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"normandy"

  • A desire to visit a long-time friend living in the village of Sainte-Pierre-du-Val inspired our first real trip to the Normandy region. We had barely crossed the border into Normandy once before after camping in Brittany to make the obligatory visit to Mont-Saint-Michel. Having checked that legendary site off the list, we didn’t really have a big agenda when we arrived for a longer stay. So when our friend proposed a day trip to nearby Honfleur, we were game to venture into the unknown. Upon arriving, it was easy to see the allure. We parked near the old port, and…

  • The 75th anniversary of D-Day hadn’t registered on our radar when we decided to visit the Normandy region in early May. Our decision to plan a trip there was driven by a combination of random circumstances. To wit: Another two-week school vacation was upon us; We would be spending the first week in Paris; A friend we had not seen in some time lives near Le Havre. So, hey, let’s visit Normandy! It seems strange to admit this, but Normandy had not been particularly high on my list of places to visit in France. In part, that’s because it’s considered…

  • Despite a raging pandemic, various personal and professional obligations required me to make the 7-hour drive between Toulouse and Paris several times this past summer. In a country full of spectacular vistas, the route along A20 to A71 to A10 that cuts through the heart of central France does not offer much in the way of dramatic scenery. While there are some verdant patches and some interesting detours from the highway, mostly this drive is a grind spent counting the rest stops and trying not to stare at the odometer to calculate how much longer to go. So during one…

  • As the French summer tourist season arrives, one of the most appealing options for seeing this country is a trip along one of its numerous bike paths. Travelers like this choice because it gets them outdoors in a way that also offers some measure of safety and peace of mind. You can ride at your own speed, and keep as much distance as you want if you’re still feeling anxious about crowds while the coronavirus is still circulating. The nation’s tourist industry is promoting this because they’re eager to entice people to travel this summer to get some much-needed Euros…

  • Antoine de Saint Exupéry, the author best known for “The Little Prince,” has a special connection to our lives in Toulouse.  A pilot, he was based for a time in this city, which has long been one of France’s main aviation hubs. After France signed an armistice with Germany in 1940, he fled to North America where he stayed 27 months. In 1943, he joined a U.S. naval convoy that would take him to Algiers so he could join the Free French as a wartime pilot. It was on this ship that he penned an extraordinary letter to future Americans.…

  • Presqu’Île de Crozon in the Brittany region turned out to be the perfect place to finally indulge our love of camping in France. Avid campers in California before moving to France four years ago, we had shipped enough camping equipment with us to stage an invasion of a small island nation. But since arriving, our jumble of family tents, sleeping bags, and campfire cooking equipment had sat unused and silently taunting us in a closet. In part, that was because we were having a hard time grasping the French camping scene. We were accustomed to either hiking into the wilds…

  • Mont-Saint-Michel

    by Chris O'Brien
    by Chris O'Brien

    This iconic island in Normandy is famed for its medieval monastery, Mont-Saint-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But typically, it’s photographed from a distance to show its setting among the bay whose tides rush in and out. But seeing it up close is mesmerizing in a different way.

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