Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

A successful holiday requires careful planning

Some weeks before going on a weekend outing or a holiday I start preparing our trip. I ‘tour’ the internet … faithfully helped by my omniscient friend, Mister Google. It’s a mystery to me what I did before meeting him sometime in 2003!

Over the years I have learned that a good way to start is to draw up a rough plan, based on the market days in the Indre-et-Loire and Cher departments. You can find most of them, in alphabetical and chronological order, on the website of the ‘Conseil Général du Département Indre-et-Loire’, ( We particularly enjoy buying the supplies for our daily picnic from local producers, rather than getting mass produced food in super markets. Especially as the brands sold in France are often the same as in Belgium.

Next step is to list all the interesting sites to visit in, around or on the road to these market towns. This avoids you driving around aimlessly up and down, from east to west, and from north to south. The websites of the local ‘Offices de Tourisme’ can give you a head start. Their main flaw, however, is that they often only mention the ‘great classics’. You’ll rarely discover the more ‘insolite’, unusual spots by sticking to these official sites.

To find those you need a different approach. Once you have found a site or a blog about the area, click on every link you can find. Continue doing this each time you find a new site proposing new links. Follow the links on these sites too … and so on. You’ll be surprised about the amount of information you can gather proceeding this way. There is usually even too much. And although I include everything in each year’s particular holiday agenda, we never get to see everything. That is one of the reasons why we keep going back!

By doing so I’ve found most of the places that I’ve described in my earlier posts: such as the Cat Museum in the town of Richelieu, Yul Brynner’s tomb in Luzé, the Château de Brézé (well-known nowadays but only recently open to the public when we visited) and many other off-the-beaten-track places that are worth a detour. It’s also a great way to find affordable little restaurants, although we came across the ‘Relais du Moulin’ in Saint-Aignan purely by accident.

2009 - Riverboat on the Vienne in Candes Saint Martin
I’m not pretending that this system is completely flawless, nor that it’s the best. But it works for us … Nevertheless, I’m convinced that we’ve missed several worthwhile and interesting sites over the years.

Finally, there is yet another advantage. By preparing our trip in advance, I live it thrice: planning it, enjoying the actual journey and … once back home, looking at the pictures, making a digital photo album and writing this blog. It’s like three holidays in one! A pretty economical way to travel, isn’t it?

P.S. These days I'm planning our two day escapade to northern France. For the first time, we won't be travelling alone. A friend of mine and her husband will be accompanying us. This will make quite a difference, but I am confident, as they are such great friends!



chm said...

Hello Martine,
Maybe if you knew far in advance what your plans are, and you told your readers, you could get some feedback from them if they know anything of interest or unusual in that particular region. That way you could eventually change your itinerary after checking with your friend Mr. Google! LOL/MDR

ladybird said...

Hi chm,
What an excellent idea! May I put you to the test straight away? I promise I'll bring it gently to Mr. Google, in order not to offend him ;)

Do you - or anybody else who is reading this - know of some 'insolite' places in 'Les Flandres Flamandes', the region between Dunkerkque and Lille?

Thanks in advance! Martine

ladybird said...

Erratum: Of course I meant the 'Flandres Françaises'. Mea Culpa ! Martine

chm said...

Hi Martine,

I assumed that's what you meant.

Unfortunately, I never traveled to Lille or Dunkerque so my knowledge of that region is next to nothing. But some other reader might have some useful information.

Your good[le] friend Mr. said you may be interested by this link, if you don't know it already:

Good luck!

ladybird said...

chm, Thanks a lot for the interesting link. I'm certainly going to examine it in detail. In the meantime, have a nice evening ... or is it still afternoon in your part of world? Martine