The town of Capbreton (40 Landes, Aquitaine) celebrates its Festival of the Sea (Fete de la Mer) on the weekend of 8–9 June 2013.
Situated north of Biarritz with long sweeping beaches and dunes, typical of the Landes departement, Capbreton offers a festival which is full of flowers, procession with floats, music and dancing.
For more info see www.capbreton-tourisme.com
Antibes/Juan-les-Pins (06 Alpes Maritimes) on the French Riviera holds a Vintage Sailboat Regatta 29 May – 2 June 2013
“Les Voiles d’Antibes” – Vintage sailboat regattas: As the grand opening of the Mediterranean sailing season, around sixty of the world’s most beautiful sailing ships who have written the splendid history of international yachting since the end of the 19th century, will once again gather in Antibes. These nautical cathedrals (certain units featuring over 1,000 square meters of sails) will fill with joy the spectators, offering them a magnificent show while racing along the 24 km of Antibes’s coastline. A Sports’ events doubled with a four days fiesta and fun in the “Village des Voiles” as well as in the old city.
Whether as a spectator or participant thus promises to be a fun event in the elegant surroundings of Antibes between Nice and Cannes on the Côte d’Azur – beaches and museums (for Napoleon, Picassoand Absinthe amonst others). It is also home to an internationsal hJazz Festival (Jazz à Juan) in July. (12-21 July 2013)
There is also the Port Vauban, built by France’s greatest military architect. The old port was the heart of the ancient Greek city of Antipolis. It is now the largest yachting harbour in Europe,
For more information see www.voilesdantibes.com/
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Go by train from London to Nice?
The Cathedral in Amiens (80 Somme, Picardie) is lit up in colour (Amiens, la cathédrale en couleurs) – 15 June to 15 September 2013
The magical effect of coloured lighting on the façade of the cathedral, created by the
company Skertzò, provides visitors with an original experience of this impressive gothic cathedral.
The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site -Amiens Cathedral, in the heart of Picardy, is one of the largest ‘classic’ Gothic churches of the 13th century. It is notable for the coherence of its plan, the beauty of its three-tier interior elevation and the particularly fine display of sculptures on the principal facade and in the south transept.
For more info about the Cathedral lighting
Amiens Tourism Office
The French have their own take on Bagpipes, as you can witness at the Cassel (59 Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais )Cornemuses bagpipes festival which runs from 1- 30 June 2013
In and around Cassel, in the Houtland district and on Mont Cassel itself, visitors have an opportunity to beat time and dance to the sound of the pipes. Musical instruments mart, folk dancing, free concerts and special folk dances.
The French for bagpipes is Cornemuse!, and thcey are often associated with Breton folk music, alt hough there may be different traditions in this northern corner of France.
For examples of Breton folk music look out for the group la Bottine Souriante, which although from Quebec they do feature French Folk music
For more info see gotofrancenow.com
On the weekend 16-17 March 2013, Nuits St Georges (21 Cotes d’Or, Burgundy) celebrates the 52nd Auction of Wines in support of the Hospices de Nuits St Georges (Vente des Vins des Hospices de Nuits).
The famous and pleasant town of Nuits-St-Georges is in the heart of Burgundy wine country. Similar to the November Hospices de Beaune auction, this is an opportunity for local winemakers to raise money for charity, whilst also getting some markers on the potential prices for their wines. Open to the general public entry cost €10 for an engraved glass and opportunities to taste the wines from the 2012 harvest.
Make a weekend of it by visiting the Festival of Chocolate, the farmers’ and gourmet market and the dog show and take part in the Half-Marathon.
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For more on the Auction
Le Canard au Parapluie Rouge, or the “Duck with red umbrella” has a good start with a memorable name for a B&B – sounds a bit more exciting than the Hotel de la Gare (Station Hotel) which was its original name.
Situated south of Argenton-sur-Creuse (36 Indre, Centre -see map) just off the A20 autoroute about 200 miles south of Paris, this could make an ideal stop-over en route to or from the Dordogne, Lot and Toulouse – and tends to be one of those areas that many of us hurtle through (especially with the new A20 Autoroute “l’Occitaine”) on our way south or north.
Argenton-sur-Creuse is known as the “Venice of the Berry” (a former province of Central France) is a delightful spot on the River Creuse with medieval streets and chateau in the middle of an unspoilt area of France.The quiet and pretty small village of Celon is a few kilometres south.
