Sainte Enimie Feminist Princess

All inclusive study abroad programs in rural France
Medieval Chapel St. Énimie

Many assume that the idea of égalité in France was born during the French revolution, but there was once (not upon a time) a rebel and feminist princess Sainte Enimie who blazed her own destiny through leprosy and right up to her burial site. Her name was Enimie and she was one of Merovigian kings’, Clothar II, daughters. 

As legend has it

She was one of the most beautiful princesses and being such, had many would-be suitors. Instead of becoming heady with the pursuit of marriage, she preferred to be in service to the church and taking care of the ill, mainly patients with leprosy. When she was of marriageable age, she called upon a witch to help her avoid marriage and make her disfigured by giving her leprosy. Thus, she was saved from marriage.  

Later, she was called by an angel to visit the fountain of Burle , the name of St. Enimie village before the middle ages was Burlatis. There she was to bathe and be cured of leprosy. Listening to the angel she bathed and was cured, but upon returning to her father’s kingdom, the leprosy returned. After several failed attempts at leaving the village she sent word to her father that she would not return and would live out her life in Gevaudan, the historical name for Lozère. 

At first, she lived in a cave, bathing in the waters of the Burle and inviting others with leprosy to do the same. She then built a monastery inviting all to come and be cured by the healing waters that she had discovered. St. Enimie dedicated her life to service in her village with her chosen calling. It was her wish to be buried in the village she had lived, but as she was of royal blood it was ordained that she be buried in the royal family’s tombs in St Denis Cathedral (near Paris).

When it came time for her burial, the nuns of the monastery had no misgivings about sending the remains of one of St. Enimie’s servants to be buried in the royal tomb while the Merovingian princess was laid to rest in the village that would soon be named after her. 

The Sainted Princess

Later the village of Burlatis, was renamed for it’s patron saint, feminist Princess Sainte Enimie. She was the Merovingian-era princess, who lived and died on her terms – seeking a higher calling and being in service to those who needed it most. 

Truth in the legend

In recent years, hydrologists have come to the region to investigate the mysteries of St. Enimie’s Burle. They have found that it’s waters are rich in copper salts, giving it an ethereal turquoise color that it boosts today. While the water is too rich in minerals to drink, the high copper content helps to cure burns, skin lesions and improves open wound healing. Though swimming isn’t allowed in the Burle, there are steps down to the spring so visitors can fill up a bottle with these healing waters and take them home as a natural remedy. The burle naturally flows into the Gorges du Tarn river, adding to the magic and mystery of this legendary part of southern France.  

If you’d like to visit Ste. Enimie and other amazing sites in Southern France, reach out and we can create the perfect Faculty-led Study Abroad program for you in rural France.

Aligot (pronounced ali-go)

Aligot is probably the reason I moved to France.

Allison Sacleux

Aligot can be found all over southern France, in village outdoor markets and in small epiceries. There are entire restaurants dedicated to only serving Aligot lunch and dinner, with a simple menu of charcuterie, as much Aligot as you can eat, local farm cheese and fruit, and 3€ pitchers of wine.  Butchers and caterers alike prepare it for the masses as the recipe is so hard to recreate perfectly that the French would rather leave it to the experts, and experts they are. 

La pièce de résistance

A heavenly mixture of mashed potatoes, garlic and << la pièce de résistance >> Tomme – which is a raw cow’s milk cheese crafted by farmers in Lozère and in other departments of France. The ancient method of preparation is recreated in only 2 restaurants in the area. First, the chef will peel, boil the potatoes, then rice them over a 10-gallon pan where garlic has been lightly browned. After this creamy mixture has received a generous splash of milk the chef then mixes this by hand, then you realize why the chefs on the Aubrac plateau have bulging biceps and sinewy forearms. Once the milk is incorporated finely grated tomme is added to the mixture and the mouth-watering dish. 

If made correctly the result is ethereal and light, it’s a feat at best, creating a dish from such dense ingredients, but the best aligot is always light on the palate. Also it should only be eaten piping hot, lest the thickening effect of the potatoes and cheese give a heavier mouth feel to the plate.

It’s one of our favorite dishes to share with our study abroad groups for several reasons:
  1. They didn’t know it existed.
  2. Everyone loves it!
  3. We know the best places to eat it. 

Allez Abroad is dedicated to cultural exchange for our students and their professors.  Sharing a plate of aligot is just one of the many crafted experiences that your study abroad participants can look forward to. To design your customized program click below: 

Lozère : A Natural Escape in Southern France

Some people say “Lozère chooses you, rather than you choosing it”.

Lozère (pronounced Low-zair) is a very special destination and dear to our heart, as it is where we chose to settle. You will see for yourself when you visit it.

Lozère is the least populated area in France. Lozère has a population density comparable to the state of Montana, around 15 inhabitants per square mile. Though it is sparsely populated, with about 3,000 square miles, it is an outdoor activities’ paradise, regardless of the season. It is also home of what is called “the French Grand Canyon”, namely “Les Gorges du Tarn”.

