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Armchair Travel with Katie and Tim: French edition

Posted about 13 days ago by Tim and Katie

T: Hi Katie. I know you’re a big traveler. I’m not, (though I have been a few places in my lifetime). With everything that has been happening around the world, I’ve been going a little stir-crazy. How about we vicariously visit a city and since I know that you like natural wonders, and that I like history (and shopping), we talk about the different places you and I would go respectively if we were traveling together?

K: Oh, I’m so into that. Kind of like our very own Atlas Obscura! What places have you been, by the way?

T: I’ve been to Canada (once, when I was little, which isn’t much, but, one of the places we visited had a secret passage, and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since), and Chicago (for Riot Fest every year) and that’s about it.

K: Where did the secret passage lead? And you’ve officially one-upped me because I’ve never actually been to Canada! But I hear they have lots of grizzly bears and poutine.

T: I don’t know where it led! I only know it existed and that became the coolest thing in the world to me which, sadly, has never changed. And I’ve only ever had poutine in America, oddly enough.

K: I’ve actually only vacationed in two countries outside of the United States - Curacao and Mallorca. Though I did have a layover once in Norway where I accidentally spent $30 dollars on a grilled cheese. I planned to go to Costa Rica this year, but then the pandemic happened and now we’re all stranded in the USA. Isn’t there a Miley Cyrus song about that?

T: I thought it was a Two Live Crew song! And I remember you texted me while you were eating your pricey grilled cheese sandwich! I could sense the regret. We are kind of stuck, it’s true, but hopefully this blog will be a way for us to feel like we’ve traveled somewhere exotic. Speaking of, I forgot to mention that I’ve been to Findlay once. Ok, twice. Now I’m just bragging.

K: Wow, I hope you bought a souvenir.

T: I got some Dietsch Brothers chocolate but, to be honest, I don’t think it made it past Bowling Green on the drive home. Let’s start this!

K: So, for our first edition, we’ve decided to focus on France (for no reason other than we threw a dart at a map, and that’s where it landed.)

T: (Co-author’s note: We did not throw darts.)

K: Yeah, I know, I stink at darts. It just sounded more fun than the truth, which is that we chose France for no reason. Who’ll start?

TRAVEL BOOKS FOR FRANCE:

Cover of Fodor's Essential France Fodor's Essential France
Cover of 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go
Cover of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning French The Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning French
Cover of The Rough Guide to Paris The Rough Guide to Paris

T: I’ll start! If I went to France, my first stop would be Place de la Concorde. I’m obsessed with the French Revolution (how did something so well-intentioned turn so horribly wrong?). This is where the guillotine was located.


Cover of The French Revolution: From Enlightenment to Tyranny The French Revolution: From Enlightenment to Tyranny

K: Ooooh, that’s definitely in my wheelhouse. Speaking of death, my first stop would be attending the Megavalanche event held in the French Alps. This is an event where athletes voluntarily race mountain bikes down a GLACIER. Admittedly, I don’t actually want to do this myself because it looks terrifying, but I do want to watch someone do it, and maybe witness a few injuries.


Cover of Mastering Mountain Bike Skills Mastering Mountain Bike Skills
Cover of The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond

T: Oh, that sounds brutal! And sadistic. *Segue alert* My next attraction is the Musée de la Magie. It’s a museum dedicated to magic throughout the ages. And it’s located in the Marquis de Sade’s old basement. Now if only I had a magician friend to visit it with.


Cover of The Illustrated History of Magic The Illustrated History of Magic

K: Thank you for giving me a reason to tell the world that YES, I AM FRIENDS WITH DAVID BLAINE! I’d read his book, but he’s really more of a ‘mysterious acquaintance’ than a stranger so I guess it’s not really meant for me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Cover of Mysterious Stranger: A Book of Magic Mysterious Stranger: A Book of Magic

T: I was actually talking about Doug Henning but, sure, make it about yourself.

K: Moving on… as you know, I’ve been working on visiting all of the National Parks in America. So naturally, while in France I would have to hit up the country’s first National Park, Vanoise. I guess the park is most famous for its dense population of alpine ibex - which is basically just a gigantic (300 pounds!) mountain goat with horns that look like weapons.


Cover of 100 Hikes of a Lifetime: The World's Ultimate Scenic Trails 100 Hikes of a Lifetime: The World's Ultimate Scenic Trails

T: Why? You wear bright colors a lot. What if that enraged them and they all charged you at once and then ate you? *Segue alert deux* My next stop would be Poilane. A bakery that, I’ve heard, makes the best bread ever. Hopefully you could drag yourself away from the trees and rocks and ibex for long enough to share some warm crusty bread and cheese with me. (To be honest, I’d hit most of the restaurants in Paris, because it’s food in Paris).


Cover of Poilâne: The Secrets of the World-Famous Bread Bakery Poilâne: The Secrets of the World-Famous Bread Bakery

K: I always have time for carbs.

T: Bread is always common ground. And so is consumerism. Which is why my next choice is Marche Paul Bert. I know it seems strange to travel 900 miles just to go shopping, but the Marche Paul Bert is the world’s largest flea market, with tons of antiques and whatnots. I do love whatnots.

Cover of Antiques 101: A Crash Course in Everything Antique Antiques 101: A Crash Course in Everything Antique

K: 900 miles? What map are you looking at? It’s more like 4,000 miles, fool!

T: Hey, I just googled the distance from Toledo to Paris. Who knew there was also a Toledo in Spain, naming themselves after us. Coattail riders, I say!

K: Aren’t library workers supposed to be good at finding information? Anyway, the worst part of hitting up a flea market in France would be the price to ship all the whatnots home.

T: We have time for one more suggestion. My last stop would be the Theatre du Grand Guignol. During the late 19th through the mid 20th centuries, this theatre put on plays filled with horror and gore like nothing else at the time. The special effects were supposedly utterly groundbreaking in realness. The theater itself now houses a group who performs plays entirely in sign language. I’d just love to see the building.


Cover of Grand Guignol: Theatre of Fear and Terror Grand Guignol: Theatre of Fear and Terror

K: Okay all I can picture is a pile of fake limbs covered in ketchup and people silently screaming. More realistic than that?

T: From everything I’ve read, yes. People still debate how they made their fake blood! Where they got the eyeballs they used is better left unsaid.

K: Okay, changing the subject to something more pleasant… my last stop for France would be kayaking the Gorges du Verdon, which is a river so blue it looks like Kool-Aid. It’s also supposedly a great place to go birding, and you know I love to nerd out with some birds.


Cover of The Art of Kayaking: Everything You Need to Know About Paddling The Art of Kayaking: Everything You Need to Know About Paddling

T: That water really does look lovely enough to drink. Not Purplesaurus Rex lovely, but delicious just the same.

K: If you want to have a very unpleasant plane ride back, try it out. That reminds me, let’s conclude with our top travel trip for our readers. My tip is to always pack Imodium. Yours?

T: Try not to go to chain restaurants. It’s comforting to eat things you’re familiar with, but you miss out on so many opportunities to experience something you’ve never had before.

K: So true! Well, I’m looking forward to talking again soon, once a dart decides our next location!