France Travel Planning, And More | une femme d'un certain âge

Free-Range Friday: France Travel Planning, Sunscreen, And More

Canal at edge of Chateau de Chenonceau in Loire Valley. More at une femme d'un certain age.

In 2014 we spent several days in the Loire Valley region of France, and as part of our itinerary, we visited some of the chateaux the area is famous for. One of my favorites was the Chateau de Chenonceau. The grounds and gardens were absolutely gorgeous, as was the Chateau itself. It has a fascinating history, shaped in no small part by many powerful women who lived there over the centuries. You can read more about Chenonceau HERE, and see more of my photos and recaps HERE and HERE.

Travel Planning And Prep

I’ve set aside a magazine article on some of the chateaux in the Burgundy region, where we’ll be headed in late May. I’ll be reading up this weekend and making some notes. If anyone has suggestions for either spots to visit or interesting books on the history of that area (Beaune and Lyon), I’d love your suggestions! I like to read either a history or a biography of a historical figure from an area before we visit, as I find it helps contextualize some of what we see.

Those of you planning to travel to France this Spring should be aware that there are ongoing train strikes scheduled 2 days per week from now into June. Usually our travel plans include some train travel, but this year we decided to rent a car, as we’ll be spending several days in the countryside. Strikes are always a possibility in France, so it’s good to stay on top of the situation and have backup plans. (Thanks to Marg for the heads-up!)

Portable Sun Protection


Supergoop purse size hand cream with 40 SPF. Details at une femme d'un certain age.I’m super diligent about applying sunscreen to my face and neck daily, but haven’t always been when it comes to my hands. Sure, you can apply sunscreen in the morning, but as soon as you wash your hands…poof! gone. I’ve been using this Supergoop! sunscreen on my face and neck the last few weeks and have been quite pleased with it. So I was happy to find a hand cream with Broad Spectrum SPF 40 from Supergoop! in a purse-sized tube. You bet I’ll be traveling with this!

Making Eyes

New favorite mascara: Charlotte Tilbury Full Fat Lashes.

I’ve been meaning to share this product, and a question in yesterday’s comments prompted me to mention it here. As part of my quest to transition to beauty products that aren’t tested on animals, I’ve been trying new products as my old ones run out. I’ve raved before about Charlotte Tilbury’s “Light Wonder” foundation, and a few weeks ago picked up the Full Fat Lashes Mascara to try. Love it!! Coverage is buildable without clumping, stays put all day, and washes off easily. It goes on just as smoothly as my prior favorite, Le Volume de Chanel, and it’s a few dollars less.

A Few Sales To Share

Eileen Fisher48 Hour Eco Pop Up Sale, 40% off 

Bloomingdale’sFriends & Family 25% off selected items

Vince25% off with code SPRING

Loeffler Randall30% off all shoes with code VIPFF2018

J.Crew20% off 2 styles, 30% off 3 styles, code TAKE2030

Lands’ End25% off full-priced styles, code CLOUDS, pin 8011

Macy’sextra 20% off, code SAVE

Bon weekend!

Stay in touch.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for See my complete disclosure policy here.


  1. April 6, 2018 / 4:26 am

    We really liked Chalon-sur-Saone as well, which is near Beaune. Beaune is famous for its wine, as is the whole district of course. Chalon is a little less touristy than Beaune. We used to look for a second home there. The funny thing is, when you drive down the highway from the north to the south, then the region at the right side of the road, is hilly, lots of cute villages, houses bundled together. Here is the wine. And on the left side of the road is the area Bresse, famous for its chickens. Flat like The Netherlands, farmland, boring as hell. Strange right?
    Lyon is a pretty city right at the center. A bit industrial on the outskirts. And a hell to drive through. Luckily there is a highway around it, but we took a wrong turn on two trips and had to go right through the center.
    PS France is really no fun for me as I don’t drink wine. And of course Italy is the same… But I do like champagne.

    • Deirdre Smirh
      April 6, 2018 / 12:04 pm

      There is so much more to France than the wine! There is always something special to taste, so many regional dishes. And for sightseeing..armed with some good guide books you can spend a life time in France!!

      • April 7, 2018 / 12:01 pm

        Just “seconding” the comments about Chalon-sur-Saone, such an interesting town. The vineyard hills in the area are so beautiful. We hiked through on the marked pathways. You can also rent bikes and ride.

