Discover France and Spain, Issue 13, March 2020

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I S S U E 13 | M A R C H 2 02 0

Chateaux and castillos



Fairy-tale destinations IN SOUTHERN EUROPE

P R O M O T I N G F R E N c h   &   s Pa N I s h   b u s I N E s s ,   c u lT u R E   a N d   T O u R I s M

Discover France & Spain  |  Contents



M ARCH 2 0 2 0



10 Ten enchanting fairy-tale destinations All of Southern Europe is enchanting, but some spots really bring the stories of H.C. Andersen and the brothers Grimm alive. Embark our pumpkin carriage as we head from one magical place to the next.

42 Visit France: our favourite spring destinations In spring, nature awakes – and so do the tourists. If you have planned a trip to France this spring, make sure to pass these glorious destinations. 50


Stunning chateaux and castillos in France and Spain Both France and Spain are packed with palaces and castles. Yet, there is quite a difference between a chateau and a castillo. We put on our ballgowns and strut through the corridors of the regions’ most regal abodes.

28 A weekend in Paris Paris is the capital of love, culture and – of course – France. Reasons enough for us to head to the metropole and do some museum-hopping.

Semana Santa for beginners In Spain, the Holy Week is almost as important as Easter itself. In all corners of the country, they celebrate the last days of lent and prepare for the big feast on Sunday.


Design Finds




Business & Innovation

60 Diary Dates 64 Cheese 66 Know your Southern Europe

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Discover France & Spain  |  Editor’s note

Dear Reader,

Discover France & Spain Issue 13, March 2020 Published 03.2020 ISSN 2832-3398 Published by Scan Client Publishing Print Uniprint Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Arne Adriaenssens Copy-editor Karl Batterbee Graphic Designer Audrey Beullier Contributors Alex Beveridge Eddi Fiegel Steve Flinders

Esme Fox Jennifer Greco Kate Harvey Nina Jareño Ingrid Opstad Noelia Santana Hannah Jane Thompson Katie Turner Stephanie Uwalaka Pierre Antoine Zahnd Cover Photo Wikipedia Sales & Key Account Managers Katia Sfihi Victoria Crusafon Janina Delgado Mathilde Rineau Alice Tanghe Publisher: Scan Client Publishing 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3TY United Kingdom Phone: +44 208 408 1938

After months of biting my tongue, I can finally tell you about our magazine’s big news. Discover Southern Europe becomes Discover France & Spain! As that new name unambiguously implies, we will talk about everything there is to see and do between Dunkirk and Gibraltar. And trust me when I say: there are countless fantastic sights and activities for grabs in these two fabulous countries. Not least in Paris, the ever-vibrant heart of France. This month, we head to the city of light for a culture-crazy weekend away. Try to catch up with us as we head from one museum to the next. Because if you only visit the Louvre, you miss out on some of the finest cultural temples in the world. If you want to escape the metropole and explore the other side of France, March is a great month for a road trip through the rest of the hexagon. From page 42, we share some of our favourite spring destinations with you. Because now that the flowers start blossoming and the sun stops hiding, France is at its absolute prettiest. If you are traveling with kids (or if you’re up for a nostalgia overdose), we challenge you to swap your travel guide for a fairy-tale book and discover the magical kingdom that is Southern Europe. Enchanted forests, underwater kingdoms, regal palaces, Lilliputian hamlets… they can all be found in France and Spain. As a proper ‘ciao’ or ‘tchau’ to Italy and Portugal, we also add a few otherworldly spots in these two countries to the mix. So, don’t let me slow you down even longer and dive into this very-first edition of Discover France & Spain. Waving this new banner, we will – more than ever before – provide you with your monthly shot of Spanish and French beauty, joy, tastes, innovation, excitement and sun. Enjoy the March issue!

© All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Scan Client Publishing – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.

