Posts Tagged ‘Brittany’
Everyone loves a bargain. No-one more so than the French, from whom shopping at markets is a way of life. What better way to while away a Saturday or Sunday morning than browsing around stalls laden with pans and pots and fishing rods or heaving with delicious cheeses, locally grown asparagus and fragrant flowers.
Wherever you’re heading in France, here’s a guide to some of the best brocante, braderie and marché au puces.
This small city at the tip of the thin Breton peninsula comes alive each Saturday morning (and Wednesdays in Port Haliguen to the east of Quiberon, during the summer months) with a lively produce market. Expect to find delicious regional foodstuffs as well as fresh fish. The perfect spot to shop for a picnic or gorge on freshly shucked oysters!
Accomodation: stay at the Residence Ker Avel
For one weekend a year Lille becomes the bargain hunting capital of Europe as the Braderie fair takes over town. Held each September, Braderie is renowned as one of the largest flea markets on the continent with over two million visitors flocking to steal a deal.
Over 200 km of pavements throughout old Lille are taken up with stalls selling paintings, antiques, ornaments, furniture and junk of every description over a full 48 hour period.
One particular highlight is the competition to see which restaurant can create the tallest pile of mussel shells from the signature dish of moules et frites.
If you can’t make the Braderie at Lille, Calais is an easy pit stop for day-trippers and ferry-philes, with two good produce and flower markets. The market at Place d’Armes takes place on Wednesday and Saturday mornings at the centre of the old town. Shop for flowers, flower bulbs and local food specialities including ostrich pâté, the savoury tart, flamiche, locally grown chicory, home-made honey, farm-produced jams, northern France’s famed fish soup, foie gras and speciality saucissons.
Another takes place at Place Crèvecoeur to the south of town on Thursday and Saturday mornings, great for fruit and vegetables.
Accommodation: Stay at the Village Belle Dune
Franche-Comté – Vieux Quartier, Belfort
The first Sunday of each month (except during January and February) sees the most famous flea market in the East of France set up shop with over 200 stalls in the old town.
Here you can snap up Alsatian bowls and milk pitchers, grey stoneware jugs, clocks from nearby Besançon, enamel plaques from Alsace, linens, books, toys, glassware, copperware and furniture.
Rhone Alps – Vieux Quartier, Annecy
The market in the old town at Annecy is renowned as much for its stunning setting on the edge of Lac d’Annecy, surrounded by mountains, as for its rustic regional wares. As you’d expect, there are Alpine goods a plenty including cow bells, skis and paintings of mountain scenes.
The market runs throughout the day on the last Saturday of each month.
Accommodation: Stay at the Aparthotel Annecy Centre
Villeurbanne, Lyon (also known as ‘Puces’)
This legendary flea market takes place in Villeurbanne, on the outskirts of Lyon, every Sunday morning, with dedicated bargain hunters arriving at the crack of dawn. There are more than 400 stalls of antiques, bric-a-brac, used goods and 18th and 19th century furniture. A smaller version also takes place at the same site on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Paris – Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt
Ask any Frenchman to name a Parisian flea market and St-Ouen or ‘Clignancourt’ will be top of the list, acknowledged as the largest antiques market in Europe and the oldest in Paris. There are more than 2,000 shops spread out over a nine mile radius selling cheap clothing, military surplus, shoes, sunglasses and leather goods.
The other main contender would be Porte de Vanves on Saturdays and Sundays for its eclectic mix of goods. The Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves is more compact than Clignancourt with 300-plus stalls.
Also worth checking out is Richard Lenoir for all manner of foods, from the freshest meats, cheeses and produce to international foods and flavours.
Accomodation: Stay at the Aparthotel Paris Opera
The Loire – Boulevard Alexandre Martin, Orléans
Held every Saturday morning in a car park on the Boulevard Alexandre Martin in the charming town of Orléans, this bustling market attracts around 100 vendors. Bargain hunters will love this treasure trove of rustic items, ranging from tools and buckets to fishing rods, kitchenware and quality linen.
