Parc-en-ciel is a large wooded park in Lot et Garonne with the main attraction being the tree top adventure - similar to Go Ape, but with the advantage of there being different grades for the trails, so everyone in the family can take part, from the youngest on a very simple and low course, through to teenagers/adults on the much more challenging course. One of the highlights is the superb and very long zip wire finish, which takes you from the tree tops right down over the park to the finish. Good clear instructions are given (in English) on the use of the safety rope system, and there are guides positioned around the course to help out. Reservations are recommended in peak times. You can easily spend a day here as there is also mini and disk golf and laser ball on site. Highly recommended for an active and fun day out in beautiful surroundings.
This brewpub/ bierstub serves food from 11am to half past midnight. Alsatian standards such as Bibeleskase (potatoes sauted with bacon, served with soft cheese), choucroute and Flammekueche, in massive portions and at very reasonable prices, to be washed down with one of the four house beers (the standard northern French quartet of blonde, ambree, brune and blanche). WARNING! Do not on any account order two choucroutes AND a starter unless you (a) are really hungry and (b) have at least five hours to eat it in. Au Brasseur is always busy in the evening, particularly Friday and Saturday when there's free music downstairs. In a rainy, overcast Strasbourg this became our regular place to warm up and relax.
22 Rue des Veaux, 67000 Strasbourg, France
+33(0)3 88 36 12 13
Google map: bit.ly/eh9YXc
After the obligatory visit to Disneyland Paris, the kids, four and six years old, were even more excited to visit Sleeping Beauty's real castle. This beautiful castle inspired the story of Sleeping Beauty, and you can imagine how the dark forest behind it might suddenly engulf it. There are a series of rooms displaying various scenes from the story, using mannequins dressed in beautiful historical costumes. A gruesome collection of arms also adds to the experience.
Villa Spicy is located few steps from the Champs Elysees. We stopped there after a long afternoon walk on the Champs Elysees and it looked nice.
We really enjoyed the atmosphere and our meal. Very fresh food with good seasonings.
I've had a lot of meals in Paris, some good and some mediocre, and this place was one of my best in Paris.
They show a great attachment to quality, and was a good value for around 50 euros.
Pezenas is a historic village in the Languedoc famous for its antique and bric a brac dealers. On the first Sunday in May hundreds (lots anyway!) of "brocanteurs" take over the streets of Pezenas to display their wares. Great if you want to stock up for a new house or get into renovating beautiful old wooden furniture.
20 mins from Beziers airport, serviced by Ryanair from Bristol & Luton or 45 mins from Montpellier from Stansted, Gatwick and others.
www.pezenas-couvent.com as an accommodation option, others at the pezenas tourist office: www.ot-pezenas-valdherault.com/index.php?lang=en
Google map: bit.ly/epCnOS
La Zucca Magica is a little vegetarian haven on the French south coast in Nice, not a country noted for veggie restaurants! It’s a quirky place, every corner is filled with pumpkins, fairy lights and newspaper clippings of the larger than life chef - Marco. The restaurant is quite small and the tables are close together so it’s full of atmosphere and very sociable.
The restaurant only offers a set meal of five courses - you don’t see a menu, you just sit back and enjoy the ride! The selection changes daily as the chef creates inventive and tasty dishes from the fresh produce available with favorites including delicious soups, home made pasta and stuffed peppers, all full of flavour from the addition of local cheeses and fresh herbs.
The meal lasts all night, the service is good and many diners are greeted with a kiss by Marco. The meal isn’t cheap and booking is essential as its always full, but it’s a great choice for veggies and non-veggies alike, a real dining experience!
"La Zucca Magica" (The Magic Pumpkin)is a fabulous vegetarian restaurant in the South of France. Once you've got over the pumpkin themed decor, not really a design dream, you can settle down to an imaginative eating experience. There is no menu, you are served four or five courses of what is on offer that day. Marco, the chef, gets fresh ingredients daily from the local market so wonderful and varied vegetarian food with an Italian slant. The contents of each course delightfully explained by the waiter, in our case a mixture of French, Italian and English, his Welsh wasn't so good.
We went on my wife's birthday, towards the end of the meal the kitchen staff banged pans and sang happy birthday.
You need to book and this can be done easily via their website.
