Just five years old – It has been an extraordinary first five years for the historic Spanish wine estate Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine, achieving an impressive array of milestones and international recognition. To celebrate this milestone, the property has devised an Anniversary Package to delight hotel aficianados, gastronomes and spa lovers.
Offering two nights’ accommodation with breakfast, this deal includes a welcome bottle of Legras Champagne, free minibar with additional butler service, an history tour of the property and unlimited access to bicycles, the pools, the fitness facilities in the Santuario spa, an upgrade and late check-out on availability. Within the spa, the package further includes a welcoming foot ritual performed by the Spa Sommeliers and a 50-minute couples massage. Rates start at £400 per night, is available during weekdays until December 2017 and a minimum two night stay is required. For further information and reservations: www.ledomaine.es; firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel. +34 98 368 0368.
Hauterives: Le Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval – A unique building that has been recognised by both Pablo Picasso and André Breton as a perfect example of Architecture Naïve – the Ideal Palace of Postman Cheval! It took this local postman 93,000 hours over 33 years working alone, to construct his perfect building stone by stone. It is surreal this fairy tale palace where concerts are held now in the summer. It was recognised as a singular act of creation and classified as ‘Historic Monument’ in 1969 by André Malraux.
Photo: Lionel Pascale
Royal London – Kensington House Hotel is perfectly situated for guests to enjoy the best of royal London and with rates starting at just £99 per room at Kensington House Hotel everyone will be happy. This great value package includes; overnight accommodation, continental buffet breakfast and a bottle of house wine.
Here is our top royal pick:
- Originally built for William III and Mary II at the end of the 17th century, Kensington Palace has been a museum, a barracks and a private residence. There are a great many rooms to see – the Queen’s and The Kings Apartment’s as well as the room where Queen Victoria was born. Temporary exhibitions are a constant draw and at present, it’s all about Diana and her fashion story. The Palace is open 10am until 6pm daily and tickets cost £17.10 if booked online. It is free for Historic Royal Palaces members.
- The Royal Albert Hall opened on 29th March 1871 with the largest iron roof structure and the largest pipe organ in the world at the time. Today, over a million people a year watch sports, theatre, opera and rock concerts at this Grade I listed venue with over 350 performances per annum. For a list of performances visit www.royalalberthall.com or why not take the tour of the Hall for £13 per adult – group size limited to 20 pax – for around an hour and enjoy 10% discount at both the shop and the rather tasty cafe next to it.
- The V&A‘s summers’ block buster is Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, examines the work and legacy of influential Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga, with over 100 pieces crafted by ‘the master’ of couture, his protégées and contemporary fashion designers working in the same innovative tradition. Tickets cost £12 with members going free.
- Buckingham Palace is the working headquarters of the Monarchy, where The Queen carries out her official and ceremonial duties as Head of State of the United Kingdom and Head of the Commonwealth. The Royal Day Out ticket includes admission to all three venues around Buckingham Palace: The Queen’s Gallery, the Royal Mews and the State Rooms. It is the perfect purchase for visitors looking to make the most of their visit to the Palace. Royal Day Out tickets cost £39.50 for an adult ticket and the Palace is open daily 9:30am to 7:30pm.
Names we know: Harry Potter – Brodard & Taupin – There used to be two bookbinders’ workshops in Paris that merged in 1910 – Brodard & Taupin. The company moved to La Flèche in the Loir Valley in 1967 and at that point, they were the sole printer of the Hachette Livre de Poche series which lead to greater success with large print runs of larger books such as the Harry Potter series. There must be a touch of wizardry about them as they printed a million of each of the fifth, sixth and seventh books in record breaking time! What makes them a unique printing business in France is their phenomenal response time with a multi-skilled workforce trained in house in every conceivable role. They now have 120 staff, print 40 million general literature books a year – up to 500,000 copies a week plus 30 million Livre de Poche a year – up to 700,000 copies a week.
The Mastrou – or Train de l’Ardèche – is located just a few kilometres from the town of Tournon at St.Jean de Muzols from where the Mastrou or steam train of the Ardèche departs for Colombier le Vieux, passing through the magnificent, scenic and protected Doux Valley – an area that is totally inaccessible by road making it a unique experience. On certain days the train goes as far as Lamastre for the local produce market.
