A French Love Affair...
In the 10 days that have passed, I've visited 3 different French destinations; Bergerac, Carcasonne and Morzine, each very different and each most definitely worth visiting...
Before I headed on my French adventures, Alex offered to take me to a restaurant in London that had been recommended by a work colleague. Fera (a slightly weird name I thought), is a Michelin Star restaurant in Claridges. A little freaked out by the name I googled it to find out more.
This is what I found...
"Inspired by the constant changing of the seasons, Michelin-starred Fera at Claridge’s is a creative and natural take on modern British cuisine. Our name, the Latin word for ‘wild’, reflects the powerful connection to nature that’s at the heart of our restaurant. Renowned chef Simon Rogan’s ever-changing à la carte and tasting menus capture the true essence of nature through its textures, tastes and sense of perpetual evolution".
By the time I met up with my husband, I will admit I'd had a glass of wine too many and I'm pretty sure in the taxi on the way I told the driver I was going a restaurant called Ferret!
Despite my slightly tipsy state, I was still appreciative of the food, the beautiful decor and surroundings, and of course let's not forget my dinner date! Im not so sure he was impressed with me...
I enjoyed roasted and raw scallop with cucumber, buckwheat and black truffle to start, Roasted monkfish, spinach, onion and Kenton leek for my main, and Smoked chocolate, earl grey ice cream, sea buckthorn for dessert. Sounds complicated but each dish was simply delicious.
I didn't get that completely 'full' feeling which was great after enjoying three dishes, but at the same time wasn't hungry. If you are someone who likes to try posh London restaurants, you should put Fera on the list but don't expect to get much change from £250 and I think the service for that price should be better.
Two days after our dinner date, the children and I waved bye bye to Alex to head to France. Thankfully we didn't experience any delays, something I dread when I'm with the little ones. There seems to be a lot of striking going on with French air traffic control at the moment and it's effecting flights everywhere.
My first stop in France was Bergerac. Bergerac is in the Dordogne and somewhere I'd visited with my parents as a child. I spent a good few summers camping and exploring the region with my mum and dad and, funnily enough when I think back, I used to get my dad to film me presenting tours of the camp sites. Clearly travel/property presenting has always been in my bones...
Bergerac is around an hour and 15 minutes by car from Bordeaux airport. The town itself isn't that big but the old quarter is full of character, with some lovely little restaurants and bars. Taking a boat ride along the Dordogne for 15 Euros is something worth doing, as is visiting http://castelnaud.com where you or your little ones can experience what it was like to live in medieval times.
One of the cutest places I discovered in the old town was a little B&B called Bon Bonniere. It looked quirky, quaint and seemed extremely charming. I also found a Moroccan restaurant called Le Sud that served and amazing Tagine dish.
At the time of our visit, there was a music concert in town with a different rock band on every street corner. It was a bit too hardcore for me, but there the good thing is, there's loads going on in the town over the summer and They pretty much have something for everyone.
Three hours drive from Bergerac, I headed to one of my favourite places in France - Carcasonne. I have talked about visiting, and filming in Carcasonne in the past. For me it's like a fairytale experience. Having played Cinderella in several pantomimes over the years, I've often fancied myself as a bit of a princess (no I'm not high maintenance!) and the old cite is just 'magical'. The castle itself is enchanting and you can imagine the battles that have taken place around the area in the past. When you walk around the cobbled streets it's not practical with a pram, but the children love it. Rocco was particularly happy with the knights costume we purchased in one of the shops, and taking the toy train tour for 7 euros was a hit too.
Even though you are in a city, you have the luxury of visiting some sand too. The man made beach at Lac de la Cavayère has never been busy when I have visited and the inflatable water park looks like a lot of fun.
Carcassonne is apparently the 2nd most visited attraction in France after the Eiffel Tower. I would imagine in peak summer its extremely over crowded. I'd recommend visiting in early June or late September.
During this trip to the area I made a new discovery...I found an incredible Chateau just 5 minutes drive from the centre of town. Chateau Pennautier is apparently one of the largest in the area. The building and grounds are stunning, and the restaurant and vineyards across the road (which are all part of the estate), are fantastic too. The selection of wine is amazing and they even have toys for the children to play with whilst you shop.
From the second most popular tourist destination in France, I headed to one of the popular alpine resort of 2015, Morzine. I'm a HUGE fan of my winter sports but I've never visited a ski resort in summer. It's never really crossed my mind but all I can say is wow! I will 100% be going back. Morzine has so much to offer throughout the year. Hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, swimming and ice skating, are just a few of the things you can do during the summer months, and it's busy! I loved this destination so much so that I even had a look at a few properties for myself. The fact there is so much going on does make it pricey. There are still bargains to be found if you are prepared to drive 10/15 minutes out of town, and a few of those bargains will be featured in the new series of A Place in the Sun - Home or Away which will be on screen in a few months time.
If you visit Morzine and have a car, you MUST drive 10 minutes out of town to L'exclusif 1490, I guarantee you will experience one of the most amazing views in the area. Only accessible by foot in the summer months, L'exclusif 1490 is a boutique hotel/restaurant/bar open at the weekend and during the week for lunch in July. If you attempt to drive to this location you will be fined 1200 euros, but trust me the 10 minute walk uphill is worth it. You can check out the amazing view in one of my photos below...