Cape Elizabeth resident Bryce Roberts says visiting France is his passion.

He’s a Francophile. As a result of his many visits, Roberts is a terrific source of information about French travel tips, especially for tourists seeking cultural immersion experiences independent of scheduled tours. Franco-Americans who want to research their first colonial family origins might enjoy learning some travel tips from Roberts.

“Although my family is of English, Welsh and Scottish ancestry, all I do is go to visit France!,” he says.

He’s at ease driving throughout France with his personal itinerary in hand, escorting his wife, family and friends. He generally travels without hotel reservations. Even so, he’s usually looking for one of 600 French golf courses.

“Golf in France is great. There’s a mixture of 9, 18, 27 and even 36-hole courses.”

Roberts holds a PGA card (Professional Golfers Association of America), so he’s never been charged a fee to play golf in France, at least, not yet.

Although he’s not Franco-American, Roberts says one of his distant ancestors might have been with William the Conqueror in 1066, when the Normans invaded England. In fact, Roberts is mystified by some Franco-Americans who might shy away from their French heritage.

At one time, a Biddeford Franco-American friend told him, “Bryce, some of my people are trying to run away from being French and you’re trying to become one!”

Roberts, 71, began his love of French language and culture when he was growing up in York County, where his physician father cared for many Franco-Americans, especially in Sanford, Biddeford and Saco.

With the U.S. Army during the 1960s, he was stationed for 14 months in France. His frequent journeys to France began with his honeymoon in 1971, when he and his wife Meredith (Merry) started their 45-day European journey with a 12-day visit to France. He kept in touch with friends made while serving in the Army.

In1995, he visited France with his daughters, who were ages 21, 18 and 17, at the time.

“Traveling with my daughters was the most profound thing – outside of my marriage to Merry – that has happened, in my life,” he says.

He’s been to France 16 additional times since 1995, visiting familiar places and friends he knew while in the Army.

Paris is the only place where he always makes hotel reservations.

Nonetheless, traveling without reservations is easier when visiting outside of high tourist travel months.

He recommends travel in March-April, or September through December.

“Usually, we keep some sort of rough travel agenda, but it’s subject to change.”

Daily arrival times are planned for between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to assure having a room at their destination points.

He recommends car rental in Paris at the Arc de Triomphe. This location has several benefits. It avoids airport fees, allows a few days in Paris without having to pay for a car and eliminates trying to find a place to park in the city.

Roberts checks the accommodations before accepting them.

“I’m not afraid to say ‘no’ after checking the room,” he says.

By chance, he started staying at a chain, called the Contact Hotels. They average 2-3 stars, located all around France. Hotel costs without reservations tend to be reasonable, especially away from large cities like Paris or Lyon. For example, Roberts and a golf partner recently paid 175 euros (about $240 US) to stay at a hotel in Paris; but paid 58 euros (about $80 US) for a room in an Auberge (small hostel) in Vendome, located southwest of Paris.

As a matter of fact, Roberts and his wife are already planning their next trip to France! Bon Voyage.