Medieval Fete in Vouvant

Medieval Fete in Vouvant

Recently returned from a summer-break in France, during which a highlight was the annual medieval fete in Vouvant, Pays de la Loire - the only fortified village of Vendee. Between 1150 and 1216, all of western France was ruled by the English kings; Henry II and Richard I - before being lost during the reign [...]

Normandy’s D-Day beaches, Bayeux and Caen

Normandy’s D-Day beaches, Bayeux and Caen

In this 75th anniversary year of D-Day my brother and I made a short trip to Normandy to visit the D-Day landing beaches, museums and memorials.  We also visited the Bayeux Tapestry (depicting the Norman invasion of England in 1066) and the burial tomb of King William I in Caen.  It was a faced-paced visit [...]

A weekend trip to Pompeii and Herculaneum

A weekend trip to Pompeii and Herculaneum

After years of thinking about it, we arranged a weekend trip to Pompeii in autumn this year.    Flights to Naples are frequent, accommodation is plentiful and the crowds are fewer – plus it's cooler! Trains depart Naples (on the Circumvesuviana line) to Pompeii (alight at Pompeii Scavi-Villa dei Misteri station) and three stops after [...]

The hidden streets of Barcelona; Raval

The hidden streets of Barcelona; Raval

Among the most popular of European city breaks is Barcelona.   Its mild climate, vibrant culture and quick (and inexpensive) flights make it a perfect weekend trip from London. Many visitors are familiar with the popular areas of La Rambla, Place de Catalunya, Park Guell and Diagonal.   But visitors shouldn’t miss the historic area around the [...]

A weekend in medieval Girona

A weekend in medieval Girona

Girona is an historic city in Catalonia in north eastern Spain, close to the Costa Brava and Barcelona.   It has a warm climate, a fascinating history and fine restaurants.   And the city is served by an international airport with frequent, quick and inexpensive flights from London.   All these factors make it ideal for a short break! [...]

48 hours in ‘The Athens of the North’

48 hours in ‘The Athens of the North’

Earlier this year, we set off to 'The Athens of the North' to visit some of my old haunts, see the key sights once again - and watch a rather important rugby match. In the early 1800's Edinburgh re-branded itself 'The Athens of the North' to reflect its growing importance.  It has been the capital [...]

How to watch the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris

How to watch the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris

The 105th Tour de France starts on Saturday 7 July in the Vendee.  Some 3500 km later, the 22 teams and 176 riders will aim to complete the 21 stages in Paris, on Sunday 29 July. To see the final stage in Paris, book an early departure (c.7am) on Eurostar (St Pancras to Gare de [...]