April 2022 Jean and I are off again soon; we are calling the first journey of 2022 “The French Trip”. We will embark on a three-month road trip to explore France and adjacent French-speaking countries including Luxembourg, Belgium, and Switzerland. Laissez le bon temps rouler!
The French Trip
Why France? Quand le vin est tiré, il faut le boire, as the French say. “When the wine is poured, it must be drunk.” And the wine is (figuratively) poured, with COVID receding (knock on wood), borders open, and spring in the air. What better place to drink up the joie de vivre (joy of life) than France? Life is short; go explore when you can.
We visited France for the first time in 2017 and found the history astounding. The Paris museums collectively cover western history and art like no other city does. To the south in the Occitan, we found the Pont du Gard and Roman architecture (still in use) in Nimes and Orange.
And we visited one of the most awe-inspiring sites, the Chauvet Cave Paintings. The oldest of these are about thirty-seven thousand years old… mind-boggling. Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Herzog is an excellent documentary on the subject.
On this trip, we will visit more recent history: WW1 memorials near Verdun and the WW2 D-Day beaches of Normandy. We will also see Joan of Arc’s final resting place in Rouen and the chateaus on the Loire. And finally, the famous Cave Paintings near Lascaux.
Food and Wine
The French say, “du pain et du vin, c’est la vie du pèlerin.” Bread and wine, it is the pilgrim’s life. It is certainly a big part of our travel lives! A little secret – that fantastic French food and French wine isn’t so expensive in France. Well, it isn’t if you get away from pricey Paris! From baguettes to Beef Bourguignon, we will try it. Even escargot (snails), at least once.
We have been studying wine during COVID – didn’t everyone? Wine Folly is a great resource for beginners. We will follow their French Wine Map and sip our way through Burgundy (all Pinot Noir and Chardonnay). Next, we will stop in Epernay, where Benedictine monk Dom Perignon invented champagne and exclaimed, “Come quickly brothers, I am tasting the stars!” Later, we will visit Bordeaux and sample its signature red blends of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, and finally Cote du Rhone.
Luxembourg and Belgium
We tried to go to tiny Luxembourg last year, but covid restrictions excluded American visitors. So we will try again. After, we will explore historic Brussels (EU HQ) and then Bruges, known as the “Venice of the North” for its scenic canals.
Hiking in the Alps is the focus of the second half of the trip. We will (weather permitting) hike the slopes of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc and through Lauterbrunnen (“Loud Water”) Valley. No tents, hostels, or mountain huts – we prefer a hot shower at the day’s end!
Our timing lands us at the Montreux Jazz Festival in July. Remember the song “Smoke on the Water?” Hopefully, no one burns down the gambling house (or anything else) this year. We don’t know the full line-up yet, but Montreux will be the hip highlight of our summer!
Itinerary and Journey Map
If you are interested in a similar trip, the attached PDF itinerary is an excellent place to start. Also below is a Google Map of our approximate route and stays, which you can view and add as a layer in your own Google Maps. Map updates with historical sites, hikes, and such will come later 🙂
Whew, what a trip, we can’t wait to get started!
For more about this journey, check out our related Travel Bytes below!