How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?
Charles de Gaulle
France’s landscape is truly diverse. Not all glamorous but it sometimes feels nice as well to just immerse oneself into the deep countryside, enjoy hiking volcanoes, canoeing in stunning rivers and …. eating a lot of cheese!
I’d like to launch a series of posts in the format of an “email from a friend”: collecting feedback from everyone, great little places, tricks and tips… and actually test
and I’m off to the big Apple with my best friend for a long weekend early Feb. I can’t wait!!! great occasion to launch that series.
So what are your best reco’s?
Burma has been hitting the headlines in the last few months as it starts opening up to the world – for the traveller who passes by for a couple of weeks like me though, it Continue Reading
On stressful days like this, I dream of being able to take a coffee break on Famara beach, Canarias.
It’s the end of the world. Don’t go to party, not point. We were alone, watching the sun rise and falling asleep right after the sun had set (and the bottle of local vino), exhausted and ocean-washed. Alone to the point when we wondered : where are the locals gone!?
We asked the (many) Brits we found, why they had decided to live in Canarias: the answer was invariably, “because it’s sunny, and we benefit from steady surf conditions all year round”. It would be a good enough reason; but the volcano-island in the Atlantic ocean, has much more to offer; great wine, cheese, sun, and above all : peace.
Go get your surf board, it’s one of the best spot in the world
The first things that surprised us was that the island is small, but you’ll definitely need a car, no public transport there. Also, that the weather is ever changing. The land is swept by the wind, for the greatest pleasure of surfers, but making the shining sun turn into a bone soaking shower in 3min.
Famara is an amazing beach for surfing beginners, it’s a safe and high quality beaches, with consistent swell. We went in October and could use a short wetsuit
check the weather, tides and other info here
but for more experienced surfers (or for those who, like us, will enjoy watching some serious action live), go to La Santa. It’s 10min driving from Famara, and the most famous surf spot of the island.
Do’s and Don’ts
go rent a car cauz you’ll need it. They’re lovely people, and you’ll get an audio guide
do take your car and cross the island from one side to another, stopping in bodegas to test the wine.
please don’t think it’s a good idea to go for an ice-cream in Puerto del Carmen. It’s not, you’ll be disappointed.
Once back at home, watch Pedro Almodovar’s Abrasos Rotos (broken embraces). In Spanish please.
Pedro Almodovar seldom gets it wrong
Wikipedia is launching a travel portal – I like!
and they have an “off the beaten track” session… we’re definitely following that one!!
We love travelling guides, of all of them, the penguin’s “rough guides” are high up in my esteem. One of my flatmate has received the amazing “World party” rough guide for Christmas and I truly Continue Reading
Like the King’s wife, Salma of Morocco, my friend is from Fes. Unlike her, she is a full time executive worker in Paris and married a French guy from the Caribbean The common point to all Moroccan weddings isn’t the rum-punch; it’s that the bride is always a princess. Like in little girls dreams, she’s pampered, fed delicious delights, being introduced to the party on a sedan chair….
Moroccan weddings are a major institution, and 3 days of festivities could feel quite intense; however, life goes by at a different pace there, and the seamlessly organised step by step process is also very patronising, securing. First because they’ve invented the wedding planner concept with their tradition keepers (the neggafates), so no schedule slip and no worries – at least for the guests.
I flew there 2 days prior to the wedding and we steamed and scrubbed in the hammam at the sound of women’s songs and chants…marvellous way to relax and gather amongst girls. Unsure if it’s the pampering or the carb and sugar load but the whole pre-wedding experience feels pretty childish, in a good way. more info on Morrocan weddings.
And the actual wedding ceremony is a spectacular ballet of – extremely sweet – food, from the pastilla to the Cornes-de-Gazelles and other honey & almond-heavy deliciousnesses.
And if you thought European weddings were colourful and Kaftans were a austere dress ? mmm not quite there; guest are rivalling with not so traditional kaftan of all colours, shapes, fabrics, folding it up the knee and dancing till late.
The diversity and refinement of kaftans is fascinating from a fashionista point of view as it gives a canvas that can be declined in to so many versions! I went to the wedding wearing a long gown but instantly wished I had rented one! I had never realised it could be so sophisticated and also figure flattering with the large belt that can be adjusted. To get a better idea, check last year’s fashion shows, and my favourites.
Do’s and Dont’s in Rabat
- do stay in a Riad in the medinah, avoid the Hilton (Sofitel) unless you’re on a business trip. I stayed in Ali’s Riad Zyo, an oasis of hospitality. I could eat his home-made beghrir everyday for breakfast…yum
- do bargain argan oil, rose water and orange blossom water: each time I open the bottle, my bedroom travels back to the souk
don’t go for just a weekend when travelling from London – with no direct flight to Rabat you will have to fly to Casa and take a train. That’s not true anymore: Ryanair has open a direct London – Rabat, knock yourself out, they’re at £25 at the moment!! It’s cheap and rather easy, people are friendly enough they will show you the way in French or broken English.
Readers Corner – what do I take in the plane?
for those who can read in French: Partir – Tahar Ben Jelloun
Morocco is an enticing country, with lovely, welcoming people and Rabat combines the wealth, the Mediterranean sea-side and diet. When tourist guides all focus on Marrakesh and Essaouira, I felt pretty privileged to have been invited to Rabat and shared delicious home made Couscous al-fresco.
From there, where next?
surfing in Imessouane, Dakla or Sidi ifni which I have been recommended recently. And given how welcoming people are, how good the food and how consistent the weather is, it’s on the “get back” list. Or maybe who knows, one day I put my guts together and sign up for the Marathon des Sables