Bonjour to you all from chilly northern France!
Every morning this week I’ve woken up to a thick frost covering everything and freezing the water in the bird baths. It looks as though the green hedges and red roof tiles of the local village houses have had a gentle coating of white, glittering paint. Pheasants and other game birds seem to thrive in this weather and forage around in the hedgerows while buzzards hover above, which keeps my three dogs entertained on their daily walks. Thankfully, they get so excited their barking alerts the birds who always escape.
There’s something magical about early morning walks here in the rural countryside of the Seven Valleys, Pas de Calais at this time of year. Smoke billows from chimneys and hangs softly in the frozen air, yellow light glows from behind half open shutters. In the gardens and fields roosters crow, chickens cluck and ducks quack. The bleating of sheep and goats can be heard and cows moo as the farmer escorts them from the barn to the field. His elderly mother on one side in her wellington boots, coat done up over her apron against the cold air, he on the other side shooing the great placid beasts along, while a car or two waits – total gridlock. If I’m lucky I may catch a glimpse of deer at the edge of the forest or even a wild pig with young in tow. A heron sits on his post every day watching the countryside awaken and eyes me lazily as I pass.
I never get tired of the sights of the country. But, it doesn’t stop me writing and sharing lots of great features with you and this week on the website, there’s something for everyone to enjoy,
Bon weekend and best wishes
Bisous from France
The ancient and quirky Saint Vincent Tournante Festival in Burgundy celebrates the feast day of St Vincent, the Patron Saint of wine. Dating back to medieval times this colourful pageant takes place each January.
The First French Sparkling Wine – the real Champagne? Some say Dom Perignon borrowed the secret of how to make sparkling wine from the Benedictine Monks in Limoux, Languedoc-Roussillon…
Strasbourg, the Most Romantic city in France celebrates love for ten whole days in February with a stunning programme of events in Strasbourg Mon Amour…
Shakespeare & Co. Paris – the historic and much-loved bookstore in the city has a wonderful history, did you know it used to be a monastery…
Inspiring Cote d’Azur – there is much to fall in love with in the south of France, author Pamela Eglanski reveals her favourite French things…
Battlefields of WWI in Champagne-Ardenne – a new free brochure has just been released by the tourist board, full of excellent tips and advice for places to visit for WWI history buffs.
Public Holidays 2015 – The key dates for this year, don’t forget, most shops are closed on public holidays in France…
Nausicaa Valentine’s Night – A completely unique and utterly brilliant way to spend Valentine’s night in northern France – at Nausicaa, Europe’s largest and arguably best aquarium. Champagne, canapes, violin music, Michelin Star chef cooking a meal in the tropical lagoon for limited numbers of visitors, fun and romantic…
Property price update – we take a look at the state of the property market in France, could this be the year to invest?
Update on 12 Days of Christmas Gift Give Aways: All winners have been notified and most have been in touch with me to give addresses. We do though still have a few outstanding claims and if I don’t hear by next weekend – the prizes go back in the draw!
The gorgeous Vivrara Bird Houses were won by Peter Kayley (UK) and ABC Burgundy France who need to contact me to arrange delivery.
Books: The House at Zaronza by Vanessa Couchman was won by Gary Binmore Australia; 4. Mad about Macarons by Jill Colonna was won by Elaine Michel; The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson was won by Helen Pimlott – could you please all contact me to arrange delivery.