New Caledonia: So Frenchy, so sweet
I got a bit fatter in New Caledonia. I’m not proud of myself but wow, those Frenchies know how to bake.
Crispy baguettes and butter with every meal, perfectly turned out pastries for breakfast, cakes that are a cut above anything I’ve ever tasted for dessert.
And then there’s the Alsace Gerwurztraminers to go with it, the Duty Free Champagne from the airport and the homemade mayonnaise you can slather on your fries.
The French attention to detail and commitment to quality ensures that eating is lots of fun in this island paradise; something that sets it apart from places like Fiji.
However, what also sets it apart from its neighbours is the price. My credit card is bleeding.
On the upside, New Caledonia is close. From Sydney, it’s a 2.5 hour flight on Air Cailin.
On our first night, we stayed at Le Meridien Noumea which is about a 45 minute transfer from Tontouta International Airport. This hotel is set on the beach and is close to the resort-y action, including an overwater bar that was pumping when we arrived on Friday night.
The next day, we took off for Isle of Pines; a move that I highly recommend if you’re into nature. Noumea has its charms, especially if you want to polish up your French, but Ile des Pins is paradise.
The flight on Air Caledonie takes all of 20 minutes and then you land at this honky little airport shack. The Le Meridien Isle of Pines has its own meeting point there so you’re ushered straight to your transfer and off you go. The resort is gorgeous; set in tropical gardens and low rise – nothing over two storey. Also newly refurbished, it has all the polish of high-end design with the warmth of South Pacific earthiness.
From the hotel, you can walk 15 minutes along the lagoon to a natural pool that has coral and tropical fish (borrow snorkelling gear from the hotel), ride 6kms to a grotto that is generally creepy and fun (there’s 150 franc entry fee with an honesty system) or head out on a kayak or paddleboard into the bay.