Archive for April, 2010

Awaken to Perros-Guirec, Brittany, France

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Affair, French Quilts, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , , on April 23, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

We’re all glad another weekend has arrived so we can wake up to a magnificent sunrise at Perros Guirec in Northern Brittany.

Come and see. (Don’t forget your cup of tea or coffee and wrap yourself in a quilt ’cause it’s a little chilly in the wee early hours…)

http://www.perros-guirec.com/home_tourism will give you plenty of water sport activities to experience like kayaking and swimming around the Perros Guirec beaches as well as horseback riding, golf and more!

Cycling  on the many coastal tracks and trails will definately please some (especially you dear Richard Tulloch at http://richardtulloch.wordpress.com/)

And for you who love photography (I couldn’t name you all!) and painting, Perros’ unique landscape and pink granite coastline will enthrall. When  you want to just sit and eat and drink and do what some of us do best (and that’s  talking!), Perros’ charming little coastal village is where you’ll feel at home.

There is a good choice of very well priced little restaurants and a fine Salon de The’…

as well as a very sociable bucherie filled with delightful goodies and an assortment of everything at the weekly market.

Plenty to feed your famished bodies who have  exercised all day (or not).

Come in from the sea and experience the wonderful Thalassotherapy Centre, “Les Thermes Marins” with a luxury spa for relaxation and well being. Interested?

Perros Guirrec is a magical part of France and a place for dreaming…

Why not go there on your next trip to Brittany?

Have a dreamy weekend everyone,

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awakening To French Spas in Salins des Bains.

Posted in East of France, Food and Recipes, French Affair, French Travel with tags , , , , , , , on April 19, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Feeling like you need a rest and be totally spoilt? Then we’re off to Salins des Bains today in the pursuit of total French luxury.

Salins des Bains is a village owing its name to its surrounding saline waters and boasting an ancient 8th century saltworks buried many metres below the earth’s surface. It is approximately two hours by train from Paris, on the branch of the Paris-Lyon train line, in the Franche Comte region of North Eastern france.

Les Anciennes Salins (or saltworks) has been processing salt for over a thousand years and no doubt was a boon to food preservation in the past. It closed in 1962 but ever since its closure, buses bring thousands of tourists to join guides into the underground chambers and view galleries filled with historical memorabilia and of course, the hydraulic pump.

Needless to say that this wasn’t for us, but the thought of luxuriating in  an actual French spa with the locals ranked much higher and we headed straight for the salt pools- an oasis away from all these tourists! My french awakening could not be contained and I tore open my luggage and grabbed my swimming cossie before you could say, “Shark”!

I’ve dreamt about wading in a French salt spa for as long as I can remember. I have read that their lies a difference in each of the salt spas across France, depending on which region and the concentration of specific minerals present in the salt.

The details you won’t need either, so just go and enjoy every minute. You’ll be feeling gorgeous for ever so long!

Spa therapy is no doubt perceived as a very serious matter in France and we’re all so glad! We understand why and we also have to recognise that food is too, so combine the two and you have the perfect afternoon in France on your next trip!

Twenty metres from the ‘Thermes’, at number 1, Place des Allies, a row of topiary standards in deep grey boxes partition an area of tables and chairs outside the quaint Restaurant Brasserie des Bains.

There are other great restaurants in Salins des Bains yet Chef Maurice Marchand we were told proposes a light and delicate cuisine perfect for after-spa jaunting for my French awakening.

Take a peep at my simple yet sublime seafood meal of Normandy Salmon in a delicate orange sauce dotted with prawns and scallops, delicious served with Basmati rice fragrant with a hint of cardamon. Yes, I devoured the entire dish after a morning of spa therapy. Tres bien!

(The hand blown glasses aren’t bad either!)

So there you have it! For more information, go to:

http://www.salins-les-bains.com/version-anglaise.htm

or http://www.salinesdesalins.com/index.php?langue=7

Visit Salins des Bains, the” city of sparkling waters” on your next trip to France and you will no doubt drift home.

