So you’re going to France for your next vacation. You have picked a location, organised your travel, and booked your accommodation. That is the easy part of the “where” and the “how.” The trickiest part of planning and enjoying your holiday comes next when you need to tackle the “what” issue. That is what are you going to see and what are you going to do. Please do not even think the word “everything”.
Tourists often mistakenly schedule every hour of every day in advance to ensure they see every French chateau, abbey and vineyard. If this is your inclination our advice is don’t go. You will be as stressed as if you never left work so you might as well stay there and earn more money.
If you go with a to-do list of “famous sights,” you will come home with a lot of beautiful pictures but with no real emotional connection to where you have been. You will look photos of various chateaux and not be able to distinguish which one was which. Your holiday will be one chateau blur. You’ll have spent your entire time hurtling from one famous chateau or abbey or rather than soaking up the significance of that chateau, abbey you toured in a nanosecond.
Please do not be a speed tourist forever intent and acting possessed determined to get yet another tick in a box on their must see list. Never see more than two chateaux in a day and do not do more than three days of your vacation (ideally spaced out) chateaux hopping.
You probably selected France as your destination in order to escape the hurried pace of your normal live. So what you need to do is to slow down a bit and enjoy life at another pace. This way you can return home feeling rested and rejuvenated. Remember you are on holiday and you are not trying to set any records. Leisurely drink in the scenery and the culture and sample some of the acclaimed local wine whilst enjoying a picnic.
If you are renting a chateau or a villa, set aside some time to just hang out there and relax. Often you see groups of families who rent a chateau or a villa together busy traipsing all over the countryside ticking all of the boxes on someone’s overly optimised list of must see sites and must do activities. Some poor person got the task and wanted to make sure no one could later complain that they missed something.
Always remember most people travel to France for the experience that is unique and totally different from their everyday American English, or Antipodean existence. Find yourself a little cafe, bistro, or a pub. Sit down. Order something. Listen to the locals chatting. Talk to a stranger even if it is in Franglais. Smell that freshly baked bread. Savour that glass of wine. Relax you are on holiday.
And if you miss something important – no problem. It is the perfect excuse to come back again for another relaxing holiday another time.
Corina Clemence runs Chateau du Guerinet, near Blois a luxury chateau for up to 15 people set in the middle of a 4000 acre forest perfect for visiting a handful of Loire Valley chateaux and vineyards. Rent a castle in France
http://www.loirechateau.com Rent a French Chateau