Posts Tagged With: travel France

 
 

Lessons from water: From Geneva to Annecy

Be fluid. Be adaptable. Flow around obstacles, ever so gently. Yet remember that you also have all the might of the stormy oceans within you, a strength that can swallow ships whole, a power that just needs to be acknowledged and, if necessary, liberated. The power to break-a-way, to follow your very own path, be it without, or indeed, within.


The storm from the night before is still casting its shadows, the waves on crystal-clear Lake Geneva are testimony to this. I feel the strong winds whipping against my face and almost blowing my purple beanie away. I hold on tighter to my beanie and myself, standing strong like a tree amidst the currents that swirl all around me, my gaze fixated on the crescent-shaped lake. It´s still so tumultuous out there that even the famous Jet D´Eau fountain, one of the city’s most famous landmarks, does not grace onlookers with its spectacle.



Morning musings in diplomatic surroundings


Lake Geneva, also known as Lac Léman, offers a pure pleasure paradise view: the majestic lake shared between France and Switzerland lures my thoughts away from the mundane and towards the transcendent with its unbelievably pristine waters and the Alps visible in the distance. The diplomatic hub Geneva´s watery playground gives me a tiny glimpse of the magnificence that I´ll be privileged to witness later in the day.


This day would be all about the holiest of live´s building blocks, the component that makes up up to 60 per cent of our bodies, the essence of life that nourishes us, cleanses us, and beckons us to immerse ourselves in it to refresh and purify ourselves and start afresh…


After admiring Lake Geneva and soaking up the interesting, kinda stern atmosphere of the diplomatic hub´s city center and the cobbled old town (I somehow can´t help but feel a vibe of “Don´t mess with me or I´ll haunt you with a massive paper trail”), it´s time for a stroll and a quick lunch. Fortunately, we stumble upon a perfect little eatery with healthy and delicious meals called Qibi which provides us with more than enough fuel to do a little window shopping and marvel at some sights.



Heading to a place of French watery magic


We had also eyed off visiting major sights like the Temple de St-Pierre (cathedral of St. Pierre) or the Palais de Nations (United Nations headquarters, a center of world diplomacy). Somehow, though, we feel a stronger pull towards our new destination – I had just recently learned about Annecy in a travel guide book on France, and the sound of it had sounded too darn magnifique to be true! While the mesmerizing Swiss-French landscapes with their imposing mountains irradiated an undeniable power that could be witnessed through the car window, my thoughts seemed to merge with the promise of the upcoming travel chapter. Again and again, some long-ago read quotes on the magic of water crossed my mind:


“In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans.” — Kahlil Gibran

“The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” — Isak Dinesen

“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” — Lao Tzu


Why is it that we tend to long so passionately for the ocean, the lakes, the rivers of the world? Is it because it´s where we can reunite with the essence of our true home, where we can wash off the density and stagnation of the world and become one again with our innocent, radiant, and eternal selves? Might places of water offer us ways to make our light shine again and sparkle with a renewed hope of trust and faith?


Falling in awe in Annecy


Be it as it may, Annecy would, in any case, bring me closer to the awe and reverence towards life that radiant natural settings ignite. After dropping our luggage at the hotel and having a little nap, we made our way down towards the primordial reason for our detour. So there we were, unsuspectingly driving through a cute French city and suddenly… an INCREDIBLE panoramic view appeared on the horizon. Was I excited? You bet I was – I was freaking spell-bound!! Completely enthralled, just like in-the-first-throes-of-romantic-love, or when just about to open your favorite package of snacks. I mean, snacks!!



Anyways, back to the bluer-than-blue, any-painter-would-die-to-stand-in- front- of- this- view. Picture the Caribbean ocean, just casually set in the middle of a French town, and surrounded by the commanding Alps. Pretty darn cool, hey? By the way, Annecy is just a one-hour drive away from Montblanc, at 4810 meters the second-highest mountain in the whole of gorgeous Europe. So yeah, that type of Class A mountain excellence was dotted all around Lac Annecy, creating a sublime contrast of rock and strength to the clear waters of le lac (the lake).


Exploring le lac: From urban beaches to aviaries


Once we had arrived at our destination, we started leisurely meandering along its shore and taking in the indescribable beauty of the place. Lake Annecy, which for any curious geography-nerds out there, is located in the Haute-Savoie region of France, is fed by mountain springs and known for its clean water, which we got to marvel at for hours. After a while, our stomachs started to object to endless walks with no French food supply. There seemed to be something of a French siesta thing going on, though, as all the restaurants we headed to were closed for the early afternoon. What´s a hungry girl to do? Raid the nearest supermarket, of course!



So off we went to a charming little supermarche where we got to indulge in buying some excellent local produce and more. Did I mention that in France, EVERYTHING tastes delightful, bursts with flavors, and feels like a soft embrace of your tastebuds? Yes, every single item we tasted soon afterward on our impromptu-picnic tasted “formidable” (fantastic), and that included packaged supermarket-salads! Go figure. French Savoir Vivre in action, right?



Btw, there are a few cute urban beaches and many more things to discover around the lake, such as lovely pleasure boat rides in summer. Inviting waterfront restaurants and wine bars offer lake views, the scent of fresh mountain spring water, and relaxed dining. At its north end, Annecy has a cute medieval old town with canals and bridges called “Annecy-Le-Vieux” – the perfect spot to end our excursion for the day.



Lovely people, stay tuned for my next post, which will be VERY different to anything shared so far on A Gypsy at Heart. I am super-excited to be kicking off a whole new side to sharing for you – think fun, excitement, guests, and more! Will you join me?


