Sunday, 23 January 2011

Photographic Tour - Activity Holidays in France

This is a guest post by Joanne Mathews about photography courses and activity holidays in Languedoc Roussillon. Joanne works closely with David Lloyd a respected professional photographer who in addition to publishing his own work operates under a commission to the Royal Horticultural Society.

Courses can be arranged for guests staying or who would like to stay at Le Moulin on request.

Photography Courses in France

Activity holidays have become something of a 'cause célèbre' in the world of tourism. The increased interest in this specialist form of tourism has resulted in the formation of many new companies - some of them without any relevant experience or particular abilities. As an example, when on a photographic tour, are you to be taught how to take better photographs by a professional photographer or an amateur who may be talented, but who is an untested quantity? A professional photographer, especially one with good tutoring experience, is a God-send in these circumstances.

Escape2France provide photographic tours around the Aude and the UK, some specialising in exploring this, the largest vineyard in the world and taking in different sizes and types of wine producers and chateaux. Another tour takes you around the castles and historic sites of the area - the search for the Holy Grail, if you like, comprising an organised tour around the Da Vinci Code sites, as provided by Dan Brown or the Kate Mosse book, Labrynth. Another day-tour encompasses Carcassonne and Mirepoix, both of which are medieval and stunningly beautiful - and both frequently used as sets for TV series and movies. Famously, they were used extensively in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner. Carcassonne was also used in The Marvels of Joan of Arc and The Lion in Winter. Any of our tours would show a group of gifted amateur or interested photographers the best "shot" opportunities whilst advising on such subjects as lighting and the best use of your digital camera.

Do, however, establish the level of fitness required for your tour. For some photographic tours, you need to be fit enough to, say, walk over rough terrain whilst carrying all your photographic gear - it has been likened to marine-yomping in the Pyrenees! It takes a certain level of fitness to achieve this - so do establish the needs on each of the tours - we have adapted some to ensure people with less mobility can take part without problem.

David Lloyd, our professional photographer and tutor, has been developing these tours specifically with the Activity Holiday market in mind. David has been a professional photographer for more years than he cares to remember! His experience encompasses beautiful flower photography, commissioned especially by the Royal Horticultural Society, which commission has taken him all over the world. He has published books of his photographs, in Spirit of the Rose (much admired by Alan Titchmarsh, who said never had he seen roses so beautifully photographed); in Spirit of the Forest, which is a series of photographs taken over 25 years living in the Royal Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. A slightly more gritty series of photographs, Spirit of the Forest includes David's most widely sold and successful photograph, The Beech Tree; and now, David is embarking on Spirit of the Languedoc - a book of photographs displaying the stunning beauty of this region. David has also been responsible for the book covers of many books - please take a look at the following site if you want more information about David's professional career and his photography. David Lloyd Photography

Lastly, do check out our web site Escape2France for further information about workshops and tours in this region plus workshops and weekend breaks in the UK.

As experienced tour providers, Escape2France ensure enough information is provided in advance, confirming fitness levels and equipment required, neither of which can be ignored. For both the South of France and UK tours, we always speak to every participant to ensure they are able to cope BEFORE we take the booking, especially if the tour is likely to be strenuous. Do specify which day tour would interest you.
Escape2France have been providing tours, especially in the UK, for over 10 years. We have loads of experience and David Lloyd is a really good, professional photographic tutor with lecturing experience at an English university and a flair for communicating his subject to the tour members. We are well-organised and ensure good value for money.

We want everyone who comes on our tours to become another of our 3,000 existing, satisfied customers and we will do everything we can to ensure our customer base remains satisfied with our levels of service and abilities.

If you would like to be kept in touch with our tours, both in the South of France and the UK, please go onto our web site and register. It will only take a moment and you will receive a monthly newsletter, details of special offers and lots more.
The price is £455.00 per group of up to 10 people including tutoring, transport and lunch.

Monday, 17 January 2011

A Boulangerie for Issel

When we first moved to Issel back in 2008 we noticed a lot of renovation work going on in the old Boulangerie next to the Mairie's office. Of course with our plans to open a gite we hoped above hopes that this work was going to result in the opening of a proper Boulangerie offering real French bread freshly baked on a daily basis.

We did actually receive a questionnaire at one point asking what products we would like to see on sale in the soon to be opened Boulangerie come general store. We filled in the questionnaire and as requested returned it to the Mairie's office, thinking it can't be too long now before the shop would be open.

That I believe was around the middle of 2009. Well I am sure you have probably anticipated my next statement, it ain't going to happen, as our American friends would put it. We haven't been informed officially but Angela on a recent trip to the hair dressers in the village decided to broach the subject to find out what was happening and whether the long awaited Boulangerie was going to materialise. The answer of course was 'Non', it is now apparently going to be a private house.

Still all is not lost, in the absence of a permanent shop we are going to get not one but three mobile stores. They will park at various locations in the village offering a range of different products. The most exciting one being the provision of different types of bread on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9.15 onwards and ironically they will be parking in front of the old Boulangerie in the place de la mairie.

There will of course be more than bread on offer from our 3 times a week mobile store, there is also going to be all sorts of pastries which will of course include croissants. This is fantastic for visitors to our gite, they can tick that continental breakfast box now for at least 3 mornings a week without going further than the local village.

On a Tuesday there is also going to be a local epicerie (grocers) available from 9.00 to 9.30a.m. in the same place. It's only a half an hour window but, hey, beggars can't be choosers and I for one would love to see these guys getting enough business to keep them coming back.

The third mobile store is a 'jardin des halles' supplying fruit, vegetables, general groceries and other fresh products. Being slightly larger they can be found at the 'Salle Polyvalente' or village hall as we would call it, every Friday from 8.00 to 9.30a.m.

Of course there is always the fall back options of Daniel's fruit, vegetable and pizza place in Peyrens which is only 5 minutes in the car. He also sells fresh bread and croissants with a selection of wines available which he chooses himself, being quite knowledgeable on the subject and he is open Wednesday to Sunday.

The other fall back option is the Boulangerie in St Papoul which is open Tuesday to Sunday and is also only about 5 minutes in the car. Bottom line if you want fresh bread on a Monday is I am afraid a 10 minute trip into Castelnaudary.

Not that bad really all things considered and with the new mobile services. It would have been so nice to have that local village Boulangerie but I guess, as in the UK, times are a little tough. Progress is progress however and this news is definitely progress.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Join the Fishfight

OK I know this is not really about 'Life in France' but I have long been exasperated by the current fishing policy that sees so many fish caught in the nets that have to be returned to the sea even when they are already dead. It is high time that this ridiculous policy was changed and I am very glad to see a high profile campaign has been started that will hopefully put the required pressure on the relevant governments to provide some common sense solutions to this long standing problem.

If you agree and would like to add your voice to the campaign, now you can using the widget below. There is also a facebook page supporting the cause which is growing at a rate of knots, excuse the pun, which you can also access from the website.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Christmas In England

Just a quick note to say sorry to everyone for a lack of blogging activity over the festive period and to let you know I am still around, if only just. I headed back to the UK for our family festivities not realising how dangerous a move that was.

Consequently I have been in hospital for approximately 2 weeks after going down to the nasty flu bugs they breed with such ferocity in the UK. Still from what I see in the news, I am one of the lucky ones and I will soon be back to normal and hopefully providing you all once more with information on life in France. I have certainly come to the conclusion that France is a lot safer to live than the UK unless of course you can hold your breath for 2 or 3 weeks :-)

Still I am well on the way to recovery and looking forward to catching up on everything again, oh the perils of being a lone blogger. I am going to have to get the wife trained up me thinks, she seems to be impervious to those nasty little bugs.

Happy New Year everyone.

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