Driving to South West France? Easy Tips For a Perfect Road Trip

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So you’ve booked your holiday and are planning how to get there. For many people it’s the age old juggling act of getting to your destination as soon as possible without it feeling like some kind of endurance test.

What would be your perfect road trip?

Although we are working on our transporter, it’s not quite ready.

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So until you can utter those immortal words “Beam us up Scotty” then we will just have to choose more traditional methods to make your road trip more interesting.

It needs to :-

  • Be quick but pleasant
  • Keep tedium to a minimum
  • Have elements of fun for everyone
  • Provide unique memories

Can it be done? Well here are a few suggestions to consider for your next road trip to South West France.

Crossing the water

Euro Tunnel: Folkestone to Calais (35 mins crossing then 9 hour drive to Bijou Barn)
This is by far the quickest way to cross the Channel but being cooped up in the car can be restrictive so we try to make it different by taking a picnic in the car to have whilst on the train and watch an episode of our favourite sitcom for 30 minutes. It’s quite relaxing and we arrive feeling revived and ready for the next part of the journey.

Ferry: Dover to Calais (90 mins crossing time then 9 hours drive to Bijou Barn)
I have always enjoyed the ferry as it gives you time to stretch your legs, wander about on deck and have a bite to eat. These ferries have come a long way from when I used to travel on them, as a child. They are more luxurious for a start, with much better facilities to make the journey more pleasurable.

Why not upgrade to Club Lounge where you can enjoy a free glass of champagne, soft or hot drink? You can also order a light bite from the special Club Lounge menu, then sit back, relax, take in the view or read a free newspaper.

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You can also enjoy a meal on board in a lovely restaurant with table service by friendly staff.

Ferry: Newhaven to Dieppe (fasted crossing time of 4 hours then 7 hours drive to Bijou Barn)
Although the crossing is longer, the driving time is reduced. The onboard facilities include a lounge with magnificent panoramic windows with sea views, a bar, restaurant, shop and a children’s play-area. There are also quiet lounges where you can relax and sleep, plus spacious outdoor decks and 50 en suite cabins.

Cruise: Portsmouth to Bilbao ( 24 hour crossing then 5 hour drive )
If you really want to reduce your driving time, then take the crossing to Bilbao in Spain. The ship provides much more of a cruise experience with several accommodation choices,
fine dining and restaurant options and children’s entertainment. Not to mention a movie lounge, wifi, heated outdoor pool, shops lounges ad sun decks.

For more information about times, prices and availability, look at direct ferries.co.uk or aferry.co.uk to compare fares on different routes.

There is also a great article in the telegraph giving an overview of ferry options.

Breaking up the journey

I think that for most people, breaking up the journey makes for a much more harmonious experience, especially when you are on holiday. So have a think about what is best for you and your fellow travellers.

Hotel Les Trois Mousquetaires – Aire sur la Lys
Situated just of the motorway about an hour south of Calais. I used to visit this hotel, now called Les Saveurs du Parc, with my parents, nearly forty years ago and it always signified the start and the end to our summer holiday. It offers a great place to stay with wonderful food and wines.

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Chateau de Cocove near Ardres
There is something very french about staying in a Chateau. The setting is wonderful and its very relaxing to have a refreshing drink in the garden and unwind before dinner. Again just a short distance from the motorway and 40 minutes from Calais.

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Hotel Jehan de Beauce a bit further south in Chartres
If you want t break the journey a bit further south, then Chartres is a good point. Just south of Paris, the Hotel Jehan de Beauce is located in the centre of Chartres, so ideal for dong a bit of exploring. The hotel’s art deco style is impressive and offers a certain element of luxury, a very fitting start to your holiday.

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Samsaget Hobbit House Dordogne Aux Fontaines d’Eyvigues
Who wouldn’t want to stay in a hobbit house? There are some truly inspired and very unusual accommodation options these days, all over France. This is a great stopover as you are near to Sarlat and Rocamadour for a visit the following day, then you can drive the last 90 minutes to your accommodation.

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Chateau de la Villette
With a central location just south of France and near Chateauroux and Issoudun so not far from the motorway. There are many friendly and welcoming bed and breakfasts in France and this option is no different but it is in a lovely setting with an option of dinner as well, so you can relax and enjoy your surroundings – perfect after a day of driving.

chateau de la Villette
Budget Accommodation in a Town or Village
In recent years, the budget chains of accommodation such as Ibis and Kyriad have really got their act together and provide a clean and comfortable place to stay, often with free parking, in some great central locations. I have stayed many times at the Ibis in the centre of Saint Omer, from where I could explore the town and eat in a lovely local restaurant such as Le Cigne. I have always enjoyed wonderful meals here and the many reviews on Trip Advisor echo my thoughts. Then in the morning I go to one of the four local patisseries around the town square, for pain au chocolat or a lovely savoury quiche.

