Program 332: Regions of France; Chateaux Country; Ancient Stones of Brittany

Release Date: 07-13-2013

On Air Description

As one of Europe's largest nations, the far corners of France offer visitors a great deal of variety.  On the next Travel with Rick Steves, we look at highlights of France, beyond Paris, including the vineyards and elegant chateau castles and mansions in the Loire Valley.  We'll also hear how the pre-historic stone formations on the hillsides of Brittany provide a link to unknown peoples from long ago.

From weathered stone monuments to gilded ballrooms and gardens, explore the regions of France on this week's Travel with Rick Steves.


  • Virginie Moré, tour guide based in Brittany, France
  • Danielle Farineau, tour guide based in the Loir Valley, France
  • Mark Seymour, tour guide based in Brittany, France

Related Links


  • Interested in learning about regional contrasts between Brittany and Normandy.  "I read that the ownership of Mont-St-Michel has alternated between Brittany and Normandy at different times in history."   (Monique in Boston)
  • "I have found astounding cultural contrasts within a single region. For example, staying in Sarlat in the Dordogne put us within an hour's drive of huge medieval castles perched high on rock cliffs and also close to Font de Gaume and other caves with amazing artworks created by prehistoric humans 30,000 years ago." (Jane in New Orleans - in web extra 1)
  • "We were driving through the Loire Valley on our way to the Chambord Palace, and we got as lost as we could (on purpose!), just to have a spontaneous day. We found wonderful little farm communities, and what looked like an unoccupied three-story chateau on a lovely estate. We walked around the area and enjoyed meeting the wonderful local people. We found that not caring where you are going in the Loire Valley presented many interesting opportunities that we would not have had if we had followed a set route.  (We did eventually see the chateaux: Love that stairway at Chambord, built by Da Vinci!)"     (e-mail from Mary Jane in Santa Ynez, California)
  • "My husband and then-2.5 year-old son spent a week in the tiny village of Montsoreau in 2009, near the town of Saumur. We were fascinated by the troglodyte dwellings we visited.  We had no idea they existed in that region.  What a treat to experience!"    (e-mail from Elaine in Toronto - in web extra 2)
  • "My husband and I spent ten days driving along the Loire Valley, from St Benoit and Sancerre all the way to Nantes. The highlights were not the obvious ones, that is, the justly famed castles and manors."  (Nicole in Dallas)
  • "We rented a house in Brittany for the whole month of September 2011 and visited stone mounds and standing stones from the Grand Cairn de Barnenez in the north to the standing stones, or alignments, of Carnac in the southern part of Brittany.  I wanted to connect with my Celtic heritage."   (Bill in Livermore, California)
  • "Besides Carnac, what other sites in Brittany would you recommend that are open to the public?"  (Rebecca in Granbury, Texas)

Incidental Music

  • London Symphony orchestra (Michael Tilson Thomas, cond.), "La Boite a Joujoux - 1:  Prelude (Debussy)," Sony Almanac 1992 Highlights of the Year (sampler) / Sony Classical
  • F. Barcellini, "Theme from 'Jour de Fete,'" Music from the Films of Jacques Tati / Phillips-PolyGram (France)
  • Ralph Rousseau, "Le montguichet," Chansons d'amour / Challenge Classics
  • Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse (Michel Plasson, cond), "'Temps de Marche' from 'Cinq Grimaces pour Le songe d'une nuit d'été' (Satie - arr. Milhaud)," Satie:  Orchestra Works / EMI Classics  
  • Charles Trenet, "Douce France," Paris by Night (collection) / EMI Records
  • * - Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse (Michel Plasson, cond), "'Temps de Marche' from 'En habit de cheval' (Satie)," Satie:  Orchestra Works / EMI Classics  
  • Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse (Michel Plasson, cond), "'La Belle excentrique:  Grande ritournelle  (Satie)," Satie:  Orchestra Works / EMI Classics  
  • Colin Tilney, "Rondeau," Fanfarinette:  Music for the French Harpsichord / CBC Records
  • Pascal Rogé, "Avant-derniéres pensées (Satie)," After the Rain:  The Soft Sounds of Erik Satie / London Records
  • Netania Devrath (arranged for orchestra by Gershon Kingsley, conducted by Pierre de la Roche), "New Songs of the Auvergne: 'Quand Marion Va Au Moulin' (Chants du Languedoc)  (Canteloube)," Canteloube:  Songs of the Auvergne - Complete / Vanguard Classics
  • Dimitri from Paris, opening notes from "Le Marsellaise," from the Prologue on his CD Sacrebleu / Atlantic 
  • Netania Devrath (arranged for orchestra by Gershon Kingsley, conducted by Pierre de la Roche), "Songs of the Auvergne, 2nd series, for voice and orchestra: 'Deux-Bourées'  (Canteloube)," Canteloube:  Songs of the Auvergne - Complete / Vanguard Classics
  • * Ralph Rousseau, Matangi String Quartet, "La vie en rose," Chansons d'amour / Challenge Classics
  • Hector Zazou, "Caoine Mhuire (Mary's Lament),"  Lights in the Dark / Detour
  • Alan Stivell, "AR C'hammon Kentan," Symphonie Celtique - Tir Na N-Og / Dreyfus (France)
  • John McCutcheon, "Reel á Bouche," A Celtic Collection (collection) / Putumayo
  • Soldat Louis, "Petits Princes, Demi-Deux," Aupres de ma Bande / Les Disques Leïla-Distribution Select
  • The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Edward Gardner, cond., "'Baïlèro' from 'Chants d'Auvergne' (Cantaloube)," Kate Royal / EMI Classics
  • London Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin, cond., "Sea Interludes from 'Peter Grimes,' 'Dawn' (B. Britten)," Out Classics (collection) / RCA
  • John Williams, "Pavane for Guitar and String Orchestra (Gabriel Fauré, arranged by J. Williams)" Creating the Perfect Atmosphere (collection) / Sony Classical

Dated References

  • At 21:30, Danielle estimates it takes three hours from Paris to drive to The Loire valley, or about one and a half hours by train to the city of Tours on the Loire River.  
  • Caller Rebecca says at 53:35 that she'll be traveling in Brittany "at the end of September."

Haiku Awards

Sweet burgundy pearl

Humble onion so sublime

Only in Provence

— Jessica Baen, New York City  


Pamukkale pools

Cotton castle ancient cliffs

Soft blue goddess gifts

— Vanessa Zimmer-Powell, Houston TX 


Heaven's canopy

Beneath boughs of oak and pine

The soil tinted green

— Brian Alcorn, Thousand Oaks CA, describing California's Big Sur


"We've arrived," she spoke

Softly in my tired ears,

"It's time to explore!"

— Alan Powell, Nashville TN

Program Extras

Program 332 Extra #1 - <p> Virginie Mor&eacute; tells us how the people of Brittany arranged it so that France could never impose tolls on that region&#39;s highways. Also, listener Jane from New Orleans notes the cultural contrasts within the regions of France, such as what she observed in the Dordogne, and Virginie explains how that also holds true in her home region, Brittany. (runs 2:47)</p>

Program 332 Extra #2 - Danielle Farineau and Rick discuss how the French system of "gites" accommodations works for renting accommodations in the French countryside. (runs 1:34)