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awaken To Jam Recipes and French Breakfasts

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Affair with tags , , , , on April 18, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

We’re talking French food today! I’ve always felt Sundays should be time with family which means food but if you are in Paris, or anywhere in France for that matter, you’ll soon learn that the feast day is everyday- and in particular at breakfast time.

Sit down with me to our French breakfast and enjoy the simple yet wonderfully extravagance of home made confiture (jam).

When you visit France you may be really lucky (as I’ve been many times in the past) to be served this deliciously warm, handpicked fresh from the tree earlier that same morning and delivered to the stovetop to stew into glistening jammy loveliness.

Spread onto a hot crusty baguette and down with a cup of fine aromatic tea or coffee or even a hot (chaude) chocolate, perhaps in a traditional bowl large enough to make your entire hand cup wide to hold and enjoy its diffusion of warmth.

And if that’s not enough, other local French hosts may add some cheese, yoghurt or meat or even a light sultana cake may be in the offering.

This last and very important addition to breakfast made my french awakening breathe in long and hard that particular morning. Ooh you don’t have to be Maria Antoinette to be lured to the breakfast table by the aroma of freshly baked cake!

So what do you think? Feeling like a French breaky this Sunday?

I’m giving away my two prize recipes of some delicious French jam and to die for Lemon Curd (butter) that we gathered on our French travels and have eaten copious amounts of ever since. They’re beautifully authentic and many of the women in different villages use them. I know you’re going to love them!

Recipe One: French Lemon Curd (Butter)

This recipe is really delicious and you won’t be able to get enough of the stuff!

Here goes:

You will need:

6 eggs

grated rind of 3 lemons

8 oz butter

450g (1 lb) sugar

Method:

1. Separate 2 of the eggs and put aside the whites for other purposes. Beat 4 eggs and 2 extra yolks thoroughly. Squeeze the juice of lemons.

2. Melt butter in bowl over pan of boiling water or even in a double boiler and stir in the sugar. When sugar is warmed through, add the beaten eggs.

3. Stir in lemon rind and juice. Continue to stir for 5 to 10 minutes until the curd thickens, taking care that the mixture does NOT overheat or boil.

4. Pot the lemon curd in warm, clean jars. Cover and seal. When cold, keep in fridge.

This recipe does make 2 lbs of lemon curd, but you won’t be surprised how quickly it goes!

Recipe two: Banana and Dried Fig Jam

You will need:

4 lemons

3 1/2 1bs of bananas

8 oz dried fig

1/4 pint water

3 1bs sugar

Method:

1. Peel rind. Pith lemons. Remove pips and put the pips and pith in a muslin bag.  Peel and slice bananas into 1/4 in slices. Chop figs.

2. Put banana slices into a bowl and add water and the juice of 2 of the lemons. Add the bag containing the pips and the figs. Cover after adding sugar and leave to stand for 24 hours.

3.Transfer the banana mixture to a preserving pan and heat gently until all sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the setting point has been reached. Remove the muslin bag.

4. Put the jam in sterilized jars and cover. Seal immediately.

The above recipe makes 2.3kg of jam (5ib) so plenty to see you through many French breakfasts!

And in the words of Julia Childs, “Bon Apetit!”

Enjoy your Sunday everyone.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Awaken To Cape Frehel, Brittany

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Today I thought we’d take a refreshing trip to Cape Frehel at the tip of Brittany’s Peninsular between Dinard and Saint Briuec. There is no better place to clear our thoughts and simply breathe in the delicious sea air to feed our own inner sanction.

Walk along the headland on a single path edged in tufty grasses…

to the sheer cliffs of the Emerald Coast where the sea carves out its sandstone and slate rock into all sorts of glorious geological formations and interesting reefs, secluded bays and caves. All this at a perpendicular drop of about seventy metres below!

And they don’t call it “Emerald” for nothing!

And on a clear day you can see right out to the beautiful Channel Islands.

And you’ll be hard pressed to find a more spectacular panoramic view into the beyond and a sense of complete freedom up here.