If it’s food you’re after, then head to the weekly Saturday morning market in Saumur, showcasing the best of the ‘garden of France’.
Take a look at Le Chant blog for lots more wonderful pictures: http://lechant.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/saumur-market/)
Provence and South of France
There are more markets than you can shake a stick at in the South of France. Here are just a couple of favourites.
Cours Saleya, Nice
The flower and produce market at Cours Saleya operates every day bar Monday (when the square is taken over by the antiques and flea market). There are hundreds of varieties of flowers grown locally in the fields of Provence including carnations, roses, camellias, lilies, irises, freesias, daffodils, cyclamen, chrysanthemums, azaleas, marigolds, daisies and gardenias.
Sunday is the best day for produce, fish, meats, cheeses, fruit and veg.
Accommodation: Stay at the Residence Heliotel Marine
On Saturday mornings 100 or so stalls set up just across the Rhone from Avignon at the Place du Marche along the Ave de Verdun, selling Provençal pots, pottery and bedspreads. This market gets fewer tourists than the main Avignon flea market on Sundays, and as a result good deals can be found.
Accommodation: Stay at the Village Point Royal en Provence
Midi-Pyrénées – Allées Jules Guesde, Toulouse
Discerning shoppers will enjoy scouring this quality flea market for ‘decorative’ rather than rustic wares. Held on the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the month throughout the day along the allées Jules Guesde in central Toulouse.
Accommodation: Stay at the Aparthotel Toulouse Aèroport
Aquitaine – Perigueux
Wednesdays and Sundays are market day in Perigueux, the capital of the Dordogne River Valley. Stalls are set up near the cathedral in Place de la Clautre selling fresh produce and cheeses. There is also a market specialising in fois gras and truffles on place St-Louis in Puy St-Front from November to March.
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 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, Normandy – For budding athletes
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, Picardy – For beach fans and bird watchers
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, Burgundy – For vineyard fans
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
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
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.
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 .
Think of France and one of the first things to spring to mind will no doubt be delicious dishes full of fresh seafood, beautifully cooked steak and, of course, lashing of cheese. From instant crowd pleasers like Moules Frites and Croque Monsieur to après ski favourite Raclette (with some more Frites and plenty of Fromage) and then there’s every school child’s nemesis, Escargot. And of course there are the famous Crêpes, Tarte Tatin, Gateaux, Eclair, Crème Brûlée… is your mouth watering yet??
Of course there’s much more to traditional French recipes than just Crêpes andFrites…and it’s not all haute cuisine or cordon bleu either. So here are our all time favourite French regional recipes, more rustic than refined in most cases, but guaranteed to get your stomach rumbling!
The Alps…for après-ski comfort food
When most of us visit The Alps it’s for lashings of fresh air and winter sports, so we can be excused for wanting to sit down at the end of a hard day’s skiing to some truly hearty fare. It’s little surprise that our favourite Alpine food relies heavily on cheese as the main ingredient! There are, of course, the delicious Fondue and Raclette but one of our favourites is Tartiflette.
Tartiflette is a truly indulgent dish, best appreciated after a strenuous morning on the ski-slopes — or at least a brisk winter’s morning walk. It is important to use a ripe Reblochon, preferably bought a few days in advance and left to reach maturity out of the fridge. Of course, if you have a good cheese monger you will be able to buy one ripe and ready to eat.
Here’s a recipe for the cheese delight, as taken from “The Food of France” by Sarah Woodward:
1.5kg medium-sized red potatoes, such as Desirée
1 large white onion, peeled and diced
2 thick rashers of smoked streaky bacon, diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ripe Reblochon cheese
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 5.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the potatoes whole, in their skins, for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the onion and bacon in the butter in a heavy frying pan over a medium heat; they should sweat but not brown.
Drain the potatoes and as soon as they are cool enough to handle peel them — the quicker the better. Slice thickly across.
