Archive for the ‘Museums & Monuments’ Category
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. Read more
“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.
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.
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.
Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.
For a royal experience, one might expect a royal price tag; and Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc does not disappoint in either category. A luxurious and lavish resort delightfully positioned on the tip of Cap d’Antibes, the hotel has long been the chosen mecca for celebrities and privileged guests through the ages. No doubt they have left a trail of interesting tales in their wake.
Words simply cannot capture the legendary hotel. From 1870, the “Villa Soleil” welcomed writers looking for inspiration, but in 1885 a Piedmontese hotelier set his vision in motion and transformed the Napoleon III-style villa into the unparalleled Hôtel du Cap. One of the most interesting hotel embellishments is the seawater swimming pool carved into the rock, though the seaside “cabins” (33 cabanas, in all) and Eden-Roc Pavilion are equally alluring.
Now celebrating its 100th Anniversary, the hotel was recently refreshed with a €45million refurbishment that preserved and enhanced the resort’s stunning, authentic quality; while adding every contemporary convenience and several new amenities. Imagine refined, spacious rooms and luxury appointments, the sumptuous Bellini Bar, gourmet restaurant and assorted intimate bars and grills. There’s even a fresh Juice and Ice Cream Bar in the shade of the Alep pines – parfait for the children!
Open only from mid-April to mid-October, the five-star hotel rates are equally ‘handsome’ for accommodations ranging from standard, classique and Supérieure rooms to a private villa complete with your own butler. Gala events planned for the celebratory year include a magnificent gourmet evening with some of the world’s best sommeliers and Michelin-starred chefs.
But I have a humorous twist to this story. The postcard shown was sent to my father in Paris from a lady friend staying at the hotel in 1932. In part, her message reads, “Here I am at this wonderful place – $6.00 a day for room, bath and meals (in between seasons) … You ought to see the scanty one-piece bathing suits. Oh, I don’t know where I’ll end – the temptations are lovely and many.”
The prices surely have changed, but I rather imagine the temptations to still be … lovely and many.
At the very least, I always think of Paris as the bookends of any trip to France. Of course the City of Light offers the natural entry point to France, but Paris also is home to our dear friends and so many of our favorite haunts – my, oh my – aren’t we unique!
Don’t limit yourself though, as enjoying the countryside of France offers such diverse landscapes and adventures. If your itinerary includes a trip to the Côte d’Azur, include a fascinating visit to the Villa Grecque Kérylos on the Mediterranean. The Villa is one of the most spectacular sights along the Mediterranean between Nice and Monaco. Visitors are able to wander among gardens of olive and pine trees, oleanders and iris and enjoy panoramic views of Cap Ferrat on the Côte d’Azur.
The Library itself is one of the most imposing rooms in the Villa with a gallery that occupies one-and-a-half floors. Designed with every comfort and convenience in mind, the library faces east for maximum morning light and is furnished with oak pieces positioned around a mosaic of Prometheus and Hera and filled with authentic objects from daily life in Ancient Greece.
And as long as you are so close, don’t forget to make a little side trip to Èze, our favorite seaside village. There is nothing quite like a glass of wine overlooking the sun-washed sea!
Copyright © 2005, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved
South of Blois in the Loire Valley, the 18th-century Château de Chambord rises at the heart of over 5,000 hectares (12,000+ acres) of ancient forest. Chambord was the personal chateau and hunting sanctuary of King Francois I, and today is the largest enclosed forest park in Europe.
Our first encounter with Chambord destined our return. We attended the light show — “les clairs de lune de Chambord” — a fantasy light show production created to recall the hunting of deer and boar, fox and pheasant by guests of King Francois. We arrived shortly before sunset to stroll through the grounds surrounding the Château. Couples shared ice cream or light snacks under an outdoor arbor. Others dined on the patio of a hotel restaurant.
Wait – hotel? There is actually a quaint hotel overlooking this magnificent chateau? With little hope that it would be affordable or available for the one night we would have between gite rentals, we had to check. When we were able to book a room at a reasonable $75 rate, we felt as if the king himself had invited us to his retreat!
Prior to the show, we watched families gather on the lawn with children, couples take to rowboats to enjoy an end-of-day outing. France bestows these blessings on a public entranced by history and tradition. Chambord’s information pamphlet reinforces this gift:
“It is to the passion of Francois I for hunting, that we owe the existence of Chambord, designed both as a meeting place and a belvedere for observing the hunt.”
Alas, when we returned a few days later, Francois was not on hand to greet us. Still, we wandered the grounds and imagined the privileged guests and game hunting of 300 years past. Visitors biked and hiked through the many lanes that lace through the forest. Others gathered for the equestrian and falcon shows.
This night, we would see the light show from our dining table on the terrace. Indeed, with our exceptional bottle of local Vouvray and delicious French fare, we felt like guests of the king! When the park closed, only the hotel guests and Château staff shared this enormous sanctuary. Chambord remains a national hunting reserve and home to an abundance of wild creatures that roam free. No, we didn’t encounter a graceful stag or menacing boar, but the crisp night sky offered us millions of stars to illuminate our stay.
We’d love to hear from you!
Copyright © 2005-2017, LuxeEuro, LLC. Photo and text, all rights reserved