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Arne Adriaenssens Editor

Discover France & Spain  |  Design

Design Finds Is there anything better than getting together with friends, family and loved ones around the table to enjoy some good company and great food or drinks? With spring just on our doorstep, it is the perfect excuse to add a few new additions to the kitchen. Get inspired by these unique and elegant details. TEXT: INGRID OPSTAD  I  PRESS PHOTOS

Planning a tea party anytime soon? These vintage-style teacups and saucers from Yvonne Ellen are ideal for get-togethers and will certainly wow your guests. They are perfect for enjoying your favourite brew or for drinking prosecco, gin, rose or any drink of choice with a touch of finesse, giving traditional tea time a twist. Guaranteed to get the table talking and the party started. Yvonne Ellen, ‘Pastel’ tea cup & saucer, €28

If you are looking for a unique way to serve small tapas dishes or olive oil for your aperitivo, these sardine-shaped platters from the family-run Portuguese brand Soma Ideas will impress your guests. All your food will look beautiful, presented with plenty of personality. Soma Ideas, ‘Petinga’ sardine platters, set of two, €52,

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Discover France & Spain  |  Design

Founded in 1884, the Portuguese company Bordallo Pinheiro is famous for using traditional pottery techniques to create artful designs that combine nature and humour with everyday functionality. Made of earthenware with hand-painted details, this is a small bowl shaped like an artichoke which adds colour and uniqueness to your table. Bordallo Pinheiro, ‘Artichoke’ bowl, €17

Add elegance to your table with an exclusive knife from Bon Centuri. Designed as an all-round knife, the chef knife can be used for almost every task imaginable; be it slicing meat, dicing vegetables or mincing herbs. The knives are made in France by fifthgeneration knife makers using the finest materials, and each knife is individually numbered. Bon Centuri, ‘Chef’ knife, from €179

The undisputed bestseller by Italian Sambonet comes in a selection of new, captivating finishes and colours, so everyone can express themselves and showcase their personality on the table, too. The precious black, gold, copper and champagne shades are joined by a mirror finish or vintage and antique tactile effects. The uniqueness is the focus of the Sambonet ‘Tailor Made’ project, which means you can add a touch of style by engraving symbols, monograms or a special date, making it exclusive and inimitable. Sambonet, ‘Taste’ cutlery set of six, €199 + star engraving €19

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Photo: Pxhere


A display of fire and beauty in Valencia As The Beatles sang: “It’s been a long cold lonely winter, but here comes the sun”! And what better way to celebrate the sun than by partying with the Spanish at one of the most spectacular festivities that thrives off an amazing natural phenomenon: Las Fallas in Valencia! TEXT: NOELIA SANTANA   I  PRESS PHOTOS

Despite common beliefs, Las Fallas didn’t start as a celebration of the equinox. Instead, it originates from a banal and also slightly dangerous custom. During the winter months, the Valencian carpenters used to work under the warm light of oil lamps and candles placed precariously in simple wooden structures around their workshops. 19 March marks the end of winter but also, conveniently, the day of Saint Joseph, patron of carpenters. On this day, they put together these wooden reminders of the dark bleak days and set them on fire; welcoming the longer days and joyous feelings of spring. Throughout the years, the pyres of wood started to take the form of decorative dolls and people of the town. These figures – called ‘ninots’ – became an expression of artistry and a part of the city’s culture. Thus began the competition between neighbourhoods that still stands today. 8  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

Las Fallas is a display of Valencian culture at its best: parades, celebrations and the smell of ‘churros’ mixed with the hints of smoke and gunpowder that takes over the city. The festivities start at the beginning of March with daily fireworks at the city square and, on the 15th of the month, the ‘plantá’ takes place. Work goes on all night to install over 700 figurines in the city’s streets and squares. These skyhigh structures can reach up to 20 metres. They are a creative critique to society, often depicting current world events.

to be with family and friends, to forget about the time, to eat and drink, to dance and cheer. And on the night of the 19th when the ‘fallera mayor’ shouts “senyor pirotécnic, pot començar la mascletà”, to start the ‘cremá’, everyone observes the display of fireworks burning down the ninots, some cheering, some crying, as the fire is engulfing an expression of art but also marking the end to the fun and festivities, the return to reality. That is until next year, of course.