Choose an ovenproof earthenware dish and rub it well with the other halves of garlic. Layer half the sliced potatoes across the base, season, then scatter over the onion and bacon mixture. Add the remaining potatoes and more seasoning.
Place the whole Reblochon on top. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C/350’F/gas mark 4 for a further 20—25 minutes. The Reblochon should melt within its skin and the fat drip down while the potatoes crisp.
Tartiflette is a filling dish and all you really need to go with it is a nicely dressed green salad.
Alsace-Lorraine…for a German twist
The cuisine of this corner of north-eastern France brings together influences from neighbouring Germany such as Sauerkraut and marinated meat and veg stew, Baeckeoffe, with more typically French flavours. Locals are masters of pickling vegetables, smoking meats, and packing sausages.
The region’s two legendary dishes are Foie gras and Quiche Lorraine: the word quiche is from the German “kuchen”, which means cake. There is some debate about what constitutes a traditional Quiche Lorraine but we like the following recipe for its simplicity:
6-8 slices of bacon, diced
1 1/2 cup of whipping heavy cream
1 or 2 tsp of butter
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of pepper
1 pinch of grated nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C)
Put bacon dices in boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes. Drain. Put in a pan and heat till brown. Drain again.
Roll out pastry in a pie pan. Pastry should come about 1″ up the sides.
Beat eggs, cream and seasoning. Add bacon.
Pour mixture on the pastry, no more than 3/4 of the pie pan.
Reduce heat to 300° F (150°C). Bake for 30 minutes or until pie is cooked. Put a knife in the middle, if it comes clean the quiche is ready.
Let the quiche cool. Do not remove it from the pan. Goes well with a salad.
Just a suggestion: Although traditional recipes do not include it, you can add Swiss cheese such as 1 Gruyère to the egg, cream and bacon mixture, [around 1 cup is best].
Try Quiche Lorraine in Alsace and Lorraine when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.
Famed for Crêpes, apples, Normandy cider and Calvados, the north-western tip of France is the best place to head if you have a sweet tooth. Apple and Calvados sorbet make a welcome appearances on many menus but our heads were turned by this recipe for Bretton Butter Cake, a classic version from Brittany.
1 ounce instant dry yeast
1 teaspoon plus 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
3/4 cup lukewarm water
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold salted butter
1 egg yolk, beaten
Sprinkle the yeast and one teaspoon of sugar over the warm water and allow the yeast to dissolve for 5 minutes. Stir the flour into the yeast mixture until it forms a smooth, thick dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch the dough into a large rectangle, about 9-inches by 13-inches. Dot the surface with 1/4 cup of the cold butter and sprinkle it with 1/4 cup of sugar. Fold the dough into quarters. Repeat the rolling and folding process again, three times.
Preheat an oven to 350F. Once the dough is folded into quarters the last time, fit it into a greased 9-inch round baking pan. Brush the surface of the dough with the egg yolk, sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes, until it turns golden brown.
Allow the butter cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, run a thin, offset spatula or knife around the edges of the cake, and remove the cake from the baking pan. Serve the cake warm with berries or cream.
Try Bretton Butter Cake in Brittany when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts.
Central France…for heart-warming stews
It’s here in the heart of France that you’re most likely to find traditional dishes such asBoeuf Bourguignon and Coq au Vin. A good French stew is not something to be rushed – and of course, the crucial ingredient is wine.
One of the most famous recipes from Burgundy is the one that includes its name, Boeuf Bourguignon. This version is adapted from that used by the chef at The Hotel Dieu, Monsieur Vernet:
1.5 kg/3 1/2 lbs stew beef preferably taken from the shoulder or shin
50G/3 1/2 tbsp butter
5 tbsp olive oil
small round onions
100g/1/4 lb fresh bacon
20g/1/4 cup flour
2 cloves garlic (optional)
1 1/2 bottles red burgundy wine
1 bouquet garni
salt and pepper
Marinade the beef, together with a ‘garniture aromatique’ (bouquet garni, onions and carrots,) in the wine and leave to marinade overnight.
