French Weekender 2007 (Continued from page 19)
Arriving at Calais, we took our chance to grab some more cheese and several bottles of Champagne, before getting onto the Eurotunnel. By now the sun had begun to set and we grabbed a couple of shots of the cars getting on and off the train.
Cutting the Video
When we set out on this venture our hope was to produce a different kind of MINI film. We hoped to create a record of the fun that is the French Weekender. So after, 14 hours, several bottles of wine (from the cave) and a lot laughter, the French Weekender was complete.
Jackie Keighley Assistant Director; Assistant Producer; Assistant Tea Maker and finally… Film Editor!
Amalulu’s Joys on a
French Weekender (By Amelia Gates)
Can I just start by saying what an amazing weekend! I had no preconceived ideas having met the gang of people just once before at a dinner party. Never something I would've or could've organised for myself. Enough culture to last me a few years anyway. I think that's the advantage of having someone else plan a weekend away for you.
The overnight ferry crossing was very easy but didn't provide the best nights sleep for an active weekend. Breakfast at Monets garden was also a bit of flop as the tourist season hadn't yet started, but fret not we soon drove off to find a bizarre spot in a village pub instead. But nothing could dampen our spirits, not even the slightly drizzly rain at the very overly impressive Palace of Versailles, which incidentally is highly decorated inside and is a perfect place to photograph. More grand inside than out definitely. I don't think I'm painting the best picture of the weekend yet am I? The best is yet to come...
Our hotel was beautiful - imagine an upmarket Holiday Inn set in a large restored Victorian house - and gave me plenty of ideas for my own home. After a quick refresh it was onto our pre-ordered dinner, which gave us a real chance to start practising our French. The French really go all out when they cook, it's phenomenal 5* quality and easily something you'd pay a lot of money for. Portions are smaller though, more room for another course, or more wine.
The next day was a personal favourite for me. Da Vinci's house and garden is one of the most beautiful and inspiring places, it's so quaint and really homely. I had no idea he even invented so many things, and it's really no wonder if he did it all in this location. I could have happily spent all day here with my sketchbook and a
camera. Similarly, Chenonceau was stunning, but in a much different way. Grandeur strikes you here before you realise it's actually quite
a cosy little chateau and yet a lot bigger than it looks. It's surrounded by very natural feeling woodland, adorned with spring flowers and the occasional 'tap-tap-tap' of a woodpecker. Chambord however, didn't have the same feel. It was so vast you couldn't even tell where the front of it was! It is however amazing to see how different chateaux have a different vibe about them, worth poking about here just for contrast.
Dinner that evening was arranged solely by our receptionist and ended up being the most iconic time of the whole weekend. Everyone really let their hair down and got into a competition judged by the waitress for the best representation of Da Vincis flying machine, made out of balloons!?! You can imagine what sort of creations a group of almost drunken adults make out of a load of balloons. Next up a quiz with a trophy for a prize and a donkey for the loser. Seriously, a night of full on adult entertainment! Again 5* food and wine on service (amazing what a couple of glasses of wine does to
improve your French speaking skills) all for a
bargain, about 35 euros per head for 3 courses and a bottle of wine each. French cuisine is astonishing and great value for money.
Breakfast time was a tender affair by all, followed by the best market I've ever been too. Loads of fresh produce (except for the cheese and some dodgy looking sausages) and just how you expect it to be. The challenge was to buy something to eat for the 'picnic' in one of our bedrooms later.
Lunch in a cave was a spectacular experience. Literally a cave, with lit candles in every crevice and alcove, wonderfully romantic and the simplest and tastiest food washed down with local apple juice. The perfect hangover cure. We now had our chance to go our separate ways and meet up later with our picnic.
The journey home was still packed to the full with lunch in Rouen and a shopping spree in Calais to pick up your last minute must haves.
I went with an open mind, not really knowing what to expect but ready to try everything. I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed myself and the company I was with. Ragging a car about vast open French countryside is awesome. Team it with lunch breaks, nosing about someone's chateau and taking photos and evenings with hilarious drunken company eating and drinking the best food and wine you've had for a price that suits your wallet and youve got yourself a surprisingly fantastic weekend!
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