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Posts Tagged "France"

The Impressionists in Normandy

The Impressionists in Normandy

It was a visit to the Royal Horticultural Society’s Hampton Court Flower Show that inspired me to visit Normandy. Among the show gardens was one celebrating the Impressionists in Normandy that included the best-known elements of Claude Monet’s Giverny garden. In my research, I soon discovered that the group of artists known as the Impressionists were attracted to Normandy. Impressionism was less about detail and realism in paintings and more about an accurate depiction of light and its changing qualities. This was best done outdoors where they could capture the transient effects of light on a subject. The Impressionists were among the first group of artists who took painting outside en plein air. The advent of the railways along the Seine Valley from Paris to the coast, the quality of the light and the variety of landscapes all contributed to…

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Golfing in Europe

Golfing in Europe

Golf is a truly international pastime and with few exceptions, you can play in almost any country in the world. There are so many courses to choose from across the globe it is hard to choose. Below I have highlighted five of the best destinations to consider for a golfing break in Europe with suggestions of some of the top courses to play. Portugal The Algarve is considered as the home of Portuguese golf and is, in golfing terms a relative newcomer. The first golf course was built in Portugal in 1966. Designed by Henry Cotton at what is now the Penina Hotel and Golf Resort it still sees plenty of golfing action. Over 50 years on and the Algarve is awash with golf courses and resorts. Many of them have two or three separate courses to play. Some of…

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Golfing holidays

Golfing holidays

A version of this post first appeared in the Avanti Travel Insurance blog which I write for on a regular basis. You can read more of my work there by clicking on this link. For many people holidays are a chance to indulge a hobby or a passion somewhere a little different. If your passion is golf then you are certain to find a golfing holiday that suits you. There will be somewhere to play in almost any part of the world. Deserts have been greened, wild moorland tamed and wasteland made attractive in the name of golf. You can even play golf on ice in Greenland. Golf is a truly international pastime and with few exceptions you can take a golfing holiday and play in almost any country in the world. Below I have highlighted five of the best European destinations…

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Review: DFDS Ferry Crossing – Newhaven to Dieppe

Review: DFDS Ferry Crossing – Newhaven to Dieppe

On my many trips to France I have taken every possible channel crossing possible with the notable exception of Newhaven-Dieppe. Having organised a trip to Normandy it was time to choose the crossing. The Newhaven to Dieppe operated by DFDS Seaways seemed a fairly convenient crossing depositing me on French soil about 90 minutes from my rented accommodation in Normandy. The first thing I discovered was the ship’s branding was not DFDS but Transmanche Ferries. Their bright yellow and white ship was definitely not the more muted navy and white of other DFDS ferries I had seen and travelled on. It’s complicated and has to do with who owns what and which company is the parent company but this is not the place to delve into that. It is enough to know the Transmanche Ferries are operated by DFDS. On…

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Review: Le Chardonneret Chaumiere – a thatched cottage

Review: Le Chardonneret Chaumiere – a thatched cottage

On many occasions I have driven up through Normandy to Le Havre to catch the ferry home. As I have done so I have seen the typical Normandy tan and mahogany coloured half-timbered thatched cottages. I always promised myself I would pause on my rush to the ferry port to explore the region and the rural architecture. Never did I envisage actually staying in a traditional Normandy thatched cottage. I found the cottage on the HomeAway website (£) at the last minute when a 9 day gap appeared in my diary. On the face of it seemed to be perfect but I have previously had experience of properties not being quite what they seem to be on the website. I made a couple of enquiries with owner through the website and was pleasantly surprised when I received a reply within a couple of hours….

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Lyon: My top 10 reasons to visit

Lyon: My top 10 reasons to visit

Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, fly daily from my home city of Southampton to Lyon in France. Lyon is a city I have come to love and the fact that it is now connected by air without having to go through London and Paris means I will probably visit more often. They say Paris is the heart of France and Lyon is the stomach. Lyon is awash with restaurants with many holding Michelin stars. Certainly Lyon is the gastro-capital of France. However, there is more to Lyon than food as you will see from the list below. They are not ranked but rather listed according to approximate geographical location. 1. The Fourviere Basilica The Fourviere Basilica, perched high above the city on Fourviere Hill is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of Lyon. It is fortress on the outside and…

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French rivers to canoe

French rivers to canoe

France is blessed with many rivers suited to canoeing or kayaking. Some of the more popular rivers can resemble the M25, London’s orbital motorway, on a weekday morning. Others are less congested and it is possible to have the river to yourself. I have chosen a few that are suitable for little or no experience of paddling and where it is easy to rent a canoe or kayak. The Ardeche The River Ardeche, in the region of the same name, is famous for the gorges through which it flows before emptying into the Rhône at Pont Saint Esprit. The gorges themselves are 26km in length and, once in them, there is no way out for the canoeist except the other end. There is limited emergency access by a very steep track about half way down the gorge. Along the way are…

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Canal Cruising in a Hotel Barge

Canal Cruising in a Hotel Barge

I recently attended the Cruise Show in London and was surprised by the variety of cruising options available. One of my favourite options is canal cruising on a hotel barge. I had a chance to try out canal cruising on the Anjodi with European Waterways along the Canal du Midi in France. The Anjodi was luxuriously converted from a Dutch canal barge. It was also exclusive as there were only four cabins on board. On board there was a chef who prepared each of the meals for us using ingredients available from the villages we passed along the canal. The pace is gentle as the speed limit on the canal is 4 miles per hour. This means we could take one of the bikes supplied and pedal along the canal path and rejoin our boat further along the canal. Being a canal there…

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Know your H2Eau – French Rivers quiz

Know your H2Eau – French Rivers quiz

How good is your knowledge of the geography of France?  Do you know your French Rivers? Most people have heard of the Loire and possibly the Seine, Dordogne and Rhône. However there are a multitude of other rivers that have shaped the landscape of France. Many have been trade routes and cities have grown up along their banks. Ports grew in the estuaries as France began to export its produce. Other rivers have carved out gorges, laid down flood plains and provided wetlands and marshes for  a variety of wildlife. Today the rivers satisfy the demand for leisure and adventure. Fishing, cruising and watersports form the bulk of what is sometimes referred to “tourisme fluvial” How well do you know your French rivers? Can you name the any of the major rivers in France? Which cities are on which river? The…

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The Lure of Collioure

The Lure of Collioure

Collioure has attracted artists since the beginning of the 20th century when it was “discovered” by a group known as the Fauve artists. They were attracted not only by the subject matter but by the quality of the light. Henri Matisse and Andre Derain established their base there and were soon followed by the likes of Dufy and Picasso. Collioure is, or was until tourism had an impact, a small fishing village on the Mediterranean coast close to the Spanish border. It was not always French but was ruled over by the Kings of Mallorca. It eventually became French in 1659. The quaint little harbour is dominated by the Chateau Royale de Collioure, built by Vauban as a defensive measure against Spanish expansionism. The artists, attracted by the clarity of the light and the ample subject matter, needed a place to…

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