Category Archives: Tourism and Shopping

December Events – Frogsiders recommends…

December is so often taken up with sending cards, gift shopping, hanging decorations and preparing for family feasts, that it’s often difficult to get out and do anything more entertaining. Frogsiders comes to the rescue with a few really interesting ideas for December outings.

The Franco-British Christmas Craft Market at Montreuil (already featured in an earlier post, but worth a reminder now. This weekend Sturday and Sunday 4/5 December (afternoons only)

Open Studio at the workshop of Scottish artists Alice Johnston and James Buchanan Johnston. Also already featured here, also in Montreuil this weekend Sunday 5 December 15h00 to 19h00

For tennis fans and all sports lovers, the 17th Le Touquet International Women’s Open Tennis Tournament takes place all next week Monday 6 December to Sunday 11 December at the Le Touquet Tennis Club. See the stars of the future (Amelie Mauresmo and Justine Henin were successful here on their way to stardom) including two contestants who are already ranked in the world’s top 50. Tickets from only 3€. Telephone 03 21 05 02 97

Ice Sculpture Demonstration at St Pol sur Ternoise.  Free!

A free demonstration by Philippe Gondrand, the champion ice-sculptor of France, at St Pol sur Ternoise, Square Warstein, December 11 at 14h00

Fancy something a bit more tropical?  Latin Singer, Dany Brillant stops off for one night, Saturday 18 December, on his “Salsa Tour” to give a concert at the Palais de Congres, Place de l’Hermitage, Le Touquet. Tickets from 36€ Telephone 03 21 06 72 00.

Traditional Winter Fair at Hesdin December 4 to December 12. A traditional event in the town dating back to the 17th Century. The programme includes a winter market on Saturday December 4, and an indoor Christmas Market in the Salle De Manege on the 11 and 12 December from 10h00 to 19h00. Enjoy also, all week, the traditional pork offal and “tripes” dishes which most of the restaurants in the town will be serving as part of the festival.

During December the villages and towns of the Seven Valleys region hold many events – too many to list here, but you can get the full programme by clicking here

Paris noise remedy – two birds with one stone?

Delanoe's remedy for sleepless nights?

When Paris banned smoking in bars and clubs three years ago, no one foresaw one of the less desirable side-effects: late-night clubbers and party-goers spilling onto the streets in crowds to smoke – and
keeping the neighbours awake with their laughter and chatter.

After a number of lawsuits against bar and club owners, and steps by city authorities to shut down noisy clubs, a group of DJs and club promoters launched a petition warning that the world-famous Parisian night-life would die out if no compromise could be reached.

This week the Mayor of Paris called a conference at which club owners, police, residents’ groups and local authorities would put their point of view, and, together, try to hammer out a solution.

“Partying and culture is part of what makes Paris shine,” Mayor Bertrand Delanoe told the gathering on Friday, admitting, however, that fostering a vibrant night-life while respecting residents’ right to peace and quiet would be a tough challenge.

“We Parisians are demanding, and even contrary,” he said. “On a night you’re staying in, you’d like a curfew at 8 pm. But when you’re in the mood to party, you want the right to make a racket until 8 am.”

Starting this spring, Paris will send out squads of white-faced mimes and red-nosed clowns to nudge punters into keeping the noise down, an alternative to sending in the police. The project is modelled on a successful experiment in Barcelona.

“It’s about getting the message across with a dose of humour,” said Mao Peninou, the deputy mayor in charge of the project.

This time there may be an entirely beneficial side-effect for visitors to Paris to look forward to. Plentiful late-night work for dreadfully un-entertaining mimes might just keep them off the Paris streets in daytime.

  • Great news for gite owners in Northern France

    The Pas De Calais - now the top place for family holidays!

    Specialist holiday letting agency, French Country Cottages recently announced trading figures for the first nine months of 2010, reporting overall sales up 15 per cent on 2009 with September currently trading more than 10 per cent on last year.

    In addition to an increase in sales, French Country Cottages revealed to Frogsiders the top five French regions for their self-catering holiday customers:

    • Pas-De-Calais
    • Normandy
    • Languedoc-Rousillon
    • Loire
    • Picardy

    Their analysis revealed that booking behaviour and area preference was strongly influenced by external factors, with the arrival of the volcanic ash cloud in April having had a major impact. Whilst the disruption hit the travel industry hard, it only served to emphasise the benefits of staying closer to home, with more holidaymakers forgoing flying for the altogether easier alternative of a ferry trip over to France.

    As a result, French Country Cottages have seen a surge in lettings here in the Pas De Calais as well as in other areas within easy reach of channel ports, such as Picardy and the Loire.

    Picardy is fast catching Normandy as a top family holiday destination

    Geoff Cowley, managing director of French Country Cottages said: “With an increasing number of families choosing to holiday nearer to home and within Europe, popular areas like France are set to see the benefits. Many holiday-goers are hoping to minimise the stress of travelling further afield, reduce their carbon footprint, and of course cut costs dramatically.”

    French Country Cottages is part of the Hoseasons Group (THG), the UK’s leading supplier of self catering holiday accommodation with a portfolio of over 27,000 properties across the UK and Europe.

    Only recently Frogsiders predicted an increase in tourism and property investment in the Pas De Calais.

    Le Touquet’s October “British Week”

    It seems that visitors to Le Touquet during the week from 9 to 17 October will find themselves at the centre of a festival of all things British.

    An exhibition of classic British cars is promised

    There will be such very British events as a “Tea-Time Tennis Tournament” where you’ll be able to play in, or watch a friendly Anglo-French contest after which high tea will be served.

    At the Ibis and Novotel hotels they’ll be serving a British style lunch menu, including the customary British “gambas roasted in the curry of India, duck breast Cumberland & pastry buffet“.

