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Going Places: A Few Moments Getting Lost In France

The countryside near Bernières sur Mer, Normandy.
Olivier Engel
The countryside near Bernières sur Mer, Normandy."

We've talked about France many times before on Going Places. But this week, we're going to see the country through a slightly different perspective.

Joan Harkins lives in Seattle and recently started importing cider and calvados— a French apple brandy — from the Normandy region of France. She spends a lot of time traveling in the more distant parts of the countryside, away from the path usually beaten by tourists.

Her recommendations:

1. It's easier than ever to research small places. Google Maps very often provides a streetview, or at least a close-up look from above. Look for Airbnb or VRBO rentals with lots of positive reviews. Quantity is important here — you want to find a place that's been written about glowingly several times over. One or two good reviews does not a guarantee make.

2. Pack lightly. If you rent a car, you'll find the trunks are often smaller than we're used to in the states. If you don't rent a car, you'll probably be traveling by rail, and will want to be able to move quickly and easily.

3. If you do rent a car, make sure it comes with a GPS for directions. Many places in rural France don't have street addresses. They have names, they have postal codes, they have village names — and sometimes they just give you the longitude and latitude. Joan illustrates the importance of this point in the audio above.


"Going Places" is 88.5's weekly exploration of travel. Joan Harkins is our special guest this week. She’s the founder of French Cider, a Seattle-based importer of ciders and calvados. Our usual travel expert, Matthew Brumley, will be back next week. 

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Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.