Posted by: mdmusingsie | December 28, 2019

Beginning in Bernin

I’ve done so little traveling about Europe since moving to Ireland, when a friend invited me to France over the holidays, I jumped at the chance.

Unless you’re visiting family or doing something like skiing, traveling in the wintertime can limit the available sightseeing opportunities. In France you have to beware of the intermittent worker strikes as well.  Only the former affected my trip.  That and the French lunch hour(s) where many businesses and attractions are closed from around 12:00 (noon) until 2:00 pm for lunch.  Therefore, to visit more than one attraction in a day plan to be at one in the morning, take a very leisurely lunch, and go to the second in the afternoon.  The other thing to be aware of when traveling in France, is many attractions only have tours and/or exhibits in French.  My French is trés peau/pauvre, but I can read more than I can speak.

My ex-coworker/friend lives in a small village outside of Grenoble in southeastern France in a valley of the French Alps. One side of the mountains, bordering Switzerland, are tall peaks covered in snow. On the other side of the valley are smaller rock cliffs.

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Several of the roundabouts even had festive Christmas decorations, including this one on the outskirts of Bernin.


Somewhat like Ireland, there are castles or châteaux everywhere. The main difference in France is that most of them are intact and inhabited, either by familes who allow you to take photos from outside the gates, hotels, or tourist attractions.

We checked our lists (and websites) twice as we headed for the first of the castle-hunting expeditions.

Chateau de Vizille is a gorgeous castle not far from Grenoble.  Well, the outside is gorgeous, anyway.  Despite our double checking, the facility, including the museum that depicts the start of the French revolution which began in the region, was closed.  We weren’t the only ones who expected it to be open, there were other people who had come to visit – even the postman hadn’t expected them to be closed.

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After a walk around the lovely park grounds, we spotted a very small sign by the entry – probably one-inch cut off a piece of standard paper where they had typed, in fine print, that they would be closed from December 22nd until January 1st.  C’est la vie, as the French say.

We stopped for another outside photo only chateau, but this time we knew they were closed.  Chateau Touvet is only open during the spring and summer. One side of the 13th century chateau was built on a cliff but it also has a moat (full of fish) surrounding the buildings. We could see snatches of the gardens, which are terraced and in a formal style. According to Wikipedia, the estate is still in the possession of descendents of the original owners, which is impressive.

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  1. What a grand holiday for you, Dawn!

  2. I love hearing about your travels!

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

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