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Hostellerie de Levernois – Burgundy

July 19, 2017 @ 2:40 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Burgundy countryside

Serene Hostellerie de Levernois

Allow us to recommend a memorable stay at the tasteful 5-star Hostellerie de Levernois in the heart of the Côte de Beaune.  An esteemed member of the Relais & Chateaux, the hotel is situated on the edge of a golf course in an 11-acre park that offers a seemingly endless air of tranquility.

The intimate estate includes several room and suite selections and exceptional dining to make the hostellerie the ideal base for exploring the wine country of Burgundy.  Indulge in a charming  lunch at the Bistrot du Bord de l’Eau on the river, before exploring area vineyards and tasting rooms – bicycles are available for your use.  And at the end of the day, a glass of wine on your private terrace is essential to be beginning of a pleasant evening.

burgundy france

Petit dejeuner – Le Bistrot

You may be surprised at the small size of Burgundy’s internationally-acclaimed wine appellations.  A few geographic and historic details point to the reason for this.  Twenty-five million years ago – yes, rather a long sweep of time! – this land shifted, re-arranging layers of limestone and soil. That’s why grapes along the 40-mile stretch in Burgundy yield several different wines.  The many individual soils in the area produce unique flavors for the exceptional wines produced.

By all means, ask your host for recommended sites to explore along the Côte de Beaune, where some of the finest dry white wines in the world are produced – such as  Corton Charlemagne and le Montrachet.  During your sojourns, you will discover lovely villages, historic castles and fantastic Burgundian cuisine to complement the regional wines.

The Pommard, Meursault and Chassagne Montrachet castles are handsome examples of the “Clos” wall-enclosed estates.  Visit the Château de Chorey-les-Beaune – a mix of 13th to 17th century architectural styles, owned by the Germain family.  Their distinguished wines are served in fine restaurants throughout the world.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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5 Charms of Provençal Avignon!

July 17, 2017 @ 9:40 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Papal city of Avignon France

Avignon overlooking the Rhone River

We hate the numbers ‘game’,  but there are so many reasons to visit this enchanting city….one must limit!

1.  Provençal Avignon owes its very history and much of its attraction to the Papacy.  The medieval politics of the early 14th century led Pope Clement V to move the papacy to Avignon, under the protection of Philip the Fair of France.   His successors came along, and Benedict XII and Clement VI felt the need to locate the great Palais des Papes overlooking the Rhone River in the center of the medieval city. The imposing palais offers a magnificent, stark white contrast to the vivid blue skies of southern France and the sprawling square beneath the palace.

For another papal-style outing, head across the river to Villeneuve-les-Avignon.  A bit removed from the papal palace; over twenty cardinals built their own retreats, where the castle and fortifications of Saint André still watch over the town. Enjoy quiet walks here among the terraced Abbey gardens and cloisters, and take in the exceptional  views from the 14th-century Tour Philippe le Bel. The tower protected the Pont d’Avignon, that once connected the town to Avignon.

2. Regional cuisine … cuisine … cuisine

Avignon France

Enchanting Villeneuve-les-Avignon across the Rhone

In the Les Halles marketplace; cafés serve hearty cassoulets and velvety red wine, and marché shoppers search out earthy truffles, herbs and the local specialty – Papalines d’Avignon – incredible candies made of fine chocolate, powdered sugar and a very particular herbal liqueur dating to 1835.  Dine at Avignon’s number one restaurant – La Mirande – just across the cobblestone street of the Palais du Papes.   Enjoy a savory breakfast on the terrace – c’est magnifique! – or refined dining, where the atmosphere complements your veal medallions and after-dinner Cognac. With the excellent regional Côte du Rhône wines and a mix of olives, lavender, honey and other local produce; the cuisine lives up to your expectations.

3. Shopping!

Stunning fabrics await you at Les Olvidades and Souleiado (meaning “first ray of sunshine after a storm”). Les Oliviers treats you to an astonishing range of olive oils, and Pure Lavande presents high-quality, natural products from the lavender estate at Château du Bois in Haute Provence. Throughout quaint city streets, you will find charming squares with brocantes and antiquaires, cookware for gourmands and impressive Provençal pottery at Terre è Provence. Three-dimensional cicada creations are among our favorites.

