Category Archives: VOYAGE

Chateau la Coste – art & architecture &…wine

As summer is kicking in (finally) it makes me think of the beautiful places we went the last couple of summers…and makes me want to go back since some are only a stone’s throw away, like le Chateau la Coste.

Chateau

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Every year my parents spend a couple of weeks in the south of France, in La Ciotat, a little seaport not far from Marseille. Besides the time at the beach we always do some trips in the close area around and one of my favorite places we’ve visited lately  was probably Chateau la Coste which we discovered two years ago thanks to my love. (Since Jean Nouvel happens to be the architect who designed the wine cuverie he knows the place and it’s owner quite well.)

La Coste is a little bijou in the Provence, close to Aix-en-Provence. It’s a wonderful mix of unique art and architecture set in this beautiful provencian landscape surrounded by good wine.

Some ten years ago the irish property developer and art collector Patrick McKillen has decided to transform his vineyard by completing it with a contemporary art center sculpture park.
He has invited numerous world-famous artists and architects and let them, inspired by this beautiful place, let their creativity run wild.
The result is a stunning encounter of Richard SERRA,  Andy GOLDSWORTHY, Louise BOURGEOIS, Tom SHANNON.. Tadao ANDO, Frank O. GEHRY and Jean NOUVEL .. to name only a few.

You start your visit at the art center designed by Tadao Ando..

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and then you continue your walk through the hills and fields of wine.. passing by a little chapel designed by Tadao Ando..

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.. a pavilion by Frank Gehry..

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…or a piece by Tom Shannon, which reflects the surrounding landscape ..

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….the wine cuverie by Jean Nouvel..

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..and so on and so on… The accumulation and density of artistic treasures is really impressive – just like their setting.

…in the end you can rest and have a bite and a drink at the café at Tadao’s art center building with a great few of the surrounding area and more art..

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..like one of the spiders by Louise Bourgeoise

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It’s really an amazing and unique place. Go and have a look if you’re en Provence. It’s evolving all the time since new pieces of art arrive every now and then.  I’m quite impatient to go back this summer.

…and we’ll probably look like this again – which was two years ago .. 🙂

 

La coste_

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A weekend in Essaouira, Marocco

The other week we took two days off, left Maxou with his grandparents and went for a long weekend to Essaouira, Morocco -as a last kidsfree vacation for probably quite a while and it was gorgeous!

It was a little bit like 3 days in paradise. In the middle of an oasis in Morocco, hot sunshine and blue sky, great food, lying at the pool, having a massage or one of  their other spoilings that our beautiful little hotel Jardin des Douars offered … perfect. The beautiful guest ksar (palace) how they call it, a little palace in traditional Moroccan style, is located in the heart of the Essaouira hills a couple of kilometres from the city. The rooms are spread all over the beautiful garden. It’s so calm and quiet and the friendliness of the people is just stunning (especially if you come right from Paris).

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We started the day with a delicious breakfast at this terrace….

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….and then either hang around the pool…

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…had a facial, massage, hammam or whatever in their beautiful spa

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..went to the city…

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Essaouira is a rather small town in the west of Morocco at the atlantic coast. Its medina, historic center,  with its little streets full of beautiful things    is a Unesco word culture heritage. The region is known for its cultivation of Argantrees -they are basically everywhere you put your eye and their oil is used it for everything. Soaps, cremes, lotions but also for preparing their dishes. All the beauty treatments at our hotel were done with it. Of course I covered myself with a few bottles 🙂 I love it, it makes your skin and hair all smooth.

 

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A beautiful place that I can highly recommend if you’re looking like us for some chill days in a beautiful, warm place to pamper yourself a little bit .)

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Weekend

MANGER

The other weekend we went out for dinner and tried this restaurant and were quite impressed: MANGER. So I wanted to recommend it if you’re in Paris looking for a nice spot for dinner or lunch.

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…in the middle of the room they have this ‘glass cage’  where they prepare all the delicieus desserts (and their cake by metre) which can be seen, admired and desired (and ordered) by everybody who walks by – very clever .)

The atmosphere is really nice, you don’t feel all squeezed like so often in Paris’ restaurants and the food (not only) looks good…

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and tastes delicious! (I had Noix Saint Jacques rôties, purée de bettraves blanches, navets, boule d’or, poires, radis – Noix Saint-Jaques on a purée of wite beets with slices of radish and pears. Hmmmmmmm)

It’s close to Bastille, in an animated district with lots of bars around. don’t forget to make a reservation.

