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Expat Spotlight: Aga's Top 3 Tips for France

I am a Pole who has been living in London, UK for over 6 years. More then traveling, I love exploring different cultures and differences & similarities between different nations. I have been traveling a bit and love to be in the international environment.

I have moved to France, Lyon and started to learn a bit more about the French. Not having any experience with France whatsoever, not speaking any French as yet, I have been gaining many observations about the French lifestyle, places to visit in France and wanted to share them with others while starting to learn this beautiful yet so difficult language and slowly settling in France. Your Home is Where Your Hear Is…that is why J’adore Lyon! has been created.

Top 3 Favorite Restaurants in France?

1) I love Abel Bouchon in Lyon – for the best quenelles and also for the best Lyonnais cuisine experience. This is the most typical and authentic Lyonnais Bouchon with amazing atmosphere. I went there on my first visit to Lyon and loved it. The bouchon in the Lyon Must Do Experience.
2) Brasserie De l’Est – is an another very typical Lyonnais restaurant and my favorite one. It is a bit expensive so going there is a great treat. It is one of the 4 brasseries of the very famous Paul Bocus – the proud of Lyon and the pop of French cuisine. So as you can expect, the food is the best quality, the service is just great. It is full of life and has an interesting decor, a miniature train is driving above your head. Because it is located in the old train station which is an outstanding building also worth to be seen.
3) Not restaurant really but my very favorite bakery. It is the best one in Lyon and located just next to my flat by the beautiful l’Ile Barbe. It is Boulangerie Jocteur and it is famous for its best baguettes, bannettes and tart pralines. They do all sorts of French breads and cakes, sweet rolls and French croissants, pain chocolates, creative cakes that you cannot resist. They will also serve you a quiche, sandwiches, salads and savour tarts, mini pizzas so it’s a great stop for a lovely lunch.

Top 3 favorite foods in France?

1) Quenelles – this is the typical and only Lyonnais specialty which won my heart at the day one in Lyon. It is a simple mixture of minced and creamed fish, chicken, or meat, sometimes combined with breadcrumbs, with a light egg binding. It is quite difficult to make so I tend to get ready made at the supermarket but when i am in the Lyonnais restaurants this is my favorite choice.
2) All types of sweet tarts with the traditional Lyonnais pralines tart. So another Lyonnais specialty are the pink pralines. They tend to be very sweet and hard to eat on their own but as an addition to the cake they make a great combination. On top of that I love apple tart very much.
3) All sort of French PAIN. And I don’t know where to start. I love the bannetts – crunchy outside and soft inside, I like croissants which you can really taste only in France and I love & love brioche and especially brioche aux pralines (Pralines brioche). This is something I cannot resist…

Top 3 tips for new expats in France?

1) Get to know the city, area and all the places around you. You can start exploring online by reading blogs especially – this helped me a lot to get the feedback from real people living in France and on many occasion make a contact with them. But also try to explore your new city. Discover place to do shopping, to get relaxed, places for a walk and the ones to make you entertained. Go for a walk and become familiar with the surroundings so you will make France a new home for yourself!
2) Get to know the expats organizations around you, take part in their meetings. It is a great way to meet other people, to practice language, to stay connected with others who feel the same, go through the same struggles and it is a best way to avoid feeling lonely in a new place. Not to mention the fact you can get plenty of tips and pieces of advice from others and make a good friendships, set up businesses and use the expats organizations to fit your interests and preferences.
3) Learn & practice your French! Take the opportunity that you are in France and your exposure to French language. This is a completely different way of learning a new language. This is a very good and efficient way of learning French but you need to make sure you are not missing out on anything. SO if you can – sign up for an intensive course, otherwise try to do the online Free/Paid French course and practice yourself. Watch TV in French, listen to the radio, try to make the first conversations, pretend to read & understand magazines, but really use them to visual some of new vocabulary. And if you don’t understand anything at the beginning, don’t be encourage cause it all pay off later…all those listening will help you remember learnt words quicker…

Top 3 tips for travelers in France?

1) Be careful! French drive differently! I do not get it yet, It is either they do not respect you on the road, or they really do not know the rules. You have to be really re-active when they change the lane or go in front of you; when they drive through the junction when its your turn. Simply…have your eyes everywhere….
2) Be patient! There is always a problem with the parking space. Be prepared to go around and around to find a free spot and pray for a car to leave so you can get one! But a bonus – usually in the big cities, the parking is free on Sundays.
3) Be prepared to pay! Maybe it is me as I come from Poland and there are just few motorways we pay for, but here in France this is a huge problem. I love doing Road Trips and I always need to spend so much money for the fees! But at least it is quicker and the roads are very good.

