Wine Quote of the Week

"Days of wine and roses laugh and run away,
Like a child at play"
Johnny Mercer

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kids Days Out

There is plenty to do here in the region for the smallies and we are well placed here to help you make the most of your stay with children on board.

Why not take the stress out of your day and book in for a kiddies tour?

Sample Itinerary

Pick up from your accommodation.

Pic nic breakfast on the beach.

Morning horseriding through the sand dunes

Barbeque lunch by the lake side

Afternoon paddle boating on the lake

Drop off at your accommodation for un grand do-do Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

With small kids ourselves, we know the best parks in the region , the nicest lakes, the English speaking cinemas, the best walks and all the child friendly activities in the region.

Contact us to make your trip to the Pyrenees Orientales a memorable one for all the family.
Tel : 0033 607421668

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cheap Summer Flights to France

We are so excited - our holidays are booked to go to Ireland for three weeks in the summer - from 1 August to 22 August, we will be swanning around Ireland visiting all our friends and relatives, yipppeeee!

Total cost of our flights for four adults was 280euros return and this is in high season! There's no excuse for not grabbing a little bit of sunshine and getting your asses down to the Sunny South of France! With Ryanair practically giving the flights away , you can have a credit crunch holiday that won't break the bank.

On another note, we are looking for a house swap in Ireland ( to make your holiday even cheaper!!) So, if you own a house in the West Cork area and would like to do a house/car swap for the first three weeks in August, please feel free to call or email me . Details on my website :

Monday, April 27, 2009

10 Good reasons to visit Perpignan in May

1. Take part in a wine tour and go behind the scenes to meet the winemakers and vineyard owners. A suberbe day out :

2. On the 16th May, la "nuit des musées" is on all over France and the museums open up their doors for free. With a wealth of interesting museums here to visit; the museum of natural history, the doll museum, the aviation museum, the Algerian French museum, there is something for everyone

3. If you' re feeling sporty, the 4th annual marathon of Perpignan takes place on the 31 May with the option to do the full distance or shorter courses of 10 and 20 kms

4. Live Music - come and see Ousa Nouvasa , an original band from Ile de la Réunion playing at 21h at Elmediator in Perpignan.

5. Tailor make a tour to suit your group - we can organise sailing tours, walking tours, adventure tours, gourmet tours; we have the contacts and we speak the lingo - contact us to organise a great day out for you.

6. The Flamenco Festival takes place in Banyuls Sur Mer from 21 to 24 May ~ featuring some hot international acts, the town gets ready to rumba!

7. May is a great month to get bargains on your accommodation here - with the mercury starting the rise, uncrowded beaches and the countryside to yourself , it's a great time to visit - check out for special offers

8. Visit UBU La Suite , the funkiest bar in Perpignan, run by Irish girl, Elaine Carruthers. With live music regularly and a very laid back atmosphere, you are gauranteed a warm welcome. She also has the most amazing designer clothes shop alongside her cool bar.
UBU La Suite, Place Rigaud, Perpignan

9. For cheese lovers - the cheese festival in Thuir kicks off at 9am on Sunday 3 May in Place de La Republique . An opportunity to meet the cheesemakers from the region and to taste their yummy produce

10. Motorcycle tour - contact us about our new motor bike tours. Day or week long excursions through the Pyrenees.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Vintage Car Rally Perpignan

A Car Lovers Delight
Last Saturday , Perpignan hosted it's 29th annual Car Vintage Rally ( La Nuit des Longs Capots) The French Tour Co went along to see what all the fuss was about and even for us girlie girls, the cars were seriously impressive and the atmosphere one of excitement and anticipation.

The rally brings 70 different types of cars manufactured since the 1950s. Organised by the grand prix association 66, it gives vintage car owners the chance to peacock their prized possessions in a very convivial atmosphere.

The departure point was at 10h30 from in front of the Palais de Congres ( where the main tourist office in Perpignan is located) and from there they are given their map and off they roar. The 2009 route brought them from Perpignan to the fortified town of VilleFranche sur Conflent , then back to Mas Vermeil in Perpignan and around again to Ille sur Tet.

Sundays route was from Perpignan to Chateau de Corneilla and back.

Anyone interested in partaking next year 2010, should contact the organiser :

Another great reason to visit the FAB PO!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Discover fine wines with The French Tour Co

Tomas Clancy from the Sunday Tribune had nothing but praise for the selection of wines we showcased in Ireland at a wine fair before Christmas :
Here's the article from the Sunday Tribune
The enduring wines of France
By Tomás Clancy

French winemakers have an knack of weathering economic storms.They have bounced back from the Black Death, the South Sea Bubble, the Hundred Years War, the French Revolution, the Great Depression and Nazi occupation.
So, as the world economy again comes tumbling down, the French are first out of the traps in refocusing their efforts in producing good wines of exceptional value.
However, at a gathering of French winemakers at Sopexa’s autumn French Wine Fair in Dublin earlier this month, it was two sisters from Limerick who stole the show when they unveiled a number of intriguing wines and business ideas.
Karen and Suzanne O’Reilly are at the centre of a ex-pat web of Irish businesses in the Languedoc, where they live with their partners and children.

