The one thing to do in these last weeks of summer
If there’s one thing to do during these last few weeks of summer, it’s to take a trip to the south of France to find the sunshine. With its splendid scenery and rustic charm, not to mention easy journey from the UK, it’s not hard to see why. A survey by American Express® Platinum Charge Card* revealed that 75 per cent of travellers felt it was important to get under the skin of the destination when abroad. In the south of France you can do just that. Each picturesque, historic town and village in the region has its own take on French culture and tradition, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when picking where to visit. If your main aim is to find tranquillity and a rural idyll, like the majority of travellers surveyed*, then the Languedoc is for you. Best known for its rich Cathar history and stunning castles, the region borders the Mediterranean to the east and the Pyrenees to the south. The result is the perfect summer climate, long, sun-soaked days and warm nights. A gastronome’s paradise For 72 per cent of us*, tasting the local cuisine and experiencing new gastronomic delights is essential. For those gastronomes the picturesque town of Uzès can’t fail to impress. Its rustic charm centres on the beautiful courtyard of the Place aux Herbes with its serene fountain. The medieval courtyard, which twinkles with fairy lights at night, is home to a wide variety of restaurants, all of which offer al fresco dining in the bustling square. Here you can feast on mouthwatering rare steak, fresh fish and delicious specialty cheeses. But the one local delicacy that must be tasted is undoubtedly the region’s famous truffles. Dinner at Maison de la Truffe won’t disappoint. lamaisondelatruffe.com Relics of Rome If the one thing for you while abroad is a spot of culture, just outside Uzès you’ll find one of the treasures of Roman architecture and a true feat of classical engineering. Straddling the banks of the River Gard sits the majestic Pont du Gard (above). At almost 50 meters tall, the spectacular three-tier bridge and aqueduct is the tallest the Romans constructed anywhere in the world. View from the water The one way to experience the Pont du Gard’s splendour is by kayak. Along the river, several operators lease kayaks and canoes for a few hours at a time. Kayak Vert is by far the most popular; its green vessels float downstream in a happy flotilla. Fantastic fun for all the family, a two-person kayak for the two-hour journey from Collias to Pont du Gard costs around €20 for adults and
€11 for children. Be sure to pack a picnic as the riverbanks beneath the aqueduct are the perfect place to down oars, take a dip and enjoy a spot of rest and relaxation. canoe-france.com/en/gardon Grape expectations Of course, no journey to this corner of the world would be complete without a visit to a local winery, as 30 per cent of travellers* would agree. If the one thing you have to include in your trip to the south of France is l’oenotourisme (wine tourism), the Languedoc-Roussillon region is for you. It is one of the world’s largest wine-producing regions, and one of the most authentic ways to experience its charms is to stay at a wine domaine. Château de l’Hospitalet just outside Narbonne, a two-hour drive along the coast from Uzès, is the perfect hideaway for real wine-lovers. To experience its best vintages, sample the fixed-price menu, which includes access to the ‘wine buffet’, a selection of wines already opened so you can try whatever you fancy, mixing and matching for each course. During the summer, suites range in price from around €120 to €300 per night. chateau-lhospitalet.com Getting there Fly to Toulouse, a two-hour drive that will take you through the scenic towns of Narbonne, Montpelier and Nimes..
All activities, restaurants and wineries mentioned in this article can be booked and paid for using your American Express Platinum Charge Card, the one thing you need to take with you. With the Card in your pocket, you’ll enjoy peace of mind, thanks to extensive travel protection as well as access to preferential rates on hotels and car hire. You’ll earn Membership Reward points as you spend to be redeemed against a wide range of luxury and everyday items. An introductory offer is running until midnight on 30 September 2011 that offers 40,000 points if you spend and charge £1,500 on your Card in your first three months of Card Membership. That’s enough for two return flights to Toulouse**. Terms and taxes apply. Visit: amex.co.uk/TSplatinum
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* American Express Platinum Charge Card research conducted week commencing 1 August 2011. **Based on airline transfer redemption with British Airways Executive Club as of 1 June 2011. Excludes taxes, fees, charges and surcharges. Terms and Conditions apply. Membership Rewards Points can also be used to pay for tickets and packages, including taxes and surcharges and on any airline that is offered through American Express Travel. Certain airlines are not available through American Express Travel. They can also be used in part payment for a ticket. If you’d prefer a Card without any rewards, other features or a Card membership fee, an alternative option is available – the Basic Card. Terms and conditions apply. The Platinum Charge Card is offered by American Express Services Europe Limited. Registered Office: Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9AX. American Express Services Europe Limited is authorised in the United Kingdom by the Financial Services Authority under the Payment Services Regulations 2009 (reference number 415532) for the provision of payment services.
