea.

Visit Nova Siri, Italy

Getting there

Traveling to Nova Siri from Rome meant a two-hour flight to Bari, then a two-hour drive on a pretty good highway to Nova Siri.

Bari is a relatively large town on the Adriatic Sea. The population is close to 400,000. Bari gained some small degree of fame from the movie “Bridges of Madison County”. Meryl Streep’s character claimed she “came from Bari.”

We probably should have spent a little time looking around the town, but our “driver” was waiting to take us to Nova Siri.

The view along the way

Fortunately I have long legs and was given the privilege of riding in the front seat of the Audi taxi with the driver. He spoke a little English and was happy to answer my questions about his part of the world.

The geography of the Basicilata region is a mix of mountain ranges, hills and plains. While we never went directly through mountains on the way to the southern coast of the Matera province, they were ever-present on the horizon.

Visit Nova Siri

Basilicata Region, Italy Volcanic Mount Vulture in the background

The towns along the way to Nova Siri were few and far between.

Visit Nova Siri

Basilicata Region, Italy Volcanic Mount Vulture in the background

Occasionally, when there was a village in the far distance, it looked as if it was a ghost town … deserted.

Visit Nova Siri

Basilicata region of Italy

As we drove along, you could see the landscape change.Visit Nova Siri

In one area olive trees were lining both sides of the highway. While ahead, vineyards stretched as far as you could see.

Visit Nova Siri

In just a matter of minutes, and for miles and miles beyond, fields of yellow wheat were in sight; some within touching distance of the cars on the highway.

Visit Nova Siri

Akiris: A “Disneyland” on the Ionic Sea

Arriving at our destination — the Akiris Resort — Golden Girl #1 was disappointed that is was not the “four-star” quality she expected. On the other hand, all the amenities were there and the beach with the mountains in the background was magnificent.

Visit Nova Siri

Akiris Resort, Nova Siri, Italy

There was something going on all the time at Akiris. And this wasn’t the busy tourist season. 

Our accommodations were the equivalent of a 3-bedroom apartment. The rooms were large and the beds comfortable. My room had bunk beds. I slept on the top bunk … reminiscent of my college days.

There was no decoration in any of the rooms. All household items had to be purchased at the resort “market”. Nothing was provided — except towels that were like large kitchen towels.

What’s with that? Plush bath towels must be an American “thing”? Interestingly the towels we rented for the beach were plush. We ended up using them, instead, for our showers in the apartment.

We did enjoy the beach. Which is exactly why we went to Nova Siri. To relax on the beach.

 We ate great food.

Visit Nova Siri

… and learned the freshest seafood is brought to the table before cooking while it’s still wiggling. Visit Nova Siri

We enjoyed new friends. 

Like magnets, we quickly found the few Americans who were visiting the resort and we became close friends immediately. We did everything together …

… we checked out the nearby town of Nova Siri Marina…

… and lounged by one of the two swimming pools.

One friend we literally adopted. We met her the first day she arrived. She was at the resort’s dining room, sitting alone, so we invited her to join us for dinner.

Quickly we learned she is German and speaks very little English. She was on a holiday by herself, which she often does.  She had been crying all that day because the airlines had lost her baggage. She would have to retrieve them herself the next day … two-hour trip up to Bari and back.

Visit Nova Siri

After dinner we took her to our place and filled her arms with clothing and personal essentials, including a “South Carolina Girl” T-shirt. She became our new “best friend”.

Visit Nova Siri

Side Trips

Some among our group took a side trip to Matera. This “little piggy” stayed home. The day’s journey would have been interesting, but I was totally into being a lump on a beach chair.

Mel Gibson’s “Passion of Christ” was staged in Matera. He supposedly chose the town because it resembles Jerusalem. Without the tourists.

Visit Nova Siri

Matera Italy

The Golden Girls Adventure Ends Here … That’s all, Folks

At 4:00 am on the last day of our adventure, The Golden Girls were perched outside the Akiris Resort awaiting the shuttle bus to the airport in Bari. From Bari I was heading to Rome, then to Girona, Spain. The other Golden Girls were going to Paris for five days before returning to the States.

Hopefully you enjoyed our adventures as you followed us in the blog. We laughed a lot, we stretched our comfort zones, and we found you’re never too old to learn something new. Most importantly, after 25 years spent apart, we proved that The Golden Girls are truly “forever friends”.  “Veni, vidi, vici

Here’s my challenge to you:

Visit Nova Siri

For more of the Golden Girls’ Tour

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

Day 5-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Cinque Terre

“The Golden Girls Loving Italy” Day 14-15: Rome

A visit to Rome is too overwhelming to be consumed in only a few days. It would take weeks to appreciate the breadth and depth of the city.

