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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


Destination Nantes

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

Carmen Konopka, Editor of Destination France magazine, tells Expatsradio.com about Le Touquet-Paris-Plage and Montreuil-sur-Mer, both perfect destinations for a weekend or short break in Pas de Calais.

Le Touquet, made popular by two Englishmen at the turn of the last century, is a seaside resort packed with fascinating architecture and with a wealth of sports on offer, from horseracing, tennis and golf to sailing, swimming and sand yachting. Its sandy beach is perfect for adults and children alike. Le Touquet has always been popular with the British and with Parisians, many of whom have 'Anglo-Normand' style villas here.

Montreuil-sur-Mer, about eight miles inland up the River Canche, was a port until it silted up in the 16th century. Today you can enjoy lovely views from the ancient ramparts and relax in its charming squares. Victor Hugo based part of his 'Les Miserables' on the town and there are annual performances to commemorate it. One of the most relaxed and luxurious ways of experiencing the town is to stay in Château de Montreuil, styled like an English country house with a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Broadcast 2nd August 2010


Carmen Konopka on the Picasso Trail

Carmen Konopka, Editor of Destination France Magazine, tells us about Picasso's life on the French Riviera.

He spent lots of holidays in the area, then lived here from 1946-73 and there's a lot of his work on display.

He spent a couple of months painting in Chateau Grimaldi at Antibes in 1946 and there's an interesting collection of his work there now – some of it showing evidence of post-war shortages, such as paintings in the French equivalent of Dulux and old canvases which he overpainted. You can also tell from the paintings how much he enjoyed eating the local sea urchins...

Antibes is a lovely old city with ramparts facing the sea and amazing harbours packed with billionaires' yachts. But it's not just touristy – the locals have an association, Le Commune Libre de Safranier, to keep their traditions alive (I saw them having a communal aioli dinner and playing square boules...)

Along the coast at Vallauris – a town still famed for its potters – Picasso discovered ceramics. He lived here from 1948-55 and made more than 4,000 ceramic pieces with the help of a local studio. He also made a lot of lino-cuts (some advertising the nearby bloodless bullfights) and you can have a go at making them yourself in the local museum.

The Castle Museum in Vallauris has some of his work, but better still is the Castle's chapel which Picasso decorated with his monumental work, War and Peace. There's also a lovely bronze sculpture of his in the middle of the market square – it's unlabelled and when I saw it, it was surrounded by market stalls, had a ladder propped up against it, a small boy climbing it and a dog tied to it. Exactly as Picasso intended!

From 1955 until his death in 1973, Picasso lived in Mougins. There's a photographic museum here with pictures of him taken by André Villers. He was finally buried in his home near Aix en Provence – though he didn't spend much time here and it's not usually open to the public.

Broadcast 1st July 2010


Cote d'Azur with Destination France Magazine

This is the second recording Pat Holness of Expatsradio.com has made with Destination France Magazine. In this expat radio programme Pat discusses The Cote d'Azur with Editor Carmen Konopka.

Pat hears how beautiful this region is and Carmen mentions Château de la Chèvre d’Or in Èze Village perched on the hillside overlooking the Med and Cap Ferrat, this hotel offers the ultimate in luxury – pricey but gorgeous. There are gardens on the hillside with exotic flowers and the perfume is fantastic.

There is a lot of history and there are some stunning villas overlooking the sea.
One was built like a Greek villa and the owner lived life as people did centuries before.

We also hear about the Baroness who spent money like water and loved pink!
She also had gardeners with pink pompom hats. her villa is featured in the picture associated with this programme.

There is a lot more in this expats radio programme and we hope you will enjoy listening.

Broadcast 29th May 2010


The Dordogne with Destination France Magazine

This is the first recording Expatsradio has made with Destination France Magazine. In this expat radio programme Pat Holness discusses The Dordogne with Editor Carmen Konopka.

Luscious countryside, golden towns and villages, awesome prehistoric sites, gorgeous gardens and more than 1,000 chateaux... Carmen discovers why we love the Dordogne.

Pat suggests that your first thought must be the chateaux. Carmen agrees and suggests a few that she finds particularly beautiful.

She goes on to tell us about Josephine Baker who owned Chateau des Milandes. From her dancing with a banana skirt and adopting 12 children her life was very full. Sadly she was badly advised and lost her chateau and ended her life in difficult circumstances.

If you are a gardener then The Dordogne is the place for you!

There is a lot more in this programme including food and wine so we recommend you listen in.

Broadcast 28th April 2010


Destination France Programmes on Expatsradio

Destination France Magazine will be broadcasting with Expatsradio very soon and we speak to Editor Carmen Konopka for the first time.

France is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, which is no surprise when you consider that it is blessed with beautiful countryside, picturesque towns and villages, vibrant cities, remarkable art and architecture, and of course, some of the world's finest food and drink. It is easy to see why French people are immensely proud of their country and culture – and why many visitors to France become enamoured of the place.
Destination France aims to celebrate this fascinating country with an engaging mix of insightful features and useful practical information, written by authoritative contributors and backed-up by stunning photography that shows la belle France at her best.
Our regular features include:
• At a Glance: Indispensable guides to France's wonderful towns and cities.
• Rendez-Vous: Topical news and a 'What's On' guide to the many diverse events taking place across France.
• Property: Our pick of the most desirable properties.
• C'est la Vie: Stephen Simmons gives an insider's view of life on the other side of the English Channel.
• Destination: Suggested travel itineraries for visitors wanting to make the most of the French regions.
• Bookshelf: Reviews of the latest essential reading.
• Food & Wine: Mouth-watering recipes and features on French food and wine.
• My Last Visit to France: Well known figures tell of their most recent experience.
Destination France is a vital source of information for visitors to France, people looking to buy a second home, or simply those with an interest in our close but distinct neighbour. Vive la difference!

Broadcast 16th April 2010