What Lengths Will You Go To Have Unique Travel Experiences?

Unique experiences Abbey de Senanque, France
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Would you take a risk to have a unique experience? I have had a few travels in France that would have made my parents sick to their stomachs, but I see them as experiences that will forever be memorable.

Isn’t that what we all want from our travels? Unique experiences?

What would you do to get that unique experience? Here’s what I did on two occasions.

Almost Going Over A Cliff

Abbey de Senanque, France Unique ExperiencesA number of years ago a friend and I rented a gite (vacation house in a rural district) just outside of Gordes, in Provence. Gordes is located 4 kilometres from the Abbey de Sénanque, the famous Cistercian abbey that is often seen in photographs surrounded by lavender fields and we decided to make a visit one afternoon. 

Unfortunately, being early August and the height of tourist season, everyone else and their brother wanted to visit the Abbey and the only way to get there from Gordes was on the extremely narrow D177 road. In France, roads are designated with A’s, N’s or D’s, depending on the type. Let’s just say the Ds are at the bottom–Possibly unpaved. Possibly rough.

Gordes to Abbey de Senanque Beautiful Places in France
Gordes to Abbey de Senanque

So in our case, this D177 road was definitely a “country road” but whether it was even a road, I’ll let you decide. Driving to the Abbey was on a road that had a cliff and if a car was approaching, you had to find space on the shoulder so you could pull over. If you didn’t, one of you could go over the cliff. It was a crazy drive and we got stuck heading down there. Think of it as a traffic jam on a cliff. After some maneuvering, cars got by and no one died.

When we got there, we were not allowed to enter. Why? We were not dressed appropriately as we were in shorts and sleeveless tops. Heck! It was summer and hot! But we got some lovely pictures of the outside. But no lavender.

After all that jockeying for position on the narrow road, was it worth it? Yes! We’ll never forget the road or the abbey, both unique experiences! 

Getting Lost In Annecy

Patricia Kaas is a very successful French singer with an international following and is known for singing French chanson, pop, and cabaret music. She’s sold over 16 million records with hits such as “Mademoiselle Chante Le Blues” and “Une Fille de l’Est” and my French has improved just listening to her music.

Her most recent tour, entitled “Kaas Chante Piaf “, highlighted the songs sung by Edith Piaf. This is a clip of her singing, “Hymne à l’amour” interspersed with film clips of Edith Piaf:

I have attended her concerts in France a few times and when I heard she was performing in Annecy, France (in the Rhone-Alpes area) during my March break holiday, I decided to order tickets and THEN figure out how to get there and get home in time for work. 

Fortunately, Annecy is an absolutely beautiful town and is worth visiting even if you aren’t going to a concert. It has many canals and overlooks Lac d’Annecy.

Annecy, France. Unique experiences
Annecy, France. Photo: J. Chung

Unfortunately, there were a few problems with attending this concert.

  • First, after the concert that night there were no cabs or busses in sight and I didn’t have the guts to ask a stranger for a lift back to the town.
  • Then there was the location of the concert. It was on the outskirts of Annecy. So, I walked back to the hotel. Pretty much in the dark. (Thank goodness for street lamps). It took me 50 minutes and it was a miracle I made it back as I have no sense of direction.
  • Oh, did I forget to mention there isn’t any airport in Annecy and that I I would have to fly home Sunday and be back at work Monday? The closest airport was Geneva, Switzerland. Nor were there any trains from Annecy to Geneva to get me on a 7 am flight home. So, I took a cab from Annecy at 4:30 am to Geneva. Cost: 80 Euros (actually cheaper than renting a car).
  • Once I got back to the hotel after my trek, I slept for 3 hours so I could get up in time to head to Geneva. When I am determined to do something (like see a concert), all common sense goes out the window.

After all that, was the concert worth it? Yes! I had a front row seat and saw an amazing concert.

Have you had any really memorable experiences that were uncomfortable to endure or difficult to get to….but totally worth it?

Check out my growing list of Unique Experiences In France

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20 Comments

  1. Wow I love the picture of the narrow road near Gordes! I remember driving a similar road in the Oisans region (National Park of Les Ecrins) on our way to La Bérarde. Fortunately these kinds of roads are usually indicated in a Michelin map with red dots. A bientôt and thanks for the post!

  2. We had a similar experience driving in Ireland last year. Some of the roads were so narrow, I thought for sure we would end up at the bottom of a cliff. Once we arrived at our friends house, it was all so worth it, but I started dreaded the return trip almost as soon as I arrived.

  3. I definitely take more risks while travelling, probably because I will endure anything if the reward (or perceived reward) is worth it to me! That includes hiking 16 km in sweltering heat to reach a tiny village in Myanmar to enjoy a home stay with a local family.

  4. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who takes risks ( mostly unplanned) when I travel. That drive on the D177 road looks absolutely hair-raising though!

  5. Sometimes when you’re travelling you come across risks you’d rather not have taken! My worst was having to cross a deep river gorge in Iceland, where the only way across was a wooden plank. We took it in turns to sit on the plank and edge ourselves across. That was more than 30 years ago but it still makes me shiver to think of it.

  6. We’ve been known to push the limits from time to time. Jumped out of an airplane, off the cliffs in Lima, fed crocodiles in Queensland, and pretty much anything else that we dare each other to do.

  7. I’m pretty risk-adversive, by nature, but when I do take risks I’ve enjoyed them. One memorable experience was floating over the Serengeti in a hot air balloon.

    I really enjoyed reading this post about your adventures in France~

  8. Love that you’ll do anything once you set your mind to it. The concert sounds like it was well worth it. That shot on the road – that had to be super scary and to not get in ugh. Great story Jan.

  9. One of the things I vowed to do when we started traveling in 2012 was to not let fear (perceived or real) continue to dictate so many of my decisions in my new lifestyle. Travel takes you out of your comfort zone but it also allows you to redefine your boundaries including trying things that scare you: new people, new places, heights and getting lost, etc. I have so many amazing memories because of the effort I put into creating unique experiences. Great post, Jan!

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