F and I traveled in France from March 16 to April 15, 2003. A first car trip during the last two weeks of March took us through the Dordogne River region of southwestern France, then to Sètes on the Mediterranean, and next to Normandy on the north coast. After moving into a rented apartment in Paris on April 1, we decided to rent a second car to return to the Dordogne region for 3 days of additional exploring (and to be in warmer weather).
There are over 200 photos from Paris, and nearly 400 from all other regions.) All were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 4500 digital camera--most by me. F also took some of the photos displayed here, but most of the time she shot with her manual Nikon film camera.
Our vacation, planned long in advance, happened to coincide almost exactly with the war in Iraq. One of the most interesting aspects of our trip was to follow the news of that war on French television and in the French newspapers--especially in view of the deep antipathy of continental Europe for the actions of the U.S. and England. I made this web site, however, as a travelogue of the beauties and pleasures of travel in France, and not to comment on the war, our views about it, nor the French reaction to it. It will suffice to say that we were treated in a warm and welcoming way in all parts of France, even though it was clear from our clothing, speech, and luggage that we were not French. No one made an issue with us about the actions of the Bush administration.
Though we hope that some of the photos have artistic merit and/or display a personal sensibility, they were taken simply to document our trip. My favorites are the landscapes and seascapes of southern France and Normandy, and candid shots of people in Paris. It will be obvious that we like food and wine, boats and water, photography and art, village markets and church architecture.
If you have never traveled in France, then go soon. I have been visiting there for over 35 years, and have seen much of what I loved disappear: little coastal fishing villages have become tourist/condo hell with parking woes, and commercial hype galore. It is no longer true that you can eat well in just ANY French restaurant or cafe or truck-stop. Paris is still the most beautiful city, but seems overrun with tourists in all seasons. We quickly learned this trip that we preferred non-standard towns--places that have changed somewhat less, and that draw fewer tourists: Souillac, Sarlat, Étretat, Yport, etc. to past favorites: Paris, Nice, Honfleur, etc. Similarly, we preferred the quieter neighborhood of our Parisian apartment to our usual choices in Montparnasse. Of course, the irony of being tourists looking for non-touristy places is not lost on me.
Finally it is the beauty of the land itself, its having been replanned and reworked for so many centuries--the placement of its stone houses, vineyards, orchards, and village markets--that make travel in France so special. The country has distilled all the flavors of life into a sensual essence, and though the technologies and efficiencies of the 21st century do intrude more and more, anyone with a hunger for beauty, light, good food and drink, and personal style will be satisfied there with just a little effort and planning. We hope you enjoy the photos.