Brown thoroughly in oil the drained pieces of meat. Skim off the fat and then sprinkle them with flour.
Add the marinade, the bouquet garni, carrots and onions and cook on a low heat for two hours. During the cooking time glaze until brown some small, round onions, button mushrooms and bacon (cook them in just enough water to cover them and some butter), sprinkle with sugar, cover with tin-foil and cook until the water boils away. Stir from time to time to ensure an even glazing.
Mix with the beef mixture, check the thickness of the sauce and, if necessary, add some beurre manié (butter and flour.) The cooking can be finished in the oven, in a covered casserole, or even covered with flour.
Try Boeuf Bourguignon in Central France when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.
From eel stew to steaming mussels, the gastronomy of the Poitou-Charentes is heavily based on seafood. The mussel, an inexpensive mollusk, is prepared in many different ways in France, depending on the region. The most spectacular is certainly L’éclade, a recipe from Charente Maritime. For this, the mussels are arranged on a bed of dry pine needles and set ablaze. After a minute or two they are cooked and ready to be eaten sizzling hot.
But this recipe is the simplest way to prepare mussels, and a perfect occasion to gather plenty of friends around the table for a huge steaming stock pot fragrant with white wine and shallots.
5 to 6 pounds mussels, preferably the small bouchots
6 sprigs parsley
10 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup dry white wine
Freshly ground pepper
1 sprig thyme
Wash the mussels, scraping to remove their grassy “”beards”".
Peel and chop the shallots.
Remove the parsley leaves and chop them finely.
Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large heavy skillet or saucepan.
Add the shallots and cook until wilted.
Add the wine, a sprinkling of pepper, and thyme.
Let simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the mussels, cover and cook over high heat, shaking the pan often so that all the mussels open at about the same time.
Take off the cover, remove the mussels as they open, and place them on a warmed serving platter.
When all the mussels have opened, empty the pan, and strain the cooking broth through a fine sieve.
Wipe out the pan and return the broth to it.
Cook briefly over high heat until boiling.
Cut the remaining butter into small pieces.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk the butter into the broth a little at a time.
Correct the seasoning, if necessary.
Pour the sauce over the mussels, sprinkle with the chopped parsley, and serve.
Try Mussels in Charentes when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.
Paris…for anything your heart desires (as long as it’s Croque Monsieur!)
Of course, all roads lead to Paris when it comes to food, where almost anything from the whole of France is available and where diners can pick and choose from more than 9,000 restaurants.
The immediate environs of Paris provide plentiful game but it’s arguably its pastries that the grande dame is most famed for. That and its bread, the key ingredient to the legendary Croque Monsieur!
Who knows where the tasty snack originated from (the first recorded appearance on a Parisian café menu was in 1910) but today the city’s cafés have thousands of varieties on offer, each bringing their own unique interpretation to this classic dish. Regional variations exist, with either tomato, Bleu d’Auvergne cheese, smoked salmon (instead of ham), sliced potatoes and Reblochon cheese or pineapple.
The classic recipe is hot ham and cheese (typically emmental or gruyère) grilled sandwich. Simple, quick and delicious! Fast food at its most fabulous.
Try Croque Monsieur in Paris when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the city.
Picardy...for tarts and terrine
Picardy is known as the market garden of France with bountiful crops, an abundance of seafood and dishes with a distinct, earthy palate. There’s an undeniable Spanish influence on the regional dish of Escaveche (escabeche in Spain), which is a cold terrine of sweet water fish in wine and vinegar, and Flemish influence on another terrine, Potjevlesch. Amiens Duck Pate draws the gourmands as does the Flamiche Leek Pie.
Flamiche aux Poireaux
2 round, puff-pastry crusts, uncooked
3 tablespoons butter
2 pounds (or more) leeks, cleaned and cut into 1/4 inch rounds (don’t use the tougher dark green part)
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup grated gruyère or similar cheese (optional)
salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg yolk
Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until soft – about 10 minutes.