the spectator | 10 September 2011 | www.spectator.co.uk Home George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said in a speech in the City: ‘We have all had to revise down our short-term expectations over recent weeks.’ Industrial production for the United Kingdom fell by 0.2 per cent in July. House prices, according to the Halifax, fell by 1.2 per cent from July to August. The Dixons group reported a like-for-like fall in sales of 7 per cent against a year earlier. Twenty economists wrote a letter to the Financial Times saying that the 50p tax rate was inflicting ‘lasting damage’ on the British economy. Mr Osborne, and Eric Pickles the Communities Secretary, defended, in a joint article in the Financial Times, proposals to loosen the planning system in England, which had aroused hostility from the National Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England: ‘No one should underestimate our determination to win this battle,’ the politicians wrote.
National Savings and Investments discontinued sale of its index-linked bond, which protects savers from the effects of inflation. One in four booking offices will close when the staff are removed from 675 railway stations under recommendations for saving money from Sir Roy McNulty, who the government asked to draw up an independent report on railway finances. The painting of the Forth Bridge was predicted to be completed by 9 December, with the latest coat of 50,000 gallons of paint not needing renewal for 25 years.
Basildon Council said that on 19 September it would evict 400 travellers from Dale Farm in Essex where 80 properties have no planning permission. Two former News of the World executives told the Culture, Media and Sport Committee that they had told James Murdoch, the chairman of News International, three years ago about evidence that phone hacking was not limited to one ‘rogue reporter’. Margaret Moran, the former Labour MP for Luton South, is to face 21 charges relating to her claims for expenses, the Director of Public Prosecutions announced. Burton Road in Eastbourne is Britain’s sunniest street, with 1,934.5 hours of sun a year.
Abroad Aconvoy of more than 50 vehicles full of armed supporters of Colonel Gaddafi, the deposed ruler of Libya crossed the country’s southern desert border into Niger, heading for the capital, Niamey. As for wGaddafi, Burkina Fasso said that it would not give him asylum. Representatives of Libya’s National Transitional Council negotiated with elders the peaceful handover of the town of Bani Walid, and then began negotiations over the city of Sirte. Abdel Hakim Belhaj, now the commander of the Tripoli Military Council, complained that in 2004, when he had been a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a terrorist organisation connected to al-Qa’eda, he had been abducted by the CIA and returned to Libya, where he had been imprisoned and tortured. The role of MI6 in turning him in had been the spectator | 10 September 2011 | www.spectator.co.uk exposed by documents found in Tripoli belonging to Moussa Koussa, the former Libyan intelligence chief. David Cameron told parliament that the incident would be added to the inquiry by Sir Peter Gibson into the alleged torture of detainees.
US and European shares fell in response to gloomy economic indicators. In America it was found that no new jobs had been generated in August. The strongest economy in the eurozone, Germany’s, suffered a decline in industrial orders in July. A court challenge to Germany’s bailing out other countries failed. Germany and France tried to resolve how Greece could continue to be bailed out. The Swiss franc rose rapidly in value as investors sought a safer place for their money, but Switzerland’s central bank said it would peg the franc to the euro, and undertook to buy however much foreign currency was required to achieve this. Saab, the Swedish car-maker, filed for bankruptcy protection. The town of Filettino, in the Italian region of Lazio, declared independence and started to print its own currency.
The United Nations declared a sixth region of Somalia to be in a state of famine, and the number of people at imminent risk of death to 750,000. At least ten were killed when a bomb in a briefcase was set off outside the high court in New Delhi. The trial of Jacques Chirac on charges of corruption went ahead without him after his lawyers said he was suffering from anosognosia, a memory defect. Wildfires in Texas destroyed more than 1,000 houses. CSH