My First Time Going to France

The #FranceNature Challenge

Late August, I got an email inviting me to take part in a blogger challenge in France, nothing less! In collaboration with Air France and Rail Europe, Atout France was organizing this huge contest where participants could win a trip for two to France. My role was to document my trip and to make participants want to vote for my region.

We were 6 Canadian bloggers to fly to France and we would all be dispatched to a different region. The theme of our trip was “NATURE”, meaning that there would be plenty of outdoor adventures on the program. What you don’t know is that we only learned our exact destination once we got to the airport! Exciting much?

 

Preparation

So, I knew that I was going to France and I knew we would be doing outdoorsy activities.

Step 1: My Passport

Of course (of course!), my passport was expired. A week before leaving, I had to run to the Passport Canada offices to apply for a new passport, “rush”! It honestly went really well. I already had all my papers and photos in order, so I just asked to get my new passport as soon as possible. 48h before my flight and 140$ later, I was all set.

 

 

Step 2: My Luggage

So, what do you put in your suitcase when you don’t really know where you’re going? Everything! Fall weather in France varies a lot, depending on where you are.

Apart from the basics (sweaters, pants, underwear and toothbrush), here is my must-haves list :

– Sunglasses
– Cap
– Windbreaker jacket
– Hiking shoes
– Sandals
– Sports bra
– Scarf
– Lip balm
– Reusable water bottle
– Phone charger
– Converters and adapters

Since I had way too much stuff to bring, I brought a 4-wheel suitcase, a duffle bag and a backpack. (I promised myself I’ll pack light next time!) I brought my computer so I could stay connected and work during my trip as well as my Nikon camera.

 

France, Here I Come!

When I got to the airport, I was welcomed by Marie-Andrée (Atout France) and Diane (Air France) who gave me a big red enveloppe containing a big secret: my destination!

Five of six bloggers taking part of the challenge met at the Montreal International Airport. The sixth blogger left from Calgary. When we all got there, we could finally open our enveloppe. To be honest, I was just so excited to leave for France that I didn’t really mind where I was going.

The destinations were :

– Auvergne & Lyon
– Bordeaux
– Burgundy & Champagne
– Occitanie – South of France
– Provence & Languedoc-Méditerranée
– Loire Valley

And I got… Provence & Languedoc-Méditerranée! You’ll learn more about my wonderful program very soon.

 


5 of the 6 bloggers taking part to the challenge : Carrie MacPherson, Stephanie White, Me (!!), Marie-Eve Blanchard and Rachel Latour.

 

Arriving in France

We were very well taken care of by the Air France flight crew. Once we arrived in Paris, we separated to go to our assigned destination; we would reunite a week later to tell each other about our adventures. When we got off the plane, people were waiting for us to accompany us through the airport.

I had to take the TGV to Avignon, so I stayed in the airport for a little while (three hours). Of course, my first language being French, I wasn’t too confused, and could always ask someone if I needed help getting around.

My TGV ride with Rail Europe was two and a half hours long, so I got to sleep and enjoy the view. Once I got to Avignon, I met with Valérie who was the first of the dozen amazing people who made sure that I had a wonderful experience (because I really did!).

 

Part 2: Uzès and Canoeing under the Pont du Gard

Part 3: Saint-Gilles and Driving a Boat on the Canal du Rhône à Sète

Part 4: Avignon and Horseback Riding in Camargue

Part 5: Pernes les Fontaines and Mountain Biking on the Mont Ventoux

Part 6: Orange and Rock Climbing at the Dentelles de Montmirail

 

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