Plan a dream trip to France by initially researching sites you want to see. If your France vacation was postponed due to the pandemic of 2020, make good use of the summer by reading books for the Francophile. Think of the time you wait for your trip as an opportunity to increase your vacation budget.
Best Time to Visit France
Spring and fall are two of the best times to visit France. However, because of COVID-19, travel to France continues to be unadvisable in 2020. Stay updated by checking out COVID-19 information for travel to France at fr.usembassy.gov.
In the meantime, enjoy reading more about France. Learn from the experiences of others who have lived in or visited cities of France. Peruse the epye.com website for Elizabeth Pye’s reading recommendations and suggestions on sites to see.
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Trip to France Interview
Following my trip to France in the summer of 2019, Angie Horn, Blog Writer for Authors requested an interview (read below) with me about my visit to France. Whether or not you are a writer, the information included in the interview could be beneficial to anyone planning a trip to France.
Angie: Which places, other than the Eiffel Tower, should a first-time visitor to Paris see?
Elizabeth: I recall that the first time I visited Paris I was filled with anticipation of how well the City of Lights would reveal herself to me. After an eleven-hour flight from California, you can imagine my delight when my first evening in Paris included a spectacular vision of the Eiffel Tower dressed in winking golden lights.
Also Included in the view of the night sky from our fifth-floor hotel room was the domed Panthéon, a mausoleum ‘for the great men of the age of French liberty’ that reminded me of the capitol in Washington, D. C.
Tips for Visiting France
A first-time visitor as well as others are advised to plan their itinerary to include the places that interest them the most. That being said, I do have some useful tips to help with the planning. I highly recommend obtaining and reviewing a map and a good travel guide book of Paris before you leave home to determine which sites you want to be sure to see.
The nice thing about Paris is that the heart of the old city is built along the left and right banks of the Seine River. Walking tours are a reasonable option, but if preferred, the Metro system is excellent and bus service is good.
I suggest a bateau mouche cruise (Bateau means boat. Bateau mouche is a Seine river boat. Mouche translates to fly.) along the river which gives a delightful overview of many of the popular sites.
If time permits, include a visit to Montmartre, perched on a hilltop, the high point in Paris, a favorite of artists in the nineteenth century. It is the home of the white limestone, Basilique du Sacre-Couer, as well as the Moulin Rouge. A visit to Versailles is a must if you have a free day.
Shakespeare and Company
Angie: What was it like to visit Shakespeare and Company? Is this a typical bookstore? Where is it located?
Elizabeth at The Shakespeare and Company:
Elizabeth: Although in a different location, the present Shakespeare and Company Bookstore maintains the tradition of the original, opened in 1919 by American Sylvia Beach, that and was a haven for expatriate writers in the 1920s and 1930s. Beach’s store closed in during world war II—1941.
My preconceived notion of what to expect when I entered the store was different than what I found. I was most surprised by the quirky colors and arrangement of the books. It certainly has character! There were books everywhere in nooks and crannies. Numerous flights of stairs led to more books. One set of steps was painted red with a message lettered in white to be read line-by- line on the way up. A cat rested in a basket on a ledge by a window. A bright yellow typewriter sat on a small table in an alcove. Perhaps I didn’t have time enough to fully appreciate it. The store is located across the Bridge from Notre Dame Cathedral at 37 Rue de la Bucheire.
Angie: Where is Chaumont-Sur-Loire? What is the history behind this chateau/castle?
Elizabeth: Chaumont-Sur-Loire is one of many grand chateaux in the Loire Valley, The Valley of the Kings. It sits on a wooded hill above the Loire River. The fortress chateau was built between 1466 and 1510. Charles II d’ Amboise inherited Chaumont 1481 and undertook several major alterations. Catherine de Medici, wife of Henri II, acquired the chateau in 1560.
Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire (the two photos below)
Angie: What was it like to go back to France but with your son, DIL, and grandchildren?
Elizabeth: I was thrilled when my son and his family invited me to share and plan a trip to France in June of 2019. What perfect timing as I was finishing the last few chapters of my third novel, Mon Amour, Friend or Foe, which takes place in World War II Occupied France. I believe shared experiences with those you love is one of the best gifts possible. The day-to-day interactions and common memories are to be treasured.
Chateau Sept Tours
Angie: Was this your second time to stay at Chateau Sept Tours? How did you feel about going back?
Elizabeth at Chateau Sept Tours
Elizabeth: Chateau Sept Tours – I stayed in Chateau Sept Tours, the chateau of seven towers, in 2005 with my husband and our barge canal cruise group. I fell in love with this beautiful chateau in a quiet country setting. The star-filled night sky revealed a full moon visible from our second-floor tower bedroom. That fairy-tale evening is etched in my memory. Our group dined at a long communal table laden with wonderful French food. I sampled the foie gras and caviar before selecting a wonderful chicken dish and a glass… or two of Vouvray wine.
On my second visit to the chateau in 2019 with my son and his family, my experience was completely different than the first time. The five of us arrived in the afternoon and pretty much had the place to ourselves. We walked around the grounds, took pictures and checked out the golf course after we’d settled into our room. On this visit I noticed that the vines covered more of the exterior of the chateau, which obscured the beauty of the architecture in my opinion. I loved sharing one of my favorite places with my family.
Dining at Chateau Sept Tours (Elizabeth’s grandson):
After a busy day traveling from chateau to chateau, and as we had an early morning flight from Paris to Nice, we were ready for an early dinner. We had the dining room to ourselves and deliberated for quite some time before placing our order. I recall that roast duck appeared as did other unusual dishes. As far as I could tell there were no beef items on the menu. The wine and desserts were perfect.
Angie: What was happening at the Sorbonne during the time of your visit? Had you visited here before?
Elizabeth: The Sorbonne was founded in the 13th century and was once the seat of learning in Europe. It is located in the Latin Quarter. The site plays a major role in my novel, Mon Amour, Friend or Foe.
I’ve always wished I’d had the opportunity to study at the Sorbonne. So, I guess having my heroine study there was a step in that direction. A year or so ago, I saw that they offered summer courses, but that didn’t work out for me. As a last resort, I checked into whether tours were available. They are available, but must be booked through the University of Paris—part of the University system., and they are conducted in French. They do not provide translators. So, I satisfied myself by visiting the impressive La Sorbonne building, built in 1653 by Cardinal Richelieu, and taking pictures outside of the beautiful structure.
There’s always next year!
Summer Reading for the Francophile
The French Connection
Author Elizabeth Pye’s historical fiction series:
Order Silk or Sugar, Return to Chateau Fleury, and Mon Amour, Friend or Foe below on the Amazon links: