Travel Guide to the France Countryside


Champagne Ardenne is a northeast region of France and it is on the border of Belgium. It is a sparsely populated area, but merely 90 minutes from Paris, France. The towns of Troyes, Langres, Epernay and Reims are well known for their cultural artifacts, architecture, and early history. It is a perfect weekend, travel getaway from the congestion of Paris.

Since the 11th century, people congregated in the countryside for the bimonthly Champagne textile fairs. Art, music, literature, and religion were part of the local flow of ideas. Courtly poetry and gothic art were common practices in this region of France. During the 16th and 17th century, various industries flourished in Champagne-Ardenne. This included metallurgy, textiles, and glass-making.

A series of religious wars and political turmoil caused people to flee from the countryside in France. Wine, cider, and champagne making remaining as the only major industries in Champagne-Ardenne aside from tourism and travel. The process of champagne and wine making have been perfected since Medieval times. The vineyards in the countryside of France are among the world’s most highly regarded soils. Thousands of people travel to France for the champagne alone, and comeback with it full in their travel backpack with wheels.

The experience of wine-tasting invokes a free spirited way of life in Champagne-Ardenne. It is a sufficient reason to travel to the countryside of France even for a day trip. Wake up in the morning. Hike through ancient villages and stand in awe of former castles and city walls. The forests and lakes promote an active, balanced lifestyle. However, it may be difficult to stay on a diet with all the tempting, French produce on the roadsides. However, this is also quite true of travel anywhere in France. The food is generally delicious.

Things to Do

Wine tasting and local produce are the primary reasons to travel to Champagne, France. More than 5,000 vineyards populate Champagne-Ardenne. The inland sea mist and pastoral valleys form ideal conditions for growing wine and champagne grapes.

Local folk have been producing wine and champagne since Medieval times. Although the actual inventor of sparkling wine remains unknown, vintners may unlock other secrets to visitors. Travel to Champagne, France during the early summer or late spring for the most productive vineyard harvests.

While visitors are in the countryside of France, they should also travel into the villages. Basilique Musée de St Remi is a regional, historical landmark. The church was built in 1007. Several sections of the church conglomerated other styles over the years. The stained glass dates from the 13th century and the transept represents a late Gothic style.

The nearby former site of the royal abbey of St. Remi guarded the holy anointment vessel for the kings of France. The crowning of the Kings in Reims was a tradition that began with Clovis, France. Include the abbey in your Champagne-Ardenne travel itinerary if possible. The nearby cathedral contains a marvelous collection of exquisite tapestries.

Furthermore, travel to Troyes for more archaeological and religious sites within Champagne-Ardenne. Troyes contains numerous examples of architecture and art from the 16th century. Old houses made of wood and earthen plaster are remnants of the Middle Ages.

Although the fire of 1524 destroyed several of the houses, new ones arose in a more Gothic style. The builders shortened the wood beams and added gargoyles to the gutters. Similar wood beam homes are whimsical landmarks that can be found in many areas outside of Paris, France.

Lastly, add the Troyes Museum of Modern Art to your travel plans for a private collection of expressionist art. Its hosts more than 2,000 exhibits and specializes in Fauve and expressionist art. It certainly is not as impressive as the Louvre, but it is a delightful treat in the middle of rural France.


The Champagne-Ardenne region of France receives 20 to 40 inches of precipitation per year. Coordinate travel accordingly: snow, rain, and heat are all possibilities in Champagne-Ardenne. The average, annual temperature is 50 to 60 º F. Typically, the weather is similar to that of Paris, France and southern England. As travelers venture farther north the climate decreases with elevation. This climatology is typical for the entirety of France.

The fall season usually starts in September and remains quite sunny. The average low is 54º and the high is 76º. As the winter approaches, the temperature ranges from 36 to 60º. Frequent snowfall is common inland and the winters last until early March. When it is not snowing, the air is cold and crisp. A tour group may be better suited for winter travel so that you do not have to worry about driving in the snow.

Spring is the mildest season in Champagne. From April to May, the low is 48º and the high is 70º. Pack gloves and a hat for hiking in the remote regions between March and April. The early summer may also require packing of a light coat. The average summer extremes are 55 and 82º. I believe these are the best times of year to travel to the Champagne-Ardenne region of France.

