Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Notes And Experiences: France Part 1

Juls and I were talking the other day and thought that we should put some "real" information somewhere on the places we've been and what we thought of them.  So here goes, this isn't an exhaustive list but I'll start with 5 cities in France we have visited and my thoughts.  For all my rankings I am assuming Paris as the starting point for trips to these cities. Rankings are all out of 10 with higher rankings always being more positive (that means I high rank in the cheap category means it costs less).


Known For: 
  1. One of France's best rugby teams
  2. Large Student population
  3. Great Spanish influenced nightlife
  4. The Canal de Midi
  5. Cassoulet and Duck
The real draw of Toulouse is the laid back attitude and the beautiful scenery.  My favorite part of the city was getting out for bike rides along the canal in the evenings.  If one were so inclined it is apparently possible to start in Bordeaux and go all the way through to Marseilles.  There also is a great nighlife brought about by the large student population.  The other thing that large student population means is that Toulouse is probably the most "English Friendly" of the French cities I've been to.  I was there in August and the city was pretty much deserted, which I actually found relaxing and may be a good idea, if you can take the 35+ degree average in August.

Getting there: 6/10...5.5hr train
Cost: 7/10
Entertainment: 8/10
Sights: 5/10
Should I go?: For a slower pace and some beautiful country 8/10


Known for:
  1. Wine, wine and more wine
  2. Great food...and wine
  3. You get the point
I really did love Bordeaux, but it is all about the wine there so if you are not interested in that I suggest you pick another location.  If you do love wine though, I suggest you look into the day trips to the different wine regions, they are reasonably priced and if you talk to your tour guide you can arrange special trips if you have a specific winery in mind.  It was on one of these trips that I had one of most memorable experiences in France in the Couvent Des Jacobins winery.

Getting there: 8/10, 3hr direct train
Cost: 6/10
Entertainment: 8/10
Sights: 7.5/10

Should I go?: If you're a wine-o 10/10, otherwise 6/10


Known for:
  1. Most millionaires per capita in the world
  2. Being on the Mediterranean
  3. The Grand Prix
  4. Casino Monte Carlo
  5. Nightlife
There are only two words to sum up Monaco, the first is beautiful, and the second is expensive.  And it is every bit as much the second as it is the first and vise versa.  That being said, just for the car and people watching alone I would rank it high on my must do list.  Beyond that, if you are willing to shell out about 15E a drink, the nightlife is amazing!  Oh, and there are also castles, museums, mountains and beaches all within a 3 km radius.

Getting there: 4/10...I flew, but the train is a possibility...if you have 7-8hrs to spare.
Cost: 3/10
Entertainment: 10/10
Sights: 10/10

Should I go?: Must do if you can afford it 10/10


Known For:
  1. Christmas Markets
  2. The Sound Of Music
  3. German cuisine in France
  4. Beer Halls!
  5. Seat of several important EU committees
 I knew very little about Strasbourg before I went there, and the little I did know was from Juls repeatedly telling me its where the Von Trap Family Singers perform in "The Sound Of Music".  I loved it instantly though, I have yet to visit Germany, but as it is right on the border it is easy to see the influences everywhere.  It's really a little bit of Germany in France and it's especially evident with their Christmas markets in December.  If you are going to be in Europe in the month of Christmas, it bears visiting.

Getting there: 9/10 2hr train
Cost: 8/10
Entertainment: 8/10 in December, 6/10 otherwise
Sights: 7/10

Should I go?:In December 10/10, otherwise 6/10

PARIS (of course I had to put it in)

Known For:
  1. Great Food
  2. The Eiffel Tower
  3. The Louvre
  4. The Champs Elysse
  5. Many Many other things
 I couldn't very well write about the cities I have been to in France without mentioning the one I've been living in.  Paris is, well...Paris.  It is all the things you think it will be and a few more that will surprise you positively and negatively.  There is enough here that I have been here 9 months now and still haven't even been to all the major attractions.  There is tons of nightlife, food, shopping, history, parks...and pretty much anything else you can imagine.  Be aware that the Paris attitude does exist though, and while the other cities on this list have a more quaint charm, Paris has no delusions of knows what it is, and it doesn't sugar coat it.

Getting there: 10/10 (again I'm assuming you are already in Paris)
Cost: 5/10
Entertainment: 10/10
Sights: 10/10

Should I go?:Of's Paris 10/10