Tag: holiday

Bull Hotel, relax… you’re in Bridport

As you drive into town, you can’t miss the dark blue 17th century Inn with a gold Bull overlooking the pavement. A Bridport artist gilded that Bull, old fashioned way; she works on the St Michael trading estate. I like that about the place. The meat comes from the butcher next door, the apple juice at breakfast is from a farm down the road, the amazing beds from a company whose impressive showroom is just outside Bridport.

I’ve been a few times for cheap and cheerful lunches (they have a ‘crunch lunch’ for a fiver which is great value for money) and once for a friend’s 40th which was a great laugh. I was curious to know what an overnight stay would be like and thought a night without the kids would be a great idea…

And it was. The bed was wonderfully comfortable (although ours did creak a bit but hey) egyptian linen and all, the Neal’s Yard bottles were bathroom size (no nasty plastic throwaway stuff) and we loved the mixture of old and new. Philip Starck lighting worked well with a french inspired Toile de Jouy wallpaper and plain chocolate walls with a silver tinge. Taste is very personal and if you like twee, you might want to find somewhere else. If you like bold statements and smile at quirkiness this should be down your road.

Supper? Well, we liked. Went for a sharing evening all the way with a Côte de boeuf and a cheese platter. The meat was tender in the middle yet crusty and black on the outside, sliced onto a wooden tray laden with hand cut chips, crispy yet not fatty, oversized sweet and crunchy onion rings, a large mushroom and some rocket salad. There was also a tomato each. I don’t understand tasteless tomatoes in winter (southern french pompous palate probably) so I gave mine a miss. It went back with the herbed butter which was unnecessary. The meat was succulent and did not need any addition. It did not need any more salt either, if you’re one of these add salt before tasting, beware.

The cheese platter was a good selection of local fare, from the famous Blue Vinney (which I love) to the Dorset Red (delicious if you like smokey) via a Somerset Brie and of course a farmhouse Cheddar. The husband liked the chutney which tasted too much like curry for my liking. He also loved the pudding of raspberry soufflé which was a bit too sugary for me but then I’m more of a savoury kinda girl.

There’s been a fair few reviews on Bridport’s Bull Hotel since they opened. They appeal to the growing number of people who have moved back into the area after a London stint or time elsewhere, as well as visitors who want comfort and a certain amount of luxury in a relaxed, modern atmosphere. Think affordable Babington House and you won’t be far wrong.


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Fossiles et ciel bleu à Lyme Regis

Il est difficile de faire mieux qu’une journee ensoleillée dans le Dorset. Il fait une chaleur qui fait du bien aux os sans ramollir la cervelle, le ciel est bleu sans tout rendre délavé, une petite brise permet de se balader sans transpirer et mourir de soif.

Aujourd’hui, mon père avait lu un article dans un magazine français à propos d’une table à thé faite par un excentrique Anglais avec des fossiles. Nous voila donc partis avec une bonne excuse à Lyme Regis, direction le musée et le port. Nous commençons par une balade en ville où nombre de fossiles et autres pierres plus ou moins précieuses ont trouvé résidence dans des magasins de souvenirs. Même si certains fossiles viennent d’Afrique du Nord, beaucoup sont quand même de la région et il n’y a pas de tonnes de jouets en plastiques prêts à la poubelle avant même leur achat . Quant aux pierres précieuses et semi-précieuses on trouve de tout, un peu comme à Glastonbury mais un peu moins hippie.

Mais revenons à nos fossiles. La côte du Dorset de Lyme Regis jusqu’à Weymouth est classée par l’ Unesco comme “héritage naturel mondial” car elle est une des seules côtes au monde à préserver gentillement des fossiles de l’ère Jurassique. (Nous avons le pendant en Normandie autour de Villers). Et j’avoue que la quête de notre table d’excentrique nous avons mené vers des os et autres vestiges plutot impressionants. Pas avec un marteau mais avec une entrée de £3 (trois livres au 12 septembre 2009). Le musée de Lyme Regis est un bon musée vieille école avec un amalgame de choses trouvées, léguées et achetées représentant la région. La table est amusante, l’escalier en colimaçon un petit peu glissant, les fossiles bien interessants et les habituels piéces de monnaie (dont des sous français), sextant, cartes postables et autres donnent une vue de la ville comme elle a été.

Maintenant, c’est une station balnéaire plutot pleine en Septembre surtout par un beau week-end ensoleillé comme aujourd’hui. La plage de sable (importé de France) est une joie pour les enfants, le port est mignon et nombre bateaux offrent des voyages en haute mer, péche aux maquereaux ou simple balade. Longer la côte et ses falaises qui tombent dans la mer est sur ma longue liste de choses à faire. Comme de chercher des fossiles de ce côté de la Manche. En fait, si vous voulez ‘creuser’ vous pouvez acheter des marteaux en ville. N’attaquez pas la falaise par contre à moins que vous ne vouliez vous recevoir des cailloux sur la tête et toute la falaise avec. Les falaises tombent toute seule de toute façon et lorsqu’elles se détachent les pros de paléonto et autres se retrouvent par ici pour chercher un autre dynosaure au nom imprononçable. Mais ils restent sur la plage. Il est interdit de grimper la falaise, ce qui me parait plutot logique. Mon fils se baladait au bas d’une falaise il y a quelques mois et une pierre lui est tombée sur la tête. Beau trou dans le crane, Samu, points de suture. Donc les falaises, c’est dangereux. Elles veulent bien nous donner des fossiles de temps en temps, mais c’est quand elles veulent… A bon entendeur, salut!

la livre va drolement loin!

Il semble que la presse britannique pousse les Anglais à rester ‘at home’ cette année. Ils peuvent bien essayer mais un Anglais ça veut du soleil et il faut le dire, la planète chaleur se fait désirer en ce moment. Pourtant, partout où je vais, j’entend parler des langues étrangères. C’est vrai que, si on arrive euros en poche, le budget a soudain meilleure mine, et en ce moment plus que jamais, c’est un atout.

Ce soir, je n’ai pas eu le temps de cuisiner donc en bonne franglaise, me voila partie acheter un ‘fish and chips’ dans notre chipie de Beaminster. Dame Chinoise presque incomprehensible mais un excellent poisson dans une panure légère valent le coup lorsque la paresse ou le manque de temps prennent le dessus. Ma petite famille de quatre a été nourrie pour 17 euros, soit 15 livres. Il y a deux ans, le taux de change vous aurait fait payer le même repas 22,5 euros.

Alors je comprend pourquoi ça parle français, espagnol et néerlandais dans les restaurants et les bars du coin. Pour un super rapport qualité prix, c’est plutot bien par chez nous! A bientot?

Moi, je pars en vacances en France, pas super pour le budget, mais j’ai besoin de voir ma famille… et le soleil fera du bien!

Fool’s Well

Hundreds of big yellow plastic capes with ‘Le Puy du Fou’ written on the back is one memory I am not about to forget. The Fool’s Well, as it would translate, is best visited when the sun is shining. ‘Le Grand Parc’ is indeed a very large park where in one day, you are taken from the Middle Ages to the 19th century through plays and amazing stages. As luck would have it, we chose to go on an ‘orange alert day’ when, unbeknown to us until later, the weather forecast from meteo France recommended we should stay indoors. Luckily, you can buy large plastic yellow tents with a hood that cover your whole body and keep you reasonably dry. You can also buy baseball caps to keep the sun out of your eyes on sunny days.

The yellow capes gather on the seats around the Well and a narrator appears, telling us the story of the Puy du Fou. There used to be a castle where we are now seated with a beautiful young dame.  To our right, a mount opens and from a cloud of smoke a woman appears, on a bed. She wonders where her castle is, where her birds have gone. As the story unfolds, birds of prey appear. Falcons fly low over our heads, vultures shake their feathers and seem to say: “So, what we gonna do now” as if they came straight out of Disney’s Jungle book. The bird keepers do an amazing job of keeping their birds under control. The play lasts over 30 minutes but even soaked -and getting wetter still- we were left wanting for more, thankful the birds did not mind the rain.

In normal circumstances, this is the time when I head home for a dry heated room. But this display has proved that this is no ordinary place. The next show is only 15 minutes away, we have to see what the Vikings have to offer. The stage is bigger, there are around 20 actors around a lake. The yellow capes laugh as a huge black cloud opens up, a few capes give up, most are enthralled and stay put. A viking boat has appeared from under the water. Are these still figures, swords in hand, real people? I won’t tell you, I hate it when all the surprises are spoilt.

The Roman arena at Puy-du-Fou
The Roman arena at Puy-du-Fou

Next stop, a huge arena. The yellow capes, probably keen to warm up, perform a football-like wave (arms up, stand up, pass it on to your right and start again). Another feast with gladiators, lions, tigers and much participation from the crowd. Later, the Battle of the Dungeon tickled my fancy mainly because the baddies were English. The children loved the narrator, dressed as a Fou (clown).

5.30 finally arrives, time for the Musqueteers. Am I glad I waited for this? Well, I have never seen anything quite like this before. More smoke, water and lights are used to amazing effects. Spanish dancers and horses perform a perfectly synchronised show that make 40 minutes go like a flash. The rest of the day was not just spent going from one show to the next. We arrived in a 1900’s town centre (BOURG) complete with bakery, sweet and toy shops, we passed the 18th century village with its potter, ironmonger and post office and walked through the medieval city. But we still did not manage to do everything. My children want to come back as they have noticed there is a separate entrance with yet another castle. It is bigger still than any impressive display we have seen today and is only open in Summer. It is Cinescenie, claiming the biggest stage in the world with extravangant technical effects and over 1,000 actors. I am under strict instructions that we have to come back in the Summer. I’ll wear jumpers and winter coat just in case, but I’ll be there.

Le Puy-du-Fou, Vendée, Western France

http://www.puydufou.com/uk/

bienvenue sur mon blog

Welcome to my blog where I share some thoughts and ideas on places I have visited in France -my original home- and Dorset -my new home and any other subject that comes to mind, if you’re interested. 

Since the reason I am Franglaise is because I married an Englishman, I thought I’d start with where we got married: Le Pradet. You’re unlikely to have heard of it except if you’ve been to Toulon or Hyeres in the Var. Even more so ‘Les Oursinières’, its beach front and harbour. It wouldn’t be the trendiest of resorts like St Tropez down the road but it’s got a small sandy beach on one side, rock pools on the middle, a pebble beach on the other and more rocks to dive from on either side. That’s not all though, a few bars and restaurants line the sea front and a small harbour is filled with fishing and pleasure boats. Ah, and the petanque corner of course, I almost forgot.  

It has changed a bit since I used to go there as a child thirty (I just typed twenty then calculated…) years ago. But not that much, that’s why I love it. Yes it gets crowded in August but unless you own a boat and find a ‘secluded’ cove or walk miles, where doesn’t? The harbour looks -thankfully- a bit more modern, the pebble beach is more easily accessible but the beaches are as sheltered as ever, the views over Toulon and the Mont Coudon are still wonderful. For a family holiday, it’s a good place to try. See you there this summer?

So where exactly is ‘Les Oursinieres’: France, Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur, Var, Le Pradet near Toulon.

Nearest airports: Hyeres/Toulon (20 minutes), Nice and Marseille (just over one hour).

Nearest train station: Toulon.