Stir in the flour until mixed completely with the leeks. Pour in the milk and cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil – about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes. Stir in nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, line a nine inch tart or pie pan with one of the crusts. Brush the bottom of the crust with the egg yolk mixed with a couple of teaspoons of water. Pour the cooled leek mixture into the crust and top with the second crust. Roll the edges together so that the whole tart is sealed. Make a hole in the centre of the tart so that steam can escape as the tart is cooking and, if you wish, make a design on the top crust with a sharp knife.
Bake for 30 minutes at 375° F. Serve warm.
Try Flamiche aux Poireaux in Picardy when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.
The Pyrénées…for deep-rooted culinary traditions
From black truffles to Foie Gras and Roquefort cheese, the food of the Midi-Pyrénées has made significant contributions to the wider French dining scene. The region’s traditions and epicurean culture are deeply rooted and fiercely protected. One of the dishes most synonymous with the Pyrénées is Cassoulet.
For the beans:
1 kg (2.2 lb) dried beans: either white navy beans, kidney beans, mojettes, pamier beans or Soissons beans, but the absolute best would be “tarbais” beans.
2 peeled carrots
1 onion, spiked with 3 cloves
1 bouquet garni (thyme, laurel, parsley)
1 large pork rind, cut into 2 halves
8 lamb neck cuts (for taste)
8 lamb shoulder pieces, cut into squares of 100 grams (3 oz) each
8 pork loin pieces, cut into 100 grams (3 oz) cubes
8 mule fat duck thighs cut in half
8 pieces, 5 cm (2 inches) each, of Toulouse sausage (scalded and roasted)
200 grams (1/2 lb) of carrots and 200 grams (1/2 lb) of onions cut into small cubes
6 garlic cloves, crushed and degermed
1 bouquet garni
2 tablespoonfuls concentrated tomato paste
150 grams (5 oz) goose fat
150 grams (5 oz) bread crumbs
Soak the dry beans overnight in unsalted water.
Next day, put the beans in a large pot and cover them with new water, add the two carrots and the onion with the cloves, the bouquet garni and the pork rinds. Season with pepper and DO NOT SALT. Cook at a slow boil and do not forget to progressively skim the froth that forms on the surface.
Using a large ovenproof dish, sweat the vegetables: carrots, garlic, onions and the bouquet garni in some goose fat for 10 minutes, covering on low heat.
During this time use a large frying pan to brown all of the meats in some goose fat (until they are quite brown). Then retrieve and drain the pieces (in order to remove excess fat). Add tomato paste to the large casserole where you cooked the vegetable garnish.
Cook this mixture for two minutes and then add the meats and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place in the oven and cook at 350°F (180°C or th6), covered, for 2 hours.
Check if the beans are cooked. Once they are almost ready add salt and drain the beans (put the carrots in the large casserole that is already in the oven) and set aside.
Use a needle to check if the meats are well cooked. Next, use a fork and a skimmer to retrieve the meat and the bouquet garni. Be careful not to leave any small bones at the bottom of the dish. Remove excess fat from the remaining vegetables using a spoon. Mix these vegetables in a blender and then put through a sieve, pressing strongly in order to obtain a delicious vegetable sauce. Check and adjust the seasoning.
Put the meat, the beans, the sausage and the pork rinds, cut into 8 pieces, in a large terracotta dish (better known as a “cassole” hence the name of this recipe “cassoulet”) and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 375°F (210°C ) and serve.
Try Cassoulet in The Pyrénées when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.
South of France…for a taste of the Med
Whilst regional recipes found simmering in the south of France are still likely to involve stewing, the further you head the south, the more likely you are to encounter seafood or fragrant herbes de Provence in the mix.
The original Bouillabaisse (bouï abaisso in Provençal, meaning boil and press “bout et abaisse”) was from the Calanque coast between Marseille and Toulon , although it is said to be invented at Saint-Raphaël. Although called a soup, this is really a main dish, a full meal in itself.
