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Laura K. Lawless

Visiter une ville française, partie I

By May 5, 2009

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Mon mari et moi aimons beaucoup voyager, et après toutes ces années nous avons perfectionné notre « dispositif de visite » - ce que nous faisons toujours en allant à une nouvelle ville. Nous évitons d'habitude les musées, préférant parler aux gens du coin, admirer l'architecture et connaître les villes elles-mêmes. Voici donc notre itinéraire incontournable :

Gare de Metz Ville
 Gare de Metz Ville © LKL
1. L'office de tourisme - mais seulement pour obtenir un plan de ville (et pour demander s'il y a un festival quelconque). Nous aimons mieux explorer et flâner dans les rues que suivre le chemin le plus court d'un point à un autre.

2. La gare - les gares en France sont souvent très belles, comme par exemple celles de Limousin et de Metz.

Chapelle des Pénitents, Grimaud Village
 Chapelle des Pénitents,
Grimaud Village
© LKL
3. La mairie - pas pour frayer avec les politiciens, mais parce que la mairie aussi est normalement un édifice intéressant.

4. Les lieux de culte - peu importe sa religion, les lieux de culte sont fascinants. Les cathédrales dominent (comme celles de Metz et de Strasbourg), les mosquées impressionnent, les petites églises charment.

Lire la suite

English translation

Visiting a French town, part I

My husband and I really like traveling, and after all these years we've perfected our "visit plan" - what we always do when going to a new town. We usually avoid museums, preferring to talk to the locals, admire the architecture, and get to know the towns themselves. So here is our essential itinerary:

1. Tourist office - but only to get a city map (and ask if there's any kind of festival going on). We prefer exploring and wandering the streets to following the shortest path from one place to another.

2. Train station - train stations in France are often very beautiful, like for example the ones in Limousin and Metz.

3. Town/City hall - not to rub shoulders with politicians, but because the town hall or city hall is usually an interesting building.

4. Places of worship - no matter one's religion, places of worship are fascinating. Cathedrals dominate (like the ones in Metz and Strasbourg), mosques impress, small churches charm.

Read part 2

Comments

Please scroll down for the side-by-side translation.

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Side-by-side translation

Visiter une ville française, partie I

Mon mari et moi aimons beaucoup voyager, et après toutes ces années nous avons perfectionné notre « dispositif de visite » - ce que nous faisons toujours en allant à une nouvelle ville. Nous évitons d'habitude les musées, préférant parler aux gens du coin, admirer l'architecture et connaître les villes elles-mêmes. Voici donc notre itinéraire incontournable :

Visiting a French town, part I

My husband and I really like traveling, and after all these years we've perfected our "visit plan" - what we always do when going to a new town. We usually avoid museums, preferring to talk to the locals, admire the architecture, and get to know the towns themselves. So here is our essential itinerary:

1. L'office de tourisme - mais seulement pour obtenir un plan de ville (et pour demander s'il y a un festival quelconque). Nous aimons mieux explorer et flâner dans les rues que suivre le chemin le plus court d'un point à un autre.

2. La gare - les gares en France sont souvent très belles, comme par exemple celles de Limousin et de Metz.

3. La mairie - pas pour frayer avec les politiciens, mais parce que la mairie aussi est normalement un édifice intéressant.

4. Les lieux de culte - peu importe sa religion, les lieux de culte sont fascinants. Les cathédrales dominent (comme celles de Metz et de Strasbourg), les mosquées impressionnent, les petites églises charment.

Lire la suite

1. Tourist office - but only to get a city map (and ask if there's any kind of festival going on). We prefer exploring and wandering the streets to following the shortest path from one place to another.

2. Train station - train stations in France are often very beautiful, like for example the ones in Limousin and Metz.

3. Town/City hall - not to rub shoulders with politicians, but because the town hall or city hall is usually an interesting building.

4. Places of worship - no matter one's religion, places of worship are fascinating. Cathedrals dominate (like the ones in Metz and Strasbourg), mosques impress, small churches charm.

Read part 2

Comments

May 5, 2009 at 10:59 am
(1) Dada says:

C’est amusant, mais il parait que vous préparez la stratégie de guerre pour la coquette psychologique de la France et des français plutôt que de visiter ce coin du monde.

