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February 2013 newsletter



In this newsletter, we share with you details of our recent trip to the Pyrenees mountains; have
new places for sale and rent in France; tell you about current and upcoming French films; and
provide a recipe for a Saint Honore gateau as well as facts about love and romance in France.

A la prochaine
Sharon et David

PS: To keep up with French activity in between newsletters, 'like' us on Facebook - over the
next month our Facebook followers will have the opportunity to win some great French prizes.


Pyrenees majestically dominates landscape

There is something hauntingly beautiful about snow capped mountains. After leaving Toulouse heading southwest to Pau right in the centre of the Pyrenees, you see the continuous range of these gorgeous peaks always present to your left and ahead. Travelling in winter they are almost completely snow covered - you have to blink a few times as it is hard to believe there are so many mountains and you aren't just seeing clouds - absolutely gorgeous!

On the way to Pau on our most recent trip, we stopped off at the religious tourist town of Lourdes. While it only has a population of 15,000, every year 5 million people visit there each year, making Lourdes the most visited destination in France outside Paris. Since the first vision of Mary in the mid 19th century, estimates are that over 200 million people have visited this Pyrenees town which does have other attractions besides the grotto and church including a fortified castle that rises up from a rocky escarpment in the centre of the town.

 is the main city in the area, dominated by its chateau, one time occupied by French kings and emperors, and views of the mountains beyond.

We stayed at the 19th century chateau on our website which has also had its fair share of ruling visitors. It sits on a ridge above Pau - as it was winter we could see the city skyline through the deciduous trees. The chateau can be rented in its entirety, often for weddings, or rooms can be rented individually on a B&B basis - ours had a bay window and a Pau view. It is run by the very friendly, French Alex and his wife who with their new baby have moved back from running similar venues in the UK to be closer to family. They live in a house on the grounds which used to be the hunting site for the local king. Alex makes you feel very at home.

The chateau's location was excellent being close to the mountains and ski fields. The picturesque road we drove on up to the slopes was the same one regularly used by the Tour de France and goes through the mountain spa town of Eaux Bonnes (good water) where we had lunch. The town has had many famous visitors to its waters since the 1500's.

If you are taken with the Pyrenees, Sarah has just told us about a new property she has for sale near Pau - a 3 bedroom renovated farmhouse with period features for 159,000 euro. It has outbuildings, country views and sits on an acre of land - see details and other Midi-Pyrenees properties for sale

More new places from our trip in March's newsletter.

Aussie live-in mill B&B owners offer barn studio

Stay in the country surrounds of an old mill in a converted barn with self-catering or meal options. The medieval town of Martel is 5 min away and other sights like Rocamadour are 30 min away. Rent for $430 a week or $80 a night (4 night minimum):

Champagne farmhouse ready for renovations

This 1814 farmhouse in the village of Melay in the Champagne Ardenne region is in almost original condition, so you can be just like the Aussie owners above and convert the sadly neglected building to the French beauty it could be. Original features to aid the restoration include limestone fireplace and flagstones, oak stairs, wood fired bread oven, decorative timber floors and wall panels. The stone walls are structurally sound so there is a good basis to start renovations from. There is also a barn, cellar and attic as well as a small block of attached land. The place is 15 minutes from the Napoleonic spa town of Bourbonne les Bains, 2.5 hours from Paris and surrounded by beautiful countryside. All of this for the amazingly low price of 28,000 euro. 

Plenty of French films out now and coming up

This year's Alliance Francaise French film festival is on from 5 March to 7 April in six capital cities. Now in its 24th year, the festival has plenty to offer audiences with 43 spectacular French films:

In the meantime, the latest French film out is AMOUR (Cannes 2012 Palme d'Or and French 2013 Cesar winner plus nominated for 5 Oscars) - a film about the strength of love and family. Georges and Anne are in their 80's and cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter (Isabelle Huppert, in upcoming Sydney play with Kate Blanchett), who is also a musician, lives abroad. One day, Anne has an attack and the couple’s bond of love is tested:

Recipe for the special Saint Honore gateau

This richly decorated cake with caramelised cream puffs is made for special occasions. It originated in the mid 19th century to recognise St Honoratus, French patron saint of pastry chefs and bakers: 

Facts about French love and romance

As our facebook followers well know, February has lots of key dates for the French - one is the Saint's Day for St Valentin (also a village of love in France) which has French history associated with it. Read more about love and romance in France:

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