200ml / 1/3 pint of olive oil
2 onions thinly sliced
2 leeks trimmed and thinly sliced
3 tomatoes skinned seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves crushed
1 sprig of fennel
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 strip of orange peel without pith
750g / 1 ½ lbs shell fish e.g. crab mussels, king prawns
2 litre / 3 ½ pints of boiling water
salt and pepper
2.5kg / 5 lbs of fish e.g. monk fish, sea bass etc.
4 pinches of saffron powder.
Heat the oil in a large pan add the onions, leeks, chopped tomatoes and garlic.
Sauté over a low heat for 2-3 minutes until soft stirring from time to time.
Stir in the fennel. thyme, bay leaf and orange peel.
Add the shell fish, boiling water and some salt and pepper.
Turn up the heat and boil for about 3 minutes.
Reduce the heat and add the fish continue cooking for 12 to 15 mins over a medium heat.
The fish should be opaque and tender but still firm.
When the fish is cooked adjust the seasoning.
Stir in the powdered saffron and serve immediately.
Try Bouillabaisse in the South of France when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.
South West…for something a little rich
The emphasis in south-western France is on rich foods – more truffles, more Foie Gras and duck.
What you’ll need is 4-6 duck portions, rub salt into them and leave in a shallow covered dish for 5-6 hours.
Put your oven on low, 150 C/gas mark 2.
Wipe off the salt with kitchen paper and place all the pieces in a flameproof dish quite tightly, slightly brown both sides of the duck pieces very slowly, this can take 15-20 minutes.
Now cover your duck with enough duck fat to cover completely, pop it in your preheated oven for up to 2 hours. Then leave it to cool.
You can keep your duck preserved like that for a few days.
The idea is to warm the duck portions, not to cook again. The best way we found is to pan fry.
Heat a frying pan without any oil, as you already have duck fat around your pieces of duck.
Place the portions skin down and leave on a medium heat, do not move the pieces until they are a little crispy, then turn and do the other side.
‘Voila’ it’s ready!!
Serve with a salad or Potate Saladaise with Haricots Verts.
Try Confit de Canard in the South West of France when you stay at one of Pierre & Vacances’ resorts in the region.
From the wide, sandy beaches of the north to the wind-swept coastline of the West and sun-kissed shores of the South, France is blessed with a bounty of beautiful beaches.
But it pays to be in the know when planning a holiday with young children…is the nearest beach a hike down steep cliff paths, the sea a bubbling cauldron of tempestuous tides and the only place to eat an expensive bistro?
Fear not bathing beauties as we’ve done our research so you don’t have to. From calm waters to easy access, fine sand castle-building matter to rich rock pool pickings, here’s our guide to the top toddler friendly French beaches.
Brittany beaches for… sandcastle competitions
Visitors to Brittany are spoilt for choice in terms of family-friendly beaches. Top picks for sandcastles and safe swimming include:
La Grande Plage de Goas Lagorn, Baie de Lannion (or ”La Plage de Tresmeur”) – this sheltered, West facing beach offers suitably safe swimming and a mile of white, un-crowded sand. The nearby marina is home to a range of eateries including child-pleasing creperies.
The Quiberon Peninsula – this coast, known as the ‘Cote Sauvage’, tends towards wilder beaches, but La Plage Conquel has one wild side facing the Atlantic and another overlooking sheltered Quiberon Bay. This sandy beach is ideal for children, with plenty of shallow rock pools to explore at low tide.
Plage du Trez, Benodet – affording a pretty, sandy beach, and easy access as well as excellent facilities, Benodet is often cited as one of the most family friendly destinations in the region. The heart of the resort is Plage du Trez, which is supervised by life-guards during summer months and has a large variety of places to buy snacks and drinks just behind the beach. Nearby Plage du Letty and Plage Saint Gilles are ideal for rock pooling.
