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Archive for the ‘Competition’ Category

Make the journey part of your ski holiday

February 16, 2012 1:41 pm
posted by Sarah

This week’s guest blog is courtesy of seasoned snowboarder and travel writer Daniel Elkan, who has worked as a rep and led holidays for Ski Club of Great Britain in Saas Fee, Cortina, Andorra and Davos. Daniel has also written ski features for The Guardian, Observer, Daily Mail, Sunday Times, Ski+Board, Daily Mail Ski&Snowboard and Conde Nast Traveller.

In 2009 Daniel co-founded Snowcarbon, an independent website dedicated to helping skiers and snowboarders reach ski resorts by train from the UK. And he’s visited more than 30 ski resorts by train! Here are his tips on the best French resorts to reach by train, and why you should shun the long airport queues and tedious transfers for a speedy snow train: 

‘When you first started skiing, what struck you about the French Alps?  One thing was surely how beautiful and striking the mountains are. But were you also surprised about how long it takes to reach them?

‘Door-to-door, whether you fly, drive or take the train, it always takes a while to get to the snow.

‘It was the airport queues and transfers that first prompted me to look for alternatives to flying, and along with friends I started going to resorts by train, to try to make the journey part of the holiday. We were surprised to find that daytime journeys take little longer than flying – and are so much more enjoyable.

‘In 12 years of travelling this way, we’ve had loads of fun on the train, seen great scenery, met people, bantered, played games, read, and just relaxed.  And we sometimes travel to resorts overnight on Corail sleeper trains to get extra time on the slopes.

‘Though the journeys were great, finding the travel information was always difficult – you had to look here, there and everywhere. So a couple of years back, I set up Snowcarbon to help other skiers and snowboarders find out how to travel to ski resorts by train.

Pierre & Vacances have always shown their support for rail travel to ski resorts, and it is great that so many of the resorts they feature are convenient by train.  Here are ten of the best:

Avoriaz

The resort’s car-free, ski-in-ski-out village, at the heart of the 650-km Portes du Soleil, makes a great base for families skiing and intermediates.

 Chamonix

This classic resort has always been a magnet for experiences skiers, drawn to its wondrous off-piste terrain, including the incredible Vallee Blanche, as well as a lively, authentic town.

La Clusaz

An absolute charmer of a village set amongst the stunning Aravis mountain range, with great intermediate terrain and impressive off piste, yet relatively unknown to the British. A discovery!

Les Arc

Copyright Manu Reyboz

Les Arcs’ traffic-free villages give access to the epic Paradiski area – a huge playground for intermediates with plenty of challenge and good beginner areas too.

Les Menuires

Les Menuires makes a great base for the Three Valleys, located right at the heart of this huge area. A good-value resort - ideal for families -  with great skiing.

Megève

Megeve’s traditional village is proper winter-wonderland stuff and the relatively quiet slopes – part of the 400km Evasion Mont Blanc ski area – are home to some of France’s best mountain restaurants.

Meribel

A favourite with the Brits for generations, as it has so much to offer.  A buzzing village with lots of wooden chalets,  set at the heart of the 600km Three Valleys.

Serre Chevalier

Four villages all give access to a wonderful wooded ski area in the Southern Alps. The French love it – it suits families especially – and the British are just getting to know it.

Tignes

Very snowsure and a big favourite with intermediates, as the resort has 300km of pisted terrain, graduating from gentle blues through rolling reds to challenging blacks.

Val Thorens

With a village at 2300 metres, Three Valleys’ Val Thorens is the Alp’s highest ski resorts, with snow-sure skiing, good family facilities and the Folie Douce for après on the slopes.

‘And here are some photos from my train journeys.  Happy travels!’

Snapping scenery from Eurostar Cafe bar, on way to Les Menuires

TGV cafe bar on the way to Megeve

This kid was having a great time on a journey to La Clusaz

Lunch at Gare de Lyon, Paris

A little read before bedtime, on the way to Avoriaz

Corail Lunea sleeper train in the morning

The cheese shop opposite Bourg St Maurice station, near Les Arcs. Whiffy!