French Grand Canyon

A little trivia: Lozère is the area of France with the highest average altitude. It is located on Massif Central, home of around 450 extinct volcanoes. Though most places where you will go will sit at about 1,500 feet. It is also the only area of France where all the bodies of water (creeks, rivers, brooks) take their source locally.

It is located halfway between Clermont-Ferrand (world headquarters of Michelin Tires) and Montpellier, on the Mediterranean coast.

Understandably, Lozère is very rural and a mostly mountainous area. You can enjoy, depending on the season, kayaking, whitewater rafting, cross country skiing, hiking, mountain biking, race biking, and mountain climbing. Lozère’s history dates to prehistoric times. It is also documented that the Roman Empire passed by there with Caesar, back when Lozerian people were called “Gabals”.  During that time Lozère was home of handmade pottery and coin making for the whole region. The region also holds a rich and somewhat grim religious history. It is where Protestant outcasts fought for 2 years the Royal forces of Louis the XIV in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Ancient Troglodyte Home in Lozere
Troglodyte homes are built into the mountains, all over Lozère, France.

You can find castles among the pristine landscapes and sceneries, along with preserved nature. Much like in the rest of France, one can enjoy seeing castles (some in better shape than others) nestled throughout Lozère.

In Lozere, castles overlooking Gorges du Tarn

You can find some castles among the pristine landscapes and sceneries, along with preserved nature. Don’t forget about the exquisite local food! Most farming is organic, and people rely on local productions for their food. When visiting Lozère, you should not miss the quaint village of La Canourgue. It is also known as the Little Venice of Lozère, with its canals built, when the village was founded some 1300 years ago, by monks. Ste Enimie is another village, dating back to pre-Medieval times, located near the Tarn River and within the Gorges du Tarn.

Regardless of where you go in Lozère, you will find yourself letting your imagination wander along its nature walking and mountain biking trails.

 Its magnificent wonders that will leave memorable moments for a lifetime, such as, encountering a family of deer, grazing the oddly shaped pastures.

Whether you bring your cellphone with you or decide to leave it behind, you are bound to have locations where there are no cellphone towers. You can enjoy the feeling of being disconnected from the outside world yet immersed within all the Lozère nature has to offer.

Lozère will, as it does to us every day, never cease to amaze you, regardless of the length of your stay.

Want to read more about activities in Lozère, click here!

Discover Rural Southern France: An Adventure Awaits You

To discover rural southern France you’ll need to drive about a 7- hours south of Paris. Full of unique adventures and to hidden gems you can discover – listed below!

Water, water everywhere!

  • It’s known as the “pays des sources” as 3 major rivers begin in this department, and it is the only area in France where the rivers take their source within that area. Which means gorgeous rivers for kayaking!!
Discover Lozère, St. Frezal creek, fresh water streaming down from the mountain
St. Frezal creek, fresh water streaming down from the mountain

Rural France has another Grand Canyon??

  • Technically, no, but the Gorges du Tarn are located in the eastern side of Lozère and is known as the Grand Canyon of France.
Here fishy, fishy!
  • A fisherman’s paradise, with all these rivers beginning in Lozère, fishermen from around the world flock to catch Rainbow trout, European Speckled Trout, Brown Trout and even crawfish ( can you believe they are actually Louisiana crawfish) .
Pan Fried Trout in Ste. Énimie, Discover Lozère
Pan Fried Trout in Ste. Énimie, Lozère, France
Teach a man to fish farm?
  • What’s better than catching one fish? Raising a school of them! As there is an abundance of fresh water in France, dozens of fish farming schools have sprouted up over the years, one of which is located here in Lozère, providing learning opportunities for French, as well as, American students to learn about French aquaculture. But if you’re not into fish farming, you know for sure any trout you eat here is going to be Very fresh!

Home to a Sainted Princess and her castle!

  • Home to Sainte-Énimie, named one of the most beautiful villages in France. Sainte-Énimie was a princess who sought healing waters for her skin condition and settled in Lozère around 600 AD. She then brought many more to the town to heal them and was given sainthood for helping so many patients. Scientist have tested the waters and determined that contains high levels of copper, which is great for skin conditions, but not for drinking.
Patrick in Aubrac

Looking to see if anyone else is wearing a mask?

The population density in Lozère is similar to that of Montana with about 15 inhabitants per square kilometer. This low population density contributed to the fact that it was the department with the lowest cases of Covid-19, during the 2020 pandemic.

Massif and Volcanoes?

  • Located in the southern portion of the “Massif Central” mountain range, we are surrounded by extinct volcanoes and bountiful green plateaus, perfect for hiking or enjoying a picnic with incredible mountain views. Lozère enjoys more temperate summers due to its high altitude.

Ze French call it, Le Tour!

  • With all these gorgeous mountains and winding roads, you can bet the Tour de France makes it way thru here every year. In 2020, stage 6, the tour started in Le Teil and ended in Mont Aigoual, located in Lozère. Stage 7 of the Tour de France, started on the Millau viaduct, located just 30 miles south of our department.

