Last year for my twenty-somethingth birthday, my fiancé and I went on holiday to France. His store manager owned a house in a small village called Marcillac le Croisille which he let us stay in for a week (hello free accommodation, don’t mind if I do).
There are a couple of things you need to know about France:
- There are tolls EVERYWHERE. We probably spent around €100 just on tolls in one week. The motorways seem never-ending.
- You look on a map and think “Oh, this place looks close to where we are staying”, and it turns out to be HOURS AWAY. None of the big towns/cities are close to one another.
The house we were staying in was gorgeous, in the middle of nowhere, and it had a breakfast bar and a wine rack in the fridge. Needless to say – I was happy.
Shithead tournaments by the open fire, dancing to rock n’ roll songs on the jukebox, and clinging on for dear life on the spiral staircase of death.
One of the places I knew I wanted to visit was Bordeaux. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a wine connoisseur, but I did want to go wine tasting in a vineyard in Bordeaux. Naturally, we picked the one week of the year where it’s near impossible to be able to visit a vineyard due to en primeur. (That’s where supplies and purchasers visit the vineyards for trade purposes, and they purchase the wine directly from the barrel, before it’s bottled and sold to the public). Cool. Awesome. Still, we had a good look around the city and did a bit of shopping, so it still had plenty to offer without being able to fulfil my fantasy of running through the vineyards in slow motion.
If you’re wondering, yes I did purchase a brand new set of flaps.
On my birthday I wanted to go to Les Grands Buffets, which is an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Narbonne. It was one of the rare occasions when I actually know where I want to eat. I’d been there once before on a holiday with an ex (ick), and it was every fatty’s paradise so I knew I had to go back. We made a reservation that morning (that was a mistake), and the only time they could fit us in was 9pm, so my advice now is to book ahead! They have everything you could possibly imagine, h’ors derves, cheeses, seafood, rotisserie, and HOLY BALLS THE DESSERTS ARE JUST THE BEST THING.
“Quick, gimme a leg up so I can put my head in the fountain…”
In the words of Lumiere: “After all, this is France – and a dinner here is never second best”.
It was completely worth the four hour drive back to the house in the middle of the night…
One place I will mention is the lovely little city of Carcassonne, specifically; La Cité. It’s a medieval fort in the centre of Carcassonne. It’s located on top of a hill, so the views you get are stunning. There is a lot of history behind it, but now it’s a World Heritage Site, and has many shops and restaurants inside.
Another thing I really loved about France is that there seem to be old chateaus and lakes everywhere! I was in my element. This is something I really loved about rural France, and you’d never see this sort of thing in a big city.
I don’t mean to end on a negative note, but I have to strongly recommend not taking the ferry over there. The way there was a night ferry, and for the price of a cabin I probably could have hired a luxury yacht and sailed there myself, so we had these awful reclining seats (think coach trip) in a room full of hundreds of other people (seriously how were they expecting us to sleep there?!). Eventually we found a cozy corner on the benches in the restaurant where we managed to get a few hours sleep. But then once we arrived at around 7am we had pretty much a solid 6 hour car journey from there. Then on the way back, I shit you not, it was like we were on the high seas. Trying to walk in a straight line was pretty much impossible – it was like we were pissed. I have never felt so sick in my life. The cabins on this ferry were a lot cheaper, so we parted with the best £30 we’ve ever spent and went to lie down in the cabin to try and get some stability. I swear, when the boat rocked I literally left the bed. NEVER again.
A couple of other places worth mentioning are Narbonne, which is a lovely little seaside town in the south of France, Toulouse, which is actually very good for shopping, and Clermont Ferrand, which is good for shopping and visiting churches and cathedrals.
I’d also like to say that I was actually quite impressed at how much secondary school level French I remembered. Well done me. Although, the minute someone spoke back to me in French – game over.
I’d love to hear about your experiences of France! Where’s your favourite spot?