October 2020

 

About Intimate France — We travel every spring and fall to Europe's most beautiful destinations. Our small groups (usually eight travelers, never more than 16) guarantee you the utmost in personal service and attention to detail. Learn more about us or contact Intimate France.
 

WHAT ABOUT COVID?

We've updated our cancellation policy to reflect public health developments in 2020. Our new policy significantly relaxes reimbursement deadlines, giving you far more confidence to book a tour in 2021.

 

(You should know that payments for tours in 2020, all of which we were forced to cancel, were refunded at 100% to all Intimate France travelers.)

 

In summary, all deposits ($750/person/tour, due upon enrollment) will be fully refundable until 90 days before tour departure.

 

Full payment is still due 90 days before departure, with the following reimbursement policy in force:

 

TRAVEL BAN OR ADVISORY. Full payment will be fully refundable in the event one of the following happens:

 

• United States authorities (or authorities in the home country of the traveler) put the European destination country or specific region of our Intimate France tour on a do-not-travel list, either mandatory or advisory, within 30 days of tour departure.

 

• European authorities prohibit Americans (or residents of the traveler's home country) from traveling for tourism purposes to the destination country or region including the period within 30 days of tour departure.
 

CANCELLATION ABSENT A TRAVEL BAN OR ADVISORY. 

 

• Cancellation 90 days or more before departure, 100% refund, including deposits and any other payments.

 

• Cancellation 60-89 days out, Intimate France retains deposit ($750/person/tour).

 

• Cancellation 30-59 days out, Intimate France retains deposit plus 25% of final payment.

 

• Cancellation 8-30 days out, Intimate France retains deposit plus 50% of final payment.

 

• Cancellation 0-7 days out, Intimate France retains deposit plus 75% of final payment.

 

All cancellations must be in writing (via postal mail or email) and received by Intimate France within time periods shown above.

 

 

 

Château de Hautefort, Dordogne tour.

 

A photo essay

A LOIRE-STYLE CASTLE IN DORDOGNE

 

By George Nevin

Founder-owner, Intimate France

 

It's been said that France's Dordogne has more than 1,000 castles, which is not surprising, because the region was long the borderland between France and the duchy held by the Normans, who were rulers at the time of England.

 

France and England warred over the Dordogne (and much of the rest of southwestern France) for a long, long time — around 300 years, from the time (in 1154) when a huge chunk of western France came under Norman/English rule to the mid-1400s.

 

During this time, hostilities ebbed and returned, and were most active between 1337 and 1453, the so-called Hundred Years War. (Mathematically inclined readers will see that the "hundred years" really spanned 116 years; medieval historians weren't so good at numbers.)

 

As was usually the case in medieval Europe, Dordogne's castles were defensive hulks — think thick walls, moats, crenelated watch paths and draw bridges.

 

By contrast, by the time French kings began building the castles (châteaux) of the Loire River, much of the medieval era's unrest had passed, and these châteaux were residential, not fortified.

 

Which brings us to the Château de Hautefort, in northern Dordogne.

 

Interior, Châtreau de Hautefort, Dordogne.

 

Hautefort got its start in the 9th century as a classic defensive fortress, but by the 1600s more peaceful times had arrived and the castle was rebuilt as a grand palace. A few defensive elements remained, including an impressive moat and battlements, but in fact no one expected to hole up there and fight besiegers.

 

Over the years, Hautefort (which means "high and strong") enjoyed prosperous times and lean ones, and remained in private ownership. Perhaps its most dramatic moment in recent history came in 1968, when a devastating fire started by a careless young person burned the entire interior.

 

The paintings, wooden floors and beams, furniture and fabrics made a grand blaze. Little was left but the stone walls. The heat even cracked the stones of a monumental staircase. Only one stone step was undamaged. You can see this step at the bottom left of the staircase.

 


The nearest stone step is the only original one.

 

The village of Hautefort itself is as adorable as the castle is magnificent. The village, dating from the early middle ages and first documented in 987, huddles at the base of the castle hill. Wander its streets, admiring the stone houses topped with characteristic roofs of brown and slate tiles to absorb the flavor of an authentic southern French settlement little changed in 1,000 years.

 

Wikimedia Commons

Village of Hautefort huddles below the château.

 

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A photo essay

ENCHANTING VILLAGE OF COLLIOURE

 

Collioure, on the Mediterranean, Languedoc tour.

 

The most enchanting fishing port in southern France, hands down, is Collioure, just a few kilometers north of France's border with Spain.