24stops – The Rehberger-Weg Art Hike – The Rehberger-Weg, which is around five kilometers long, links two countries, two communities and two cultural institutions. The path runs between Weil am Rhein and Riehen or for easy understating from the Fondation Beyeler to the Vitra Campus. The tour takes you past 24 Stops created by the artist Tobias Rehberger which mark a path between the two destinations, the two communities of Riehen and Weil am Rhein and the two countries of Switzerland and Germany.The first 12 waymarkers were installed in September 2015, with the final 12 added by June 2016. The objects are not only way markers, but also have their own individual function – to be used, to fire the imagination and to tell a story.
For more information on 24 Stops and to download the app visit www.24stops.info.
Photo: Mark Niedermann
- La Scandibérique – The French part of the European cycle route number three between the Charente and the Gironde, 30 km in the south of the department
- La Vélodyssée® -This cycling route runs between Roscoff in Brittany and Hendaye in Aquitaine – 1250 km. In Charente-Maritime there are 150 kilometres of cycle routes right across the department including La Rochelle, Royan and Rochefort.
- La VéloFrancette® – From Ouistreham to La Rochelle, this cycling route offers 630 km of tracks from Normandy to the Atlantic coast. 45 km in Charente-Maritime between the Marais Poitevin and Marans.
- Le Canal des 2 mers à vélo – NEW from June 2017 – Part of the V92 was opened in Charente-Maritime linking the Ile d’Aix to Excideuil in the Dordogne, so approximately 300 km. The new national route connects the Eurovélo 1(La Vélodyssée®) with Eurovélo 3 (La Scandibérique) and the V90. The 130 km in Charente-Maritime crosses Rochefort, the Charente River, Saintes, and heads on towards Cognac.
- Fiches Vélo – All the Tourist Offices of the department have posters of the various cycle routes in the area. The posters show details of the routes, what there is to see in the area, the contact details of the offices, and the Accueil Vélo participants too.
- Géovélo Tourisme – Géovélo Tourisme offers a new mini app for your smartphone that is a complete aid to cyclists showing routes, calculating timings, showing points of interest, the contact details of tourist offices, and the Accueil Vélo participants available.
Luxury Gift List – The key to choosing a great gift is to find an item that will never go out of style and improves with age. So when looking for that ideal wedding, anniversary or special gift, look no further than FRANCIS M., purveyors of the finest Irish linen.
This noble fabric fills the linen presses of The Sultan of Brunei, the Imperial Court of Japan and Buckingham Palace who appreciate the enduring caress of “the rich wrinkle” – always an insider signal of good taste among the cognoscenti. While luxury cotton bedding usually lasts about three years before showing signs of wear and needing to be replaced, Irish linen is only starting to blossom. It becomes softer with each laundering with a gossamer silky smooth touch and can be passed on to the younger generations as an heirloom.
Although linen is manufactured in other parts of the world, the fineness of the woven cloth that is still achievable by Irish weavers and spinners today makes FRANCIS M. bedding exceptional. Their philosophy is the simpler the design, the more exacting the craft. They eschew unnecessary swirls and flourishes in favour of a restrained simplicity that is elegant, appropriately traditional, timeless and loved by their discerning clientele.
The finely and evenly woven linen bedding is tensile strong and durable. It increases in strength when wet, allowing it to stand up to repeated laundering even at boil temperatures. A wise and genteel investment and for a limited time there is 50% off all goods.
Little French Fact – Did you know that Pastis, now synonymous with Provence, was first created in the Southern France city of Avignon? The word comes from the old Provençale language – ‘patisson’ meaning ‘mixture’. Pastis was invented in 1918 by Jules-François Pernod who founded the distillery just outside of Avignon at Montfavet. He wanted to find a replacement for absinthe as the main ingredient of wormwood had been recently outlawed for making people ill. Enter ‘Anis Pernod’. ‘Pastis de Marseille’ followed on in 1932 – launched by Paul Ricard. Pernod moved to Marseille in 1968 and the two companies merged finally in 1975 to become Pernod-Ricard.
Historic London – London Bridge Hotel is situated in the heart of historic London, making it the perfect destination for any history buff, and with the ‘Great Weekend Deals’ package it has never been a better time to visit. Rates start from £99 for an overnight stay with free internet access and add a full buffet breakfast for only £10 when booking in advance. For full details of the package and to make bookings visit: www.londonbridgehotel.com/offers/offer-details/amazing-london-bridge-weekends
Here is our top pick of Historic Locations:
- HMS Belfast was launched in 1938 and played a leading role in the Battle of North Cape and the Normandy landings. Now a museum moored on the Thames,visitors can experience nine decks of living history on this huge and complex warship which provides a unique insight into naval history. Open daily from 10am until 5pm and adult tickets cost £16.00.
