Subject: Re Zine Travel planning question.
Hi Janet,

I agree with Megan#s comments. It#s interesting that she too is from Australia and found delight in her contact with French people. We#ve recently returned from our second successive year of touring that country by car # this from people who have been Francophobes in the past.

Perhaps I should explain how it was easy to get upset with the French (Govt.) from Down under. I#m originally from N.Z. and a decade or so ago we had French Secret Agents commiting terrorist acts in our country. They bombed Green Peace#s #Rainbow Warrior# and killed a photographer on board. The agents were captured and tried in N.Z. That was bad enough, but due to economic pressure from the French govt, the agents were released from jail and were free to continue life back in France a comparitively short while later. If all that wasn#t enough to upset those of us in the South Pacific their govts continual testing nucleur devices for years after added to the general displeasure of everything French.

Having said all that last year we abandoned our previous prejudices in order check out why so many others had been converted to Francophiles. Like Megan we were quite disarmed with the friendliness, and especially the politeness of everyone we came into contact with.

Because our currency is in the doldrums we use self catering accommodation. Baerbel mentioned using B&B type accommodation called Chambre d#hote. This can be found at;

You will see that this site also mentions gites. If you intend staying in the one region for a week then on our experience we can thoroughly recommend the service. In order to find out prices you need to know what departmente in France you wish to stay. Let me give you an example; we wanted to go to Burgundy and we selected a gite just north of Dijon. To give you an idea of the accommodation standard this is the owner#s own internet site within the gites-de-france framework; We were there in early June # one week for 185 euros. Eating dinner out on that terrace overlooking the source of the Seine while drinking local wine was memorable #4 star accommodation for around $US26 a night while eating fresh products from the local supermarket at prices cheaper than we get here in Australia.

You do need a vehicle though. We#ve used Renault EuroDrive. This year#s deal; 17 days with 8 extra free because we booked early. On top of that we got an extra 3 days free because we used the service last year. 490 euros for a brand new 4dr model- all insurance, unlimited milage, and 24 hr breakdown service throughout Europe.

French countryside is in a word- beautiful, at least in the three areas we#ve concentrated on; Loire, Alsace and Burgundy. Even in Paris we had a hotel within central Paris that was clean, had an ensuite and very friendly proprietors for 42 euros per double.

Finally, as far as language goes we are embarrassed to admit our lack of French vocab. Like Megan says, lots of smiles, basic greetings, a small dictionary and pencil and paper gets us by.

One of the amazing things we#ve found about France is that it is cheaper for us to travel within that country than it is Downunder.

Perhaps I#ve concentrated to much on the value for money aspects. Having travelled extensively in other parts of the world (including biennual visits to family on both seaboards of USA) we find that France is one place where the usual hype often underplays what is on offer.

I#d be pleased to help with any further detail especially highlights.


James from Perth