Archive for the ‘Cities’ Category
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. Read more
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.
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.
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“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.
During a delightful 3-day visit to Aix-en-Provence, we enjoyed the added benefit of the artisan craft fair, “Les Calades Provencales.” Aix is famous for its many fountains and talented favorite son Cezanne, so it’s not surprising that artisans are celebrated here.
At any moment Cours Mirabeau offers an enchanting, tree-lined boulevard; but the fair magnified the magic. Elegant hand-painted scarves danced in the breeze, while artisans warmly greeted visitors explaining their crafts, demonstrating the potter’s wheel and generally serving as welcoming ambassadors in this dynamic city.
Hand-crafted shoes and sandals, exotic jewelry, perfumes and pottery spread all along the boulevard. The cobbler followed generations of the art of shoemaking; the silk scarves were painted by hand.
After a pleasant stroll to examine the many gorgeous crafts, we stopped at one of Aix’s many canopied cafes. Ummm – delicious ham and cheese galette, a pichet of wine and a strolling guitarist made for a relaxing Aixoise experience.
We would offer a hearty thumbs up to any planning a trip to this lovely area. An easy drive from Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and the surrounding area immerse you in an enchanting landscape, exceptional architecture and abundant dining choices.
You might wander through Cezanne’s landscape and stop for dinner in Greoux-les-Bains or take in the grand Pont du Gard aqueduct; but parking yourself at a café along the boulevard provides plenty of enjoyment!
Favorite places in Paris – how does one choose! We always seem to return … again and again … to that charming petite island in the center of the Seine – Île Saint-Louis. It seems we have wandered about every square inch of the island, along the quays, through galleries and boutiques, in every sort of restaurant and café.
Our flood of memories includes our charming vacation rental overlooking the school yard, where children played happily and lined up ever so politely for snacks. Stopping for lunch at our favorite crêperie – Au Lys d’Argent, we enjoy delicious quiche and crepes with a pichet of wine, before heading across the street to the little shop that always includes a lacy leaf or other such decorative item on our purchase. Down the street, the chocolate shop whispers “visit now”, so of course we do! Again, our purchase is carefully tucked into an elegant bag.
Stepping inside of the historic and charming Saint-Louis-en-l’Île Church (dating to 1675!) offers quiet moments of reflection among the quaint rush-seated chairs under soaring ceilings. We even stopped by the church on a crisp March evening to leave a raincoat and some sweaters with the priest in the hope they would be shared with someone in need.
Walking along the river, stopping at sunset to watch the golden light fall across Paris, the island offers us such special moments and so much gratitude for the privilege of enjoying The City of Light!