Late spring and early summer are the height of the tourist season in Champagne. They are ideal months for wine tasting and vineyard tours. Expect to meet crowds of people in champagne houses and wineries. However, tourist attractions like Troyes and Reims, generally are less crowded. Although Autumn is not a high season, it is also an enjoyable time to travel to Champagne.

Wahl Professional 8685 Peanut Classic Clipper Review

I’ve generally been impressed with products by Wahl in the past, so when it came time to get a new set of clippers, I opted for the cute Wahl Professional 8685 Peanut Classic Clipper. I was a little hesitant about purchasing at first due the small size, and I thought may be the motor size would be compromised, but it was getting some positive reviews as the best clippers for black hair.

And overall, I’m really glad I did! It’s a great little design and is much higher quality than I was expecting. It’s light weight but has a good, solid feel to it. It’s very small at about 4 inches long, but not so small that it makes it awkward to use.

In terms of cut, I’m very impressed with the Peanut. It won’t give you as close a shave as a regular razor blade, but no electric razor will. The closeness of shave is perfectly acceptable. What makes it so much better than a regular razor blade is the speed in which you can cut your hair and also the lack of irritation.

It’s a very good trade-off in my opinion. It comes with a few different lengths of cutting guide, from 1/8 inch to ½ inch, as well as a cleaning brush and blade oil. One thing I particularly like about the cutting guides, is that they’re good quality. They clip nicely onto the main device and match the quality of the trimmer, so don’t let it down in any way.

The only thing I can really think of that I don’t like about the Peanut is that the replacement blades for it are quite expensive. This is really me just being picky, as the blades seem to last forever. A bit of maintenance with the oil ensures they stay nice and sharp.

Here’s a summary of the Wahl Peanut:


  • Very small (4 inches long)
  • Light weight and easy to hold
  • Well made and high quality
  • Gives you a close cut
  • Very quick to use


  • Replacement blades are quite expensive

Overall, I can honestly say that the Peanut exceeded my expectations. I really couldn’t ask for more: it looks good, it’s great quality and it works fantastically. What more do you want?! I’m definitely a loyal Wahl fan now and would recommend this trimmer to anyone wanting a good hair trimmer. This is by far the most portable hair clipper on the market and if you’re traveling, this is a must-have.  After using this thing, you won’t accept anything else!

JBL Pulse Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

JBL has been in the sound industry for a long time. Recently JBL entered the Bluetooth speaker world and has impressed with their products. The latest Bluetooth speaker launched by JBL is the Pulse. A very unique design that really inspires your party spirit when you rock to tunes and have a visual experience to go along with it. We would say the pulse is one of the top ten bluetooth speakers released this year.

Design and Features:


The JBL Pulse is a can shaped speaker kind of like an energy drink. The speaker has a dimension of 7.9 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches and a weight of only 1.1 pounds. The speaker can be placed vertically and horizontally. The main controls are located on the “top” of the speaker and this is where you will find your volume, Bluetooth pairing, light and power buttons. Also there are two rows of color and intensity buttons for manual control of the pulses lighting effects. Additionally the there is the light button which presets up to 5 different light effect shows. The speaker has a rubberized bottom so the speaker can be placed flat. On the bottom of the speaker you will find a micro USB charging port and a 3.5mm aux input.


The JBL Pulse is a quality built speaker. The speaker feels really good in the hand. Wrapped with a metal grille which makes the colors pop out and look pixelated. The Top and bottom are a mix of rubberized plastic and regular plastic. When the speaker is turned on you get greeted with a light show. The speaker is fairly tech savvy packed with 72 individual LEDS inside the Pulse. The Pulse only comes in a black color. The speaker runs on Bluetooth 2.0 technology with NFC so you can use it with any Bluetooth smart device. The battery life runs for about 10 hours which is pretty great considering the amount of tech this speaker has going on.

JBL has also introduced an app called “JBL music flow” for IOS and “JBL Music” for Android. In this app you can create your own preset color themes for your pulse and play around with various effects which we found is the easiest way to customize the color options to your preference.

Sound Quality:

The JBL Pulse produces its big sound from two 40mm drivers and a customer tuned bass port to provide loud and punchy sound.

