Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hi to the 5 ladies that are joining me on the trip to France . Here is the first draft of the Paris itinerary.

PARIS 9-11 September 2010
Jenny Johnson proposed itinerary

As promised I have worked out a rough guide for our trip to Paris in September. It will give you a flavour of the two days but is not definitive as this stage as we will not be able to finalise things until we have been on our recce trip in April. Please do let me know if there is anything else you would like to include or if there are any special interests you would like covered. I assume all of the group are reasonably fit. There will be a fair amount of walking as I find the best way to get around Paris is on foot.

Thursday 9 September
Meet at hotel 11-11.30am to drop bags
As this hotel is centrally located we can walk to most of our destinations. Comfy footwear advised!
12 noon after a light lunch locally we will we will cross over the pedestrian bridge for the afternoon to explore the area around the left bank to visit various food shops including Huilerie Leblanc, Epicerie Da Rosa and Fromagerie 31. Head to boulevard St Germain for Patrick Roger chocolatier.
We finish the afternoon at Café Panis for a refreshing cup of tea within view of Notre Dame.
Back to the hotel on foot or by taxi for a rest before meeting up for dinner locally possibly Chez Janou, an atmospheric Parisian bistro serving provencal food.

Friday 10 September
After breakfast we will spend a good morning at one of Paris’s food markets, such as Marche des enfants rouge or Beauveau
Light lunch, possibly at Le Mesturet
PMWe will spend the afternoon in the Montorgueil area exploring the cookshops Dehillerin and A Simon, the traiteur G Tetou and the boulangerie Stohrer. There will be free time at the end of the afternoon for those who would like to walk along the shopping street of Bd Haussman where you will find the original and very beautiful Galerie Lafayette
Dinner at aux Lyonnais, a classic brasserie owned and run by Alain Ducasse

Sat 11 September
Check out of hotel(we may go straight to Montparnasse station by metro to drop our cases), then explore the area around St night cookery course Germain, a haven of food shops including the renowned cheese shop Roland Barthelemy and the wonderful food emporium Bon Marche
Lunch, then set off to catch the train for Angouleme and your 4 days at Les Noisetiers.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Holiday on Garden Route

Graeme and I spent 6 days staying in 3 places on the Garden Route. It was a relaxing time and may i say a pampered time. First stop was The Waves, a small original old house at Victoria Bay. As Bed and Breakfasts go i was very impressed. Beautiful and simple bed room looking out on to a veranda from which you could see the sea. Lovely white cotton bedding and as clean as a pin. The owners who have run it as a BnB for 16 years were pleasant folk, and breakfasts were a point of pride for them. Delicious fruits laid out on to our plates in all their colourful natural glory. This combined with the blue of the sky and the back drop of the crashing waves created a definite photo opportunity!. The rest of the breakfast was delicious, the full monty for Graeme and corn pancakes with crisp bacon and maple syrup for me. Filter coffee not bad either. Definitely a place to stop on your way along the coast.

On the first evening, using Roussouw as a trusty eating out guide we went through to Sedgefield to a place called Trattoria Da Vinci. This little italian eatery is owned by what seems to be an older couple (elderly hippies) who labour long and hard over a hot pizza oven. Most of the patrons including ourselves ate outside (a small mall so the tables are outside shops which are closed after 5) as it was a very warm evening. The inside of the restaurant looked dark and dingy, with an old bubbly looking carpet. But the food was delicious (although we waited for 1 1/4 hours before we received it). I had a aubergine Parmigiana baked in the wood fired oven and a simple pizza (garlic and oil), Graeme had a very good looking pizza (thin and topped with authenic italian ingredients).

The next 2 nights were spent at Phantom Forest Lodge near Knysna. It is a leave -no-footprints- eco friendly sort of place. We parked our car at the gate house and were ferried up into the forest by small green buses. Our Cottage was a delightful wooden one on stilts. The view was amazing, high up above the trees (literally a Tree House) looking out over the lagoon (in the distance). Peaceful is the way we felt while we stayed at Phantom. Gorgeous rooms with a spectacular bath surrounded by glass with the above view. I indulged in two candlelit baths,pre dinner. We were visited by rather prococious Vervet monkeys (and babies) on one occasion. The same monkeys were in the business of snatching toast etc the next day at breakfast. The dinner on the first night was good and bad. The red pepper and lentil soup was tasty. My carpaccio of Venison was inedible, and my pavlova was delicious, topped with gooseberries. Graeme's Fillet of Venison was tasty but tough. We were delighted when we went to pay for the dinner, that the had removed it from the bill. I hadn't even caused a scene. We were most impressed.
The second night at Phantom we ate at Zacharys (one of the few restaurants which Roussouw gives a 3 Star). This is at Pezula Lodge and a very fancy affair it was too. The food was delicious (not sure if i would have given it 3 stars though). We really enjoyed the atmosphere (very pampered) and left to return for our last night in our tree house full and happy.

The last 2 nights were spent at Hunters Country House. This is near Plettenberg Bay. It is a family owned very English thatched affair. Our little suite was a little dark and in contrast to the first two needing a good overhall, although the bedding was white and crisp cotton of the best quality. They did say they were upgrading each place, what a pity we drew the drab straw!. But the main house is lovely, old english in feel, and the staff very pleasant and professional. The food was amazing on both evenings. I won't bore you with the plate by plate crit, but the Strawberry consome, coconut sorbet and caramelized strawberry was a wonderful combination of flavours.

We visited the Birds of Eden and Monkey Land, both well worth a visit. We saw Ring Tailed Lemurs, Small Cotton tops (tiny monkeys with white fluffy hair on their heads), Rough Lemurs (with slothful ways and thick black and white fur), Vervets in numbers, Capucchins (some with number 1 hair cuts on their heads and some with a Elvis impersonation hair do's). The secretary birds, flamingos, cockateels, Mackaws, parrots etc., were a fantastic display of nature's colour pallette (?) .

Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, and George are devoid to the most part of any good restaurants, except for Ile de Pain (which we couldn't get into ) in Knysna and it's tiny sister Mon petit du Pain (which we went to twice had wonderful coffee, sandwhiches and pastries).

Lovely holiday but back to normality again.