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Budget Holiday Ideas For France

December 7, 2014 · Filed Under See France Tips · Comment 

France is very close to the UK, so if you are thinking about renting a country cottage for a holiday and want value for money, French holiday cottages are a good idea. When most people think about a French country cottage, usually they picture open fires, quirky interiors and pretty gardens. Whilst that is all very typical of France, the rural holiday cottages of today have very often benefited from having been renovated with all the modern conveniences combining both charm and comfort.

Holiday cottages make a great base

French holiday cottages are usually located in the countryside and many have been redeveloped from a farmhouse, granary or barn. Typically speaking a holiday cottage is cheaper than staying at a villa or gite because they tend to be less spacious. However they are a cost effective base from where you can explore the local area. So if you want to save a little money on your next holiday you really should think about holiday cottage for your accommodation.

French holiday cottages by the sea

If you prefer to vacation by the sea, then France easily has some of the best beaches in Europe. The seaside is an ideal holiday destination, particularly if you have a young family. Not only is it really easy to reach the ports, but there are ton of activities available both in and out of the water. Cottages by the seaside tend to be a little more expensive than rural cottages, but they are still cheaper than most other types of accommodation. Staying at a cottage by the coast is also great way to spend some romantic time with your better half, especially during the off season when it is cheaper, because you can take plenty of long walks along beaches that are completely deserted during that time of year.

Low cost family holidays in France

Taking the family for a holiday in charming France is very affordable, particularly if you factor in realistic driving times to your holiday destination and low cost ferry crossings. If you are on a budget you can opt for a self catering holiday which lets you decide how little or much you spend whilst you are there. You have the option of staying in and eating instead of having to eat out at a restaurant all the time and when you finally arrive at your holiday destination you will be safe in the knowledge that the leisure activities you have planned for the family are not going to cost an arm and a leg.

No need to break the bank

As you can see there are lots of ways of saving money when you take a holiday in France. There is no need to break the bank just to get a much needed break. If you plan your holiday in advance, and look for deals on accommodation and food, you will have a great vacation without feeling guilty about spending lots of cash.

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Great Places to Eat in Bordeaux

April 26, 2013 · Filed Under See France Tips · Comment 

Bordeaux may be a region renowned worldwide for it’s wines, but their food selection is also top class too. After all, any area that offers the variety of vino that Bordeaux does, is sure to have a consummate palette for the finer things in life!

If you are in Bordeaux and are looking for a great restaurant to while away a few hours whilst sampling a drop of the local good stuff, check out these fine eateries to compliment the wine on offer.

Le Chapon Fin
First on anyone’s list of local places to it will always be Le Chapon Fin. Offering some of the finest cuisine in the whole of Bordeaux, this fine dining, Michellin restaurant is a little pricey, but well worth it. Packing in the flavours and tastes since 1825, Le Chapon Fin offer a great taster menu, and if you happen to be around in the afternoon their set lunch offers great value for money. Of course, as to be expected the cellar is immaculate, but you really want to live the high life in Bordeaux, a table at Le Chapon Fin is an absolute must.

Oiseau Bleu
Ello, ello, ello, what’s all this then? Well, THIS, is an amazingly well priced restaurant that actually used to be a police station! It features a delightful terrace that is well worth a couple of hours of your time (weather permitting of course) and offers up a great selection of tradition fresh treats with a modern twist. The prices are very reasonable for the standard of food, but please book early if you are visiting on the weekend as it gets terribly buddy with both locals and tourists.

Le Gabriel
Le Gabriel truly is the heartbeat of Bordeaux’s prominent dining scene, so if you want to experience it for yourself, be sure to book a table at this fantastic eaterie. Serving the uber chic clientele with the 18th-century grandeur of the Palais de la Bourse, this amazing Michelin starred restaurant offer up some of the finest cooking in the region, and that’s saying something! Head chef François Adamski combines classic french cooking with modern panache to keep the local customers coming back in droves. Maybe the jewel in Bordeaux’s crown.

