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  • Calvados, Normandy - a beautiful year-round destination

    Calvados in Normandy is our region of the month – and a very evocative one for me in several different ways. Firstly it brings back deliciously the flavour of the fruity apple brandy drink of the same name, especially when sipped in a country garden or at a chic pavement bar.

    Secondly it conjures up images of rolling fields, contented cows, impossibly pretty timbered farmhouses and country paths magical with abundant flowers and verdant leaves. The countryside of Calvados is beautiful for driving, walking, cycling and simply sitting beneath a tree listening to birdsong whilst enjoying fromage, baguette and a verre du vin.

    My next evocative memory is the stunning coastline, from beautiful harbours to tremendous sweeps of wild, sandy beaches where a salty breeze blows away the cobwebs. I’ve travelled by ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre and from Dover to Calais and there is always that thrill of the sense of voyaging from port to port.

    For both journeys, I managed to arrange a meal stop at a restaurant in gorgeous Honfleur. As you would expect with a coastal department, there is a huge variety of fresh fish and shellfish on the menu and market stalls groan with fruit and vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and flowers.

    Honfleur is one of France’s most beautiful and historic harbours and a happening town filled with art and history – which are definite themes of the whole of the Calvados region, from the poignant D -Day landing beaches to Caen and Bayeux with its famous tapestry.

    The climate is oceanic with mild winters, so this region is perfect for a short winter break, a spring week to enjoy the apple blossom and a fortnight’s summer holiday. We have an excellent range of accommodation in peaceful countryside, villages and towns – including Honfleur. You can also use our Travel pages to book ferries and Eurotunnel and find your travel needs.

  • Christmas shopping breaks in Nord Pas de Calais

    Just a hop across the Channel from south east England lies the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France. When visiting France, we often get on the autoroute and drive quickly through, but this is an area that deserves exploration – and it’s our region of the month for November.

    Christmas shopping is a great excuse for a long weekend or midweek short break before the flurry of the festive season sets in and in Nord-Pas-de-Calais you’ll find everything from speciality wine cellars and France’s most famous cheese boutique to big names in European retail at the modern shopping city of Cite Europe near Calais.

    The region is proud of its gastronomy and local beers, along with traditions where fairs, fêtes and festivals are so much a part of daily life – and it’s full of enchanting Christmas markets.

    Big Christmas markets are held at Amiens, Arras, Lille, Bethune,  Calais and Boulogne. Follow the link below to our complete guide with all the details. At Licques the market is accompanied by a famous turkey parade with hundreds of turkeys rampaging through the town’s streets. Spectators are given a glass of the local liqueur, Licquoise, and then have the chance to buy a turkey. Beats the local supermarket!

    The region also offers varied landscapes of forests, meadows and marshlands, an unspoilt coastline that stretches for miles, Regional Natural Parks, a network of waterways and lots of historic sites. For great places to stay and visit in the region, check out our accommodation and guide to the Nord-Pas-de-Calais

  • Discover the Ile de France

    Everyone knows about the romance and beauty of Paris, its endless opportunities for culture, shopping and gourmet cuisine. Less well known are the delights of the region surrounding the city – the Ile de France - an area of chateaux, forests and rivers, of relaxing scenery and outdoor adventure.

  • Family holidays in France (CMigrator copy 1)

    No wonder France is such a popular family holiday choice. The country is easily accessible by road, rail or air, is affordable - especially for accommodation - and offers a great variety of landscape, history, activities and fun for adults and youngsters alike. Oh, and let’s not forget the child-friendly culture and delicious local food and wine.

    The Dordogne, Languedoc-Rousillon and the Mediterranean are all favourite destinations – and for somewhere different, try the Auvergne or Burgundy. Most accessible for family holidays is North West France, especially Normandy and Brittany. You’ll find spacious countryside, Celtic traditions and every kind of seaside from unspoilt rocky coves to buzzing resorts with wide, sandy beaches.

  • France in February – Family half-term or Valentine hearts and flowers?

    Both Valentine’s Day and school half-term holidays occur this month – and both are great opportunities for a trip to France.  How do you choose when there’s a lot to be said for either?

  • Hop across the Channel for great Christmas shopping in the Nord-Pas de Calais

    I love Christmas shopping in France – especially at atmospheric French Christmas markets. Food, wine and presents from France have an extra cachet – and they offer great value with nice finishing touches like tasteful Christmas wrapping. And there’s no need to go far because the Pas de Calais - the area closest to the ferry port and Eurotunnel terminal and our region of the month – has all you need for a Christmas shopping break.

    Christmas shopping is a great excuse for a long weekend or midweek short break before the flurry of the festive season sets in. In the Pas de Calais region we have owners offering cosy gites, studios, converted barns, country houses and chateaux that are ideal for a November or December stay and close enough to restaurants for some relaxing nights to enjoy the local cuisine after you’ve shopped and dropped.

  • Ideas and offers for a romantic Valentine’s Day weekend in France

     There’s still time to whisk your beloved off their feet and get all loved up with a romantic Valentine’s Day weekend in France, the country of lovers. Whether you’re eighteen or eighty, in the flush of new romance or content in lasting love, the French approach to l’amour is bound to create happy memories. My heart still melts when I think back to a certain Art Nouveau restaurant in Calais with food like art on the plate and little hearts scattered on the tablecloth….

  • Our complete guide to Christmas Markets in France

    Christmas markets are one of France’s great attractions at this time of year, going right through to the end of December. Lille is one of the big four, along with Paris, Strasbourg and Avignon, but in cities and towns across the country this festive tradition still thrives. There’s a sense of old-fashioned magic by day or after dark and wonderful, leisurely shopping opportunities for food, decorations and gifts.

    Our guide to Christmas markets is a treasure trove of information, with complete details of around 25 markets – from Arras in the North to Avignon in the South. We give all you need to know in detail, including location, access and parking, goods for sale, food specialities and Christmas events. Find options for travel by road, rail and air and links to a range of accommodation in the surrounding areas for your short break or week.

    Traditionally, housewives in rural France would spend the weeks before Noel preparing and baking typical local festive dishes and the markets grew from this tradition, which is still a really big part of French life.

    Savour smells, sights and sounds and get immersed in the language as you weave in and out of enticing stalls laden with one-off handcrafted gifts and delectable foodstuffs and drinks for delicious Christmas recipes. You’ll also find unusual candles, decorations, figures for traditional nativity scenes, cards and ornaments for the Christmas tree with a touch of French style.

    Many markets incorporate fun fairs, festivals of light and sound, Christmas parades and fun events, making a day trip or short shopping break even more alluring.