“Le Canard au Parapluie Rouge is a lovely period country home situated on three and half acres of grounds and gardens. …. Now the property has been completely updated with all modern conveniences and offers several en-suite bedrooms. You will find the style of Le Canard a delightful mix of eclectic furnishings from around the world creating a very cozy & welcoming ambiance.”
For more info see www.lecanardbandb.com.
Ig you want to bring back or capture the essence of the Languedoc and its food, then this could be the book for you.In many places the Languedoc landscape is rugged, peppered with “garrigues”, a sort of moorland with wild herbs, (rosemary,thyme, star anise and mint), heather and broom – ideal territory for wild boar and lamb. And of course, the Mediterranean Sea is never far away with its rich harvest of seafood, especially around the Etang du Thau. Geographicaly and gastonomically it is a region influenced by its neighbours in South West France and Provence,
Fortunately it also manages to produce wines to match robust and well-flavoured dishes – rich reds especially from Fitou, Corbieres and Pic St Loup; and crisp dry whites from Picpoul de Pinet.
“Returning to his challenging home in the Languedoc, Patrick Moon could easily fill the days, protecting infant vines from marauding wild boar and hiding baby truffle oaks from unscrupulous neighbours. The local campsite cafe is, however, now an ambitious new restaurant. The determination of its talented young chef to achieve perfection on a shoestring is intriguing, and Patrick soon finds himself behind the swing doors, sharing in the triumphs, disasters and sheer hard work of life in a serious kitchen. A wider exploration of the region’s finest produce for the table distracts him further. From season to season, Patrick’s quest uncovers the secrets of olive oil and salt production, the mysteries of Ricard and the Roquefort caves, the miracle of the sparkling Perrier spring. From mighty household names to eccentric peasant smallholdings, his expeditions encompass an extraordinary cast of characters and a rich vein of humour. But always there are the melons and olives and aubergines demanding attention at home. “
From 1 July 2008 you will need to carry both a warning triangle and a hi-viz jacket in your car in France – and in the event of a breakdown or accident you must also switch on your hazard warning flashers.
The warning triangle must be placed 30 metres back from the vehicle in the direction from which traffic is approaching.
Personally I have my doubts about the triangle, but the hi-viz vest is a useful small and light safety precaution which should ensure that you are seen in the dark or poor visibility.
(Both items can be purchased in the UK from www.raymac.co.uk)
In other French road news, there are plans to change the style of French number plates from 2009, losing the last 2 numbers which indicate the departement of origin. This the cause of some protest in the French regions, and will be a blow to many British parents who will no longer be able to divert their child passengers on long journeys with the game of “where does that car come from?”
We have arranged with RAYMAC a special offer of a WARNING TRIANGLE + A HI-VISIBILITY VEST FOR JUST £9.99 PLUS VAT AND DELIVERY (usual price for the Warning Triangle alone is over £10) – CLICK HERE FOR THIS SPECIAL OFFER
UPDATE: Thanks to Albert, we have been able to clarify that the requirement for a warning triangle and hi-viz vest does not apply to motorcycles – and whilst stowing and carrying a warning triangle could be difficult for a motorcycle, a high viz vest might be a good idea – very lightweight and taking up little room, a vest would give you great visibility if you were to break down at night.
For more info (in French) see www2.securiteroutiere.gouv.fr/
The scallop (Coquille Saint-Jacques) is celebrated with a Festival in the Brittany vort of Loguivy de la Mer – Ploubazlanec (22 Côtes d’Armor, Brittany) 27-28 April 2013
Every year the Spring Scallop Festival is held in one of three west Brittany ports – the others being Erquy and Saint Quay Portrieux. This area regards itself as the “Capital of the Scallop”, with a vibrant fish market serviced by the local fishing boats – lobsters, scallops, spider crabs are usually available.
Abbaye de Beauport
North of Paimpol, the so-called Goëlo Coast is a must for lovers of the outdoors. Take the GR34 old customs officers’ path around the peninsula from the active fishing village of Loguivy-de-la-Mer to Pors-Even, taking in the magnificent views and historic town of Ploubazlanec.
This is far Brittany, a long way from the rest of France, its customs, language and culture.