There are many other restaurants to visit whilst in Bordeaux, but for me these are definitely three of the best. With a variety of prices to suit all budgets, Bordeaux really does have something for everyone. It’s no wonder more and more people are making the return visit every year.

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Secret Art Galleries in Paris

April 18, 2013 · Filed Under See France Tips · Comment 

Fancy visiting some secret art galleries in Paris? Well, I say secret, I’m not the ONLY one who knows about these! But if you fancy heading of the well-worn tracks to the Louvre, and are up for seeing something a little different whilst in Paris, there’s a vast array of smaller galleries that might tickle your fancy.

Paris isn’t all about seeing the Mona Lisa, and let’s face facts, once you’ve seen her enigmatic face you won’t be that bothered seeing it again. So if you’re tired of the old Paris routine and want to discover what the capital’s REALLY about, why not check out some of the galleries below for a walk on the wild side.

Ps I’d add the addresses in case you get lost!

Galerie Georges-Philippe et Nathalie Vallois – 36 rue de Seine 75006
This cute little gallery is host to exhibitions by younger French artists and their international counterparts, can is just a stroll away from the Seine on the left bank. Keep your eye open for the archway to enter this exciting home to some hip contemporary art that you won’t find anywhere else in Paris.

La Galerie des Galeries – 1st Floor Galeries Lafayette, 40 Bd Haussmann
This amazing 300 square metre exhibition space is sneakily hidden around the back of the Galliano, Gaultier and Westwood designer stores on the first floor of Galeries Lafayette department store. Recent exhibitions include all those hip to the contemporary Parisian art scene, including Pierre Ardouvin and Tatiana Trouve. A real art gem that is well worth the search.

Passage de Retz – 9 rue Charlot 75003
Behind the green door is not, unsurprisingly, Shakin’ Stevens (is he even still alive?!) but a veritable maze of rooms that lead to one of Paris’ finest contemporary galleries. With a wide range of artists showcasing a variety of styles, be sure to enter Passage de Retz with an open mind.

La Maison Rouge – 10 Boulevard de la Bastille, 75012
First opened way back in 2003, this former industrial building is now home to some of Paris’ most controversial shows. Brainchild  Antoine de Galbert allows independent guest curators to exhibit their art with La Maison Rouge, making it one of the most revered contemporary galleries in the whole of Paris. A must see.

So before you get stuck in the queues at the Louvre or end up wearing a beret outside the Eiffel Tower, why not scratch under the surface a little to see what Paris has to offer. There really is a great range of contemporary art galleries to visit, and many of them are free, which will make you look like a local. Au revoir!

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Great Places to Eat in Cannes

March 25, 2013 · Filed Under See France Tips · Comment 

We all know the pitfalls of eating in a town we don’t know, you’re never quite sure of whether you are getting value for money. After all, the ‘going rate’ in places such as Cannes can change deferentially from place to place depending on the size of your wallet! For the same piece of meat you may pay 3 times the price on the same street in a different restaurant!

So if you’re eating out in Cannes and what to ensure you receive value for money alongside great service, check out these restaurants below to make sure you receive the best ‘bang for your buck’ whilst dining in this esteemed area.

Offering a great selection of menus, this delightful restaurant is really well priced for the standard of food that is served. L’Affable is the baby of Jean-Paul Battaglia, who after 30 years in Mougins decided to open a new restaurant in Cannes. Exquisite food in decadent surrounding is the main ingredients here, with a real mix of leather, wood and marble brought together to offer an elegant dining experience at a competitive price. 3 course menus start from just €23, but be sure to book in advance for an evening meal, this place gets busy!

Grill & Wines
This is such a simply idea, but pulled off with real panache. Grill & Wines does exactly what it says on the label, offering an amazing selection of wines alongside some outstanding cooking. The cellar is second to none, with a lot of time and expertise obviously spent curating the list. The food offers a fabulous selection of meat and seafood, though I wouldn’t suggest eating here if you are a vegetarian, there’s not much to choose from! Luckily I’m not, so this place for me is a must, but again, book ahead to reserve a table. When you’re this good, you get busy!

