While we’re all staying at home to beat the virus, we thought you might like to make some classic French dishes for a taste of France. First up, the perfect snack or starter, cheesy gougères are easy to make and very moreish. Like little cheesy balloons, they’re crisp on the outside and deliciously fluffy on the inside.
Recipe for 36 gougères
25g unsalted butter
1 Teaspoon sugar
2 Teaspoons salt
4-5 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
120g coarsely grated Gruyère
25g coarsely grated Parmesan
How to make perfect gougères
Heat the oven to 425°F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Place the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt in a pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. The mixture will form a thick mass. Keep stirring for another two minutes to dry the mixture out. Remove from heat.
Add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition until each egg is incorporated. By the fourth egg, the mixture should have a smooth, glossy consistency. If not, stir in a fifth egg. Add ¾ of the grated Gruyère.
Drop heaped spoonfuls of dough about 2 inches apart onto lined baking sheets. Combine remaining Gruyère and Parmesan; sprinkle over tops of dough.
Bake 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375°F, and continue baking until evenly golden, about another 15 minutes.
Best eaten warm!
Did you know that apart from having one of the best and biggest French holiday rental sites, at French Connections we also list houses for sale?
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Celebrating its 800th year in 2020, the great Gothic Cathedral of Amiens is awe-inspiring. By day the Cathedral attracts pilgrims and tourists eager to see its vast interior, filled with statues and frescoes, soaring vaulted ceiling and to feel its majestic presence, witness to eight centuries of history. At night though, it’s an altogether different place as the exterior of the cathedral is smothered in a technicolour light performance in a show that makes audiences gasp in wonder. This free 50 minute show runs throughout the summer, as well as in December during the Christmas market. It’s an absolute must-see.
A classified “plus beaux village de France”, officially one of the prettiest villages, Gerberoy has oodles of charm. Think cobbled streets, half-timbered buildings dripping with roses and wonderful views over the lush countryside. Gerberoy, one of the smallest towns in France is on the border of Seine-Maritime, Normandy.
The Hortillonnages of Amiens are floating market gardens. They’ve been cultivated since the Middle Ages on a maze of canals, on the edge of the city. The best way to experience this historic heritage site is with a guided electric (environmentally friendly) boat tour (from April to October). It’s incredible to see the city’s Cathedral spire in the background while you spot dragon flies, wild birds and even herons on the tranquil waterways. The lush, flower filled island gardens reflect a close relationship between man and nature and make for a unique nature escape right in the heart of the metropolis. From spring to autumn a fabulous Arts and Garden festival is held in the Hortillonages. Details: www.hortillonnages-amiens.fr/
From the Middle Ages to the 19th century, the castle has preserved its exceptional and imposing setting. Visit the various galleries of paintings (the second greatest collection of antique paintings after the Louvre) and stroll through the romantic gardens, especially the one designed by André Le Nôtre, as well as the great stables of the 18th century and the horse museum. Details: www.domainedechantilly.com/fr/
Yes you did read that right. If you thought Champagne only comes from Champagne – think again. It might surprise you to learn that the vineyards of Château-Thierry in the Aisne department of Picardy, Hauts-de-France account for a whopping 10% of AOC Champagne production. The perfect visit for fans of fizz!
There’s heaps more to do in Picardy including Asterix Parc, a theme park inspired by comic book characters Asterix and Obelisk; the medieval chateau of Pierrefonds; fabulous Marquenterre bird & wildlife park and the pretty port town of St Valery-sur-Somme.
Browse our selection of holiday homes in Picardie – we love to help you make your holidays dreams come true…
The Loire Valley is made up of orchards, vineyards and farmlands, châteaux and picturesque villages. In spring the fruit trees burst into colour and so do the chateaux gardens. Intoxicating detours are plentiful in this region but these are a few of our favourites…
Saumur is a tranquil sort of town with a friendly ambience. It’s a great place for those who love culture, history, beautiful architecture, wine and great French cuisine. And, let’s face it, it doesn’t get much more tempting than that does it?! Saumur is a flowery town and a great place for wandering. You’ll discover the remains of the ancient walls of the city, and plenty of cafés and places to while away the hours while you enjoy the local wine and produce. Try the friendly Bistrot de Place where the tables spill out onto the pedestrianised square on a sunny day. And then admire the view of the fairy tale looking 12th century castle on a hill overlooking the Loire river.
Lively, buzzing and festive, this remarkably compact city is one of the greenest in France. The massive Chateau d’Angers, a Plantaganet stronghold, is home to a unique masterpiece: the 14th century Tapestry of the Apocalypse. Just as extraordinary, the modern version, Le Chant du Monde, a series of ten tapestries by Jean Lurcat is housed at the Gothic Hôpital Saint-Jean close by. Wine lovers will enjoy the smallest vineyard in Angers, within the castle walls.
The city makes for a great base for touring the Loire. Place Plumereau is perfect for an aperitif, in fact it was once voted, the square most loved by the French for just that reason! Lined with half-timbered buildings of the 15th century with plenty of lively bars, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. There are several cultural venues in the town including the fabulous Centre of Contemporary Art Olivier Debré.
The chateau of Chenonceau is one of the most visited castles in France – we’re not surprised, it’s gorgeous. Turrets and towers, and rooms filled with flowers at the chateau which is as famous for its gardens as its beautiful rooms, once the home of Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II, and later the home of his wife, Catherine de Medici. The castle’s master florist is Jean-François Bouchet, a Master Craftsman of France for his floral skills. With a small team, he creates 200 bouquets a week to fills the rooms, hallways and the lovely onsite restaurant.
The Chateau de Chambord is a French Renaissance masterpiece. This jewel of the Loire Valley was begun in 1519, the year Francis 1 became King of France. The flamboyant king loved to put on a show and at Chambord, his imagination ran wild. This grand castle in true Renaissance style was designed to shout to the world that this was the home of the greatest King that ever lived. It’s also famous for its double helix staircase, said to have been inspired by Leonardo da Vinci.
A magnificent royal fortress, in which Richard the Lionheart was born, sits majestically watching over its domain, located high on the banks of the river Loire, right in the centre of the city. In the old town medieval houses line winding cobble stone streets, rue Voltaire is particularly beautiful. Place General de Gaulle is great for restaurants and it’s close to the elevator that takes you up to the chateau, saving you a climb.
Discover more great things to do in the Loire Valley: www.loirevalley-france.co.uk
French Connections loves to help you make your holiday dreams come true – check out our listings of holiday homes in the Loire Valley…
Picture-perfect lavender fields, quaint and pretty street markets, exquisite little cafés where you can sit and watch the world go by, chilled wine and wonderful architecture – Provence is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Blessed with a sunny disposition, it’s also one of the best places to take a holiday...
There’s a wide choice of holiday rentals available in Provence, something to suit every taste and budget. We have a huge selection of stunning properties in all parts of Provence from the Luberon, Vaucluse, Mont Ventoux and the Alpilles areas as well as the French Riviera. Whether you’re looking for a bijou, romantic villa for two, or a holiday home big enough for friends and family, they have a huge choice.
If its lavender fields you want, then some of the best are in the Luberon area, around the hilltop village of Sault and the iconic Abbaye de Senanque, Gordes, where the resident monks grow and harvest lavender. The Plateau of Valensole is the largest lavender field area in France, located between the Luberon and stunning Verdon where there is a Gorge, considered one of the most beautiful in Europe.
Provence is peppered with pretty villages where life revolves around the village square, lined with cafés and restaurants, shops and art galleries. From Menerbes to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorge, the antiques capital of Provence, Bonnieux and Saint-Remy-de-Provence, you’ll find a wonderful selection of villas to rent in the villages, the countryside and in elegant towns like Aix-en-Provence, Arles and Avignon.
Wherever you go in Provence, you’ll be inspired by the beautiful sights, as well as by the local cuisine and wines. The tastes and flavours you’ll discover are part of what makes your vacation in Provence so memorable. The olives, garlic, fresh herbs, jewel like cakes, rosé wines from legendary vineyards such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Bandol, markets where the scents, sights and sounds will stay with you forever. There’s nothing quite like cycling through the gorgeous countryside, stopping to enjoy lunch and a glass of chilled rosé in an authentic bistro en route. Or dining under the stars at a grand restaurant where the dishes are like works of art.
There are activities galore from water sports to hiking, cookery lessons, museums, wine tasting and rejuvenations spas – or simply relaxing and soaking up all that this area of southern France, with its light filled skies has to offer.
Here at French Connections we love to help your Provence holiday dreams come true… click here to browse our listings of holiday homes in the Provence-Alpes-Cote-D’azur region.