Take a break and do something

There are so many options to choose from depending on your interests but here are a few to get you thinking.

Disneyland
Disneyland Paris is celebrating its 25 year anniversary – amazing! They also have a new ride called Hyperspace Mountain.

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Futuroscope
Situated just off the motorway very close to Poitiers, this theme park is celebrating its 30 year anniversary. It’s a really cool theme park with simulated rides for a glimpse of life in the future.
There are also shows in the evening which include a performance from Cirque du Soleil – check out the video.

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La Coupole and the Planetarium 5kms from St Omer
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this massive dome shaped building was built by the Nazis during WWII as the launching base for their V2 rockets. An impressive museum has been created where you can learn about the rocket and Hitler’s plans to use it to destroy London.

On a lighter note, there is also a 3D planetarium which uses modern technology to take you on an unforgettable journey into space inside the massive 360-degree room wearing your active 3D glasses. Follow Yuri Gagarin during his first space flight, step onto Mars with the Curiosity Rover and discover all sorts of other celestial happenings.

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Nausicaa
Situated near Boulogne sur Mer which is less than 45 mins from Euro tunnel, is an underwater world to be discovered. They boast that all the seas of the world are there to be explored. Here is some footage to “wet” your appetite.

 

The Benefits of Driving

  • There is a freedom to driving to your destination as you aren’t restricted so much by set departure times.
  • You can plan your journey to fit in with your needs
  • Fuel costs are pretty good right now.
  • You have your own transport when you are on holiday so don’t have to make other arrangements.
  • You can carry more with you and take more home too! So if you want to buy those lovely bottles of wine or that heavy souvenir – it won’t be a problem.

I hope this blog post has given you some ideas for your road trip. If you need any other information then please contact me as I am happy to help.

Jump On the Gin Wagon and Blaze a Trail to South West France

 

Gin is making an amazing comeback in the UK. Our love affair with this sultry spirit is enjoying a wonderful revival by people of all ages. The birth of small batch boutique gins means that there is now a gin for each and everyone of us and we are enjoying the fun of finding our perfect tipple.

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Gin Bars, Gin Festivals and Gin Clubs are where we are flocking to find the latest tastes to savour. But what happens when we go on holiday?  Wouldn’t it be great to have some time for some gin appreciation as we relax?

Gin Appreciation at Bijou Barn

Situated in South West France, Bijou Barn is a spacious barn with sophisticated charm just waiting to become your home from home for your summer holiday.

We love gin and have spent much time sipping and savouring this very special spirit. We are always on the hunt for new flavours and decided to offer a gin appreciation experience for our guests who come to visit our holiday rental in the scenic and unspoilt Lot region.

Any guests who are interested will learn about the history of gin, the different ways of making gin – your London Drys, Old Tom and that Bathtub gin is not where you have to sit to drink it – although we do have a place for that too!

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We also try to answer that all-important question of how to find your favourite gin with 3 tastings……and all this from the comfort of our holiday rental – gintastic!

It doesn’t matter whether you have booked Bijou Barn as a holiday rental or you have opted for a more tailor-made trip with Bijou Bespoke, this gin appreciation can be scheduled into your stay with us.

Our Special FREE Offer at Bijou Barn

Book a 7 day stay at Bijou Barn between June 3 and July 22 or anytime during September and anyone over 18 can enjoy the Gin Appreciation including 3 tastings for FREE.

Here’s what’s included:-

  • 3 unusual gin tastings by the private pool
  • Canapés using local produce
  • Learn about how gin is made
  • Find out why you like certain gins

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Please contact us for further information and availability or go straight to our booking page.

Bijou Bespoke: jewel-like holidays filled with sparkle, just for you.

 

Bijou Barn is our holiday rental situated in the beautiful Lot region of South West France, offering the perfect base to explore this area.

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Due to popular demand, we’ve created Bijou Bespoke as an additional service to our guests. With Bijou Bespoke, you decide what you want from your holiday and we take care of everything else.

  • You want a fantastic holiday but sometimes it’s hard to get exactly what you want from your trip.
  • Holidays are so important as your time is precious and you want to enjoy it with those you care about.
  • You need to get the balance between adventure and relaxation right, whilst experiencing the very best your destination has to offer.

We know it’s often hard to find exactly what you want from a holiday but don’t worry, we can help you by creating something totally unique, just for you. Just as no two people are the same, no two holidays should be the same either.

