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Stories from our groups of women traveling to France, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland. Plus info and travel tips about the countries we travel to.

Archive for the ‘Sports’

French tennisplayer Amelie Mauresmo retires

December 03, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: French news, Sports, Women No Comments →

Thirty-year-old Amélie Mauresmo announced this morning she is officially putting an end to her tennis career. Some tears were shed by the most famous French tennis star when she made the announcement at a press conference.

mauresmo2 mauresmo amelie mauresmo

Tennis became her passion while watching French tennis player Yannick Noah when she was only 4. She became a professional player in the mid-90s . Her biggest wins were Wimbledon and the Australian Open in 2006.  Her only regret :  not winning the French open ever!

She will also be remembered as the first French athlete to reveal her homosexuality while still on the courts.

Kim Clijsters is back and kicking in US OPen

September 04, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: Belgian news, Cultural Tours to Belgium, Sports, Women, Worldwide No Comments →

If you know me well, you know that I love tennis. I love watching it and playing it . Although I won’t be able to watch as much of the US Open as I want, I am extremely excited about Km Clijsters ’s results.


   clijters   images  usopen

She has won her first games very easily even though she is just back after taking 2 years off,  and she is now going to play …. in round 3. Ok, ok … some will say that I used to cheer for Belgian Justine Henin and did not care as much when it came to Kim. But that was a long time ago, when French-speaking Wallonia had a player in the game. Tonight my heart is Flemish (really, it should be , since I will be staying in the Belgian Flanders fo 10 days, starting tonight).

Well, Belgians are not easy to understand but for sure sport is a field where they seem to reconciliate (especially when they win).

And I have 2 reasons to cheer for Flemish  Belgium tonight. Kim will play against Belgian Kristen Flipkens ! The latter is not as well known, even though she recently made the news for posing naked in Menzo magazine. Anyway …  no stress for me tonight : there will be a Belgian winner on the court!

And for some fun and funny tennis ….

For our tours to Belgium and France, visit

Is Spiderman French?

September 01, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: French news, Sports, Worldwide No Comments →

Spiderman is the nickname given to French climber Alain Robert who has illegally accomplished a new challenge today: he climbed the once tallest building in Asia, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I was twice on the bridge that links the 2 towers, and of course , I had taken the elevator to get there! let me tell you that it is very high and scary to be there! So hats off to the  47-year-old man who climbed the 88-storey  452-meter- high building, in one hour and forty five minutes. He had already attempted twice this ascent, but he only succeeded today, started at the crack of dawn, in foggy weather.

Urban climbing is Robert’s specialty and he has climbed 80 famous skysrapers without any gear or protection but only using his hands and feet. As always, he was later arrested by the local police.


Lance Armstrong’s last Tour de France?

July 22, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: Cultural tours to France, Customs and Traditions, French news, Sports, Worldwide No Comments →

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Lance Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, is about to turn 38, and this may be his last entry in the Tour de France.

When he signed up for this year race, he wanted to make a point and show the world that all the past allegations about drug use were not founded. And he is about to prove himself right, as he is currently ranking #4 in the race that is to end on Sunday in Paris.

Lance was born in Texas in 1971, and his last name was first Gunderson. He then took his mother’s second husband’s name. His first sport of choice was triathlon, but it became clear that cycling was his strength. He then participated in many international events: the 1992 Summer Olympics, the Tour of Ireland, the World Road Race Championship and finally, his first stage win at the Tour de France in 1993. In 1996, he was diagnosed with cancer and had to drop out of the Tour, on the 7 th stage. He only came back to cycling in 1998 and then won the Tour seven times in a row, from 1999 to 2005.

He has now 4 children, 3 from his first wife whom he divorced in 2003. After dating  singer Sheryl Crow, and then actress Kate Hudson,  Lance met Anna Hansen with whom he had a son in June 2009.

On Friday 24th, the 21th stage of the Tour de France will pass through La Côte Saint André, Valérie’ s village and my “headquarters” when I am in France, for my tours in the French Alps . So I hope you can get a pick at the village and the area when they go through.

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For information about our tours in the French Alps (painting tours, cultural tours and women-only tours), check

Back to France: Day 1 in Lyon!

May 24, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: Cultural tours to France, Jac's Travel diary, Sports No Comments →


I am back in France for my 2009 travel season. It feels good to be here even though my suitcases have not arrived yet. No big deal! I am enjoying the heat (35 degrees Celsius today!)  and Valerie’s remodelled home!


I am expecting  all our June groups over here and in Provence with great pleasure. We will first have guests from China / New Zealand. It will be wonderful to see Lou and Meryll again. Then  we will host a group of American women in Provence for delicious, fun, gastronomical and cultural visits. For info about our tours for women, visit                                                           

Meanwhile, I am going to enjoy myself watching the French Open which is starting tomorrow! Tennis on the screen on my agenda, but also on the courts, where I intend to challenge you again, Evelyne, with my new Prince racquet !


