Category Archives: France

Oasis in the Rhone-Alpes

With dramatic rock formations, turquoise waters and many French villas tucked into the greenery, the Ardeche Region of France is an oasis for lovers of the outdoors and all things French. It may be a step away from the sophistication of Parisian chic, but the south-west corner of the Rhone-Alpes is no less French, encompassing the je ne sais quoi of French society that exists in every pocket, from the sophisticated cities to the rural farming communities.

Ardeche Gorges and Caves

One of the main drawcards of the region is the dramatic gorges, rent through the region with turqoise rivers in their base. The gorges follow the southern border of the department and eithr driving over the top of the gorges and looking down, or paddling through the rivers in a canoe and looking up provides amazing views.

The best town to stay to easily explore the gorges is Vallon Pont d’Arc and the nearby Pont d’Arc has a beautiful river beach to enjoy in the summertime.

There are also a great number of caves to explore, some of which show evidence of ancient peoples. All close to Pont d’Arc, three caves in particular are some of the most significant in France. The Aven d’Orgna has three large ‘rooms’ open to the public; the Grotte de la Madeleine has impressive floor to ceiling rock formations; and the Chauvet caves have some of the oldest prehistoric paintings in Europe. The Chauvet caves are currently closed however to the public in order to protect these paintings.

Ardeche is also the home of many other gorgeous natural sites including the extinct volcano Mont Gerbier-de-Jonc, that provides great views from the summit. It is also where you’ll find the source of the Loire River, the longest river in France that has many a chateaux on its banks.

Ardeche Villages of Character

Not only home to sites of natural beauty, Ardeche has some of the most picturesque towns in France. The local tourist board has listed the towns of particular note in an easy ‘villages of character’ list. This designation is given to towns that have a focus on preserving their vestiges of French provincial life among beautiful settings.

Some of these towns have even been classified as among the ‘most beautiful of France’.

There are 17 ‘villages of character’: Ailhon, Alba-la-Romaine, Antraigues-sur-Volane, Balazuc, Beauchastel, Banne, Boucieu-le-Roi, Chalencon, Desaignes, Jaujac, Labeaume, Meyras, Naves (near Les Vans), Saint-Montan, Thueyts, Vinezac and Vogue.

As with much of regional France, Tempo Holidays has a huge range of ready-made itineraries or we can tailor-make an exploration of this fascinating area just for you.

Gastronomy 101: French Food

France is the country of romance, wine and cheese – and we can help you with at least two of these things! No, we’re not offering a match-making service but rather the chance to experience the very best wine, cheese and other classic French cuisine that the country of love has to offer.

Each region of France has a proud gastronomie heritage, producing locally made bread, cheese, wine, cured meats: the list goes on. And so it follows that one of the best ways to understand France is through its food.

In the south were food is cooked in light olive oil, flavours are simple and bread is light, it is said that people are more relaxed and laid-back. Whereas in the north, where food is cooked in rich butter, strong flavours dominate and the bread is thick & grainy, people are supposedly more loquacious, quick to laugh and share a tale.

Whether this proves true or not, the food and wine of France is deeply part of the culture and locals are exceptionally proud of their food heritage. On any of the below mentioned itineraries, you will see the passion and love that goes into creating such delicious food by interacting with local farmers, vignerons, sommeliers and chefs.

Your French Kitchen

Paris MarketA trip to Paris is incomplete without wandering around the beautiful markets. Awash with gleaming vegetables, the scent of spice wafting through the air, and the raucous cries of hawking stall-holders, allow yourself to be absorbed in market life on our French Market Tour and Class. After your tour of the market, you will return to the classroom kitchen, fresh produce in hand, to prepare a delicious seasonal meal, under the guidance of a professional chef.

Speaking of cooking, the notoriously difficult to create French delicacy of macarons can be conquered by you after a two or three hour French Macaron Class. The three hour intensive is ideal for those who want to perfect these elegant, colourful pastries.

Tastebud explosion

If you prefer to eat over cook, the Bellies on Foot day tour is for you. Taking you through the winding streets of old Paris, you will visit the very foundations of the French culinary scene, collecting produce along the way. Then with fresh bread, charcuterie, fromage, froie gras and sweets in hand, it’s time to sit back and relax with a glass in hand, to enjoy your treasure trove of produce.

Patisserie_Paris_Food_Wine_ToursFor all those sweet-tooths out there, it’s hard to look further than the patisseries of Paris when you think of heaven.  Handmade chocolates, intricately decorated tarts, wafer thin pastries that melt on your mouth – the Marais is is home to all of this and more. Over two hours, enjoy wandering the streets of this hip part of Paris on the Let Them Eat Cake tour and sample all the delicious treats on offer.