May 5, 2009 at 11:25 am
(2) Jacqueline says:

Laura,

I agree with you and your husband immensely that is the only way we like to travel in France, there is no better way. We do the samething,L’office de tourisme, les gares, les mairies et les lieux de culte, the churches are wonderful.
Have lots of fun both of you,
Adieu,
Jacqueline

May 5, 2009 at 12:28 pm
(3) Malcolm says:

I like this oblique approach. Myself, I walk till I drop and then get hopelessly lost. On the second day I try to hire a bicycle.

May 5, 2009 at 12:32 pm
(4) Brendan Durnin says:

Dear Laura,

I love your blog, but you have shattered my illusions by saying you avoid museums and art galleries. They give a great insight into the social and other history of a region, town or quarter.
Best Wishes, Pedagogue

May 5, 2009 at 1:43 pm
(5) Jos says:

J’attends avec impatience la deuxième partie … :)

May 5, 2009 at 2:02 pm
(6) Mick says:

Hi, Laura.
Well I have to join others in saying that your method of travel is very similar to mine. (I am basically a disciple of Rick Steves who first suggested the tourism office to me).

I usually go to the Office of Tourism first for the same reasons that you do but also to get info on discounted local transportation passes e.g. weekly passes. I also go there to coordinate for hotel reservations because I do not always reserve a hotel room before I travel. I literally have reserved hotel rooms at the tourist office in Paris, Madrid, Rome and other European cities.

And also like you, I travel extensively by train. I absolutely love the trains there. Being from southern California, we do not have access to high speed trains here. So I always travel with rail passes throughout Europe and enjoy the train stations. I even took a shower in one station.

And also like you, I do not visit museums on a regular basis. I find that I get overwhelmed in museums. I do not need to see 200 frescoes to realize that there were great painters or hundreds of statues to appreciate the stonework. And the museum experience takes a lot of time to see all that “stuff”. I do not criticize others, but I more enjoy my time spent elsewhere. I had been to Paris 4 times before setting foot in the Louvre.

And since I am Catholic, I have a direct connection to many of the European cathedrals. I do not call them churches but rather religious palaces and probably overdone when you consider that poor peasants had to contribute to funding these monoliths that required hundreds of years to complete in some cases.

As always, I enjoy your stories.

May 5, 2009 at 6:39 pm
(7) Jacki says:

Moi,j’aime bien les musees historiques au lieu de ceux d’art. J’adore aussi flaner les petites rues et prendre du cafe en regardant les gens qui passent.

May 5, 2009 at 7:33 pm
(8) waltII says:

Laura – may I suggest your next travail – create a book incorporating all those lovely photos you attach to the wonderful wanderings you do.
I am sure Iam not the only one who enjoys them; and maybe some of us would even buy one!!

walt

May 6, 2009 at 8:48 am
(9) Jose says:

Dear Laura,
I thank you I hope your are OK. with your family, but your are a good teacher and I am
learning a lot. I never saw a beautiful landscapes, cities and places. Now I know the culuture of the people. One day I will visit these places, this my dream.
Thanks a lot

May 6, 2009 at 9:53 am
(10) Jan says:

Laura:
Yours are the only emails I don’t delete quickly. As the daughter of a French woman (she married Dad after WWII), I’m still, after all these years trying to become proficient. Your instruction is the most user-friendly and study-level-appropriate I have ever utilized!

May 7, 2009 at 11:18 pm
(11) Kelly Norman says:

Je trouve les offices de tourisme trés amitiées (friendly?). Normalement je les envoie une lettre plusiers des semains avant que je pars. Elles m’envoient toujours beaucoup des informations utilités, par exemple les festivals dans la région, des musées, une carte, etc.

May 29, 2009 at 6:57 am
(12) kevin udenwagu says:

Thanks a million Laura. I began studying French at the Alliance in the city I live but due to the nature of my work I no longer make it but ur sit keeps me going and am adicted to ur lessons. Merci beaucoup.

June 12, 2009 at 4:22 pm
(13) Jennifer says:

Bonjour,
Merci pour votre conseils.
Je aussi visite l’office de tourisme quand je commence mes vacances. Je dit “Bonjour, vous avez un plan de la ville, s’il vous plait ?” Et puis je cherche pour les jours du marchés.
(Apologies for my French but I get a map of the town and then find out the days when the market is visiting all the villages near where we are staying. That is my favourite part of my holiday. But make sure you get there in the morning. Thats the best time !)

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