Will Annecy host the 2018 Winter Olympics?

March 20, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: Cultural tours to France, Customs and Traditions, French news, Sports No Comments →


Yes, for sure, it will be Annecy that will be the French candidate city for the 2018 Winter Olympics. It was decided on Wednesday, March 18th.

There were 4 to compete for the nomination: Nice, Grenoble, Pelvoux and Annecy. All of them located in the French Alps.

Annecy is an amazing city nested in the heart of the Alps, by a very romantic lake, and has wonderfully preserved its old town with meandering canals and a hilltop  medieval castle. Nicknamed the Venice of the Alps , its charms are endless, especially on market days when farmers come down from  surrounding villages to sell their huge wheels of cheese or flavoured salami.


The Winter Olympics were organized for the first time ever in Chamonix,France, in 1924. Grenoble was the second French city in the Alps to get that honour in 1968, and Albertville  was the last  in 1992.

But we will have to wait until July 2011 to find out if Annecy is selected by the international Olympic committee, which is to meet in Durban, South Africa. France will have to face tough competitors such as  Munich (Germany) and Pyeongchang (South Korea).

Meanwhile, you can always enjoy a French Escapade in the French Alps to discover the traditions and culture of this Alpine part of France, and visit Annecy and Chamonix (see La Belle France tours on

Useful links (click title to access site):

Videos related to this post (click on title):

Pictures by French Escapade or guests (Cheese by Jan Hagan)

World Ski Championship in Val d’Isere

February 04, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: Cultural tours to France, French news, Sports 1 Comment →

It all started on Monday, Feb.2, with the opening ceremony, and will last until Feb. 15, after a total of 11 events: downhill, super G, giant slaloms and slaloms and super combined, all in men and women categories, plus the Nations Cup race.

The first World championship took place in Mürren, Switzerland in 1931. France will host the event for the third time , after Chamonix in 1937 and 1962. This event is held every 2 years and is the major event on the FIS calendar.

From January to March, several places will held skiing events for the World championships, but Val d’Isere has been the chosen location for Alpine skiing. Snowboarding will take place in Korea, Nordic skiing in the Czech Republic and freestyle in Japan.

This year is a very special one as it is the last big event before the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Bode Miller is the US favourite and the most famous man in the race, but a total of 17 American athletes will attend.

The 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships Team for the USA:

Jimmy Cochran (05/29/81, Keene, NH) * **
Erik Fisher (03/21/85, Middleton, ID)
Tim Jitloff (01/11/85, Reno, NV) *
Ted Ligety (08/31/84, Park City, UT) * **
Bode Miller (10/12/77, Franconia, NH) * **
Steven Nyman (02/12/82, Provo, UT) * **
Marco Sullivan (04/27/80, Squaw Valley, CA) * **
Andrew Weibrecht (02/10/86, Lake Placid, NY)
Jake Zamansky (06/26/81, Park City, UT)
Stacey Cook (07/03/84, Mammoth, CA)* **
Hailey Duke (09/17/85, Boise, ID)
Julia Mancuso (03/09/84, Olympic Valley, CA) * **
Chelsea Marshall (08/14/86, Pittsfield, VT)
Megan McJames (09/24/87, Park City, UT)
Sarah Schleper (02/19/79, Vail, CO) * **
Resi Stiegler (11/14/85, Jackson Hole, WY)* **
Lindsey Vonn (10/18/84, Vail, CO) * **
* Past World Championships Team member
** Past Olympian

Watch out for the Belgian team though … :) !!!!!! Just kidding. There is no Belgian team , of course!

For more details, visit the official website of the World Ski Championships of Val d’Isere

For traveling  in France, visit

On our Belle France trip, you spend one day in Chamonix and at the Sea of Ice glacier (you actually walk inside the glacier)

Vendee Globe race: 2 months later, only 12 out of 30 left and still a long way till the finish line!

January 15, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: French news, Sports, Women, Worldwide No Comments →

Here is some update from the Vendée Globe sailing race. As I mentioned it in my post of november 16, this race is the toughest of all. Alone, no assistance possible and no stop around the world !

They were 30 to join the race 67 days ago: 28 men and 2 women. Today only 12 are still in : 9 men and 2 women. The leader, Michel Desjoyeaux, has long passed Cape Horn and is now sailing north along the bazilian coast.

The second half of the group is passing Cape Horn  right now and about to experience a big storm with strong gusts.

A special salute  to the 2 female competitors, Dee Caffari and Samantha Davies, ranking 8 and 4 so far, still in the race when 18 men have abandoned.

 Samantha Davies, 34, Britain /1st Vendée Globe entry / Boat: roxy

Here is an exerpt from Dee’s website on her latest race conditions:

Dee and Aviva have now made their way through the first of the anticipated violent storms as they continue their journey towards Cape Horn.

