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Ragout des Vendangeurs - 'Grape Picker's Stew'

Stew in pot
In October, to mark the grape harvest season, our recipe of the month is 'Grape-Picker's Stew' - wholesome enough to keep the grape-pickers' energy levels up through the harvest! Ingredients 8 slices of streaky smoked bacon 8 large sausages (we recommend Toulouse, beef or venison) 4 onions cut up into large chunks 200g of dry green lentils (Puy) 2-4 garlic cloves 300 ml of beef stock 150 ml of red wine Fresh thyme Instructions Heat the oil in a large casserole dish and fry the bacon until it's crispy over a medium heat. Remove the bacon, then add the sausages, browning them all over. Then...

The Camargue: A world of its own in Southern France

Flamingos in the Camargue France
By Kaya Lemaire When I was 18, I didn’t know anything about France beyond the Eiffel Tower and baguette with brie. I wouldn’t have dreamed of travelling to the South, because I thought that the quintessential French experience lay in the streets of Paris. What I didn’t realize is that France is a mosaic of cultural nuances, landscapes, wildlife, and cuisine. In fact, lying nestled in between Montpellier and Marseille is one of the country's truly unique regions. A road trip to a magical place in the South of France Was I in for a surprise when we found ourselves hurtling...

Visit our favorite markets in Provence

Farmers market in Aix en Provence
At the time of writing, we’re in the midst of the grape harvest! Farmers markets all over France are bustling all year round as locals continue to prefer fresh produce over the grocery store chains. And this is even more true during the fall harvest season, with its abondance of new winter vegetables. In this post, we spend a week exploring markets in Provence in southern France. As well as farmers’ markets, we’re including antiques, handicrafts, textiles and other markets that are wonderful for buying authentic French souvenirs . So make sure you keep this list handy the...

Piperade recipe (a delicious condiment)

Piperade Basque recipe
Piperade basque is a sort of condiment made from peppers, tomatoes and, of course, pepper from Espelette. I love making Piperade because it is quick and easy, and very tasty. It is good on chicken, steak, shrimp, but for a veggie meal, I like to mix it into an omlette for a full meal. The Basque region is known for making cider, as opposed to wine. And as Mother Nature knows best, cider pairs very nicely with Piperade. Piperade (Arnaud 25 CC BY-SA 4.0 ) Ingredients 1 green and 1 red pepper, cut into strips 4 tomatoes without skins (or a can of crushed tomatoes) 1 onion 1 garlic clove 1...

Gougères Recipe (French cheese puffs)

Gougeres Recipe
This gougères recipe comes from France Just For You's Senior Trip Planner, Laura. This is one of my favorite recipes. I discovered gougères when meeting my future family-in-law for the first time. They are “Bourguignon” (from Burgundy), as are gougères . While traveling in Burgundy, you may be served gougères during a wine tasting. But don’t wait until then, these are not complicated to make and I guarantee they will be a success. I like to serve them before dinner, with a glass of Chablis, also from Burgundy. This recipe makes about 40 ...

The Best Things to Do in Biarritz, France

Best things to do in Biarritz, Basque Country, France
Biarritz is part of the Basque Country and lies on the Atlantic coast in the southwest of France, not far from the Spanish border. It was once a small whaling town on the Atlantic coast. Then Napoleon III ’s wife, the Empress Eugénie de Montijo, discovered it in the 1850s and ordered the construction of a luxurious vacation home on the sand dunes. This later became the luxury Hôtel du Palais. And thus Biarritz became one of the preferred holiday destinations for the French nobility. Nowadays it still has its glamor, but also has a hippy surfer vibe, and it'...

Tomato Tarte Tatin recipe

Tomato tarte tatin
We finally have some tomatoes ripening in our garden and this Tomato Tarte Tatin is one of my favorite things to make for a light summer meal. Unfortunately, there was not quite enough tomatoes ready in the garden, so I had to add some from the market. Emptied tomatoes (Photo© France Just For You) This recipe feeds about 8 people. I like to serve it with a simple green salad with garlic croutons and a crisp and cold white wine from the Mâcon area. Ingredients: 12 medium sized tomatoes, cut into halves and emptied 5 tablespoons of tapenade, preferably made from black olives, but green will...

Our Post-Quarantine Road Trip Through Provence

Pont du Gard on our road trip through Provence
One of the reasons we're able to offer unique experiences and visits to hidden gems as part of our self-drive tours is because we’re often on the road researching and looking for ways to continually improve our tours. After eight weeks under lockdown during the pandemic, we were of course itching to get back out on the road again. Of course, we never tire of exploring our beautiful country. But we also wanted to check how the pandemic had affected travel in France, our favorite sites to send travelers to, and our partners at the Bed & Breakfasts we work with. So we decided to take a road...

Aïoli sauce recipe

Aioli sauce
This delicious, garlicky sauce is a specialty from Provence. It goes very well with summer vegetables, salted cod fish, crispy bread and croutons, snails, mussels, potatoes, and eggs. We hope you enjoy this very quick and simple recipe! Ingredients 1 garlic clove 2 egg yolks 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1⁄2 cup olive oil 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil 2 pinches of salt Instructions Cut off the ends of the garlic clove, peel it, and put it through a garlic press. Put the garlic in a pestle and mortar, add the salt and grind it until you have a paste. In a glass/ceramic mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, the...

Exploring Le Marais district in Paris

Place Sainte Catherine in Le Marais, Paris
Many of our travelers want to spend a few days in Paris during their self-guided tour of France . In Paris, we work with a charming family-run boutique hotel in the fashionable yet quaint Marais district in the 4th arrondissement. TIP: There are a lot of different metro stations around Le Marais district. Decide which place you would like to visit first, and then see which stations are near. Also check which metro line will be most convenient from where you’re starting. Le Marais - our favorite district in Paris, full of charm and antiquity A cafe in Le Marais in Paris (Photo© Borya CC...