Happy family on the train to Chamonix

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Pierre & Vacances at the France Show 2012

January 20, 2012 1:40 pm
posted by Sarah

The France Show 2012! An eclectic mix of everything that makes France fantastique – travel, food, wine tasting, cooking demonstrations by talented French chefs, talks on France by well known writers and presenters, and cancan dancers!

The Pierre & Vacances stand at The France Show with the lovely Camilla

We had a very busy show, and met lots of lovely loyal Pierre & Vacances customers and new ones too. And there was of course the Pierre & Vacances petanque pitch, manned by our petanque expert Bruce, ready and waiting for intrepid fans to come and show us what their boules were made of!

Bruce and some budding petanque players

The pitch proved to be hugely popular, with Bruce kept busy playing, demonstrating and guiding the petanque players of the future who stopped by. And for those wanting to take the weight off their feet and have a rest, Jeremy was on hand to whip up a tipple of Marseille aperitif Ricard.

Jeremy shows us how to serve the delicious French tipple of Ricard

On Sunday we held a petanque pairs competition, featuring 18 teams from across the UK who battled it out for the first prize of a holiday to France with Pierre & Vacances and DFDS Ferries. The quality of the competition was fantastic and only a few players were distracted by the Ricard tasting available next to the terrain!

Lots of action on the petanque pitch

And the proud petanque winners were husband and wife team Lee and Angie Jamieson! With runners up Nick Goodheart and Mal Hanley from Harrow winning a limited edition Pierre & Vacances petanque set. All together now: oooh!

Limited edition petanque set!

Below are some more pictures from our The France Show weekend, hopefully tempting those who couldn’t make this year to put it in their diary for 2013!

Mr French Amabassador, with this France Show you are really spoiling us!

 

Cooking demonstrations

 

Delicious French food!

 

More delicious French food

 

Even more delicious French food!

 

Wine tasting

 

And Cancan dancers!

See you next year!

 

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Our Petanque Piste at the Ski & Snowboard Show 2011

After 227 games over five days, with more than 2,000 boules thrown each day, the winner of the Ski & Snowboard Show Pentanque competition is…. Jason Khan!

Jason beat Bruce, our ski instructor and Petanque expert, by 7-1 – not an easy feat we can promise you! Jason wins a ski holiday to France with Pierre & Vacances and SeaFrance.

A limited edition Petanque set for each of our runners up!

The equally excellent runners up were Mickael Weiss, Robbie ONeill, Joe Stamutol and Chris Ody, and they will each receive a limited edition Pierre & Vacances Petanque set.

Runner up Joe Stamutol points to his place on the leaderboard

A big thank you to every one who came along and played, we had a really tight competition! And a massive merci to the fantastique Bruce who played all of the 227 games and was very tired by the end of the show!

Our Petanque expert Bruce playing against an eager contestant

If you fancy playing a spot of Petanque yourself, you can play individually or versus your friends with our online Petanque3D game, where there is also a chance to win a holiday!

But if you think you can do as well as Jason, we’ll next be pitching our boules down the Petanque Piste at the France Show – 13 – 15th January.

 

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Five Great Cycle Routes for Families in France

June 30, 2011 1:10 pm
posted by Rebecca

With the Tour de France upon us – Saturday 2nd to Sunday 24th July – we thought we’d pay homage to the French love affair with pedal power.

Of course, you don’t need to be Lance Armstrong to enjoy France by bike… There are miles of meandering lanes, canal-side towpaths and beautiful stretches of coastal paths perfectly marked out for le vélo.

And there’s nowhere quite like France for a self-catering cycling holiday!  You’ll see more of the sights, meet the locals and have the opportunity to engage with the places you pass through.  Not to mention a rental apartment will give you the chance to sample local food, and the odd glass of wine…

It’s also a great way to enjoy a healthy and active holiday option – think of it as the summer equivalent to skiing!

The Voies Vertes, or Greenways, are an extensive network of dedicated cycle routes across France linking up nearly 2,600km of safe, marked paths.  So whether you want to embark on a week-long tour or an afternoon in the saddle, there are plenty of routes to choose from. Here are some of our top suggestions of the best places to get peddling.

The Loire à vélo, The Loire For châteaux fans

The Loire River

The Loire à vélo is an ambitious project linking two regions, six départements and six major urban areas over an 800km trail between Cuffy and Saint-Brévin on the Atlantic coast, two thirds of which run alongside the River Loire with its fabulous châteaux.

