Danny McElhinney was the prize guy again at the French Travel Media awards at Medley, Fleet Street, Dublin, with the best City Break feature (Paris, My First Love).
And your roving (or should that be raving?) reporter was there to join in the celebrations as he was two years ago when Murty won the blue -riband gong, the Travel Destination Feature, for Le Boat D’Azur and Danny also picked up an award.
In a fantastic night for the oul’ Travel section which I edited for four years Catherine Murphy was short-listed for Waving The Flag for the Sports Feature and Eddie Coffey took that prize for Ici Ryder, both of which I commissioned.
Big shout-out to Anne Pedersen, Marine Teste and all the charmants (is that the right plural, he says thumbing through his schoolboy French notes?) representatives from https://www.france.fr.
And the formidable Niamh Waters of https://www.travelmedia.ie for organising the whole shooting match. She’d never say it but I imagine she was glad to get shot of us by the end of the night.
France remains the No.1 most visited country in the world and like a good oul’ French market place they displayed their wares for us all to see.
So, without any further ado, un, deux,, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept (ah, it’s all coming back to moi). Here are the regions who flew the flag last night.
Don’t call it Grande Bretagne… it’s too close to the bone and too soon, and I was too clumsy, so we just reverted to Brittany for the purposes of the fact-finding mission.
It’s all about slow tourism, so this slow tourist was taken by the glamping… you can forget about all those poles and hooks, merci bien. Southern Brittany offers four wooden tree houses overlooking the Villaine Valley, available from February to September. Visit https://www.brittanytourism.com
NICE COTE D’AZUR
We all know this region of France for its ‘beautiful people’ although it’s also a favourite destination for school leavers on their first big foreign blow-out trip.
I’m thinking that after 37 years I might be allowed back in Frejus /St Raphael by the gendarmes.
The had given us a chasing for holding up the traffic with a wave of our hands back in 1982 (a la Danny McLaren in Mountains of Mourne).
I’d be more cultured now and take in the Victorine Movies Studios which turns 100 this year and boasts a who’s who of the film industry including Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen, Lauren Bacall and, of course, their adopted princess, Grace Kelly.
And then you can also pay tribute to Pierre-Auguste Renoir who died 100 years ago in Cagnes-sur-Mer. He made quite an impression. Visit https://www.nicetourisme.com.
Yes, Normandy and the D-Day Landings will be the focus this year with the 75th anniversary of the Allies’ liberation of France to be marked on June 6, and it will be particularly poignant, and still poignant after the showpiece memorial (avoid the crowds and go after June 6).
But it is worth remembering too that most of the soldiers were young men with the same unquenchable thirst for life that all young men across all the ages have.
Even more so as they were looking into the face of death.
So dwell a while on that when you’re sipping the famous Normandy cider in one of the villages, just as the soldiers did back in 1944. www.normandy-tourism.org.
Imagine driving round and round in circles for 24 hours… it just feels like going round Dublin’s one-way system.
The fact is that France does do 24-hour races, as we all know, and very well. This year you can see Matt Damon and Christian Bale, whoo-whoo, on the big screen in Ford v Ferrari, the true story of their battle to win the famous race. Vroom, vroom.
Also take in the ever-expanding Machines de l’ole in Nantes, with its giant elephant, robotic spider, carousel of sea creates and a 120-kilo sloth suspended from a branch. The kids will lllllllove this! Visit https://www.atlantic-loire-valley.com
How many fish are there in the sea? OK too big a number. How many then in that big tank? Sorry, you didn’t come to this blog to work this hard., but there are 22,000 new ones since we last counted.
We are talking big numbers at Nausicaa. Europe’s largest aquarium has been drawing in similarly huge numbers of visitors. One million, our delegate boasted.
World Oceans Day is on June 8. Lille airport is 50kms from Boulogne-sur-Mer. Visit https://www.nausicaa.co.uk.
The answer to our prayers.
The new flight route from Dublin to Lourdes, that is. Ryanair will fly from Dublin to Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrenees from April-October.
So that fits in with the candlelight procession at the Sanctuary Notre-Dame de Lourdes from April 7-October 27.
Of course the Irish know their way to a Marian site, all right, and every years 2000 of us come together for the pilgrimage organised by the Diocese of Dublin. www.lourdes-infotourisme.com.
There is plenty to do too outside Lourdes with the Pyrenees on your doorstep, while this year will see the 34th Summer Festival of Gavarnie take place.
Gavarnie, you ask… well you’ll get to see an outdoor performance of Don Quixote. All of which, and going off on a tangent as I will do from time to time, brings me back to a mule which came with a B&B we stayed in in the West of Ireland.
I never did find out his name but he was always Donkey Oatie to Me.
And with that, it’s Amen from me for the night!