2012 brought us some amazing press trips to France including Art & Culture in the Nord-Pas de Calais and Nantes, Active breaks in Rhone-Alps and the Midi-Pyrénées, Gastronomy in Burgundy and Auvergne and Luxury in Cannes and Corsica – just to name a few!
The best part of the press trips is undoubtedly the group atmosphere with the journalists. You are all together discovering something new and getting to know each other. I once had a journalist compare a press trip to a round of ‘Come Dine With Me’ just… without the cooking supper bit (which is probably a good thing because if there was a cooking competition, Jacqueline would probably win first place every time and I’d get the ‘valiant effort’ prize). We always create bonds with each other and the return is always bittersweet. But what great memories! And there are plenty more to come…
But all this said, for some of us it was also our first acquaintance with the area. All of my press trips in 2012 were introductions:
Nord-Pas de Calais taught me that the smellier the cheese (Maroilles), the better and that I could be convinced to eat snails by English journalists. Rhone-Alps and Savoie Mont Blanc showed me that you can never underestimate how quickly landscapes can change in one region and blow you away every time. I also fell in love with sled dog puppies and even think Isabelle had to get a wrench to pry them out of my hands. Midi-Pyrénées taught me that you can never have too much duck and to always bring sunscreen to prepare your skin for the French summer sun!
I know Hannah was amazed by Nantes and all of the unbelievable artistic spots across the city and trail. Then, when she came back from Auvergne, her camera was full of photos of delicious looking produce and dishes! Incidentally, my prior assumptions about Auvergne were correct – it’s a lot of green. She also learned that there is a special way that perfume-makers neutralise odours for their discerning noses, down on the Riviera…
Although, we mustn’t forget the travel guru Jacqueline who knows every corner of France like her back pocket. Even though she always manages to find something new wherever she goes, she still finds time to squeeze in 2 press trips in one month to the Mediterranean (Ahem – Marseille and Corsica).
We couldn’t be more excited about 2013’s press trips, and we’re sure you are too! Here, you’ll find some inspiration for your next feature:
Gastronomy to get your tastebuds going
The Midi-Pyrénées is a region famed for its local products – especially duck! It’s also the home of the only British Michelin-starred chef in France: Simon Scott. From 23-26 May, savour the delicious weather along with the regional flavours, Michelin-starred cuisine and local culture.
Auvergne is a region where nature is as well conserved outdoors as it is in cuisine. From 7-10 June, you can learn about the wild herbs and plants including the Velay Red Pearls and how to cook them. Of course, you’ll also get to see the traditional towns who have kept their authenticity.
It is often said that Parisians cook with a ‘savoir-faire’ that they have in their bones. Well from 14-15 September, you will spend a full two days tasting, visiting and touring the gastronomic side of the city as well as enjoy a dinner prepared by the locals themselves in their own home!
In the Nord-Pas de Calais, the recently opened Louvre-Lens has drawn a lot of attention to an area famed for its mining history. From 14-17 June, visit the museum, the UNESCO-listed world heritage spoil tips as well as savour the local gastronomic specialities, along with meeting the producers.
One of Aquitaine’s charms is that, despite its international popularity, it’s still clung to its traditional roots. From 21-24 June, feel like a local with a traditional market and cookery course, learn to tend to your garden as well as to wine taste and discover its quirky local accommodation.
You probably know that the Languedoc-Roussillon is area rich with a passion that touches its every corner. From 27-29 September, see, taste, feel, smell and hear some of the Languedoc-Roussillon’s best, just like the locals – with locals.
Culture vulture feature
Nantes is a city which keeps a very thick veil of wonder running through it, what with its artistic delights, quirky sites, and unusual attractions. From 11-14 April, you’ll see Nantes it all by day and by night along with historic buildings, art trails and Jules Verne’s books come to life.
Burgundy is a region whose gastronomic reputation precedes it. But it’s also a region that has preserved itself very well. From 26-29 April, discover the area down the canals, through its medieval villages whilst savouring its famous wines.
Normandy’s rich history is a tapestry well interwoven with impressionist threads. It all began with Claude Monet in Rouen and quickly exploded from there. From 9-12 May, try your hand at painting impressionist art yourself and walking the art trail as part of the impressionist art programme.
The Loire Valley is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, in part due to its historical, cultural and natural charms. So discover all of them from 31 May to 3 June through Joan of Arc’s Orléans, cycling down the Loire à Vélo, trying a cooking course and much more.
Active Break for everyone
I’m pretty sure you could say that the Rhone-Alpes is synonymous with just about any sport you can imagine. So from 27-30 June, you can tour Grenoble – without forgetting to zip-wire and climb a fort while you’re there – mountain bike and hike on a programme designed for families.
We’ve established that Normandy has art, but it’s also got options for the restless legs. From 4-7 July, cycle along the D-Day route, take a 2CV car tour through cider country, kayak down the river and finish with a trip to the spa.
You can also try equestrian Normandy from 12-15 September where you visit the new National Stud Farm Trail, learn about the 2014 World Equestrian Games and discover the Calvados region.
The great thing about Nice and Cannes is that they’re a direct flight away from England so they’re perfect for a city break. From 11-14 April, picnic on the beach of Cannes, visit St. Marguerite Island, savour local Bellet wine and olive oil and discover the new Archeological crypts after a city tour in Nice.
I could go on and on about all the mind-blowing things to discover in Corsica but I think I’ll leave it to the programme of the trip to give you a taste. From 2-7 May, go through its remarkable natural heritage and historical landmarks, as well as meet locals to discover the true Corsican identity – without forgetting a look at its world-famous beaches and seaside resorts.
Hyeres-les-Palmiers is a little town outside of Toulon which boasts over 8,000 palm trees! From 17-19 May, cruise to the Porquerolles to see its vineyards, savour local jams and liqueurs with a taste of petanque, explore the famous contemporary art museum Villa Noailles and learn how to stand-up paddle or kitesurf!
We’re sure that this has got your excitement revving so now’s the time to register for France Meets the Media 2013 if you haven’t already: www.francemeetsthemedia.com. You’ll be able to meet with the representatives from all of these destinations and get the most up to date details from the locals themselves.
Please note that confirmed commissions will be required to secure your place on the short list 6 weeks prior to the press trip. The press trip catalogue is non-contractual.
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