Thursday, 9 December 2010

Holiday Destinations in Europe

Holiday Destinations in Europe: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Thought this new article that I just published about Holiday Destinations in Europe might be of interest. Paris and France play a big part in the tourism industry in Europe generally and for very good reason. Paris is the most visited city, and for most people is on route to our location in the South of France, and France is the most visited country in Europe. Would you believe 74.2 million visitors a year. 3 million plus of which make it to Carcassonne, and we still have the odd empty week. I definitely need to get better at publicity.

Anyway I hope you enjoy it and remember we are almost fully booked for the summer so don't delay if you want that lovely pool to be yours for a week or two.

Oh and lest I forget, Merry Christmas everyone and have a great new year in 2011.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

2011 Calender, Town and Country Scenes from France and the UK

A collection of photographs taken locally and in the UK now illustrated in a calender for 2011. Nice Christmas present, and for some, a holiday memento. Just click on the calender to make a purchase, only if you want to of course. There is 60% off if you are in the US and buy it today 8th December 2010 with the code JINGLESALE42


If you don't want a mix of French and UK photographs, there is an all French Version here as well.


Friday, 3 December 2010

On the 19th December 2010 the new high speed line between Perpignan and Figueres in Cataluña, Spain, will open, offering travellers a new way to travel from the UK to Spain!



In total, 44km of high speed track has been built between Perpignan and Figueres, and a new tunnel - the Perthus Tunnel - has been constructed in order to allow high speed trains to operate between France and Spain. TGVs will run to Figueres Vilafant station, until a brand new station opens in 2012. Buses will run every 15 minutes between Figueres Vilafant station and the town centre. Passengers travelling onwards to Girona or Barcelona can pick up an onwards train from Vilafant station – it’s just a simple platform change!

Tickets are now on sale for travel from 19th December 2010.



Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Languedoc Roussillon for a Holiday in France

Take a quick 2 minute tour of the Languedoc Roussillon region of Southern France, courtesy of YouTube and accompanied by some dodgy free music off the Internet. The power of technology, it just gets better and better.

Well it was a bit of fun learning how to use Windows Movie Maker and the photographs are nice.


Saturday, 13 November 2010

The History of Carcassonne and the Cathars



I was having a little bit of a tour around YouTube looking for anything of interest for the area and decided to focus on La Cite at Carcassonne, which after all is the jewel in the crown for Languedoc Roussillon and the region near to us. I stumbled on this video which describes the history of Carcassonne and its role in the Cathar history of the region, which I think is really quite well done; so decided to share it with you all.

Chateau Saissac
We shouldn't forget that Carcassonne isn't the only feature of the immediate region, magnificent as it is. There is also St Papoul literally five minutes away and Saissac Castle which is also only about 15 to 20 minutes away.

During the spring, summer and autumn you can get into Saissac for a modest fee and watch a film all about the 'Treasure of Saissac' which was discovered by workmen in 1979 having been buried there some 700 years earlier. The film is shown in French, English and Spanish one following the other, so you have to get your timing right to see your version or just hang about a bit, it's not too long and is worth the wait. There a nice little exhibition in the main hall where they show the films and the views from the castle across the plains of Carcassonne are pretty spectacular, especially on a clear day when the Pyrenees in all their glory are on full display.

This link is to a recommendation for a Day Out In Carcassonne following a route through Issel (which itself once had a medieval castle), to St Papoul, Saissac and Montolieu (the village of books) after which you arrive in Carcassonne and can spend the rest of the day and early evening wandering through the streets of La Cite or perhaps taking a look at the Ville Basse of Carcassonne. The potential for a very rewarding day out with lots of places of interest and some amazing views.

There are of course many other sites and places of interest to see in the region, which in time I will touch upon, but this is a little bit about the Cathar trail which is, for me anyway, particularly interesting. Hope you enjoy it to.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Pictures of France

A Quintessential Image of France
Anyone into photography or who just likes to look at photographs may enjoy this photographic record called 'Pictures of France' which has been compiled after my travels mainly in the South of France.

