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French Connections

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  • On my recent trip to Brittany the ferry was very busy with both vehicles and foot passengers. Hardly surprising, as people stranded by the flight ban were, of course, taking to the sea instead.On my recent trip to Brittany the ferry was very busy with both vehicles and foot passengers. Hardly surprising, as people stranded by the flight ban were, of course, taking to the sea instead. Sea travel seems normal to me as I once lived on a Greek island and had to get a boat to go anywhere, but I was still reminded of just how easy and pleasant it is. On our outward journey from Portsmouth to Le Havre with LD Ferries we travelled overnight and managed to sleep well in calm seas. For the return we allowed time to stop in gorgeous Honfleur and resisted an expensive harbour view to enjoy one of those typically fantastic French lunches at a little restaurant called Relais des Cyclistes, close to the tourist information office. I can heartily recommend the set menu of three generous courses for just 12.50 euro, made all the more delectable for being eaten outside in warm sunshine. Once on board, the five hour crossing seemed to fly by. We found a nice sheltered spot on the top deck, watched the port and town disappear, dozed in warm sunshine, came inside, chatted and played cards and watched a glorious sunset across the sea. Ferry companies report increased bookings this summer after the ash crisis and no doubt train services to France will be popular too. If you’ve never tried these alternatives to flying, perhaps now is the time to –er- take the plunge?
  • This time next week I shall be exploring new French territory for me – the land and seascape of Brittany.This time next week I shall be exploring new French territory for me – the land and seascape of Brittany. Another first is my method of travel, as I’m going with a friend in her camper van, the whimsically named Mazda Bongo. Our adventure has been easy to organise. We booked a crossing overnight from Portsmouth to Le Havre and searched this site for Brittany B&Bs and hotels on a map. We’ll use those for overnight stops and our home on wheels for lunch and tea breaks. We’ve driven through France together before and know that my friend is good at route planning and navigation while I’m more confident at speaking French - and that we both like markets, harbours, churches, views and history, so we’re optimistic that all will be well. Luckily, we also both love French food and wine! I really enjoy Cornwall so I’m sure I’ll appreciate the rocky coastline and wide open spaces, the sense of an ancient land whose spirit and traditions survive. Our ultimate destination is the medieval town of Vannes and the prehistory of Carnac, with its miles of standing stone and Megalithic wonders. Carnac is on the Golfe de Morbihan, which boasts gorgeous islands, wild beaches, a seabird sanctuary and a mild micro-climate. Brittany, here we come!
  • Finding your ideal holiday let in France – one of life’s great pleasures. And when you’ve chosen where to stay, we can help you get there. We also have some really useful stuff to make sure your holiday goes smoothly.

    We love making life easy for our holidaymakers with one-stop booking for accommodation, travel and services.
    If you’ve never browsed our Travel section, now is the time to check it out. You’ll find:

    •    Car hire – we compare prices from all the major car rental suppliers to find you the best deal.
    •    Ferries – see all the routes to all the ports and use our easy search to find the best route and price for you
    •    Flights – see our recommendations for airlines offering both great value cheap flights to France and a quality, reliable service.
    •    Trains - For relaxing and environmentally friendly travel, book tickets for Eurostar, TGV, SNCF, Motorail and Snow Train services – and for trains within France
    •    European breakdown cover – our partner Breakdown Direct European has the experience and expertise to save your holiday with the minimum of hassle
    •    Mobile phones and internet – stay in touch and save money on mobile calls and internet in France with LeFrench Mobile
    •    Currency exchange - compare & save Up To 10% On Foreign Currency using our currency comparison tool powered by MyTravelMoney.co.uk.
    •    Holiday date guide – Not sure when the roads will be busy due to public holidays? Check out our month-by-month Holiday Guide with key dates, ideas and information for each month of the year
     Travel safely and have a wonderful holiday in France this summer!

  • Did you know that you can travel by bus throughout the Pyrénées-Orientales for just 1 euro per person per journey?You can travel by bus throughout the Pyrénées-Orientales for just 1 euro per person. The general council of this gorgeous department on France’s border with Spain introduced the bargain fare about 18 months ago as an environmental initiative, pointing out that one bus can keep up to 30 cars off the road. I like travelling on local buses in France. There’s a sense of adventure, a challenge to practice your language skills and, in this region, a chance to get up close and personal with the friendly local people and their Catalan traditions. Perhaps the general council also had tourism in mind, as the scheme allows visitors to travel on some stunning routes, taking in the capital city of Perpignan, the dramatic Pyrenees mountains, sandy beaches and the picturesque port of Collioure. This sunny little town was once home to Matisse, Picasso, Dufy and many other iconic artists and you can still see their work and buy prints in local museums and galleries.
  • The Spring 2013 issue of the quarterly Business & Lifestyle magazine features a two-page lifestyle article on France as a holiday destination, with French Connections as the sole recommended resource for accommodation and travel throughout France.

    The magazine has a worldwide readership of over 50,000 and is available in hotels, conference venues and airport lounges as well as by subscription. Its contributors are among the world’s most successful economists, entrepreneurs and directors of multinationals who share their views and experiences with the global business market. As well as their input, the magazine contains the latest news and analyses of banking, finance, business development and technology.

    Travel features prominently in the Lifestyle section and the article 'France-c'est fantastique'opens by pointing out that: 'The great appeal of France as a holiday country lies not only in the quality of its culture and history, its food and wine, but also in the sheer variety of landscapes and experiences.'

    It then gives the lowdown on all the most interesting regions to visit in France and highlights the reasons for the popularity of holiday rental properties:

    'The favourite choice of Francophiles in the know is to rent their own holiday property. Modern villas and gîtes are just as likely to have designer-look interiors, to provide a maid and meal service and to boast state of the art facilities. The properties themselves range from bijou town apartments for a romantic weekend through charming country cottages to huge family farmhouses with swimming pool and grounds – not forgetting the occasional chateau, manoir or converted water mill.'

    Our photo shows the beautiful Domaine du Crestet in Provence. More information on the magazine at www.businesslifestyle.co.uk

     

  • It’s the magical Christmas market season! All over France cities stage these fabulous mixtures of shopping, community and carnival to capture the traditional magic of Christmas as a season of light, good food and family feeling.  The markets are really worth a visit for both their atmosphere and the great shopping  - no wonder so many Francophiles and lovers of traditional Christmas spirit go every year for a market mini-break.  So where are this year’s Christmas market hotspots?

    Strasbourg market is really the daddy of them all. Dating back to 1570, it’s the oldest Christmas market in France and one of the largest. As if that weren’t enough, the setting in front of Strasbourg Cathedral is quite breathtaking. A must-see on a visit to Strasbourg market is La Petite France, a cosy neighborhood of timbered fairy-tale buildings with Christmas shops and a gingerbread bakery.

  • The best Christmas market in France for crystal and Le Creuset is Amiens; at Licques market there’s a turkey parade, while Noisy le Grand, Paris offers hand crafted wooden toys and horse-drawn carriage rides. All this and more is in our comprehensive 2013 online guide to Christmas markets, a veritable treasure trove of information for lovers of these luscious shopping experience–cum-theatre events that are so special in France.

    Each market reflects the character of its location, so a visit is a good chance to discover a new area of France. Mulhouse market, for instance, is typically Alsatian, with half-timbered stalls featuring exceptional fabrics - and there’s mulled wine to sip on and little biscuits to nibble.

    The medieval town of Nancy, famous for its triumphal arch built to honor Louis XV, hosts its celebrated market in the historic Place Maginot, selling delicious fresh bread, spicy charcuterie, Bergamotte bonbons and mouthwatering macarons. Enjoyable Christmas activities here include carol singing, folk dancing and lively street entertainment.

    The guide lists around 25 markets – from Arras in the North to Avignon in the South - all in complete and tantalising detail, including location, goods for sale, food specialities and associated events. It also gives options for travel by road, rail and air and local accommodation, both hotels at discounted rates and self-catering options.

    So, what are you waiting for? To plan your trip, browse our 2013 guide to Christmas markets in France

  • Halfords have just launched a range of special offers on everything you need for a long drive through France, from storage and safety to comfort and entertainment.You may not be aware that when driving in France, the following items are compulsory:
    • Spare bulbs
    • GB Sticker or Euroflag Number Plate
    • High Visibility Jacket
    • Headlamp Convertors
    • Warning Triangle
    It is also recommended you take a First Aid Kit, and a Fire Extinguisher. All these items and more are available from the Halfords motoring store, where you can also save up to a third on continental driving accessories. If you are facing a long drive through France with the family, then Halfords also have some great deals on these driving products and accessories; Dont leave it till the ferry terminal - stock up on your driving accessories well in advance. For more help and advice, you can also see our guide to driving in France.
  • Travellers to France can get a healthy 10% more spending power for their holiday money over last summer, as the currency settled yesterday at 1.2 euros to the pound, making a euro just about 85 penceTravellers to France can get a healthy 10% more spending power for their holiday money over last summer, as the currency settled yesterday at 1.2 euros to the pound, making a euro just about 85 pence. For the last year, the difference between the euro and pound has been lower than ever before and at times close to parity, but rates have now improved just in time for the summer holiday season and it's now possible to buy 500 euros for as little as £419. I can't help thinking about the excellent lunch I recently enjoyed at Au Relais des Cyclistes, a really French restaurant just off the harbour in Honfleur. The menu du jour was 12.99 euros and I tucked into a smoked fish with salad starter followed by steak and chips with roast vegetables and topped off with a chocolate fondant in creme anglaise. At today's rates that lunch would cost around £11. Who said France isn't excellent value - and when can I go back?
  • This year’s France Show is being held from 29th to 31st January at the Olympia exhibition centre in London. If you’re yearning for all things French, then get your fix here!

    The show aims to bring the best of France together under one roof, with food, wine, property, holiday ideas,  entertainment and shopping. There’s a great French market with authentic stalls selling cheese, bread, delectable patisserie and other delights - and the bonus of a nice chat with the French producers and vendors.

    The cookery theatre is always popular, with demonstrations from top chefs, as are the tutored wine tastings. I took part in one last year and learned a lot about flavour and that fascinating concept of terroir. You can also brush up French language skills, play pétanque and enjoy a lively performance of the can-can!

    Various French regions are represented to inspire new holiday destinations, with locals who know all about what to see and do in their area. The France Show also hosts the largest French property exhibition in the UK. Use the link below to buy tickets.

    Organisers of the France Show are the publishers of Living France and French Property News magazines, where you can see major features about our owners, accommodation and properties for sale every month.