There are specific segments of the route between Muides sur Loire and Ancenis recommended for families, with a number of short distance options to choose from.

And to rest those tired legs between trips Pierre & Vacances have a range of self catering apartments in the Loire Valley.

Avenue Verte Dieppe-Forges, NormandyFor budding athletes

Normandy Countryside

Destined ultimately to link London with Paris in time for the 2012 Olympics, this 45km route runs from Dieppe on the Normandy coast to the spa town of Forges-les-Eaux along the former Dieppe to Paris railway line.

For now you’ll have to make do with some picture-perfect Normandy countryside with lots of apples and cider to help you on your way. And to kick-back and enjoy the views during your stay, Pierre & Vacances have a range of family apartment rentals in Normandy.

La Baie de Somme à Vélo, PicardyFor beach fans and bird watchers

Picardy Pastures

Le Baie de Somme is made up of seven trails, many kilometres of which run alongside the seashore, weaving through dunes, mudflats and reed beds full of migratory birds. The Baie de Somme railway carries cycles free of charge, so you can hop on and off and tackle as much or as little of the trails as you wish.  And to enjoy hopping around Picardy, Pierre & Vacances has a range of self-catering accommodation to rest those weary wheels.

Le-tour-de-Bourgogne-a-vélo, BurgundyFor vineyard fans

Burgundy countryside

The cycling tour of Burgundy, much like the Loire and Somme equivalents, is made up of five individual trails showcasing the region’s main attractions and eventually destined to cover 800km.

The route is made up of towpaths, paths through vineyards, disused railway lines and country lanes.  The Santenay-Nolay track, the ‘Voie des Vignes’, is particularly recommended for easy family cycling. And to make the most of your stay Pierre & Vacances has a range of holiday accommodation in Burgundy as a great base to explore the region.

Piste du canal de L’Ourcq, Paris For city slickers

Cycling along the canal de L’Ourcq

This cycle path alongside the canal offers a flat and picturesque option, great for a day out from Paris.  The route takes you from the Parc de la Villette in north-eastern Paris out into the countryside to Claye-Souilly, 27km from the city.  Ultimately this route is intended to link Paris with Moscow!

For a shorter route families can choose a pit-stop at La Poudrerie Forest Park at Servan, 14km along the canal. And to make the most of your stay in the area, Pierre & Vacances has a wide range of holiday apartments to rent in Paris with both scenic and central locations.

And for those after some serious cycling…

Here are two long-distance options for those seeking a serious cycling challenge!

Voie Verte Trans-Ardennes

Voie Verte Trans

This greenway is graded as an easy route, running 85 km in total between Charleville-Mezieres and Givet near the Belgian border.  The train which runs through the valley is a great back up option for tired legs. And as for accommodation along the route, Pierre & Vacances has a wide range of family self-catering rentals in Ardennes.

Canal du Midi, Languedoc-Roussillion/ Midi-Pyrenees

The Canal du Midi is a UNESCO World Heritage site, bordered almost all of the way by striking plane trees.  The route takes you through the heart of the beautiful South West countryside with ample opportunity to sample local wines and visit ancient towns and monuments.

Canal du Midi

The full route (240km) will take you from Toulouse along the canal to the little port of Marseillan on the Mediterranean, but can be broken down into stages for easily manageable chunks!

The other option is to head North West from Toulouse towards Bordeaux and the Atlantic Ocean along the Canal de Garonne, the full canal route originally designed to link the two coasts. For those wanting to make the most of a cycling holiday in the sublime region, Pierre & Vacances has a selection of self catering accommodation in the South of France .

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Skiing in the French Alps: our winner’s video!

May 19, 2011 4:11 pm
posted by Rebecca

At the end of March Richard Wilkinson won a skiing holiday to the fantastic French Alps destination of  Avoriaz, courtesy of Pierre & VaccancesP&O Ferries and Avoriaz.

He took wife Wendy and daughter Millie on an adventure packed week in April with plenty of snow, skiing and sun!

Check out the fantastic video of their week away skiing in the Portes du Soleil:

 

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