There are none of Paris as yet which is a shame because a lot of people like to look at photographs of France's capital city. But I am hoping that when you take a look at the photographs compiled here at Pictures of France you will agree that France has much more to offer than can only be found in its capital.

I have included a few tasters here for you, starting with the sunflower field we have in front of Le Moulin every other year, but for the full compliment you know where you need to go.



These are a few of the nosey neighbours, they are probably thinking how can we get to that apple tree again. They had a very nice treat when they went walkies in the orchard earlier this year.







This can be a bit of surprise, yes we do get snow in the winter here in the South of France and it can actually be quite magical. Anyone who has stayed might recognise the steps up to the outdoor drying area, otherwise known as the washing line.






They like a good party in Carcassonne at Christmas and New Year. This was their equivalent of the London Eye a little while ago. They also had an ice rink in the Place Carnot and a pretty spectacular lightshow at Gambetta Square. Not forgetting the fair in front of the railway station.



Anyway I hope you get a chance to go and take a look at the full set and don't forget to leave a comment letting us know you visited. Photos of France

Monday, 13 September 2010

Montsegur In France

http://www.squidoo.com/tourist-attractions-in-france-montsegur

Well do you fancy making an assault on Montsegur, looks easy enough really. I suppose if someone is throwing boiling oil on your head it might make it a bit trickier.

We took a drive up to the fortress this week and visited a few places on route like Mirepoix, a firm favourite with British tourists, Chalabre, Puivert and the Fontestorbes fountain.

You can find out all about it on the lens I have written describing the day using the link above. There is also an account of some of the history and intrigue surrounding Montsegur, the last significant bastion of the Cathars which fell during the Albigensian crusade led by Simon De Montfort in 1244. There was talk of significant treasures being smuggled out during the siege at that time and it is rumoured but never proven that it may actually have been the Holy Grail itself.

The history of this whole region is fascinating and none more so than the Cathar fortresses and Montsegur in particular. But putting that aside some of the scenery up there in the Pyrenees is absolutely gorgeous and there are plenty of photographs on the lens to prove it.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

They Have Posh Bees in France

This is a superfast post, I just wanted to share these photographs of the posh bees we get in the garden.

They are attracted to the buddleia like the needle of a compass to the north pole. But they are much more interesting to watch, especially when they start fighting for pole position with the butterflys.


Life in France eh!, exciting or what.You probably think I am a bit sad, but honestly it holds my attention longer than F1. Although Lewis Hamilton getting top spot again is starting to generate a little bit of interest.

Don't forget you can click on the images for a much bigger picture if you want to. Well I thought it was interesting, and it is my blog :-) and actually I think they are probably moths but posh bees sounded better for a title.









Sunday, 22 August 2010

Wine and Cheese Tasting in France



Two products which are inextricably linked to France with respect to cuisine are wine and cheese.

The Massif Central, Midi-Pyrenees and Languedoc Roussillon cater for some wonderful cheeses and wines respectively. Two of the most famous cheeses from the Massif Central are the wonderful Roquefort blue cheese and the Perial cheese. In the Pyrenees you would be looking at Brebis, Brebis Chevre, Vache et Chevre and Vache. None of these are particularly difficult to find in the local shops or food markets that operate on a weekly basis (Castelnaudary on Monday mornings and Revel on Saturday mornings).

So if you wanted to carry out your own wine and cheese pairing party using local produce, all you would need to do is select a few of the wines from the Languedoc Roussillon region to go with a few choice local cheeses and you would be all set. Three favortites of mine are Corbieres, Minervois and Fitou again all readily available in the local area with selections of white, red and rose available.

Of course you don't have to stick to local wines or cheeses either for that matter, a favorite cheese which is readily available in the locality is Cantal. Similar in taste and texture to our own very popular chedder cheese. Plus of course you will be able to find the classic favorites such as Camembert and Brie, which are made with cows milk, rather than goats milk or ewe's milk. So a much safer and more familiar option for many.

