Reciprocal invitation and exchange ideas between Midginbil Hill in Uki New South Wales Australia and L'Etoile in La Bastide Puylaurent Lozere France

Echanges Internationaux entre Aubergistes International Innkeepers Exchange 国际旅店交换概念

Midginbil Hill Country Resort- 400 acres of botanical garden

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Swimming pool, tennis court and colonial Homestead (circa 1904) of style; flowers, birds, impressive trees and lots of space. Even though there is a high level of comfort at the inn, the inn keepers always maintain an adventurous Australian spirit.

They own a big Troop Carrier, get up every morning at 6 am, always smiling and welcoming. Annette and John are true hosts, everything is tastefully settled and without excess. They have worked for 25 years on this magnificent property. A sort of peaceful island in the country. They draw their energy from Australia's 200 year old history or maybe from the authentic natural environment of this area.  John, the farmer, runs a herd of 80 breeding cows - Droughtmasters - an Australian breed developed from Devon, Shorthorn and Brahman strains for beef production. John also manages the herd of 20 horses, specially chosen for their calm temperament to enable the children and other guests to safely enjoy, possibly their first experience of horseriding.

John and Annette Flower will come to La Bastide Puylaurent in June or next September. They will soon retire and will take their time to travel at their ease; 2, 3 or even 6 months. Already, I speak to them about La Garde-Guerin with her medieval tower of Xl century and about les Vans, a town full of charm and sun between Ardeche and the Gard.

Unlike, Peter and Sherry, they do not have domestic animals. It is true, as says Annette, that a dog and a cat in the area would frighten away the birds and other native animals like wallabies, {small kangaroos} echidnas and bush turkeys. (And birds are lovely creatures with their colours and all their songs.) Midginbil Hill is an accredited Ecotourism property where guests come to learn about, appreciate and to sustain the environment. We must live in harmony with nature.

At the top of the hill, under this immense tree, a Moreton Bay Fig, John Flower dismounts from his horse and puts one knee on the ground and as if by intuition, he looks for a track. The photographer was ready and there was a great luminosity at the end of the day to take the perfect picture and the cliche ...... successful.

Beautiful professional kitchen with a big cold room; sunny, simplistic and spacious dining room with a floor of beautiful exotic wood - Australian Teak, Flindersia australis. The balcony or rather the deck is a place for perfect relaxation. There, some sentences come to me in the spirit of finding a good key to open a good door; the exchanges give me the possibility of opening a very nice door and of reaching a lasting relationship.

Annette and John have to prove nothing more, they are themselves. There are a dozen casual employees who live locally, to help them to manage school camps of young Australian students which can go to 120 young people, or Japanese students groups in their Summer holidays, . What fun! Annette has a generous smile, and enables everyone to give the best of themselves and to participate wholeheartedly. She is the kind of remarkable woman who is always striving forwards and improving everything that she touches.

There are also these 8 bedrooms, very pleasant, looking onto the flowery gardenfor people from all countries.

We visit a small restaurant at the seaside situated a half an hour from Midginbil Hill, served by two beautiful smiling boys and although we were the only customers we're given a five star service. John laughs and Caroline feels like she is in paradise.

Another small glass of this very good southern Australian wine.

Annette and John, look forward to discovering the true France; this France about which one speaks so little. Finally they are not to be taken for "customers" or "tourists" but friends, guests and colleagues. I feel that I can answer their wait (expectation) and they can rely on me.

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Hiking on the Stevenson trail in LozereTomorrow week we are off to France for 5 weeks, flying from Brisbane via Tokyo and Moscow to Paris. On the return journey, after spending 5 nights in Paris we have a 2 night/3 day stopover in Moscow which should be very different from anywhere else we've ever been to, then we have 12 daytime hours in Tokyo.

After arriving we catch a high speed train to Lyon and then a local train to a village called La Bastide-Puylaurent which is in the mountain country of the Cevennes between Lyon and the Mediterranean, north of Provence. Here we will be staying with our friend, Philippe who visited us twice at Midginbil.

He runs a Gite (Inn) for walkers who stay there while walking particularly the GR70, the trail followed by Robert Louis Stevenson for 2 months in 1878 with his donkey, Modestine. He subsequently wrote the book 'Travels with a donkey in the Cevennes'. I think the trail is about 220km long. We hope to walk stages of it by catching local transport to return to the gite which is called L'Etoile, which of course you will remember from your French days at school, means The star. Tourism in Brussel Belgium

He started an "Innkeepers' Exchange" several by emailing owners of small guesthouses, first of all in the US and then in Canada, Australia, Poland and Morocco. As he only works for 4 months of the year, and is a flamboyant bachelor, the rest of the year he has free accommodation in different parts of the world in exchange for a similar visit to L'Etoile. Great idea if you only work 4 months of the year: hence our long awaited trip to France. Following our time with Philippe we will enjoy rural France, especially the food and the wine!! Local knowledge when we get there will point us in the right directions, I'm sure, but they will probably include Provence, maybe Marseilles, the Loire Valley and following the trails of the painters.  More anon no doubt.

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Tourism in Bruges BelgiumWe had a good trip to Amsterdam with no problems. Went to the Tourist Bureau and they booked us a double room at a Backpackers Hotel in a central spot. Went to the van Gogh and Rikjsmuseum  and many other wonderful places with an "Iamsterdam" pass and ate lots of great food. We stayed there 4 nights and booked into a B&B in Edam, a half hour bus ride to the north. We stayed there for 3 nights and used the B&B's bikes to do 2 day rides of 25 and 40 kms both north and south of Edam. Like Brugge, the architecture in Amsterdam and the small towns was fantastic. After Edam we went by train to Paris for 5 nights and adored Paris.

