Latest Gite Improvements

Rear of Sandboys Dune

Newly painted rear of Sandboys Dune, showing private parking.

Autumn is a good time to do jobs on the outside of the house.  The weather is often, as now, still mild and dry, and the gites usually not occupied every week, so that work can be carried out without disturbing guests.

This year we are tackling some painting jobs.  Here’s a photo of the rear of Sandboys Dune, showing the newly painted back wall.  We also painted the neighbours’ walls so that the immaculate paintwork on Dune wouldn’t make them look shabby by comparison!

We have bookings later this week and next week, so we’re leaving painting the garden wall on the other side of the house, until sometime in early November, but we have already completed the motorisation of the roller shutter on the patio door, so now you can block out the world, or get some shade from bright sunlight at the touch of a button!

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More Comfortable West Wing

After yesterday’s news of an improvement to the comfort of our visitors to Sandboys Dune, comes further news of improvements – this time at The West Wing.

New Leather Sofa for The West Wing

New Leather Sofa for The West Wing

Readers familiar with the West Wing apartment might have already noticed that the new sofa at Dune is, in fact, none other than the comfortable 2 seater that used to be in the living room at The West Wing.  So, you are probably asking yourselves, what is going to replace that nice rattan framed 2 seater, with the elephant pattern upholstery, that previously provided guests in The West Wing with such a comfy place to chill out?

Well, here it is!  It’s a very soft and luxurious, cream leather upholstered, 3 seater sofa!  And even though it’s obviously wider and deeper than the previous 2 seater, it still leaves plenty of room for the unusual armchair rocker, with matching gliding action footstool, that many of our guests have found so super-relaxing in the past.

PS.  We are also installing a brand new luxurious mattress.  How can you be sure it will be comfortable and of good quality?  Because it’s the same specification as the mattress we bought last year for our own bed – and if it works well for us, then our clients are entitled to enjoy the same comfort!



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Amiens ~ A trip to Les Hortillonages

Taking a Septemnber boat trip to see Les Hortillonages

If you’re staying at one of the Sandboys gites in September, you will have the benefit of all the summertime facilities of the seaside town of Fort Mahon, but with far fewer people about.  The weather is often just as good as in July or August, too.  Of course, after a while, the long wide beaches, rolling dunes, picturesque fishing harbours, bird sanctuaries, nature reserves, wave pools, golf courses, and other sporting and leisure facilities on the coast may begin to pall.  That’s when you should consider a day out inland for a change.

Amiens Cathedral - the largest in France

Less than an hour’s drive from Fort Mahon, you’ll find the fine city of Amiens.  There’s a magnificent cathedral, of course, the biggest in France, excellent shops, art galleries, museums (including the house where Jules Verne lived and wrote) and hundreds of restaurants and cafes, but the sight-seeing trip we suggest is to “Les Hortillonages”.

These gardens form a patchwork of 300 hectares (1.6 square miles) of vegetable, fruit, and flower gardens in the heart of Amiens. They are interlaced with 40 miles of small canals, known as “rieux” in the Picardy dialect, and you can visit them in special electrically-driven boats modelled on the market gardeners’ own traditional “barques à cornet”.

Taking a September boat trip to see Les Hortillonages

Les Hortillonages, surrounded by the Avre and the Somme rivers, have been cultivated since the Middle Ages.  You will find them a peaceful and picturesque place, seemingly far from the modern bustle and noise of the city, yet within sight of the cathedral towers.  This idyllic place is the work of generations of men and women who have created their fertile market gardens on land reclaimed from the river marshes. Until the early 20th century, fruit and vegetables from the Hortillonages fed the city of Amiens. Now, this rich land, which can produce up to 3 harvests per year, still supplies a regular Saturday fruit and vegetable market in the city, as well as an annual quayside floating market festival, where the growers in traditional costume sell produce direct from their boats.

Boatloads of produce going to market

You can expect to find radishes, cauliflowers, turnips, lettuce, leeks, artichokes, potatoes, carrots, onions and many other vegetables, as well as blackcurrants, redcurrants and even melons, on sale fresh from the Hortillonnages producers.




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Good Boulangerie News

A couple of months ago there was a fire at one of the boulangeries in Fort Mahon.

 “C’est normale”, as they say here – naturally, every now and then a bakery will catch fire.

Fortunately, in this fire, no-one was hurt.  Unfortunately it was at the best bakery in Fort Mahon – in fact, the best bakery in the whole region.  Many times our guests have told us how much they love the bread from the Banette bakery opposite the Post Office in the Avenue de la Plage.  We already knew about it, of course.  We travel out of our way to Fort Mahon to buy our own bread there.  My personal preference is for the “Baguette Tradition”, also known as the “Tradi”, (this is not the standard baguette, you have to specify “tradition”) but there are many other types of loaf to try, all of them delicious.  Even their standard baguette is better than any other baker’s hereabouts.

After the fire the bakery closed, but after a few weeks the owners managed to find and rent an empty shop in the next village down the coast, Quend, and opened up to their Fort Mahon regulars.  Business, however, was not too good, as they obviously lost all the passing trade they had before, and many of their local customers simply could not travel to the new shop.

The good news this week is that they have partially re-opened the fire-damaged premises and are selling their wonderful bread in Fort Mahon again.  Refurbishment of the rest of the old shop should be completed soon so that they can show off all their delicious cakes, tarts and pastries, as well as the bread, in a fittingly high-class boulangerie setting.

By the way, Banette is a chain of franchised bakeries, all using flours and other ingredients from a common supplier, so you would naturally expect that they would all be able to produce exactly the same bread.  It doesn’t work like that in France – somehow these bakers all manage to produce a totally individual product.

It makes buying the bread more fun when you can try loaves from dozens of local bakers and make up your mind which you prefer.  If you’re only staying at a Sandboys gite in Fort Mahon for a week’s holiday, though, take it from us, the Banette shop opposite the Post Office is Number One!

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