Actually finding new cheeses,tastes, and texture is all part of the fun, much the same as experiencing the taste of some locally produced wine. Cabardes wine is one of our nearest appelations, which resides just north of Carcassonne. You could visit the Chateau de Pennautier (by appointment) for a wine tasting event to help choose a few varieties for your experiments.

For some reason as well the cheese never seems to taste better than when bought and eaten straight from the market stall at the local food markets. Trust me, that is so true.


Friday, 13 August 2010

Summer Skiing Holidays in France

Today we have an article written by a guest writer Nick Lewis who works for Eclipse Ski who offer skiing holidays in Europe.










Skiing may seem an odd thing to be writing about in the middle of summer, but not only is booking for winter skiing holidays beginning at this time of year, but as any good ski junkie will already know: summer skiing in France is a very real possibility, something I was unaware of until I started working for Eclipse Ski.

Summer skiing is available largely by virtue of glaciers. Although year-round skiing is becoming a thing of the past, perhaps due to global warming, there are still a few glacier resorts in France that open for a few weeks during the summer for those that simply cannot wait until winter to get their skis on the slopes.

Les Deux Alpes
Les Deux Alpes is one of France’s oldest, most prestigious and best ski resorts, and that doesn’t change during the summer months. Les Deux Alpes opens for summer in late June and stays open until September. Summer skiing takes place between 2800m and 3600m courtesy of the Glacier du Mont Lans, although sunshine skiers will have to be prepared to get up early for the best of the snow: it has often turned to mush by lunch time, so getting up to the slopes when the lifts open at 7am is well worth it.

Tignes
Tignes is one of the highest ski resorts in the Alps, and this, combined with the Grand Motte glacier mean that it used to be open all year round. The glacier has been receding, so it is not always open all year anymore, but certainly a good chunk of it. This summer, the glacier has been open since the 19th of June and will continue to be until the end of August.

Tignes manages to hold the title of the largest Summer skiing area in Europe, so for anyone dying for a summer skiing holiday in France, it is definitely worth a look.

Given that Tignes used to be open 365 days a year, in common with many other glacier resorts, but now has to restrict itself to defined seasons, anyone looking to go for a summer skiing holiday in France would do well not to leave it too late.

Visit www.eclipseski.co.uk for package deals on skiing holidays in France.


Monday, 9 August 2010

La Franqui, Leucate and Port Leucate

La Franqui, Leucate and Port Leucate

Leucate is like four holiday destinations in one. You have Leucate, Port Leucate, Leucate Plage and Le Cap Leucate.

Plus with a quick hike over the cliff, otherwise known as Le Cap Leucate, you can make your way to La Franqui.

Both Port Leucate and La Franqui are magnets for the lovers of water sports. windsurfing and kitesurfing being the most prevalent.

With great big sandy white beaches, country trails, wild landscapes and an area developed especially for the tourist industry there is something for everyone. They even went to the trouble of eradicating the mosquitoes at Port Leucate to ensure the development back in the sixties was a success.

Find out more on the lens La Franqui, Leucate and Port Leucate

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Tourist Places to Visit in France

Tourist Places to Visit in France

Some of the most interesting cities and places of historic interest to visit in the South of France.

Includes Montpellier, Carcassonne, Rennes le Chateau and the lovely fishing port of Collioure near Perpignan.

Some fabulous holiday destinations or days out from Le Moulin, I recommend Le Moulin of course. But worth taking a quick virtual tour to find out what I mean.


Thursday, 5 August 2010

British Orienteering, Holiday in France

Lots of British love orienteering and they also love a holiday in France. So why not combine the two and opt for a perfect location for an orienteering holiday in France.

Le Moulin is located in a country setting with a number of woodland walks straight off the property. The terrain is made up of rolling hills and open countryside mixed with extensive forests.