Dee has spent a nightmare twenty four hour period in winds gusting between 50 to 65 knots.”   to be continued at

 Dee Caffari, 35, Britain / 1st Vendée globe entry /Boat: Aviva

You can also view videos from Dee and other skippers live from their boat on the following page:

As for the virtual race, over 200,000 people joined the race. My French Escapade boat is ranking 98, 159 !!!!

For complete detailed information, visit

Best places to ski in the French Alps

December 10, 2008 By: jgrandchamps Category: Sports No Comments →

                    freefotoarbre        freefoto      neigeff

Skiing all year long in the French Alps

If you love skiing to the point that you also picture your summer vacation  with ski-boots on, there are 2 places you will enjoy in the Alps: Tignes and Les Deux Alpes.

On the Glacier of La Grande Motte, in Tignes, you will be able to slide down the slopes for 20 kilometers, between 2750 m and 3 450m in altitude. Your ski level does not need to be excellent as the slopes are only “blue” and “red” ( which mean average to good levels on the French scale). But remember, skiing will only be enjoyable if you can wake up early; after 1pm, the snow starts to melt and turns into what we call “soup”: i.e. a soft melted snow that is everything but pleasant.

Now let’s talk seriously: I mean winter ski!

Most French skiing resorts are now open. I personally prefer small typical villages to the huge commercial sking town where hotels are almost skyscrapers and where there is no local atmosphere.

Here is my selection in the French Alps:

  • Aussois : Yes, I broke my arm the last time I was there but it is a cute village in the Alps with a family atmosphere and a typical architecture and friendly villagers
  • Villard de Lans: many activities are possible there (down hill, country skiing and sleigh) and it is quite close to Grenoble.
  • The 3 valleys:  all the  villages of these 3 valleys are linked and represents the biggest ski domain in the world. Les Menuires + Courchevel +Meribel + Val Thorens are the main resorts there. You can ski for days without sliding on the same slope twice! Less cozy, of course.
  • Isola 2000 is a nice skiing resort in the Southern Alps. It is nice if you like skiing in warmer places; it is the main resort on the Nice Winter Olympics application for 2018. (I swear I did not use “nice” 3 times on purpose!!!!)
  • Finally, if you like luxury and exclusive places, Megève will be your choice. You’ll love it if you do not find outrageous to  spend 10 bucks for a tiny cup of coffee! The view is devine (chalets, glaciers …)

All pictures are from

The Vendée Globe: the ultimate sailing adventure!

November 16, 2008 By: jgrandchamps Category: Sports No Comments →

The 2008 Vendée Globe Race started last week for its 19th edition.

For about 3 months, the bravest sailers  in the world will compete in the craziest race around the world. The conditions are the toughest: singlehanders in a monhull, no stopover and no assistance.

The men and women that left Les sables d’Olonne last week are about to face a world of solitude, that will reach its climax when they circle the South pole around Christmas time. They will have to fight critical sea conditions: nerve-breaking dead calms ,  scary gales, sleepless hours among icebergs and many technical problems which will have to be taken care of without external help.

Most sailers are French and British this year (28 men and 2 women), with only one American, Rich Wilson, from Massachusetts.

If you are not an expert at sailing, I invite you to join the race, comfortably sitting in your armchair, signing-up for the virtual race on France 3 website. It is very fun! I have 2 boats racing: Sonyzen and French Escapade, of course ! I am learning every day how to manage the different sails and the winds ! I love it.

Here are the sites to check about the race … or to race yourself!


Why do French Language Prevail at the Olympics?

August 11, 2008 By: jgrandchamps Category: Sports 2 Comments →


Yes, French “language”, not French athletes! They hardly ever prevail in any sports at the Olympics!

But indeed, French language is one of the 2 official Olympic languages (English being the other one), but it will prevail over English texts if any translation discrepancies were to happen, as it is stipulated in the 2007 Olympic charter.

Well, since it is almost the only thing we will be able to brag about, I do !!!

French language prevails because it is a Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin who revived the Olympic Games after the original Greek  ones stopped in the 4th century AD. The first new version began in 1896 in Athens, and the first winter version in 1924 in Chamonix (one of our destination on our tour to France with French Escapade).

Now, let’s talk 2008! Which sports can the French expect to get some medals? French secretary Roselyn Bachelot, in charge of sports, expects around 36 medals.

  • Fencing is the sports where we usually get the most medals for.

           (Our topr atheletes: the Jeannet brothers, Laura Flessel)

  • Swimming could give us 6 medals this time.

           (Our top athletes: Alain Bernard and Laure Manaudou)

  • Judo is another event where we do not do too bad.

           ( Our top athlete: Teddy Riner )

  • Kayaking could be a winner.

