Overseas France: Or Where You Can Find France Outside Of France

The days of colonial empires may be long over, though the United States, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands and Denmark continue each to administer a smattering of overseas territories.

Among these, France has arguably the most interesting and wide-ranging set of territories. Overseas France includes tiny St. Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of Newfoundland (population around 6,000), the Caribbean overseas departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique, the smaller Caribbean “overseas collectivities” of St. Martin and St. Barts, the South American overseas department of French Guiana, the Indian Ocean overseas departments of Réunion and Mayotte, and French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis & Futuna in the South Pacific.

Officially, overseas France is divided into “overseas departments” (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Réunion), “overseas collectivities” (French Polynesia, St. Barts, St. Martin, St. Pierre and Miquelon, and Wallis and Futuna), and New Caledonia, which has a special status unto itself.

There are also two uninhabited French territories – a vast, noncontiguous territory with the grand name of Territory of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, inhabited only by researchers, and, most curious of all, the uninhabited island of Clipperton, which sits off Mexico and is administered directly by the Minister of Overseas France.

Tourism is a huge economic driver in many of these territories. St. Martin, St. Barts, and French Polynesia are particularly well known to Americans. Francophone tourists are also familiar with the islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique, New Caledonia, and Réunion.

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[Flickr image via Rayced]

Here or there? A a price comparison of the best cities to visit this May

price comparisonPlanning a quick weekend away or a summer vacation? Wouldn’t you like to know where you’ll get the best value for your dollar? Sure, the exchange rate fluctuates, but we’ve tracked some of May’s best cities via a Universal Currency Converter and a little help from our friends over at Frommers.

According to Frommers, your best bets for May include:

  • Saint-Pierre, Martinique, where the exchange is $1 = €.67 and the average three-star hotel for two is $178 per night.
  • Apia, Samoa, where the exchange is $1 = 2.26 Samoan Tala and the average three-star hotel for two is $79- $176 per night.
  • Stockholm, Sweden, where the exchange is $1 = 6.01 Swedish Krona and the average three-star hotel for two is $199 – $232 per night.
  • Bad Ischl, Austria, where the exchange is $1 = €.67 and the average three-star hotel for two is $74.
  • Jeonju, South Korea, where the exchange is $1 = 1,072 South Korean Won and the average three-star hotel for two is $74 – $111.
  • Montpelier, Vermont, where the the average three-star hotel for two is $90 – $135.
  • St. Louis, Missouri, where the average three-star hotel for two is $73 – $108.
  • Wasagaming, Manitoba where the exchange is $1 = C95¢ and the average three-star hotel for two is $146.

Have cities you’d like to compare? Use the Universal Currency Converter or send us a note!

[Flickr via Tax_Rebate]

Lady in the House: Chef Anne-Sophie Pic’s Simple Elegance

As someone who has done her fare share of cooking, I have mad respect for anyone undertaking the daily grind of working in a professional kitchen, let alone running one. Yet as a woman, I can’t help but revel just a wee bit more in the achievements of the many female chefs out there who are gaining the culinary respect they so deserve.

Take Chef Anne-Sophie Pic, for example, of the newly opened, Anne-Sophie Pic at the Beau-Rivage Palace at the Lausanne hotel in Switzerland. Not only was she born with plenty of solid cooking genes (she’s the daughter of Chef Jacque Pic and the granddaughter of Chef Andre Pic, who are both award winning culinarians in their own right), she is currently the only female chef in France to earn three Michelin stars.

With a penchant for creating exquisite dishes plucked straight from the water, Pic’s vision is both elegant and understated. Whether you’re going a la carte or savoring a multi-course “Pic Collection”, Chef Pic reinterprets many classic, regional French specialties with her own unique refinement and flair.

Fresh crab and Aquitaine caviar is accented with “flaked crab jelly” while a ubiquitous slab of foie gras is roasted and topped with a black cardamom peach jam. Pic’s grandfather’s recipe for crayfish tail gratin is honored as is her father’s exercise in gastronomic indulgence, sea bass topped with either 20 grams of golden Osetra caviar from Iran or 30 grams of Aquitaine caviar.Seasonal and regional specialties also make frequent appearances, especially as they relate to Pic’s signature seafood dishes. Wild, red mullets are served with smoked Agria (a type of potato) gnocchi’s “cooked in hot embers” while roasted John Dory is accented with a creamy broad bean ravioli and “foamy milk” infused with rum from Martinique.

Desserts, courtesy of award-winning Chef Patissier, Philippe Rigollot, make for a sumptuous ending and boast whimsical titles like “Raspberry and the Mexican Tarragon Flower” consisting of a raspberry/tarragon sorbet topped with crystallized, candied raspberries.

A meal at restaurant Anne-Sophie Pic at the Beau-Rivage Palace doesn’t come cheap (the chef’s seven course tasting menu will set you back roughly $300 per person), yet guests are not only offered exquisite cuisine, they are treated to a refined service at every stage of the meal that is described on the website as having “the lightest touch”.

While pricey dinners might appear to be a thing of the past, especially during an era of lay-offs and foreclosures, I believe a dining experience at the Beau-Rivage is worth saving one’s pennies for, even if it’s simply to support one of the world’s great, female chefs.

–Kendra

Club Med vacations 30-40% off

All-inclusive now includes a little bit more–your own money, back in your own pocket.

Club Med vacations have just gotten 30-40% cheaper. Two sales have sprung up. One is a seven-night, all-inclusive Couples Escape vacation that costs $849 per person for couples (normally $1260-1400). The deal is valid at seven Mexican/Caribbean resorts, from Ixtapa to Martinique.

The second is a seven-night, all-inclusive Family Plan vacation for $499 per person. You have your pick of four resorts, in Florida, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

Book either vacation by April 30th, but here’s the thing: you can take the vacation practically anytime through the rest of the year (April 18-December 19).

[Thanks, Frommer’s]

GADLING’S TAKE FIVE: Week of November 26

GadlingAm I the only one who can’t believe it is December 1st? Where did November go? Where did the year go? How time flashes! If the end of the week managed to sneak up on you as fast as it got me you might want to review some of these posts found here over the week.

5. ABBA Museum to Debut in 2008:
Come on! You can’t tell me you’re not excited by the news. Get your dancing feet to this one to find out the details on the new Sweden based museum.

4. Maps of the World:

Erik brings our attention to the poor quality of maps too often found in guidebooks and then provides some good resources to finding good maps to take on your trip. AAA and another site new to me called, Just Maps are the only two that he mentions, but it’s a good starting place if you’re completely lost.

3.Magnifique Martinique:
Considering how popular the islands become once winter storms start pounding less tropical lands I thought this piece on the French Caribbean island of Martinique needed extra mentioning. It’s high on my travel agenda for that particular region of the world.

2. Garlic Card:
As a child I was never a fan of garlic, but this is mostly due to my aunt draping it in my window to protect me from vampires. I kid you not. However, some people can’t go a day with seasoning their food with a pinch of garlic. Neil brings us information on a Garlic card that can be used to help bring extra flavor and taste to your meals while camping in the great outdoors. I’m sure it will protect you from vampires in the woods as well, if you buy into that stuff.

1. Space Tourism Details Start to Fill In:
Everyone ready to go to space? More and more details are starting to come in on Space Tourism and it even looks somewhat affordable. If you think about $200,000 is a lot more affordable than $20 million bucks.