Many of our guests have enjoyed the opportunity to be able to simply go walking, running or cycling and have commented on how perfect the accommodation would be for the orienteering or cycling community. Of course if you prefer your cycling to be a little less challenging there is always the option of the Canal Du Midi cycling path.

I have to admit that I would find it difficult to disagree with those sentiments and from May to September it would also be possible to add swimming to that agenda. With a 15m x 6.5m pool which is 2m in depth at the deep end, you really can swim rather than just take a dip. Something many of our guests have commented on and which you can verify in the visitors guest book where you can find many a comment referring to the 'great pool'.

Now is the perfect time to be thinking about booking a week or two for an orienteering holiday in France.

There is now a special summer offer in place starting on the 4th September 2010 and prices have been reduced by a full £200 per week for the whole of September, just when the temperatures drop enough to make taking an activity break a very attractive option. For information September offers a very acceptable average temperature of 26C in Languedoc Roussillon and October isn't too far behind at 21C.

For a full compliment of 9 people (one on a sofa bed) that is less than £75 per person per week, making it a very affordable holiday which is even more affordable once we get into October. Also being a self catering option near to Carcassonne, the Lac de St Ferreol and the Canal Du Midi, if you fancy a day off the activities you can find plenty of alternative ways to spend some time, and then when you come back you can fire up the barbecue with a cold beer to hand or crack open a bottle of red and prepare yourself a great meal in a kitchen that is home from home. Which is exactly what our latest group of 9 ladies have done this week during an old school reunion get together.


So if you haven't booked your summer holiday yet and would like to take advantage of this great offer, then all you need to do is visit the contact page of our website for your holiday in France and drop us a line letting us know which weeks you are interested in.



This is a handy Google map for Le Moulin showing where we are in relation to our nearest village with the woodlands and local terrain. 

If you need to work out how to get to us and want to know the cost of flights to France, you can find that information on our travel advice page via the link provided. You will also find options for some cheap car hire on that page.



Monday, 19 July 2010

Castelnaudary France, Home of Cassoulet

Castelnaudary is the capital of the 'Pays de Lauragais region and a town of charm and history. It sits astride the Canal Du Midi and is famous for its haricot bean dish Cassoulet, the festival for which (Fete Du Cassoulet) is held each year during the 7 days that make up the last week of August (in 2010 that is the 23rd to the 29th August) and you can get the details via the link.

If you want to sample an authentic cassoulet, first of all you have to have one that has been prepared in a locally manufactured 'cassole' and as tradition had it the cassole had to be one made by the pottery in Issel. A bit difficult these days as the pottery has now closed for business. The best alternative is to use one of the hand made ones from the 'Potterie Not' which sits on the side of the Canal Du Midi just short of Segala, a good destination for a Canal Du Midi cycling trip from Castelnaudary. The 'Potterie Not' is the last survivor of what was a major local industry for the area from around the 19th century. There are more potteries in the area which are also very good, just not as old as this one.

I had my first ever cassoulet in the restaurant of the same name the 'Maison Du Cassoulet' and I really wasn't disappointed. It came with the traditional Toulouse sausage, a nice piece of very tender pork and an equally tender leg of duck. It was delicious but you need to be hungry to take on this traditional dish, there is a lot of it.

Castelnaudary is the home to the largest port on the Canal Du Midi, the 'Grand Bassin' which is some 7 hectares in size. A good time to see it is on the 13th July when Castelnaudary celebrates 'National Day' with it's own fireworks display launched from a boat in the middle of the Grand Bassin.




I love the fireworks display at Carcassonne, and didn't think this one would be able to come even close to that display. But I am glad to report that I was proved wrong, it was a fabulous display and well worth the visit. Plus being so local i.e. within 10 minutes of our house, made it a little bit more special.