For Valencians, Las Fallas is a unique event that they prepare for all year; a time What: A crazy festival on the streets of Valencia Where: Valencia When: 15-19 March How: The events are free, so just turn up.

Gran Canaria-born, London-based Noelia Santana is wrapped in high fashion, from head to heel. As founder of Estilistas, she runs a digital one-stop-shop for fashion lovers and a personal styling platform for the masses.

Discover France & Spain  |  Style

W H AT T O W E A R ? Las Fallas’ powerful aesthetic is matched with the gorgeous gowns worn by ‘las falleras’. This regional costume is inspired by the 18th-century French courts and is formed of a complex outfit of blouse, corset and puffy skirt, all fashioned in colourful brocaded materials and full of intrinsic details and accessories. It can cost anything from 300 to 18,000 euros. With this in mind, dress up for the party! Match this display of fire and beauty with a noninflammable and stylish look. Stay away from synthetics with this cotton blazer by cool Spanish designer Avellaneda. Avellaneda, Yves Blazer in Victor print, €600

Wear with a simple T-shirt from popular brand Desigual to tone down the florals. Desigual, T-shirt with logo, €40

Dress down a statement blazer with your favourite pair of jeans from Zara. Zara, jeans slim vintage, €26

Valencians love espadrilles. Try this pair by Toni Pons. Toni Pons, Suede espadrilles Dover in Caqui, €65

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New Caledonian Barrier Reef. Photo: Chirol Eric-Bourail

Once upon a time…

Ten enchanting fairy-tale destinations There’s more magic to find in Southern Europe than just at Disneyland Paris and the enchanting slopes of the Mont SaintMichel. In fact, legendary tales like Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Puss in Boots were all penned down in our dreamy region. So, why not exchange your travel guide for a children’s book for once and let fairies and kings be your guides? Because, a kingdom far, far away might not be that far away after all. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

1/ El Capricho Cornillas, Cantabria, Spain Where Antoni Gaudí is mainly known for his work in Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia, his masterpiece called El Capricho adorns the landscape of the northern-Spanish region of Cantabria. It was built for the rich industrial Maximale Diaz of Quijano and reflects Catalan architecture throughout the ages. The building has Dorian columns, a Moorish minaret, Modernist tilework… and a whole lot of fantasy. Today, the unique estate is a popular tourist attraction in the region. So, climb this enchanting tower and let your hair down gracefully. 10  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

El Capricho. Photo: Jim Anzalone

Discover France & Spain  |  Ten fairy-tale destinations

2/ Eguisheim

Eguisheim. Photo: Pixabay

Eguisheim, Alsace, France “A little town, it’s a quiet village”. When walking through the village of Eguisheim, it is hard not to hum the opening lines of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. With its narrow, colourful streets, time seems to have stood still here. It might not surprise you that these charming Alsace villages were the source of inspiration for Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve to write the famous fairy tale about unconditional love. Also, the many filmmakers who adapted the story, headed to villages like Eguisheim to experience their unique feel. If you do too, don’t overplan your stay, but just strut through the streets and allow yourself to be surprised. Along the way, hop into butchers, bakeries and restaurants to sample the region’s amazing specialities like ‘baeckoffe’, ‘tarte flambée’ and ‘crémant d’Alsace’.