In Languedoc-Roussillon, it’s sunny and warm all the time,” saysKaren. ‘‘We can be swimming in the Med in about 20minutes, or skiing in the Pyrenees in about an hour.”

Suzanne settled in France in 2000, after a rollerblading accident left her unable to continue with her job as an air hostess for the Amir of Qatar. She considered a change of career and, with property sales booming, joined a French estate agency.

In 2002, she formed the property business with her accountant sister Karen, and they began selling and renting property in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

Like generations of Irish merchant adventurers before them, it wasn’t long before working with the vine captured their imagination.‘‘Wine became a passion and we decided to turn it into a business,” says Karen.

The sisters set up the French Tour Company,, running English-speaking wine tours around Perpignan, Languedoc and Roussillon.

The company runs daylong Red Berry Tours, which cost from €80 to €100 per person, and three-day tours, which cost €250 per person and include three nights’ accommodation, chauffeur transfers, tours and vineyard visits.

The Why French Women Don’t Get Fat Tour (€95 per person) includes walking, calorie-sensitive fine dining and a spa day.

Whereas its Art Tour (€90) involves museum visits and an art class.

In conjunction with their tour business, the sisters are beginning to import wine to Ireland from their favourite wineries.

Their exhibit at the Sopexa wine fair focused on little-known wines of good value.

The pick of the bunch was the Domaine Treloar, Three Peaks Cotes du Roussillon 2006 (91) which is an astoundingly intense and savoury grenache, syrah and mourvedre blend that would shame many a Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

If it were on sale here it would be priced under €20.

Let’s hope the O’Reilly sisters find a distributor for it in Ireland.

Elsewhere, the wines shown at the Sopexa fair were mainly the fruit of wineries which endeavour to run green, sustainable and organic businesses and - in the case of Domaine Treloar, Lutte Raisonnée - struggle to work in harmony with the soil and with nature.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Norwegians in Perpignan

Vin reise inne perpignan

I seem to be getting lots of enquiries from Norway where "La Crise" seems to have by passed the country - they are travelling South in droves because of the cheap flights into Girona and Barcelona and the promise of good weather, fine wines and value for money dining out experiences is a huge draw for them.

So, it was no surprise that my group of 7 Norwegians staying in Fitou, were very " satisfied and contented" with their Red Beret Wine Tour on Monday last.
They were just blown away by the excellent value for money in the wineries where one can buy a hand crafted, lovingly made wine for around the €5 mark.

Their only complaint was that they were limited to bringing 5 bottles of wine back to their home country as is the law in Norway.

We visited three fabulous and different vineyards and indulged in a gourmet lunch with the winemaker as company ..

Starters was a Mediterranean tomato tarte with olive jam
Mains ; a tasty Moroccan chicken dish , served with roasted vegetables and minty couscous
Dessert ; a scrummy home made cake with fresh fruit and lashings of real cream

One word : decadent ! And all this was washed down with the appropriate wines as suggested by the vineyard owner himself. One other word : divine!

It's no wonder they are loathe to head back North!
Lykke og trygt reise ( Safe journey, in Norwegian, I think!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Press for the French Tour Co

Article in La Connexion Newspaper 2008

Two sisters start two businesses

Sisters Suzanne and Karen O'Reilly have set up two businesses together in France.
Former French teacher and air hostess Suzanne, 35, got the idea for a property business six years ago. The pair branched out this year to start a second business doing regional tours.

How long have you been in business?
I started in the property business in 2000 when I worked with a real estate agency in Perpignan, learning the ropes for two years. In 2002, I set up business with my sister Karen offering a property-finding service to English speakers. This year we have diversified and our new sister company provides tours and transfers in the Perpignan area.

Why did you choose to do it?
In 2000, I was happily employed by the Amir of Qatar and flying first class on his private jets around the world as one of his flight attendants. While rollerblading on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice one day, I fell and broke my wrist and so had to find another job as I was unable to fly. While recuperating in France, I spotted a niche in the market to help English-speakers purchase property - at the time, there was nobody else doing this in the Perpignan area and the business took off.
For the tours, we had a huge clientelle in the area and they were always asking us about discovering the region. We just recognised another area of business that complimented our own. We were kind of doing that job for free for a lot of people. We can show people places they wouldn’t get to see - little places and views. A lot of people who take the tours fall in love with the area and think about living here so then we can find property for them.

What type of business are you and how much did it cost to set up?
For the property business we were both set up as agent commercial indépendant. The costs were minimal - about €150 to register with the chamber of commerce. The French Tour Co is a registered SARL - my sister and business partner is an accountant so we did not have to employ a professional to help us set it up.