Is it safe to travel to France in 2020? [Covid-19 update July 2020]

lavender fields in the luberon, provence
We understand that travelers will be worried about the risks of traveling while the coronavirus pandemic continues across the globe. We will update this post with the latest information about France regarding travel, safety measures and the benefits of traveling in late 2020 and 2021. In June 2020, after lockdown had ended, we hit the road and left our home in the Loire Valley to visit some of our favorite parts of France. We felt very safe at every attraction, B&B and restaurant we visited. People are still being careful about observing the social distancing rules. And apart from seeing...

Interview: life as a winemaker in the Loire Valley

purple grapes with fall colors
This month we are dedicating our blog to one of our favorite themes - Wine! Living in the Loire Valley, we are lucky to have plenty of vineyards and wineries within close proximity. One of our favorites belongs to one of my high school friends, Clothilde Pain. She is a fantastic winemaker and makes delicious and very innovative wines . Her father is also a winemaker. In fact, my father used to buy wine from her father; and now I buy wine from her. It has become a family tradition! The key to success, she says, when it comes to making wines lies in obtaining optimal maturity...

Vin de Noix - Walnut Wine recipe

Walnut wine recipe
The preferred aperitif in the Dordogne region of France is Walnut Wine. This sweet dark wine is made from green walnuts picked between La Fete de St. Jean (June 24th) and Bastille Day (July 14th). These are immature walnuts that haven’t yet developed hard shells. This wine’s unique flavor is due to the walnut’s smooth green skin and soft interior. The longer the wine ages in the cupboard, the better the flavor - it’s definitely worth the wait! Here we share the typical recipe for making Vin de Noix , but we’ve also added some of our own suggestions to make your wine extra...

Monet at the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris

Monet's water lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris
By Naomi Dalton As many visitors to France are only in Paris for a few days, they arrive with a ‘bucket-list’ of attractions they want to see. The most popular include the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, The Musée D’Orsay , Notre Dame Cathedral and one or two places that are more specialized, relating to their interests, such as the Centre Pompidou Modern Art museum , or the Paris Botanical Gardens. One museum that is really worth a visit is the Musée de l’Orangerie . It’s only a 15-minute walk through the Tuilerie Gardens from the Louvre, so it’s convenient to visit...

France's wine regions and our favorite wineries

France's wine country, south of France vineyard
Many of our travelers ask to include a wine tour , wine-tasting or vineyard tour in their self-drive trips. Therefore, we wanted to write a post on some of the famous French wine regions, including some top tips on the best wineries and wines. Bordeaux Bordeaux , in the French region of Aquitaine, is one of the most famous French wine regions, along with Champagne and Burgundy. This is partly due to Bordeaux being next to the coast, which led to it becoming a major wine exporting region for centuries. Bordeaux became the main wine supplying region to...

Pistou Soup recipe

vegetables for soup au pistou recipe
As we write this, France is slowly coming out of lockdown following the Covid-19 pandemic. During this time, we have enjoyed spending more time with our family at home and in our gardens. Our Senior Trip Planner Laura and her husband Jean-François have been working on a garden project which involved dismantling their outdoor swimming pool and recycling the wood to make a vegetable garden. With so many fresh, homegrown vegetables soon to be harvested, this inspired Laura to share this vegetable pistou soup recipe. This is a delicious, comforting meal when it's cold outside or when you're...

Apple and Pear Crumble recipe

Apple and pear crumble recipe
Serves 6 people Ingredients 6 apples 2 pears a small packet of vanilla-flavored sugar 120g butter 160g all-purpose flour 125g granulated brown sugar Emilie preparing the apple and pear crumbles. Photo © France Just For You Instructions Cut the apples into pieces and cook them in a pan until they get quite dry. Add the pears, without cooking them, cut into smaller pieces In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar, vanilla sugar and soft (not melted) butter by hand Put the fruit at the bottom of a dish and spread the paste across the top. Cook at 190°C for about 15 minutes, until they...

Smoked sausages and green peas recipe

sausages and peas recipe
Serves 4 people INGREDIENTS 4 smoked sausages (not too big, if possible). If you can find a Morteau sausage, then buy for 1 for 2-3 people 400g of podded green peas (fresh peas are a much, much better option than frozen) Smoked pork chest, which you cut into big “lardons” bacon strings 2 red onions 2 carrots 3-4 bay leaves Garlic INSTRUCTIONS In your cast iron cocotte dish, brown the onions, the sausages, bacon and carrots until it has a nice smell and color. Add the bay leaves, peas and about ½ liter of water, salt and pepper. Let it cook on the stove half...

Chocolate profiteroles recipe

chocolate profiteroles recipe
Both Guillaume and I and our girls love cooking together when we’re at home, and this week we were making yummy profiteroles! This popular dessert is normally a popular option among dinner guests, so we invite you to try our recipe at home. Guillaume helping Jeanne and Pauline with the chocolate sauce... mmmm! ( Photo © France Just For You) INGREDIENTS For about 8 to 10 profiteroles (we usually serve 3-4 profiteroles per person) choux buns: 50cl of milk 7cl water 1 small teaspoon of salt 2 small teaspoons of sugar 2 eggs 75g of all-purpose...

Places to Visit in France during the Fall

Many of you will have had to cancel the vacations you had planned for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Like us, you probably can’t wait for life to return to something close to normality so you can enjoy doing the things you love - seeing friends, going out for dinner, and starting to make travel plans again. In this post, we’re going to fast-forward to offer you some inspiration for future Fall vacations. Depending on where you want to go and what you want to do, the fall can be an ideal time to visit France. September is often still warm but not as overwhelmingly hot...

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