Ever since my parents bought the apartment, it has played an ubiquitous role in my vacation calendars. I took friends there for an intrepid foray into a French nightclub, enjoyed red wine escapes with my parents, and most recently Hardelot was the location of my daughter’s first beach vacation, marked by an attempt to paddle in the sea. And my son was conceived there, but you don’t need to know that. I blame these sunsets.
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I had never heard of “Le France Profonde” before visiting Limousin. Translated as ‘deep France’, it is a phrase to sum up a local way of life in the rustic regions of our Gallic neighbors. In a banal imprint on the map an hour north of Limoges, and a little to the east, it is a dime a dozen: the countryside is hilly and endless, the towns few, charming and remote, and the language nothing but French.
The Tour de France often crosses Limousin in the direction of the Alps or the Pyrenees and I cannot think of the region without sinking into a daydream of the joys of traversing the rich and green fields and the forest, kilometer by kilometer. Time a visit with the bike race and you can punctuate any ride with a stop in a bar in the village to watch the riders compete on a small television, set up high in the corner of the room, an espresso or an ice cold beer in hand.