Tag: Montpellier

South of France 2016

Welcome to our Summer Season 2016…

Front Door

The season has kicked off to a wonderful start and with the sunshine just around the corner, it can only be the south of France. Welcome to our lovely guests and we hope you all have a memorable holiday.

Summer Pool

Easter Wisteria in the South of France

We were incredibly fortunate to spend two weeks in France over Easter. Thanks to Philip Pullman‘s  brilliant audiobook ‘The Subtle Knife’, the drive from London was completely gripping for all the family. Despite the rather soggy Spring before our arrival, the sun broke through and warmed our bodies and souls for the whole holiday – we were truly lucky. Last Easter, we arrived as the wisteria was fading but this year we appreciated the beginning of the bloom. Rather charming, we thought…

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And now the wisteria is blooming all over London too. Magical stuff.

Under a wisteria sky

We descended on our hideaway in France for the Easter holidays, filled with the joyful anticipation of ten days of freedom. Our welcoming and bountiful terrace greeted us with the best wisteria display yet.

Blooming

Blooming

It is undeniably relaxing to gaze at a southern french blue sky, through the wisps of deliciously scented, tumbling wisteria, buzzing a happy hum.

Under a wysteria skyWe exploited the unusually warm April weather and spent the majority of our days right here, on our terrace where the outside world stops for a while and anything is possible. Under a wisteria sky, it is easy to pause and ponder.
Wysteria terrace 3

Under a wisteria sky, solutions will be found.

Lavender and Butterflies in the south of France

Even in London this summer, I have spotted many butterflies since we arrived here at the end of June.  My Dad was an enthusiastic butterfly collector as a boy and still loves butterflies today, so maybe his passion is contagious. For me, butterflies are entrancing works of art; fragile and free, they add dazzling delight to our gardens and lives as they flutter by.

Here is a butterfly who rather likes our lavender.

Butterfly on Lavender

Butterfly on Lavender

Butterfly on Lavender

 

A new pool terrace

We snatched a week for ourselves at our hideaway in France a few weeks ago. Oh a week is not enough! We are thrilled with the new terrace around the pool  and we love the difference a salt water pool makes.

Pool

Pool

And the new sun loungers are very comfy and go flat for those who want a bronzed back!

Pool and terrace

Pool and terrace

I love the early morning stillness by the pool, when the world is silently preparing for the day.

Early morning stillness

Early morning stillness

Early morning by the pool

Early morning by the pool

Morning pool 7

And the pool terrace looks pretty from upstairs too.

View from upstairs

View from upstairs

View of pool from a bedroom

View of pool from a bedroom

We’ll be back soon but in the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys their summer at our hideaway.

 

Raining in the south of France? Five top tips to beat the grey sky blues.

I have finally realized that  certain things in  life cannot be changed. My legs will never be long and beautiful and much to my chagrin, they will always be a touch more footballer than model but life goes on regardless.

The weather equally escapes our control. Most of the time we grimace and bear it but on holiday we want to be grinning……Nobody wants rain during a treasured break, particularly if you are venturing somewhere with a sunny reputation. Who wastes precious bag space on Ryan Air or Easy Jet to bring their rain coat and wellies when you are heading to the south of France?

We can’t change the weather but  we can change our reaction to it. Let’s be honest, moaning does not make you feel better and for most people, it won’t improve your holiday. When guests rent our house, I obsess about the weather, desperate for their holiday to be perfect but there’s nothing I can do to influence the power of the skies.

After a wet Spring in the south of France, the flowers are brimming with happiness, the heat is on  and I’m sure the sun will beat down for the rest of the summer but if on the rare occasion the sky has a little cry, here are my top five tips to beat the grey sky blues in our area:

1. Go and find a delicious indoor market, or food hall. In Nimes, Les Halles, is sensational. Go wild and try some local delicacies you’ve never tried before. Once you have filled your baskets with tasty local produce, zoom back in the car and cook up a feast. Equally delicious inside or out.