You want me to climb WHAT?

  • Rock climbers in La Canourgue, Mende, St. Énimie and all over Lozère practice indoors all winter long to scale the outdoor cliffs when the weather is sunny and warm. A geologist dream.
Discover Lozère
Rock climbing in Gorges du Tarn © Bureau Des Moniteurs de Sainte Enimie

Est-ce que tu parles français?

  • Linguists will delight in not only the French spoken here, but also a ancient dialect called Gévaudanais, derived from Occitan language, spoken by some but understood by many locals in Southern France.
Celts in France?
  • The Cevennes region is also located here, it is a UNESCO world heritage site. Named for its human history of the Celtic settlers that moved to the region in the 800-400 B.C. It is also a theologian field site for research of Protestantism.
Rome wasn’t built in a day!
  • Archaeologists and history professors delight in all the Roman artifacts found in this region. From Julius Caesar elephant coins to prehistoric pottery, there is much to be discovered.
Say Cheese!
  • Did someone say cheese? FROMAGE!! With all these bountiful pasture lands and mountains, farmers raise sheep, cows and goats, which produce the famous Tomme de Vache (unpasteurized cow’s milk farm cheese) used to make Aligot, a typical dish found only here.
Discover Lozere, Mother and calf, cattle on Aubrac plateau
Mother and calf, cattle on Aubrac plateau

Rural France has an activity for everyone and we look forward to sharing them with you!

-Allison & Patrick

Allez Abroad’s founders

Why Savoie?

More precisely Haute-Savoie is another mountain destination famously known in the winter for its quaint midmountain ski resorts. In the summer, you can enjoy mountain hiking trails and stays in Swiss-style wooden chalets, at an average altitude of about 3,900 feet. Located in the Alps, you can enjoy magnificent vistas, including the one of the Mont Blanc mountain range, and within sight of Switzerland. Geneva is just around the corner.

You can enjoy visiting local raw-milk cheese farms year-round. In the summer, people enjoy the local food, such as tartiflette or raclette, made with local farm cheeses. These staples will give you a chance to get yourself in shape after enjoying mountain hiking where the pristine nature and pure air will fill your lungs along with filling your eyes with breathtaking views. The summer pastures always make you imagine what it’s like for people to live there in the snowy winters and give you respect for the resilience of the locals.

The stark contrast between the big city bustle and the quietude of the rural mountain areas, yet with an easy access to shops and exquisite restaurants will make you long for more.

If you are not the hiking type, you can relax in the hot tub of your hotel, on the terrace of the local cafés or browsing through the local shops in the quaint streets.

Regardless of the season, Haute-Savoie will welcome you with open arms and gladly share the wonders that this enchanting place has to offer.

Cofounder at Allez Abroad, Allison

Hi, my name is Allison and I am one of the cofounders of Allez Abroad. My husband Patrick is our Vice President of Sales.

Prior to Allez Abroad, I graduated from the Dedman School of Hospitality at Florida State University, with a degree in business administration and hotel management. After working for Marriott, I completed my manager-in-training program and became an assistant restaurant manager just north of West Palm Beach, Florida.

I moved to the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador in 2005, and became a customer service manager for a cruise line in the Galápagos, which at the time had 5 boats. After working for the cruise line for a year, I shifted my focus to hotels.  I began working in operations and customer service for an oceanfront hotel on Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos. I spent 10 years designing marketing and island hopping programs for our guests.

Patrick and I are delighted to share our 35 years of combined experience in hospitality and travel with students and their professors. We design unique study abroad programs and take our students to places known only by the locals; thus making them discover what most Americans never see. We take students in rural and urban France (not just to Lozère) to locations they thought existed only in romantic movies or novels.

We look forward to showing the natural beauties of France with our students and professors! 

The Planner, Patrick

My husband, Patrick Sacleux, has been planning vacations for over 20 years. What started as a hobby to organize trips for family and friends (having worked for over 15 years in the tourism industry) has now become a business.

Then he went on to produce trips for the Alliance Française in Orlando for 5 years until moving back to France. On one of the tours they explored the Cathar castles (in the south of France), and the fortified city of Carcassonne, which I’m dying to see for myself!

In 2018 we did a Paris – Barcelona trip which we are organizing again in 2021, but adding a few more adventures.

Patrick draws from his intimate knowledge of France to please friends and family, and to show them sites most other tourists would never fathom, to now design tours for a living. Each tour has a theme and Patrick reaches from within his creative soul (as an author and performer) to find endless themes to show a side of France most people never even dreamed of.

As for Lozère, once travelers experience it, as he did some years back while doing field research for his PhD, people begin to wonder if they chose Lozère or if Lozère has chosen them. Regardless, this part of France, that he and I call home, will welcome our guests.

Lozère will charm them and will make them want to come back for more; like an aged wine that enchants your palate, an exquisite cured sausage or a raw milk sheep cheese to which one would add local bread to bring rapture to a mouth-watering snack.