Wednesday, June 30, 2010

10 Reasons Why We Love France

Every year hundreds of thousands of Irish people travel to France for a holiday,  many of whom are repeat visitors.  So, what is our fascination with France?

1. Weather- the sunshine in France puts a smile on our faces!

2. Easy to get to-Getting to France and back from Ireland couldn't be easier.  Both Aer Lingus and Ryanair provide a host of low-cost and regular air routes.  Flight time is short (approx. 2 hrs) making the journey quick and easy.  For a longer, but perhaps more enjoyable journey and the added bonus of taking your car, you can travel to France via overnight Ferry.  This is a great option for young families.  Irish Ferries & Brittany Ferries among others provide reasonably priced regular sailings.  

3.  Family friendly-France is a great destination for families.  There are heaps of family focused holiday villages, caravan parks & camps that provide wonderful pool and water slide areas and a wide array of activities for all ages.  Some of my favourite childhood memories of France are of fun days spent trying out different sports, arts and novelties with new found friends in summer camps in Pierre & Vacances Port Bourgenay apartment village, various keycamp resorts and of course Euro Disney!  

4. History & Sightseeing-Fabulous old towns and stunning architectural attractions to visit and wow over!  

5.  Art & Culture- Sophisticated high art, chique cafe culture and overall French elegance!  

6.  Wine & Cheese-beautiful rich wines and delicious cheese!  Yummy!  

7. Boulangerie- who can resist a trip to a French bakery.  Yummy baguettes, patisseries, croissaint, pain au chocolait and my absolute favourites- macaroons-are a feast to eyes as much as they are to the tummy!  

8. Shopping-Couture, designer, vintage and dainty, shopping in france is a real treat!

9. Diversity-Mountains, lakes, beaches, big cities, vineyards..... France is like a mini Europe with something to suit everyone;s tastes!  

10. Outdoor orientated - France is an excellent adventure and outdoor pursuits destinations.  Mountain climbing, hiking, cycling, skiing, surfing and much more all draw us Irish to France every year.  

So there you have it, that is why We Love France!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Give France a Chance!

You may have noticed that I have not been posting over the last week.  Apologies for this lack of correspondence and please allow me explain myself.   I was on holiday....  well what do you expect from a travel writer?!  Last week while my compatriots in Ireland were collectively hating France and wishing their football team a speedy and humiliating exit from the World Cup, I was so very quietly loving  everything about the country (soccer squad excluded).  I spent a week visiting my sister in the South of France, as I had done the year previous and for years before that, and have returned converted once  more to the I heart France camp.  

Now that the French team have been eliminated from the World Cup the wave of french-hating hysteria can hopefully subside.  My white flag contribution to the rekindling of previously happy Irish-French relations is to remind us all of why it is that we Irish love France.  France is one of the most popular destinations for Irish tourists after all, so surely a gentle reminder of why we like to go there will help restore some good feeling towards an old friend.  

Bienvenue tout le monde to French week on The Top Tips For Trips Blog!  My next blog will look at all the reasons we love(d) France.  After that I will review the three towns I visited on my recent trip to France -Biarritz, Bayonne & Hossegor.  Enjoy!  

Monday, June 21, 2010

Body & Soul Festival @ Electric Picnic 2010

I had the pleasure of attending the Body & Soul Festival with three pals last weekend.  It took place across the labyrinth of stone-walled gardens and beautiful woodlands in Ballinlough Castle, Co. Westmeath as a celebration of the Summer Solstice.  We were blessed with an incredibly sunny weekend , a relaxed atmosphere and good company - an overall great experience.

Body & Soul is more about atmospheric engineering than main attractions and hype. 

'We want our festival goers to enjoy an "experience" rather than just a gig - we're sustainability conscious, without being too-in-your-face, unique rather than boutique: An independent festival with a heart-shaped mind and a cutting-edge soul.'

This is the first year that Body & Soul has branched out as its own single event.  Usually the festival takes place during Electric Picnic.  The sub-festival has been one of the main pulls for Electric Picnic ticket holders over the past years so it seemed only right that Body & Soul got its own gig.  The festival brings together a collaboration of artists, musicians, poets and performers in a chilled-out, enchanted environment - an eclectic, conscious cabaret of electronic and visual arts, featuring homegrown talent, emerging artists and a selection of international guests.

Although you have missed the boat on the summer solstice event you can still experience Body & Soul @ Electric Picnic 2010.  The picnic takes place on the 3rd, 4th and 5th September.  Weekend camping tickets cost €240.  For more info visit the Electric Picnic website. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ash and Travel Disruption Insurance

The Icelandic volcano has been quiet for a while; it slumbers away in relative privacy, a forgotten celebrity thrown aside by the media.  The disruption and havoc caused by it's ash cloud appears to have faded from public memory like the smoke itself.  Those who vowed not to leave the country for fear of being stranded abroad or losing out on money due to canceled holidays have been lured back by the appeal of sun and cheap deals offered by travel agents and airlines.  

Being both a holiday lover and a travel agent I am of course delighted that people are once again daring to venture outside!  I myself have three trips lined up that I am only giddy to get going.  A word of warning however for all you fellow travellers-There is NO SMOKE without FIRE!  Smokey Joe -or one of his MANY Icelandic cousins-could blow again just as easy!  