Avignon celebrates theatre, music and all of the arts!

4. Cultural diversity

Art and theatre houses seem to be around every corner. Tours take you in the footprints of the popes. The annual theatre festival is absurdly entertaining, with mini-acts throughout the town luring you to their destinations. You can steep yourself in the art of cooking with gourmet classes, or enjoy ballet and opera. Concerts, plays, special little theatres, motor and antique shows, ballet – Avignon maintains a robust event schedule with something to sate every interest.

5. Elegant charm

Quaint cobblestones, refined architecture and shaded squares make Avignon such a pleasure to visit. Typical streets, like the rue des Teinturiers (the dyers street) surprise you with paddle wheels on the Sorgue canal, cobblestone squares (created, by the way, from stones from the Rhône River), the gorgeous facades of 18th and 19th-century mansions – and interspersed amongst all the sights, you will find that perfect little spot for a cafe au lait.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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French Riviera – Stunning Hotel Choices!

July 12, 2017 @ 10:40 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Nice, France

Petit Palace terrace views

Of course we would love to be in France right now, but why not look forward, dream a little, imagine an over-the-top stay along the Riviera.  Grand idea – let’s take a look at two very charming Cote d’Azur hotels and the “stars” associated with them.  The 3-star Belle Époque style residence, Le Petit Palais in Nice is a smaller, elegant residence located in the heart of Cimiez.  The 5-star Grand Hôtel Cap Ferrat is all one would expect of a luxury hotel by the Mediterranean.

We all harbor different preferences according to our travel moods.  More intimate but refined accommodations might attract us on one occasion, while pristine luxury might win out on another.  Heaven only knows that France offers the full range of lodging to meet every whim and wish!

Nice, Fr

Balcony room – pure luxury!

Le Petit Palais, for example, offers the feeling of intimate hospitality with a blush of art deco in a fine old neighborhood overlooking Nice.  Offering 25 tastefully comfortable rooms, the residence delivers panoramic views of the Baie des Anges from select rooms as well as from the terrace garden. Perhaps one small detail showcases the Palais’ personality – all towels are organic, fair-trade cotton, indicating careful attention to detail.
The hotel is quite close to the Matisse and Chagall museums in one of the most beautiful hillside locales of Nice.  Spacious rooms and baths, free Wi-Fi, pleasant hospitality and lovely meals on the patio are key features – from 220 Euros in June.

Grand Hotel - Cap Ferrat

Stunning Grand Hotel Cap views

Just a touch to the South of Nice, the 5-star Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat is simply a breathtaking world apart.  On the exclusive Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, the hotel exudes high-end luxury with immaculate, spacious white rooms.  The private Club Dauphine pampers with an infinity pool, cabanas and a restaurant poised on rocky outcroppings above the sea. Handsomely settled on seventeen acres of gardens, hotel views are spectacular, as are  luxurious building features – Murano glass chandeliers, creamy marble and vibrant tapestries.

cote d'azur, france

Club Dauphine on the Riviera

The Residence Wing includes suites with terraces and private plunge pools. Those two extra stars and spectacular coastal setting more than triple the Palais rates in June.

That brings us full circle to what many of us seek in our holiday choices – a more subdued and serene  setting or all-out, pure luxury with decidedly high-end amenities.  We suspect that either locale would provide a very satisfying escape.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Elegant Retreat Near Normandy’s Coast

June 16, 2017 @ 3:00 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Normandy France Coast

Port-en-Bessin, Normandy

Though stained with the blood, burial grounds and memorials to lost young soldiers; the vast Normandy landscape tells multiple stories.  We feel the weight and sad wonder of history, struggle and loss; yet this magnificent land unfolds in soft, rolling farms and golden hay fields that embrace an existence made possible by that very history.

We visited the area for a little over two days but wanted more, and I now have discovered a lovely retreat for those, like us, who want to deeply explore this compelling land of history and pastoral grace.  Tucked away in the countryside between the D-Day beaches and historic Bayeux, an historic 17th century Château now plays host to those meandering visitors who want to stay a while, rest, roam and savor the stunning countryside.