La Grande Plage, Carnac – Carnac’s South facing beaches are beautifully sheltered with miles of soft sand and pretty dunes at the eastern fringe – a classic seaside resort.
Pierre & Vacances accommodation in Brittany
Normandy beaches for… the white sands which inspired Monet
Described as ‘non-stop beach’ the coast of Normandy offers a plentiful selection of fabulous sandy beaches – many rich in World War II associations, from Utah to Omaha, Juno to Sword.
Trouville Plage – immortalised by Monet, quieter and more relaxed than neighbouring Deauville, Trouville offers an immense sweep of white sand, a great beach for families with younger children.
For more relaxed, inexpensive options head to Houlgate or St-Germain-sur-Ay. Houlgate is a nice, compact, clean resort whilst St Germain offers a vast beach, perfect for picnics (but worth noting that part of the beach is reserved for naturists, so pick your spot carefully!).
The department of Manche is blessed with 330 kilometres of stunning coastline, with the greatest number of European blue flag beaches in France. Sciotot Beach at Les Pieux offers fine sands and a rock pool for paddling in.
Pierre & Vacances accommodation in Normandy
Aquitaine beaches for… beachcombing and crab hunting
Renowned as a surfing Mecca for the wild Atlantic waves, Aquitaine also has some hidden gems for families with tiny tots.
Saint-Jean de Luz – adjacent to the charming town by the same name and on the border with Spain, Saint-Jean de Luz beach is compact, pristine and perfect for seaside thrills. There are even bathing tents for hire so you and your little ones can escape the sun.
Just around the coast, Socoa Beach, beneath Socoa Fort, is a tranquil spot for undisturbed beachcombing and crab hunting.
Lake Biscarosse – of course, beaches aren’t restricted to coastal areas. The lakes of Landes offer some excellent beaches for warm, shallow water and shady pine trees. There’s the Lake of Cazaux-Sanguinet to the North and the Lake of Biscarrosse-Parentis to the South
Moliets Plage – a golden sandy beach meets pine forest and lake, this resort is popular with locals and visitors alike, the beach bordered by the Courant d’Huchet nature reserve.
Pierre & Vacances accommodation in Aquitaine
Mediterranean beaches for… hidden gems and blue lagoons
The French Riviera, blessed with year-round sunshine, holds an eternal appeal for holidaymakers. You’ll have to go a long way to beat the bevy of beaches available on France’s Mediterranean coast. Here’s just a few of our favourites.
Port de Crouton Plage, Juan-les-Pins is something of a hidden gem. The fine sand slopes gently towards the calm shallows on this tranquil beach, a world away from the busier main strip at Juan-les-pins. The entrance to this sheltered cove can be discovered via the public pathway through the Hotel Belles Rives or 300 yards beyond Le Meridien Hotel.
Villefranche-sur-Mer – a charming, good old fashioned seaside town, far less crowded than much of the Riviera. There are two beaches to choose from, Plage des Marinières and Plage de la Darse. Marinières is the big, sandy beach, whilst la Darse is a mix of sand and pebbles. Both are popular with families but far less crowded than other beaches surrounding Nice.
Plage de la Gravette, Antibes – sheltered by a breakwater, forming a safe enclosure for swimming, the ‘Old Antibes beach’ is compact and sandy.
Plage de Notre Dame, Ile de Porquerolles – sometimes it’s worth going the extra mile to discover idyllic beaches. This is such an instance. The Ile de Porquerolles is the largest of the group of islands known as the Iles d’Hyères or ‘Les Iles d’Or’, the Golden Isles. Eucalyptus and pine scent the air and the crescent of white sand is framed by aqua blue water. Not for the faint hearted, the beach is a 20 minute cycle ride from the ferry, so only tackle this if little legs are up to a big adventure. Whilst there are no facilities in the immediate vicinity, pack a picnic and you’ll enjoy a day in paradise.
