What To Do In France This Summer
Britons have been holidaying in France for many years, but we guarantee there are destinations and activities which have yet to be truly discovered. See the lilies in Aquitaine that caught the eye of Monet, go grape picking in Gironde and take to the seas in an authentic old sailing ship in Poitou-Charentes.
Aquitaine: 2 days in the Bergerac vineyard
Bergerac is a lovely city in Périgord, situated by the Dordogne river. This break is an invitation to come and visit this tiny city and the surrounding vineyard. The local wine estate and its wines called 'Bergerac' or 'Monbazillac' remain quite unknown in comparison with their world-reputed neighbours of Bordeaux but they are really worth getting to know.
Aquitaine: La Tour Marliac in Lot & Garonne and Monet Lilies
Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac founded a nursery for hardy water lilies and he was ultimately able to build a collection whose palette ranged from delicate yellow to fuchsia and deep red. His newly created plants caught the eye of a painter, Claude Monet. This experience at Bagatelle inspired him to build his water garden at Giverny.
Auvergne: Visit the Puy-de-Dôme aboard a stylish 2CV, a vintage and mythical symbol of France
Through the peaceful area of "Les Combrailles", visit the French countryside from a different point of view. Romantic journey along the river Sioule, with picnic in the trunk and a unique sunset over the Queuille.
The Buron of Niercombes in Thiézac: calm and peacefulness in the heart of the Auvergne region
Built more than 300 years ago and dominating the ancient glacier valley of la Cère, the Buron of Niercombe was a mountain-cheese making facility until the 1940's. Abandoned for more than 60 years, it has now been restored and is only accessible by some foot paths and a steep private mountain road.
Brittany: Walking and wellbeing
Five days of guided walks exploring the coast and countryside around Roscoff alongside a programme of carefully selected thalassotherapy treatments - what better way to get back to nature and recharge your batteries?
Centre - Val de Loire: Discovery cruise with "Les Passeurs de Loire"
Naturalists Bruno and Jean-Philippe build traditional boats. New in 2011 is a two-day break including a cruise, picnic on an island and guided visit of the St Benoît sur Loire abbey -where monks still live and chant Gregorian melodies! Also on offer is an introduction to fishing, dinner sourced from local produce and listening to traditional Loire boatmen songs. Spend the night in a bivouac tent with the camp set up on an island as well as a visit to the Loire Marine museum.http://www.passeursdeloire.fr
Champagne Ardenne: the Semoy Valley, a land of legend and mystery
Explore the beautiful Ardennes on a walking holiday through the Semoy valley in north east France and into Belgium. With well-kept paths and tracks, each leg is less than 20 km. €279 per person (based on 2 people) for 4 nights half board including luggage transfers and maps. 1 April - 29 September 2011.
Gironde: Grape picking in the Cadillac appellation
Take part in the harvest and learn the art of grape picking at this famous vineyard. Enjoy a wine tasting and a behind the scenes wine tour on this Vine & Dine Grape Picking lasting 2 days and 1 night.
Gironde: Surfing and body boarding in Lacanau
Every year, Lacanau organises the Lacanau Pro, official stage of the surfing world championship.
Both groups and individuals can start learning the sport as several schools are available.
Midi Pyrenees: The blue gold of Toulouse
Discover the fascinating story of Pastel. Visit the magnificent pastel merchant mansions and their unusual towers, built in the Renaissance period, and enter into beautiful inner courtyards, often turned into museums like the Hôtel d'Assézat. Don't forget to shop for unique woad products (cosmetic, clothes).
Midi Pyrenees: Millau, the former centre of leather manufacturing in France
Visit the l'Atelier gantier, and buy a pair of locally designed, hand-made and hand-sewn ladies' leather or suede gloves for about €45 upwards, in one of umpteen colours. Some of the designs are ultra-chic and quite extraordinary. The Causse factory is one of the last ones in France and makes gloves for Chanel, Vuitton and Hermes.
Nice: The Observatory
The Observatory complex offers remarkable scientific, historical and natural heritage. Built by Charles Garnier (who built the Opera in Paris), it boasts Europe's largest sliding dome designed by Gustave Eiffel.
Nord Pas de Calais: Paddle sea walking
This quirky sport has been developing over the past couple of years along the Côte d'Opale. It consists of walking along the coast with a paddle and water up to your chest! It's great exercise!
Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur: Le Corbusier Building in Marseille
Built between 1947 and 1952, the Le Corbusier building includes all of Le Corbusier's "Ville radieuse" concepts developed as of 1935. The 50,000 tonnes of the Cité Radieuse building are laid on 34 rough reinforced concrete pillars. There are 337 flats of 15 different types.
Western Loire: Vineyard Discovery
A new initiative Vineyard Discovery ensures that visitors can fully understand, enjoy and appreciate the Loire Valley wines in Sarthe through the wine growers, local partners, wine sellers and selected local hoteliers and restaurateurs.
Poitou Charentes: Classic Sail the old-fashioned way with 'Lola of Skagen', an authentic old sailing ship!
The three-day trip takes in the islands of Oléron and Ré and reflects the maritime heritage of the region, with fortresses and lighthouses, as well as the area's beautiful beaches.
Poitou Charentes: Explore the surrounding countryside of the B&B "Couette et Potager d'Antan" (Melle) in a 2CV classic car!
Annie the owner not only serves regional meals cooked using some of the lesser know local ingredients and vegetables long forgotten by the mainstream farmer, but also provides entertainment with a 2CV to explore the area.
Riviera: on the trail of the wolf with a local guide
An extremely rare sight anywhere in Europe these days, but especially so this side of the Italian border. Wild wolves live in the Park, albeit in very small numbers, and so one will be very lucky to spot this shy, elusive creature, but it is possible!
Five fantastic days walking, looking out for signs of wolf activity and of course all the other fauna and flora with which the area abounds. This program also includes a visit of Alpha Scénoparc - The time of the wolf in Le Boréon near St Martin Vésubie - to give you the chance to discover more about the myth of the wolf and come face to face with the centre's semi wild inhabitants.
8 day trip, 7 night accommodation: £455 Gîte Based: self catering, no transport, meals or drinks included.