Sunday, 24 January 2010

A couple of France trips to look forward to - Vinisud 2010 and my holiday!

Things are coming together nicely for my trip to Vinisud 2010 in Montpellier with my friend and fellow wine merchant Bernard Caille. The return flights were booked a while ago (see my earlier post about the joys of booking via BMI Baby!) and now the car and the hotel are booked. The timing of flights meant that Manchester to Toulouse was the more attractive option than Luton to Nimes (with the equally annoying Ryanair), since it allows us almost a full day longer in France, but the same number of nights.

And for those 3 nights we'll be staying in my very favourite resort of Marseillan, situated on the Étang de Thau between Agde and Sète, just a few minutes' drive from the Mediterranean and around 40 minutes from the Vinisud venue. I can think of no better place to spend a few days, even in February. Marseillan is a relatively quiet resort, even in summer, but is full of charm and - more importantly  full of great places to eat and stay. We have opted for the Hotel Boulevard, which is right in the middle of the town, though still just a 5 minute stroll from the main strip on the harbour. Here's a photo, taken last year, of the view of the harbour, looking towards Sète. OK, so it was taken on a summer's evening, but the view is just as lovely in winter...................



And here's a photo of the main strip, down by the water, taken the same evening.................



As well as the Marseillan trip, and following the usual exhaustive search (which invariably involves weeks of procrastination and indecision) Diane and I have pretty much finalised our plans for our summer holiday. We've opted for a week in a house no more than a stone's throw from the sea, between Cannes and Antibes on the Cote d'Azure. We've never yet ventured further east than Marseille/Toulon on our trips to Provence, so this will be a new experience for us. That will be followed by a week in a house up in the hills near Saint-Chinian, an area which we are far more familiar with. Both of these houses have private swimming pools, both sleep 6 (although there will probably only be two of us this time, as the boys will probably be arranging their own holidays with their friends) and both come in at about £600 per week. Not overly cheap, but certainly not expensive either, given the standard of accommodation we can expect - and we are rarely disappointed.

Anyway, to give you an idea of the beauty of the scenery around the Saint-Chinian region, here's yet another photo from one of our more recent holidays, taken whilst canoeing on the River Orb near Tarassac. Just look at that view!



We have enjoyed countless holidays in southern France (in which we rarely stay in the same place for more than a week at a time, and only occasionally return to the same place in subsequent years). And at a conservative estimate, I'd say we have spent time in over 50 different places and dealt with many different companies, websites and gite owners. Although there has been the occasional disappointment (though never enough to spoil a holiday) we have been lucky enough to stay in some lovely places and have met many lovely people along the way. And of course, all of these wonderful holidays eventually provided the inspiration for our wine business. And seeing as that business is a pretty all-consuming "pastime", I am sure Diane thanks me for it profusely! ;-))

I really must get around to putting this relative wealth of experience to some use by creating some sort of portal on my website - something I have been meaning to do for a very long time. Perhaps this year will be the year.

5 comments:

AlanM said...

Sounds great Leon. Marseillan is fabulous, we stayed in Pinet last summer and popped down to the port every day. It's peaceful, plenty of good restaurants and a real delight.
We are staying near Magellas this summer for three weeks and will be visiting St Chinian. The Orb is lovely, definitely on the list again. Happy days

Leon Stolarski said...

Magalas is nice, Alan. If I remember correctly, that is where La Boucherie used to be - a butcher's shop by day and a restaurant by night. We went there a few years ago and had a very nice meal. Unfortunately it has since closed. Still lots of interest around there, though, and you have an ideal base for both the beach and the mountains.

Louise said...

Magalas is indeed nice - and La Boucherie has been turned into a really super restaurant called O Bontemps, by chef Olivier Bontemps (formerly at Octopus in Béziers), you will need to book but it is well worth it.

Leon Stolarski said...

Thanks for the memory jog, Louise - I have indeed heard good things about O Bontemps. Looks like I shall have to make a booking for June!

AlanM said...

We had a look at O Bontemps last year as we heard many many good reports. Unfortunately it was all meat the day we looked and I don't eat meat. I gather it's not always like that so we hope to benefit this summer. Leon, if you like seafood there's a place just outside Marseillan off the Meze road called la Ferme Bleue which is basically a seafood buffet, fresh from the Etang. Lovely in summer with its balcony and a bottle of Picpoul. It's worth a visit.