It's been a busy few weeks for Castelnaudary, aside from the normal hubbub of being a popular tourist destination, there has been the National Day celebrations, with marches and bands playing, this week saw the Tour De France passing through and in a few more weeks we will have the Fete Du Cassoulet starting. We are determined that this year we will make it there for one of the cassoulet dinners and might even try on a stripey blue and white jersey. Well maybe not, don't think it would be a flattering look for someone with my natural physique.

So what else has Castelnaudary got to offer besides the Canal Du Midi, cycling, boat trips, wine tasting at the Cave du Canal,  loads of restaurants, hotels, B&B and gites.

Well you will be pleased to hear that the Corn Exchange in the main square has now been completely refurbished and so has the Quai du Port where you will find the Cave Du Canel, the launch place of the daily boat trips and the snack bar that offers itself as a 'Location des Velos' as a sideline.

History of Castelnaudary


Castelnaudary featured quite significantly in the history of the Cathars. Simon de Montfort, persecutor of the Cathars and leader of the Albigensian Crusade, held occupancy of the castle in Castelnaudary (which means new castle by the way) in 1211. He was marched upon by Raimon VI, who was the Count of Toulouse, aided by the Count of Foix and the Count of Comminges.

Simon de Monfort only had about fifty knights with him, so when he was besieged in Castelnaudary he sent for reinforcements from Carcassonne.

When the convoy from Carcassonne arrived it was attacked by the Count of Foix, who in return was attacked by De Montfort and his fifty knights when they ran out of the castle and put him to rout. Raimon didn't take part in the fighting although being very close with part of his army settled in 'Le Pech' which is where the Moulin de Cugarel now sits. So now when you visit the mill you can imagine the area occupied by a 13th century army with designs on putting an end to Simon De Montfort and his crusaders. Things could have been very different had they succeeded.

The Moulin de Cugarel is the last of what used to be 32 windmills that were located strategically around the town in the 17th century. So not actually there when the siege was going on, but a good location marker with a certain amount of its own history. The inner workings have been preserved and you can see how it all operated on certain days.

This is also a lovely viewpoint for the views across the Carcassonne plains and towards the 'Montagne Noire'. from the 'Table de Orientation' which details all the different towns and villages.

There are one or two placards there that will tell you a little more about the history of the town, including the Riot of the Languedoc' and the battle of 1632 which saw Henri de Montmorency, the governor of Languedoc captured and subsequently beheaded at Toulouse in the Capitole's courtyard in October 1632.

For even more information, you could visit the Musée de Lauragais to get a lot more detail on the town, its history and that of the region.

This sits at the top of the hill just along from the church of Saint Michael which was built in Gothic style and is impressive in its own right, as you can see in the photograph. It holds an imposing position on the skyline overlooking the rest of the town.


The museum would be just to the right of the church had I panned a little further around when I took this photograph, hindsight is a wonderful thing.


You can find a few of the places I have mentioned and quite a few other places of interest on this map of Castelnaudary which will hopefully help you find your way around this delightful little town.



The Quai du Port and the corn Exchange




Fete Du Cassoulet In Full Swing

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Tour de France Stage 14 Revel to Ax 3 Domains

So there we were relaxing in our sleepy little village in Issel when all of a sudden there was the sound of helicopters whirring overhead and some frantic activity suddenly kicking off.

I thought for a second the relatives have finally tracked us down and we were going to have to give away some free holidays in the South of France. Only joking :-)

But no, we realised it was the 17th of July and the Rodez to Revel stage of the Tour de France must be rapidly approaching Revel and St Ferreol, which is surprisingly close as the crow flies hence the sound of helicopters.

We couldn't really participate because we were waiting for our next guests to arrive for the week. Plus of course there was always tomorrow and the junction at the Issel turn off between Revel and Castelnaudary, which was less than 5 minutes away. So we settled down again and decided to wait for 'demain'. We did of course watch the highlights on ITV4 and spent the time trying to spot all the landmarks we knew, quite successfully I might add as we know that road quite well.