Eguisheim. Photo: Pixabay

Olite. Photo: Wikipedia

3/ Olite Olite, Navarre, Spain The town of Olite (or Erriberri, as it is adorably named in Basque) could well adorn the cover of a Hans Cristian Andersen folio. Its castle’s round towers seem perfect to lock up princesses in and its withbattlements-adorned walls are made for guards to promenade upon. To King Charles III of Navarre, it was paramount that the castle would impress everyone who looked at it. And it sure did! Rumour has it that the palace counted more rooms than there are days in a year. And not only people walked their floors! Charles III’s grandson built an entire zoo inside the castle’s walls, with lions, giraffes, camels and plenty of birds. The castle you witness today is, however, just a replica of the original. During the civil war, the original one was set on fire to prevent the French from using it as their hiding place.

Olite. Photo: Wikipedia

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Discover France & Spain  |  Ten fairy-tale destinations

4/ Alcázar Real de Sevilla Sevilla, Andalusia, Spain Hop on your flying carpet and head to Sevilla, where the Alcázar Real brings the world from 1,001 nights alive. The construction of the palace started in the 14th century, making it one of the oldest royal palaces of Europe. But despite its old age, it still is unlike any other castle. Its elegant gardens with stunning water fountains and lush vegetation blend in well with the highly-detailed reliefs which adorn all arches and walls. Underneath the fortress, you will find the Baths of Lady Maria de Padilla, a mystical rainwater basin with cathedral-esque vaults and warm, indirect, orange light.

Alcazar Real de Sevilla. Photo: Unsplash

Alcazar Real de Sevilla. Photo: Unsplash

Alcazar Real de Sevilla. Photo: Unsplash

5/ Torre de Belèm

Torre de Belèm. Photo: Unsplash

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Lisbon, Estremadura, Portugal Belém was the beating, maritime heart of Lisbon’s trade and exploration activity. From its port, legendary adventurers like Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama commenced their journeys across the seven seas. Upon the district’s shores, the elegant Torre de Belèm waved its explorers goodbye, welcomed them upon their return and scared away their enemies. Since its completion in 1520, the tower has served many purposes, from defence tower to political prison. But today, it is Portugal’s main symbol of the country’s glorious age of discoveries.

Discover France & Spain  |  Ten fairy-tale destinations

6/ Gardens of Bomarzo Bomarzo, Latium, Italy The Gardens of Bomarzo (also known by the slightly contradicting names ‘Park of Monsters’ and ‘Holy Woods’) is one of the most estranging places in Italy. The park was built in 1547 and is dominated by scarylooking sculptures that stare at you wherever you go. Throughout the ages, the park became a forgotten corner of the world, until the Spanish surrealist Dalí visited the park and shot a short film here. Ever since, the Gardens of Bomarzo has gained a more prominent spot in pop culture. It was even the stage of a film adaptation of Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland, and it isn’t hard to see why.

Gardens of Bomarzo. Photo: Pixabay

Les Jardins d’Étretat. Photo: Wikipedia

7/ Les Jardins d’Étretat

Les Jardins d’Étretat. Photo: Wikipedia

Étretat, Normandy, France Les Jardins d’Étretat is as close as you can get to Alice’s Wonderland. The yard of curved hedges and great altitude gaps feels like an elegant maze of hidden secrets. Amidst the greenery, many a humongous, chubby head is taking a nap; some with a smile, others with a tormented gurn. From the tip of the whimsical garden, you have a beautiful view over the North Sea and the stunning cliffs. Take your time to strut, gaze and relax, but be careful in the proximity of intriguing rabbit holes, as they might just turn your world around. Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  13

Discover France & Spain  |  Ten fairy-tale destinations

New Caledonian Barrier Reef. Photo: Dean Cropp

Las Montañas de Anaga. Photo: Wikipedia New Caledonian Barrier Reef. Photo: Dean Cropp

8/ Las Montañas de Anaga Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain If it weren’t for mysterious woods and moss-covered forests, fairy-tale books would be a great deal thinner. Grandma, the goat family, the seven dwarfs… all possessed some real-estate in the grim shadow of the trees. On the island of Tenerife, you can walk through such an enchanted forest yourself. Its thick canopy keeps the light out, its labyrinth of trails disorientates you immediately and its humidity covers the valley with an ominous layer of fog. Enjoy a nice hike through the humongous woodland but – beware – you never know which mythical creatures or evil witches you might stumble upon behind the next tree. 14  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