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Have a great weekend! We’re heading to Morocco for 3 days to have a first since almost two years and last almost kidsfree (we’re still taking one-half with us .) all-relaxing weekend for probably a looong time 🙂

 

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Marokko

 

 

 

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A weekend in Cadaqués

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Last weekend we had a great (probably last) taste of summer for this year. A friend of ours was celebrating her birthday in Cadaqués, Catalonia in Spain. It’s a beautiful little town in a bay of the Costa Brava. But unlike other little bay towns that we know so well Cadaques is well hidden in the bay by the mountains that surround it which make the access not that easy and obvious. (I get sick every time we go there due to the serpentine street that leads there- but it’s worth it 🙂

Apart from being a beautiful place for spending some days in the summer it is also known as the town of Dali who had a home in a bay right next to the town.  Today it accommodates a Dali museum that you can visit.
The only B flat minor for those who love the beach: the beaches in Cadaques are little and pebbly but still beautiful and the water is crystal clear.

Our friends live in Barcelona, which is only a 2h drive from Cadaqués and often go there, like many Barcelonians, for the weekend. We’ve already spent some beautiful weekends with them but this one was quite unforgettable.
They’ve rented this gorgeous ‘mansion’ at a peninsula at only 10 minutes walk from the center of the village. You felt like in a dream every single moment. It was that harbor of peace and tranquility from where you watch the boats sail by and the rest of the world seems just so so far away…

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…and imagine there are people who actually live like that every single day!

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Merci Steph et Damien!

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Summer time

September approaches in big steps and you can smell it in the air – the end is close. The end of those warm and sunny t-shirt & short days.

We had a great summer,  like always I would say  .) Only too short, like always.

We spent some beautiful days with friends at their family country house close to Aix-en-Provence. A beautiful 200years old mansion with a big garden with a pool, magnificent old sycamore trees and a great terrace where we drank litres and litres of delicious rosé wine and ate tons of the most delicious tomatoes that came just from the neighbor’s’ garden ! Merci Nathalie & Jerôme!

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Bringoles3My men!

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Bringnoles4 Delicious – I had forgotten what tomatoes really tasted like.

And then we went off for a family vacation just the three of us, two weeks in a little house lost in the Roussillon, close to Perpignan.

LanguedocRoussillon is a beautiful region in the south of France, right at the border to Spain. It is very preserved and except for the vineyards and the fruit trees in the valley it has kept its savage landscape quite well .  A lot of green, beautiful old little villages and farms and pretty much nothing else in the countryside…

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We spent most of the time on our terrace reading, relaxing, enyoing the view..

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IMG_3017…or at the pool

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Love you so much, my little man!

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..and drinking the wine that we were gazing at during the day and again savoring our breathtaking view..

(more to come)

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Summer break Paris #2

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While the streets of Paris in August are empty as at no other time during the year the beaches are quite populated.
Since about 10 years the city of Paris organizes an event called Paris Plages during the months of July and August. One of the traffic lanes along the river Seine (la voie sur berge rive droite de la Seine) is closed and covered with tones of sand in order to create an artificial beach in the center of Paris offering various activities for young.. and ‘older’ kids.
And though I agree that it’s a nice idea for all those who (have to) stay in Paris during vacation time I must admit that I’m not a big fan of the beach along the Seine. I don’t know why.. maybe because the city is too palpable (it’s still the center of Paris)

But this year we made a nice discovery while taking a walk at the bassin de la Villette in the 19th arrondissement. There is another part of Paris Plages, less known as less central and therefore much more charming and pleasant, to my eyes.
And even though Maxou is still too small to enjoy any of the activities we always have a good time only watching the others…

pedal..

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BMXing..

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..struggle on water (my personal favorite! Looks so much fun)

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..get wet and cool off

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.. dance (or learn how to do so 🙂

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..play pétanque (of course!)

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..or just built some castles and chill on the beach

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.. and lots of other stuff. So if you’re in Paris during summer (with kids or without) it’s a cool place to pass a pleasant afternoon ‘away’ from the city. (until the 18th of August)

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30 beautifully abandoned places

Probably 30 (of) the most abandoned places in the world – that look truly beautiful- though also kind of scary, some at least. Especially n°29, the hotel in Colombia – just like the haunted house, right? Or that sunken yacht..

I think these three are my favorites, though they all look amazing! Right?

Kolmanskop, Namib desert

abandoned places

via photography.nationalgeographic.com

Craco, Italy

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via reddit.com

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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via theglobalpanorama.com

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Of palm-shaped windows and other…

The other weekend we went to Barcelona to visit friends of ours and for the inauguration of the new Renaissance Barcelona Fira Hotel by Jean Nouvel (AJN). Em collaborated on it – which is mainly why we went. And it was great!