Just south of Paimpol is the maritime abbey of Beauport, which is well worth a visit, and at the in Autumn the abbey hosts an Apple Festival (Fête de la Pomme) 7 October 2012
To the north of the port of Paimpol you can get a ferry for a trip to the Isle of Brehat.! (no vehicles)
For more info on the Spring Scallop Festival see www.cotesdarmor.com
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The town of Compiegne (60 Oise, Picardie) holds its 24th annual Cheese and Wine Fair (Foire aux Fromages et aux Vins) 25-26 May 2013.
Compiegne styles itself as an “Imperial Town” based on its connection with Napoleon and other French kings – the Chateau de Compiegne and the surrounding forests (for hunting) were a royal and imperial favourite – and conveniently lying just about 80km north of Paris.
The Chateau is worth visiting for its 3 museums – The Historic Apartments, The Museum of the Second Empire, and the National Museum of Cars & Tourisme (Musée National de la Voiture et du Tourisme), established in 1927!!
But of course, Compiegne has more recent claims to fame – the Armistice following the First World War was signed in a railway carriage in the forest of Compiegne – there is now an Armistice Museum which contains a replica of the Wagon-Lits Carriage where the Armistice was signed (and where in 1940 Hitler humiliated the French in return after the Fall of France).
The other claim to fame is that Compiegne is the start of the gruelling Paris-Roubaix cycle race each April.
For more info on the Cheese & Wine Fair – see Foire aux Fromages et aux Vins
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Every year, National Ferry Fortnight aims to promote the benefits of UK ferry travel and offer some great travel deals:
- No baggage restrictions
- Space to relax and unwind
- Convenience of having your own car
To celebrate DFDS is taking 20% off their 2013 Dover-Dunkirk and Dover-Calais Economy fares so if you travel with your car and up to 4 people before 19 December 2013, you’ll save £’s!
Just book before 20 March 2013 by going to DFDS quoting offer code ENFF
Over on Brittany Ferries – you can get your family holiday off to a great start by taking advantage of the special family holiday offer, worth up to £180. Travel on a day sailing to France this summer and for lots of free extras.
Book now and:
- Kids travel free*
- Free day cabins**
- Free bikes on the back of your car
By taking your car you’ll be free from the hassle of airports, free to explore at your own pace and free to pack all you need to make the most of your trip. With convenient routes and sailings, you’ll arrive closer to your holiday saving miles of driving, tolls and even overnight stops. And the on board service will mean getting there is all part of the fun, with lots to keep the family occupied as you head south.
Booking and travel dates:
This offer is valid on day sailings only throughout the year including school holidays. Simply book by 18 March 2013 – Brittany Ferries Special Offer
Vinsobres (26 Drôme, Rhône-Alpes) is one of the Côtes du Rhône, named villages – indicating a higher quality of wine than generic Côtes du Rhône, and the local winemakers syndicate organise a wine Festival (Salon des Vins de l’AOC Vinsobres) in March each year – 17 March 2013.
The wine fair also features other local producers – charcuterie, chocolate, nougat , cheese….
In mid-summer there are also 2 more wine festivals – Nuits Diviniques (19 July 2013 and 8 August 2013) – evening events starting at 7pm in the Place de la Mairie.
Then in September (date to be confirmed) there is the Grape Harvest Festival (Ban des Vendanges)
Vinsobres is predominantly a red wine made from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes – they are grown rather higher on the valley sides giving them more structure and complexity.
Vinsobres is situated about 40 kms north east of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
For more info see www.vinsobres.fr
They may not actually throw the Christians to the lions these days, but they do stage a decent historical re-creation of the Roman games in the impressive Roman arena at Nîmes (30 Gard, Languedoc-Roussillom) 4-5 May 2013
Discover the biggest living history event in the south of France. Roman legionnaires, Celts, the Imperial Court, auxiliaries, cavalrymen and war chariots will all be there for this great celebration of Roman civilization….
Nîmes became a colony under Latin Law and was ornamented with sumptuous monuments. It reached its peak in the second century AD. Successive invasions and then the arrival of the Visigoths in the fifth century put an end to its prosperity.
The local wine is Costières de Nimes, which is the most southerly of the Côtes du Rhône appellations – see our article on Nimes and its Costieres
Nimes Tourist Office
Roman Games website (in French)