Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Akaroa, a Little Bit of France in the South

French colonial buildings in Akaroa, New Zealand
Because of the earthquakes which devastated Christchurch and its port of Lyttelton, cruise ships can no longer visit there for the foreseeable future. So they make Akaroa their port of call.
   And what a beautiful place it is. Once again we were blessed with calm, blue sky weather. The 'Volendam' anchored out in the bay and we tendered ashore.
   The little township lies along the shore of Akaroa Harbour. It is the site of the first settlement in New Zealand by the French, over 160 years ago. In fact, if the English hadn't beaten them to it by a few months, we would have been saying "Bonjour" instead of "Hello" or "Kia ora".
   Part of the charm of the place is its well-preserved historic colonial cottages with their picket fences and displays of over-exuberant rambling roses. Many of the buildings fly French flags as well as New Zealand ones and some of the street names are in French.
   I enjoyed exploring the old-fashioned general store which sold just about everything from gumboots to gumballs. Nearby, in a restored cottage, was a shop specialising in French goods the owners personally selected on their trips to France. Beautiful homewares, unusual gift ideas and a treasure for me - a miniature book of Napoleon's love letters to Josephine. Now, where's my French dictionary?

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