For a market with great food and a great atmosphere, try the one in La Rochelle, a beautifully maintained harbour town on the Atlantic coast in western France. We stumbled across it as we strolled through the deserted streets of the old town on a quiet sunny Sunday morning. As we moved further away from the harbour, we noticed the narrow streets becoming livelier, filling with people carrying bags of fruit and vegetables, bunches of colourful flowers and the obligatory baguette, its top - as so often is the case - missing, presumed eaten already. Housed in and around an ornate 19th century market hall surrounded by bustling restaurants and cafes, this market has it all. Amazing fresh and varied seafood (cooked and uncooked) laid out artistically on ice beds, meats, charcuterie, cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, cakes and pastries, chocolates and some of the nicest and most enticing traiteurs we've seen in France for a long while. Made ravenous by the smell of baking wafting about us, we set about buying up a picnic to eat at the harbour's edge, watching the yachts bobbing up and down in the gentle sway.The food was delicious. The memories linger on.
Every morning at the Place du Marche, La Rochelle. To stay, try Masqhotel (17 Rue de L'ouvrage à Cornes, 17000 La Rochelle; www.masqhotel.com), a conveniently situated modern hotel.
Google map: bit.ly/edRwUa
Parc Monceau in Paris is quieter and less touristy than the city’s main parks, and well worth a visit if you’re up for seeing a slice of real Parisian life.
As well as large green spaces, the park boasts attractive shady walkways plus a number of interesting features such as mock Roman ruins that wind tastefully around a small lake, several statues, and an 18th-century rotunda – which is also a handy public toilet.
Once inside the spectacular iron gates, you’ll see locals strolling along, walking their dogs, enjoying an ice-cream (on sale within the park) or draping themselves over the park’s extensive grassy lawns. There’s also a playground for children and plenty of room for a decent jog.
It really is a pleasant place to while away a couple of hours, especially in the summer – and the 17th arrondissement (immediately north of the park) is great for an idle wander too.
Location: 8th arrondissement
Metro: Monceau on Line 2 (the dark blue one) or Villiers on Line 3
Google maps: bit.ly/hptxgw
By pasting Ville de Paris into your browser then clicking the shopping basket icon top right, you will find listed almost one hundred, first-rate, Parisian neighbourhood food markets for your pure pleasure. Meanwhile, here’s my tip for a Sunday, ‘two for one’ epicurean, Parisian market outing.
My two favourites are conveniently close yet delightfully different in atmosphere:
1) Marché d’Aligre:
With its village atmosphere you might catch yourself fantasizing that you are in a vintage French film, rubbing shoulders with locals as they fill their shopping ‘caddies’ to the brim with every type of food from fish heads and tripes to organic bread and wild mushrooms. Specialist food shops surround the stalls here and cafes, with terraces for people watching, are plentiful.
Open 6 days, Tuesday to Sunday -7am until 1.30pm.
2) Less than a mile by foot from rue d’Aligre is Marché Bastille, (old name Marché Richard-Lenoir). Here you will find a vast, glorious feast as most traders offer morsels for tasting (dégustation) of every kind of food for free. As you munch your way through the happy throng you’ll find food for the soul and mind too as street performers and assorted, small, political manifestations (demos) are on hand to entertain and politically educate …. Bon appetite!
Open 2 days, Thursdays and Sundays, 7am til 3pm.
Pl d'Aligre, rue d'Aligre, 12th Arr.
Google map: bit.ly/fJwQDn
Bd. Richard Lenoir, 11th Arr.
Google map: bit.ly/hfvYIf
Full range of market stalls from butchers, cheese producers, foragers and farmers producing organic fruit and vegetables. The market in the old town isn't bad either. Great atmosphere from a market that goes back centuries.
Boulevard Nicollet and Boulevard Taine
Google map: bit.ly/eODuRv
The market building is a riot of colour and competing smells. Spices of brilliant hues vying with fresh vegetables from the surrounding small holdings. Cheeses of all shapes and sizes,un-named animal parts fashioned into sausages varying from cream to black. By 10.30 the stall-holders are relaxed and gossiping. Les menageres have gone home with their purchases and only the tourists remain. By 1 p.m. the building is swept clean and the Antibois sit in its shade drinking their pernod.
A tale of two French food markets, Les Halles in Avignon and le Marche Couvert in Colmar, which are very different, but both brilliant showcases for regional produce and less aimed at tourists than many others.
They are also my 'spring'(Avignon) and 'autumn'(Colmar) favourites. New season garlic, artichokes and other bounty from the south of France, with a Campari or Pastis while people watching in Avignon and with visiting chefs doing demonstrations every Sat 11am, plus a truffle festival mid-February to reward 'early birds'. Then the autumn treat of vin nouveau and flammekuche, plus all the ingredients you need for a hearty Choucroute Garnie from Colmar's smaller market.
I would recommend the train for a weekend trip to both -about 6hrs from London, though for Colmar you would need to rent a car in Strasbourg to get around the area. Of course it all depends on how carried away you get with the shopping. If you are seriously stocking up on for example wine, you'll need a car all the way!
