Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Renting a Vacation Apartment in the South of France: Easier than you may believe!

Friday, August 13th, 2010
Aix-en-Provence, France

Aix-en-Provence, France

The south of France deserves time. If you can, go for a month or more. If you can only escape for a week, then set up a base in an apartment in the south of France and do day-trips from there. Having an apartment is wonderful for cooking local foods bought at festive French outdoor markets, and accommodating families or a group of friends.

On a recent trip to Aix-en-Provence, my friends and I (there were 4 of us), rented a car and an apartment in Aix. Between the four of us it was not expensive and it was perfectly located right in the center of the city. There were two rooms, a large bathroom, Internet, a cute kitchen, and a dinning room table where we poured many a glass of French red. The windows of the apartment looked out over the ceramic rooftops of Aix. It was perfect for us.

Views from holiday apartment over Aix-en-Provence

Views from holiday apartment over Aix-en-Provence

We looked at a lot of sites before finding the right apartment. It is important to look at how much of a cleaning deposit the owners want, and their linen fee. We paid a deposit in advance, but were a little worried about this, as there are a lot of scams out there too when it comes to holiday rentals. When in doubt, go through an agency. Expect to pay 60 Euros a night for an apartment and up!

Cafes in the south of France

Cafes in the south of France


Some rental companies serving Aix and the south of France -

Photo Credit:

Vive la France!

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

After all, this is France...

Epcot at Walt Disney World features a plethora of pavilions in its World Showcase that pay homage to specific countries. That Eiffel Tower in the distance? If you said “France” then congratulations, you’re a winner.

The food in the pavilion is quite good, and most, if not all, of the Disney cast members in the area are young people from various regions of France. Disney’s spin on France is focused on la Belle Epoque (the Beautiful Time, 1870-1910).

Fun fact: The park area nestled along the canal is inspired by “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by artist Georges Seurat.

For more family-friendly travel photos visit DeliciousBaby’s Photo Fridays.

Photo by Tricia Honea

Stars, Food and Art – Munich, Germany

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Imagine a culinary journey across Europe, with dishes cooked by the finest Michelin-starred chefs of Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

First, you’ll stop at Mario Gamba’s Acquarello restaurant in Munich to taste a delectable declination of tuna served with a variety of Mediterranean sauces.  Then, on to Hamburg, where Anna Sgroi (of Sgroi restaurant fame) will cook you up a calamaretti of wild prawns. Next up?  A luscious soup of foie gras and oyster created by Toulouse’s illustrious chef, Michel Sarran.

Is your mouth watering yet?  There are still three more courses to go – by Giovanni D’Amato of Reggiolo, Italy, Philippe Gauvreau of Lyon, France and Frank Rosin of Dorsten, Germany.  There’s no doubt you’ll be well fed.

Though delicious, the travel involved makes it sound a little too exhausting.  But luckily, you don’t have to travel from city to city to get a taste of Europe’s finest gastronomy.  Instead, you can attend one of the Stars, Food and Art events, being held at Sofitel properties this year in Germany, France and the Netherlands.

I attended the July 9, 2010 event held at the opulent Sofitel Munich Bayerpost hotel in Munich, Germany.  And I can honestly say the meal was one of the best I’ve ever had.  The quality, the presentation, the flavor – each chef’s taste, philosophy and joie de vivre was evident in every bite (and, for the record, I’m still dreaming of Giovanni D’Amato’s sea bass with Amalfi lemon and mozzarella sauce – I will be spending the rest of my summer trying to recreate it at home).  And despite those unique differences, the meal as a whole was still amazing, six pieces of a puzzle that fit together perfectly.

Stars, Food and Art dinners are a tad pricey – you are looking at around 550-600 Euro per person to indulge.  But it’s well worth it – a percentage goes to charity (this one supported children’s charity Artists for Kids).  And you’ll get to enjoy the tastes of six incredible chefs – the same chefs you might have to wait weeks to try at their own restaurants – during a truly glamorous evening.  For a true foodie, what could be better?


Stars Food and Art
Upcoming dates:

October 1, 2010 – Marseille, France

October 2, 2010 – Lyon, France

November 5 & 6, 2010 – Amsterdam, Netherlands (Sofitel Legend the Grand)


Photos courtesy of Stars, Food and Art.

