Carol of Girl Gone Travel Shares Her "Best of France"
In honor of Best of France, which will be taking over Times Square September 26-27, 2015, we've asked a few of our favorite bloggers to weigh in on their "Best of France!" #BestofFrance2015
1. What is the best meal you have ever had in France? From which restaurant or French region was it from? Why is it your favorite?
It sounds strange, but one of my favorite dishes in France so far has been the cassoulet. This traditional stew, with its white beans and mixture of meat, pork, and sometimes even duck, was both foreign and familiar to me. The rich, filling dish is traditional to the South of France though I first tasted it in Toulouse while touring the Midi-Pyrenees. I love it because it reminds me of the warm stews my Dominican grandmother would make for me, the perfect comfort food that reminds me of home. My kids couldn’t get enough of it either!
2. If you are looking for a place to relax while you are in France where is your go to spot? Is it a beautiful beach or a tranquil spa? Where in France is it located and why is it your favorite?
I am a huge fan the countryside of France. When I want to relax, I like to go to smaller towns surrounded by vineyards and nature. I found the many B&B’s along the Rhone Valley, such as Domaine Dieulefit and Domaine des Clos to be especially conducive to relaxation. Great wine, the smell of sweet fruits and lavender, and the tranquility of nature, these are all my favorite of things about France off-the-beaten-path.
3. Where is your favorite place to shop in France? What are your “must- haves” or a favorite item you have purchased? Where did you get it?
Aside from the wine, which I like to pick up at the wineries themselves, I am a huge fan of the French sweets both for myself and as gifts. I am a sucker for the macarons at Laduree in Paris, and the cookies with their collectable tins at La Cure Gourmande, also in Paris. But food in general is my obsession when I travel to France, especially at the open markets, which is why my most prized possession is the basket I bought one summer while in the small town of Levignac, in the Midi-Pyrenees. It reminds me of the many trips I took with my family to the markets in outside around Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Paris, and the wonderful meals we shared in our apartment rentals with our local culinary finds.
4. What is your favorite site to visit when you are in France? Why? Where in France is it?
I could spend days in the Louvre, in Paris. It is so vast and diverse and beautiful, and well, impossible to see in just one day. In the summer months when the crowds are huge, it can be a bit too overwhelming, but during the slower travel season, getting lost in the Louvre, especially on a rainy Parisian day is absolute heaven. I especially loved how engaged my kids were too. It is captivating for art lovers of any age. Outside of Paris, I am madly in love with Bordeaux and when there, we like to spend time walking along the Gironde river and on hot summer days, we like to cool off at the miroir d'eau. There are many breathtaking places in France, but this city is my absolute favorite place to be.
5. What is your favorite bar/club/music venue in France? Where do you like to go out at night? Why?
My favorite bars are at the wineries in the vineyards of France outside of harvest season when I have a better chance of meeting and chatting up the winemakers themselves, but in the big city, I recently discovered the Lido in Paris. It is totally touristy, few Parisians go there, but I love the big lights and sounds and larger-than-life entertainment of it all. I had dinner and glasses of champagne before the show, which was pretty fabulous and very “Paris”. But, for the most part, I am a low-key kind of girl, and I am happy to sit in a cafe listening to the street musicians (the ones that gather in St. Germaine-de-Pres in Paris are especially talented), while drinking wine and chatting it up with my loved ones.
Carol Cain is an award-winning freelance travel blogger and photographer and the voice behind the travel site, GirlGoneTravel.com. Of all the countries she’s visited, France is the one she is most happiest returning to for, as she says, “the warm people, good wine, delicious food, and breathtaking destinations”. Carol recently did a road trip through France with her family through the Midi-Pyrenees and returned on her own for a whirlwind 24 hours in Paris and wine tasting adventure through the Rhone Valley. To check out the fun she’s had in France, check out her hashtag #GGTinFrance on Instagram. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter at @GirlGoneTravel.
BEST OF FRANCE® is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote the image of France abroad, through major events which highlight the expertise and “Savoir-Faire” of France. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience France in a brand new way, through events and programs which explore the diversity of the French world through its Cuisine, Lifestyle, Tourism, Fashion, Culture, Technology and Innovation.