        Last September we stayed in Beaune two nights, but found the restaurants “iffy” — then we moved a few miles outside of Beaune and stayed at a B & B for another couple of days. The owners actually warned us that so many of the restaurants in Beaune just cater to tourists, that they are not worried about return visits, which explained the disappointing meals!

        However, they recommended a fantastic little restaurant in a small town nearby and made a reservation for us. Had a fabulous memorable meal with excellent service there. I speak some French and they appreciated the effort, but did speak enough English that there was no problem. By the way, we used Google maps offline version to get there (works great — download the map you want in advance and they are searchable, no roaming charges!). The restaurant is here:

        In Beaune, we did the self-guided tour of Patriarche cellars — very interesting walking through the caves under the streets of Beaune. We learned so much about the wines and the fact that the area is a UNESCO world heritage site for the interaction between the vineyards/environment and humans over the centuries. Fascinating history.

        In 2015 we visited Lyon and really loved it; found it like a relaxed cousin of Paris. We went by train, so didn’t deal with traffic, walked everywhere. We stayed at a lovely little hotel in the old town “Hotel des Artistes”, not luxury but comfortable, friendly and VERY well located for walking everywhere. Lots to see in Lyon and make sure you eat Salade Lyonnaise! If you are there on a Sunday morning, the market along the river is a fantastic place for breakfast and photo opportunities. One of the best fresh markets I have seen.

        Sigh….can’t wait to go back!

  2. Susan G
    April 6, 2018 / 5:21 am

    A good blog to read about Lyon, Lucy’s Kitchen Notebook.
    She’s an artist/ex-pat who teaches cooking classes in Lyon. Very evocative, very informative.

    • April 7, 2018 / 5:40 pm

      Yes, that is lovely, and also gives an idea of some of the hills in Lyon. Remember that they are exercise, but also bring appropriate footwear. Nowadays appropriate need not be “sensible” aka ugly footwear; there are lots of nice choices now. Thanks for that great blog.

  3. Judy
    April 6, 2018 / 6:19 am

    Sounds like you will have a wonderful trip. We always rent cars for the freedom they provide. However, beware of the speed cameras. They are everywhere.
    We drove from Paris to the south of France, stopping along the way in a month long trip. No problems and wonderful scenery. Dijon and Lyon are nice but my favorites are in the south Eze and Saint-Paul de Vence.
    We have rented cars many times in Italy for trips along the Amalfi coast. And Tuscany…Driving in Rome can be a challenge, as well around Positano.. The best trip was renting in Munich and driving down to Venice then Lake Como and lake Garda. Renting and returning to Munich was a breeze. A wonderful drive.
    In Sept. It is Umbria. And in a few weeks, Portugal. Driving can be a challenge with the language but a good GPS is how you do it. And we always rent apartments/houses for the space. Have a great trip!

  4. Jan
    April 6, 2018 / 6:22 am

    Hi Susan! Don’t miss Chateau le Rochpot-very authentic, Burgundian tiled roof, frozen in time- and chateau de Vougeot, the headquarters for the Burgundy wine region, beautiful setting! We stayed in Vougeot(tiny) and could walk to it through the vines daily. Also very near the Abbey de Citeaux, beginnings of Cistereans & wine if I remember correctly! Gorgeous area, have fun!

  5. April 6, 2018 / 6:52 am

    Of course, two of the scheduled strike dates happen to be on the two days we’ve booked train travel! We’d rather not be stuck with a car this trip, nor with hefty drop-off charges as we’d be renting from Paris but have already booked a one-way flight back to Paris at the end of our travels. So we’ve bought back-up bus tickets for the first date and if necessary will do the same for the second, a shorter trip. Ouch! (We got caught in the last big strike back in 2014, and it cost nearly $700 (CDN) to rent a car for the day — just to get from Bordeaux to Paris where we were catching a flight.)
    Renting a car is a smart way for you to go this time ’round, for sure!

  6. Kay Frances
    April 6, 2018 / 6:56 am

    If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of Ina Caro’s travel and history book The Road from the Past, which is about her travels in France. Fascinating.

