Meet Anthony, our in-house Francophile

The pretty French town of Bayeux near the coast of Normandy
The pretty French town of Bayeux near the coast of Normandy

Meet Anthony, our in-house Francophile

Get to know Anthony, a key member of UTracks Australia's reservations team. When he's not managing bookings and planning active holidays for travellers throughout Europe, he's likely dreaming of all things French. Learn more about Anthony's passion for France in this interview and perhaps feel inspired to visit the Land of Wine and Cheese.
Anthony at the Chateau de Chambord |  <i>Anthony Boutoubia</i>

Why do you like France? What motivates you?

I’ve been a big fan of history for as long as I can remember, and France was the first place in Europe that I visited in my early teens where I was truly blown away – I was seeing in real life the things I’d only read about. Visiting the Louvre for the first time was transformative for me. This trip planted the seed which really began to sprout when I went onto university and started studying the French language. Throughout the process of learning the language I began to really immerse myself in aspects of the culture; food, film, history – and going there several times more recently has led me to fall in love with both its natural and built beauty. 

At present, I am motivated by the desire to explore further; I have seen quite a bit of France but each time I visit I find there is so much more I want to see – I don’t think I’ll be stopping anytime soon!
Visit world-famous art at the Louvre in Paris

Which trip in France are you most keen to experience?

At the moment I’m actually most excited by our new Atlantic Coast Cycle from La Rochelle to Bordeaux. La Rochelle is a city of great historical significance with its Vieux Port, and I love the idea of cycling through amazing beachscapes before getting into some of the best wine country in the world. It fills a couple of gaps in my France-wide journey, and I’m always happy to end up in Bordeaux for some delicious Sauternes tasting.
Self guided cycle way from Bordeaux to Biarritz

What have been the main highlights of your travels in France?

Its so hard to distil highlights down to a few moments, but focusing on my recurring themes of history and beauty, I’d say my top three highlights were Mont Saint Michel, Carcassonne, and the Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley. It just so happens that we offer different itineraries that each visit these places!
Walkers near Mont Saint Michel

Can you describe your favourite food and drinks in France?

I find French food so consistently impressive, so I always eat well when I’m there!
In terms of a favourite, I do love some escargot (make sure you dunk the bread into the persillade!), but the humble croissant is always a winner, especially at the local boulangeries. 
Escargot, Paris |  <i>Rachel Imber</i>
For a drink, in France, how could I not say wine? I have visited all of the major wine regions in France and been consistently blown away by the dedication and quality. The best thing about it as well is that it’s so much easier to find a decent well priced glass or bottle from the local Cave (wine shop). Look out for the prestigious Chateauneuf-du-Pape if you’re a fan of grenache, and a glass of Sauternes with dessert is an experience not to be missed.  
Underground wine tasting in St Emilion, France |  <i>Deb Wilkinson</i>

What surprises you the most about France?

Every time I go to France I am surprised by the sheer diversity present around the country. Each of the regions feels very distinct with its own charm, food, way of life, etc. Just means it’s very easy to go back again and again! 
Taking it all in on the GR70 in France

What was your favourite town? Why? 

Probably Vienne, south of Lyon. Its Roman ruins were snow-covered and it made the whole place look just like a fairytale. 
Otherwise, Saint-Emilion near Bordeaux gets an honourable mention for its medieval charm and incredible wine industry.  
St Emilion, Bordeaux

Do you have any favourite destinations in France for standout views, mountains, flowers, lakes or wildlife?

Definitely Annecy in the alps near Switzerland and Mont Blanc. Situated on the eponymous Lake Annecy, this place is a postcard picture come to life. I visited last in winter, and 
even then the gloomy days were elevated by the lake and surrounding mountains’ natural beauty. 
Enjoy cycling around Lake Annecy in France |  <i>B. Becker/Auvergne Rhône Alpes Tourism</i>

Can you share advice for other travellers going to France?

My biggest piece of advice would be to always start with a ‘bonjour’ or a ‘bonsoir’ depending on the time of day. 
The French have an (erroneous) reputation for being rude or snobby, but my experience was that this is far from the truth. If you begin with a simple bonjour, you will find that the people will open right up to you and be very willing to listen and help. More often than not as I was going along in my rusty French, they would helpfully switch to English, and be more than happy to assist as much as they could. 
Flower Market  - Aix en Provence
Are you a fellow Francophile? What do you love about France? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
France, French, Francophile, France Inspiration, Visit France

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