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Bicycle Gourmet Christopher Strong’s Big Cheese Fiesta



The Bicycle Gourmet has said, many times, that  its debateable whether France is most famous for it’s wine, or It’s cheeses. But both are absoultely worth discovering.

You can taste cheeses in any of the 7 cities where cheese festivals are held, but the most popular is probably Nice. If you have a taste for the Treasures of France, visit this southern French city for it’s wide variety of cheese and the International Bakers Festival.

The festival features a number of different events. You can play cheese and bread games and there are many good ones to choose from. This event is well attended by both locals and tourists, so you it’s definitely not just another tourist cliche.

The event hosts numerous stalls that sell cheese from the region and the festival has a number of guest judges as well. You can taste and buy cheeses.

But be aware that there will be a limit to how much you can take home. If you want to take something home, the festival has a dedicated cheese bar. It will not be hard to miss!

In comparison to the other cheese festivals, the Nice festival is quite small. There are a number of stalls that offer cheese samples, and you can taste a variety of cheeses from both Spain and France.
In recent years, some of the cheese samples have contained food coloring. So be sure you ask the producer if their offering is “the real thing.”

The main event of the festival is the Bakery Challenge. Bakeries in Nice offer an incredible variety of breads, cakes and mini-desserts. Well worth trying, and always well presented. As you would imagine,this competition is popular with tourists, many of whom come just for this gastronomic event.

And, as you would also suspect, the bakeries offer a multitude of free samples. Perfect for anyone with even a moderately sweet tooth. So- best to arrive as early as possible, to take advantage of those samples before they run out.

This year the festival is in July.Usually one of the hottest summer months. And, be warned – the height of the tourist season. So, if you want to experience the chesse festival and/or bakery competition, you need to accept, you will be “sharing the experience.”

Throw Me A Bone Here People!

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Bicycle Gourmet’s Paris Covid Update

Yes, I know, it does seem strange that I, DA BG – extoller of the French Country backroads, food, wine senic landscapes and other Treasures of France, am giving you this Paris Covid Update, by writing about- A CITY.

But, as you are well aware Dear reader…Paris is not just any city. Like, for instance, Burbank, Blackpool, or Bolton.

But a city steeped in history, culture, adventure, intrigue, betrayal, massacres and all that other stuff that makes Paris, well,..er..PARIS!

Travelling to France after Covid won’t be the same as it once was. The city has undergone massive changes in the past decade, and this transformation has made it a better, more vibrant destination in the eyes of many.

One of the most noticeable transformations came with the opening of the Palais Covil in 2008. It is a convention-centered complex housing restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, conferences and events. The biggest such hotel complex in Europe and the Paris Region.

The transformation into a tourist center was the result of several factors. The first being that Paris is now the top tourist destination in the world

The second factor was the global economic crisis. An inevitable result of Covid 19. It virtually crippled the tourist industry. Which, obviously, is the city’s main main attraction.

Sad, but for the moment, unavoidable to see: hotels, restaurants, clubs, cafes,bars,theaters, conference centers that helped spread the vibe of the city muted.

Particularly affected was the Palais de Paris, which is a large convention space that hosts conferences, meetings, weddings and fashion shows. The same fate also befell the Palais de Choubiras, an up and coming venue for the fashion industry.

In addition to it’s obvious tourist and cultural attractions,Paris has also been the setting for more than a few blockbuster movies and plays. Argueably the three most well known being Les Liaisons Dangereuses La Vie en Rose and Les Vampires .

And so, yes, Paris is down. For the moment. But, like a boxer who has taken a serious beating, will be on her feet again. Sooner than you think. (Hold that thought!)

This Video  has more of my non-Paris ranting.



Bicycle Gourmet’s Photo Workshop Lowdown.


The straight skinny on DA BG’s Photography Workshop Tours is headed your way because of, not suprisingly, this recurring question :

 What’s the lowdown on your French Photography Course Workshops?  Glad you asked. No, really. Because with everything in life that sounds too good to be true, there are some truths to be revealed.And with Photo Tours you’ve never been on before – in advance, being the best way.

Not to pour cold water on your French dreams, but having a more balanced view of the realities of this here land, will enable you to have a “mo beddah” experience.

Reality One : Strikes can, and do happen without much/any advance notice. Particularly with trains. Then there are the mini-strikes that we call “work stoppages” or “work to rule” (in the UK) Translation: The service you want and need is not available today.

Reality Two: While it cannot technically be considered a “strike” or “work stoppage”, just as irritatingly inconvenient is the “Fermenture Exceptionnell.” (translation: “exceptional closing”) You will find this sign on the window of whatever shop whose goods/services you absolutely, desperately want/need and will probably die without. But, sniff,sniff, they’ve decided , for whatever reason, or no reason at all, not to be open today.

Reality Three : Although there are approximately 30,000 words we have in common with those (usually)loveable latins, they ARE pronounced differently. For instance, our “fragile” is “Fraa- geeel.” so prepare your ears.

And also, prepare a few essential phrases. like “yes, no”, thank you” and the absolutely critical “where’s the toilet?” That said, you will find that  most Frenchies do understand more “eengleesh” than they speak. But if you make the effort, they meet you more than halfway.

Reality Four : Da Wine! While  French Wine is justly famed Worldwide, there is another(and for me) more interesting aspect of Froggie grapedom. That being the “cave co-operative.” A   Wine Co-op offering a grog from  growers in the local area. Sold “en vrac” (Translation: you bring an empty litre container (a “Bidon”) and “fill ‘er up.)

The advantages of buying from a local cave-co-operative are many. First of all: Convenience. Second: Quality/price ratio. Always under 2 euro@litre. Third:  Because the caves are outside the government  A.O.C. wine classification  system, they can blend the best grapes they have available. With no worries about  the “correct varieties.”

Reality Five : French Food. Is good and priced reasonably in the (non high traffic) countryside. Cities  are just what you’d expect. (Cannes, more. and worse -trust me -” been there – done that”)

Reality Six: Impossible to get a bad cup of coffee in France. They know their joe!

Reality Seven: The French Countryside is MORE fantastic than any/all photos you’ve seen. That’s what makes it such a “must do” destination for Landscape Photography.

Reality Eight:  After a million and a half  years(and counting!) of  an Endless Tour de France   – I can (and will) Absolutely make sure you taste the land and the people as well as the food and wine – plus go home with some awesome images, great memories, and (more often than not) a few new friends.

Anything else you’d like to know?


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