Labour Weekend newsletter – cycling, walking & calendars

Bonjour tout le monde,
We trust you are enjoying the great weather over the long weekend.  We’ve been sweltering down here in Port Chalmers and getting out into the garden although there are some grey clouds on the horizon …….
The brochures and 2020 prices for our Backroad Discovery cycling and walking holidays are now updated and available as pdf files or printed copies by snail mail, so contact us if you want a self-guided holiday in France.  We’ve dropped some routes and added several new ones, including some “daisy” cycling programes from Chablis, Colmar, Saint Malo and La Rochelle.   These are 3-4 night holidays based at one hotel, so no daily packing, and they can be combined with other lineal routes for a longer cycling holiday.
Burg-Clos de Langres.jpg
We have eight self-guided walking holidays, some of which can be combined – in Alsace that can become a 3 week programme.  In Burgundy we’ve introduced a new walk from Macon, which takes you over gorgeous rolling countryside through vineyards, woodlands and fields, visiting chateaux, a world famous abbey and a prehistoric site with a museum. This is a lovely walking holiday with daily luggage transfers, covering 20-23kms per day, and staying in 3 &4 star hotels.  All dinners are included and, being Burgundy, the wines will be memorable.
The Walking Party are also offering some new walking weeks (fully escorted and all-inclusive) in the Dordogne-Lot (9 May), Massif Central (23 May) and Georgia (3 October)!  We don’t yet have detailed itineraries but the first offers relatively flat walks along the valley and features the strawberry festival in Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne.  The second features the Transhumance festival in Aubrac where the cows are blessed before heading up to the higher pastures, & also includes meals at three Michelin starred restaurants!  The third tour is in Georgia, about which we know little, but James tells us the walk will “concentrate on the cultural elements of Georgia without the mountains (wine, gastronomy, ballet, polyphonic singing, bread making, cave cities, abbeys etc).”   James is currently leading a private group in Umbria but promises to send more details on his return home in November.
Dordogne walking.jpg
In the meantime we have his 2020 schedule and prices, which are largely unchanged, so get in touch if you would like to indulge yourselves on one of James’ exceptional walking weeks.   The popular St James Way walks are scheduled to start on 6 September (from Le Puy) and 12 September (from Figeac), plus James is again joining up with our favourite barge, the Luciole, for a walking-barging week in Burgundy, along the Nivernais Canal, starting on 31 May.
Our 2020 tour to Scotland-France is on track with all the accommodation secured, including the cabins on the Lord of the Glens.  There has been a lot of interest and some flattering feedback on the unique itinerary.  The dates are 22 September to 11 October when temperatures in Catalonia should be comfortable – it reached 38ºC when we visited in September this year.  The price is 8695 Euros per person, share twin.  Only share twin this year as there are no spare cabins on Lord of the Glens, nor at the hotel in Colintraive, or  the house in Collioure.  The tour is guaranteed departure and we have places for four more people, so please get in touch if you would like a brochure.
collioure_plage_st_vicens copy.jpg
Lastly, the FRANCE 2020 calendars need to be ordered before 8 November, so get back to me asap if you would like a copy.  Now we only take pre-orders and do not order any extra copies for general sale.  Delivery is 3-4 weeks and the price remains at $32 incl. post and packing.
A bientot
Robert & Barbara
BESPOKE FRANCE
Robert Buchanan & Barbara Keen
52 George St, PORT CHALMERS 9023, NZ
ph (64) 03 472 7856,  freephone (NZ) 0800 147 856

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Scotland – France 2020 – update

Bonjour from Port Chalmers.

We are back from our tours in Aquitaine, where we had fabulous weather, good company and some wonderful meals. The highlight was a five course tasting menu at MILES in Bordeaux.  They call it a surprise menu based around the best produce of the season and every course was a delight; both inventive and delicious.  The price (55€) was also a surprise, being significantly more than on their web site, but it was worth every Euro and we cannot recommend this restaurant highly enough.  An added bonus was finding Domaine Templier’s Bandol rosé on the wine list.  This is a wine we have wanted to taste for many years and it was so gorgeous that we ordered a second bottle – with food and wine this good, who cares about the budget?

Our next stop was Scotland, where the weather was cooler and more varied, but we relaxed with old friends on a rental boat and cruised up the Caledonian Canal to Inverness. No Nessy; only glorious landscapes and lots of conversation.  

 Lord Glen canal copy

We also visited the luxury 27 cabin cruise ship, Lord of the Glens (above), before continuing our research for our 2020 tour, which is now finely tuned.  The main change is a six night stay in Collioure (instead of four) and our last night in France will be in Perpignan, allowing us to enjoy the tasting menu at a Michelin starred restaurant.

Scotland-France 2020 explores the Charles Rennie Mackintosh connection between Glasgow and the Catalan region of south-east of France.  It starts in Glasgow on Tuesday 22 September 2020 and ends on Sunday 11 October 2020 in Perpignan, which has good connections north to Paris or south for Barcelona.   We will travel by minibus and ferry to the isles of Bute and Arran, followed by a 5 nights aboard the Lord of the Glens, cruising from Inverness to Mull and Oban.  
 Collioure view from terrace copy

After a night in Edinburgh, we fly to France for a six nights at a rambling old house with fabulous views (above) in the centre of Collioure.  We’ll explore the Mackintosh Trail by foot, minibus, boat and the Petit Train Jaune, as well as relaxing in this charming village and sampling the unique local wines and cuisine.  The price for the 20 day tour is 8695 Euros per person share twin, so send for your brochure and secure your place on this unique small group tour.

 Serenity enter lock
Boating holidays are our specialist area and last March we introduced you to the Serenity; a new affordable six passenger hotel-barge, cruising in Champagne.  It’s owned and operated by a Kiwi-English couple who offer good-value, informal cruises, “providing the welcome and comfort associated with a quality, family-run hotel”.  
Cruises are all-inclusive with transfers from Paris, all meals, drinks and daily excursions and for 2020 the price is just 2,950€ per person for the six-night cruise.  Having three en-suite cabins the Serenity is ideal for small group charters, but they also offer individual cabins by arrangement and currently have the following departure dates available for 2020 – 
6 MAY from Sillery to Chateau Thierry
23 SEPTEMBER from Sillery to Dormans (5 nights only)
30 SEPTEMBER from Chateau Thierry to Sillery.

Phone or email for more information on the above or any of our holidays in France.


Cordialement,
Robert & Barbara

BESPOKE FRANCE
Robert Buchanan & Barbara Keen 
52 George St, PORT CHALMERS 9023, NZ
ph (64) 03 472 7856,  freephone (NZ) 0800 147 856
email info@bespokefrance.co.nz

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