We include the following as standard:-

Airport transfers
Experience the area in a chauffeur driven car
Visit lovely restaurants
We cook for you at home
We leave you plenty of time for relaxation
We do the planning so you can do the enjoying

Our local knowledge and curiosity to seek out the unique and unusual, mean that you get to enjoy special experiences and create wonderful memories.

Here are some Bijou Bespoke ideas to try:-

  • Gin Tastings
  • Wine Tasting Safari
  • Visit a Local Market with a Local
  • Play Pétanque with a Pro
  • Explore the Countryside in a Vintage Car
  • Art Tour – Meet Local Artists and Sculptors
  • Take to the Water
  • Meet the Winegrowers and Learn About Their Craft Over Lunch

Do you want to know more about a Bijou Bespoke holiday?

Please click here to find out more information and get in touch as we would love to help you create your perfect holiday.

The early bird gets cheep cheep flights

 

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Yes, I know you have barely got your Christmas decorations packed away and your New Year resolutions are still intact…..well hopefully.

It’s a fact that those who book their summer holidays early get more choice and better all round value. In addition, there is the peace of mind factor, knowing that it’s booked and all you need to do is look forward to it.

If you book early then you can enjoy flights that are much cheaper. All the airlines are offering deals at the moment so if you want to have more to spend on your summer holiday then save money by booking your flights now.

Bijou Barn is situated in the south west of France and is surrounded by the following airports, so there is plenty of choice.

Airports near Bijou Barn

  • Toulouse:  80km south-east
  • Bergerac:  85km north-west
  • Brive:  120km north-east
  • Bordeaux:  190km west
  • Limoges:  221km north
  • La Rochelle : 362km north east

Low Cost Airlines flying from the UK

Easyjet 

Flybe

Ryanair

Jet 2 

Here is a breakdown of who flies where

Please note that not all Flybe flights are direct. Please check for more details on their website.

Toulouse Airport

Flybe
Edinburgh   Birmingham   Glasgow   Guernsey   Jersey   Manchester   Southampton

EasyJet
London Gatwick   London Luton

Ryanair
London Stansted

Jet2
Manchester

Bergerac Airport

Ryanair
Bristol   East Midlands   Liverpool   London Stansted

Jet 2
Leeds Bradford

Brive Airport

Ryanair
Liverpool   London Stansted

Bordeaux Airport

Easyjet
Belfast   Bristol   Glasgow   Liverpool   London Gatwick   London Stansted

Ryanair
Edinburgh   London Stansted

Limoges Airport

Flybe
Belfast City   Dublin   Edinburgh   Glasgow   Guernsey   Jersey   Leeds Bradford   Manchester  Newcastle   Southampton

Ryanair
Bristol   East Midlands   Leeds Bradford   London Stansted   Manchester

La Rochelle Airport

Flybe
Aberdeen   Belfast   Birmingham   Edinburgh   Glasgow   Leeds Bradford   Manchester Newcastle   Southampton

Easyjet
London Gatwick

Ryanair
London Stansted

The Next Blog Post

If you are planning to drive to Bijou Barn, then my next post is just for you – it’s all about making the drive part of your holiday and ensuring your trip is stress free by suggesting routes, stop overs and interesting places to see on your journey.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Bijou Barn

The pool at Bijou Barn

Getting into the festive spirit!

Sometimes it’s hard to get into the festive spirit when it’s warm and sunny……. but rest assured, we are giving it our best shot!

We hope your Christmas is filled with fun and merriment with family and friends and that 2017 brings you all the happiness you can handle.

With our very best wishes

Graham and Jane
Click here to find out more about your summer holiday at Bijou Barn

Le Moulin de Dausse – fantastic food which is anything but run of the mill.

There’s only one thing I like more than eating out and that’s eating out in a place I have never been before. So, when friends invited us to have dinner at a small restaurant we hadn’t heard of, in a nearby village, we jumped at the chance and it was wonderful.

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Surprise starter at Le Moulin de Dausse – a fantastic beginning to our meal.  We are so lucky to have such a lovely restaurant near our holiday rental!

We had drinks in the covered barn as we drooled over the menu. All the courses were set, apart from the main where there was a choice of three dishes. Of course, we all know it’s easy to write a menu, the proof of the pudding would be in the eating……. I couldn’t wait!

Setting the Scene

We were shown into the small interior space which had a relaxed yet stylish feel. Much thought and effort had gone into creating this wonderful stage to showcase our meal. From the pretty napkin rings, to the unusual crockery whilst carefully placed candles flickered as if to signify the start of our meal.