- Tower Bridge was built over 120 years ago to ease road traffic while maintaining river access to the busy Pool of London docks. Built with giant moveable roadways that lift up for passing ships, it is to this day considered an engineering marvel and beyond being one of London’s favourite icons, it is arguably one of the most famous and instantly recognisable structures in the entire world. Open daily from 10am until 5.30pm and adult tickets cost £8.70.
- Despite the Tower of London‘s grim reputation as a place of torture and death, within these walls you will also discover the history of a royal palace, an armoury and a powerful fortress. Don’t miss Royal Beasts and learn about the wild and wonderous animals that have inhabited the Tower, making it the first London Zoo.Open Tuesday – Sunday 9am – 5.30pm and Sunday and Monday 10am – 5.30pm. Adult tickets cost £28.
- Experience the life of a 16th century explorer aboard the Golden Hinde, a full-sized reconstruction of the ship Sir Francis Drake used to circumnavigate the globe between 1577-80. Located in historic Bankside, with stunning views of the Thames, they offer interactive tours and programmes, complete with actors in period dress. Open daily from 10am until 5.30pm for self-guided tours and adult tickets cost £7. Booking online is recommended as the ship is sometimes closed for private functions.
Photo: Pawel Libera/London and Partners / Golden Hinde
Pitching up in history – The luxury camping collective, Les Castels have a number of historic sites where holidaymakers can enjoy a taste of French history whilst camping. The 15th century Manoir de Ker An Poulin Brittany is one such site. Just 700 metres from the beach, the campsite is a historical monument set in seven hectares of wooded parkland, from here you can explore the Bay of Morbihan which is thought to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Another is the Château de Poinsouze in Nouvelle Aquitaine, a 15th century castle with its own lake and over 100 acres of spectacular countryside to explore.
The Château de Boisson in the Cevennes, dating again from the 15th century has authentic, original decoration from the period and is typical of the large houses of the area with exposed stonework carved into arcade porches. The 16th century Château de l’Epervière in Burgundy sits in an enviable position between Lyon and Dijon. Of course there is a wine tasting cellar open to guests – just an indication of the gastronomic delights of this gourmet area. Lastly we must mention the Château de Leychoisier, the oldest site in Les Castels and a listed one! It is just a few kilometres from the capital of French porcelain in Limoges. The old fortress is a thousand years old and surrounded by centuries old sequoias and lime trees.
Social Food – Located in the revitalised Shard Quarter, Quarter Bar & Lounge is a stylish cocktail bar adjacent to London Bridge Hotel, featuring a contemporary, comprehensive menu with prices starting at just £6.00 – perfect for every social event.
For early (and not so early) birds, breakfast is served until 12pm and includes all the brunch favourites from sausage sandwich to Eggs Benedict and Croque Monsieur and Quarter Bar originals like the bacon stack – bacon with scrambled eggs & chives on toast – a mushroom version is available too.
The small dishes are perfect for sharing and offer delicious plates of pork scratchings and apple compote; deviled eggs with paprika; pork and potato croquettes with apple butter; heritage tomato salad; crisply lamb shoulder with mint yogurt and brandy cured salmon with walnuts. There are also healthy salads such as the salt baked beetroot with goat curd and balsamic dressing; smoked duck with pickled and roasted mushrooms, spinach and a Madeira dressing and warm goats cheese with roast pumpkin and charred onions.
Heartier fare includes Aberdeen Angus beef burger with smoked streaky bacon, apple wood cheddar and caramelised red onions all served in a toasted brioche bun; freshly battered cod and chips and Aberdeen Angus Ribeye with confit cherry tomatoes.
As no meal is complete without a treat, diners can enjoy a sweet ending with the new shot glass sharing desserts with five delicious fillings brownie and raspberry trifle; Oreo cheese cake; lemon parfait; peanut butter parfait; milk chocolate mousse and carrot cake with candied carrot also just £3.50 or three for £9.
Photo: Sue Lowry
New location for the Musée de la Romanité de Nîmes, The Gard, Southern France – The Archeological Museum of Nîmes is one of the largest in France, and which, until this year, was housed in the seventeenth century Jesuit’s College. As of 2018, these extensive collection dating from the Iron Age and Gallo Roman periods, will find a new home directly opposite the famous Roman amphitheatre of Nîmes. An architecturally stunning building, which incorporates an internal street, was designed by architects, Elisabeth and Christian de Porzamparc who won an international competition, held in 2012, to design the new museum. The museum will contain architectural and aesthetic innovations as well as the objects such as bronze tableware, lamps, ceramics, toilet and dress accessories, and a collection of Greek ceramics too.
Photo: De Portzamparc