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Christchurch Travellers Ditch Traditional Tourism

Christchurch Travellers Ditch Traditional Tourism for Canal Boats & Cooking Classes

16 April 2015

Increasing numbers of Christchurch residents are opting to bypass the usual tourist must-sees of Paris and Rome to experience the rural charms of destinations such as France and Italy, says a local travel expert.

Up to 70 per cent of House of Travel Ferrymead’s customers are opting for European trips that include experiences such as canal boating tours on rural French rivers, cooking classes in small northern Italian villages, or Michelin-star eateries in regional France, says owner operator Chris Hopkins.

“More and more people want to have different and unique experiences, see things that may not be marked on the map, and try living like locals do, so they are skipping the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum.

“Instead they are heading to small villages in France where they can visit a local market every day for a week, or taking cooking classes while staying at a villa in Tuscany,” says Hopkins.

“Walking holidays, cycle tours, and canal boat tours are all getting more popular with a broad range of Christchurch travellers who are opting to explore regional areas of Europe, instead of the traditional coach tours,” she adds.

Hopkins says while the tours are not always the quickest way to see the country - one French canal boat tour takes nearly a week to travel up a section of river you could drive in 90 minutes - they offer intrepid Kiwis a glimpse into life off the beaten track.

The passionate travel agent, who has operated the Ferrymead store for nearly 10 years, has even planned a two-month holiday that will incorporate some of the most popular activities she has been booking clients on.

Over eight weeks she will visit the Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Provence, go on a canal boat tour in Burgundy, and taste the gastronomic delights of the region of Lyon before heading to the Italian lakes, Tuscany for cooking schools and wine tasting, an inn-to-inn cycle tour in Umbria, and a stay on the Amalfi Coast.

“It’s not about seeing every single country in Europe anymore, or just hitting the major spots and then leaving. Now it’s about the experiences you have while you’re there, the food and wine, the olive oil tasting, or dinner at the three-Michelin-star restaurant far from the lights of Paris,” Hopkins says.


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