Home' LOTL : August 2004 Contents For a getaway that is stress free to organise, travel to and
for which you won't have to sell a kidney to afford -- New
Caledonia is where to head now. Only two and a half hour's
flying time from Sydney and you have been beamed up to
Paradise. This is full cream French flavour and sophistication
with Pacific Island ambience.
Why New Caledonia? Why not! Perhaps it's because the
cuisine is the best outside of France, the people are the
friendliest in the Pacific and because the natural beauty
surpasses even that of Hawaii.
Planning a trip to New Caledonia is a piece of cake! Pack
your bag (include sunscreen and light summer clothing), stash
the bag in the hall, go to work the next day, say au revoir that
afternoon, race home to feed the dog and pay the dog sitter and
then head for the airport. Three hours later you are sitting in an
outdoor restaurant enjoying superb seafood, savouring grilled
Mahi Mahi smothered with garlic and herbs, sipping a great
French red wine and crunching on a real French baguette.
The architectural mix of a living colonial past and the
trappings of a contemporary French city, fanned by balmy sea
breezes, tropical waters and friendly faces makes this Pacific
paradise a world away from work. This is the magic of Europe
without the cost. Cosmopolitan Noumea is a buzzy little city,
overflowing with boutiques and shops offering designer
clothes, shoes, perfume and the colours, textures and curios of
local markets. Noumea is where the best of the world's cuisine
meets -- seductive French food, exotic Vietnamese, Chinese
and Indonesian fare to the more adventurous Kanak Taro leaf
soup (Bougna) and tempting local fruits are all on the menu.
The climate is pleasant and semi-tropical all year round.
The warm season (September to March) averages around
27°C, and the "fresh" season (April to September) averages
around 23 degrees C. Noumea is located on the southern tip of
OH, FOR AN AFFORDABLE EUROPEAN HOLIDAY. WELL, A SHORT FLIGHT FROM SYDNEY YOU
CAN BE IN A TOTALLY GALLIC CULTURE -- NO SNOW, POLLUTION, TRAFFIC, AND NO
WORRIES. BEV MALZARD TASTES THE FRENCH FLAVOUR OF NEW CALEDONIA.
the island, surrounded by translucent waters, mountain ranges
and a coral reef forming the world's largest lagoon.
"Le Lagoon" is fabulous for sailing excursions and the
water is superb for snorkelling and diving. A lovely day trip is
to visit Amedee Lighthouse for a walk around the island or a
swim in the gentle waters off the beach and perhaps an
energetic climb to the top of the lighthouse.
A fun way to discover the sights of Noumea is to take "Le
petit train", a cute little loco that chugs you through the streets
for half an hour or so in a friendly way.
Next stop, to the timeless beauty of Ile de Pins' (Isle of Pines).
The island's first luxury resort is here if you want to splash out.
And only 20 minutes flight from Noumea you will be inspired
by Le Meridien Ile de Pins' blend of Melanesian architecture
and culture. Nestled in a century-old coconut grove that skims
the lagoon's edge, Le Meridien boasts 29 luxurious bungalow
suites and 10 spacious guestrooms.
At Le Meridien Ile de Pins the cuisine is as enchanting as
the island itself. In the resort's La Pirogue restaurant, you can
discover freshly caught Melanesian treasures, such as Tazar and
Parrot fish, Oro Bay rock lobster and delicious snails, or
rediscover the simple pleasure of the island's traditional French
Hop on a cruiser for 20 minutes to cross Le Lagoon and
you can stay and play in Ilot Maitre where the stunning Coral
Palms Island Resort is. This is a five-star resort with bungalows
in the garden and a fabulous new feature of over water
bungalows -- so spacious the cast of Moulin Rouge could
dance in your bedroom! The decks of these bungalows have
steps that lead directly to the lagoon. If you prefer chlorinated
water -- the swimming pool has a swim up bar for a little
aperitif. The food's great here with the focus on local seafood
and French delicacies.
THREE HOURS LATER YOU ARE SITTING IN AN OUTDOOR
RESTAURANT ENJOYING SUPERB SEAFOOD, SAVOURING
GRILLED MAHI MAHI SMOTHERED WITH GARLIC AND
HERBS, SIPPING A GREAT FRENCH RED WINE ....
... FABULOUS FOR SAILING EXCURSIONS AND THE
WATER IS SUPERB FOR SNORKELLING AND DIVING.
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