Truffle Hunting in France
A Nose for Truffles in the latest programme from Carmen Konopka, Editor of Destination France magazine as she follows in the footsteps of a labrador on a truffle hunt in the Marne, the heart of Champagne country.
Truffles are cultivated in woodland by Benoit Jacquinet who welcomes visitors to his family's Auberge des Moissons in Matougues. Carmen stayed here for a night, enjoying a four-course gastronomic truffle dinner accompanied by some of the best local Champagnes. In the morning she went out with Benoit and his dog Angy to hunt for the truffles which grow just below the surface of the soil.
Benoit is part of a renaissance of trufficulture in France. Back in 1900 the French grew around 1,000 tonnes of truffles each year, but because people began to leave the countryside for the towns and because of the huge loss of life in World War I, the truffle plantations became neglected and most had stopped producing by the end of World War II. However, since the 1970s there has been renewed interest, with production now 40-50 tonnes per year.
Carmen's trip also took her to some of the best Champagne country, so she dropped into Champagne Pehu-Simonet in Verzenay to stock up with some delicious vintage bubbly for Christmas at only 23 Euros a bottle. She explains it's worth a special shopping expedition if you have a wedding or celebration coming up. To make it easy to bring back her purchases, she crossed the Channel by SeaFrance ferry from Dover-Calais, then drove down the A26 motorway.
Broadcast 23 November 2010
Carmen Konopka, Editor of Destination France magazine, tells Expatsradio.com about a city that was the birthplace of both Jules Verne and mechanical monsters like 12-metre-high elephants.
Located on the Loire in western France, Nantes has a lovely 15th century chateau at its centre, once the home of the Ducs de Bretagne. Its buildings include old and very new, plus former factories and warehouses that have been imaginatively restored. Features include the Passage Pommeraye, a three-storey neo-classical extravaganza built in 1843 which bankrupted its developer, while the Ile Feydeau area was once an island and recalls the city's 'golden age' when it grew rich from shipping tobacco, coffee, chocolate, sugar, cotton and slaves.
Art is big in Nantes – literally! Estuaire is a 40-mile contemporary art trail along the Loire first held in 2007, then in 2009 and featuring huge art installations. The next Estuaire will be in 2012, but meanwhile there are lots of permanent works left in place to be seen. And just across the river from Nantes is the artists' village of Trentemoult, once a fishing village and now decorated with murals.
A short distance down the estuary in Saint-Nazaire is a museum about ocean cruising, Escal'Atlantic, which has been created out of the former submarine base.
Broadcast 15 October 2010
Destination France Visits Le Touquet