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The rejuvenated Eiffel Tower

The First Floor of the Eiffel Tower
A new thrilling glass floor at the first level of the Iron Lady Since yesterday (Monday October 6th), the Eiffel Tower – Paris’ most visited tourist site – unveiled its renovated First Floor allowing visitors to look down through a solid glass floor. To increase the frisson of walking on air still further, the glass safety barriers have been inclined outwards. Previously the first floor was the least visited part of the tower and this new floor should attract more people. The €30-million ($37.5-million) refit - which took two years - includes shops, restaurants and a museum...

3 good reasons to stop using AIR FRANCE !

Air France new slogan
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH...ASSEZ !! (as we would say in French). For those who haven't heard of the AIR FRANCE pilot strike that has been totally paralizing the whole country for 5 days now...and doesn't seem to come to an end, this is a great summary of the situation: Air France Strike continues The French pilots are complaining about their wages when they are very well paied compared to the average French people. Of course, they have a lot of constraints and responsibilities..but come on guys! People work in factories everyday of their life and get paid maybe a 10th of what you get!! The matter is...

Feuilletés au Fromage et aux Echalottes

Provence Almonds
I’d like to share with you a very easy recipe I prepared all summer to accompany the « apéritif ». You might already know that for French people l’apéritif – also called l’apéro – is a very important time of the day…moreover during vacation time. It takes place between 6pm and 8 to 9pm and we usually drink either some wine, beers, local alcohol like Pastis in Southern France or homemade mixtures (such as the Walnut Wine or the Orange Wine). But what we eat while having the “apéro” is also very important to us. On special occasion (if you have guests) some biscuits and few...

Romantic Getaways in Normandy

The cliffs along the Channel in Normandy
Northern Normandy is not really well known by foreign travelers who come for a tour of France. When travelers mention Normandy , they usually have in mind the WWII D Day landing sites in Calvados or Mont Saint Michel . But there is so much more to see in this region! Upper and Lower Normandy The map below shows the border between Upper and Lower Normandy, which is near Honfleur . The WWII beaches are mostly in Lower Normandy, as well as the lovely port town of Honfleur and the famous islet of Mont Saint Michel. You may...

Why Cheap Vacation Packages and Discount Hotels in France are a False Economy

When we are buying something important to us – such as a nice vacation package to France – we want to make sure that we pay the right price. Often looking for a vacation package on the best travel destinations, we end up caught in the “cheap vacations” websites, “cheap hotel deals”, “last minute offers” and so on and so forth. All these websites have great pictures to reassure the traveler that he will have a wonderful hotel (he is the only one to get such a good rate on) and the best seat on the flight to Paris. Honeymoon packages, romantic getaways, family vacation packages, everybody can...

Summer Festivals in France

Farmer market
In summertime, each and every city in France hosts a Festival: historical, shipping festival, with animals...there are a lot to choose from . Last Sunday we were in Richelieu city - the city built from scratch by the famous Cardinal of Richelieu. This famous personnage of the French history used to be the "Prime Minister" under Louis the 13th reign (17th century)....just before another famous Cardinal: Mazarin. We can't say that he reminds in the French's heart because he was uncompromising and fought for the absolut power...not really in line with the French democracy principles set up 150...

The new seal of approval in French Restaurants

The French government has decided to create a new seal of approval for the French restaurants…one more: you can tell we are in France: everything is complicated and any branch decision has to come from the government. The main objective is commendable: find out if you go to a restaurant where they actually cook the food or if they buy “already made” dishes, sauces, deserts, etc. This is a good thing, especially for travelers to France, who are going only once to each of the restaurant so you want it to be perfect! This is why, we always test the restaurants we recommend to our travelers…But...

Shipping festival along the Loire River

Toues river boats in the Loire Valley
The season of the outside festivals starts in May in France! Last Sunday, was the Fête de la Batellerie in our home town of Langeais: nothing fancy but a very good time with our neighbors, friends, tourists & travelers. The local traditional water shipping association – that rebuilds the 16th century Loire river wood boats called “Toues” or “Toues cabanées” (when they have a roof) – was offering some free tours around Langeais bridge. Many people were dressed like in the 16th, 17th century. There can’t be a festival in the Loire Valley without eating the famous “Fouées” the bread we cook...

Hidden castle near Azay le Rideau

Chateau de l'Islette near Azay le Rideau in the Loire Valley
You have probably not heard of Chateau de l'Islette which is one of the so many chateaus of the Loire Valley...That's a pity! Like its neighbor : Azay-Le-Rideau, it really deserves a visit! Why? Bec ause you can visit a castle that is still inhabited by its owners (which becomes more and more unusual) You will relax in deck chairs all around a gorgeous park...as if you were "at home" Becau se the sculptors Camille Claudel & Rodin spent a romantic summer in 1890 in thoses walls Last but not least, you won't be bothered by the crowds and you will really be able to enjoy the place: inside...

Le Sancerrois: cheese & wines…What else?

Sancerre famous wines
We have explored last week-end, le Sancerrois at the East end of the Loire Valley. This region is mostly famous for the vineyards of Sancerre where, since the Kings of France, the make one of the best white wine in France. They also make red wines, less famous, maybe not worth the detour. They might remind you of the Burgundy white wine…Beaune is only 130 miles east. Sancerre is a little town, perched on a rolling hill…which is kind of unusual in this area which is quite flat (mostly cultivated with cereals). The vineyards are on the hillsides, perfectly exposed to the sun. We let the expert...