Back to you, dear reader: What is your favorite watery destination and why? How exactly does that place make you feel? As always, I would love to hear from you:) Stay well, wild, and curious.


Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , | 27 Comments

Decoding Saint-Remy-de-Provence´s magnetism

Saint-Remy- de-Provence… some words need to be savored, softly spoken out loud and pronounced gently to explore their special brand of magic. Let the syllables tenderly roll from your tongue, and you might start to get a feel for the allures of this vibrant little town that has been enticing artists, world-citizens, and bon-vivants for centuries.

Saint-Remy: A Provencale town like no other

Located at the foot of the Alpilles National Park mountain range,  Saint Remy offers the kind of soul-healing glory that only 300 days of sunshine per year can convey. It seduces its visitors’ palates with dozens of restaurants offering exquisite cuisine based on local products, and surprises them with quirky art offerings and quaint art galleries located throughout the narrow streets of the historic center. St Remy is truly the poster child for that unfathomable, typical Provencal je-ne-sais-quoi country town-charm.

Throughout the centuries, famous faces have been drawn to St. Remy like sexy bees to live-giving honey, and notable stars like Nobel prize winner Albert Schweitzer, who was interned here in 1918, have graced the French country town par excellence with their presence. Marie Gasquet, Provencale novelist and queen of the Felibrige, a literary and cultural association created to defend and promote the Provencal/ Occitane language and literature, was born here. Also, ethereal princess Caroline de Monaco chose St. Remy as a refuge for herself and her children after the tragic passing of her second husband Stefano Casiraghi.

The charms of the Provencal countryside even managed to entrap some talented musicians lately –  pretty hardcore fellows if you ask me, who would almost certainly never cross your mind when thinking of this laid-back location. Any guesses? Alright, alright, I´ll spill the beans: Only this year, world-renowned Heavy-Metal-Band Rammstein picked St. Remy as their studio-location to record their latest album here. They might be cuddlier than their tough exterior leads on, after all!

A treat for art-lovers: Follow in Van-Goghs´footsteps

St. Remy´s magnetism does not only work its magic on expressive heavy-metal-men, though. Simply make up your own mind while strolling along the picturesque boulevards under the shade of the ancient plane trees, feeling the mistral-wind blowing against the side of your face and the warmth of the sun on your skin. By the way (pun intended), have you spotted any Van-Gogh-route-stops yet?

These stops are hard to miss, really! At several places in and around town, the signposts make reference to places that super-famous ear-cutter and inspired artist Vincent Van Gogh frequented while in town. The Dutch expressionist spent a year at the psychiatric hospital of St.Paul-de-Mausole in 1889. He created many of his most acclaimed works there, and he also found inspiration among the town´s beautiful olive gardens and cypresses, in the rugged Alpilles mountains and smack in the middle of the village.

A treat for lovers of the otherwordly: Pass by Nostradamus´birthhouse

Another hot spot, in this case for history lovers and astrology-aficionados, has to be Nostradamus´(Dec 14th, 1503- July 2nd, 1566) birthplace. I have to confess: I got really, really excited about this one! The house really doesn´t look like much, but knowing that those walls housed legendary seer, doctor and astrologer Michel de Nostredame was enough for me to feel kinda awe-struck. While the walls didn´t give away too many secrets, my imagination wandered off to construe how the life of this extraordinary being must have looked and felt like.


Like many doctors in medieval times, Nostradamus was a trained astrologer who incorporated astrology into the healing arts in order to aid in diagnosis, prognosis and even treatment. He worked mostly with the plague-stricken and published yearly almanacs – our friend Wikipedia clarifies that this is an annual calendar containing important dates and statistical information such as astronomical data and tide tables.

The latter propelled his rise to fame during his lifetime, and his much-referred to prophecies only furthered his popularity. He managed to become a household-name for more than 450 years! Michel definitely outdid his 17 (!!!) siblings there! Curious abut what the big deal regarding his supposed psychic powers is? Take a peek here and be prepared to be dazzled.

A treat for everyone: French restaurants to revere

If you feel peckish after that much history, you´ll be spoilt for choice when in Saint-Remy-de-Provence! For a delicious French meal-experience, head to “Toute Epoque”, a typical French restaurant which offers fixed menus in the evenings. Alternatively, enjoy yummy buckwheat or dessert crepes and refreshing house cider at the charming little restaurant “La Celtie”. Or just let yourself be drawn into one of the many other lovely eateries in this quintessential French town.

What about you, dear reader? Have you ever been to Southern France? And if not, do you feel drawn to visit a particular place, town or area there? As always, I would love to hear from you!

Handy information part:

  • Where is this town? Saint Remy de Provence is located about 20 km south of Avignon and just north of the gorgeous Alpilles mountain range. It´s easily accessible by the TGV (France´s high-speed-train), with the train station  20 km away from town. The closest airports are situated in papal-palace-place Avignon, noisy yet noble Nimes and messy, marvelous Marseille.
  • To find the Van-Gogh-route stops, simply stroll along town or go prepared by checking out the according website here.
  • Nostradamous birthplace is located on Rue Hoche 6, Saint Remy de Provence, Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France. As far as I know, you can´t head inside – still fun to marvel at the famous seer´s provenance!
  • For mouthwatering French cuisine, try the Toute Epoque restaurant, located on 21 Place de la Republique, 13210 Saint-Remy-de-Provence, or cozy La Celtie at 9 rue du 8 Mai 1945, 13210 Saint-Remy-de-Provence.

Categories: Posts in English, Reiselust- Hungry for travel, Reisen | Tags: , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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