Don’t forget to visit the two lighthouses too. One built in the 1950’s and the locals tell me that the other was actually built by Vauban under the reign of  King Louis XIV!

Or discover (about 4km away) the fortified castle of Fort La Latte, built in the 14th century of medieval times. This fortress has been positioned right on the cliff face at the Baye de la Fresnaye. My french awakening could imagine the horrendous boom of canons fired at the Fort in numerous battles over time.

Today, the whole area is a walker’s paradise amongst the heather and wild flowers, so invest in some good quality hiking boots before you visit. Even Zsa Zsa had to leave Park Avenue for ‘Green Acres’ at some point and you’ll be so glad you did!

In fact, if the gorgeous free spirited Billy Connolly was here, I’m sure he’d consider dancing naked at Cape Frehel, as he did at Stonehenge that very adventurous day.  You may not go to that length, but allow Brittany’s  spectacular coast absorb your every being- carrying all your thoughts (and wrigglies) into the wind as the  gulls and cormorants scream past into the blue skies above. It’s brilliant!

You can even indulge in lunch if need be at the nearby restaurant with the million dollar views, tucked away amongst the eagles’ nests. That’s if you can trek to it’s location. Here you can ponder you’re refreshing change devouring local Breton produce and wine!

And if you don’t want to go home ever, there are plenty of campsites along the coast with very low rental!

There is such freedom in adventure don’t you think?

P.S If you’re reading this Billy, always stay as beautiful and inspirational as you were at Stonehenge! x

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awakening to Quimper and French Fabrics

Posted in Decoration & Design, French fabrics, French Quilts, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Enter the fabulous French village of Quimper in the south west of beautiful Brittany. Being the artistic and cultural centre and the oldest city in Brittany, Quimper (pronounced cam pair) offers pleasant surprises for any shopper, quilter, pottery/earthenware  or gourmet food and history lover. Or perhaps you’re a little or a lot of all these- either way you’ll really like what Quimper has to offer!

There’s always a few surprises here and who doesn’t like surprises?

Like the odd pony or two greeting you on the cobbled street of the main thoroughfare in the Medieval Quarter…

Walk through the streets lined with medieval half timbered houses as Quimper has done a great job in preserving the city’s heritage. Keep going towards the cathedral and find the gorgeous modern carousel sprouting weird and wonderful sea creatures straight out of Jules Verne’s, ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea’ I’m sure…

I do love a carousel!!

Then there’s the Cathedral, the Cathedrale St Corentin built between the 13th and 15th centuries and is a fine example of Gothic architecture. Come see the beautiful stain glass windows commemorating Breton Saints. Why not take a virtual tour of this lovely cathedral while you’re sitting there? Go to:

http://www.360-degres-web.com/visite-virtuelle/cathedrale/index.html

Quimper has literally loads of shops including gourmet foods, chocolates and fab local produce, creperies, bars, many great restaurants, decorative craft shops and clothing boutiques.

Oh, you may decide to ditch your usual beautiful companion and take a like minded shopper at this point. (Are you nodding your head right now?…)

There are many galleries and art dealers selling paintings by local Bretons here as well and you’ll also find painters from the Pont Aven School in Quimper’s superb Musee des Beaux Arts. Take a look won’t you at:

http://www.musee-beauxarts.quimper.fr/

Also, being so close to two rivers (The Odet and The Steir), faience pottery is all the go here. Beautiful, hand made original pieces which are never duplicated are made just outside the town of Quimper in a nearby factory. It’s been making faience pottery for about three hundred years now, (having been commissioned by King Louis XIV himself)  so they really know what they’re doing! The faience pottery is world famous and it is sent to anticipated customers all around the world as we speak!

You could easily spend absorbingly brilliant hours here. And that doesn’t include treasure hunting at the Quimper markets (if you’re there on any day other than a Sunday) for bricolage, vintage treasures and sewing and quilting fabrics.

Did my quilting friends all just sit up?