  7. Lyn
    April 6, 2018 / 7:22 am

    We leave for the Loire region in 2 weeks. We are renting a car once we are there, but going to and from by train.
    I’ve needed to change both train trips because of the strike, and we had to cut a day off the Loire portion. (That means an extra day in Paris. I think I can deal with that.) I’m glad most of my hotel reservations are flexible, The lower rates for the non-cancellable ones were tempting, but you never know…….

  8. April 6, 2018 / 7:27 am

    We always rent cars. In France in 2015 we travelled north from Paris, to see the WWI battlefields (Vimy is a must for any Canadian travelling to France, IMO) then back south to Provence, and circled back up to the Loire (saw that same lovely Chateau as pictured on this post) and then back to Paris. We loved it. And never took a super highway once, sticking to the smaller more scenic roads, and the smaller towns and villages. We always rent our cars for travel through Auto Europe, recommended by well travelled friends. And we’ve never had an issue. Their rates are really good and they’re located in the States. We go through an operator who is based in New England (not that far from my home in New Brunswick) so Stu always inquires about the weather, as well as about the cars.
    I have no recommendations for you except to say have a great trip. Enjoy the scenery, and the wine, and let Hubby worry about the traffic. 🙂 Of course, I don’t mean enjoy the wine while you are IN the car. Ha.

  9. Liz A.
    April 6, 2018 / 8:40 am

    I also really enjoy reading an historical novel or a biography of someone interesting from the region that I will be visiting. I haven’t yet been to Burgundy, though it’s on my short list. I don’t have a book recommendation, but you might enjoy checking out the new film, Back to Burgundy, which is still in theaters and has gotten good reviews.

  10. Donna Oliphint
    April 6, 2018 / 10:20 am

    Beaune was the best part of our trip to southern France a couple of years ago. Have fun!

  11. Julie
    April 6, 2018 / 10:53 am

    Susan there is a great article about a road trip in Burgandy in this months Conde Nast Traveler. It has some wonderful suggestions.
    I would suggest bicycling through the vineyard near Beaune. Be certain to do the one that drives you to the top of the hill and lets you glide downhill on the bikes. Otherwise its very difficult.

  12. Karen
    April 6, 2018 / 11:16 am

    I arrive in Paris on 4/23. I found a website that shows that as a train strike day. Does the strike include trains from the airport to downtown Paris?

  13. Donna Oliphint
    April 6, 2018 / 12:07 pm

    Forgot to say we ate at Le Caveau des Arches–fabulous! And we took the Burgundy Discovery Gormet Grand Premium Tour and loved it. (

  14. Pam F
    April 6, 2018 / 12:08 pm

    Try to go see the French movie “Back to Burgundy”. It was just released here in No. Cal two weeks ago. Also, everyone seems to love Beaune.

  15. Linda
    April 6, 2018 / 1:31 pm

    We have found renting a car in France a fantastic way to see places off the beaten track. For navigation we used our iPhone hooked to a wifi unit and google maps. Much more accurate a GPS unit. Enjoy your trip….looking forward to hearing about it on your blog.

    • Jennie
      April 6, 2018 / 2:24 pm

      Which wifi unit did you use? I’ve been looking at Skyroam, but it has mixed reviews.

  16. Kay
    April 6, 2018 / 2:11 pm

    My frequent haunt in France is Savoie where my in-laws live. The French Alps are different from Paris but just as much of an adventure.

  17. Sandra
    April 6, 2018 / 2:59 pm

    About an hour outside of Lyon is the town of Izieu where many Jewish children were hidden from the Nazis during the war. Unfortunately, the children were discovered and deported to Auschwitz. Their home has been transformed into a memorial and museum. Very moving and worth the trip.

    Tete d’Or park in Lyon is a gem and great for strolling. The Hospice in Beaune is a must. Bonnes vacances, Sue!

    • April 7, 2018 / 3:23 pm

      Yes, that is definitely worth a visit, though it is very sad. I have a friend who was a hidden child, along with her Italian-Jewish family, in officially fascist Italy! She is about 85 now, and fortunately in good physical and intellectual health (she was a professor of Italian in Paris).

  18. Debra
    April 6, 2018 / 5:43 pm

    Did you see the film Paris Can Wait? If so, you’ll see the restaurant Daniel et Denise in Lyon; highly recommended. Also be sure to visit the food hall named after Paul Bocuse.

