Travelling In France – Travelling Slow
Travelling In France – Travelling Slow. France, is about the idea, the dream and the plan to make the dream a reality. Every adventure begins with an idea. I don’t know about you but I have so many ideas, some of which come and go and others never leave. The ones that stay are the ones that connect me to what’s really important to me.
The initial idea for my trip started last year with wanting to commemorate the death of my Great Great Uncle Jorgen in WWI, 100 years ago on August 9th, 1918. I wanted to be in France at his graveside one hundred years later on August 9, 2018. And I’ll be there!
From there the questions start. Where else do I want go? What else do I want to experience? The ideas start to flow.
Making an Idea into Reality
I’m on my way
The adventure starts with an idea or a thought.
“Wouldn’t it be amazing to travel to _________?
And experience _________?
This is My Dream. My Passion. That’s Why!”
All I can say, is that every dream/idea is possible, once you say “YES”, move forward and make it happen.
This trip is a true example of a “Nora trip”. It has been set up to enjoy two weeks of the French experience. What does that mean? For me it means slowing down and enjoying the moments as they are presented. I’ve been to France a few times and with that experience I can make choices not based on wanting to see all the highlights but rather delve into the feeling of exploring French culture, language and food.
Purpose – Why France?
Developing a clear understanding of your reason to travel anywhere is vital to creating a meaningful travel experience. How can you begin to choose what to see and do? For me it’s all about contemplating the reason to go to Paris/France in the first place.
As I started to explore ideas for two weeks in France, I realized that France is a big country with many interesting regions, there’s Paris, Normandy, Alsace, Provence, the French Alps, the French Riviera and more. The best way to make choices that are right for you is to plan a trip with your purpose in mind.
My original purpose was to visit Jorgen’s grave, and then what else should I consider…?
- Return to Giverny and Monet’s garden in the summer season, when the famous water lilies are fully alive with blooms. I want another opportunity to enjoy and capture Monet’s garden as a photographic artist.
- Learn and practice speaking French, there is no better way to learn a language than to learn at home and then be immersed in the language.
- Continue developing my photography skills armed with new skills and ideas for technique, perspective and composition.
- And finally, to slow down and relax to enjoy the ambience, the history, the sights and sounds that is France.
I’m intentionally travelling slow, with no expectation of seeing all the sights. Of course, if this is your first adventure into Paris and France, it’s important to see the highlights that are part of the classic France experience.
Where to start?
Planning is not about planning for every single moment of your adventure, I would call it more like guidelines and that’s all they are guidelines that can be changed as you discover new or different opportunities before you leave or once you are at your destination.
The planning is definitely a bit more complicated with having four stops in a country than to stay in one city, you need to consider the transportation and timing of each transfer to your new destination.
I’ve had a general outline planned for my travels in France for a while now and I had booked most of my accommodation for Rosieres, Giverny and Avignon. But with five days to go, I have just booked my Airbnb in Paris and I have one day in the middle and one day at the end that I’m not sure what I will do.
Honestly, who wants to think about the negative “what ifs” when you are planning an awesome adventure. Travelling safe is all about planning, prevention and having a safety strategy in place to deal with any situation that may happen as you travel. Safety is not about creating fear about travelling or travelling solo. Common sense and planning will allow you to travel solo with confidence.
Check out my blog entitled “Travel Safe” at solotravelz.com. These tips are relevant for all travellers but have been developed for solo travellers who are new to the solo travelling experience. A key part of travelling solo is learning that you are capable of planning a trip along with being safe and taking care of yourself.
My starting place for trip planning after booking my flight is accommodation. My go to guidebook for excellent travel information is always Rick Steve’s, and for this trip I have the books for both France and Paris. I like to read his recommendations for areas to stay in and what each area has to offer. Next is checking out the listings on Airbnb, this gives me an idea of the range in prices and type of accommodation available. As I travel more and more, I am developing connections with people across Europe or I have favourite places that I want to return to. If you are new to travelling, the guidebook and Airbnb will be great resources to find that perfect place to come back to after a day of exploring.
Once I decided what my travel purpose was and where I wanted to go, the next step was to choose accommodation in each destination.
I’ll be staying at Le Figuier in Avignon. This B&B is run by Sandrine whom I met in Giverny last year. It was a pleasure to stay at her Giverny B&B last year and I look forward to seeing her once again in Avignon. And by the way, she would be more than happy to welcome you to her lovely B&B in Avignon.
Next, I asked Sandrine for recommendations for accommodation in Giverny because she had lived there for many years and would have the inside scoop on a place for me. With her recommendation, I am staying with Marie & Gilbert, who rent a room in their home located in the heart of Giverny.
There is not much in the way of accommodation near the cemetery where my great great uncle is buried so this was a bit more challenging. I wanted to spend a bit of time in the area to have a feel for the area that was ravaged by war rather than just drive in by car or taxi and 30 minutes later to leave. I wanted to experience the reason behind this trip and stay a bit longer and really commemorate this moment 100 years later. Through searches on the internet I found l’Hortensia Blanc Chambre d’hôtes in Hangest-en-Santerre. My e-mail communication with Agnes and Fabrice has set me at ease with regards to any safety issues.
For Paris, I’m confident with staying in Paris and so it’s a bit easier to choose a temporary home. I went with an Airbnb room at a less expensive price and close to the Eiffel Tower.
My usual travel tips for accommodation don’t really work in the type of places I have chosen. France has had an incredible summer of heat and unless I want to stay at traditional hotels, I will need to acclimate to the heat rather than expect air-conditioning. I’ve booked all of my accommodation directly or through Airbnb and each place includes breakfast. Having breakfast in a B&B situation is always a great time to find out more about your hosts and the area that you are visiting.
Safe transportation for any type of travel includes how to get to/from the airport to your accommodation and then transportation to get from your place to the sights that you want to see. There are many ways to arrive in Paris, the city has three (3) airports and seven (7) train stations so it will be important to determine how you’ll get from your arrival point to your accommodation. There are many options in Paris, including either/or a combination of taxi’s, Uber, rental cars, buses, trains, the Metro and more.
To/from Airport Travel:
Check with your hotel or host for the recommended route to your “home away from home”. I highly recommend travelling light for so many reasons including the ease of moving between destinations. I only use carry-on, a small suitcase and a small back pack.
Transportation Travel Tip:
Download the free Citymapper APP for use in Paris (it is available for 39 cities around the world). This APP gives you options and directions for using public transit and it’s very accurate with the route and schedules.
As I am writing this blog, I’m am flying across Canada enjoying a glass of champagne and anticipating the adventure which lies ahead.
My hope is that you will find some inspiration from my thoughts and encouragement to dream and plan your own solo journey through the country that is France.
Stay tuned for Discover France – A Personal Journey – Coming Soon