Loulabelle at the Café Saint Regis on the Ile Saint Louis. Always a fave!
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Packing it all in! Two months in France!
As the seasons changed from spring to summer in France, I took the opportunity to head there for a number of special projects. For those of you following on Instagram you would have seen what an exciting time I had in the couple of months I meandered around lots of French regions!
My first weekend was spent with the wonderful Jane Hiscock at her Château Jonquay in Normandy. Jane has previously been a guest on the Loulabelle’s FrancoFiles (LFF episode 93) and ever since I have so wished to visit her dreamy corner of France! I was definitely not disappointed with a stay in the historic château, a visit to a local abbey to hear the monks sing, plus the first of loads of Michelin experiences on this trip!
Another highlight was attending the Cannes Film Festival, press pass in tow, with my beautiful friend Ruby Boukabou (LFF episode 113). We went to parties, saw loads of films, hung out with the stars and even walked the red carpet with French acting royalty! I know this is not an experience that everyone can book into their vacation plans, but I recommend to everyone the beautiful train journey down to Cannes and across to Nice. The views are spectacular!
I love driving through France, so I did a few road trips through various regions with the first in the Champagne region, stopping for a winery tour with a wonderful woman winemaker at Piot-Sevillano. This was recommended to me by Cynthia Coutu (LFF episode 77) owner of Delectabulles, a business focusing on the women involved in Champagne!
The next road trip was from Dieppe, right across the northern coast of France to Brittany (LFF episode 117). I was so taken with the beautiful, rugged coastline, the gorgeous beachside villages, and the quaint little roads that meandered in between. I visited the main towns of Honfleur, Saint Malo and Dinan as well as spending a most amazing day, visiting Papa‘s favourite place, Mont Saint Michel (LFF episode 121). My stay in Saint Malo was something that will remain a precious lifetime memory, with a week made all the more special by the beautiful efforts of previous podcast guest, author Katherine Watt (LFF episode 119). She introduced me to the locals, provided a seafood feast, and generally helped me to see the extraordinary beauty of her adopted town. I also took some extra time travelling further along the unspoiled coastline of Brittany, which I have now decided I must go back and explore some more!
The road trips didn’t stop there though! I collected my beautiful friend Simone on return to Paris. We took the very fast train down to Bayonne and collected a car before visiting our gorgeous friend Sarah Zwick from Be My Guest Immersions in the Basque country. We then made our way across from there all the way to Avignon. Along the route we caught up in Cahors with my Uncle Carl and his best mate Paul who had just completed a huge accomplishment with a long walk along the Chemin de Compostelle which is the French part of the Camino Trail. Simone and I also went to Uzés, to the Pont du Gard and to some absolutely stunning provincial villages. As much as possible, we set our maps app to take us off the beaten track by choosing the option for “no toll roads”. We discovered some exquisite little villages by taking the back roads that would otherwise have remained a mystery to us. If you’re going to take a road trip I highly recommend taking the doing the same. You never know what precious finds you will make!
My trip was not yet over as I had one more project still to complete. I met up with a tour of women, and we all spent four days in Lyon together, followed by four days in country France, in the Burgundy region between Lyon and Dijon. We had a full program with cheese tastings, boat cruises, cooking classes, market tours, Michelin star experiences, château visits and so much more! It was all topped off with a brilliant visit to the exquisite Hospice de Beaune. After a few final days in Paris, this year’s sojourn to France was complete!
Lately on the Loulabelle’s FrancoFiles podcast…
Recently we’ve had some fabulous chats with other French obsessed people just like me, who have headed back to France for some wonderful trips. Gabriel Gâté chatted at episode 125 about his French summer roadtrip that criss-crossed France in the past couple of months. Trudy Walker and Cathy McKenzie are long time listeners of the LFF podcast, who shared with me their absolutely epic French journeys. Cathy created her own Tour de France cycling vacation (LFF episode 126) and Trudy planned a holiday with train, car and air travel as well as some walking tours and cycling thrown in! (LFF episode120).
Coming up next on the podcast we will hear more travel stories, chat to more château owners and later in the year have a petit focus on how to keep your Frenchy vibes going in regional Victoria over the upcoming Aussie summer.
Come and join me next time on the Loulabelle’s FrancoFiles podcast. The place to lose yourself in France!