In case any of those twinkles represent the possibility of travel in the year ahead, I’d like to offer a few suggestions. If you’re thinking of making a trip to France, here are some suggestions to consider. Some are annual events and others are weekly or daily opportunities. All of them offer a chance to get off the beaten path of typical tourist sights and dig into the cultural soil while you’re abroad.
* Wine Fairs – The Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants and other wine fairs offer a chance to taste a variety of vintages (many of which you’ll find only while in France), talk with winemakers, and learn more about your own tastes. These run seasonally in Paris and in major wine regions around the Rhône Valley, Bordeaux, Loire, and elsewhere. More coming on this topic.
* Salon du Chocolat – Revel in the opportunity to sample sweets from extraordinary chocolate makers at this trade show devoted to the food we love most. Plus take in chocolate as eye candy in the form of sculptures and fashion wear. Brian Pfeiffer gives a delicious description in his guest post.
* Flea markets, Antique Fairs and Brocantes – Stroll the streets looking for treasures at these markets. Some occur weekly, such as Clignancourt and Porte de Vanves in Paris or L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in Provence. Others are more sporadic such as the antique fairs in Chatou (next one is March 6-15), Lille (Sept 5-6) and elsewhere.
* Gourmet Food Halls – You’ll get your fill at these vast halls. Emporiums such as La Grande Épicerie and Lafayette Gourmet offer a spectacular range of gourmet and regional specialties. They’re also a great place to look for that perfect gift for foodie friends.
* Craft Markets and Food Markets – Discover local foods and unique crafts at reasonable prices at these markets which pop up all over, including specialty ones such as truffle markets and Christmas markets.
* Excursions Outside of Paris – Paris has endless charms, but there are plenty of exciting discoveries awaiting you in other regions too. Some are easy day trips (Versailles, Fontainebleau, Giverny) and others more distant (Rouen, Provence, Strasbourg).
Many of these topics will be covered in more detail on this blog in the coming months, so stay tuned. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out The Crazy Tourist’s list of Top 25 Things to Do in France.
Wherever you go, and whether or not you travel far this year, may all your trails be happy ones.