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France: On The Road

Paris, the city of love and a thousand other clichés, still holds a certain mystic. But no matter how many written words this great city has commanded - however familiar this town may appear - Paris will always remain an enigma, a magnet for millions of visitors from around the world.

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Full Name French Republic
Capital City Paris

547,030 sq km
211,208 sq miles

Population 60,400,000
Time Zone GMT/UTC +1(Central European Time)
Daylight Saving Start last Sunday in March
Daylight Saving End last Sunday in October
Languages French (official)
Religion 86% Roman Catholic, 8% Muslim, 2% Protestant 1% Jewish, 3% unaffiliated
Currency Euro (Euro)
Electricity 230V 50HzHz
Country Dialing Code 33


The Comox Valley

Travelling north from Nanaimo on the Inland Island Highway, there's a stretch of wilderness before you reach the Comox Valley. It's so easy to tell when you arrive in the first metropolitan area on the northern part of Vancouver Island. On your left are the snow-capped Beaufort Mountains and the Comox Glacier defining the western edge of the valley. The salty sea of the Georgia Strait to your right defines the eastern edge of the valley. Rocky snow covered peaks roll gently down to the valleys below.Forests, alpine meadows, crystal clear rivers, sandy beaches and bucolic farmland make up the beautiful Comox Valley.

The Comox Valley extends from Fanny Bay in the South to Saratoga Beach in the North, a distance of about 30 miles or 50 kilometers. It is the Recreation Capital of Vancouver Island. Only in the Comox Valley can you ski, golf, fish, kayak and scuba dive all on the same day.

Choose a vacation filled with outdoor adventures or check out the incredible artistic and cultural community - the four museums, the live theatre performances, the many local festivals and attractions - or you can go shopping in the many boutique-style stores.We arrived at our beautiful accommodations at the historic "Ship's Point Inn" near Fanny Bay. This distinguished Inn is a serene Bed and Breakfast nestled on the shore of Ships Point. The manicured gardens and flower-covered arbour entry greet you as you drive into the parking area. The Inn has a garden gazebo, a covered hot tub and a deck overlooking miles of ocean scenery. In the distance you can hear the sea lions discussing their day.

The Inn has six elegantly appointed rooms, with views of the Baynes Sound and Georgia Strait.The Inn is at the end of Ships Point Road and is well away from the Oceanside Route Highway into Courtenay and Comox. From the spacious deck you can see snow-capped mountains, sea lions, eagles, the Denman Island ferry dock and ocean cruise ships traveling to and from to Alaska.

It's so peaceful and the sunsets are very special indeed. This 4 Star Inn is a great romantic retreat or just a great place to get away and relax. The area is perfect for "antiquing", visiting art galleries, beach-walking, cycling, bird- watching, fishing, golfing, hiking and kayaking.Check out the Comox Vacation Deals.Fanny Bay is home of the world famous Fanny Bay Oysters. Check with the Inn staff and they will tell you where to get a feed of these great oysters.

Fanny Bay is also the gateway to Denman and Hornby Islands with regular BC Ferry service. To get to Hornby Island you must first take the ferry to Denman, drive across the island and the take a well-timed ferry to Hornby.Once we checked in, we were off to have some lunch. One of our local friends recommended the Monte Cristo. This restaurant is situated on the Courtenay River and the deck hangs over a tributary.

The meal was excellent and since we were celebrating a birthday, the staff responded by bringing the "birthday girl" a special cake. This restaurant has been recommended by a number of people and is one of the best in Courtenay.After lunch we decided to visit the world's best little tourist trap, the Coombs Country market. This gem of a country store is famous for the goats that live on the grass roof above the store.

The owner shops the world and fills the store with unique gifts and specialty food items. Coombs is not in the Comox Valley, but being in Fanny Bay makes so many things central. Coombs is only a 30 minute drive south and west of Fanny Bay. The Coombs Country Market has a deli, a produce section, bakery, and incredible crafts from around the world and probably the best ice cream bar on Vancouver Island. The 40-foot ice cream bar offers over 30 flavors of ice cream as well as sorbet and gelato (Italian ice cream).

The Coombs Country Market has spawned a village of other establishments that thrive because of the draw of the market. On the return trip to Fanny Bay, we followed the scenic Oceanside Route (Highway19a). It travels through Qualicum Beach, Bowser, Lighthouse, and other communities.


Ron Kirstein is the owner of a Canadian Travel & Tourism Web site (since 1995). Ron has traveled the length and breadth of Vancouver Island BC Canada in search of adventures; see http://tourismmall.victoria.


By: Ron Kirstein

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