What in the World?

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
Here’s your weekly dose of world news! World Cup If you’ve been following the action in South Africa over the past month or so, you’ll know that Spain claimed victory over the Netherlands in the final match on Sunday. The game — a rather exciting one with a flurry of yellow cards — went into [...]

What in the World?

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
Greetings! And welcome to another edition of What in the World? Here’s your weekly dose of world news. The. U.S. First of all, a happy belated Fourth of July! Did everyone (who celebrates the holiday, that is) go out and see some fireworks? I hope so! It’s not an American holiday without some explosions. Live [...]

Stay in a Castle in Cathar Country, France

Friday, July 2nd, 2010
On the Cathar Trail in Languedoc

On the Cathar Trail in Languedoc

The south of France, especially around Narbonne, Carcassonne and Toulouse is dotted with Cathar Castles. History enthusiasts will be in heaven in this area near the border of France and Spain, which was once the setting for many a battle. Some of the Cathar Castles are especially impressive, such as the castle of Carcassonne.

Cathar Castles - Carcassonne

Cathar Castles - Carcassonne

To make your way along the Cathar trail, stay a few nights at the convenient Chateau des Ducs de Joyeuse. This mini-castle, or fortified home, was built for the Governor of Narboone in the 16th century and is a beautiful example of architecture from this area of France, the Languedoc.

The South of France

The South of France

Chateau des Ducs de Joyeuse has 23 rooms and 12 Suites, decorated with a medieval flair and centered around dramatic canopied beds. There is also a restaurant on-site with indoor and outdoor patio seating in the summer time. Up until the 30th of June, 2010, Chateau des Ducs de Joyeuse is offering guests the opportunity to try the hotel restaurant for free. See details on this offer here. Depending on the season and the room, rates range from 90 to 200 Euros a night at Chateau des Ducs de Joyeuse.


See booking information online here:

Chateau des Ducs de Joyeuse – Allee du Chateau, Couiza, France

Photo Credit: The Spain Scoop

Le Friquet Country Hotel, St Peter Port, Guernsey

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

In the English Channel, the islands that form the Channel Islands Archipelago are closer to France than to England. The islands are accessible by plane or by ferry from Poole, Portsmouth or Weymouth in southern England or from Saint-Malo in Bretagne.

On quaint and charming Guernsey, the second largest island in the archipelago, Le Friquet Country Hotel offers great accommodations in peaceful surroundings. We stayed two nights in a comfortable room. However, the main draw of this country house is the beautifully tended gardens with a little pond and a brook running through it. My children also adored the lovely heated swimming pool.

The hotel restaurant, The Falcon Carvery, is a local favourite. I will happily recommend the excellent Dover sole. For the three of us, we payed GBP 125 pr night, including a delicious breakfast with lots of choices. This was August 2009, so in the middle of high season. Le Friquet has various special offers and short breaks, some including flights from the UK and car hire.

Le Friquet is about 10 minutes by car (a little longer by bus) from Guernsey’s lively capital, St Peter Port. The hotel cooperates with Value-Rent-a-Car and offers car hire for as little as GBP 10 pr day. However, that’s nearly doubled if you add Collision Damage Waiver Insurance. Interestingly, the insurance do not cover tyres/wheels. Be aware that Guernsey has some traffic rules that don’t exist elsewhere, such as a peculiar filter-in-turn system. Parking is free, but limited to just a few hours.

I hired a car, but it wasn’t really necessary, as the bus left just a few metres from the hotel. Also, if you’re in reasonable shape, it’s a pleasant walk. My youngest especially enjoyed spotting rabbits and squirrels in the fields along the way.

Guernsey has beautiful beaches, twisting and turning narrow country roads and stunning nature around every bend. There’s plenty to occupy the visitor for a few days; I’d especially like to mention the evocative German Occupation Museum. St Peter Port has heaps of good cafes and restaurants, and very good shopping for such a small town. The only drawback is traffic. The little island has surprisingly many cars, so if you want something even more quiet, the neighbouring islands of Sark and Herm are but a short boat ride away. Both are tiny, car-free and magically beautiful.