The hotel is amazing, even though the position is not very fabulous, it’s practical though since it’s close to the airport.
Just staying in the hotel was already like a journey apart. It’s all about palm trees in all its shapes, colours, shadows, light effects..

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The windows have the shape of a palm tree

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the lights in the rooms cast motives of palm leaves and the corridors and stairways are a big jungle.
The hotel is actually composed two towers with a huge vertical atrium-garden in the middle with plants and palms on every floor

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– definitely not something for people with fear of heights as you feel the hight as soon as you leave your room, when you take one of the panoramic elevators or even just and especially when you take the stairs. But the views are definitely worth it!
There is a great restaurant in the middle where you sit surrounded by palm trees ad enjoy the view . The best view though you enjoy of course on the top, on the roof terrace with its nice pool,  sipping a yummy cocktail 😉

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One of my favorites is probably the fact that as soon as you leave your room you’re outside – you’re not in a dark or narrow corridor but see the sun, the sky, feel the air – and all the plants make it really seem like being in a vertical garden. And for a little more you take the suite with a nice little private terrace with palm trees and a jacuzzi 🙂

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It is quite tempting, right? I definitely recommend it for those who like it a bit different!

And then, sunny Barcelona, you’re always worth a visit!

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Places to go: Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve in Alaska

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NYTimes Roy Wood

Breathtaking! In the category of places to go this one is definitely on the top of the list. This article by Christopher Solomon in the NY times the other day gave me une nostalgie du voyage.. far far away.
Due to its remote location and difficult weather Aniakchak is one of the least visited national parks. 19 visitors last year! Compared to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with almost 9.7 million it makes this place quite a deserted island. The Preserve is situated on the Alaska Peninsula which makes it not accessible by road but only by floatplane or by boat.
Considering vacation (and I’m not talking about weekend trips to foreign cities) you can call us loners. The more isolated the home we rent the happier we are.
There is something about those lonely places. Certainly nature alone makes it a magnificent spot already but I think, the loneliness, the void of humans accounts a lot for its beauty. And then, it’s like Solomon says, we -or at least some of us, need this remoteness from time to time to ‘zoom out’ – how I like to call it.. to emerge our tangled life with all its bits and pieces and see the WHOLE, the whole from a different perspective.

“..We need this kind of remoteness more than ever. Today we brush elbows on a crowded planet. We fight traffic. We hunker in offices. We marinate in what the late David Foster Wallace called Total Noise. Maybe for you, too, this modern life overwhelms. If you’re like me, only getting far away from all that allows you to shake off the dross. Out there, the world shrinks until all that remains are “the rock-bottom facts of axe and wood and fire and frying pans,” as John Graves wrote. …
We spend our days trying to be big. In the middle of nowhere, though, we can surrender to smallness again and instead find where we fit in the landscape. Out there, where there’s nothing, is where there’s the most to learn.”

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Apulia..and a trullo

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Summer is approaching in big steps -even though it’s only on the calendar. There was snow coming down in Paris today! -only a little tiny bit, but I’m positive, it was snow! So even spring seems so far away. Which is even more a reason to think of summer actually.
So while we’re brainstorming for some ideas for this upcoming summer, my mind often spins back to our last summer vacation – in Apulia, Italy. Magnificent!

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Do you know what is a Trullo? Eh ben, that’s the reason why we went to Apulia, a region in southern Italy, in the “heel of the boot”.
We adored the idea of spending the summer in one of those traditional cottages built out of stone with a conical roof. Generally the trulli were constructed as temporary field shelters and storehouses. Thanks to their very thick stonewalls trulli provide great protection against the apulian heat in the summer. And Apulia is the region in Italy where you can find plenty of those traditional dry stone huts, most of them renovated very neatly nowadays…they give perfect holiday houses. You can even find some real luxury trulli (http://www.villapuglia.com/ if you want to see some)
When we go on vacation we usually tend to rent a house and avoid hotels. It’s just so much more comfortable to take breakfast in your PJs,..or in your bikini sitting on your terrasse in the sunshine not bothering about anybody else..at a time you want. I just can’t be bothered with hotels for longer than a weekend. (And especially now with a baby.)
So we found this beautiful trullo in the middle of a huge olive tree garden that came along with it, close to Ostuni, magnifique.

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Ostuni itself is one of those beautiful old italian cities, built on a hill not far from the sea.

It was heaven on earth. The only thing that was missing was the pool. But than again, you can’t have it all, right? As Maxou was only 3 months old we didn’t really go to the beach but spent most of the time in one of the hammocks between the olive trees enjoying the sun, delicious italian food and.. farniente. For those without babies, Apulia has also beautiful beaches .)

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Pictures of ‘our’ trullo, the garden and the view from the roof (and Maxou  & me in the hammock)

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