Les Halles, Nimes

Les Halles, Nimes

2. Find a fantastic restaurant, order several bottles of  grown up  grape juice and solve the world’s problems. Maybe the sun will be shining after the coffee and cognac, even only metaphorically.

3. Seek out the local Aquarium or Planetarium. Kids love them and at least you know you won’t be missing out on precious sunbathing time. Montpellier has a fantastic newish development called Odysseum. Great rainy day,  family entertainment all in one place – Aquarium, Planetarium. Ice-rink, Climbing centre, Cinema – just thank your lucky stars it’s raining!

4. Both Montpellier and Nimes have some wonderful museums but there are many more museums in the Languedoc. Inspiring places to hide from a deluge. You are spoilt for choice.

5. Ignore the rain and carry on regardless. Unless there’s a storm overhead, the rain needn’t stop you. One rainy summer day, we went canoeing with friends near St Guilhem le Desert, a magical medieval town in the Cevennes. I have no doubt if the sun had appeared it would have seemed even prettier but we didn’t let the clouds ruin our fun.

St Guilhem le Desert

St Guilhem le Desert

At least the weather changes daily, where as I am stuck with my little legs for life!

 

Mediterranean beaches – a favourite place nearly on our doorstep

Blustery winter walks on a damp shore wake up the soul for certain but it’s the sultry, summer sand which is the most seductive. Thirty minutes by car from our house and you can feel the warm sea kissing your toes.

Nearly on our doorstep, there really is a beach to suit everyone. If you are seeking the wild and wonderful, drive beyond the Grau de Roi and arrive at La Plage de L’Espiguette.

Espiguette

Six miles of unspoiled peace and never-ending sand dunes; a massive expanse of freedom. Nature at its best, or naturists at their best, at a far, discreet corner!

If you are more inclined towards beach glamour, glitz and comfort, there are numerous private beach bars and restaurants between Palavas (just south of Montpellier) and La Grande Motte.La Plage des Bikinis

A long strip of beach, dotted with gorgeous, private establishments which pop up for three to four months of the year. You can hire a sunbed and parasol for the day and enjoy the luxury of waiter service.  An icy glass of rosé whilst gazing at the sparkling sea, truly can chase the cares of the world away, especially when the kids (if any!) happily amuse themselves on nature’s finest playground.  For those who love the beach but also appreciate a proper toilet and a shower, this is the beach experience for you. When your tummy begins to rumble, whether it’s a fresh seafood lunch you are after, or a special dinner watching the sunset, you will not be disappointed.

If you don’t fancy paying for the sunbed and you’re not in the mood for food, there is plenty of space between the private beaches to park your towel and bucket and spade.

July and August are obviously the busiest time at the beach and roads can be a little formidable but if you choose your travel times carefully, you will be surprised how empty the roads are. When we need a sandy fix in peak summer, we set off by 9.00am and always have a clear ride in. We then seek the shade of a restaurant for lunch and leave before the surge. Alternatively, we head off at about 4pm/5pm, once the heat of the day has relented  and go for a late swim and stay for an aperitif and even supper.

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There is nothing like the sea air to make you feel you are truly on holiday, whichever beach beckons your bikini.

Hot Tips:

  • In peak summer, avoid setting off for the beach after 10am and avoid returning between 4pm and 6pm.
  • Make reservations for lunch and dinner at the private beaches in peak season. You can even reserve a sunbed – try and ask for the front row, for an unspoiled view of the Med. Easier to keep an eye on any little rascals too.
  • Some private beaches have live bands playing early evening in time for your aperitif.
  • A few of our favourite:

La Paillote Bambou, La Grande Motte – 04 67 56 73 80

La Plage de Bikinis – La Grande Motte – 04 67 56 10 40

Sun 7 Beach – La Grande Motte – 04 67 12 13 69

Yacht Club Beach – La Grande Motte – 04 67 29 29 29

Carre MerVilleneuve-les-Maguelone – 04 67 42 06 96

La Voile Bleu – La Grande Motte – 04 67 56 73 83

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