Note Bien: Travel Tips for Your French Beer Trip

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A few things I learned that will make your beery trip to France even better:

1. If you haven’t already, learn to drive a stick. I rented the cheapest car I could- $100/week for a great little VW Up! (exclamation point is part of the car’s name.) The least expensive automatic was $500/week.

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2. Don’t forget, in your rush to rent your car and fire up the GPS, to get Euros at the airport. Like me. The first road from the airport is a toll road, and it doesn’t take American cards.

3. There are wild boar warning signs on some highways- neat!

4. Listening to the radio on long stretches is a great way to work on your French. And implant the Carrefour jingle in your head forever.

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5. It’s really fun to say “enchanté” when you meet people. I love that. No matter how much French I learn I still blush a little because it feels like I’m saying “enchanted to meet you.” Just try to say it without smiling. Impossible.

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6. Bring beer presents from the US for people in the bars and breweries you’ll visit. They weigh a lot, but the room and weight will be displaced by the beer you bring back anyway.

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7. Don’t shake hands. The French kiss- twice. (The Swiss three times.) It’s great!

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8. Offer to ferry beer from one brewer to the next. It was fairly common for brewers I met to not have tasted the beers from their own country. Daniel Thiriez started my trip off with this idea and it quickly caught on.

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9. Budget for serious tolls. My first two hours on an “A” road was €15; another stretch was almost €30. If you have time, take the “E” roads- they’re quite beautiful, if indirect, and free!

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November 5, 2012 · 6:54 am

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