Wine Quote of the Week
"Days of wine and roses laugh and run away,
Like a child at play"
Like a child at play"
Thursday, May 28, 2009
We are coming into our busy airport transfer period now as people look to get from the airports and train stations to their campsites and accommodation. With approx over 4 million people visiting the Pyrenees Orientales over the next couple of months, we expect to be busy busy busy ...
Our air conditioned mini bus can take 8 people and we also can provide car seats for children and our drivers are all English speaking (ie my sister Suzanne or moi!).
As we have been living here for over 8 years, it's a great opportunity to pick our brains and to find out what to see and do locally and to get the on the ground knowledge.
We meet our clients at the airport or trains station and deliver them safely to their destination in the department, taking the stress element out of their arrival into a new country.
Our rates are very competitive, we will match any other company for price.
Service with a smile.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
It's been a while since I've done a Five Star Wine tour and as dining in a Michelin Star restaurant is on the itinerary, I had to check to see what restaurants in the Pyrenees Orientales were awarded this coveted prize in 2009.
After a little bit of research, I discovered there are 5 Michelin star restaurants in our area :
Pascal Borrell in Maury
La Galinette in Perpignan
Parc Hôtel in Perpignan
L’Ile de la Lagune - Saint Cyprien
Le Relais des Trois Mas - Collioure
Collioure and Saint Cyprien both have very pleasant views and are by the coast so it will be a toss up between these two for our tour of 8 yanks visiting from NY City.
So! What makes a Michelin Restaurant so special? According to the guidelines in the Michelin guide it's a combination of :
The quality of the products
The mastery of flavor and cooking
The "personality" of the cuisine
The value for the money
The consistency between visits
Michelin stars are awarded to restaurants offering the finest cooking, regardless of cuisine style. Stars represent only what is on the plate. They do not take into consideration interior decoration, service quality or table settings.
Yum, getting hungry and it's only 10am ! Will report back anon ...
Monday, May 25, 2009
And that's just what they'll do
And one of these days
These boots will climb the Canigou!
After living here for over 7 years and admiring the pic de Canigou every day, I am finally going to climb to the summit with a group of friends on 3rd July of this year.
The Canigou, one of the highest peaks in the Pyrenees, is a sacred place, revered by the locals and can be seen as far as Marseilles and all the way down past Barcelona in Spain.
The Canigou stands at an impressive 2,784 metres. Carrauntoohil, Irelands highest peak is at 1014 metres and Scaffel Pike is only a mere 978 metres , to put it into perspective.
So, I've taken the first step (pardon the pun) and I've bought a proper pair of hiking boots. I've got 5 weeks to prepare for the hike , and weather permitting, we will be planting our Irish flag at the summit of Canigou on 3rd July!
Also, this week, along with a qualified and highly experienced local guide, we are introducing walking tours into our portfolio of tailor made tours that we offer. The area is perfect for walking enthusiasts, with the rolling Roussillon plains, the challenging mountains and the stunning scenery on the Cote Vermeille.
Check out our tours on www.thefrenchtourco.com for the inside track
Friday, May 22, 2009
While the stylish Festival of Cannes takes place just down the road from us on the Cote D'Azur, we have been rolling out the red carpet for a few classy chicks for a sophisticated hen party in Perpignan.
The English bride to be is a mature lady, marrying for the first time and while she wanted to celebrate "l'enterrement de vie de jeune fille"( catchy, eh?), she really didn't want the usual fake boobs and willies in a nightclub scene.
The 8 ladies , ranging from 30 to 55 were here for 3 days and we really celebrated in style.
We started off their trip with a visit to a local spa where they totally unwound, relaxed and pampered themselves - they loved it so much that they decided to start every day with the same treatment!!! This superbe spa is on the outskirts of Perpignan and with blue skies and views of the snow capped mountains and it's no children policy, the ladies were in heaven!
We also enjoyed a Red Beret Wine Tour, ate in suberbe restaurants with sea views, did some rambling on the Cote Vermeille, visited an oyster farm and tasted the goodies and soaked up the atmosphere in wonderful Collioure.
The only prob now is that the bride to be wants to change her wedding and get married here !!! Think there could be a new business in that : wedding planner!!
Best of luck with the upcoming nuptials from all the team at The French Tour co xxx
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
What a wonderful time of the year it is here in the Roussillon - the countryside is blooming , the temps have not yet reached feverish proportions, the beaches are uncrowded and the traffic flows freely.
We've had a good few enquiries from clients who are interested in things to do for their kids while they holiday here, so much so , that we are going to put a "kiddies tour" on our website.
With two little rascals eager to test them out, we'll have fun doing the research!
Watch this space!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I've just spent a lovely week with a group from a small town called Crewe, East Chesire in England. The group , who were all in their mid to lates sixties, were here for a week and staying in Perpignan.
Their hotel, whilst in the city centre, is on the outskirts of the town , and they were a little bit stranded, so every morning, I would call and collect them to whisk them off for a guided tour.
It was quite a challenging program for me to organise, as a) they couldn't walk very far and b) they weren't interested in wine, walking, adventure tours, spas, mountains, art, shopping and all the usual tours I run.
So! with that in mind, on day one, we visited Carcassonne , a medieval fortified town, steeped in history , which is about an hours drive from here. They enjoyed the visit, and meandered around the cobblestoned pedestrian streets and found some nice little bars to hang out in.
Day two : we headed off to Villefranche sur Conflent, another fortified town and very interesting to visit. From there, I put them on the yellow train and collected them on the otherside for their journey back to Perpignan
Day three : We visited Banyuls sur Mer for the Sunday morning market, tasted some of the beers in the "tour de monde" bar which has 80 different beers for you to taste and had lunch beachside in Canet
Our next day, we took in an amazing coastal tour, starting at Cap Bear, through to Port Vendres, Collioure, St Cyprien and ending in the Casino in Barcares.
They have a free day today and then will be heading back to their home in Crewe after a very enjoyable and relaxing stress free stay in the Sunny South.
Contact us for a tailor made tour, whatever the age group, we will organise a tour for you to remember..
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Are cherries the sexiest fruit on the planet?
Our neighbours called in last night with a humongeous bag of red cherries which were devoured by my two little rascals in rapid quick fire time.
The generous neighbours picked their crop from their own garden and had too many for themselves ...
Cherry season has officially begun!
The cherries will be in all the shops soon and of course, the cherry festivals will commence ; the biggest one is on in Ceret 'La Fête de La Cerise' on 23 and 24 May.
Don't just go on holiday , have an experience of a lifetime!
Contact us for the local inside track:
Monday, May 11, 2009
Summer has arrived and the countryside in the deep South of France has never looked so beautiful, with dancing red poppies lining the roads and the coutryside awash with glorious colourful flowers.
The mercury hit 28 degrees here last Wednesday ( no school for the little ones on Wednesdays) so we hit the beach. The closest beach to where we live is Canet , a perfect sandy safe beach for children. The kids had a ball, diving and splashing in the warm med ( 22 degrees already) and there was a carnaval atmosphere with all the children enjoying the first 'plouf' of the season.
For the older kids , the beach clubs are all opening soon. This is where it all happens in the summer time and they are the places to be seen. Some of them are already open like La Perla in Le Barcares, le Ludo Bulle and Les Voiles Blanches in Canet Plage. Others like L'Ovalie Beach in Toreilles, La Casta in St Cyp and Le Temple Beach in Saint Cyprien will be opening in the next few weeks.
Time to defuzz the legs and start doing those sit ups!!!!
The region has so much to offer in the way of diverse beaches, with the long sandy beaches of the North to the rocky inlets of the Cote Vermeille ~ there is something for everyone with safe kiddies beaches, good snorkelling and kayaking waters and stunning seaside walks.
Contact us for more details on our coastal tours:
Saturday, May 9, 2009
It's always nice to get positive feedback from our clients - it doesn't take long to drop someone an email or a card if you have been happy with the product. It's something I like to do myself when I feel someone provides a superior service .
