Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Spotlight: A-Rosa Stella

It is the time to treat yourself to French savior vivre (“knowing how to live”), on a trip through France’s Provence and Camargue to the Mediterranean coast. This is one of Europe’s most breathtaking countryside’s- guests will be able to experience the picturesque scenery, pass through world-famous wine-growing regions such as the Cote d’Ore, discover the unique Burgundy landscape, as well as the famed coastal vistas of the Cote d”Azure. What is especially enticing about the A-Rosa is that not only are the visual treats delectable, but the culinary masterpieces created by our onboard chefs will provide guests with a true “French” experience.

Guests aboard the A-Rosa have the opportunity to not only sightsee, but also take land tours throughout the French countryside. To capture the soul of a country, you must let yourself go. On the river side, cities and nature give its best. Impressive castles and canyons, breathtaking landscapes and cities line up along the shore. Coasting through, guests start to feel that they have not really spend a few hours here or there, but that they have lived there a little too. Whatever you are looking for on your vacation- we strive to provide it for you on the A-Rosa river vessel. Sailing through the Rhone and Saone rivers, seeking privacy and relaxation in a peaceful ambience is a given when you cruise with us.

On the sun deck, there is an outdoor pool, shuffleboard and putting green. Leaving your daily life behind and the accompanying stress is the best part about being on board the A-Rosa. The casual and friendly atmosphere will make you feel right at home, coupled with the beautiful atomosphere and countryside, the A-Rosa has all the trappings of a dream vacation. We know this cruise will allow you to let go of your cares and worries and fully enjoy France as the French do.

If you are interested in reading more about the A-Rosa Stella, please visit the France Cruises website here: http://francecruises.com/barge-491-A~ROSA%20Stella-1752.html, or call U.S. toll-free 1-866-498-3920.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas in France

In France, Christmas is a time for family and for generosity, marked by family reunions, gifts, and candy for children, gifts for the poor, Midnight Mass, and le Reveillon.

The celebration of Christmas in France, like other places, varies by region. Most provinces celebrate Christmas on December 25th, which is a bank holiday as well. However, in eastern and northern France, the Christmas season begins on December 6, with la fete de Saint Nicolas. In Lyon, December 8 is la Fete de lumieres, which is when Lyonnais pay homage to the virgin Mary by putting candles in their windows to light up the city.

French Christmas traditions include children putting their shoes in front of the fireplace, in the hopes that Pere Noel (aka Papa Noel) will fill them with gifts. Candy, fruit, nuts, and small toys will also be hung on the trees overnight. In some regions, there’s also Pere Fouettard who gives out spanking to the bad children (which is equivalent to Santa Claus giving coal to the naughty). In 1962, a law was passed decreeing that all letters written to Santa would be responded to with a postcard.

While fewer and fewer French attend la Messe de Minuit on Christmas Eve, it is still an important part of Christmas for many families. It is followed by a huge feast, called le Reveillon (from the verb reveiller, which means to wake up or to revive). Le Reveillon is a symbolic awakening to the meaning of Christ’s birth and is the culinary high point of the season, which is often enjoyed at home or in a restaurant or cafĂ© that is open all night. Traditional dishes included goose, chicken, capon, turkey stuffed with chestnuts, oysters, and boudin blanc.

Overall, France is a truly magical place to be during the holidays. The gorgeous scenery and decorations, coupled with the history and architecture, make it a unique and breathtaking place to spend the holidays.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Brief History of France- The Napoleon Years

For those of us who love all things France, we thought we would give you a brief history lesson on the country we all love so much! Enjoy learning about gorgeous France and the Napoleon years, which influenced so much of the country.

Napoleon Bonaparte, a Corsican and military genius came into power when he became emperor of France in 1800. Napoleon was popular for creating constitutions and fair laws, which included respect for religions and the abolishment of slavery in France. He was also a large supporter of the education of science, arts, and literature. He was also noted for ending the feudal system in France. His laws have had a lasting impact on French law, today; their laws are still based on principles of Napoleon’s Code Civil.

Napoleon was trained as an artillery officer in mainland France and rose to prominence under the French First Republic, where he led successful campaigns against the First and Second Coalitions arrayed against France. He also led a successful invasion of the Italian peninsula. In 1799 he staged a coup d’etat and installed himself as First Counsel, five years later the French Senate would proclaim him emperor. The first decade of the 19th century saw the French Empire under Napoleon engaged in a series of conflicts, the Napoleonic Wars, which involved every major European power and expanded much of Frances territory and influence in Europe. The Peninsular War and invasion of Russia in 1812 was the turning point in Napoleon’s successes. Napoleon would end up being by the Sixth Coalition at Leipzig, ultimately being exiled to the island of Elba, where he would escape and return to power less than a year later. He was ultimately defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in June of 1815. Napoleon would spent the last six years of his life in confinement by the British on the island of Saint Helena.

