The two faces of Lorraine

Lorraine tends to be off the beaten track for the international tourist in France, but I found it to be quite an interesting destination. It is fair to say that the huge, flat plain of Lorraine is not the most picturesque landscape. If fields of corn don’t depress you as much as they do me,Continue reading “The two faces of Lorraine”

Strasbourg, or the solution to the Alsatian equation

Strasbourg is a joyous city to explore, with deep roots, a rich but troubled past, but also spring in its step, for it has solved the painful equation of Alsatian identity. As I travelled through the lovely Alsace, I was struck by how large World War II still looms in the locals’ psyche. The peopleContinue reading “Strasbourg, or the solution to the Alsatian equation”

The Basque hinterland

The hinterland of the Basque country is, in my opinion, even more pleasant than the coast. There the landscapes of rolling hills building up to peaks is just as spectacular. And the culture is less diluted than on the coast. On the hills, pottoks (pie ponies) and cows live semi-wild. Their bells provide as soothing,Continue reading “The Basque hinterland”

Bayonne and the Basque coast

We often say France is the most beautiful country in the world, because of the variety of its landscapes, its fabulous food culture, and its stylish lifestyle. Frankly, the Basque country could say the same. This pocket country, a picturesque and characterful kaleidoscope of coast, mountains and cities, packs quite a punch. The Basque country,Continue reading “Bayonne and the Basque coast”

Sea, sand and pines

The Atlantic coast, between the huge Garonne estuary and Bayonne, is essentially one long, straight, North to South line. The untameable and infinite Atlantic Ocean squares up with the Eurasian continent, in the shape of the huge Landes de Gascogne. In between, the Côte d’Argent, the Silver Coast, a 250 km-long beach. The vast andContinue reading “Sea, sand and pines”

Climate changes, or seeking shade in Périgord

Exploring a new land means getting to grips with its climate. It took me a few days to acclimatise to the July heat of Périgord. I became frustrated with how little exploring I could do, but the weather is a master you must obey. In the South of France, in July, my Parisian hyperactivity wasContinue reading “Climate changes, or seeking shade in Périgord”

Musée d’Orsay or the spirals of art

On Friday we revived an old tradition, the day-long family outing to a Parisian museum, and we visited the Musée d’Orsay. We had been there many time before, but this time was special. The pretext for our outing was a temporary exhibition, called “Les origines du monde” (“The origins of the world”). The title isContinue reading “Musée d’Orsay or the spirals of art”