The Alsatian chocolate box

Firmly in France but forever looking East to Germany, Alsace is not only incredibly pretty, but also a fascinating place to explore for its culture. Already in the Vosges, I could feel its cultural influence. Red and pink geraniums on every balcony and windowsills. The culture of turning fruits into delicious liqueurs and eaux-de-vie. PretzelsContinue reading “The Alsatian chocolate box”

Little Red Riding Hood in the Vosges

When I arrived in the Vosges, I had a simple problem: I didn’t know where to go. After visiting the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Jura, what new experiences could the Vosges possibly give me? Compared to the other mountain ranges I visited, the Vosges are confusing: they don’t follow a general direction. There isContinue reading “Little Red Riding Hood in the Vosges”

The Jura mountains

As I drove north from Annecy the Jura mountains, once again I found landscapes I felt at ease with. The Jura mountains are the north-eastern little sisters of the Alps. Switzerland is very close, as the crow flies, but it is cut off by the high peaks of the mountain range, then by the riverContinue reading “The Jura mountains”

The two sides of Annecy

In Annecy, a random change of perspective made me re-consider my whole impression of the place. I was drawn to Annecy after people told me of the turquoise waters of its lake, its beautiful mountain landscape and its fantastic outdoor sport scene. As I drew closer, all I saw was a town built around cars.Continue reading “The two sides of Annecy”

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”

The land of Cockayne?

The land of Cockayne (“le pays de Cocagne”) is a utopic country of endless plenty and rest, a kind of paradise for the medieval peasant. If you ask a French person where it is, almost half would situate it in the South-West. It might be because of the similarity between the words “Cocagne” and “Gascogne”.Continue reading “The land of Cockayne?”

Let them eat bread

Wine is France’s most iconic food export, but bread and cheese are the other two staples of French diet. One day I will write about the cheeses of France, and the wines of course. But today I want to celebrate bread. It is the main source of carbohydrates in a typical French diet. Un gagne-pain,Continue reading “Let them eat bread”