France — French Food/Wine/History/ — When NOT to visit.

France — like milk — has “something for every body.” But, like that classic song we’re all familar with “You can’t always get what you want” — when you want it.

French Country Backroads

Therefore,(Alors! — your French word of the day) after a zillion and a half years of cycling through the land in which I have permanently pitched my tent, Da Bg is going to save you from disappointment, frustration,anger and(most importantly) wasted frequent flyer miles, by revealing when and why you should not visit Le Belle France.

  1. July. This is the (cue scary music) “Plague of the Tourists!” Those “Children of a lesser god” who lack the wit,intelligence,savoir faire and impeccable table manners of a worldy traveller such as you, dear reader.

They’re easily spotted. Effiel Tower (I heart France) teeshirt. Slobbering over oversized ice cream cones(topped with chocolate) as they pursue Chinese manufactured trinkets to prove to the home folks — like the Japanese tourists who snap each other on the Golden Gate Bridge — that they’ve truly been there,done that, and got multiple tee-shirts.

2. August. This is the month the majority of the French take their holidays. Translation: Congestion that makes L.A. rush hour traffic look like a country lane.

French Holiday Nightmare

Another good “give August a pass” reason is that according to French folklore(and if you can’t trust folklore — who can you trust?) — after August 15, the weather goes south. Looking less impressive that an aging beauty queen without makeup.

Yet another(and sooo very good) reason to forgetaboutfrance in July and August is Road Work.

For some inexplicable(ie — uniquely French reason) the froggie powers that be have decreed that these two months are the IDEAL time to tear up the tarmac in cities, towns, villages and hameaus.(A collection of houses too small to be a village. Usually without(mon dieu!) a bakery, post office or swingin’ hot spot.)

3. May is a triple whammy of “don’t go there.”

Whammy (A) The Cannes film festival. The glamour, the glitter, the excitement, and gypsy theives who descend like a (very organized) plague of locusts.

Their m.o. — Bedraggled looking gypsy momma(albiet with an expensive and hidden smartphone) will whine and plead for “milk money” while her rag tag band will tug at your clothes, your bag, your camera, or whatever else is tuggable.

Two possibilites if you don’t hand over a few pieces of silver. 1. They scowl and scurry on to the next mark. 2. The kids grab whatever they can and run.

Better idea: Check out the glamour, glitter and inevitable “wardrobe malfunctions” on TV.

Bottom line: Even without the gypsy hordes, you’d never be able to see anything except the backs of photographers snapping starlets.

Whammy (B) Le Tour de France. Vraiment(Truly) the Traffic congestion of July and August is small potatoes compared to the logicistic Faisco that is “Le Tour.”

So, unless your’re a dyed in the spandex Tour groupie, unless you’re up for battling stadium sized crowds along all highways,byways, country lanes, festooned with “exceptional” road closures and detours (Ciao GPS!), for the incredible once in a lifetime thrill of actually “being there” as your lycra clad pill poppin’ heros jet by in one quarter of a second at 95.6 mph — well -far be it from me to rain on your brief parade.

But, if you don’t fit into the rabid/illogical/stress be me tour groupie category, why not get a mile high view of the bucolic(not a throat disease)French countryside rolling by, as you sip your buttery French Chardonnay?

TV(and, of course, French Chardonnay) can “make it so.”

your hotel neighbours?

Whammy C— French students face the teacher only about 10 days during May. Which means chances of a rave up all night party in the hotel room immediately above/below/next to yours have substantially increased.

4. Nice Carnival. As you well know dear reader, the French Riviera is more than just Cannes. There’s Saint Tropez.Saint Maxime, Juan les Pins, Antibes, Saint Laurent du Var, Cagnes Sur Mer, and, of course, Nice.

It’s there in early February that their colorful, exuberant, lets all drink too much and act silly Carnival goes down.

But what goes up during carnival are the opportunities for the Italian pickpockets.

This, is their Christmas. And your handbags, camera and wallets are their presents.

Here’s their M.O.: Pick no. 1 bumps into you, slicing the shoulder strap to your handbag/camera, dropping it into the shopping bag of (just adjacent) pick no. 2. Who saunters on, as pick no 1 apologizes. (in perfect English.)

Smoother than an oiled lap dancer — wot?

And uncatchable! Because, if, shortly after that “accidental” bump, you notice your camera is no longer attached to it’s strap, and, if you are lucky enough to find pick no. 1 in the surging carnival promenade throng, you’ll immediately notice he is carrying nothing.

And, he is so sorry(again, in perfect english) to hear of your misfortune.

Another negative carnival reality to consider, is the fact that nine times out of ten, it rains on the parade at carnival time.

So, unless you’re into drinking too much and acting silly while soaking wet, best to pass on carnival frivolity.

Candes St. Martin

Voila! — the straight skinny on when/why not to visit Da Bg’s adopted land.

Which, of course, immediately begs the question(s): “When is/are the best times?”

We’ll dive into that on our next rendezvous.

For now, hip yourself to one of my (until now) most secret French Travel Treasures.

Christopher Strong is The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet — Film Maker,Photographer and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to French food, wine and travel

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