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Friday, May 12, 2017
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Saturday, December 17, 2016
In my opinion any lavender field no matter the acreage will be significant eye candy for me but truth be told there are some fields that are simply more magnificent over others. One of the best areas in the Provence is the region of Avignon. We are including a few different websites offering their picks for ‘the best’ lavender fields around.
These include actual maps describing specific routes you can follow to not miss many of the best fields around. There are specific tours one can take just to view these fields but our opinion is do the research on your own, rent a car and start discovering the region on your own. You can participate in harvests but you will need to determine which region you want to explore and make certain the timing of your holiday coincides with harvest time.
Avignon is just one place to make your base camp for your tour of the lavender fields. Don’t cheat yourself by limiting a morning or afternoon for adventure but allow 2-3 days if you’re truly the lavender hound you say you are. Below are a few different websites to give you more insight on planning your discovery of the lavender fields in the Provence.
From Travel France online find out educational facts about this brilliant plant that enriches our lives in so many ways. http://www.travelfranceonline.com/lavender-fields-in-provence-origin-facts/
The Luberon.com offers helpful information and maps to plot your tour of some of the most beautiful lavender fields in the Provence. http://www.theluberon.com/activities/lavender-provence
Another great site is Provence and Beyond. I really love their color coded map that highlights in great detail all of the possibilities to explore. http://www.beyond.fr/themes/lavender-fields-provence.html
Finally, I recently stumbled on the website ‘Your Private Provence’. Emily, the host, offers custom itineraries from a few days to a week. She can introduce you to lavender growers, tour the distilleries and visit ‘off-the-beaten path’ walks. Want to hunt truffles? Emily can help you. 2017 bookings are being accepted now. http://yourprivateprovence.com/
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Prior to any hotel or chateau booking vast research is done as we want to know as much as possible about our destination, including the full history, which is typically what drew us there in the first place.
There is so much more to the Netherlands besides Amsterdam and tulips and windmills. Yes these mentions offer rich enjoyment and numerous adventures but the Dutch people, so modern, open and a tolerant society, we found the people to be one of the most charming things about the Netherlands.
We are also intrigued with their canal system and wharfs, endless bicycle enthusiasts and charm of the university town of Utecht just south of Amsterdam and much easier to navigate in and out of the city by car. Fourth largest population in the Netherlands and also the capital of this brilliant Dutch country.
Many of the historic city houses go back to the middle ages.
According to BBC Travel it is said Utrecht is the 4th happiest place in the world. I would not dispute that. Like most Dutch cities, Utrecht offers an vast network of cycle paths, which makes cycling much safer. Driving a car you must always pay attention to the humans in their bike lanes with signals and all.
Most amazing 33% of all city journeys are by bicycle, (cars account for 30% of trips). Bicycles are used by young, old, and families. The variety of bikes you’ll see including the most traditional upright, steel-framed bicycles, (with few or no gears) is most fascinating. Thousands of bicycles are parked in town lining the canals which to us is part of the allure that calls you in.
The continuous activity in the city center offers so much from sidewalk cafes to boat rides, museum's and shopping. The canals are most beautiful and being there in fall added that much more color to the slightly rainy day we visited. The Domtoren, a 14th-century bell tower with city views, stands opposite the Gothic Cathedral of St. Martin on central Domplein square. The city center is small enough to explore on foot but we could have used 2-3 days more to explore further as 1 really wasn’t sufficient.
One of the highlights for us was bike riding on some of the designated trails in a small village of Soestduinen, and Soest north of Utrecht. Our lovely hotel provided us with free bikes and as it was a very cool day there may have been a fee if we had been gone for 4-5 hours. I have attached a link to a video we made during the ride. The video is a bit rough but hope you enjoy. The bike paths are endless and there are countless ways and opportunities for anyone to ride a bike in Holland (as Americans seem to only want to call the Netherlands, urrrr).
Our Bike Ride Adventure Link:
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
We began this adventure with a one night stay in Sedan, France mainly as a ‘stop-off’ point for our trek to Utrecht. Secondly, we love French history. Chateau Fort de Sedan offers its own significance in the rich history of France.
Heading to the Netherlands to meet up with old friends we wanted to evade from the drive the six+ hour drive after an overnight flight and Sedan was a perfect stopover. This website will offer much more about the region should you want to utilize Sedan as a base-camp to explore the area.
The town of Sedan surrounds the Fort but within those walls you’ll discover Hôtel Le Château Fort de Sedan. 54 rooms in total, the Fabert Building houses 40 rooms spread over four stories with four room accessible to persons with reduced mobility. These rooms are small but offer much character. The Casernement, are thirteen large Superior Rooms and Suites, seven of which have two levels, and all of which have access to the castle’s ramparts. The South Tower houses the only suite with a completely independent access, a cosy nest for romantic stays.
The decor is contemporary, but the atmosphere truly peaceful. You are brought back to the Middle Ages, into the time of the Principality of Sedan. We loved the stone exposure in our room but would have worried if the temperature was below freezing.
We thoroughly enjoyed our brief stay here but suggest you don’t plan more than one night as there is not that much to see in the town itself and be certain to avoid holidays and even Sunday’s as the town has limited restaurant establishments and there is limited availability to room service for those who are used to late night service.
From the Chateau website, the History of the Castle of Sedan has merit and unknown to us at the time, is the largest medieval castle in Europe.
In 1424, in the early 15th century, when there was but an obscure village, Evrard d'Arenberg, Count of Marck, began building a very powerful castle on a rocky outcrop around the remains of the church of St. Martin. This castle, consisting of a large number of towers and buildings built over several centuries, was part of the Principality of Sedan where several La Marck princes succeeded each other over half a century.
Henri Robert de la Marck and Françoise de Bourbon created a sovereign principality whose territory spanned twenty-two municipalities and abutted the prestigious Duchy of Bouillon. Henri La Tour d'Auvergne and his son Frederick continued their work. Henri added the lower castle, called “Palais des Princes.” Frédéric participated in the March 5th conspiracy against Richelieu and Louis XIII, and to save his head, had to give over the castle and the Principality to the Kingdom of France in 1642. Marshal Fabert, the first governor named to Sedan by the King, remained there for twenty years, and was universally missed.
Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, Sedan was a major industrial centre of metallurgy and textiles. Sedan overcame the great upheavals of the Revolution, the wars of the empire, and the political crises of the 19th century. After the war of 1870, Sedan lost its fortifications. The last two world wars affected the city, which is undergoing reconstruction now.
In 1870, Napoleon III was surrounded and defeated at Sedan by Prussian troops. The battle took place near the citadel. Intense fighting took place in the streets. These skirmishes are symbolised by the episode of the "house of the last cartridge.” Fighters who had taken refuge in a house surrendered only after having exhausted their ammunition and weapons. Other battles took place during World War I, in August 1914 and November 1918. In May 1940, the German army made a decisive breakthrough by crossing the Meuse near Sedan (the Sedan breakthrough). The city was partially destroyed, and later rebuilt after World War II under the direction of architect Jean de Mailly.
The castle of Sedan, the largest medieval castle in Europe (35,000 m²), fully classified as a French Historical Monument, was returned to the city in 1962 and welcomes 80,000 visitors each year. It has housed a museum and a unique hotel facility since August 2004.