Friday, 14 November 2014

Argelès-sur-Mer & Céret in the Pyrénées-Orientales

I have always thought of Argelès-sur-Mer as a bit of a modern seaside resort, perhaps even, dare I say it, a poor neighbour of the beautiful little fishing village of Collioure. 

Well I have to admit that I have been paying it a little bit of a disservice. yes there are areas of the town that are exactly as I imagined them and actually, if that is what you are looking for in a seaside resort, there really is a lot on offer. You can find accommodation on most every level ranging from camping to hotels with everything in between.

Comparing Argelès to Collioure is a bit like comparing chalk and cheese and what I came to realise on a recent visit is that they both have a lot to offer, but in their own way. For example if you are a sun-seeker looking for miles of golden sand, then Collioure is not the place for you. Where are on the other hand Argelès will definitely tick that box. 

There are parts of Argelès that are very modern and have clearly been developed to cater for the major influx of tourists that visit the South of France each year, especially during the months of July and August. But there is also a slightly less well known historic centre, away from the beaches a little and tucked nicely near to the foothills of the Pyrenees. 

Here you will find a little bit of traditional France with lots of cafes and shops that serve the resident community all year around. A delightful little place to visit and where you can get away from the more distinct tourist areas, but only if you want to.

When we visited, we sat down to a very reasonably priced lunch at the Bistrot De La Fontaine, out in the street on a lovely sunny day and thoroughly enjoyed the meal, which for me was a very nice, but simple salad. 

Another factor that can't be ignored is that Argelès-Sur-Mer is in a great location, it is very easy to get to Perpignan where there is an international airport and a beautiful cosmopolitan city.  You are virtually on the Spanish border for excursions into the Costa Brava or even Barcelona for a day out and you have easy access to places like Collioure and Céret where the likes of Picasso used to hang out.

In fact once we had finished lunch we took a drive out to Collioure and Port Vendres then headed off to Céret for a look around. The photograph of one of Picasso's sculptures in the form of a fountain which we stumbled across whilst exploring.

We soon realised that Céret is another beautiful town and it is known for it's Cherry Festival that takes place each year and it's very French 'cafe culture' environment.

All in all a lovely day out touring the Pyrénées-Orientales and having a look at a little bit of France that has more than enough of a draw to pull us back every now and then for another look.

The region is certainly in striking distance of Castelnaudary and everything in between. Carcassonne, of course, is worth a mention as are the wine regions that surround the area such as Fitou, Corbieres and Minervois. But if you are staying at Le Moulin, I would say it should be considered a full day out to make the most of it.

Here are a few more photos of Argelès & Céret







Friday, 26 September 2014

A Really Simple and Straightforward Way To Transfer Funds Internationally At Low Cost

As you can see from the image, Richard Branson has always had an eye on the money market, even producing his own credit card.

What I was more interested in was his latest investment in TransferWise a financial services company that allows you to send money internationally, very simply, with low fees compared to other financial institutions, especially high street banks.

There is a registration process to go through where you have to provide proof of identification and your residency, a copy of your passport and a utility bill for example. You can scan and upload these as requested.

But once that is done (a relatively easy process for most if not all expats) things couldn't really be any simpler.

The process is very transparent, you enter in the amount you want to transfer, you get the equivalent value in the target currency and are shown the transfer fee. The latter is deducted from the money you pay into the TransferWise account in your local currency and the rest is converted and sent to the recipient, that could be someone you need to pay or yourself if you are moving funds from one account to another in a different currency.

The final exchange rate is calculated when your funds are received by TransferWise , so the quicker you transfer the money the better.

I have used it for my last two transfers and it beat the best rates I could get through other foreign exchange services. Also, as I said earlier, it really was a very simple process.

Why it is so competitive is because TransferWise converts your money at the mid-market rate and matches you with people sending in the other direction. That means overall smaller amounts are actually moved from one country to another, keeping costs firmly under control.

Of course I would always recommend you compare the final amount you receive against what you can get through other services, especially when transferring larger amounts, but so far I personally haven't been able to get better.

So if you want to give it a try click this link TransferWise and as they say 'Get Started'. If you need more information, you can click on the 'How it Works' button at the top right hand corner and watch the video.

Also for clarity and so that you know, for every 3 people that sign up and use the service, I will receive some compensation. That facility will also be open for you to use when you register, because you will also get your own personalised link.

photo credit: VirginMoney via photopin cc

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Le Moulin De l'Argentouire - French Holidays Aude

As time goes by things get a little updated, made a little better and people point out one or two areas where improvements can be made. So I thought it was high time that our video on YouTube got a bit of an update as well. Especially as so many guests recently have told us how much nicer the place is than they thought it would be. In a way that can be good, as it is always nice to be pleasantly surprised.

That said, it is still a good idea to present our holiday apartment in Languedoc Roussillon in the best possible light. So on that basis I would like to share with you our very latest video.Hopefully you will like this new version..... especially the new musical overlay.




Please 'like it' on YouTube and share it with friends so that they too can discover our little gem of a gite in the French countryside.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Can The English Make Cassoulet?

If you ever wondered if they take their cassoulet seriously in Castelnaudary, here is the answer.

    

Don't think I will be setting up a British cassoulet stall any time soon. That actor was a brave man. :-)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Tour de France 2014 Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon Approaching Fanjeaux


We had a lovely day out yesterday watching the Tour De France from our nearest point this year which was close to Fanjeaux. We chose a spot near the bottom of the hill where it was less steep but also less crowded.

We got there about 10.00 a.m. but soon realised we had already missed the sponsor cars, because we could see people were wearing Skoda hats, big hands and various other freebies that had been thrown to the crowds.

So the moral of the story is that an hour and a half before the Tour arrives isn't early enough if you want to see the whole show. You probably need to add at least another hour to that.

That said the main event was of course the Tour itself and this was Stage 16 on the 22nd July 2014  going from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon and we had our cameras ready and waiting. The clue they were near of course is the circling helicopters you hear and see as they film the Tour de France from above.

Angela had the job of taking the still photographs and I decided that this year it would be a good idea to video the event as they all went by. Basically because we knew, from previous years, that even on an uphill section that they go by like a steam train and you have to be really quick to get your photographs.

I think all in all we did a pretty good job, we were certainly in the right place because they passed us with only inches to spare, as you will see in the video. But the stills that Angela managed to get were pretty good as I hope you agree.

Where we were

When we were there

Here they come
Check out this guy nonchalantly taking a drink!
Hardly breaking a sweat, uphill doing around 50-60 km h
The front runners

Couldn't be much closer without hitching a ride

A rare gap in the pack

So once proceedings were over we visited some friends in Fanjeaux and made an impromptu decision to see if we could get lunch at the Table de Cathare. A quick phone call and confirmation that they actually had a table, they did but only just, and we were sitting down to a lovely set meal of salad starter, duck main course and a desert. OK their normal 13 euro menu wasn't available and this menu was 20 euros. But it was Tour de France day and by the time we finished all I could do was waddle back to the car, thankful that I wasn't riding a bike to the Pyrenees that afternoon. A lovely finish to a great French event.

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