June 8, 2015

Top Reasons to Explore Sete

Recently, Nutmeg introduced her friend Nancy McGee the founder and visionary behind Absolutely Southern France. You can read the full article here. Nancy moved to Sète, the ‘Venice of Southern France’ after 20-years in Aix-en-Provence. Here, is how Nancy describes the two areas: “Provence has a varied range of beautiful colorful landscapes including the vast lavender fields, the Languedoc is more authentic, with “real” French people, not yet overwhelmed with tourists.” Don’t think for a minute that Languedoc-Roussillon is undiscovered, just a little less chic. We asked Nancy to help our readers to discover Sète through a local’s eyes and here is what she had to say: Travelers seeking a truly authentic taste of France at its most picturesque need look no further than Sète in the Languedoc-Roussillon. Intertwining canals lined by colourful houses have earned it the title of The Venice of Southern France while its 13 kilometres of beaches are considered the finest in the Mediterranean. It is also the most important fishing port in the Mediterranean. According to The Daily Telegraph, “Sète is the most interesting small town on the French Mediterranean coast.” Others refer to it as the “Ile Singulière” (the singular island) let’s see why. The impressive Mont Saint-Clair, situated in the centre of the island, is a good place to begin a tour. A visit to the summit with its panoramic views is an absolute must to understand how the Mediterranean and the Thau Basin are linked, since each one is essential to the town’s livelihood. Afterwards, a leisurely stroll back through the winding streets of Saint-Clair will reveal ultra-modern and traditional houses straight out of the pages of a glossy magazine. As a vacation spot, Sète is ideal. Small, hospitable and understated it offers an extensive menu of cultural and outdoor activities: swimming, sunbathing, watersports and even fine dining along the beaches where, yes, one can always find space to park! A world-class jazz festival, the world’s largest poetry festival, a documentary photography festival – and, of course, the famous water jousting or ‘joutes’ during the Festival St Louis draw visitors from far and wide. No fewer than six museums are open year-round. Food and wine enthusiasts will not be disappointed. Sète offers the aromas, tastes, and textures that classify Mediterranean cuisine as one of the world’s most celebrated. Here one can sample the much sought-after oysters from nearby Bouzigues and other seafood delights from the Basin de Thau. The wonderful indoor market offers a dazzling array of freshly caught fish, which the friendly merchants will prepare while providing cooking tips. There is a wide choice of restaurants serving oysters with white wine and buttered bread, fresh mussels, and a wide array of delectable seafood topped with Mediterranean delicacies and Sète even boasts a Michelin Star restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean. But we’ve only just ‘scratched the surface’ of this surprising town! Sète is not just a pretty face on the Mediterranean coast: its fishing industry works hard year-round to earn its keep. That’s why, unlike other ‘seaside’ towns in the region, Sète’s restaurants throw open their doors in winter to welcome the local population for the ‘catch of the day’. Likewise, the curtain goes up regularly in the beautifully refurbished Theatre Moliere, where residents enjoy ‘scene national’ theatre including concerts, dance, opera and plays. Sète is unlike any other town – no wonder its called L’Ile Singulère. Before letting Nancy go, G&N asked her to share a little more local’s knowledge for things to do in the area near Sète. #DISCOVER Water jousting and the central marketplace in Sète Antique shops and market in Pezenas (the city of Molière) Montpellier’s fascinating combination of modern and ancient architecture including the N°3 tramline designed by French fashion designer Christian Lacroix! #TASTE The most sought after oysters in Europe from the neighbouring lagoon including the “pink” oyster Tielle – octopus pie Thomas Jefferson Muscat and Viognier wine # RELAX Barge cruise on the Canal du Midi Swim amongst sea horses in the pollution-free waters of the Thau lagoon The Jazz à Sète Festival held in an outdoor theater on the Mediterranean For more information on Sète or to inquire into the range of Absolutely Southern France services contact Nancy here.

 

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June 1, 2015

26 Discoveries about Travel in Greece

Regular Ginger and Nutmeg readers know by now that Nutmeg cannot resist creating an ABC list for a new destination. The exercise allows her to discover some unusual facts that may help her out some day when she is playing Trivial Pursuit. Enjoy a voyage to Greece and learn a few things about this remarkable country in through the next 26 letters. (more…)

 

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May 25, 2015

Couscous takes over French Favourites

Forget magret de canard and moules frites – couscous served with its savoury slow-cooked stews is popular in French cuisine. It was voted France’s 3rd favourite meal in a study conducted for Vie Pratique Gourmand (2011). There are references to couscous consumption in France that date as far back as 1630 (Toulon) and 1699 (Brittany). (more…)

 

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May 18, 2015

Panade aux Pommes Not Your Classic Apple Pie

Ginger and Nutmeg hosted a July 4th dinner party while in Provence, in honour of their US friends.  The menu included traditional and non-standard elements.  Although the intent was to celebrate the US holiday, the menu might be considered a melange of Mexican, American, and French. (more…)

 

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May 11, 2015

Grottos of Provence the Caves of Villecroze

Millions of years of seismic activity, tectonic plate movement and freeze-thaw cycles created the diverse geology of present-day Provence. The region is also known as the Bouches de Rhone where the Mediterranean shoreline runs the gambit of beaches, brackish wetlands and vertigo inducing cliffs. Other natural phenomena in the area include the steep contours of the Gorges de Verdon and the volcano shaped Mont Ventoux. The caves of Villecroze are carved into the side of a sheer limestone cliff. A grotto formed by hundreds of thousands of years of water flowing over porous rock. The continuous water created tufa rock-hard calcium carbonate deposits along the cliff face. Cycles of natural erosion and deposits formed caves of smooth stone and flowing stalactites. (more…)

 

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May 4, 2015

The Donkey of Provence Le Bourriquet

A.A. Milne may have made Eeyore famous in his Winnie-the-Pooh books, however in reality the hardworking donkey has been helping humans out for thousands of years. (more…)

 

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April 27, 2015

Manguin Perfecting the Art of Distillation in Provence

The fruit is put into jail in May when the Manguin Distillery imprisons roughly 1400 pears in glass bottles in their orchard. Nutmeg had to see for herself how the new owners at this distillery were re-crafting a traditional industry into more of an art form. (more…)

 

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April 20, 2015

Discover Absolutely Southern France

Nancy McGee installed herself in France some 30-odd years ago. A Canadian by birth she speaks both official languages (French and English) thanks to her French-Canadian mother. Nancy says that growing up in Baie Comeau, Quebec for those who do not know the geography is “ Basically not very far from the North Pole.” (more…)

 

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April 13, 2015

Walking Through Palm Springs History

Sombreros, sunshine and margaritas were the fuel for a series of historical walking tours in Palm Springs. Kathryn Leonard and her husband were visiting friends in and the Mexican city of San Miguel de Allende five years ago when the idea for historic walks sprouted in her head. Kathryn is a retired schoolteacher with enough energy to challenge the energizer bunny. An avid tennis player and skier she may have finished with her professional career, but she is certainly not prepared to be idle. Kathryn told Nutmeg that during a walking tour in San Miguel de Allende she thought that the concept would work well in Palm Springs. (more…)

 

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April 6, 2015

Explore Ireland a Fall Foodie Tour

The Emerald Isle has long been attractive to golfers, gardeners and Guinness lovers. Nutmeg is here to tell you that it is also a destination for foodies. With nine Michelin-starred restaurants in the Republic of Ireland, there is more to the food scene than Irish stew. (more…)

 

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