Tuesday, 28 June 2016

France Day Un: Bonjour, Merci, Desole je ne parle Francais

Bonjour! I've just returned from a vacation in France and now for the travel diary because my memory is terrible so I need to recap it all. This was a family vacation to catch the Euro Cup courtesy of my aunt and uncle, without them, this trip wouldn't have happened.

France Day Un
The journey to France included a 12 hour flight on Singapore Airlines, a 2 hour flight on Easy Jet, and a 3-4 hour drive in our rented car (Hertz - Renault Captur). We stopped off at a Carrefour Contact in Laroque Timbault to stock up on food for breakfast the following day first, then finally we drove to our lodging destination in the South of France - Chateau Marcoux. This charming medieval hilltop residence is in the Lot-et-Garonne department, Aquitane region and its nearest large town is Agen. Chateau Marcoux is located somewhere between Bordeaux and Toulouse which is where some of the Euro Cup 2016 matches were happening.  I was expecting pretty pleasant weather, like sunny, around 17 degrees celsius but we arrived to a scorcher of a day - upwards of 25 degrees celsius and the bugs and flies were out in full force. Nonetheless, the scenery at the Chateau was beautiful and breathtaking.
Front view of the Chateau
Pigeonnier - sadly no actual pigeons
The covered pool
Living room
Wifi in the study area - clearly where we spent the most time
Outdoor view
The most well stocked kitchen ever
My sleeping quarters
Our first official French meal took place in Hotel Du Midi, located in the tiny village of Beauville about 4km drive from the Chateau. It was a pleasant meal with good service (albeit a slightly challenging one as they don't speak much English) and they serve a complimentary hot vegetable soup that was great to soothe a stomach worn from a long journey. After our dinner, I pretty much went back to the Chateau and slept like a baby.

The Marie of Beauville

Sweltering in jeans

Key learnings:

  • If you're travelling by Easy Jet, ensure you've printed your boarding passes because they won't do it for you. You can purchase a premium ticket so you can get priority queue for check-in, and you can also top up more if you want priority queuing to get  onto the plane as well. Also, follow the bag allowance rules closely, I could see they were pretty rigid about the size of bags. I saw passengers being told to check in their cabin bags as they exceed the size limit slightly (they even have these metal things to insert one's bag into to ensure it fits).
  • There are all kinds of Carrefour supermarkets but Carrefour Contact appears to be a smaller version although it's pretty well-stocked still (you can even buy some shoes!)
  • Summertime means you can expect summer bugs including ants and mosquitoes.
  • Having some basic understanding of French helps as not many people can speak in English and menus are almost always in French only. 
  • As the roads are narrow and parking spaces are pretty tight, it's wise to choose a car that isn't too long but has adequate trunk space (especially if you're carrying huge suitcases). 
  • Cars that have in-built GPS units are great but it's also wise to get an additional GPS or even better, a data plan to use Google Maps. I honestly don't know how people used to travel without smart phones. 
I think the post is getting kinda long so I've decided to make it a daily post instead. Thanks for reading!

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