Colorful Provence - February 2014

Provence - February 2014 trip
I have been on the roads in Provence last week and I'd like to share some colorful pictures with you The Alpilles mountains in Souther Provence The Town of Eygalières Blossoming cherry trees...winter hasn't started yet ! Saint Remy de Provence Provence vineyards Les Baux de Provence perched village There's more to come ! Emilie

How to make delicious Paté?

Charcuterie
This is a recipe that is passed from generations to generations in Emilie's family. Pauline, our 6-month-daugther already learns how to make good pate. The pork paté is the best of all, the tastiest and the easier to prepare (compared to other types of meats that are more difficult to bone. To make about 15 preserving jars, like on the picture, you’ll need about 5 kilos of meat (11lb). - 3 kilos (7lbs) of mixed pork meat: pork belly and throat (greasy) - 2 kilos (4lbs) of pork/poultry liver - 2 onions, 1 shallot, 2 garlic cloves, a lot of parsley - 1 small glass of brandy, 1 small glass of...

Dinan, a typical Breton town near Mont St Michel

Downtown Dinan
For those who stay in Mount Saint Michel area for little longer than a single night, there is a lot to discover around...especially if you want to get a feel for Brittany ! To see the granit stone houses or the trails along the ocean (Sentier des Douaniers), no need to go as far as Brest at the tip of Brittany peninsula...There are several places that we have included in a day itinerary from Mount Saint Michel accommodation. Dinan is one of them. See Dinan on a general map. Dinan is without doubt one of the most attractive and best restored small cities in Brittany. With its 1.8 mile-long...

Vaux le Vicomte castle during Christmas time

Vaux-le-Vicomte castle
Vaux Le Vicomte castle is certainly not as famous as Versailles…however it deserves a visit as much as Versailles does. This is one of the most magnificent chateaus in France. Located about 40 miles away from Paris (on your way to Burgundy), the whole estate reaches nearly 500 hectares. It was built by Nicolas Fouquet, Superintendent of Finances under young King Louis 14th. A 17th century masterpiece, Vaux le Vicomte was the backdrop to many major historical events and witnessed the tragic eviction of its creator, Nicolas Fouquet, who was imprisoned following an extraordinary trial about...

Tripes à la mode de Caen in Bayeux, Normandie

Because Bayeux and Normandy are not only the place where D-Day happened on June 6th, 1944 ; we have been back to Normandy looking for new sightseeing, activities and nice restaurants for our travelers ! Norman gastronomy is varied: from the seafood platter on the seaside to the Poulet Vallée d'Auge (chicken with cider sauce) in the interland. One of the most famous dishes remains the Tripes à la mode de Caen...that you can find in all Calvados region. I love the tripes even if I know what they are made of...Do YOU know what tripes are made of? You're sure you want to know? The tripes are...

VitiLoire - Loire Wines Festival

Do you know that there are 70 different AOC (Protected Appellation of Origin) for Loire Valley wines? From the fruity reds to the sweet whites…From Anjou region to Chinon red wines or Vouvray sparkling white wines…Why don’t you come in the Loire Valley for the VitiLoire event? Each year, VitiLoire festival gathers about 30,000 wines lovers and 130 wine makers. Whether you are a wine expert or just an “amateur”, you will have a great time in a very convivial ambiance. The program is simple: meet with wine makers and taste some wine! You’ll also have the opportunity to savor the “gastronomie...

Samatan: first "foie gras" market of the season

Ducks in Dordogne
Last Sunday was the opening day for the Foie Gras market in Gers (near Toulouse), in the little town of Samatan. You wouldn't find there Foies Gras ready to eat but "Canards Gras" (fat duck) to prepare "Confits" and "Magrets" (Duck Breast) and fat livers to prepare the Foie Gras for Christmas! The average price for fresh livers was 30 euros/kg. When processed Foie Gras average price is 90 euros/kg…This is worth making your own Foie Gras ! The same way Americans start looking for the perfect Turkey for Thanksgiving in advance…the French people conduct several investigations to find out the...

Edith Piaf : part of the French heritage

Edith Piaf
Edith Piaf died 50 years ago (on October 10th, 1963) and she remains in people's heart as one of the most romantic singers in the world. Known as “The Little Sparrow,” this singer became an icon of France during World War II. Piaf was born in Paris on December 19, 1915, and rose to international stardom in the 1940s as a symbol of French passion and tenacity. Of Piaf’s many ballads, “La Vie en Rose” is remembered as her signature song. When traveling to Paris, you should definitly have her song called "Sous le Ciel de Paris" in mind. This is the music, with English subtitles to refresh your...

Were King Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany really in love?

The family in the castle of Langeais
Being in love to get married is a quite "new" consideration...in the past, in France, love was not really a matter when it came to get married... On December 6th 1491, the château of Langeais (our home-town…we actually live in the street called Anne de Bretagne) was the scene of the dawn wedding between Charles VIII and Duchess Anne of Brittany . The 14-year-old Duchess Anne, not happy with the arranged marriage, arrived for her wedding with her entourage carrying two beds! This union put an end to the war between France and Anne’s Brittany independent duchy and started to incorporate...

We have tested...the River Cruising

River Cruising in the Mayenne River
Even if the Canal du Midi (near Toulouse) is the most famous river cruise in France, there are many more options to relax on a barge (called péniche) in one of the French rivers. There are 113 nautical bases for river cruising, covering about 5,000 miles of waterway. Most of them are located in the Eastern part of France. The South West is also very nice with the Lot or the Canal du Midi. We have tested for you the navigation on the Mayenne river, located near Angers in the Loire Valley. This type of tourism is for travelers who want to go slow and enjoy life ; maybe around a glass of rosé...

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