Top 3 tips for what to pack for France?

1) From Poland I will always bring my potato flour, jelly and some puddings which I cannot find here.
2) This is funny, but I spend such a long time to try to find a meat tender! I love to make schabowe so a pork breaded cutlet coated with breadcrumbs similar to Viennese schnitzel and other types of cutlets but I was missing the tool to do it properly so I packed it with me.
3) If you are visiting, don’t pack too much as you are going to buy a lot of cheese, wines to take back with you. No way you are going to find those specialties back at home!

Top 3 favorite places in France

1) Lyon – well I am sure you know it by now and if not you can check how much J’adore Lyon on here: http://shopaholicfromhome.com/jadorelyon/. So it is amazing as a place to visit, it is the Capital of French Gastronomy, local people are friendly and its ideal place to learn French as not many people know English very well. Although all of them try and always are helpful for you. It is a modern city, full of new businesses but also has a big historical part. But mostly this is a place where my heart belongs now…
2) The Camargue – this is a place I discovered during my holidays in the South of France and I was amazed by the fact that such a place exists. Camargue a large, flat area of over 930 km2 (360 sq mi) and it is the western Europe’s largest river delta. It is now a regional Natural Park and has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is also home to wide range of wildlife, including semi- wild bulls and the Camargue horses, and more than 400 species of birds and the beautiful flamingos. All of this you can admire next to you & for free
3) Beaujolais – I always dreamt to visit to the typical local vineyards so I went there this summer and loved it. It is amazing for the landscapes, places for picnics, domains & chateaux where you can learn more about wine productions and buy local wines ! Since that time I trully fell in love with the French wine…I also discovered an amazing little gem of Beaujolais called Oingt.

Top 3 neighborhoods in Loire Valley


1) Château de Cheverny – which is my favourite castle in the beautiful and amazing Loire Valley! It is a classique in style castle, all in the white stone. The Castle is well known for its hunting with hounds. Nowadays there are over 70 of these hunting dogs (half English foxhound and half French Poitou) live at the castle and each day at 5pm tourists can see the feeding ritual – a very interesting (a bit strange) experience! Another thing that you will associate with the Castle Cheverny is of course the Belgian comic book – The Adventures of Tintin book. Its creator Hergé used Cheverny as a model for his fictional “Château de Moulinsart“.
2) Château de Chambord – which is definitely the number 1 French Royal Castle, the most visited monument in the department of the Loir-et-Cher (but my number 2). This 16th century magnificent chateau is the real masterpiece of the Renaissance, the home of François I. Nowadays, it is a National Historical Monument, and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. I thought I will be disappointed as it was too much recommended and too much commercially advertised but I agree its one of the best! And the real bonus is to experience the double staircase (helix staircase) which have been created by Leonardo da Vinci; to admire the castle size – it has 440 rooms, 335 fireplaces, 12 staircases and 70 main stairs which are laid out over an area of 200.000 sq ft and appreciate the fact that François I spent fortune to build this dream castle. But also, let’s not forget the Chateau has the enclosed huge park (32 kilometers of walls), the largest in Europe (5 440 hectares), which is a national hunting reserve, it is open and free to all.
3) Château de Villandry which I personally loved for its stunning and not possible to describe amazing gardens! It is the 12th century castle which was completed in 1536 by Jean Le Breton, Minister to François I, and was the last Renaissance monument to be built in the Loire Valley. The gorgeous Renaissance gardens of the castle represent typical (beautiful!) French-style gardens. They were the first ones to be laid out in the 16th century. The impressive gardens cover huge area of 5 hectares. On the left side of the castle, there are the ornamental gardens, with the “Garden of Love” and the vegetable gardens. There is also so called ‘The water garden’ which is the most peaceful of the gardens on the estate. Its definitely the best castle of the Loire Valley for its spectacular gardens! During my holidays in the Loire Valley I visited 14 castles and I loved all of them.

For more tips on France, watch for upcoming posts on the
France blog, go to her blog, J’adore Lyon! and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest.

Interested in contributing? Contact erin {at} insidersabroad {dot} com!

Published November 30th, 2015 by Aga Marchewka
Posted to Inside Secrets to France

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