Tag:

France

  • What I knew about Lille before last month was pretty much zero. Tucked into a far corner of France, close to the Belgium border, the city seemed about as far as one could get from our lives in southwest France. Having a few days to play while staying Paris, I decided to make a detour to Lille with my daughter. While I prefer the south, one thing that I do envy about Paris is the ease with which you can get pretty much anywhere in France by train. A trip to Lille is just one hour by TGV, which makes…

  • The Toulouse Whisky Festival was held this past weekend and the event delivered some surprises about the French and their relationship to this spirit most popularly associated with Scotland. This was the second edition organized by the Hopscotch Pub & Brewery of Toulouse. And like the first one, this one sold out. It also attracted about 40 distilleries, primarily from places you’d expect — Scotland, Ireland, and the U.S. — but also from Japan, New Zealand, Denmark, and Sweden. Included in that last group is France itself. When I first heard about the festival, I was both mystified and excited…

  • With last-minute getaways, sometimes you just get lucky. That was certainly the case for us when we left the Thursday after Christmas for a two-day escape to the Pyrénées. With no firm destination in mind, other than to just be in the mountains and away from work, our frenzied internet searches stumbled upon La Soulan, a gite and restaurant located just up the hill from the town of Boutx. Snow in the Pyrénées during winter vacances can be hit or miss, and this year it was definitely a miss. But instead, we found spectacular food at La Soulan and a…

  • I spent several weeks this fall exploring a controversy that echoed across the southwest of France: The question of whether the heretics known as the Cathars existed or not. You can read more about the discussion in my story for the Los Angeles Times. Whatever comes from the debate, the Cathars are destined to remain an important part of the tourism draw to this region, particularly in the Aude Departement which has embraced the label “Pays Cathares.” The tale is a fascinating and critical part of early modern European history, and the sites associated with the Cathars offer a stunning tour through…

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