Here's a few samples of the feedback we've received from our clients:
Well, Karen... you haven't seen the last of us by a long shot..... We all had a really great time and the service you and yours provided for us was first class.... we had a ball, really chilled out and didn't have to worry about a thing. All vineyard visits were wonderful and the lunch was a great treat, I must say we were all really impressed with the knowledge and passion for wine making .. I'll send you a bundle of photos as I get around to it, so here are some for starters..... I'll be in touch again but am up to my tonsils catching up with work.
Dena O'Donavan, O'Donovans hotel, Clonakilty
First of all, I must say we had a really pleasant stay in France and the wine tour was both entertaining and educating.
You seem to have created a good combination and we are very impressed! To give you some constructive feedback, I think we all enjoyed the first visit the most. It was very interesting to see the wineyards, how the wine is made and to taste the wine at different stages. We also had a great stay at Rachels wineyard. She was very kindly and enthusiastic about the wine telling, and she served a wonderful lunch.
Sveinar Urstad, Norway
Everything was perfect, thank you.
Thank you for all your help, we all had a great time. Indeed, some of the boys want to move out there.
James Thorpe and stag group, London
Just a quick email to say thanks for a great day on your wine tour on 1st July. Will be back next year - maybe on the Spa Tour and will definately recommend you to our friends. Again, many thanks.
Ber Geaney, Cork
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Many of our clients have asked us if they can holiday among the vines, so we've added an exciting new opportunity to compliment our wine tours in the South of France : a chance to holiday among the vines and help out with the harvest:
Location : Port Vendres Villa, near Collioure
This private and detached villa is surrounded by neighbouring vineyards and boasts an amazing sea view. The proprietor, as a special Harvest Time Offer will welcome you on your arrival with a Bumper Deluxe Local Wine and Cheese Hamper.
What is more, if you are interested in an authentic vineyard visit, the owner of this villa, who lives nearby, will arrange for you to spend a day grape picking with local knowledgeable viticulturists. You will spend the day with bilingual wine enthusiasts and have an ample lunch right in the vineyards with all the crew.
Don’t just go on holiday – Have the experience of a lifetime!
The house sleeps 6 people so at €840 for the week, this will cost only 140euros per person.
With the Mother in law, Sister in law and her two kids ( 6 and 9) visiting us for a couple of days, we wanted to have a family day out that invloved everyone and decided to test out a nearby adventure park.
I invited a few friends with children along and before I knew it, we were a group of 30! We took the scenic drive west of Perpignan with the snow capped Canigou in our sights the whole way and the roads lined with dancing red poppies. The day was glorious ; the temperatures in the early twenties with a pleasant breeze as we enjoyed a pic nic riverside. We managed to get our gas bbq into the back of the minibus so we sozzled sausages and hamburgers while the kids had a ball scampering about.
The adventure course is suitable for 3 year olds to 93 year olds and was fantastic fun - they have different levels of difficulty ; green for the babes, blue , red and black , just like the ski runs.
The "pistes" involved rope climbing, swinging from trees, flying along on zip wires over rivers and some daring maneoveres, some at over 30metres above us in the high tree tops. Not for the faint hearted!!
There is a fab pic nic area by the river in a most idyllic setting with the river babbling along and the birdlife singing. There is also a café where one can purchase snacks and coffees if one feels like just hanging out.
Everybody had the most enjoyable day out and we loved the day so much, that we have added adventure tours to our menu of tours and look forward to going back there asap! A perfect family day out or a bonding day for a business group.
After the very successful VIN ART day out at Domaine Treloar, where over 400euros was raised for Cancer Support France , we presented Penny Parkinson of Cancer Support France with her cheque.
In the photo is from left to right : Penny, Rachel from Domaine Treloar who hosted the event, moi who donated a wine tour for the raffle and artist Margaret Dibdin , who donated the wonderful painting.
Cancer Support France is a voluntary organisation which was set up to provide assistance and couselling for English speakers in France who need support, whether it be linguistic, emotional or practical.
For more details, check out their website here :