Since I last wrote, the spring has arrived in Paris. Just over a week ago Le Jardin des Plantes, where I do my jogging, showed no sign of spring but yesterday almost every tree had buds, and some more than that!
This sudden change in weather also means that we are approaching the famous month of May… Famous, because in France it is a month that feels like a never-ending holiday. It begins with the International Workers’ Day (encouragement is surely needed under the current economic conditions!), the religious holidays (does everyone remember their origin?) and there also is the Victory Day that takes us back to 1945. This year, May 8 falls on Wednesday and May 9 naturally on Thursday. In France this means that many people will make a bridge (faire le pont). For clarification, no, they won’t build a bridge, but they will take Friday off in order to have a loooooooong weekend (sometimes this is imposed by the employer itself!). Even if you don’t live in France, try talking to your boss about “bridge making” and you may get an extra day off!
Furthermore, since most companies ask employees to use their remaining holidays by the end of the month, the dilemma is ready: how to use them, what to do, where to go? A French dilemma! But a nice one.
So, I have been suffering from the same problematic since last week. Some ideas are above the others, but wherever I go traveling, it is important to eat well. Distance-wise, the destination should not be more than some four hours away by plane. Ideally, the weather should be warmer than in Paris… Voila, here is the current shortlist:
Spain, one of the closest destinations to France where the weather is warmer, food delicious and wine good. I would not mind eating some fresh, grilled seafood like razor shells. Not forgetting manchego. Fly to Malaga, rent a car and drive around Andalusia to learn about Islamic heritage in Europe? Or fly to Santiago de Compostela with Vueling (http://www.vueling.com) but forget swimming in the sea in May, I think…
Italy is like Spain –who does not love these two countries? My dream for many years now has been to drive around the coastline of Italy, but one would need at least one month to do that, I reckon. But how about just flying to Naples and visiting the nearby islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida? Seafood and wine are delicious, too! Or –since I already know these three island– fly to Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island.
3. Turkey & Greece
On the eastern side of the Mediterranean is Turkey, where I have been maybe ten times. More importantly, I have never been disappointed with food. How could one be: Turkish mezes are very tasty and the eggplant puree in the picture is to die for! A week in Bodrum with some island hopping to Greek islands of Kos and Rhodes? The sea should be warm enough for pleasant swimming.
4. A seaside resort in a place where it is HOT (Egypt?)
I took this photo in Seychelles some years ago and the beach looks very tempting. With some luck the Mediterranean sea temperature will be well above 20C in May but maybe not. The only seaside destination near Europe (again, around 4 hours of flying) where you have “guaranteed hot weather” is Egypt and you can correct me if I am wrong. In Egypt, not only one has the sun and the turquoise water, but there are excellent snorkeling and diving possibilities. My primary concern is that Egypt is mainly a package-tour destination and based on my hotel-review reading, the food is often not top… Do not get me wrong; I am sure Egyptian food is good, but I just need to find the right hotel that believes in preparing traditional food instead of serving pasta buffets…
The obvious not-so-obvious choice: France. To rent a car and drive towards the South? My usual lunch stop is in Beaune in Burgundy where snails are bigger and better than anywhere else (or at least compared to most of the places I have eaten at). From Beaune the voyage would continue toward Avignon and further down south either toward Côte d’Azur or deeper into Languedoc, including stops chez les vignerons (read my previous post Wine tasting at Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants). Always an excellent idea.
Ideas to ponder, indeed. Meanwhile, should you like to share your favorite holiday spot with me, or have suggestions or comments, let me know!