Look what I found in the Quimper markets…

This floral number I used in my ‘La Vie En Rose Quilt’. For the pattern and more go to  http://www.quiltingthejourney.com

The second divine little number I’m using in a quilt yet to be revealed.

It was no wonder we visited Quimper on more than a few occasions that same holiday and we came away from this great town with an armful of gifts  for family and friends back home and quite a few metres of fabric!

On leaving Quimper, we looked up and guess what?…

Does this not say it all?

Go to Quimper on your next trip to France. You’ll learn and see heaps. You’ll love it!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awaken to Deauville’s delights, Normandy.

Posted in Decoration & Design, French Affair, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , on April 9, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

First of all I’d like to thankyou all for your generosity of beautiful words of appreciation. Your emails are much appreciated! It’s wonderful to form new friends and francophiles alike across the globe.

I’m sending you this photo today because it amused me when I took it at the time outside a little shop in Deauville, a very charming seaside town in the Basse-Normandy region of France.

Some vending machines drop hard teeth breaking gumballs in poster paint colours into the tiny hands of children but I came across this interesting one offering polished stones. Hmm. Of course they are not edible as the warning suggests…..let’s hope the kids can read!

A delightful alternative anyway, don’t you think? Which leads me to my next question. Does that authentic French sense of style and good taste start with the young?

Have a good weekend

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awakening to Brittany, France

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Painters, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

I’m taking you to the North West of France today- to Brittany my friends, where you’ll be lulled by the sounds of the sea into complete relaxation. Brittany has been an intense inspiration for many artists and it will be for you too- and you don’t have to take a paint brush!

We will however, definately need a picnic hamper filled with some local Brittany products such as some yummy savoury galettes,(they’re like crepes), a seafood terrine perhaps, local cider, Kouign aman (Brittany’s famous butter cake) and maybe some chocolate chestnuts! Brittany has wonderful local cuisine you must try!

My French awakening slowed to an almighty halt when I strolled along the sands of one of Brittany’s many magnificent beaches. Come with me…

Flat and so easy to cover distance, before long you’ll start to feel reflective and even begin to feel hypnotised into thinking you can go on like this forever, side stepping the occasional pool of water and ripple.

Even with your eyes squinting closed as a reaction to the sun’s glare, the lovely warmth of its heat and the sound of the distant waves, lulls you into a coastal isolation enough to sooth the weakest of spirits and exhausted of travellers.

And look what I collected along the way…

Brittany is a particularly beautiful change of pace in your French travel itinerary. It is here where you’ll walk on France’s most westerly tip at Finistere.

I think it’s very aptly named as it means “end of the earth or land’s end” and hidden sandy coves dotted here and there make fantastic camping or picnic spots for tourists and locals alike.

You’ll enjoy the interactive panoramic shots of Brittany at:

http://www.panoramio.com/map/#lt=48.2020471&ln=-2.9326435&z=8&k=2

Visit the charming fishing village of Cameret sur Mer, protected by a curved jetty and  eat at any one of the fabulous restaurants here for a local seafood lunch.

Or check out among the shipyards the model of Cameret’s famous shipping boat called, ‘The Bell Etoile” or visit the famous Vauban Tower which now holds a great maritime Museum which was originally built many years ago as part of the fortifications to protect Brest.

Then there’s the Tas De Pois rock formations at Pointe de Pen Hir and see the spectacular rugged cliff faces that have been lovingly painted by fabulous artists such as Monet, Matisse, Picasso, Vasarley, Isabey, Corot and many more. My french awakening can only imagine the drama of these rugged cliffs on a stormy day.

The Crozon Peninsular offers wonderful views across the Atlantic. Back on the mountain tops, hiking amonst wind driven grasses and granite megoliths of the Neolithic Age is  possible too.

But most of all, not only will you be lured in by the ocean of Brittany’s dramatic coastline, the best part of Brittany is its people who exude such warmth and friendliness it’s difficult not to return.

You will love Brittany my friends. Don’t miss it.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Copyright@2010 Therese Waddell