What was your expected income?
The French Tour Co is a completely new business so we have no idea what our turnover will be. We've bought a minibus and have other vehicles on our fleet, including a convertible - this year we will be happy to break even. What were the hurdles? The social charges were a huge shock to us, it's only really in year three they begin to kick in, in earnest.

What would you have done differently?
We were overly enthusiastic at the beginning and probably didn't do enough research into the whole social charges/taxation system. I would recommend to everyone if they are getting into business to hire a good local accountant and get sound financial advice before launching into the unknown.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Excursions in Perpignan

Phew! We've been busy over the last few weeks! With a combination of holiday and some rainy weather, visitors have been looking us up to take part in excursions around the Pyrenees Orientales) and we've been going non stop. Great complaint!

We've had family groups who we took canyoning - we are going to add adventure tours to our repetoire of tours - this will include canyoning, tubbing, white water rafting and abseiling in the picturesque Pyrenees. Not for the faint hearted! This new tour will include a french pic nic with wine on site and lots of fun surprises.

We're also going to be adding motorbike tours to our itinerary and we are very excited about this. These tours can be a day long, 2 days long or a combination week longs touring. You can opt for pillion passenger or bikes will be provided.

The wine tours still continue to be our most popular tour - can't think of anything better to do on a rainy day in the worlds largest vineyard!!
For more details, please feel free to contact us at
Tel : 0033 607421668

Monday, April 6, 2009

Perpignan : Stag Destination

Friday morning, I went to my hotel in Perpignan to collect my group of 10 lads on tour - with Ed, the groom to be dressed up as Frodo from Lord of the Rings, I knew we were in for an interesting weekend!

Day one, Friday , we headed off bright and early for our Red Beret Wine Tour and visited three very different vineyards.
The boys had a great laugh and even learnt some interesting wine facts from our genial hosts along the way.
We finished up our day at a gorgeous chateau, overlooking the med, where the gorgeous female owner treated the boys to some tasty apperitifs overlooking the vines.
Back, we trekked to Perpignan where the boys tasted the nightlife , hopping from bar to bar and limped home in the wee hours...

Day two, we took the London boys on an adventure tour where they tried out tubbing, canyoning and rapid water canoe-ing. They soon got over their hangovers as they were dunked in the freezing waters!
We were very well looked after by French hosts , Victor and Pierre and will be adding this tour to our itineraries for sure..
Another night on the town for the lads on Saturday night as they partied the night away...

Sunday was an absolutely glorious day and the band of party animals took themselves off to the beach where they soaked up the rays and tried some of the trendy bars in Canet , just a short hop from their base in Perpignan.

Best of luck Ed ( Frodo) on your upcoming nuptials from the French Tour Co team xxxx

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Dena and the Dynamos from Clonakilty

Well, never has work been as much fun as it has in the last few days!! A wine club from Clonakilty, Ireland visited us for three fun filled days of wining, dining and some serious good craic!
We started off their trip on Monday with a trip to a relaxing local spa - the girls revelled in the hot springs, soaking up the rays with the snow capped mountains as a backdrop. From there, we cruised down to Port Vendres on the coast and had a wonderful lunch on the marina. Talk about value for money!
The three course lunch for 15 euros comprised of :

Entrée choice :

6 oysters
Lobster bisque
Salad of hot goats cheese

Mains choice :

Confit de canard
Filets or merlan ( white fish)

For dessert , the chef proposed aubergine crumble which, I know, sounds a bit funny, but was abs delicious. Afterwards, we learned that he had soaked the aubergines in wine and sugar, Yum! All of this was , of course, washed down with some very nice cotes de roussillon wines and mopped up with crusty bread.

Collioure was our next stop, where we meandered through the cobblestoned streets and pottered around in some of the lovely galleries and quirky shops.

Dinner in a local restaurant in Perpignan finished off the day nicely.

Tuesday, we awoke to a very Irish day with grey skies and rain - a perfect day for a wine tour! We visited three very different vineyards and the group of 8 wine buffs were very impressed with the quality and divesity of the wines on offer.
We had a delicious lunch in one of the vineyards and our wines were chosen by our very own sommellier - the wine maker and vineyard owner himself!

We dined in another local favourite restaurant in Perpignan where the meat was cooked on an open barbeque. The restaurant is situated in the old quarter of Perpignan and I left the gang to party on after the meal!

Wednesday , we took the scenic route back to Barcelona for their outgoing flight - we coasted down the Cote Vermeille, scaled the Pyrenees into Spain, where we had an amazing lunch in Port Bou right on the sea front. Replete and happy, we sang our way over to Figeuras to visit the Dali museum and indulge in a bit of retail therapy ..

Reluctantly, I said good bye to a fantastic group - the best group I've ever had - Declan, Ada, Dena, Mary, Pat, Jean, Bernie and Margaret - thank you for being a fantastic group - hope to see you here again soon.
A bientôt!