This great restaurant is situated in the old quarter, and is loved equally by both visitors to Cannes and the locals. Owned by Noël Mantel, this stylish eatery offers simple, rustic French cooking with a good dollop of contemporary ideas. The food itself is served in heart portions using the freshest local ingredients, and with a 3 course dinner menu starting at just €30, it’s easy to see why so many locals call this place home.

So as you can you, there’s no need to break the bank whilst eating out in Cannes. In fact, some of the prices for the standard of cooking that’s involved put London to shame. It’s always worth doing a bit of research on the places you visit to get the low down on how to save yourself a few Euros, and of course to source the best places to eat at the fairest price.

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Free Things to do in Paris

March 14, 2013 · Filed Under See France Tips · Comment 

Aaaah, gay Paris! The city of romance, of fine wine and food, a place of decadence, where dreams can come true. Unfortunately, unless you take your wallet, you’re not going to get too much of of Paris! As one of the most expensive cities in the world, if you’re not careful you may end up spending an arm and a leg visiting the many tourist attractions that this amazing city houses, and the food’s not cheap either!

But, there are a number of great places to visit to get a real Parisian flavour without spending a bean. Zip. Nada. Nothing! Here’s a little run down of a few of the places in Paris you can check out for FREE, when you’re in the ‘City of Love’.

Musée Carnavalet
This is an amazing journey through Parisian history, with a great selection of drawing rooms to wander through, absolutely free of charge, checking out the baroque interiors. The courtyard features an amazing sculpture of Louis XIV, whilst inside there is a vast array of paintings, sculptures and furniture from across the ages that give you a real feel of how Paris has changed over the ages.

Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris
When you’re in Paris, it would be almost wrong to not visit the Cathédrale de Notre Dame. One of the cities most famous places, this imposing Parisian building has a real gothic feel, with spooky gargoyles watching your every move. If you hear the bells ring though, don’t expect Quasimodo to come swooping done though. He’s well gone!

Basilique du Sacré Coeur
This amazing church has been created from white marble, and is the true jewel in the crown of the vibrant Montmartre district. Inside are gold mosaics, beautiful stained glass windows, and an amazing crypt, though you will have to pay to go down there. Hey, not everything is free!

Montparnasse Cemetery
OK, this is not exactly a major tourist attraction, after all, it’s a cemetery! But, many people still like to visit Montparnasse Cemetery to see the final resting place of some true Parisian legends, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Samuel Beckett. If you’re feeling particularly morbid, why not do the double and visit the Père Lachaise Cemetery, the last resting place of both Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. Try not to spend all your time in Paris hanging round in cemeteries though!

Also, if you happen to be in Paris on the first Sunday of the month, many of the main museums, such as the Louvre, open their doors to the public for free. So as you can see, there are loads of free things to do in Paris if you know where to look, but don’t leave your wallet at home as the refreshments prices will keep you on your toes!

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France Becomes Attractive Destination To Invest In Property After Changes To Tax Code

January 3, 2012 · Filed Under See France Tips · Comment 

With SeaFrance Ferries Dover Calais making it so easy to hop over the channel and visit France, it comes as no surprise that the Overseas Guide Company has seen a dramatic rise of a 200 per cent increase in sales for guide books which cover France.

The company expects the interest in France to only increase as a result of the economic problems that have struck other popular European destinations including Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece.

France continues to remain one of the most robust economies in Europe, with the country exceeding economic growth forecasts during the third quarter of the year, leading many from Britain to start taking a serious look at investing in the country by means of a holiday home.

The editor of the guide has said, “President Sarkozy has recently announced that there will be a relief on tax for the wealthy in France and this will encourage wealthy people from the UK to move to the region.”