           (Our top athlete: Tony Estanguet)

As for track and field events, if we manage to get one medal, whatever metal it is made of, we will all be very surprised! But let’s knock on wood!

Sastre wins the 2008 Tour de France

July 27, 2008 By: jgrandchamps Category: Sports No Comments →

Congratulation to the Spanish winner of the 2008 Tour de France!  It took him 87 hours 52 minutes and 57 seconds to accomplish the 2, 211 mile race in 21 stages. His team also comes first in the team ranking. Can you believe there is not even one minute difference between first place and second place on such a long race!

The first American arrives in 5th place (Vandevelde), the first Frenchman in 14th place (Casar) and the first Belgian is 23rd (Monfort). I know some fans who cannot wait for the next 2009 Tour!

Tour de France: Today was the famous Alpe d’Huez stage

July 23, 2008 By: jgrandchamps Category: Sports No Comments →

The Tour de France has reached its 17th stage and the Spansih Carlos Sastre is wearing the yellow jersey. And let me tell you that to arrive first at the Alpe d’Huez, you must sweat !!!

The 210.5 km itinerary (over 130 miles) that separates Embrun from l’Alpe d’Huez, the famous ski resort, is a killer. It is a continuous up and down road where you have to reach many high altitudes passes and peaks. Leaving Embrun at 2988 ft, they first had to reach  the Galibier peak at 8678 ft; then race back down to Saint Julie at 2198 ft to climb back up to 6781ft at the Col de la Croix de Fer pass. Then, after another dive at 2483 ft, they finally reach the prestigious ski resort at 5512 ft. How long would it take you ? Me ? … just could never make it without a heart attack !!!!

But it took Sastre 6 hours 7 minutes and 58 seconds. Even on a flat distance I will refuse to stand on a bike for that stretch of time!!!! Even pulled by a truck … or a horse… or whatever !!! And that’s why the Tour de France is a couch sports for most of us, isn’t that right, Margaret!

Only 4 more stages to go and it will be the Grand Finale on the Champs Elysees in Paris !

The Tour de France in my Hometown

July 12, 2008 By: jgrandchamps Category: Sports, Valerie's corner: News from France No Comments →

Today is the 8th day of the Tour de France!

I’ve just got back from France and I can tell you the attraction for the Tour is still great in the country. Even though I love the event because it brings back memories of hours spent in the heat with my parents or friends, frying in the July sun after a picnic of cantaloupe, saucisson, cheese and bread, I personally cannot understand how people can spend a whole afternoon watching cyclists racing on TV. But I must admit it: it is addictive.

I joined my father for a while and after the second day, I couldn’t wait to know who was wearing the yellow jersey, the polka dot one or the green one. I felt I was accepted in this weird cult where only a few know the meaning of all the different colored jerseys, the names of all the teams and the nationality of any racer (all the little flags next to their names helped a lot). My father allowed me (I had to promise to put it back where “it belonged every day” ) to look up in his precious guide pulled from a local newspaper , I which I could be initiated to the keys of the race.

I’ll let you know more about it soon, but today I must tell you that the day stage of the Tour will end in Toulouse, where I was a few days ago. And you could already see road sign about parking restrictions, cleaning trucks were working their best to turn the “Route d’ Albi” into a kind of Elysian Fields for Saturday’s event.

But more than the race itself, people are mainly looking forward to seeing the Tour de France Trailer: it lasts for a good couple of hours before the race arrives . Big companies such as Michelin, Perrier, Orangina, etc … have floats that drive by with people sending samples and gifts (tee-shirts, hats,…).

That’s the main reason why my nieces Lea and Lucie will be standing there, safely behind the fence, hoping to grab some of the precious Tour de France souvenirs! The race itself will only be a secondary joy for all the kids on the side of the road!



map  from

Boycott of the Olympics Torch Relay from Paris to San Francisco?

April 03, 2008 By: jgrandchamps Category: French Politics, Sports No Comments →

Olympics ceremony at the eiffel tower

On Monday, april 8, the Olympic Torch will pass through Paris. Seventy French athletes will carry it on a prestigious itinerary, starting from the 1st floor of the Eiffel Tower and going down the Champs Elysees, to pass under the Arch of Triumph.

But many critics have risen and many people have urged the French government to boycott at least the Opening Ceremony of the games this summer, in order to show that they disagree about the Chinese policy in Tibet.

No decisions have been taken yet, but on Monday, human rights will certainly be in the spotlights. Protests are expected on the way. Bertrand Delanoe, the socialist Mayor of Paris, has decided to display a banner on the City Hall with the following statement: “Paris defends Human Rights all over the world.” Moreover, the torch carriers will wear a pin with this message: “for a better world”.

Then , in the evening, the torch will leave the City of Lights to reach … San Francisco, another place where human rights are not taken lightly. Will it stir some protests too?

(The eiffel tower pic is from