Saturday, 3 March 2012

Spring has sprung - come take a walking break in France!!

The uncertainty of the French elections, plus the rather late dawning realisation that France may be affected by the global economic crisis, seem to be stopping the French from booking accommodation or walking holidays in France.

The British however, perhaps gee'd up by the excitement of the prospect of an extra Bank Holiday in early June, which falls the very week of school half term, seem to be very keen to move. Apparently a large number of holiday makers have transposed their summer holidays to the mega early Easter (early April - a month away!) and early June, rather than hanging on in there until July and August, when no doubt in the lure of the Olympics will keep them at home - here's hoping that Londoners in particular will be glued to a TV screen rather than taking their chances out on the roads - I imagine it will be bedlam!!

We happy chappies in France will be avoiding all that and are looking forward to welcoming the early escapees from the old country. To this end we've added some extra dates for our spring short breaks - trying to squeeze in holidays between the few expensive days for flights, plus if you must come and do via ferrata (yes that is me Liz on the VF!) you would be welcome to book just accommodation only here in Berthemont. The short break holiday packages - there's a handful of them appeal to families, couples and single travellers and include special interests, such as wolf watching, and for, later in the year, the Merveilles Valley and ogling the fantastic array of botany we have in the Alpes-Maritimes.

We had the very cold snap but are now back to enjoying blue skies and temperatures of up to 20 degrees (it's been foggy on the coast recently - yay!!). Long may it continue - the fair weather may have put paid to our winter walking and snowshoeing holiday season but one door shuts and another one opens....after the pizzazz of the Carnaval and the Lemon Festival which end shortly - March is usually a quiet month here in the Alpes-Maritimes - although there is often a good time to be had for Saint Patrick's Day.....thanks to the numerous ex-pats from the Emerald Isle and the French alike. This year it is on Saturday March 17 - also notably the day of the Wales/France match in the rugby Six it could be a hot sort of evening!!!

Monday, 27 February 2012

The sun is warm and the ice is cool!! Winter activity in the Mercantour

The Mercantour has just made winter activity holidays much easier for you!! The snow was late here in Southern France – you know, that department which has not only the fab French Riviera, but also a great National Park just behind it, but now it is the French half term holidays in PACA and things are a’swingin…….
Alpine, cross country skiing and ski mountaineering a’plenty plus snow shoeing, of course - but get here soon as the temperatures are un-seasonally warm.
Our cunning friends in Saint-Martin-Vésubie have just had an ice climbing structure raised, just next to the wolf park.
In the past your resident holiday team at spacebetween had to venture into the Tinée valley to have a stab at ice climbing as part of their winter activity holiday - see the pic! ( However now there is safe ice, with four different “walls” all within five minutes of your car, and a self congratulatory vin chaud afterwards. The wall can be used on your own, if you have the kit and the confidence for an amazing €8 for two hours, or hire a hunky mountain guide and benefit from some great instruction for just €40. It is also possible to get a season ticket, and group rates. More information here.
Local residents are justifiably excited about it as it is the most up to date system in France – the other one in Champigny-la-Vanoise further north, has been installed for some time.
It is an excellent way of finding out just how tough ice-climbing is (looks so easy from the comfort of your sofa!!), and doing it in a safe environment with no icy water pouring down on your head, nor falling rocks. It really does give you a full body work out, that is for sure, never mind the adrenaline involved!!! The O à la Bouche restaurant open all day too, has a fireplace and an interesting menu.
The system is at 1700m, and the tower mainly well shaded so climbing should be possible until Easter this year – well it is very early in 2012…..given the vagaries of the weather in Europe this year, check it out before you come on down with your ice axes, and wrap them carefully in your luggage.
However, and as always, there is lots going on, Mardi Gras, and the best Carnival in Europe, plus of course there is the Menton Lemon Festival and countless Mimosa festivals…..
Contact spacebetween walking and adventure holidays for more information for more details on how to make the best of all that is on offer in the South Eastern corner of France.