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Archive for September, 2012

Sunday at Château de Chambord

September 30, 2012 @ 1:01 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
The grounds of Chateau Chambord, Loire Valley france

Château de Chambord – a perfect picnic site!

Let’s take an imaginary Sunday outing to one of the most beautiful sites in France – Château de Chambord in the Loire Valley. We can pick up some savory cheese, fresh bread and a crisp, white wine and wander over by the little bridge to enjoying a mini-picnic. Then a walk – by the chapel, around the imposing castle, by the falcon show grounds, in the forest. It is such a magnificent place, and the ideal ending to the day – dinner overlooking the castle.

Wishing you a relaxing and satisfying Sunday!

Find Ideal Hotels in France!

September 29, 2012 @ 9:34 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Le Mazet dining atmosphere - magnifique!

Le Mazet dining atmosphere – magnifique!

I have long been a fan of the Relais & Chateaux collection of luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants, but I discovered another excellent resource for outstanding hotels. The variety of themes, locations and pricing options help to ease your selection process.

Actually, an article on France 24 pointed my way toward a new coffee table-style guidebook – CHC Signatures – that profiles 81 privately-owned properties that make up the Chateaux & Hotels Collection owned by the Alain Ducasse Group. Naturally the book simply whets your appetite for several themes of lodging, from culinary and ‘well-being’ to nature and urban. And in an interesting twist, each category in the book is ‘introduced’ by highly-successful business women who share their travel visions and advice.

Alain Ducasse describes the unique collection as embodying the distinct signatures of “…‘the ‘artisans-hôteliers’ that brought them to life.” The elegant book will be sold at each of the 81 featured establishments or on the website – Chateauxhotels.com.

Chateau du Martinet, near Avignon France, Provence

Elegant Chateau du Martinet near Avignon

Beyond the newly-published book, the website offers an excellent variety of lodging in the collection – from 3-star comfort to private residence-style grandeur. I think you will find their offerings diverse enough to fit all interests and holiday budgets. A couple of listings underscore the attraction and diversity of accommodations.

Set within easy reach of a charming chain of Provence villages, Les Mazets des Roches hotel combines attractive and appealing decors with a lovely garden and poolside setting. The restaurant overlooks century-old pines and soothing garden sights. Rates run from an ever-so-reasonable 69-Euro rate, and half board rates also are available. The hotel has an extended closure from mid-October to early April.

Further up the pecking order and pricing ladder is the refined CHÂTEAU DU MARTINET, former home to the Marquises of Isnards. The entire property offers the feel of a private manor house, where you discover a perfect mix of classic architecture, modern amenities and genuine comfort.

While plenty of on-site amenities entertain – swimming, tennis, bowling and botanical fitness trails, guests are within easy reach of Avignon, Mont Ventoux and Luberon. Imagine curling up in the library for a good reading session, or enjoying a long and lazy meal in the historic dining room with soaring, sculpted ceilings. Rates begin at 190 Euros for the expansive 18-th-century chateau experience and warm hospitality. The hotel’s limited closure extends from January 1 through March 31.

The Ducasse collection will be high on our list of resources for planning the next French ‘getaway’!

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@francedailyphoto.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.

Paris – Balm for the Soul

September 28, 2012 @ 1:01 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Restaurant Georges in Centre Pompidou, Paris France

Christmas at Restaurant Georges, Paris

A Parisian blog I enjoy reading is Eye Prefer Paris.  The author, Monsieur Nahem, recently profiled an accomplished art book and catalogue designer by the name of Louise Brody.  I particularly enjoyed her response to, “What do you prefer about Paris?

“I would paraphrase Johnson – ‘When one is tired of Paris one is tired of Beauty’.   I know how lucky I am to live in the most elegant city in the world, with its endless vistas of harmonious architecture and leafy avenues….Being constantly surrounded by such beauty is an eternal source of creative inspiration and a balm to the soul.”

Madame Brody’s thoughts resonate with me – the elegance, the beauty, the captivating views and the ‘balm to the soul’.  So many memories of Paris usher me through the day and tuck me in at night.  On one chilly evening toward the end of my holiday, I had a terrible cold and was feeling under the weather and a bit cranky – imagine that in Paris!  We went to an outdoor exhibit of over-sized sculptures set in place across the Pont des Arts.  And therein lies the story.  I couldn’t possibly tell you where and when I have experienced similar bouts of flu – Paris even makes misery memorable!

Jean Cocteau Exhibit Paris

Jean Cocteau Exhibit Centre Pompidou

On another evening escapade, I had stepped outside of the restaurant for fresh air (and a cigarette –shame on me!), after a rather prolonged dinner.  I stood under the building eaves in a light, spring drizzle and happened to drop a cigarette in a puddle.  A man passing by quietly said, “C’est domage” and went on about his way – a stranger uttering his thoughts in Paris.

On our “lune de miel”, my husband and I visited the Centre Pompidou on Christmas Day.  After wandering through the spectacular galleries and a fascinating Jean Cocteau exhibition, we ascended to the Restaurant Georges on Level 6 for a drink.  On that crisp winter holiday, we enjoyed overlooking the city of Paris from the modern contoured aluminum inner sanctum of the Restaurant.

A Grand Mère in the park, a little girl on a carriage ride, elders tucked in woolen caps playing a game of pétanque in the shadow of the Louvre – little moments … grand inspiration!

We’d love to hear from you!  swsheridan@francedailyphoto.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC.  All rights reserved.

“… Only One Moon in the Sky”

September 27, 2012 @ 1:01 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Meuse River in Verdun France

Today the peaceful Meuse River in Verdun

For all of the beauty, culture and charm of France; you cannot escape the dreadful impact of two World Wars. Monuments in villages are as dominant as the central chapel or church.

Farmers in eastern France still discover armaments and relics of the wars, as they prepare their land for planting. Serene-looking ponds owe their origins to the craters of war. Hundreds of military cemeteries, far larger than those villages, spread across the landscape of France from Normandy to Verdun and beyond.

I am neither maudlin nor morose, but we live in a world so fast paced; that we can easily forget the losses of the near and distant past. Though we have seen the virtual ‘seas’ of graves in Normandy, it is the photo of one soldier’s grave that reminds me of the very individual nature of loss. One son. One husband. One future doctor or farmer or architect. Not just one, but two generations so depleted.

There is a very poignant site devoted to “Zone Rouge” villages that were virtually destroyed – physically and environmentally – during World War I. The “Red Zone” in northeastern France was so contaminated with ordnances and corpses that much of post-war housing, farming and forestry were either temporarily or permanently forbidden by French Law.

Some towns were never allowed to rebuild, and “Les Villages Détruits” commemorates those 9 villages in the Verdun area of France. Villages of young men and women, playful children, elders who gathered them in for Sunday dinners. Villages of farmers and bakers, cobblers and priests. Villages that worked each day and hoped for bright futures for their generation and all of those that would follow.

Eduard Ivaldi's sole gravesite in Champagne France

A lone soldier’s grave

In Gifts from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote:“One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can only collect a few. One moon shell is more impressive than three. There is only one moon in the sky.”

Today, je souhait … I wish … to remember one soldier, one representative of the millions of soldiers and civilians who perished in the “Great Wars”. Eduard Ivaldi died in World War I. His solitary grave is tucked away near Champagne.

We’d love to hear from you! swsheridan@francedailyphoto.com

Copyright © 2005-2012, LuxeEuro, LLC. All rights reserved.