France’s wealth tax is now only extended to individuals whose net worth exceeds €1.3 million, and for those individuals whose wealth exceeds €3 million, the highest tax bracket now only stands at 0.5%, which implies that most individuals as a rule will now be better off. In contrast the opposite has happened in Spain, making it a far less attractive option for people to move to if they are wealthy.

It is also widely expected that France will change its capital gains tax rule, which will also benefit individuals who have made previous property investments in the country and sell their property within the next half decade, because the tax payable will now be reduced. For those that opt not to sell within the time frame, they are likely to pay more, but will be able to claim inflation as an offset against the tax payable

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SeaFrance Guide To French Cheese

November 21, 2011 · Filed Under See France Tips · Comment 

Since SeaFrance Ferries Dover Calais lets travellers from the UK nip over the channel quickly and inexpensively, it goes without saying that we should write a guide to French cheese, which included with French wine is something that must be sampled whenever you visit.

It goes without saying that like wine, cheese to is synonymous with France, largely because there are over 400 different types to choose from, making French cheese the largest selection of chesses in the world.

There are a number of ways one can classify cheese that comes from France, one could do so by region, type of milk used, origin, or fat content.
France though chooses to use its own technique for classification which we thought we would explain here.

Fresh Cheeses
This type of cheese contains a lot of water and is made from cow, sheep or goats milk, and is white in colour and generally not aged cheese. Instead the curd is made by adding a lactic starter to the milk that is used in its making, and the cheese is more often than not either eaten separately or used as part of a recipe.

Soft Cheeses with Natural Rind
This cheese is made from cow’s milk, and are very soft with a white velvety surface. This type of cheese is typically aged for one month, and include some of the best known cheese from France, including Camembert and Brie.

Pressed and Cooked Cheeses
This type of cheese is made under pressure during processing, but before going through the pressure process, the curd is first heated for an hour. The cheese is then matured over a very long period of time. This type of cheese is generally made in France’s mountain regions, and the two most popular kinds are Gruyere and Emmental.

Goat Cheeses
Whilst a few type of goat’s cheese are to be found in other categories, this type of cheese is worthy of possessing its own category, since there are over 100 varieties of goat’s cheese. Goat’s cheese comes in a large variety of shapes and sizes, with the two most famous being Pouligny-Saint-Pierre and Crottin de Chavignol

Blue Cheeses
This type of cheese is easily recognizable because of its blue greenish colour that runs through them, and are typically made using cow’s milk. They are matured for long periods of time, and have an extremely strong flavor very popular the world over. Blue de Bresse and Roquefort are both easily available and are very tasty.

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SeaFrance Guide To The History Of Wine Making

November 1, 2011 · Filed Under See France Tips, Trips to France · Comment 

Since SeaFrance Ferries Dover Calais is all about quick trips over to France,  and since the country is synonymous with wine making, we thought we would write a guide to the history of wine making.

Experts agree that wine has been around in one form or another for thousands of years. According to the most authoritative sources, the first certified makers of wine surprisingly enough came from Northern Iran, in the Zagros Mountains.

Archaeologist Andre Tchernia, one of the top experts in antique wines says that ”The remains of a yellowish residue deposited on the wall of a Neolithic jar, 7,000 years old, found at Hajji Firuz Tepe, Iran has proven to be a mixture of tartaric acid and resin.”

The evidence of which suggests that Neolithic man drank VIN2.

Whilst it is widely reported that King Solomon used wine to celebrate special occasions, it was the Greeks who made the greatest contribution to Mediterranean viticulture, and hold a long history of such activities in Mediterranean countries.

The Phoenicians were the first to being wine to France when they arrived at the port of Marseilles, probably not by SeaFrance Ferries Dover Calais we think.
All kidding aside, at that time wine was primarily produced from grapes using fermentation to which seawater was added for preservation during the transportation phase. At the destination, fresh water was then added to get rid of the salty taste.