Chateau Retreat, Normandy

This regal Norman Château – “La Chenevière” – has lived through multiple transitions from its origin as a hemp farm and, later, foal breeding farm through occupations by the Germans during World War II and the Americans following D-Day.   Fully restored in 1988, the Château has found new life as a 5-star luxury hotel and restaurant offering 29 spacious rooms the blend the highest standards of traditional luxury with contemporary comforts.

Today the mansion is poised among 12 hectares (30 acres) of lush gardens with exotic roses and trees, herbs, fruits and vegetables that yield fresh ingredients for the hotel restaurant and interweave with tennis, swimming and cycling amenities for guests.

We stayed in Dieppe, Caens and a couple of seaside towns, but the appeal of a country ‘manor’ from which to roam appeals to the ‘explore and retreat’ mentality all of us find enticing on occasion.  Under 3 hours from Paris, the Château locale is less than a mile on the outskirts of Port-en-Bessin and within an hour of Mont-Saint-Michel.

Sprinkled along the Normandy coast to the East, called “la Côte Fleurie” for the beautiful landscape, small ports and busy towns offer everything from horse racing and polo tournaments to Belle Époque villas and Film Festivals.  And for the daring at heart, of course the leisure offerings include casinos.  The wilder Bessin coast includes the D-day landing beaches and the American war cemetery, in contrast to traditional fishing ports and stunning views.

The cuisine of the region is no less spectacular – a mix of apple cider and calvados, Camembert and other local cheeses and a treasury of oysters and fresh fish.  And, at the end of the day, a refreshing swim and a walk through the Château gardens before dinner – parfait!
We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Refreshing Lake Annecy Retreat

May 12, 2017 @ 5:31 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Annecy France

Gorgeous lakeside views from the Abbaye de Talloires

When Florida temperatures and electric bills suddenly elevate by 30 percent, I wander to cool places in my mind. I can’t think of a more refreshing mental escape than Lake Annecy. Tucked up against snow-capped ridges in the East of France, this pristine lake – the 3rd largest in France – displays a lovely turquoise invitation to boat, swim or simply enjoy a magnificent visual feast.

The city of Annecy welcomes visitors entranced by her location, history, cuisine and hospitality; but several villages and enticing inns surround the sprawling lake. I think I may have discovered an ideal retreat in the Abbaye de Talloires on the Southeast shoreline of the lake.

Annecy France

Appealing rooms with panoramic views

Certainly the locale’s history, dating as far back as 866 A.D., is intriguing, but let’s be candid here. That’s a lovely addition to the overall atmosphere, but panoramic lake views, ultra-comfortable rooms and brasserie dining by the lake engulf my imagination and quest for cool weather and beautiful outdoor views.

We have always wanted to return to Annecy for a more thorough exploration, but I’m afraid we can’t make the trip at the moment. We certainly can take our cooling mental journey and add this lovely retreat to our “Bucket List” for real travels in the future.

Annecy France

Can you imagine a relaxing French-style lunch by the lake? I can!!!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

And don’t forget – my book Fired Up for France:  The Promise of Paris – now available in E-book (pdf) and print!

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Emilio Robba – Art de Vivre!

March 31, 2017 @ 1:43 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
French artisan

Stunning Emilio Robba Collection

The colors and shapes of nature never fail to captivate my spirit, heart and imagination. Just recently, we spirited off to Orlando’s signature downtown attraction – Lake Eola – for a brief respite from deadlines and drudgery!

Not surprisingly we immersed ourselves in a feast of natural sights – of bold blue skies and gentle breezes. Of elegant swans and preening ibis. Two guests came to join our little picnic area, and they were the most handsome sights of all – a pair of geese outfitted in soft taupe and brown shades.

That is precisely what made me think of the renowned International designer of “Art de Vivre” – Emilio Robba – Paris. Driven to recreate his natural surroundings, he applies his artistic talents to the creation of permanent botanicals and landscaping environments.  Galerie Vivienne and other Parisian Department stores feature Robba’s photography, sculptural floral arrangements and glass creations; and he now even has a gallery in Miami.

