As I pack for my 3 week trip to France ( May 1-23rd), my "to do" list is fairly impressive. It occurred to me that some of you who have a French vacation in mind may want suggestions on where to stay, what there is to see and do, and what is the best way to stay in touch while there.
· Are you familiar with CALL IN EUROPE? This fairly new service is well worth checking into. Call in Europe offers you a personal cell phone for a one-time fee of only $29. You can receive calls from your home country, have no monthly fees, free $10 airtime, and the best calling rates in France that I've seen; compare $0.39/minute with $1.29/minute with AT&T. Let Mark Brophy know that I sent you!
· Fast forwarding to your actual stay in the Languedoc, I always enjoy trying out a few select "Chambres D'Hotes" or B&B's. Thanks to the internet, your choices are limitless. From Quarante, we are but a short drive to Barcelona, Avignon, and the Pyrenees. Andorra, which nestled high in these impressive mountains, is a tiny country with wonderful skiing and hiking. There are some fine hotels there as well. In La Masana, a 4 star hideaway, you can book doubles from 104 euros/night.
· Speaking of drivable distances, our first property share, La Bruyere LLC, is located on the Lot/Dordogne border, between Marmande and Bordeaux. With mouthwatering markets featuring limitless quantities of fois gras and local produce, in the small town of Duras lies a fabulous stain glass workshop. To learn more about signing up for one of these "stages de vitrail", see http://vitraux.jennifer.free.fr.
· Less we forget one of the major joys of France, the FOOD AND WINE, one of our our property share owners sent me a copy of the Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant newsletters. In it were described three particularly good red's from the south of France.
2004 BANDOL ROUGE
DOMANINE DE LA TOUR DU BON- Tour du Bon's 2004 classique and cuvee St. Ferreol are about as good as Bandol gets. The balance, the rustic elegance, and the magic it produces when served with Mediterranean cuisine makes this a real find.
2005 COTEAUX DU LANGUEDOC ROUGE
CHATEAU DE LASCAUX- Lovely, dark with a potent aroma of black cherry, plum, spice, reglisse, and tobacco. It seesm to stain the taste buds with its dense layer of ripe fruit.
2005 COLLIOURE ROUGHT LA PINEDE
DOMAINE LA TOUR VIEILLE- The 2005's from southern France continue to knock me out with their rare combination of abundance and weightlessness. This one dazzles with its generous cherry and berry fruit and hints of dried thyme and dried fig.
· LASTLY, speaking of food, Colman Andrew's wrote a great book about Catalan cuisine a few year ago, "Catalan Cuisine: Europe's Last Great Culinary Secret", so great that it has been translated into Catalan! You may also want to check out some Catalonian recipes in Ann and Larry Walkers "To the Heart of Spain".
Perhaps I will see some of you next month at Maison Bleue. Hopefully your personal questions about sharing a home in France have been answered but, if not, here is how to reach me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 585 905-0849.