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Le fromage

Posted by on Jan 9, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Le fromage

They say there are over 324 different cheeses in France – the number differs according to the source. Suffice it to say that there is a lot of French cheese and it is really only over the past 50 years or so, when travel to France became more accessible to us common folk that we have had the opportunity to discover all those marvellous local specialties. Cheese is so important to the French that many of them have the AOC designation. AOC stands for Appellation d’origine contrôlée, a  French certification that imposes a regionally specific quality on products from different areas, The concept of AOC , better known as a designation for wines, really started with cheese back in the 15th century when Roquefort’s region of origin was first regulated, and became official in 1925 when it received the first official AOC certification. The French were concerned that traditional food products might be threatened by modern developments (think pasteurisation). According to Kathe Lison in her excellent book The Whole Fromage, “… the early Roquefort producers clearly had interests other than tradition in mind back in the Middle Ages when they first asked rulers to make it illegal for competitors to use their name.” AOC or no AOC, learning about French cheeses is all about discovering new regions and wonderful new taste sensations. It adds a whole new level of enjoyment to travel.  You too can taste some of the products of the over 700 cheese-producing farmers in Provence by joining us next September for a magical week in the Luberon!...

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La galette des rois

Posted by on Jan 5, 2014 in News | 0 comments

La galette des rois

January 6 is the Epiphany, and in France, it is traditionally celebrated with a galette des rois, a scrumptious flaky almond cake with a bean or a tiny figurine (depending on where you celebrate) baked into the cake. In Provence, a santon – a small terracotta figurine depicting various figures of village life – is used. The person who finds the figurine in his or her slice of cake becomes king or queen for the day. I have read that in the French court during one of the Louis’ reign, whoever got the bean or figurine was allowed, as king or queen for the evening, to abolish all rules during his or her (albeit short) reign and a night of frivolity and sometimes questionable antics ensued. The French President, because of certain etiquette rules, is not allowed to have this privilege, so each January, a galette without a bean or figurine is served at the Elysée!...

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8 Reasons to travel with O! France small groups

Posted by on Nov 5, 2013 in News | 0 comments

8 Reasons to travel with O! France small groups

  1.  Enjoy the experience – without the hassles 2.  Discover places not accessible to large groups 3.  Stay in your very own castle – all week 4.  Explore our quiet village – no tour buses allowed 5.  Make new friends – they chose the tour cause they liked it too 6.  Benefit from expert guidance without ever “following the guide” 7.  Slow down – only one destination each day 8.  Wine and dine – gourmet dinners and fine wines  ...

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Facebook – Love it or Leave it?

Posted by on Aug 20, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Facebook – Love it or Leave it?

O! France now has a Facebook page. Past and future guests were clamouring for photos taken while we lead our great groups through two of the most beautiful places in France: the Dordogne and Provence, and Facebook seems like the ideal venue to post these for all to enjoy. However, reaction has been interesting and quite polarised. It must be said that there is a negative side to Facebook and that it has been misused with in some cases, tragic results. Some have told me they cannot condone this and will not support it. Others want to relive great memories and revisit the places they so enjoyed, albeit vicariously, and future guests want a taste of what is to come. I like to think that as in many other aspects of life, the positive outweighs the negative. Facebook is, I believe, a very effective way to share our O! France experiences with many many people all over the world, and showcasing these regions is our raison d’être. It’s what we do with so much enthusiasm and great pleasure year after year. Until I find a better way of reaching out to Francophiles everywhere, I chose to love it. For...

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O! France for Foodies – Part 2

Posted by on Aug 7, 2013 in News | 0 comments

O! France for Foodies – Part 2

In a little over a month, this is what lunch will look like. A veritable tableau of artistically displayed fresh local ingredients. Almost to pretty to eat isn’t it?  This will be enjoyed after a morning at a colourful Provençal market. We will be sitting in a shady corner of a small café overlooking the ochre-red hills of Roussillon, a picturesque hilltop village a few minutes from the Château de Goult, our home for the week in Provence. Of course, a bottle of chilled rosé from a neighbouring vineyard, most probably Domaine de Tara, will be on the table. Your assignment will be to try to replicate this experience seven days in a...

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O! France for Foodies

Posted by on Jul 5, 2013 in News | 0 comments

O! France for Foodies

We are a mere two months away from our annual O! France experiences: One fabulous week in the historical Dordogne and one memorable week in picture perfect Provence. At this point in our planning process we are finalising delicious dinner menus with our chefs, Nella and Djamila. These special ladies create memorable meals for us each night using only the freshest seasonal organic products. This year, our trips take place in the fall, and today, let me present a taste of the autumnal Dordogne. It is said that if a Frenchman’s heart lives in Paris, his stomach resides in the Dordogne Valley. Fall menus in the Dordogne include cèpes (porcini) and a multitude of delicious mushrooms, often served in savoury omelets. And then there are the walnuts, which were so valuable in the Middle Ages that they were used to pay debts. They are showcased in walnut cakes and vin de noix, both local specialities and in walnut oil, delicious in vinaigrettes and drizzled on grilled vegetables. Ah, the duck – served every which way, most often in decadent confits. Then of course there is the ubiquitous  foie gras  which appears on baguette slices for appetizers, as a garnish for salads, in slivers on an omelet and on its glorious own as a separate course (it can be found in every farmer’s market as well as in an amazing number of stores and specialty boutiques).  Not to be forgotten is the local goat cheese known as cabecou, delicious on toasted bread along with a dollop of honey and a few walnuts. Of course, all this tastes even better in our 17th Century dining room with its vaulted stone ceiling after a day discovering this storied region or in a very special little restaurant open only for Sunday lunch that serves food made from ingredients sourced from the owner’s farm. To experience both Dordogne and Provence specialties, do join us in 2014!  ...

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