Paris artisan

Emilio luxury creations

The Emilio Robba Spring Collection features some of my favorites, among them the stunning purple hydrangea. With Spring in the air and Easter around the corner, what better time to add an elegant floral touch to your home!

Wishing you joyous spring days and pleasant shopping!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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‘Les Calades Provençales’

March 8, 2017 @ 3:10 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
France artisans

Hand-painted scarves in Aix-en-Provence

Renowned for its extraordinary fountains and talented favorite son, Cezanne; Aix-en-Provence manages a lovely blend of enchanting culture, vibrant youth and stimulating history.  But wait – the marketplace alone adds a huge dimension to the city, and the restaurants entice you at every bend in the road!  We arrived in Aix during the artisan craft fair, “Les Calades Provencales” and were able to meander along the stunning, tree-lined Cours Mirabeau to take in the original works of dozens and dozens of craftsmen and women.   

A quiet, personable potter demonstrated ease with his wheel.  Bright, hand-painted scarves drifted from canvas awnings.  With every turn of the head, we immersed ourselves in this treasury of talent – exotic jewelry, perfumes and ceramics, intricate wood creations and handsome textiles.

We stopped to chat – yes, in halting French but quite adequate – with a lovely young woman with a trés chic array of hand-crafted shoes and sandals.  The talented designer, Veronique Baron, epitomized the charming, soft-spoken French woman.

artisan fairs in france

The talented potter in Aixx

Born in la Drome, Veronique carries on the proud traditions of her father and grandfather.  Early on, she designed shoes in her father’s workshop.  After earning her degree in shoe design and practicing her talent with freelance work, Veronique realized her dream with the birth of  “Dans la garrigue”.  In the heart of a sunny pine forest, she creates each shoe and purse, piece by piece in her atelier (workshop).

Isn’t that kind of chance encounter one of the priceless rewards of travel?  In the midst of one of the most beautiful cities of France, we made this small connection that added immeasurably to our enjoyment of the artisan fair and the city itself.

Naturally, we needed some time to absorb our experiences and stopped at one of Aix’s many canopied cafes.  We capped our lovely adventure with delicious ham and cheese gallettes, salad and pichet of wine with a strolling guitarist to perfect our Aixoise moment.

Aix en Provence

Veronique’s hand-crafted shoes

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Italy, France – Travel Early and Often!

March 2, 2017 @ 12:09 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Duomo, Florence Italy

Charming cafes overlooking the magnificent Duomo

“Travel changes people. It broadens perspectives and teaches new ways to measure quality of life.”  Rick Steves

Florence, Italy.  The Duomo bells ring, at 7:45 a.m. –an unusual alarm clock that follows a warm evening with family in a room filled with vibrant students.  Through Jacksonville University in Florida, Leo’s sister and brother-in-law offer summer programs of art history, photography and painting in France and Italy.  We were fortunate to be included in the farewell dinner celebration for the end of their studies.

The student group of 15 young people, aglow with new experiences and the kind of relationships forged through sharing all things new, trade group photos and insider memories.  They may have an ever-so-small idea of the imprint they will carry with them from their sojourn in Italy.  The molecules of imagination have been stimulated.

The students gathered from Maine and Ohio, West Virginia and Florida.  They seem to recognize the unique privilege of participating in a life-changing program and summer.  Their families and friends will welcome home students who are different, who are better equipped and more motivated to dive off the board into the pool of possibilities life offers.

Florence Italy

“David” watches over the bustling Piazza della Signoria – the original David is in the Galleria dell’Accademia

We-are well beyond the clear-eyed face of youth but our ventures have been similar.  It IS never too late to learn, to set aside old fears and needs for security to pursue new roads of travel, learning, and culture.

Our mature eyes absorb the naked truth of Alpine ridges against the sky and the fickle faces of sunflowers turned away from the sun.  We exchange bonjours and ciaos with kind and interesting people. We see the pride enmeshed in each fine craft that has evolved from generations of artisan development.  Each adventure renews our feeling that we’ve just begun.