The Sound from the JBL was Loud and powerful and also very balanced. Sound wise we thought there was enough bass, a Clear and punchy mid-range, and fairly crisp higher frequencies. At some of the highest volume levels there was a bit of distortion especially when you play hard rock or even a classical orchestration of some sort you can kind of hear a bit of “fuzz”. The Bose SoundLink Mini for example definitely has some better clarity when it comes to the upper registers and can handle top volume. The JBL Pulse is definitely powerful enough to fill a small to medium room.

The JBL Pulse is a unique addition to the Bluetooth speaker market providing a solid audio experience and also providing a quality visual experience which is a first in the Bluetooth speaker market.

Guake – A Drop-Down Terminal (in the Style of the Quake Video Game) for Linux

As a pretty “normal” Linux user, I very often have a Terminal open. Not always, but often enough that I always have a Terminal shortcut close at hand. Usually it’s pinned to Docky, so it’s only a single click away. But today I finally tried out a program called Guake that places a Terminal only a keyboard combination away, and after using it for just a little bit, I have to admit I’m hooked.
Guake (and Yakuake, written with the KDE desktop environment in mind), were both inspired by the dropdown terminal in the video video game Quake. How Guake works is once started, it can be called up by clicking its panel icon (if you’ve chosen to make it visible), or by a customizable keyboard shortcut. By default, once started, Guake can be shown by simply hitting the F12 key, but that can be changed to any keyboard combination not already in use by another application.

Once the shortcut it typed (or the panel icon clicked), Guake becomes visible at the top of your computer monitor. It stretches the width of the screen, and a certain number of lines down. By default it is transparent, so if you need to read the names of folders or files on the Desktop, or whatever window happens to be open, you can.

An opened Guake terminal window is just like any other Terminal on your system. It can be used to launch programs, compile software, copy and move files, update your applications, connect to FTP servers or download files from the Internet. Whatever your “regular” Terminal client can do, so can Guake.

Guake also supports tabs, so you can have many Terminal sessions open at once. And if you want a special interpreter, such as sh, dash, bash, rbash or a few others, Guake can be set that way as well. You can start a lengthy process such as updating your software or compiling a program, hide Guake, then come back later. It keeps working even when not visible. It supports popup notifications at startup (particularly useful if you have chosen to hide the panel icon), and practically everything about it is customizable, from its height, color theme and transparency to the number of lines cached in memory.

There are a variety of keyboard shortcuts available besides toggling its visibility. Guake can go fullscreen, above all applications and new tabs can be created or closed (and you can navigate between them), all from the keyboard.

In a very real way, Guake is not much more than using the standard Terminal client that you access and manage using custom keyboard shortcuts. In fact, many of the keyboard shortcuts in use are the same as what you’d find in Gnome Terminal, for instance, the default Gnome client for Terminal sessions. But that doesn’t matter. The wider window, the easy way to toggle visibility and the large number of customization options all make Guake a very nice Terminal program to have installed. For anyone wanting an easily accessible Terminal client (or anyone who loved Quake, I suppose!), Guake is an excellent choice.

Best of Britain

See the best of the UK at your own pace, with your own expert guide.  Your guide will take you to many sights off-the-beaten track that the coach tours miss, as well as the best known sights in Britain. We can customise any of the UK tours listed to suit your requirements.

Why choose British Tours Ltd?
Because you insist on the longest-established and most experienced service available in Britain. Founded in 1958, British Tours is still under the same management.

Choose your hotels
Ask us to recommend and reserve your accommodation from deluxe Country House Hotels to lovely Historic inns.

Get free admission to over 600 historic sights across the United Kingdom with one low cost Heritage Pass.

Where does my tour start and end?
Tours usually start from, and end in, central London however your guide can collect you from other locations such as Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport or Southampton Dock. A surcharge usually applies, please contact us with your requirements.

We can provide driver-guides speaking almost all foreign languages. Language surcharge applies, please inquire.

Which car to choose
Your choice of category depends on the number of people travelling:

Medium – 1 to 2 passengers
Large – 3 to 4 passengers
Extra Large – 5 to 6 passengers (light luggage)
Minibus – 6 to 11 passengers
Coach – more than 11 passengers

Cars are modern comfortable 4 door saloons. Extra Large vehicles are people carriers such as Toyota Previas. Please contact us if you require a deluxe car e.g Jaguar, BMW & Mercedes.