So this morning we waited a little while, didn't want to rush off and be standing around for too many hours and we had seen the caravan before. If you haven't seen the caravan it is worth getting there early enough because it's quite the spectacle. We set off around 11.30a.m. for our little junction which was about an hour before the race was due to come through and got that nice picture of Issel on the way. How relaxed were we.

It wasn't quite as crowded as we remembered the last time we went, but someone had put up a big sign saying 'Vive la Tour de France' and there was a nice little crowd gathering, some of which I have to say had no option because they had to wait for the road to open again, but the vast majority were there for the race and very excited.  We met our local farmer who was with his family and we realised that this particular spot was a local knowledge gathering. Then we were quite impressed when we realised that we actually had some local knowledge!!

Anyway we settled down to wait for the cyclists to arrive and we knew we would get forewarning from the advance helicopters that circle the leaders filming proceedings, or so we thought.

Then I looked up and there were the leading pack with not a helicopter in sight. We nearly missed the whole thing due to being half asleep in the sun and enjoying the ambiance, we found out later that they don't really follow the very early stages of the race which was why the helicopters weren't in place.



The leaders soon whipped by and then the main pack came around the bend going hell for leather. I didn't really have time to pick out Lance Armstrong, so I was a bit gutted because that was one of my objectives when I went to watch. I wasn't really bothered that he is not doing too well this year, as far as I am concerned he is the man when it comes to the Tour De France and I just fancied spotting him.


The pack went by like an express train with a few cheers from the crowd, but it was nearly all over as quickly as it had begun and before we knew it we were watching the tail enders disappearing down the hill towards Peyrens the next little village. Well all except this guy that was all on his own at the back end of some of the cars carrying the spare bikes. Don't know what happened to him but I am guessing it wasn't a good day.










Now I have to admit my photography is not as sharp as I would have liked, they appeared and disappeared so quickly that I couldn't make up my mind whether to use landscape or sporting mode and was a bit slow getting the camera ready. So where normally I would say you can click on the photograph for a bigger picture, on this occasion I am a little hesitant, because I am pretty sure it won't do my  reputation as a budding photographer much good.

Oh and I learned a little something today, as good the sound of the Tour De France rushing by is, I think the next time I go and watch I am going to pick an uphill section and give myself a fighting chance of seeing a bit more and sorting my camera out. You live and learn as they say.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Paris Pass for Access to the Top Attractions in Paris

Top 10 Attractions, worth it just to be able to skip the queues and go straight in!!!

Use the following voucher code for your special deal.

Code - parpas05
Promotion - 5% off all tickets
Expires - 30th March 2011

Click on the banner to get your Paris Pass



Free entry to Palace of Versailles - Save €20!

Free entry to Palace of Versailles - Save €20!
The Palace of Versailles, is one of the largest and most opulent castles in the world. Boasting around 2,143 windows, 1,252 fireplaces, and 67 staircases, the Castle is one of the most visited attractions in France.
As a fine example of 18th century French art, this historic building has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for 30 years.

Enjoy a Free River Cruise in Paris - Worth over €10!

Enjoy a Free River Cruise in Paris - Worth over €10!
Cruise up the majestic Seine and discover the sights of Paris from a new perspective with the Paris Pass! From the water it is possible to see the bridges and monuments of Paris as you could never hope to
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Visit Arc De Triomphe for FREE - Saving €9!

Visit Arc De Triomphe for FREE - Saving €9!
The Arc de Triomphe is perhaps the most iconic of all French monuments. It is at once instantly recognisable and deeply evocative of the military glories and follies of France. Napoleon ordered its construction
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Free entry to The Louvre Museum - Save over €9!
The Louvre Museum is unquestionably one of the finest art galleries in the world. Home to thousands of classic and modern masterpieces, the Louvre is the jewel in the crown of French culture, a towering
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Free entry to the Towers of Notre Dame with a Paris Pass
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Enjoy a Free Wine Tasting in Paris - Worth €30!
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Visit The Orsay for FREE with The Paris Pass

Visit The Orsay for FREE with The Paris Pass
The Orsay Museum was originally designed as a train station in 1900. By the 1950’s it became apparent that the platforms were too short for modern trains and the building became home to a theatre. In the 1970's it was remodelled and converted into a museum dedicated to displaying art from the period 1848 to 1915. There are many masterpieces at the Orsay include work by Delacroix, Manet, Guaguin, Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, van Gogh and many more great artists.