All of us feel the tumult in the world these days with so much suffering and displacement, adversarial politics, economic fears and ongoing security threats.  How easy it is to focus on the negative and even to let your fears guide your decisions about travel.

Annecy, France

Mountainous peaks hover over Lake Annecy

We can attest that travel so broadens your horizons that you re-gain your perspective and refresh your spirit to address challenges that lie ahead.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Villa Mauresque – Boutique Riviera Hotel

February 15, 2017 @ 9:00 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
France Travel

Villa Mauresque, Saint Raphael

Words and music for “I Went to a Marvellous Party” were written by Noël Coward in 1938.  The song offered a first-person ‘exposé’ of five parties the playwright-composer-singer attended on the French Riviera in the frantic era of amusement of the Train Bleu society of the 1920s and 1930s. While that particular vignette sparks your curiosity, you need only drive along the jeweled coastline of the Cote d’Azur to imagine the haute lifestyle of that era.

These touches of history merely pave the way to introduce an enchanting hotel on the Mediterranean near Saint-Raphael.  No less than renowned author Somerset Maugham initiated the incubator for the hotel, when he purchased the 9-acre estate of Villa Mauresque.  Prior to transforming to today’s elegant hotel residence, the villa hosted great literary and society guests in one of the Riviera’s most tantalizing social salons and was Maugham’s secluded home, until his death in 1965.

France Travel cote d'azur

Author and artist named suites

Around 2005, discretion and good taste led the way in converting the Moorish-inspired mansion into an extremely welcoming hotel.  The walled property keeps the world at bay, while you take breakfast on the terrace at the edge of the Mediterranean.  Or from your private port, you might tackle windsurfing or a quieter canoe ride.

The Villa was designed by Chapoulard in 1860, one of many of his neo-Moorish imprints along the fabled coast.   The boutique hotel has been carefully curated to offset serene ivory walls with bold tapestries and painted doors; and only 11 luxurious suites and bedrooms welcome guests to refined comfort.  Two on-site small villas also are a part of the property, available for rental and even engaging a chef-prepared meal en suite.

France Travel

Overlooking the Gulf of Saint Tropez

Speaking of dining, a Michelin-star Chef provides inviting cuisine in “Le Bougainvillier” restaurant with elegant indoor or terrace dining with unparalleled views of the Gulf of Saint Tropez.  Atypical of many Riviera resorts, the restaurant open throughout the year to offer … fillet of John Dory from our sea, roasted green asparagus in Provencal style or perhaps roasted lamb chops from the Quercy region

Enough.  You must browse the Villa’s site for more information to choose from artist- and writer-named rooms and suites that range from Monet’s 225-Euro room to Baudelaire’s Suite Prestige with sea view at 1,300 Euros per night.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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Dining French Style- Oui!

February 12, 2017 @ 6:40 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
French pastries

Elegant pear tarte – delicieux!

You discover everything appetizing with French dining.  Like this lovely pear tarte, so appealingly beautiful, with sweet aromas and a golden crust….and we haven’t even tasted it yet, but the promise is so alluring.

Last year … and the year before … we couldn’t be in Paris for Valentine’s Day; so we did the next best thing.  We stopped in for breakfast at our favorite local ‘patisserie’.  The atmosphere was so pleasant, complete with quiet “bonjours” and customers gazing over the expansive pastry choices to selects their croissants or quiche.

In that natural French way,  we lingered over our coffees and heard the simple bits of conversation that drifted our way.  One couple shared quite a delicious looking ‘breakfast croissant’ complete with egg, ham and cheese; while two ‘rowdy’ garcons spread Nutella over their pastries, the evidence peeking at us from the corners of their mouths.

To expand our enjoyable petite dejeuner, we went a step further.  A lovely pear tarte caught my eye … and imagination!  Alas, we would be able to share this elegant dessert at home with our Valentine’s meal.  We still would have preferred to be in Paris for the day, but we were able to bring a touch of Paris to us.  And on another day, we even made our own pear tarte at home – perhaps not as delicate looking but every bit as enchanting in taste.

Life lesson?  Even if you can’t travel when or where you want, you can create your own atmosphere and experience to enjoy.  A tip of the hat to France from us.

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2013, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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