The Great Northern Peninsula is home to the French Shore in Newfoundland & Labrador. It has a strong connection to the French from the past and some names are very present today. The Town of Flower’s Cove was formerly named “French Island Harbour”, where names like Croque, Grandois, Conche, St. Lunaire-Griquet, Quirpon, L’anse aux Meadows, Port au Choix and others scatter the coastline. There are still French ovens along the shores and many yet to be discovered stories remain untold. There is so much more we could do, to make “Petit Nord” or the Great Northern Peninsula gain a tourism boost from our French histories from Quebec, NB, St. Pierre-Miquelon and France to name a few. I encourage you to visit www.frenchshore.com.
On a recent vacation, I’ve visited a part of France in which I’ve always wanted, which included Nice, Cannes, Antibes and also the micro country of Monaco. I still have to get to Marseilles, given I’ve likely watched the movie, The Count of Monte Cristo more than any other.
A long-weekend spent in Southern France with my European friends certainly recanted many good memories since we first met in the Czech Republic in 2007. It is amazing how quickly time has passed since our university days. One thing that hasn’t changed is our desire to continue our reunions, we’ve travelled again to Czech Republic, Canada (Edmonton, BC, Ontario, Newfoundland & Labrador), Switzerland, Cuba, Ireland, Denmark, Mediterranean sailing (Sardinia & Corsica) and France.
So from Milano to Nice we had driven by car, taking in all the sights of the countryside from waterfronts, to mountains to the many road tunnels. Our flat was very centrally located but like many older buildings in France it was without an elevator. It was a task taking all the luggage up 5 flights of stairs. I could only imagine what bringing groceries or getting furniture to that floor must be like.
There was a great vibe in Nice, given their “Carnivale” was taking place just in the main square. I truly enjoyed visiting the markets, eating the handcrafted chocolate cake, visiting the pubs, hearing the music and of course enjoying the amazing French cuisine.
I loved the morning brunches. The food was much better than the weather, as the rain foiled many of our daily plans and ended up cancelling the carnival parade. Our spirits were not dampened and we enjoyed all the outdoor views we could gain and may our way to Monaco. There was incredible vernacular architecture around the city that caught my photo lenses attention – from churches, hillside row houses, the Rothschild villa, marinas, casinos and more. There were old classic cars and many high-end Maserati, Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini that would drop your lower jaw as they whizzed by as we drank a Monaco beer at the cafe outside Monte Carlo casino.
I tried to convince my friends to go skating on the outdoor ice surface. Since that was an epic fail, we opted to visit the casino in our suits and ties, have a martini like Bond in his movie “Casino Royale” and try our luck at “roulette”. After watching the game for a bit, it was evident we were out of our league as those around the table were placing hundreds of dollars on the table at a time. After things quieted down we placed a couple of small bets, I bet on red a couple of times and it returned me a few dollars more than I started so my friends and I opted to get out while we were ahead given the odds.
A return to nice landed us at Ma Nolan’s Irish Pub for a meal of fish n’ chips. This brought us back to our Irish escapades in 2010. The music was a lot of fun and the beer a good variety. I did not steer away from my lovely pint of Guinness.
The following day we would visit Cannes, where the International Film Festival is hosted. It is a very picturesque city from the waterfront, the tower, the little winding streets and the murals on buildings. My lunch in Cannes was superb at this little cafe – I’d go back just for the chocolate crepes.
My friends and I spend much of the spare time playing this card game called “Bang”. Despite, all the rules written in German it provides a level playing field for even the non-German speakers with an opportunity to win. The game involves outlaws, a sheriff and a bounty hunter. Just like the old wild west, the rules are simple – the outlaws win if the sherriff is dead, the bounty hunter wins if all are dead but the outlaws must go first and the sheriff wins if all are dead. With additional players there are multiple characters, including the addition of a deputy sheriff and it creates more fun and excitement. Each character has certain powers and every game is completely different. We have likely played a hundred games in the last few years. It is like my love for Rook at home!
A visit to another French Shore and Moments in Monaco were amazing times with my best friends! Until our next reunion, I’ll be living rural!
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
Dessert included a chocolate cake with hot chocolate sauce and cream. I have to say it felt like a little piece of heaven.
Our tummies were stuffed. To our pleasure this fine dining meal only cost us 42 Euros, which is equivalent to less than $60 CDN.
The Napoleonic Wars had an impact on the settlement on the Island of Newfoundland during 1803-1815. The withdrawal of the warring nations from the salt cod fishery gave Newfoundland a monopoly in such a lucrative industry. During these years prosperity came with increase in standards of living and brought great social change.
The Invalides complex with Dome Church, built in 1670 was a military hospital. It has beautiful gardens, which are lined by canons. There is a focus of Napoleon’s life and death.
It is one of the places you can see while in France.
Live Rural NL –
In rural Newfoundland, geography makes it quite difficult to walk to conduct daily business. Myself, commute 50 kilometers to work each day. The city of Paris has two million people, but the metropolitan area has nearly 12 million people, which means many commutors. Europeans boast an active lifestyle, with many walkers, bicyclists and commuters by an excellent public transit system.
After arriving in Paris, France, I made sure to purchase my tickets for the Metropolitain as a quick and efficient way to get around several parts of the city.
I question our government, why isn’t Canada investing more into public transit and high speed trains. A high speed train could easily connect Calgary, AB and Edmonton, AB. These two large oil cities of the west have two high traffic airports and a less than three hour drive between the twin cities of just over 1 Million people, a high speed train would be a good investment. Better infrastructure is needed connecting larger urban centers of Canada, such as Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City. Intercity connections could also be established with corresponding US cities, such as New York, Detroit and Buffalo. In rural Newfoundland, the Trans-Labrador Highway needs continued paving. Quebec continues to complete Route 138, which will link the North Shore to larger urban centers, such as Montreal.
It is time for Quebec’s Ministry of Transport and Newfoundland & Labrador‘s Department of Transportation, Services and Works to work together to ensure that projects are on the same timelines. A fixed link can be established connecting the island portion of the province to Mainland Canada.
The Channel Tunnel (referred to as Chunnel), connects the United Kingdom and France by an undersea rail tunnel which is 50 kilometers in length. It has been operating since 1994. The Strait of Belle Isle distance is 15 km at its narrowest point. It can be done!
This needs to be placed on the political agenda of the government. It is time for our politicians to be fighting for advanced transportation networks. Let’s create a stronger voice for a stronger Canada.
Live Rural NL –