Incorporate one of these fantastic foodie experiences into your Paris short break, such as a Taste of Paris or Parisian Classics, to really explore the city of lights.

Beyond Paris, there is so much delicious regional food and wine to discover on many of our itineraries. On the Normandy, Brittany and The Loire Valley small group tour, see chateaux, battle-scarred landscapes of France’s northern shores, centuries old villages and hilltop monasteries as you eat and drink your way through the region. Sample Calvaldos (cider) in Normandy, wine in the Loire and cheese in Brittany, with delicious restaurant dinners along the way.

Alternatively, we also offer three different Chateaux & Wines small group day tours out of the Loire Valley, that can be incorporated into a wider itinerary.

See our in-depth Gastronomy 101: French Wines for tours, itineraries and packages focusing on le vin de la belle France.


If you are interested in any of these food adventures or want to craft your very own tailor-made gastronomical tour of France, contact one of our agents today.

Gastronomy 101: French Wine

Whether you are an accomplished wine critic or brand new to the world of le vin, France has something for every palette – from red to white to bubbles!

France is the second largest producer of wine in the world (after Italy) and is home to some of the most important and well-known wineries in the world. There is a strict appellation system when it comes to classifying wines – for example, only sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region can be called champagne. And there’s a lot more to learn beside that – the effect of the terroir (land and soil), the weather, the fermentation process, to name just a few.

The best way to make the most out of French wine is therefore when you have a bit of an understanding of the production and history… and the perfect way  to do that is on one of our many tours, itineraries or packages. Here are a few below.

Wine Regions of France

Champagne

Champagne is a great region to start your French wine exploration. With manicured rolling hills, this region is famous for the bubbly white of the same name and home to some of the world’s most famous wine producers. For a full Champagne experience, try our independent Champagne Superstay itinerary over four days from Reims. Reims is a gorgeous city with art deco cafes and a beautiful cathedral, where French kings were crowned for more than 1,000 years. On this itinerary, enjoy tastings at Veuve Cliquot, Mumm, Dom Perignon, Moet & Chandon and  and a visit to the Grandes Maisons de Champagne. For more solid sustenance, local specialties feature and we can happily organise a booking for you at one of Reims Michelin-starred restaurants.

We also offer three Champagne day trips that can be incorporated into a wider tour of France or the region.

Burgundy

Burgundy is a hotspot for all things food and wine – in fact, the vineyards are so culturally important, that they have been recognised with UNESCO World Heritage status. Over the centuries, the combination of continued viticulture of the area with the unique terroir has enabled local producers to truly perfect the art of wine making. On the Burgundy Superstay independent itinerary, you will stay in medieval Beaune  and enjoy a number of day trips to les grandes caves (important wine cellars) of the area, where you will meet with vignerons, sample wines and taste delicious local produce.

We also offer two Burgundy wine tour day trips in small groups, but they may also be taken privately.

Bordeaux

Famous for its rich neo-classical architecture and equally rich Medoc red wines, Bordeaux is a wonderful city for a short break or as a base to explore the wine region of the same name. Our Taste of Bordeaux independent itinerary gives you not only the chance to take in the charming old city, but to explore the surrounding wine region with tastings at five different estates throughout the region, over four days.

There are also a number of day trips offered in Bordeaux taking you to various wineries in the region and giving you the chance to sample more local food. The macarons of Saint-Emilion on the Wines of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol Tour are a personal favourite!

Provence 

There are a number of day tours in Provence taking in local food and wine experiences. These include an Olive and Wine in Les Baux de Provence tour with tastings of both in that medieval village at the foot of the Alpilles range, or the Cassis, Calanques and Bandol tour featuring a guided tour, wine tasting and delicious local lunch.

Gastronomic Cruising

For something completely different, Discover the Great Bordeaux Wines  on a river cruise over six days from Bordeaux. Alternatively, cruise your way from Champagne to Paris over a week, enjoying wine tastings along the way.

River cruising in France is a wonderful way to see the country, tracing important trade routes and stopping at many picturesque villages along the way. The vessels have outstanding facilities, daily buffet breakfasts, three course meals for lunch and dinner and comfortable air-conditioned cabins. Many of the highlighted day trips above can be incorporated when you alight in either region.

Keep an eye out for our next installment of this series on delectable French Food.


If you are interested in any of these wine adventures or want to craft your very own tailor-made gastronomical tour of France, contact one of our agents today. After all, that Chablis isn’t going to drink itself – so wine not?!