Provençal Hospitality at La Maison de Françoise.

While we were in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, we stayed at a very lovely B & B, La Maison de Françoise.   It is operated by husband and wife, Bruno and Françoise.   It is rare that I do a post exclusively on a hotel room, but this was a special place.

We really enjoyed the grounds of their estate.  Everything was thoughtfully done, from the gardens to the sitting rooms.

It was lovely chatting with the couple.

Lovely grounds of La Maison de Francoise

The pool…notice how all in Provence must be above ground due to the craggy rock soil?

Conversation areas

Our little room was on the top floor of this farmhouse

Our doorway

Rapunzel…let your hair down. Just kidding, he was upstairs working and I was beckoning him.

Breakfast was

Breakfast was coffee, fresh squeezed juice, and a basket of Provençal pastries and breads with confiture.

We’d certainly recommend this gem for your next trip to Provence.

La Maison de Françoise

60 avenue Albert Schweitzer

13210 Saint Rémy de Provence – France

Tél : 33(0)4.90.24.92.66

http://lamaisondefrancoise.com/presentation-anglais.htm

Gratitude Friday: Lots of Profits

In physical therapy this week, my physio asked if I was going to the pool or beach that evening.  I replied I had lots to do.  Ironing.  Laundry.  Grocery shopping. Some marketing work.  To which he responded, “Il fait beau…profitez!”

The verb profiter in French sounds like it would mean profit.  My American perception immediately associated it with money / business.   However, the French tend to use it like “Enjoy” “Benefit” or “Thrive”.   Which is in fact, a better definition of a profit.

I love crossing things off my to-do list.  So doing things spontaneously can be challenging.  But, I was inspired and started thinking about where’d I’d go jump in the lake.

Unfortunately, the stormy skies rolled in which prevented a dip that night.   However, I took his advice to heart and decided I would profiter that week.    At the women’s club welcome coffee on Wednesday, I announced I’d like to see the sunflowers up close.  We had gotten a glimpse of them on the train to Montreux. Miles of them. And they looked marvelous to behold up-close.   A friend replied, “Ooo. I have wanted to do that as well.  I’ll drive”.   And that was that.   We were set to profiter of this glorious Geneva summer.

We set off at 7:30 from Geneva armed with my iPhone map but no real plan.  We had asked around to find the best place for sunflowers but our initial recommendation for Collonge Bellerive didn’t yield any yellow quite yet.   In driving out to Jussy though, we were overwhelmed with beautiful fields, dozens and dozens.  The best was across the street from Château du Crest, a winery we’ve been too a few times.   We tried to head back to Geneva twice but got deviated by even better fields & vantage points.

Here is evidence of our profiting :

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So, I ask you….how do you plan to profiter this week-end?    Bon weekend, everyone!

*If you decide to go take photos of any sunflowers or any crop, it is wise to wear long pants.  Just take it from me.  My legs didn’t profit too much after traipsing through the fields 🙂

More Summer Fun at Montreux Jazz Fest

We went to Montreux this weekend for the 46th annual Montreux Jazz Festival.  Even though I had taken Twin & Solid while they were here, I still wanted to go back.  This marks my fourth time and Gabe’s 3rd time going to the festival.

A round trip train ticket from Geneva costs 25 CHF each for us to go, but it is a fun summer activity.

A very pleasant ride from Geneva – an hour total and 25 CHF with your half fare card and 10% SBB discount for attending the JazzFest (no ticket required).

Everyone thinks we are weird that we don’t buy tickets for the shows.  My physio gave me a very quizzical look.   But, the free music is lovely.   You just simply show up to the park, find a spot and listen to your heart’s content.  The shows start about 3:30 on weekdays and 2:00 on the weekend and play back-to-back with 1/2 hour or hour breaks in between.

Taking in the scene, listening to a South African band.

Pants optional. Dogs are allowed. As demonstrated by this gentleman.  To his credit, the lake is right there.

 

If you feel like walking around, there is plenty to see and do.  There are a ton of vendors selling handcrafted goods.

Also the food is pretty yummy.  Gabe and I justify our expenditure on 25 CHF train tickets + festival food = cheaper than a low end restaurant in Geneva.

Image courtesy of Henry Birmingham from last year. The paella guys were back again this year.

 

Some people wander to the end of the festival to enjoy the swimming.  This is one of my favorite docks.

Lovely dock on Lake Geneva – Montreux.

This year, you could watch the gliders come in and try to land on the orange pad.

Coming in for landing….

 

Approaching…

Boom!

Freddie Mercury even enjoyed watching them a time or two.

Freddie Mercury tribute statue in Montreux.

The festival runs until this Sunday, July 15th – I’d encourage you to check it out!

The Little Train That Could….Drink Wine.

We love the Lavaux region.   The wine terraces are magical.   Twin had read my blog before their visit and had really wanted to stop in because of our rave reviews.

There are many options for seeing Lavaux.    If you have a car, you can drive through leisurely.   I do warn you that it is difficult.  S may have accidentally driven on a wine road not meant for cars.   Gabe found it challenging when we drove from Chexbres down to Rivaz with Couch Surfer.

You can also take a train.  I knew of two tasting spots accessible by train.  One is Vinorama nearby the Rivaz stop (bottom of the hill).  It has a lovely tasting room featuring hundreds of Lavaux wines and also a really well-done video which gives you more information about the UNESCO World Heritage Site.   The other is called Le Deck.  We haven’t been there but A & A raved about the magnificent terrace.   You can reach it by car, or by train via Vevey at the Chexbres-Village stop (top of the hill).

You can also hike the region.  The women’s club hosts a magnificent hike every fall during harvest.   I did it and enjoyed it, but it was 5 hours from St. Saphorin to Lutry, which is a little challenging for me.  You can design your own hikes by researching distance and picking a starting and stopping train station.

Lastly, I had recently heard about the Lavaux Express touristic train.   Before E-dawg came, I had listed it as an option since my feet were still recovering and I can’t drive our car, Frau Hilda.   However, we ran out of time.   I had honestly forgotten about it until I read Swiss Wife’s blog and saw her pictures.

So, Twin, Solid and I decided to try it out.   The little train schedule can be found online.   It only goes at certain times and actually on differing days it switches between Lutry and Cully.   Since we did it on a Wednesday, we left from Lutry, which was adorable in itself.

Port at little town of Lutry

Driving through Lutry’s cute streets on the Lavaux Express

Starting our ascent

The terraces are what Lavaux is known for

Rolling vineyards into Lake Geneva

The Swiss Wife had warned us that the daytime trains didn’t serve wine.  There is a 6:30pm weekend one that includes a taste, but we were going during the week.  So, we were prepared so that we wouldn’t be disappointed.

However, surprise, surprise….halfway through, the driver pulled off and their was a little hut with a lady offering tastes for 3 CHF.  So, we decided to partake.

Twin tasting Lavaux Pinot Noir

Solid exploring the vineyards with his glass of wine

The train was 13 CHF for adults.  We considered it a great value in order to get to see the vineyards without a car (and if you aren’t up for hiking super steep terrain).

Related Links:

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Lavaux Wine Tasting

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Gratitude Friday: My French teacher.

Swiss Wife Style:  All Aboard The Lavaux Express

Schwingen In Switzerland:  Stopping at Lavaux

Schwingen In Switzerland:  St. Saphorin

Schwingen In Switzerland:  Lavaux

Clouds Don’t Ruin The Golden Pass

When E-dawg was here, it rained a lot.   I tried to brainstorm ideas for activities in the clouds and rain and one we considered was a scenic train.    However, I wasn’t sure how this would be.    On one hand, you don’t have to get wet at all in order to see the magnificent Swiss countryside.    On the other hand, would the rain ruin the view & visibility?

I Googled it, but didn’t get much information.  Luckily, when we took the Golden Pass, the sun came out for E-dawg and I.   Unfortunately, I never found out the answer.

Twin & Solid knew they wanted to take a scenic train, so I recommended we take The Golden Pass back from Lauterbrunnen, since Gabe had to return earlier to Geneva to get back to work.   That way, we could take our time going back and stop in towns that looked intriguing.   However, the forecast was dreary.   Rain was predicted in every town we were to pass through.   The scenic trains aren’t cheap, so  I posed it as an option to them that we could all ride back with Gabe if they preferred.  The downside would be a 5am departure to go back in the car with him vs. a relaxing and leisurely wake-up.

They decided to roll the dice on the weather.   And, remarkably, we had a great day.   So, for those traveling on Golden Pass, worried about the weather, I’d recommend you just go for it.

Here is a recap of our journey, starting from Lauterbrunnen–>Interlacken Ost–>Spiez–>Zweissimen–>Montreux–>Geneva:

Lauterbrunnen valley. Not promising.

Thunersee….still ominous

Solid admiring the view after Zweisimen

Twin checking out the view before our stop in Château D’Oex

Clouds over Lake Geneva, but still pretty

Wow.  The cloud cover showcases varying blues in Lake Geneva.   Maybe the clouds were a good thing after all?

The overcast Golden Pass train ended up being one of our guest’s favorite days.

 

Related Links:

The Swiss Watch Blog:   Alpine Views in Zweissimen & Chateau D’Oex

The Swiss Watch Blog:   The Golden Pass

The Swiss Watch Blog:  A Springtime ride on the Glacier Express

The Swiss Watch Blog:   All Aboard the Glacier Express

Schwingen In Switzerland:  A Gorge-ous Panoramic Train Ride

Natural Beauty in the Bernese Oberland

Bernese Oberland is a region surrounding Switzerland’s capital, Bern.   It is a large region, and in my personal opinion, contains some of Switzerland’s most beautiful landscapes.   Although, I’ll admit, its hard to find parts of Switzerland that aren’t breathtaking.

As we were driving, we pulled over to find this valley.

Approaching Interlacken on the way from Luzern

One of my new favorite Swiss photos.

Loving the beauty of Bernese Oberland

It was a great warm-up view for us as we continued on through Interlacken, and into the Lauterbrunnen Valley to park our car.   From there, we took a little train up to Wengen, where we planned to spend the night at 1400m.

Lauterbrunnen Valley and its waterfall

Wengen, like other car-free towns we stayed in…. Saas-Fee, Zermatt, and Murren, was peaceful without the roar of motors.   A ten minute walk had us at Hotel Edelweiss.   The little chalet was family run and we couldn’t have felt more welcome.  A very pleasant gentleman personally walked us to our rooms to make sure all was okay.

Hotel Edelweiss in Wengen – we’d highly recommend it

After checking in, Mom ran into a lady whose job it was to prepare fresh bouquets for the hotel.   She had gathered Edelweiss as well as some florals from her personal garden to prepare the tables for the evening dinner service and the next day’s breakfast.   It’s all about the personal touch, isn’t it?

View from our balcony at Hotel Edelweiss

While relaxing on our terrace, Gabe & I did some quick research into what to do in Wengen.   We found a few spots that were well recommended and then headed to meet Twin & Solid.

Checking out the view

Our second trip to Bernese Oberland. Last time was in the distant mountain, in Murren.

Twin and Solid on their first Bernese adventure

The first recommendation, Hotel Caprice, didn’t disappoint.  We enjoyed beers and wine with this view in the background:

Drinks on the terrace at Hotel Caprice

After a few rounds, we headed to Hotel Bernerhof for some traditional Bernese fare.  Gabe and I ordered raclette so that they could get a taste.   Twin ordered veal sausage & rosti, another famous mountain dish.  Solid went with spaghetti.   The waiter was super hard working guy, running the entire place single-handedly.   We really enjoyed our meal there.

We are convinced that the folks in Wengen are some of the nicest we’ve met.

Who couldn’t enjoy life with a view like this?

Dusk falls on Jungfrau

Related Posts:

The Swiss Watch Blog:   Gratitude Friday:  Travel  (our adventures in Murren with T)

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Rostigraben

The Swiss Watch Blog:  Famous Swiss Foods – Cheese

Luzern: Switzerland’s Loveliest City

We hadn’t been to Luzern yet, but have had it on our list the entire time we’ve lived in Switzerland.   I almost got to go for Carnival with my girlfriends but when my surgery got moved to an earlier date, it fell through.

However, I knew I’d get a chance to reschedule a visit when Twin was to visit.   Because my mom loves flowers, I knew she’d goo-goo- gaga over the lovely flower bridge in Luzern. I was right.

First glimpse of the wooden flower bridge

Checking out the bridge

Historical stories than pan the entire bridge

Exploring the waterfront of Luzern

After walking around awhile, we settled at Rathaus Brauerei

Rathaus Brauerei

Solid & Gabe had local beers and Twin & I had some local red wine.   We got seats right on the water so ended up staying for awhile and ordering traditional Swiss German dishes – bratwursts, pretzels, frites, and some filet de perche since we were on the water. After dinner, we took a stroll through old town.

Lovely waterfront

Clock tower

Old town – beautiful squares and buildings

Loved the detail on some of the buildings….quintessential Swiss

My map showed a cool view if we ascended so we kept going.

