Monday, November 23, 2015


Vive la France- Embracing Food, Wine and Travel

By Doc Lawrence

Alluring Martinique
ATLANTA-It’s known as the Fleur de Caraïbes. Located in the heart of the Caribbean archipelago, Martinique is a jewel in the Windward Islands. Bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, its western coast is flanked by the Caribbean. The island is much nearer to the U.S. Southeast than France, but for a few hours on a lovely afternoon it seemed close to Atlanta.
The Normandy Coast

Atout France, the French tourism agency, came here to promote travel in France and Martinique with a group of lucky members of the press at the opulent Four Seasons in Atlanta’s booming Midtown. You expect nothing less than excellence from French hosts and accordingly, French wines were poured and food was served from a special menu presented by esteemed Chef Robert Gerstenecker.

The entrees included Bronzino, the delicious European sea bass and filet of loin steak followed by chocolate silk pie, a delightful finale. Wine glasses were never empty.

During lunch, the intimate gathering learned that despite the tragedy in Paris, travel to France and Martinique is loaded with cultural rewards with a bonus of recreational opportunities along the countryside.

Breathtaking Midi-Pyrenees
Imagine a Normandy vacation. Featuring one of the world’s most famous coasts with 80 sites dedicated to D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, it is known as the cradle of Impressionism. Normandy will glow beginning in April during the 3rd edition of the Impressionist Festival. There will be hundreds of events during the spring and summer featuring over 25 exhibitions showcasing portraiture displaying about 100 paintings by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Degas, Caillebotte, Fantin-Latour, Morisot, Cassat and many more.

Toulouse, the capital of the popular destination Midi-Pyrénées, is also Atlanta’s sister city. A bustling technological hub renowned as the home of Airbus and Aéroscopia, it enjoys a thriving arts and culture scene. Lourdes and the “Grand Sites” of the Pyrénées, include the UNESCO natural heritage site of the Cirque of Gavarnie and the Pic du Midi, a mountain in the Pyrenees famous for its astronomical observatory. The city of Albi boasts the Toulouse Lautrec Museum, the Episcopal City a UNESCO site dating back to the Middle Ages, and the nearby village of Cordes-sur-Ciel, a fortified town dating from 1222 perched on a hilltop. The beautiful sites along the Way of St. James, include Conques, Figeac, Moissac and Auch.

Martinique's Geraldine Rome with Greg McCluney
The horrible events in Paris took a back seat. The gracious hosts were emblematic of the French spirit that eschews uncertainty and fear. As my distinguished colleague Greg McCluney observed, “France is vast and diverse making any region an attractive destination.” While enjoying another glass of wine, we agreed that the perfect place to lose those winter blues would be two weeks in January on Martinique, France’s island paradise.

1 comment: