We have evaluated our trip to the south-west corner of France, the region of Aquitaine and bring you some tips for improving your holiday, should you visit the region.
- Learn some basic french phrases
It can’t be repeated enough times. Imagine how you’d feel if someone came up to you in your home country and started addressing you in french. (alright, unless you live in Canada). It just has to be some basic phrases:
Always start with Bonjour / Bonsoir and then Mademoiselle / Madame / Monsieur. When you order something, end your order with “s’il vous plait“. These phrases are considered basic politeness in France and it’s a great start. If you’re game for more, check out the French Phrasebook.
- Rise and shine
If you want to visit a city or another major attraction, rise early.Forget about breakfast. Just put some clothes on the kids and get moving. If you arrive early at around 8, you’ll have no problem finding a parking spot. When we entered the parking facility at 8-ish in central Bordeaux, there were 483 spots left. When we checked an hour later, there were only 53 spots left.
There are just better ways to start a day than searching for a parking spot in the morning traffic in a foreign country.Award yourself and the rest of the family with Cafe au Lait and Pain au Chocolat. You won’t know whether it’s the caffeine or the sugar, but it feels a lot like happiness.
- Book in advance
Request a reservation in advance on the internet, if you want to visit a big tourist attraction – like the caves of Peche Merle. If you just show up – like we did – you have to wait 4 hours before you can enter the cave, as only a limited number of visitors are permitted into the caves. It’s a change of scenery to enter within the damp, dark caves where you can admire wall paintings that are more than 20.000 years old. It’s educational in the fun way!
- Try staying at a Bed & Breakfast
or Chambres d’Hôtes, as it’s called in France. It’s real easy, as it’s government controlled. In this section of Gites de France website, you can search amongst 10.000 Bed & Breakfasts in France. And 45.000 holiday cottages, if you fancy a longer stay in rural France. If you’re feeling adventurous, book a “Table d’Hôtes” which means that you have dinner with your hosts at the Bed & Breakfast. It’s an easy way to interact with real French people, not just the snotty waiters at the restaurants, and the hostess usually takes pride in preparing regional dishes – and plenty of it!
- If you are really big garden freak
visit the Eyrignac Manor gardens. Just be aware that it’s 12,5€ per adult or 39€ for a family pass. We skipped it due to the expense and spent the money in their very nice restaurant instead, overlooking some of the gardens.