I knew as soon as the first plates were brought to the table that we were in for a treat. The presentation was stunning, yet executed with an element of humour and confidence – I loved the flavours, I savoured each part of the dish, marvelling at the different taste and texture combinations, the clever use of local ingredients and how traditional cooking techniques were mixed with more contemporary methods – it was an absolute joy to experience.

The Menu 32.50€

Surprise Starter

Taste of 4 Hors D’Oeuvres

Home smoked salmon, salmon tartare and lavender mayonnaise
Duck liver breakfast with coffee, orange, egg and bread
Crab with red onion and tomato chutney
Belly pork with a creamy mustard foam

Main Course

Fillet of veal, beef cheek, veal crackling and jus
Or
Fillet of barbary duck, cauliflower croquet and wine and sherry sauce
Or
Fillet of sea bass with garlic purée and saffron sauce

Amuse Bouche

Assortment of three little desserts

Homemade prune ice cream with white chocolate cream
Banana mousse with tropical fruit liqueur
Cherry coulis topped with creme anglaise

Or

Assortment of cheese

Wonderful Meal

The amuse bouche certainly got our tastebuds going and the selection of mini starters was genius in the choice of contrasting ingredients. My favourite was the juicy pork topped with a light yet fiery mustard mousse. The lavender butter served with the bread was unusual and tasty – quite a talking point around the table.

Starter at Moulin de Dausse

Really enjoyed the idea of 4 mini starters – it was hard to decide on my favourite

I chose the beef and veal dish as my main course which was a delight. Tender slices of perfectly cooked veal filet lay on a bed of slow cooked melt in the mouth beef cheeks topped with crispy veal crackling – my mouth is watering as a write this down.

Then a lovely pre-dessert – the elderflower milkshake was one of the more unusual flavour combinations of the evening – the milky drink really emphasised the elderflower taste, which surprised and impressed me.

Finally, a selection of mini desserts – the banana mousse was so light with a powerful fresh taste and the prune sorbet was excellent.

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What a finale – a selection of delicious desserts.

Why you should visit Le Moulin de Dausse

Eating out is so much more than a meal – it’s time with friends, discussions and laughter blend seamlessly, it’s a celebration, a getogether, but whatever the reason, it’s because we want to be entertained, looked after and made to feel special.

Le Moulin de Dausse offers all of this as standard but excels in the way the food is created and served. Yes the menu changes but what always remains is the passion with which the food is cooked and presented. The attention to detail is always there from each item on a plate to the plate itself – the couple who own this restaurant should be congratulated on the whole experience they provide, as it is theatre on a plate in a sumptuous setting.

As you can tell, I loved every moment of the evening and left the old mill feeling entertained, inspired and hungry for a return visit to this jewel of a restaurant.

  •   Click here for their website and to read their current menu.
  • Also check their opening times as they do close for the Winter.
  • Always book a table 0033 553 41 26 00 to avoid disappointment.

French holiday rental reviews – all 5 star – just like our guests – thank you so much!

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It’s always quite daunting as we await reviews from our guests. We hope that they have enjoyed their stay and that Bijou Barn has helped to make their holiday special.

Whether they’ve enjoyed being in the pool, cooking alfresco on the BBQ, watching the sunset on the back terrace with a chilled glass of wine, picking figs from the garden for pudding or stretching out on a sun lounger with a good book, we would like to think that everyone of our guests takes a collection of Bijou Barn memories home with them as a souvenir of their holiday.

What did our guests say about their stay?

“We all had a truly wonderful time and left feeling truly refreshed.”

“Bijou Barn was gorgeous – it had everything we needed and more!”

“We can thoroughly recommend Bijou Barn and hope to return.”

“Luxury, family friendly holiday property”

“Weather was perfect, pool was glorious and countryside beautiful.”

“The owners Jane and Graham are very friendly, nothing being too much trouble.”

It’s always lovely to meet our guests and find out a bit about them – and you know what, they are a great bunch. If we had to rate our guests, they too would be 5 star! They are all individual, but all with the same hope, that they can chill out, relax and enjoy their holiday.

We are thrilled that our guests have rated us with such glowing reviews and this just makes us more determined to work on new plans to make Bijou Barn even better next year. We want our guests to feel at home whilst experiencing something completely different.

Plans for next year?

I am sure we will be discussing the plans over one or two glasses of lovely Malbec wine during the coming months and if you watch this space, you’ll be the first to know about what is new at Bijou for next year and all the great events and experiences to try locally.

Thanks again for your wonderful reviews – it really means a lot to us.