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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:
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.
When we bought our first house in the Pas De Calais, just a mile or two from the site of the Battle of Agincourt, we could reach it in 3 hours by car from our home in Central London. It was this arbitrary limit on travelling time that defined our search area in the first place, and we congratulated ourselves many times on the decision, as it made it possible for us to spend almost every weekend in France, starting late enough on Friday evenings to take an off-peak rate shuttle yet still arriving at our house before French midnight.
The nearness of the Pas De Calais to the most densely populated and richest part of Great Britain was an advantage to us then, and it remains an advantage now, even though we long ago left London to settle permanently here. Though the clientele for the holiday gite business we established came from all over Britain, the majority were from the South-East, and it was equally this region that provided almost all our useful out-of-season short break business – the icing on the cake for holiday landlords.
Statistically the Pas De Calais is one of France’s poorer regions, so prices here tend to be lower than in other more traditionally touristic areas of France. It’s a stroke of great luck (for homeowners and gite landlords, at least) that such an affordable region of France should be situated so close to much of Europe’s most Continue reading “Pas De Calais – the Golden Triangle?” »
It was unfortunate that the weather was windy and rather cool on Sunday when we paid a visit to La Chapelle de St Georges near Hesdin.
Entering the show by way of a well-restored private roadside chapel adjoining a house which provided a splendid venue, we were greeted warmly and colourfully by David Maiden’s oil paintings.
Jeannete Todd's Raku wall plaques
The wind made for rather uncomfortable viewing of the outdoor exhibits, and ceramic wall plaques by Jeannette Todd had to be removed from their hanging places and displayed, instead, lying flat on the concrete floor of an outbuilding, in case they blew down and shattered. There was no doubt we lost the opportunity to see this exhibit at its best.
At a conference to be held at the Westminster Hotel at Le Touquet on Saturday July 31, M. Edouard BRAINE, the Consul General of France in London will speak on the work his department is doing to encourage the development of a “frequent and cheap rail link” between Calais and Ashford through the channel tunnel.
M. BRAINE will also talk about the “Forgotten of St Pancras”, the tens of thousands of young French people for whom London and the UK labour market is the gateway into the globalized world.
M. BRAINE is a remarkable man who served in this region as a sous-prefet, before a distinguished career in the diplomatic service. His riding accident in 2002 rendered him quadraplegic, but he continues to serve his country in spite of a disability that would force most to retire. His present post in London brings him into contact with many of the issues facing British people travelling and working in France.
The conference is to be held in the halls of the Hotel Westminster, Le Touquet, on Saturday July 31 from 17h00 to 18h30, on the occasion of the General Assembly of UPRAT (Union des Proprietaires Residents et Amis du Touquet). Non-members are welcome to the conference but other elements of the meeting will be restricted to members.
If you live in the Nord Pas De Calais you’ll be aware of the increase in recent years in the growing of Flax on the region’s farms. You may also be aware that flax is the crop from which linen fibre and linseed oil are obtained, but what you may not have realised is that this plant, which gives such an attractive look to many of our fields in spring and early summer, is one of the most exciting and versatile of all the crops that can be grown in our northern climate.
Most of us will only ever have thought of flax as the source of linen fibre for our summer clothes and linseed oil for maintaining cricket bats, but it has a wealth of other uses, and like many other natural crops, every part of the plant can be used; nothing goes to waste.
One of the reasons for the renaissance of flax as a major crop is the drive to reduce the reliance of our industrialised world on unsustainable sources of energy. The seed of the flax plant are a rich source of natural oil which can nowadays be relatively economically processed into fuel. You’ll have noticed, no doubt, when you go to fill your car with fuel, that some of the pumps deliver fuel containing a proportion of sustainably sourced bio-fuel material. Farmers in the Pas De Calais have been encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to supply this growing market.
Of course, not all the oil goes into the production of fuels. Apparently it’s also important in the production of health food snacks (linseed is an excellent source of short-chain Omega 3 oils), salad oil, paints, varnishes, resin, baking ingredients, animal feeds, cosmetics, concrete finishing and of course, linoleum. Mind you, they’ve been saying lino’s about to make a comeback for years now.
The increased demand for linseed has the happy effect of making flax fibre much more readily available. Apart from textiles for clothes, linen is used for the highest quality bedsheets, tablecloths and furnishing fabrics, and linen yarn can be woven with silk, cotton and wool to create interesting and fashionable new fabric textures.
But flax fibres are, or can be used in a multitude of other processes and products, including sail cloth, tarpaulins and canvas, a sealing material for plumbing, workwear, tents, lace, bandages and horse bedding. It’s now also being used by some car manufacturers as a sustainable replacement for synthetic materials such as foam seat padding and carbon fibre reinforcement for their plastic mouldings. Papermakers use it to create luxury writing papers as well as the hard-wearing stuff that paper money is printed on.
But here is a really original use for flax. This lightweight canoe was made of a linen cloth on an ash frame, (in the way that traditional coracles have been made for thousands of years). The British builder says the linen was impregnated with flax resin and then just left in the sun for a few days – the resin cross-links and hardens in the ultraviolet rays. It really works, as you can see from this video.