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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 ‘Worldwide’

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

The French Riviera celebrates its 62nd Cannes Festival

April 26, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: Art, Cultural tours to France, Customs and Traditions, French news, Provence, Worldwide No Comments →

          cannes     palme d'or     croisette

                                                                               Views of Cannes and Festival Award

From May 13 to 24, international film stars will take over the glamorous Mediterranean resort  where they will meet in the prestigious Palais du Festival but mainly in lavish parties in the luxurious hotels .

It all started in 1946, and the first selection included Billy Wilder’s “Lost Weekend”, David Lean’s “Brief Encounter”, Roberto Rossellini’s “Rome Open City”, George Cukor’s “Gaslight”, Walt Disney’s “Make Mine Music”, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Notorious”, and Jean Cocteau’s “Beauty and the Beast”.

This year’s  jury will be headed by French actress Isabelle Huppert, only the 4th woman to hold the presidency for over 6 decades.

                                                huppert cannes

                                           Isabelle Huppert holding the Cannes Festival Palm Award

Here is the official selection of the movies in competition:

  • “A prophet”, France, Jacques Audiard
  • “Agora”, Spain, Alejandro Amenabar
  • “Antichrist”, Sweden/ Denmark/ France / Italy, Lars Von Trier
  • “Bright Stars”, Australia, Jane Campion
  • “Broken Embrace”, Spain, Pedro Almodovar
  • “Enter the void”, France, Gaspar Noe
  • “Face”, France/ Taiwan/ Netherlands/  Belgium, Tsai Ming-liang
  • “Fishtank”, UK/ Netherlands, Andrea Arnold
  • “In the beginning”, France, Xavier Giannoli
  • “Inglorious Basterds”, USA, Quentin Tarantino
  • “Kinatay”, Philippines, Brillante Mendoza
  • “Les herbes folles”, France/ Italy, Alain Resnais
  • “Looking for Eric”, UK/ France/ Belgium/ Italy, Ken Loach
  • “Maps of the sound of Tokyo”, Spain, Isabel Coixet
  • “Spring Fever”, China/ France, Lou Ye
  • “Taking Woodstock”, USA, Ang Lee
  • “The times that remains”, Israel/ France/ Belgium/ Italy, Elia Suleiman
  • “The whit ribbon”, Germany/ Austria/ France, Michael Haneke
  • “Thirst”, South Korea, Park Chan-Wook
  • “Vengeance”, Hong Kong France/ USA, Johnnie To
  • “Vincere’, Italy / France, Marco Bellochio

Pixar 3-D movie UP will open the festival on May 13th, an unusual event as it will be the first time an animated movie will be shown for the opening. The results will be anounced in the evening of May 24th.

Video introducing the 2009 festival/ Film samples /In French with some English

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

French Bread in San Francisco

January 11, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: Food and Recipe, San Francisco, Tours in California, Worldwide No Comments →


If sourdough is said to have appeared as early as 1500 BC in Egypt, and was widely used in the Middle Ages to make bread, it was brought to California during the Gold Rush, and became one of the city’s landmarks thanks to  Isidore Boudin, a French baker from Burgundy who settled in San Francisco during in1849. Growing from 1,000 to 20,000 inhabitants in 2 years, the population needed food, especially staples such as bread, and the city counted some 60 bakeries in 1849.

But what is sourdough?

In San Francisco, sourdough refers to bread  that is baked using wild yeast from a dough or batter, with a long, slow rising process so that it develops a characteristic sour flavour. By adding flour and water to it, this starter dough can be kept indefinitely, which was very convenient for the gold miners. Some pioneer stories mention people wearing the dough in a bag around their neck to keep it warm and favor the bacteria culture.

Today, San Francisco is still famous for its sourdough bread, and even the 49ers mascott’s nickname is Sourdough Sam. Boudin is still baking its famous bread in the city at many locations: Market street, Geary Boulevard, Fisherman’s wharf… San Francisco sourdough is particularly tangy and is well appreciated with seafood, clam chowder or chili.

If you come to the city of hills, you can’t miss it!

San Francisco Tours

For information about tours and vacation packages in San Francisco and California,  check .

French Escapade offers now a great variety of visits in Northern California, from privately guided custom tours to pre-established tours.

All pictures are from the Boudin bakery ’s website .

How to get a map of the countries you have visited?

May 05, 2008 By: jgrandchamps Category: Worldwide No Comments →


I just came accross this web site and I thought it was cool. You can get a map of the countries you have visited.  Go to this site Enter the countries you have visted in the table below the map and you can produce a map of the world with those countries in red.

If you have a web site or blog, you can put the map on  your site by copying and pasting the code.

After mapping my trips, I realized I have been in 22 countries. Not bad, but it could be better. I would be interested in finding out in how many countires you have been. Don’t hesitate to post a comment with your answer.

PS: The picture is from