The Important Often Forgotten Art of How Not to See Everything on A French Holiday

By: Corina Clemence


So you are travelling to France for your next vacation. You've have selected a location, booked your accommodation, organised your travel. That is the easy part of the "where" and the "how." The trickiest part of enjoying and planning your vacation comes next when you need to tackle the "what" issue. That is what are you going to do and what are you going to see. Please do not even contemplate 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 tendency our advice is simply do not go. You will be as stressed as if you never left your 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 at photos of various chateaux and not be able to distinguish which one was which. Your vacation will be one continuous chateau blur. You will 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 acting possessed and forever intent 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) chateau 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 rejuvenated and rested. 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 unwind. 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 of planning the itinerary and wanted to make sure no one could later complain that they missed something.

Always remember most people vacation in France for the experience that is unique and totally different from their everyday American, English, or Antipodean existence. Find yourself a bistro, a little cafe, or a pub. Sit down. Order something. Listen to the locals chatting. Talk to a stranger even if it is in Franglais. Savour that glass of wine. Smell that freshly baked bread Relax you are on holiday.

And do not forget, if you miss something important - no problem. It is the ideal excuse to return for another relaxing holiday another time.

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Corina Clemence operates Chateau du Guerinet a luxury chateau near Blois in the Loire Valley, for up to 15 people perfect for visiting vineyards, chateaux and relaxing and not doing everything. The chateau can be rented exclusively for a family holiday or a wedding or the six luxury rooms can be rented individually. Rent a castle in France. www.loirechateau.com Rent Loire Valley chateau.

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