Ancient Egyptians also had a very organized wine making tradition with Osisris. Whilst the Romans had a tradition established under Dionysus and Bacchus, and the Babylonians had a tradition best represented by Gilgamesh. Wine most recently though symbolizes the blood of Christ in the Christian tradition, and over the many thousands of years its use has changed dramatically.

Interestingly, Roman wine was very spicy, and is nothing like the type of wine that is commonly drunk today. The vine culture was first introduced in France by Phocea the Greek, when the Roman colonization took place, Gallic vines were then grown around Beziers and Narbonne, with Beziers never forgetting its title of the wine capital of the nineteenth century.

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Another SeaFrance Guide To French Ski Vacation

The best thing about SeaFrance Dover Calais is the ability to whip over the channel and take a quick ski vacation in what is the most popular destination for tourists from the UK. France has some of the best ski resorts in the world, offering services that are appropriate for skiers of all levels and preferences.

If you are planning on taking a ski vacation to France, you should be aware that what the country has to offer in terms of destinations are both varied and diverse.
Ski resorts in France fall into four distinct areas, all of which are linked to each other. France has created large ski areas that are usually covered with a single pass. All resorts feature modern lift systems which make the areas easy to navigate and access.

It should come as no surprise that the main ski areas in France are centred around the French Alps, which provide a diverse landscape, and offer the perfect backdrop for anyone wishing to take a ski vacation. The region is well known for getting extremely cold during the month of January. Despite this fact it remains the ideal ski destination, with snow cover guaranteed between November and April.

The contrasting landscapes of France means ski resorts are available at both high and low altitudes, which allows for skiers of all abilities to take advantage and enjoy the landscapes that are on offer in the French Alps.

Resorts typically are in one of two categories, the first being more modern high altitude resorts that have been purpose built to provide skiing facilities, giving them a more modern feel, great services and a warm atmosphere to accompany the skiing facilities. The contrasting option is the more traditional skiing village, which are usually at lower altitudes and offer a more traditional experience.

If skiing in the French Alps is an exciting prospect for you, then you should begin looking at booking your holiday in 2012 now, so as to avoid any disappointment at not being able to visit your preferred destination.

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SeaFrance Destination Languedoc Roussillon

September 25, 2011 · Filed Under See France Tips, Trips to France, See France Destination Guides · Comment 

Languedoc Roussillon is a popular holiday destination located in the South of France, and easily reachable simply by hopping on SeaFrance Ferries Dover Calais. Temperatures in this region during October are mild, with the mercury rising no higher than 21 degrees centigrade.

Languedoc Roussillon offers a number of ways for the holidaymaker to relax, with a multitude of leisure activities to choose from.

Self catering accommodation, holiday homes or gites are available for rental purposes, and since the next few months are the low season, you can ask proper owners for hefty discounts on the rental cost, which should be confirmed before you arrive.

There are a range of holiday options in Languedoc Roussillon. When it is sunny its proximity to the Mediterranean enables visitors the chance to enjoy spectacular coast lines and amazing sandy beaches, water activities, or just strolling through some of the many areas of natural beauty.

When the sun is not shining, Languedoc Roussillon has an overwhelming abundance of caves and grotto’s that can be explored, alongside ancient cities, towns, villages, cathedrals, chateux and castles.

Languedoc Roussillon has a variety of food markets that offer a variety of fresh food, enabling the tourist to try out a great French Tradition and sample their way of life. Markets are easily found, most are located at the heart of the town or village, and the region is renowned for its local produce which include tomatoes, seafood and olive oil.

Mild temperatures during this time of year make the region of Languedoc Roussillon quite favourable for those holidaymakers who wish to go walking or hiking through the French Pyrenees. If you are looking for an affordable holiday and pleasant weather, then hop on SeaFrance Ferries Dover to Calais, and head to Languedoc Roussillon.

The cooler temperatures in October are more favourable to the walker hiking through the Pyrenees and to those being more physically active have a preference for the cooler, fair weather compared to during July and August. Tourist looking toward an affordable holiday with good weather need look no further than the Languedoc Roussillon.

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