Holidays Away : Spring Edition 2008
20 HOLIDAYS AWAY • SPRING 2008 Well, there's a very easy way to experience all that the French lifestyle has to offer and an opportunity to tune up your school day French, and it's only a short flight from here in the very heart of the South Pacific - New Caledonia. The territory of New Caledonia comprises the mainland-400 km long and 50 km wide, with the capital Noumea, the Isle of Pines and the Loyalty Islands as well as many other small islands. There are many destinations in the South Pacific where you can enjoy the warm azure blue waters, the coral gardens, the white sandy beaches and more, but New Caledonia is the only one where you feel as if you've just arrived at an exotic European location and where that flamboyant French atmosphere abounds. Speak to someone who has just returned from France and ask them what they enjoyed the most. Generally it will be the wonderful food, not only at the many restaurants and cafes, but the availability of a vast selection of cheeses, breads, pates and patisseries to be found at the many markets and gourmet providores. To help promote the fabulous French fare, the internationally renowned chef-Gabriel Gate was appointed as the Gourmet Ambassador to New Caledonia in Australia earlier this year. "New Caledonia is one of the best French gourmet experiences outside France. Many of the top chefs have trained in France's most highly rated establishments and are now sharing their knowledge with younger local chefs," said Gabriel, who has published over 20 cook books and is best known for his many television credits. With a recommendation like this, it's time to prove it for yourself. Your first stop should be one of the well established markets where the tempting food stalls are managed mostly by the Melanesian, Vietnamese and Indonesian locals. Locals shop here and take advantage of the range of fresh seafood, including local prawns and oysters, an abundance of tropical fruits and vegetables and an opportunity to enjoy a delicious French-style breakfast. 'Les Supermarches' are nothing like ours back home. They are a "foodies" paradise offering everything from an amazing array of cheeses, cured meats, terrines and pates right through to wines and other delicacies. Visit the Casino Johnston next to the cruise ship terminal as this is one of the best. For our chocolate lovers, if you dare, enter the shop of master chocolatier Patrick Morand - you could easily be in one of the finest chocolate outlets in Paris. Chocolats Morand opened in 2000 and offers an exquisite selection of pralines, truffles and all that's chocolate. You can watch Patrick through his large viewing window prepare all that's available in his shop and he may give you a hint or two for your next party. Continuing our culinary tour, one of the best kept secrets in Noumea is the Escoffier School. George Escoffier was a chef and restaurateur who revolutionized traditional French cooking methods around the early 1900s. Today, the name Escoffier is associated with some of the best internationally renowned schools in the world for the French gourmet and culinary arts. Visitors can now attend cooking classes as part of a fantastic gourmet experience, visit the local markets with one of the Escoffier chefs and help in preparing some unique mouthwatering classic French recipes. It would take too long to cover the many superb restaurants in Noumea, however two in particular are worth mentioning. Restaurant 360 in the Ramada Plaza Noumea Hotel offers not only the best revolving view of Noumea but combined with the delicate French cuisine prepared by chef Didier Broux and the outstanding wine list makes a booking a must. For a lazy lunch, there isn't a better restaurant than Le Roof. Built over the water 100 metres from the shore, this open plan dining spectacular offers some of the best water views in Noumea as well as a fine creative menu and wine list. The central viewing atrium allows guests to feed the large fish below as well as a possible glimpse of a dolphin or passing turtle. If organising all these market tours, Escoffier cooking lessons, or even choosing the right restaurant or accommodation is too much of a bother, then Superb Food and Wine Tours will do it all for you. Their 5-day tour program from Sydney not only takes care of your quality accommodation but all your gastronomic and scenic tour needs. Book early however as numbers are limited on their final getaway leaving on October 21. Depending on your budget, accommodation options are plentiful. If you want to be pampered to the max, Le Meridien Noumea, opened in 1995, is the only luxury resort hotel in Noumea. Comprising 245 guestrooms including 15 suites and with spectacular views of the lush gardens, an expansive swimming pool and tropical lagoon, this French oasis will make your stay a very welcoming one. A degustation experience in their signature restaurant, Hippocampe, should not be overlooked. The Ramada Plaza Noumea is another outstanding hotel, only 10minutes from the CBD and provides guests with oversized rooms and suites with all mod cons as well as panoramic views over the lagoon and city. You've dined at the very best, you've had a relaxing night's sleep, shopped till you dropped and now its time for some activity or water sports. It's your choice. A quad bike adventure in the mountains, a horse ride or even a bicycle tour are some of the activities available, or for something less strenuous, board the catamaran Dal'Ocean and head out through the lagoon to Signal Island and enjoy a snorkel in the crystal clear waters or just laze around on this deserted island. Your sunset cruise back to port will top off just another spectacular day in this South Pacific paradise. Visit www.newcaledonia.com.au or call 1800 673 745 for further information and bookings. For Superb Food and Wine Tours, visit www.lesuperb.com.au or call 02 9904 4806 A holiday in France conjures up that feeling of romance, history and fine food and wine. However it takes almost a day to fly to Europe and most of us don't have the time. www.holidaysaway.net Relax Viva La France Clockwise from top: Kanumera Bay; Couple by the pool; Lobster platter; French Pastries and cakes.
Winter Edition 2008