 

This town of around 2,500 still makes its living in part by fishing, in this case for tiny, briny anchovies that have been a local specialty for centuries. Two salting operations on the town's outskirts still preserve the little fish the traditional way, filleting them by hand, placing them in straight lines in white paper and then packing them in jars with water, oil or vinegar.

 

Few experiences enchant like dinner by the Med.

 

Tourism, of course, is important in Collioure and there are few greater joys than wandering cobbled, medieval streets (still enclosed by sturdy town walls) and poking your head into enchanting boutiques and art galleries.

 

For art is the town's third economic mainstay, and has been since around 1905, when Henri Matisse arrived here and gushed, "No sky in all of France is more blue than that of Collioure."

 

Matisse and fellow artist André Dérain planted their easels, and soon a host of other artists joined them, among them Raoul Dufy and Pablo Picasso. Today Collioure is proud of these artists dubbed Fauve, a word meaning "wild beasts," for these men painted with an abandon not known in French art up until now.

 

Stroll through the enchanting streets of Collioure and you'll come across stylized picture frames, empty, on metal pedestals. Peer through them to see the views the Fauvists saw when creating their groundbreaking art.

 

Fort St.-Elme (1552) soars above rooftops of Collioure.

 

The fourth pillar of the local economy is wine. Collioure is known for its reds, but also produces rosé and white. Not far away, a few kilometers to the south, is the seaside village of Banyuls, whose vintners make a delicious, sweet fortified wine from several varieties of grenache grapes.

 

Wikimedia Commons

Sweet Banyuls apéritif wine is delicious.

 

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Travel Quirks

WHEN A REVIEW GETS YOU JAILED

 

Creative Commons

Be careful what you say about resorts in Thailand.

 

An American living in Thailand faces possible jail time and a fine for posting a negative review of a Thai resort on social media.

 

According to multiple press reports, the American man wasn't happy with his stay at the seaside resort and said so, several times, on Tripadvisor and other travel review platforms.

 

According to reports, he called staff at the resort rude, said working conditions for employees were horrendous and advised other travelers to avoid the resort "like it was the Coronavirus."

 

Thai defamation laws allow the target of a negative review to file a complaint, which can be enforced by taking the person doing the posting into custody.

 

That is what happened, apparently, to the American. It was reported that he was seized by immigration police, transported back to the resort, held there briefly and then released on bail.

 

The lesson — as your mom probably told you, if you can't say something nice in Thailand .. well, you know the rest.

 

2021 TOUR REBOOT:
 OUR PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR

(HINT — THERE ARE CHANGES)

11th century church, St Jean de Côle, Dordogne tour.

 

By George Nevin

Founder-owner, Intimate France

 

A few months ago, we at Intimate France Tours bowed to the inevitable and canceled all 2020 departures — three guesses why, and the first two don't count.

 

At that time we posted what we hoped would be our 2021 tour schedule.

 

But now, after reflection, we're tweaking our 2021 plans a bit, as you can see on our website, intimatefrance.com.

 

• We're keeping our previously announced May 2021 trip to Provence and our September 2021 tour of lovely Dordogne.

 

• In place of our spring 2021 tour of Burgundy and the French Alps, we're reinstating Burgundy & Alsace, which we were forced to cancel in 2020.

 

• Likewise, we're reinstating Languedoc, France, in fall 2021, also a tour we had to cancel for 2020.

 

Confused? Don't be. The full lineup can be seen here.

 

Adorable harbor of Collioure, Languedoc tour.

 

Why make these changes? For a company as small as Intimate France, deciding on a tour lineup for any given year is more art than science. It involves sussing out what tours have been popular in the past (Dordogne is a perennial favorite), what tours haven't been offered recently (the pent-up-demand theory), and our own personal travel desires.

 

(It should be noted that we founded Intimate France 26 years ago in part out of a desire to travel more. Boy, has that worked!)

 

Our 2020 tour of Romantic Germany (canceled, of course) attracted only a handful of travelers, so replacing that tour for 2021 was a no-brainer. We decided to slot in Provence, where we operated our very first Intimate France tour in 1994.

 

As for changing 2020's Burgundy & French Alps to Burgundy & Alsace, enrollment in the latter was robust in 2020 and we are hoping that many of those travelers still want to see these two lovely parts of France.

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THE SIGNS HAVE IT — FRENCH STYLE

 

The French have a real way with words, and this shows up in cities, towns and villages everywhere. Herewith some of our favorite signs, culled from many over the years.

 

 

Outside a shop, village of Mirepoix, Languedoc

 

 

The sign reads: "Notice to passers-by still able to read. The receptacle situated just below these words is a flower pot, not a garbage can. Definition of flower pot: A receptacle designed to receive flowers and only flowers. Definition of garbage can: In the proper sense, a receptacle designed to receive discards, particularly household trash. The difference between the two definitions is certainly subtle but does exist. Thank you for taking this into account. Good afternoon or evening."

 

On a house, village of St. Jean de Côle, Dordogne

 

 

A smooth river stone hangs on a string in front of the sign, which reads:

 

Weather station, St. Jean de Côle. Weather stone.

 

• Stone wet — rain

• Stone dry — no rain

• Shadow cast — sunny

• Traces of white — snow

• Stone not visible — fog

• Stone swinging — wind

• Stone jumping around — earthquake

• No stone — I've been robbed!

 

On a shop wall, Sarlat-la-Canéda, Dordogne

 

 

The shop sells items containing truffles, a signature food of the Périgord region, which includes Dordogne. The sign reads:

 

"Attention, ladies and gentlemen. You can now find in supermarkets truffles at €10 per 100 grams. This is not the truffle of Périgord, but Chinese truffles (tuber indicum). The name of the truffle of Périgord is tuber melanosporum !!!"

 

Needless to say, tuber melanosporum is more expensive than tuber indicum.

 

On a residential gatepost in Dordogne

 

 

The sign reads:

 

"Beware of dog. As of today (the following have been bitten):

 

• Six postal carriers

 

• 17 soccer balls

 

• Eight thieves"

 

On shop fronts throughout France

 

 

This is one of our favorite French puns — a dry cleaning franchise called 5àsec (literally "five to dry.") These shops can be found all over France and in other parts of the world as well, though not in the United States.

 

Makes no sense, right? Not to Americans, perhaps, but it helps to know that in France, an illicit liaison is known as a "cinq à sept," or five to seven, those hours being when the lovers meet. 5àsec is pronounced almost the same, with the exception of the final consonant.

 

                                                                                  

 

 

HOW TO ENROLL FOR 2021

 

We are assembling a no-obligation 'interest list' for 2021 tours. Contact us to be put on the list and we'll notify you when conditions allow European travel to resume. See the lineup below or on our website: www.intimatefrance.com

 

When might this be? No one knows for sure but we are guessing that early (January-February) 2021 might bring some clarity to the travel picture.

 

If you are interested in a tour and do get notified, quick action is advised — as most tours max out at eight travelers, they can fill well in advance.

Gordes, sometimes called the Athens of Provence.

 

Provence, France,
May 2-14, 2021

                                                            

 

Charming wine village of Eguisheim, Alsace, France.

 

Burgundy-Alsace, France,
May 16-28, 2021

 

                                                                            

 

Pilgrimage village of Rocamadour, France

 

Dordogne, France,

Sept. 5-17, 2021  

                                                                               

 

After dark, Cité of Carcassonne.

 

Languedoc, France,

Sept. 19-Oct. 1, 2021
 

                                                                                  

 

ARCHIVED E-NEWSLETTERS 

 

• DECEMBER 2019 —  TWO GERMAN CASTLES  

• SEPTEMBER 2019 —  MORE EUROPEAN QUIRKS  

• JULY 2019 —  QUIRKY THINGS AROUND EUROPE 

• MARCH 2019 —  BORROMEAN CATS PART II

• FEBRUARY 2019 —  BORROMEAN CATS PART I

• NOVEMBER 2018 —  THE SOUTH OF FRANCE

• JULY 2018 —  THE SOUTH OF FRANCE

• MAY 2018 —  CURRENCY IN EUROPE 

• DECEMBER 2017 — JUST BACK FROM BASQUE 

• NOVEMBER 2017 — JUST BACK FROM DORDOGNE

• SEPTEMBER 2017 — HOTEL MONEY GRAB

• JULY 2017 — THE LATEST TRAVEL SCAM

• APRIL 2017 — DORDOGNE'S NEW CAVE REPLICA

• FEBRUARY 2017 — BEST OF EUROPE PART II

• JANUARY 2017 — BEST OF EUROPE PART I

• NOVEMBER 2016 — MEDITERRANEAN SPAIN

• OCTOBER 2016 — LANGUEDOC, S. FRANCE
• SEPTEMBER 2016 — SWISS AND FRENCH ALPS

• AUGUST 2016 — PROVENCE, FRANCE

• JUNE 2016 — BURGUNDY AND FRENCH ALPS