    I’ll be following your trip as we are headed to Bourgogne in June. We are starting in Sancerre/Pouilly and then driving to Beaune, and then back to Orly where we will leave the car before spending five days in Paris. No real plans except to eat, drink and relax.

  19. Catherine
    April 6, 2018 / 11:06 pm

    Our granddaughter had to change her train ticket to a flight from Nice to Paris, where she is meeting us in a couple of weeks, and we suggested she take the Le Bus Direct from the airport. We have been in Paris for a while and the buses and metro seem to be normal so far

  20. Julie
    April 7, 2018 / 12:06 pm

    And…….be sure to watch A Year In Burgandy if you have not already. Excellent.

  21. April 7, 2018 / 3:30 pm

    I spent a month in Lyon, doing historical research, so obviously this will influence my choice of points of interest. Of course it is also famous as a centre of French gastronomy, and the gateway to the Alpine regions. Northwestern Italy and Switzerland aren’t far. I have friends in Turin as well, so I’ve taken the train between them.

    Lugdunum was a major Roman city, long before Paris was important. The strategic position at the confluence of two major rivers with hills on either side is obvious, and it has long been an important agricultural centre.

    I’ve visited the Roman installations with a friend who is also a history geek, but the expanded museum will greatly enhance your visit. There is a funicular, and car parking nearby (not obvious in old cities).

    Lyon is also very well known for its silk industry, and for the Jacquard loom. The canuts were the silk weavers, and their hard lives were in contrast to the beautiful goods they produced for the high clergy and the nobility, and later for the bourgeois class. When I visited this museum almost 30 years ago, it was interesting but relatively small then, it may have expanded in the meantime and the documentation is obviously far more advanced.

    Lyon is also well-known as an important centre of the Resistance in France, and in particular the unification of the different resistance movements.
    An interesting aspect of Lyon’s gastronomy is the strong role played by women, who were originally personal cooks of “grandes familles bourgeoises”, but economic crisis meant they had to find another way to use their culinary skills,

    This site is also in English:

    As everywhere, there are several public markets, along the banks of the Saône and up in la Croix-Rousse, a former quartier populaire that is trendy now.

    And there are quaint villages nearby to discover; Pérouges comes to mind.

    I can’t answer questions about current restaurants, food shops or lodging, as I haven’t been there for 20 years, but don’t hesitate to ask me if there is anything you don’t understand on sites in French.

  22. April 9, 2018 / 3:46 am

    In Burgundy, check out Auberge du Camp Romain in Chassey-le-Camp. Lovely place to stay, or just to eat.
    In Lyon, you have to really make an effort or be incredibly unlucky to eat badly. The restaurant competition is fierce, and they are all at the top of their game. I gained five pounds in two days there. Completely worth it.

  23. April 9, 2018 / 9:48 am

    Yes, there are far fewer poor restaurants in Lyon than in Paris. If you walk a lot up and down those hills – La Croix rousse and Fourvière are rather formidable – that can do a lot to counteract putting on a bit of weight. Le parc de la tête d’or. That might be a nice area to stay in; it is just across the river from the centre, and very green.

  24. April 9, 2018 / 10:14 am

    Thank you for your suggestions regarding the Paris train strike. We are going to be in Paris in June. I am hopeful the strike will be resolved. I have a shuttle for transportation from the airport to our hotel, but we are going to Disneyland Paris and I will need to get transportation for day trip. I am praying they will get the strike

  25. April 11, 2018 / 5:26 am

    What a wonderful post and helpful comments from everyone. As a result I’m now watching A Year in Burgundy.

    I’m also currently visiting friends in New Orleans and eating great food at restaurants and home-prepared. It’s a reminder of how much more some locales value cuisine than do others. We’re old enough to marvel how much food in the US has improved since we were born.

  26. chrisreynaud
    April 18, 2018 / 11:15 am

    I lived in Lyon for 10 years before finally moving to Switzerland 25 years ago. I love and miss Lyon to this day, and cherish our occasional weekend trips there. I would definitely recommend la Brasserie Georges for Sunday lunch with atmosphere. Family anniversary gatherings, lone couples, elderly folk on their own, groups of friends… it’s huge and fascinating to see how they deal with any and all situations! It is also a good place to go if you are not sure you will love typical Lyon dishes, which can be challenging for the uninitiated. The local specialities are all there, but there are other options too.
    Have a fantastic time!

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