The Channel Islands are not strictly part of the United Kingdom, but rather British Crown Dependencies. For lodgings in the UK, see all our reviews here.

If you go:
Le Friquet Country House
Rue du Friquet
Channel Islands
tel + 44 1481 256509

Review and photos by Anne-Sophie Redisch of Sophie’s World
twitter: SophieR

Casual Lodging on the Burgundy Wine Route, France

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Each room has its own small terrace

A small family run residence in the heart of the France’s Burgundy wine route offers comfortable en suite rooms, each with their own terrace that overlooks a small country garden.
Just five minutes drive from the town of Nuits Saint George (famous for its Burgundy reds and with its good selection of restaurants and shopping opportunities) Le Clos Baden is also within easy reach of sites such as Clos Vougeot, Abbaye des Citeaux and numerous wine caves. The owners are always willing to help with any aspect of your stay and offer helpful suggestions for possible visits in the area, it’s a perfect base for exploring the wine region or a good break for those longer drives though France
Situated on the outskirts of a the small village of Agencourt the property offers peaceful rooms with WIFI access, free parking as well as access small swimming pool.  An onsite restaurant ‘Chez Vincent’ is open at peak times and an event space is also available for hire. For longer stays some rooms are equipped with a small kitchenette.

Single rooms start from as little as €41 with  doubles (including breakfast) available at €60. A suite is available for €118 with triple and quad rooms also available.

Le Clos Badan
49 rue de citeaux agencourt
21700 agencourt
03 80 62 03 90

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Photo Credit: Matt Scott

Sleeping Under the Stars in France

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

A Night Under the Stars

There’s nothing quite like sleeping under the stars, but choosing the great outdoors often means a certain amount of luxury is missing. However, a new concept in luxury camping has begun in France: Les Carres d’Etoiles (boxes of stars)is the idea of Louis and Nathalie Blanco who have brought a new way to enjoy the sky above. 
The Carre is a small bedroom with a glass dome above the bed that allows you to lie in bed and enjoy the night sky. At the foot of the bed a ladder leads to a lower level which is fully equipped with a toilet and shower, kitchenette with coffee maker, fridge and microwave, a sofa and a flat screen TV.  Each cabin also comes with its own astronomical telescope and star charts so amateur astronomers can enjoy the sky above. Weather permitting of course. 

The first of these cabins opened in Burgundy in 2010 and there are now 23 units to rent around France; from the Loire Valley to Picardy and Provence.  The units are portable and designed to stand anywhere- from the grounds of a luxury hotel to a local camp site or regional forest. 

With a fully equipped kitchenette guests can choose self catering and take advantage of the carres welcome baskets- available in various sizes- which offer a range of regional produce.  Other dining options, even breakfast in bed is available in many of the Carres attached to hotels. 

Les Carres d’Etoiles sleep two are available from around €95 per night, depending on location and season. 

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Photo Credit: Les Carres d’Etoiles

Luxury Lodging in France’s Loire Valley

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

The Chapel at Amboise Castle

It can difficult for a hotel to offer the best in luxury accommodation, while also feeling comfortable and homely, but le Choiseul pulls this off wonderfully.
Located just below the ramparts of Amboise Castle and a few minutes walk to the medieval town centre, most rooms either boast Chateau views or, like the dining room, overlook the slow moving Loire River.
Spread across three buildings – all 18th century dwellings, – rooms vary in size but all are decorated to match the interior styles of the nearby castle. Despite the comfort of the rooms many guest like to mingle in the cosy day room/bar with its open fire or sit out of the terrace and gaze over the site which French kings used to call home.
In the restaurant le Choiseul continues its flawless service, boasting a Michelin star with a menu that offers the finest local ingredients, cooked with a strong French influence. There is also an extensive wine list of both Loire Valley wines, other French and New world to please every taste.
Offering the very best of French cooking, service and hospitality it’s the perfect place from which to explore the area.
Traditional rooms are available from €148 a night, with Junior Suites starting at €280. Bed and Breakfast, Half Board and Weekend Break specials are also available throughout the year.

Le Choiseul
36 Quai Charles Guinot, Amboise, France
33 (0) 2 47 30 45 45

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Photo Credit: Matt Scott