Plage de L’Estagnol, Bormes-les-Mimosas – one of the most beautiful white sandy beaches on the Med, the big draw for L’Estagnol is the quarter of a mile long sand-edged lagoon, which provides a haven for safe swimming. That and the chance to spot the Sarkozys – the president of France has use of the Fort de Brégançon.
Pierre & Vacances accommodation on the Mediterranean
Taking the family to Brittany
“We live in Norfolk and we are a family of four consisting of me, my husband and our two little boys.”
“On Friday 28th May 2010, we left home after a quick lunch and headed south. I had booked a hotel room on the outskirts of Portsmouth, as the ferry would be leaving early the following morning. This was the first time that we had decided to take our holiday during the normal school holiday period. If all went well, we would be arriving in Portsmouth at around 4.30pm. Not only, it was half-term, but it was a Bank holiday weekend. We arrived on the M25 and soon we were stuck there for two hours in a major traffic jam. What a great way to start the holidays!
The following morning, we boarded the ferry as planned at around 8.15am. The ship was full. Our children aged 4 & 2 were very happy running on the outside deck or spending frequent breaks in the soft play area. The sea was calm and lovely and we arrived in Ouistreham (North of Caen) at 15.00. We had another four hours of driving before reaching our destination : Pierre et Vacances resort in Port du Crouesty.”
On arrival at Port du Crouesty
“Our self-catering accommodation at Pierre & Vacances resort Port Du Crouesty a self-catering duplex apartment was spacious and could accommodate up to 8 people. It consisted of 1 x double bedroom ; 1 x single room ; 1 x room for children with bunk beds ; 1 bathroom with toilet ; 1 x shower room ; 1 x separate toilet ; 1 x dining room/living room with open kitchen. There were 2 single sofa beds in the living-room area. Everything was spotless and perfect for families.”
“The Port du Crouesty resort itself is well designed and lies beside the beach. It is built like a traditional Brittany village with slated roof and has a welcoming feeling. It offers a wide range of amenities ( shop, bar/meeting point ; launderette ; children’s clubs ; outdoor swimming-pool ; play area….). Our apartment was in “Rue de la Plage”.
What’s on-site at Port du Crouesty
“Port du Crouesty is a lovely seaside resort. There are many activities for all age groups ; sailing trips, fishing trips, walking on the beach or sight seeing in the beautiful region of Morbihan. There is also a large thallassotherapy (spa with sea water based treatments) centre for the holiday makers in search of holistic well-being.
There are many restaurants around the harbour ; what a treat to have a galette (savoury pancake) or a crêpe (sweet pancake) with a glass or two of cider.”
What we did during our family holiday to Port du Crouesty:
There are so many things to see and do in this beautiful region. Here is a small selection of what we did:
- Suscinio Castle (built between the 13th & 15th centuries)
- Vannes aquarium ( a fascinating aquarium. There is also a crocodile which was recovered from the Paris sewage that kept my children enthralled).
- Parc animalier de Branféré (This was a tremendous day out, where we could get close to the animals (giraffes, chimpanzees, ostriches, etc… There is also a splendid network of nets high in the trees… the children loved climbing in them and be closer to the sky !!)
- Bouncy castles paradise ( a large play area consisting of 20 bouncy castles of various shapes and grades for children and adults)
- Cider house ( a museum dedicated to cider and its fabrication with tasting)
Families at Port du Crouesty
“Typically, we would begin our days with a trip to the play area, as the children adored it. We then did some sight seeing and usually had lunch out. We would then come back late afternoon for a dip in the swimming pool. And after dinner, the children would go back to the play area one more time before retiring to bed.”
Summary of our stay:
“We had a wonderful time. It was beautiful to be so close to the beach. And as for me, I was delighted to stay in a Pierre & Vacances resort. This company is well known in France and England, and being French I was delighted to stay there. I was very impressed with the quality of the accommodation and would consider staying in another Pierre & Vacances resort in the future!”
Find the latest information and Pierre & Vacances discounts on Port du Crouesty apartments by visiting our website.
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