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Posts Tagged ‘my rhone-alpes’

Once Upon a Time in the Chateau de Montmelas

Once upon a time there was a fairy princess who lived in a castle high up on a hilltop overlooking plains and mountains and vineyards. She wore a long burgundy gown made of satin, with billowing sleeves, her brown hair cascading down her back and a long, magic cape. Well, almost. She does live in…

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Lou Pisadou: How Some French Traditions Aren’t Old at All

When I think of French tradition, I usually think of something ancient, quaint, inherited from past generations. But a tradition that only dates back to 1994? Impossible. Yet that’s exactly what happened with Lou Pisadou, a sweet chestnut cake that is now the pride of patissiers all over the Ardèche, that mountainous province of south-central…

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Villa Aimée, Vals-les-Bains (Ardèche, France)

There’s nothing like a private en suite jacuzzi to make you fall in love with a bathroom. At the Villa Aimée in the French spa town of Vals-les-Bains, it was love at first sight. Vals-les-Bains is a small town in the Ardèche, in the heart of a hilly regional park. It’s wild and rugged and has a…

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Belle Epoque Evian: Has It Really Changed?

For those of us who are drawn to nostalgia and enjoy imagining life in the past, a visit to Belle Epoque Evian is the perfect antidote to high-tech, fast cars and the pace of modern life. Here and there, you might almost feel you’ve escaped the 21st century. The Belle Epoque is that heady, happy…

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Les Cygnes, Evian (France)

There’s an evocative phrase in French – les pieds dans l’eau. It means literally ‘feet in the water’ and is used to describe a property or place that is right up along the shore. The Hotel Les Cygnes, in the renowned resort of Evian on Lake Geneva, has its pieds dans l’eau. You can’t get…

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Loire 42: Three Hidden Gems of the 'Other Loire'

You could be forgiven for not knowing the Loire 42, the irresistible home to some of the loveliest villages you’ll find in France. They’ve just hidden it well so you’ll have to earn your visit. I’ll give you a clue: it’s south of Burgundy, and barely an hour from Lyon. I don’t live far from…

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Lake Geneva Fera, or the Fish With No (English) Name

It’s called féra in France and lavaret in Switzerland, which vaguely translates into whitefish. But in English? No idea, so here’s what it looks like. On the French shore (the lake is two-thirds Swiss, one-third French) of Lake Geneva féra, along with perch and trout, are mainstays, providing a livelihood to the 48 professional fishermen who still…

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The Best Bottled Water? Just Ask a Water Taster

I’ve been busy tasting the water equivalent of grand crus (the highest wine classification). I’m not a drinker so I miss out on the perpetual wine tastings my friends enjoy – pouring the liquid gently, swirling it in a glass, checking the film on top, smelling it, examining its clarity and transparency, running it across…

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Two Artists of Montbrison, France

“A piece of jewelry is the most useless thing.” These surprising words come from master jeweler and artist Philippe Tournaire. They’re highly unexpected from someone who makes an excellent living from precious metals and gems. He presses the point, not giving up. “Think about it. Jewelry provides no heat, no protection, it’s expensive… What it…

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Four Irresistible Museums of the Loire

One of the things I love about France is its tradition of unusual museums; just down my own road is a cow museum and a bell museum. On a recent visit to the Loire (not the Loire of chateaux but a different, hidden, green Loire, the Loire département) I found four offbeat museums that might provide…

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