This week’s interview for 1001 Travel Tales is with Janice Chung, whose blog, France Travel Tips, is full of information for planning a trip to France.
Our conversation with Janice Chung brought back a lot of memories for me, and, if you listen to the podcast, you can probably tell that the recording has been cut in a few places. She could talk for hours about France, and so could I.
You see, I used to be just as obsessed with France as she is. As I said in the podcast, I visited as a child with my family and loved everything we saw. Paris didn’t wow me the way it wowed Janice, but visiting the chateaux in the Loire Valley was an absolute delight, even for the clueless 11-year-old that I was.
I went on to study French in school – junior high, high school, and then in college – and I could clearly imagine my adult life in France. Going to work there as an au pair was the first step in that plan.
I lived in Lyon with my “family,” and living and working there didn’t change my view. I loved (and still love) France. The food, especially, is, as they say, to die for.
And that’s precisely why it’s good that I didn’t end up there after all: I would be as big as a house if I had regular access to quality French bread from a boulangerie, and quality pastries from a patisserie, and pâté and cheese and … well, you get the idea. I shouldn’t live there.
In any case, I share Janice Chung’s enthusiasm for all things French. And I visit there often, though not as often as she does!
Janice Chung Does Mont-Saint-Michel
Janice spoke about the Marathon de la Baie du Mont Saint-Michel and the Marathon du Medoc.
If you’ve never been there, I would certainly recommend visiting Mont-Saint-Michel, with or without running the marathon that passes by it. A UNESCO World Heritage Site dating from the Middle Ages, it’s a breathtakingly beautiful sight. A fortified island off the coast of Normandy, topped by a monastery and church, it is sometimes surrounded by water, while at low tide the sands are laid bare. A causeway has been built, so you can visit it in any case. Walking up the winding lane from the base, you’ll pass dozens of lovely medieval-era houses, while, arriving at the top, you can tour the ancient monastery and Romanesque church.
You could easily combine a visit with other sites in Normandy, particularly the many World War II D-Day sites. Or you could head in the other direction and enjoy the dramatic rocky coastline of Brittany.
As for the Marathon de la Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel, there’s still time to sign up for this year’s edition, which takes place on May 28. On their website, you can read all of the details and see some videos of past marathons. It doesn’t go right up onto the island, but does pass those gorgeous views from the mainland.
Janice Chung Does Medoc
The Mont-Saint-Michel marathon looks like a serious race, where some are trying just to finish, but others want to win. Judging from the video on their website, the Medoc marathon looks like it’s more fun (Except for the running part. I don’t like running.).
The theme for this year’s Marathon du Medoc, planned for September 9th, 2017, is “Music in 33 rpm.” The costumes should be great. And, yes, it’s open for registration. It seems to me you might want to work up your alcohol tolerance along with your fitness level as you prepare.
To corroborate Janice’s description of the incredible food and wine she received as she ran the Marathon du Medoc, here’s what the Telegraph had to say about it:
Anyone who’s ever attempted to run 50 yards for the bus on a Friday night, with a belly full of lager and chips, must recognise the sheer stupidity of the whole thing.
And yet 10,000 people run it every year.
Studying French in France
One other thing I wanted to add about this podcast is the link to the French school Janice recommended: Ecole des Trois Pont Immersive French Courses in Grand Roanne, which is not far from Lyon.
If you look at their site, you’ll see that they offer various combinations of French lessons with cooking (general, pastry or chocolate) or with sightseeing (food-related excursions or countryside walks). The classes include no more than six students, and the whole experience (meals, housing on site, along with lessons and all activities) involves total immersion in the language. It’s not cheap, but your French proficiency would get a great boost.
If you’re more of a reader than a listener, you can read the transcript of this episode on Shobha George’s Just Go Places.
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