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Enjoy the best views of Paris at the Montparnasse Tower
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Paris Bus Tour - Free Sightseeing Bus Tour of Paris
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Free entry to Grevin Wax Museum - Saving €20!
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Use the following voucher code for your special deal.

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Sunday, 4 July 2010

Canal Du Midi Cycling and Self Catering

You may or may not know that our gite in France is only 10 minutes away from the Canal Du Midi, a UNESCO world heritage site and a very popular holiday destination.

There are lots of reasons why the Canal Du Midi is so popular, the beautiful countryside it passes through, the wonderful cities on route to the Mediterranean coastline, the locks, the boats and of course the opportunity to ride along its tree shaded tow path knowing that you are never going to meet a serious hill that is going to sap every ounce of your energy. There are of course some mad fools who think that riding a cycle up a steep hill is fun and of course you can do that as well in this region; just not right next to the Canal Du Midi.

So what are the options for taking a Canal Du Midi self catering holiday in the South of France. You can of course hire a boat and navigate the canal from point A to point B and possibly back again. A very nice way to pass a week or two it has to be said, and many people do exactly that. Alternatively you can book a gite near to the Canal Du Midi, identify where you can find a 'location de Velos' near to the gite and take excursions along the canal for as long as you wish, 2 hours, 4 hours or perhaps a whole day if you like.

There used to be a 'Location de Velos' in Castelnaudary right next to the Canal Du Midi where you could hire cycles for the day, but this has sadly closed and the nearest location is now 'Velos Severac' which is close to the 'Poteries de Naurouze' on the free road between Toulouse and Castelnaudary . It is only 20 minutes from our self catering gite in Issel and they do provide a great service.

When the bike hire in Castelnaudary was still available, we took a little half day excursion from Castelnaudary, hired the bikes for 8€ each giving us 4 hours cycling time and set off to Le Segala, which is in the direction of Toulouse.

The first section of the tow path was actually a relatively new road, after which it changed to a hard core track and the final section was a dirt track but all of it in reasonable condition.

The route is 13km there and 13km back so just slightly under 18 miles in total. There is the bonus of a little cafe near the bridge at Le Segala where you can get a drink or an ice cream and relax for a little while to get your puff back. We passed by 5 locks following this route and some lovely scenery which is set to improve shortly when the Tournesols (Sunflowers) come into bloom. There was also a pottery on route called the 'Poterie NOT' which has a bit of history having been around since the 19th century and its a good place to buy an authentic 'cassole' in which to cook a cassoulet. I am not sure how you would carry your pots though, if you decided to purchase any, some of them were quite large.

Le Segala is about 2km further on from Labastide d'Anjou which is where you can find another 'Location de Velos'. So note this as an option to drive out to and put another northern section on your list of to do's.

This really was a lovely way to spend an afternoon and giving yourself 4 hours means you can comfortably ride from Castelnaudary  to Le Segala without killing yourself and with time to spare for chilling out at the cafe the other end. Or calling into the pottery for a bit of browse and perhaps making plans to collect some goods later.

You could of course have chosen to head South towards Bram and Carcassonne if you wanted to, or made that another days cycling, I think we might just be going to do that now we have discovered how much pleasure you can get from cycling the Canal Du Midi.

As a final note and a little aside, I got the distinct impression that not everyone knows what they are doing when boating on the Canal Du Midi. I don't think this counts as a navigating the whole of the canal. It should be end to end, not side to side. Nice try though.


You can click on any of the photos to get a better view from a larger picture.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Euro Traveler UK

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A great resource for anyone wishing to travel around Europe.

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