Tour-Smart Limited

The Tour-Smart Team

Welcome to my chat with travel writer and author Janine Marsh. She’s also the editor of the award winning website and The Good life France Magazine.

Janine Marsh

What makes France so special do you think?

Ooh that’s a tough one, there are so many things but I’d have to say one of the outstanding things for me is bread! I love that there are artisan bakers and beautiful boulangeries where ever you go. The smell of a just baked baguette or a buttery golden croissant is so very French (and delicious).

When was your first visit to France?

I was 14 years old and went on an exchange trip to Antony in the suburbs of Paris. I came from a London council estate and I was utterly mesmerized by France. Drinking bowls of hot chocolate and dunking our croissants in them, being sent to the boulangerie for a cake after school, a trip to Versailles – it all seemed so exotic! I fell head over heels in love with France then, and I still am!

What has been the best thing about moving to France for you?

Best thing? Again a tough question, but a little while after I came to France, I found a stray kitten being attacked by a bigger cat. I brought the tiny kitten home, fed it with a pipette and comforted it. I never thought it would make it through the night. Winston, as I called him is now the biggest cat in the village. It made me realize I love animals – a lot. I now have more than 60 dogs, cats, chickens, geese and ducks, plus 5 wild hedgehogs I feed nightly. It still amazes me as I had never had, nor wanted an animal before!

Do you speak French?

Well I probably make plenty of mistakes but happily I am blissfully unaware! I think you have to try, however bad you are at it, to speak French when in France. It’s extra difficult where I live as my neighbours speak a local patois called Ch’ti. When I first came here I was given a Ch’ti dictionary by one of my friends because it’s almost a different language. For instance chair in French is chaise – here it’s cayelle! I just go for it with the French and I ask my friends to correct me. They sometimes laugh when I get things wrong, for instance saying “Je suis chaud” literally means “I am hot” but to a French person it means I am hot as in I am sexy! Mostly I’m told it’s cute when non-Frenchies try to speak French!

What’s your favourite local dish?

I love flammekeuche! They’re a northern French pizza made with sour cream and cheese and onions with a thin pastry. I could eat one every day of the week (which is why I am permanently on a diet!). If it’s made with local Maroilles stinky cheese – so much the better!

Tell us about your memoir My Good Life in France

It’s a dream come true! I love writing. Sometimes when I’m supposed to be cooking dinner and I start writing I just forget everything else. Some people use a timer to alert them to dinner being ready to serve, I have a smoke alarm!

It all started when my Dad got sick. I’d already left for France but when he was diagnosed with cancer I went back to London to help look after him. Some days I’d sit and scribble away – I didn’t have a blog then. My Dad would ask me about what I’d written and sometimes he’d say “you’re not bad at that – you should try and write a book”. I didn’t really think anything of it but when I went back to France after he sadly passed away, my husband set me up a blog so I could keep in touch with friends and family about my new life. They used to ring constantly asking us about what was going on – how many more strays had I taken in? Had my neighbor who was in love with a chicken split up with his nubile girlfriend? Had I broken any more bones carrying breeze blocks and building walls? The first month my blog went live I had 480 views, I was amazed and quickly got hooked on writing every day. Six months later I had 60,000 views a month – now I get more than 1 million page views a month, I’m so humbled by it I can’t tell you. When a publisher who follows me on my blog offered me a book deal, I thought about what my Dad had said, said yes please and the result is “My Good Life in France”. It’s had some lovely reviews – my favourites are: “a warm and uplifting read, effervescent like a glass of your favourite Champagne” and “move over Peter Mayle (A Year in Provence) - there’s a new girl in town and her name is Janine Marsh” – woohoo!

Available from Amazon and good book stores (ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-1782437321)

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Here are a few that might peak your interest.

Follow the lead of the 'Art Lovers Guide' and take a journey through St Petersburg by river. Visit many of St. Petersburg's iconic sights showcased in the BBC's 'Art Lovers Guide' and also experience a side to Russia that many will have never seen before; with a luxury river cruise on board the Volga Dream. Call Fred.\ River Cruises on freephone 0808 115 8312 or visit your local travel agent to book. 

Cathedral of the Spilt Blood - St. Petersburg

Volga Dream Special Offer
May-September 2018
Spend 3 nights in St. Petersburg and 3 nights visiting Moscow, staying in centrally located 5* hotels
Visiting: St. Petersburg | Svirstroy | Kizhi | Goritsy | Yaroslavl | Uglich | Moscow
12 nights rom £3149pp*

Celebrate National Walking Month with an Active River Cruise
River cruising is perfect for walking fans! Dock in the heart of the city, step off of the ship and straight onto a walking path to enjoy a leisurely stroll along the riverbanks - past towns, villages and extraordinary landscapes.

More and more river cruise operators are catering for walking fans when it comes to their itineraries too - adding walking tours, hiking trips and more into their programmes for walking fans to enjoy. As May is National Walking Month we thought we would put together our pick of the best river cruises for walking fans.

Romantic Heidelberg

Enjoy a range of active excursions, including a hike up the Philosopher's Path for panoramic views of Heidelberg, on Amawaterways' 'Captivating Rhine cruise.
8 nights from £1,666pp

Making the hike up to the Veste Oberhaus in Passau, Germany is a highlight of AmaWaterways' Danube River Cruises with incredible views along the way and over Old Passau. Guests can enjoy this included excursion on their Melodies of the Danube cruise.

Passengers can currently save up to £1,000 per couple on a selected 2018 departure for this stunning sailing if booked before the 31st May 2017. T&Cs apply.
7 nights from £1733pp


Each morning on board the M.V Mahabaahu as it sails up and down India's mighty Brahamputra, guests can chose between enjoying yoga on deck, or taking a hike in search of tigers! Take in the Assam region at its best with this nature trek - keeping eyes peeled for tiger tracks along the way.

Golden Triangle & Downstream Cruise - 13 nights from £2817pp
Save 10% on your cruise when you book before 30th June 2017. Subject to availability.
To book, call Fred.\ River Cruises - the UK's one stop shop for river cruising holidays - on freephone 0808 115 8312
visit your local travel agent.

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The sun is setting over the vines

To read Susie's super article please click on this link


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Is this the newest 'Bucket List' destination?

This is what the $2.3 billion Airport in Turkmenistan looks like.

Terminal Interior

Turkmenistan has opened a new $2.3 billion air terminal at Ashgabat International Airport as the former Soviet republic tries to become an international transport hub in Central Asia and reduce its dependence on revenues from natural gas exports.

An Eagle Eye's View

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said during the opening ceremony on September 17 that Turkmenistan has “all the opportunities to become a transport bridge facilitating economic cooperation between Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, and South Asia.”

For visa requirements for this 'yet to be fully discovered' country please click on this link.

For ideas of tours available in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan please visit Zukhro Travel LLC's website by clicking on

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Have fun and tell us about your travel plans for 2017

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