Les Halles, Place Pie, Avignon open daily except Monday 6am-1.30pm
Google map: bit.ly/hKzrte
Le Marche Couvert de Colmar, Rue des Ecoles, 68000 Colmar. Open daily except Monday approx 8 am-5pm.
Google map: bit.ly/hCpHpU
This is a fast food joint located at the bottom of the slopes in Mottaret village, nearby to Meribel. A seasonnaire's best kept secret, the outlet provides delicious burgers that are the size of your head (perfect for nourishment after a morning on the slopes), all for around €5 which make them pretty much the cheapest thing you can buy in the Alps. Plus, they really are scrumptious.
30 seconds off the slopes, but past the slopeside restaurants at the bottom of the runs in Mottaret. The stall is opposite the newsagents and will be easily located if you lookout for young snowboarders with burgers that look too big for human consumption.
Google map: bit.ly/h708Tp
Homemade Tarte de Poreau (Vegetarian) provided a meal in itself for a hungry skier. Delicious. There was even a non-veggie version! Exceptional find for frustrated veggies in France!
Les Menuires - on the slopes from the top of La Masse 1 - Les 3V
73440 Les Menuires
Tel 04 79 00 74 04
Situated at 1650m the Snack Bar du Col de Voza has a spacious terrace which is bathed in sunshine from lunchtime until late into the afternoon. With panoramic views of the surrounding mountains it is the perfect place for a budget on-piste lunch. Although there is no table service, this popular snack bar has plenty of space and a varied, child-friendly and high quality lunchtime menu. Alternatively, miss the midday rush and make the most of ‘Happy Hour’ (from 3 to 5 in the winter season) and enjoy a late lunch with all drinks (including vin chaud) two for the price of one.
Large freshly prepared baguettes/burgers/hot dogs: from around 3 Euros
Pasta: 5 Euros
Good sized and great quality steak, frite and salad: 10 Euros
Reach it via the Prarion gondola.
Les Houches is in the Chamonix valley
The Sun Bar at the base of the Olympique cable car is easy to reach by foot, ski's or snowboard; so doesn’t rule anybody in your party. The best thing about this place is the selection of food and above all the price!
As any visitor to Val d'isere will know, a normal day out there can be quite costly, with a bottle of water regularly reaching 4 Euros. Add that to your food bill and you’re talking about an easily spent 30 to 40 Euros on lunch alone.
We found the Sun Bar on our first day in resort and then went every day for the rest of the holiday!
The food options include some classic French meals like soups and stews, then there are sandwiches and French fries. The salads served here are really great and very fresh.
On average a main meal, a can of coke and a chocolate bar will cost 10 - 12 Euros. There are plenty of seats and tables so plonk yourselves down, and the view of le Face (a terrifying black run)and the nursery slopes offer you an excellent chance to people watch.
I would highly recommend a visit to the Sun bar when in Val!
Chef Lieu,73150 Val-d'Isère, France
+33(0)4 79 41 16 61
Google map: bit.ly/hWbBIf
I recommend Kalico's for a cheap lunch on the fly. Anyone who's been to Courchevel 1850 knows that it is not cheap with the oil rich Ruskies pushing up the prices over the past few years. However, if it is a nice day go to Kalico's and you can grab a nice baguette loaded with steak hache, chips and some salad for €7.
For slopeside budget eats:
It's more about what you choose - not where to go. Head into the main town of your resort for sandwich bars/savory crepes to eat on the street (around €3-5 each but bagettes are generally big so you could share). You can also go to the supermarket to make your own. If you want to eat on the mountain, opt for soup which is cheap (around €5.50), and will fill you up as you get bread too. Choose table water and a caraffe of wine if you really want to drink. Share dishes, a pizza for €17 is a lot, but between two, you'll be full for €8.50 each. Same goes for local dishes, like tartiflette in France, or the plat du jour, which will always be cheaper than regular main courses, if halved they're much more reasonable. Also, take snacks to keep you going mid morning/afternoon and easily fit into a jacket pocket.
Having said all that, if it's snowing a blizzard and -18, it's worth €3 on a hot chocolate to get the feeling back in your fingers.
Any ski resort in France will have these options
When you've had fill of "historic" Loire Valley chateau then head to Oiron (near Saumur) for a feast of modern art installations and cabinets of curiosities in a fantastic setting. Each of the rooms in this C16th/17th chateau has been given over to an artist - some well known (Hamilton Finlay, Tinguely, Messager) and others less so. Every time I've been there I've had it to myself, and enjoyed the carefully placed squashy chairs and great atmosphere inside and out as well as the art works.
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