What came as a massive shock to everyone 2 months ago will not be so shocking next time round, so it is your job to make sure you are prepared.  The good news is that new Ash and Travel Disruption Insurance has been introduced.  Blue Insurances has announced new Travel Disruption Insurance to protect consumers in the event of any further travel disruptions including Volcanic Ash, Riots and Pandemics, available to purchase through, Blue Insurances or the Irish Travel Trade.

Purchase this additional cover from as little as €17 for an Annual policy or €9.99 for single trips.  Don't let your holiday blow up in your face!  :)

Tasty Dublin

Taste of Dublin is back for its fifth year in the stunning location of Dublin's Iveagh Gardens this weekend.  The culinary festival is full of glamorous food and glamorous people.  The 'steaks' are being raised even further this year with the addition of lots of new restaurants and the IMAGE Best Dressed Award.  If you have your eyes on the style prize then head to the festival on Friday 10th between 12 and 4 PM.  For those of you with eyes only on the grub wait til you are starving and pop along Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  

Here is a little taste of what is in store:

'Celebrate the great outdoors as you dine your way around the capital's top restaurants, sample the best local and international food and drink and pick up some great tips from world famous chefs. Join over 30,000 foodies in the must-do social event of the summer! Delight in gourmet distinction, a stunning location, truly great company and fantastic live entertainment.'

Standard tickets are €25.  if you want to go Friday lunchtime or Sunday evening you can avail of a small discount.  For booking see Taste of Dublin.   Bon apetit!

Friday, June 4, 2010

USA Today Names Ireland as Top 5 Bargain Destination for Summer 2010

An article published in USA Today on May 21 has listed Ireland as one of the top 5 bargain destinations for summer holidays in 2010. OK so I'm a little late on the take up here, I apologise for only telling you this now! But better late than never, particularly when it comes to promising news for the Irish tourism industry!

We are the only European country listed in the top 5. Reasons for our new cheap deal appeal are of course the drop in package prices related to the recession and the increasing performance of the dollar against the Euro. Looks like the days of American-packed hotels and tourist sites are not over, we simply need to adjust the Irish brand to include BARGAIN as well as Blarney!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Time for the Maritime Festival!

You don't have to be a pirate, fisherman or sailor to enjoy the Maritime festival taking place at Dublin's thriving docklands area this bank holiday weekend June just helps a little!

With a record 150,000 visitors -including my pals and I-at last year's Festival, this year's event takes place on both the quays north and south of the Liffey. The river will be a buzz of activity with the stars of the show being its resident tall ship, the Jeanie Johnston and visiting friends, the Artemis, Bessie Ellen, Notre Dame de Rumengol and the Irish naval vessel, L. E. Aoife, all of which will give people the chance to experience first hand what life on the ocean waves is like.

Enjoy a breath-taking array of street theatre, musical entertainment and amusements all creating a fun carnival atmosphere. New to this year's festival is Bui Bolg from Co. Wexford, who are experts in the field of spectacle and street performance. Bringing pirates, sea horses and stilt-walking Dublin Bay prawns to the riverside, Bui Bolg offer a combination of originality, impeccable professionalism, a unique sense of humor with just a touch of mischief to add to the magic!  There is also a live music stage and lots and beer gardens to keep people happy! Conor Lambert's Custard Pie Puppet Theatre will perform four free puppet shows a day in the chq building to keep the younger visitors amused!

The Festival will also feature the biggest (and best!) outdoor market in the city, with a fabulous selection of crafts, clothing, jewellery, paintings, flowers and plants, as well as the mouth-watering gourmet meats, cheeses and breads.

Hop on the Luas to the Docklands Maritime Festival  for Free!  
Luas is partnering with the Docklands Authority to offer 10,000 free tickets over the June Bank Holiday weekend to celebrate the opening of the extension of the red line to Dublin's Docklands. With 4 stop just minutes walk away, there's no better way to travel to the Docklands Maritime Festival.

This was a fantastic day out last year.  Granted we were blessed with an absolute scorcher, but fingers crossed that happens again!   But sun or no sun this is a really good FREE festival with something to suit everyone's tastes.  

The Docklands Maritime Festival takes place from 4th to 7th June, 2010. Opening hours are from 1pm Friday 4th to 10 pm, Saturday 5th 10am to 10pm, Sunday 6th 10am to 8pm and Monday 7th 10am to 6pm. No tickets required. 
To plan your visit to the Docklands Maritime Festival, click here

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Caribbean holidays made cheap!

Want to visit the Caribbean without breaking the bank?  Here are 2 great deals that will allow you to sit back and enjoy paradise without the dear of being bankrupt on your return home!  
Book a holiday at the Grand Pineapple resort in either Antigua or Jamaica before 30 June 2010 and avail of the following deals!
Stay 9 nights at the Grand Pineapple Beach in Antigua with Garden View Room on an all-inclusive basis.

Package includes return flights from Dublin including airport taxes
Was €1775 per person
Now €1352 per person including tax (tax approx €244 per person)
Stay 9 nights at the Grand Pineapple Beach Negril in a Garden View Room on an all-inclusive basis.

Package includes return flights from Dublin including airport taxes
Was €1352 per person
Now €1289 per person including tax (tax approx €263 per person)

For more information, visit: or call: 01 433 1041.
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