Day Hike: Tournon-sur-Rhône Loop

The first thing I saw when I got off the train in Tain was green-and-beige-patterned hillside, vineyards under blue May skies. “Drink ya later,” I thought, and walked into town. I passed store fronts selling the same grapes in red wine form and crossed a bridge into Tournon-sur-Rhône, another pretty little town dominated by a historic…

How to Travel Alone

A friend of mine once all but recoiled when I told her that, when she came to visit me, she should feel free to explore on her own while I was at work. She was annoyed that I’d even suggested it, and told me there wasn’t anything she felt comfortable doing by herself. Another friend recently insisted…

Day Hike: Trayas to Théoule-sur-Mer

The Côte d’Azur conjures images of starlets, Lost Generation writers, designer-clad convertible-owners, and tanned beach babes, all strutting and partying their pretty selves alongside the sparkly blue sea. In reality, it’s also chock full of assholes, overpriced meals, elitist shades of the ridiculous, and tourists with pretensions. But oh, the sea! It’s just as sparkly and blue as…

Mix-and-Match Lyon

As I said in my last post, Lyon is my favorite French city by far, and seriously underrated. A few years ago, an important world leader was visiting the city, and I remember hearing people express their delight and surprise at the honor. I wasn’t surprised at all, but I was impressed by the Lyonnais pride without arrogance. If you get…

Best Travel Moments, 2015

This post is a reflection on 2015, but the featured image was taken in 2010 at a train station in Granada, Spain. It’s a favorite of mine because it’s the best I’ve been able to capture the feeling I get as I’m about to embark on a trip of any kind. The train door stands…

Art Pilgrimage: Cave of Niaux

By the sound of it, the woman behind me was somehow managing to fall in every single puddle as we hurried after our guide, a physically nimble but socially awkward guy in his late twenties who’d warned us that if we didn’t rush we’d risk an abridged tour. The CO2 in our breath threatened the existence of the very thing…

Two-Day Wander: Toulouse, Niaux Caves, and Carcassonne

As the calendar flips by and I get used to the probability that my geographical future lies outside France, I start to feel a sort of constant, creeping urgency. It’s forced me to focus on more fully exploring France. Ironically, this effort to pull away without regrets makes it harder to pull away at all.  My latest jaunt took me to the southwest, to the…

Day Hike: Marseille to Cassis Along the Calanques

It’s never been easy for me to say good-bye to summer. A creature of the sun who had the poor luck to grow up in the snowy northeastern United States, I spent my first twenty-three winters hiding inside and eating pastries, one step up from a hibernating bear. I get stir-crazy when the weather gets cold, because…

Day Hike: Lacs de la Pra

I’m so fresh off this hike that the soreness hasn’t fully hit me yet (“it will,” hiss my vindictive knees and hips in menacing whispers, “it will”), but I wanted to get this post up before the cold really settles into the mountains. The Lacs de la Pra are a smattering of tiny lakes in the Belledonne mountain…

Time Travel: May, 2014 – Slowing Down in Split

I was very unpopular in beautiful Croatia. Despite my best efforts to abide by all spoken and unspoken rules and to be apologetic for my ignorance as I navigated the country’s unpredictable off-season transportation and accommodation logistics, the people I came across were impatient and bitchy with me. I was almost tossed off of long-distance…