Would like to have been there for a lot longer, so perhaps we'll have to return there, as well as to our favourite place, L'Etoile.

Tourism and bier in Cirio Cafe Brussels BelgiumMoscow was awesome and the English speaking guide was excellent and the accommodation was in a building like a Palace. The architecture in Moscow was spectacular and colourful and the economy there is thriving. Thy have a fair way to go, though, to catch up with other countries with their food and with their public relations. They haven't really learnt, yet, about using "charm" in tourism.

Philippe, we had a wonderful trip with many contrasting experiences. Without you to be the focus of our trip, we'd probably not have gone at all! What a shame that would have been.

Thank you for all you did for us. We loved staying at L'Etoile and seeing with our own eyes how you manage, magically, to run L'Etoile The Chassezac Gorges near La Garde Guerin in Lozeresingle handed and cook such delicious 5 course meals every night including your home made bread! It was great visiting Pierre at La Garde-Guerin, Elizabeth at St Laurent les Bains and the Abbey Notre Dame des Neiges and getting the wine and the cheese and dropping off the guests' gear and riding down the Pied de Borne was a highlight for me, especially. Walking for the 2 days on the GR70 Stevenson's Trail was unforgettable. So many high points, including sitting out on your verandah having a beer/wine before dinner and enjoying your stories and your sense of humour. Also to travel with you to Brussels (and go to Mercier Champagne at Epernay and be lucky enough to be in the area during the picking season) and to be welcomed so warmly by your 2 brothers and family was very special.

Annette and John Flower visiting Papadimitriou family in Brussel BelgiumI could go on and on and will when I write my story for you. It will have to wait for a while as things are busy for me until after Xmas but I won't forget to do it.

Please say Hi to Serge and Deria, and to Daniel, and also to Annette if you are in touch with her. I enjoyed her company and that of your other guests especially Denis and Maree-Edith. She tried so hard to communicate with me using her schoolgirl English. I promised I would write to her which will be fun.

Must go, Philippe. We will always have very special memories of our time with you and look forward to you visiting us again in Australia.

Keep in touch.
Fond regards,

Annette and John

***

Dear All,

Due to my not accessing my hotmail account, it was de-activated and so I i have not been able to retrieve any messages you may have sent me. Thank you anyway and to those who have rung me on my mobile.

I have now ridden from Brisbane via Charters Towers, Cairns, Normanton, Burketown, Roper River Bar, Katherine, Kunnanurra, Broome, Newman, Meekatharra, Geraldton, Perth, Kalgoorlie, the Nullabor, Adelaide to Melbourne.

I have not had to put on a raincoat since leaving and also experienced perfect weather conditions up to Broome - favourable winds and mild sunny days.One highlight has been the unsealed 700kms of the Savannah Way from Normanton to Katherine with the many river crossings, maximum of 10-12 vehicles per day (most stopping for a chat or to give me a cold beer or coke or fresh fish from the Gulf), the scenery, wildlife and flowering vegetation from the late wet. I could only crawl along and the people and 'traffic'
were wonderful.

Annette spent a great 10 day holiday with me at Kooljaman Wilderness Camp at Cape Leveque at the tip of the Dampier Peninsular 220 kms north of Broome.

In some places there have been thousands of caravans. The road trains and mining activity are mind-blowing. I loved the excitement of thriving towns in those regions and ghost towns alike.

From Broome to Melbourne via Perth and the Goldfields I have experienced hot and adverse winds.I have been blown right off the road a few times by trucks/winds combination, been bucked off the bike 4 times, but no damage. Temperatures across the Nullabor were up to 147 degrees on 2 days when favourable NW winds pushed me to PB times (146km in one day).

Another visit from Annette resulted in another great 2 week break, this time in the Margaret River and SW WA region where we sampled wonderful red wines and food and the beauties of the coast, forests and nature of this great area.

Riding sometimes at night in the moonlight; camping under the stars; seeing most sunrises and sunsets;swimming in freezing rivers; living with and studying ants; riding along in dreamland; passing stations and country and long-dead characters that I had read of in my childhood; the aborigines I talked to; the flora and fauna; the discomfort and the euphoria , have given me a wonderful experience so far.

I have met with so much kindness and made so many friends on the long days. On the long days of 10 to 14 hours in the saddle, I have solved most of the World's problems. Except for the areas affected by the cyclones, the country is in severe drought and depressing for those that make their livings there.Some sheep and wheat towns are practically deserted. People in some places are not even talking to oneanother!
I have not been cut off touch completely.thanks to the great support of Annette and my CDMA and satellite phones.

I could go on, but that's "all your bloomin' lot for now". I wish you all a very happy Christmas and an exciting New Year.

John

 

L'Etoile Guest House
L'Etoile Guest House

L'Etoile Guesthouse between Cevennes, Ardeche and Lozere in the South of France

Old romantic Hotel with a beautiful park along the Allier River. L'Etoile Guest-House is located in La Bastide-Puylaurent between Lozere, Ardeche and Cevennes. Hiking trails GR7, GR70 Stevenson, GR72, GR700 Regordane (St Gilles), Cevenol, Margeride, GR470 Allier river trail, Ardechoise, Gevaudan and many hiking loops around. A mountain retreat in the South of France. The right place to relax.