In 1848, Napoleon’s nephew, Louis, became emperor and was renamed Napoleon III. Napoleon I died at the age of fifty-two, he is largely responsible for the mass expansion of France and it’s territories.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Spotlight: Absoluut2

If you are looking for an intimate, luxury barge cruise through France, the Absoluut2 is the perfect barge cruise for you. The custom-built motor yacht, originally commissioned as a private luxury cruiser in 1994, she accommodates eight passengers and four crew members. The quiet, smooth, and well-appointed barge takes boating the inland waterways to another level. Like all France Cruises barges, the luxury hotel barge, Absoluut2 is absolutely committed to making your luxury vacation on the waterways a unique and memorable experience. Launched originally as a private luxury cruiser in 1994, she cruises through Holland and France in style.

Captain John Baker and his crew have years of experience, and his dedicated crew leaved no detail unturned when it comes to providing you with an enjoyable voyage of a lifetime. The vessel has four stylish cabins, each one equipped with a flat-screen TV and DVD and player en-suite bathrooms. Throughout the lounge and dining room are large panoramic windows and comfy leather sofas, perfect for spending time watching the French countryside roll by. The area also included a library with over 300 DVDs and a well stocked bar for guests enjoyment.

One of the highlight features of the Absoluut2 is the large sun deck and hot tub on the aft deck for those who love relaxing. The Absoluut2 also features an onboard chef who whishes to makes every meal onboard an exceptional and memorable dining experience for our guests. Using only the freshest local ingredients available, you will sample delights of continental cuisine and local delicacies with a splash of original flair. Guests are even encouraged to join the chef at the local markets as he searches for the highest quality of produce.

When you book your cruise with the Absoluute2, you will travel throughout the Upper Loire and Southern Burgundy, or Belgium and Holland (depending on the time of year). The start city is Paris, where guest will have the option to arrive earlier and explore the famed city. The cruises concluded in Paris as well, leaving the guests the option to stay longer too. This cruise is perfect for those who want to see France in a way they never have before. Explore the countryside from an imitate point of view aboard your very own private luxury river barge.  To read more about the Absoluut2 visit our website here: http://francecruises.com/barge-342-Absoluut2-1257.html, or call U.S. toll-free 1-866-498-3920.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Try The South For Winter

While most people think of Paris when it comes to the Christmas season in France, the south gets left behind. Don’t get us wrong, you really can never have a bad time in Paris, Christmas or not, however, if you want to beat the Christmas rush and enjoy winter a little differently, we recommend you head to the south. Like Paris, The South of France is decked out in lights and Christmas spirit. There are Christmas markets, shopping, and most importantly, much warmer weather than up north. When you think of the south, many people associate Nice or Cannes, we want to open you eyes to Perpignan- where the streets look like Marseilles or Nice but in miniature. The buildings are just as grand, but are scaled down and feel intimate.

One of the highlights of the city I s the Place de la Republic, a square surrounded by colorful apartments and an Opera Theatre. On the ground floors of most of the apartments in the area stand shops or cafes that are bright with lights and Christmas decorations. You also cannot miss the Market in Perpignan- a delightful place to bring a camera and capture as many Instagram-worthy shots as you can. One of the gorgeous things throughout the city of Perpignan is the dark red marble of the sidewalks veined in white. The older buildings still have their wooden shutters and beams, reminding visitors of fairytales from their childhood.

During winter, the Palace de la Victoire is filled with people ice-skating and is right in the heart of the city, a perfect place to get a drink and people watch. Throughout the city runs the Canal de Perpignan, the banks are decorated with long well-kept lawns and pretty flower beds, a perfect place to stroll along all hours of the day While you are in Perpignan, the food, bread, and wine are all a part of the experience, especially a traditional French Christmas treat- it’s a soft, sweet cake-like bread with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and licorice flavor of anise. Don’t forget to pair it with some mulled wine you will find all over the city at this time.

Overall, the city of Perpignan is the perfect alternative to the City of Lights up north for the winter holidays. Explore a new region of France that you can fall in love with and come back to year-after-year.

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