Like Florence, The Golden Girls were in Rome for a holiday, not a history tour. Besides, this was my fourth visit to Rome. Instead of rushing around, we concentrated on Vatican City. A visit to the Sistine Chapel was one of the Golden Girl’s objectives for traveling to Italy.

For two days, we stayed, ate and wandered around the Vatican City area. Except for going onto the papal grounds, we were mostly away from tourists. Which translates to: ‘No one spoke English.” .

We were lost most of the time, wandering around aimlessly look for a bus, a cab… the way back to the AIRBNB apartment.

Thanks to Map quest, we were OK … when and if we could get online.

Visit Rome

One thing we learned over the two days is that Romans are very considerate and helpful … except for the cabby who drove us to the Airbnb our first night in town. A ride that should have cost no more than 25 euros cost almost 70 euros.
Visit Rome

 

Ok. Give us a break. We’d just arrived by train after a full day in Cinque Terra. And it was after midnight. We were exhausted.

 

 

 

Visit Rome

 Hint #1: Don’t take a “gypsy cab”. Make certain there’s a meter in the car.

The friendly Romans were happy to help three struggling American females.

Visit RomeWe met them at the bus stop when we needed directions on using the transportation systems.

They were there for us on buses to wave us off at the right stop.

 

 

 

Cafe owners stopped in the middle of their busy morning to give us advice on getting around.

Hint #2: If you need help, ask. You will meet some charming folks.

Visit Rome

Visit Rome

People Watching at Vatican City

One Golden Girl wanted to see the Sistine Chapel. The huge crowds that were gathered in lines to visit the Chapel were enough to convince me that two visits to the Chapel were enough for a lifetime. When I learned the ceiling art had been restored and the restoration was finished, I was happy to wait in line. Seeing Michelangelo’s masterpiece in its full glory was a whole new experience.

Visit Rome

Dividing light from Darkness – Sistine Chapel

Get Happy, Rome

What I particularly enjoyed that day at the Vatican City was watch people. While looking through my photos of Rome, I realized I had captured with the camera a contrast of “happy” and “not”. The video was lots of fun to make, although apologies to those I might have caught having bad moment.

Next stop: Nova Sira, Italy

Visit Rome

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more of the Golden Girls’ Tour

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

Day 5-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

Visit Cinque Terre

“The Golden Girls” Loving Italy: Day 13 Cinque Terre

Who knew “Cinque Terre” meant “five villages”? Before  heading on The Golden Girls’ adventure, I’d never heard of it.

The Golden Girls’ Cinque Terre visit started on a chartered bus from Florence. Our AIRBNB host set up the tour that was by bus, train and boat.

Since visiting Cinque Terre, I’ve learned that many friends have been there. Some have even gone between each of the villages on foot.

My hat’s off to you. We found it hard enough to be carried by bus and train.

Visit Cinque Terre

Tour bus to Cinque Terre

Visit Cinque Terre

The day we visited Cinque Terre, unfortunately, there was bad weather. A landslide in one of the villages and no ships sailing to another meant we had a full day exploring three of the villages — Riomaggiore, Corniglia and Monterossa.

Visit Cinque Terre

Map of Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore

After leaving the chartered bus in La Spezia, The Golden Girls boarded a train for Riomaggiore. Getting there on a foggy, cool day was a bit disappointing. We were hoping for sunny skies. However, the beauty of the quaint hillside village more than made up for the clouds and sprinkles of rain.

Visit Cinque Terre

Corniglia

By the time we reached Corniglia by train the clouds had lifted and the sun came out to give us an excuse to head for the beach. This was the ideal village for lounging at a seaside cafe and watching people, my favorite pastime.

Visit Cinque TerreAhh… the beer was tasty too!

Visit Cinque Terre

 Village and sea views in all directions were breath-taking.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Visit Cinque Terre

Monterossa

Nothing prepared me for Monterossa. From the multi-colored houses to the dramatic coastal cliffs, this village is one to underline in the memory book. Interestingly, now that I have only photos to remind me, it’s hard to believe these came out of my camera. It is truly real.

Pinch me.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dare I forget about shopping?

Not as dazzling as the scenery in Monterossa, the local shops still put on quite a show.

How can you resist stopping to check out the retail here? Join me to look around.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hopefully when you visit Cinque Terre you will see all five villages. For me and The Golden Girls, perhaps another day.

Visit Cinque Terre

Visit Cinque TerreNext stop: Rome

 

 

 

 

For more of the Golden Girls’ Tour

Day 1-4 Uzès

Day 5-6 Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon

Day 5-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

%d bloggers like this: