A taste of France

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 29-02-2012

France is a major European country that is close to Spain, Italy and the UK in its culture and history. Some of the famous things to be remembered about France include Napoleon, The Eiffel Tower, French Baguettes, Champagne and a delicacy, frogs’ legs. France is a great place for foodies to visit as it is a country that celebrates food and gourmet cooking and has plenty of delightful local produce to sample. It’s no wonder that the property exchange France can offer a weekend away in the capital city Paris and is on the list for many as one of their dream holidays.

Anyone visiting France to enjoy the food and wine would do well to carry out a little research before travelling to make the most of their trip. A home exchange is a great way to find somewhere to stay close to restaurants, vineyards and farms and to make contact with locals who will offer plenty of advice about local delicacies.

Wine and Champagne

France produces around 8 billion bottles of wine per year and is the original home to popular and prestigious grape varieties such as Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux although there are thought to be more than 56 different grape varieties readily available across France. There are plenty of vineyard tours for visitors to take part in, and the tours often end in a tasting session that is sure to quench any wine-lover’s thirst.

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Farmers Markets

The French farmers markets are the best places to get organic produce and beautifully manufactured specialty cheeses such as Brie and Camembert, cured meats and grains. Most French towns will host a market at least one day of the week, and often there will be markets across the whole weekend. The Marseilles fish market and the Provence olive market are particularly popular. Other delicacies available include foie gras and truffles.

Gourmet Food

The typical French restaurant menu will offer 3 course meals and a cheeseboard. Popular starters include French onion soup or garlic bread. Main meals range from moules frites, Boeuf Bourguignon and Coq au Vin, and desserts are delicious including specialties such as crème brûlée and tarte aux Pommes. All of course served with good quality local wine!

What about skiing?

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 22-02-2012

The economy might not be doing too well, and many of us are finding it necessary to tighten our belts at least a little whilst simultaneously trying to pay off our credit cards, so unfortunately some things just have to go. If you are accustomed to enjoying a winter break in the Alps skiing, then it might be the last thing on which you wish to scale back.  However you don’t need to travel overseas to enjoy skiing; there are plenty of excellent ski venues in the UK that will allow you to enjoy your sport at a fraction of the cost of skiing abroad, that is as long as we get the snow.

There are a number of slopes in Wales, the Lake District, Northumberland and County Durham, many of which are run by local ski clubs. When the conditions are right these slopes provide excellent skiing with runs of up to 800 meters.  Admittedly, rather than skiing amongst craggy peaks on runs that are several kilometres long, you will be skiing mostly on farmland whilst hoping to avoid the occasional encounter with a mountain sheep. Nevertheless, some of these slopes have permanent T-bar lifts, and there are even occasional ski lodges.

Naturally skiing in Scotland is more reliable and there are some excellent ski centres there. The five major ones are Cairngorm, the Lecht, Glenshee, the Nevis Range, and Glencoe. Many of these offer challenging sport in beautiful surroundings and with excellent facilities; during most winters the snow conditions are good but ideally you need to be flexible.

There is one Scottish ski resort where you can guarantee snow the year round and that is at SNOzone in Glasgow. Overnight, artificial snow (1,500 tonnes of it) is manufactured and shot onto indoor ski slopes using snow cannons. It is ideal if you are learning to ski, but even the more skilled skier can enjoy some fun sport there. If the real snow should fail at the natural resorts, then you can pop down to Glasgow and stay at one of the excellent Glasgow hotels whilst filling in the time skiing on some of the artificial variety.

If skiing in Great Britain really is not your thing and you still want to take a foreign skiing holiday, than an excellent way of saving some money is to look for some last minute offers. Travel agents and hoteliers, desperate to fill flights and empty hotel rooms, frequently offer huge discounts on the normal prices. Whatever the situation of the economy, you don’t need to skimp on your skiing.