The old city ramparts

Panoramic view of Luzern from the ramparts

After walking the ramparts, we descended to the other old bridge.

The old bridge

The water flow in the river was so powerful.  The poor swans had to work hard not to be swept away!

We learned that Luzern has to control the water flow to keep nearby lakefront towns from flooding.  In the Spring, as alpine melt rushes the lake, they must really take heed of the flow.  As summer progresses, the control can be tweaked to keep lake levels up.

Checking out the river / dam system that Luzern uses to control Alpine water flow

The next day we set a meet-up time of 1pm, so everyone could have free time.    Twin & Solid visited The Lion Monument dedicated to the Swiss mercenaries protecting the French king.

Luzern Lion Monument – Image courtesy of Walkaboutphil.com

Gabe & I opted for a old-fashioned Lake Lucerne cruise to fill our morning.

Boat ride around Luzern’s lakes

Boats on Luzern’s beautiful lakes

Sailboats on the lake

We left for Interlacken very content from our awesome experience in this lovely Swiss city.

Swiss Sports: Tobogganing

On our Neuchâtel fun day, we drove through La Vue des Alpes on the way home for what else but the view of the Alps.

The view wasn’t bad:

Forests, lakes and Alps. The average view in Switzerland 🙂

As we walked back to the car, we saw a chute underneath where we were standing….the place offered tobogganing!

The three bravest members of our fivesome decided to try it out.    The other two of us decided to partake in another Swiss sport: regional wine drinking.

T and I enjoying the Neuchâtel white….

When they passed, we left our perch to watch.

What goes up…..

……must…..

come down!!!!

They really enjoyed their adventure sports and joined us for a glass after they finished.  The warm sunshine and views of the Alps were quite nice.

The big find of the stop for me was a little farmer stand in the parking lot.   I adore buying things from local places.   I bought a pack of copa, a type of meat that was Gabe’s favorite delicacy from our trip to Italy.  It all has to be eaten in one sitting so think we’ll save that for when we have special visitors this month!

Gratitude Friday: My Time Capsule

When we were in elementary school, we sometimes made time capsules.  The concept was that one would fill a box with things of that era, bury it, so that in the future, someone would know find it and know what life was like back then.   In 6th grade, I think we filled ours with Milly Vanilli cassettes, slap bracelets, and the like.

I was visiting my Mom in Virginia this week and happened to find a special time capsule.

She’s had all my father’s memorabilia packed into the basement since his passing.  I remember as a child a really neat scrapbook she’d made him after they got married. She took all his souvenirs and keepsakes from his summer in Europe and made a book to tell the story.  Anyhow, I have been looking for it for at least the past five years and every trip down to the basement, I haven’t found it.

It became more important to me now we live in Europe.  I wanted to line up our travels and compare sites.

I always loved this photo and wanted to know the history. Anyone know what city this could have been? Amsterdam?

And this leads us to this Friday’s gratitude post…. this trip, I attempted again and voila, they were found.  Actually in the spot they should have been.  Not sure how I overlooked these totes each time.

I wanted to share some of what I found:

Dachau brochures

Was a book from Sweeden

The Berlin wall would only have been 5 years old when he visited in 1966

Loved the 5 franc piece

They had “crashed” a party of Princess Grace and Prince Rainer while traveling through Monaco. They even took a napkin and menu as a little souvenir. My grandparents saved the article from The States about the party.

Their road map with stops circled

Mugs from Haufbrau House

Coasters from all over Europe

We’d seen this rainbow the night before setting over the house.  I’m grateful for the spot of luck in brought me in my search!

 Not sure what my plans are for the items. They’ll stay in Virginia I think until we are back in The States.  Then maybe the coasters can become a glass topped table, and we’ll surely have to display the HB house things in our future home.

Bon weekend, everyone!

Adding a new color to the Spring palette….

We first noticed the yellow fields when Couch Surfer was here, on our drive to the Chocolate Factory.  We aren’t used to field being this vibrant!    They have been a big point of discussion this Spring.    So, what exactly is it?

The first thing I was told was Canola.  Then I was informed it wasn’t canola but grape seed.  Finally, I was told it was a type of green for salads.   I think that S solved it by meeting a farmer and concluded it was actually “rape seed”.

Whatever it is, I sure can tell you it is miraculous to see:

A patchwork of yellow at the foot of the Alps

Fields of yellow

Moo cow with the yellow fields.  Sorry, I still like taking pictures of cows.

More and more yellow