    There will also be archery lessons and an archery tournament (Britain won the last fixture in 1415), and a seniors golf tournament against Continue reading “Le Touquet’s October “British Week”” »

    Take a short break in a sixteenth century chateau

    by Ian Blackshaw

    A view of the Chateau overlooking the Lake, which was man made by diverting the river which runs through the estate

    If you feel – like we did last weekend – getting away for a few days and seeing another delightful and interesting part of France, almost on our doorstep, with the added attraction of staying in a listed Sixteenth Century Chateau, with a fascinating history to match, then we can recommend the Chateau of Fosseuse.

    Situated in the Picardie Region and the Department of the Oise, the Chateau, built between 1568 and 1583 for Pierre de Montmorency, is set in a 40 acre park with a river running through, a lake, a rose garden, and a forest and an ice-cave, which is worth visiting, but you will need a torch.

    The Chateau offers two well appointed double bedrooms and a delightful suite for four people, all with modern en suite facilities.

    Incidentally, the suite has its own private staircase, a nice feature; for the rest, there is the grand staircase up to bed!

    Christine and Ian slept here!

    For those with dogs, the owners, Jean-Loup, who is French, and his English Continue reading “Take a short break in a sixteenth century chateau” »

    Ferry bad news

    Another one hits the dust

    According to a story in “The Connexion” today, LD Lines are about to pull the plug on their Dover Boulogne fast ferry service.

    Personally I never used it.  I thought it seemed expensive and unreliable, and I found the timetable inconvenient.

    Perhaps they’ll have another go at it when tourism from UK to France picks up after the Gordon Brown recession has passed – maybe in about 30 years, then.

    First Prize – Cock-up of the week category

    From the Daily Telegraph 18/8/2010

    Tourists travelling on a sleeper train from Spain to Italy woke up nearly 200 miles away in Switzerland after French railway staff made a signalling mix-up in Lyon.

    Holidaymakers expecting an early morning glimpse of the ornate spires of the Duomo, Milan’s landmark cathedral were instead greeted by Zurich.

    Passengers boarded the carriages of two trains on Sunday night in Barcelona – one was destined for Zurich and the other for Milan in northern Italy.

    The Elipsos train hotels travelled in convoy to Lyon in France where in the early hours technicians were supposed to split them and send them their separate ways. But they confused the destinations.

    Roll up for the Mystery Tour!

    The 135 passengers on the sleeper named Salvador Dali, which does the thrice-weekly Barcelona to Milan route, ended up in Zurich. Meanwhile the 105 people on board the Pau Casals, bound for Zurich, were sent towards the northern Italian city.

    The staff on the Pau Casals realised the mistake at the Italian border and the train was sent back, finally arriving at its destination three hours late. However, the Salvador Dali travelled all the way to Zurich before the error was realised and the passengers were sent back to Milan.

    “It was human error,” explained a source at Renfe, the  Spanish rail operator which jointly operates the overnight service with French counterparts SNCF.

    “Signallers made a mistake during the points switch in Lyon. The drivers of the two locomotives went the right way but they left Lyon with the wrong set of carriages. It must have been a bit of a shock for the people expecting to wake up in Italy. They were put on another train to Milan when they got to Zurich and apologies had been made.”

    The company offered a full refund to passengers affected by the error.

    An official Renfe spokesman added: “The orientation of the trains once they leave Spain is the responsibility of the French SNCF.  You’ll have to ask them why they got it wrong.”

    The Elipsos train hotel service is popular with British students who spend the summer inter-railing around Europe.  For a one-way fare of €180 euros (£150) travellers can sleep comfortably in a cabin, save on a night’s accommodation, and wake up in a new destination ready for a day of sightseeing.

    The company advertises with the slogan “Wake up to a new skyline”.

    Two cross-channel trips for the price of one!

    From BBC News – Kent Aug 4, 2010

    Forgotten Eurotunnel passengers taken back to England


    Eurotunnel is investigating after passengers were taken from Folkestone to France and back again without being able to get off the train.

    Seven vehicles were left on the train on Saturday because staff forgot to unload one of the wagons.

    The error occurred after a fuel spill meant one of the wagons was left empty.

    When the train reached Calais, staff unloaded the front cars but did not realise there were more cars behind the empty wagon.

    Train crews realised what had happened while they were on the way back to Kent and made an announcement but were not able to do anything until they got back to Folkestone.

    The passengers, who had to wait a further two-and-a-half hours to reach their destination, have been given a refund and offered a ticket for the next time they travel.

  • Got anything to sell?

    I see that lovely table is still for sale in the Frogsiders classified section.

    And surely there’s someone who’ll buy the brightly-coloured windsurfer – if only to show off a bit on the beach!

  • What are you doing this weekend?

    Fête de la Moule at Wimereux

    20 Jul – 11 Aug 2010

    Wimereux goes moules-mad for a weekend, with restaurants and stands all over the place, from the square to the beach, offering delicious mussels. Wash your moules-frites down with beer and watch the folk-dancing.

    Tourcoing Beach Festival

    10 – 25 Jul 2010

    An explosion of free fun for all the family, the Tourcoing Beach Festival grows in stature every summer. Expect performing arts, concerts, exhibitions, fireworks and sporting activities like canoeing, all jostling for space during a fortnight of colourful culture.

    Website: Tourcoing Beach Website

    Hardelot Classical Music Festival

    20 Jul – 11 Aug 2010

    The Hardelot Classical Music Festival has become one of the Nord-Pas de Calais region’s key summer events, drawing visitors from all over France. The concerts take place in the gardens of the Hôtel du Parc, overlooking the sea.

    Website: Hardelot Festival Website

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