Being able to utter phrases like ‘how about we pop over to the continent for lunch?” and actually meaning it wouldn’t come across as realistic to most. Those blessed with endless cash resources perhaps, but for the average Brit a tasty feed on home soil can be pricey enough.
Culinary tourism is big business these days. Even in instances where food isn’t the sole purpose of the trip, it tends to play a huge role in every holiday and excursion. But at the same time, more travellers than ever before are basing their travel decisions almost entirely around their gastronomic preferences. From wine tasting in France to a taste of the real Italy, there are those for whom no expense is too great if it brings the promise of delightful decadence.
However, a growing number of tour operators are slowly but surely transforming what it means to escape for a relaxing meal. The reason being that the short hop from the UK to France really is short enough to both facilitate and justify a delightfully enjoyable gourmet cruise on a whim. You select the all-inclusive package of your choosing, pack your overnight bag and prepare yourself to both soak up and (quite literally) drink in the sights, sounds and flavours of France. It’s essentially a way of cramming all of the best bits of an extended stay in France into one hugely enjoyable overnight excursion.
Brittany Ferries offer gourmet cruises to both France and Spain departing from Portsmouth, Poole or Plymouth with various package options available – for more information visit www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/offers/gourmet-cruises.
A Truly Tasteful Voyage
You may be wondering at this point – is it really possible to fit all of this into a single overnight trip? And if it is possible, isn’t it all a bit on the rushed and hurried side of things?
Well, you’d certainly be forgiven for wondering just how much you could cram into such a short trip and still keep things serene and relaxing. But the way the packages are put together, the folks behind the scenes have well and truly hit the nail on the head and struck the ideal balance. There’s plenty to keep you busy, but at no time is it anything but idyllic.
Take the trip from a departure point at Portsmouth with Brittany Ferries for example and you’ll be looking at boarding the ferry in the early evening. This means plenty of time to settle in, make the most of the amenities on-board and generally kick things off on the right foot. You might be only going away for the briefest of times, but you’ll undoubtedly feel as if you’re on the sweetest of sweet escapes. Sample the on-board dining, unwind with a cocktail or simply indulge in your en-suite cabin for a wonderful night’s sleep, dreaming of your next indulgence to come.
If your package happens to include an indulgent meal at the ship’s on-board gourmet restaurant…well, let’s just say there’s no better start to your culinary odyssey. With menus crafted by talented French chefs and prepared by masters in the art of fine dining, you might find yourself wondering if it’s really necessary setting sail at all!
Don’t misconstrue for a moment – what we’re talking about here is a million miles from the usual self-service buffet standards you may be used to. Indeed, the very thought of braving the crowds to grab the last handful of lukewarm fries from under a hot-lamp is enough to put anyone off the idea for life! Which is why this unpleasant scenario is about as far removed from the reality of gourmet cruising as it gets. It’s five-star standards all the way, beginning the moment you set foot on board.
From the finest seafood pulled fresh from the ocean to mouth-watering steaks and the kinds of desserts you may have thought were confined to Disney movies, it’s the perfect start to the perfect trip you never knew you were craving quite so badly! The Brittany Ferries deal includes a sublime four-course buffet dinner, which is ideal for sampling a wide range of appetisers, mains, desserts and fabulous French cheeses.
The Early Bird Catches the Croissant
Arriving in the region of about 8am CET the next morning…or 7am UK time…getting yourself up and ready for breakfast is a challenge that’s more than worth undertaking. Your gourmet cruise package will include as standard a truly gorgeous continental breakfast, which follows your evening feast with the exact same opulent standards. If you’d imagine it to be served up in a high-end restaurant hotel, you can bet it’s here…and in plentiful supply, too. But at the same time, it can be extremely tempting to make sure you leave at least a small corner to fill, in order to go rub shoulders with the locals enjoying petit dejeuner in one of the quaint local cafes.
Quaint is something they know how to do properly in St. Malo and to sip a coffee and nibble on a pastry on a warm terrace in the morning sunshine makes the whole trip worthwhile in an instant. Your head tells you to get up and explore, but your heart begs for another hour or two doing nothing but watch the world go by. Either way, you’ll be delighted with your decision!
When those hunger pangs once again kick in, the delight of knowing that you already have reservations at a top local dining spot is almost intoxicating in its own right. You’ll have your choice of multiple venues, which in each instance has been personally selected and vetted by the company for outstanding quality. Café de l’Ouest, Le Lion d’Or in St Malo, Côté Mer in Cancale, La Croix Blanche on Mont St Michel or Les 3 Lunes in Dinan – each serving up its own unique twist on the kinds of local classics you won’t want to leave without sampling.
After lunch, the day is yours to do pretty much anything you want with. At least for a couple of hours, anyway, ahead of your late-afternoon departure. Plenty of time for an aperitif or two, not to mention a well-deserved spot of shopping.
The good news is you’ll also have the option of an en-suite cabin on the way back, meaning that if a siesta is called for (when on the continent, right?) you’ll have every opportunity for a snooze. Enjoy the on-board amenities and entertainment, hit UK shores in the region of 21:30 and leave wondering why you haven’t spent more of your time on such exquisite overnight adventures. Or if time permits, why not take the option of adding an overnight stay in St Malo to your package, just to extend the fun of it all a little further?
If food and travel are your thing – who says you can’t enjoy the best of both more often?