Discover France & Spain  |  Ten fairy-tale destinations

New Caledonian Barrier Reef. Photo: Dean Cropp

9/ New Caledonian Barrier Reef New Caledonia, France New Caledonia really is a magical place far, far away. As one of France’s most distant overseas territories, it is roughly a 25-hour flying-trip away from Paris. Nonetheless, it is worth your while as it is the home of one of the world’s most beautiful barrier reefs. Underneath the surface, divers and snorkelers discover a world of corals, anemones, tropical fishes and tortoises amongst which the little mermaid would fit nicely. The humongous reef surrounds all of Grande Terre – New Caledonia’s main island – and stretches up to 200 kilometres away from the shores. Unlike many other similar reefs, the one from New Caledonia is still in good health. Act, therefore, with the utmost respect and care if you decide to visit this underwater paradise.

10/ Santa Maddalena Santa Maddalena, South-Tyrol, Italy Santa Maddalena is the textbook definition of a hamlet. Located in the shadow of the mighty Dolomites, the handful of houses and the cosy churches nearly disappear in their surroundings. There is no bank, here, no restaurant or no post office. Just houses for its 478 villagers and two picture-perfect churches. When on a visit, take your time to enjoy the solitude, breathe the fresh air and take a relaxing hike. On Sunday morning, you can join the rest of the villagers at the beautiful San Giovanni Church, a charming building about a kilometre from the tiny centre. When the fairytale-like solitude starts to drive you crazy, the vibrant city of Bolanzo is just a one-hour drive away.

Santa Maddalena. Photo: Unsplash

Santa Maddalena. Photo: Unsplash

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Stunning chateaux and castillos in France and Spain France and Spain are both castle-rich countries. Wherever you look, both in the city as in the countryside, you will see majestic palaces, castles and forts – all more impressive and bigger than the next. Yet, the French chateaux and Spanish castillos are more than just relics from the countries’ lush pasts. They play an important role in the celebration of their heritage to date; be it as a museum, a hotel, a wedding venue or – true to their initial purpose – a unique and spacious residence. Let’s visit some of France and Spain’s nicest castles and discover what sets them apart. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

Chateau d'Ussé. Photo: Pixabay

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Discover France & Spain  |  Stunning chateaux and castillos in France and Spain


ew countries are as known for their castles as France. Their century-old tradition of building chateaux for their happy few has turned the nation into an amusement park for castle afficionados. To really experience the palace immersion, set sail to the Loire Valley, a stunning wine region on the French west coast. Spread over these 32,000 square kilometres of grassland, you can spot well over 300 chateaux. The biggest of them all is Château de Chambord, a Renaissance palace with 440 rooms and 365 towers on a humongous piece of land. The wall surrounding the estate measures no less than 32 kilometres. A bit further down the Loire river, you will find Château d’Ussé, also known as Sleeping Beauty’s castle. This dreamy castle amidst the greenery is said to have been Charles Perrault’s inspiration to write the legendary fairy tale. Its big rose garden truly makes you believe that you have entered a fairy-tale book. Architecture aficionados will also enjoy the interesting mix of Gothic style with medieval elements, making it difficult to keep your eyes off it. Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  17

Discover France & Spain  |  Stunning chateaux and castillos in France and Spain

Château d’Auvers-sur-Oise (see page 20)

Up to 7,000 chateaux But, of course, France counts way more regal abodes than just those 300 of the Loire Valley. Depending on your definition of the word chateau, you might end up with anywhere between 1,000 and 7,000. The French National Monuments Centre clocks up 6,450 of them. Visiting them all would take a lifetime. That’s why we have selected our absolute favourite ones. Head to page 20 to discover Château d’Auvers-sur-Oise; a monumental, 17th-century chateau with a stunning garden, located just a stone’s throw away from Paris. On page 22, we take a peek at Château de Chenonceau, one of the Loire’s most famous castles. Floating above the water, this palace is as picturesque as they come. Page 24 brings us to Château La Tortinière, a lush, family-owned hotel in the historic surroundings of Tours. Finally, on page 25, we check in at Château de la Treyne, a beautiful retreat in which to enjoy luxury and gastronomy with a view.

The Moorish heritage

Château de Chenonceau (see page 22)

Yet, France is not the only country that can be proud of its palaces. At the other side of the Pyrenees, in Spain, you find castles aplenty, as well. Yet, here, they call them ‘castillos’. While they used to serve the same purpose as their French counterparts, these Spanish fortresses distinguish themselves by their unique style. Where Classicism, Baroque, Renaissance and Gothicism are king in France, Spain counts a lot of Moorish castillos. As the Arabs ruled over the Iberian Peninsula from the beginning of the eight century until the late15th, it comes as no surprise that many of the Spanish architectural mammoths are drenched in Moorish charm. Most famous, of course, is the stunning Alhambra in Granada. The oldest parts of this palace date back to the late-ninth century. Yet, it only received its current shape during the final decades of the Al-Andalus empire. The colossal fort exists out of three separate royal palaces: the Comares Palace, the Palace of the Lions and the Partal Palace. All of them are as lush as they come – both inside their thick walls as outside in the romantic patios.

Château La Tortinière (see page 24)

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Château de la Treyne (see page 25)

For even more Moorish beauty, you can visit the other Andalusian cities. In Sevilla,

Discover France & Spain  |  Stunning chateaux and castillos in France and Spain

Alcázar Real de Sevilla. Photo: Unsplash

Alcázar de Toledo. Photo: Unsplash

Alhambra. Photo: Unsplash

Alcázar de Segovia. Photo: Unsplash

Córdoba and Jerez de la Frontera you will find stunning ‘alcázars’ as well. These palaces were built (or rebuilt) by the Muslim rulers as their personal residences. In the centre of the country, in cities like Segovia, Toledo and Burgos, you will find stunning alcázars just as easily. Therefore, you can discover the Moorish architecture, anywhere you go.

The Galician Middle Ages Yet, Spain has so much more to offer than just the Arabian palaces. In Galicia, for example, you will discover a very different kind of architecture. On page 26, we head to the medieval Castelo de Soutomaior. If the impressive, robust architecture of this palace doesn’t impress you, its story sure will. This castle was owned by lord Pedro Alvarez de Soutomaior, an aristocrat who allegedly faked his death to become his alter-ego Christopher Columbus and discover the Americas.

Castelo de Soutomaior (see page 26).

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Throwing new light on impressionist landscapes Just as artists such as Monet and Renoir captured fleeting moments with small, deft brushstrokes, each movement in the ‘Impressionist Vision’ digital experience is brought to life at the Château d’Auvers. Set in one of the most picturesque castles in the Giverny region, it provides the perfect backdrop to a series of innovative exhibitions inspired by nature. TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: CHÂTEAU D’AUVERS


t’s no secret that gardens were central to the Impressionists’ love affair with the natural world. The way the light hit each ornate pond, or each flower in bloom, made for some of the most iconic Impressionist works to date. The Château d’Auvers plunges visitors, both indoors and outdoors, into a corner of their world. Located just 30 minutes outside of Paris and 25 minutes from RoissyCharles de Gaulle airport, there are eight hectares of gardens, ponds and fountains to explore; alongside a picturesque orangery and courtyard.

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Every detail of this fine estate is a meeting point of artistic ideas. The geometric gardens are a unique blend of English, French and Italianate design; and its 17th-century nymphaeum a tranquil water feature that has stood the test of time. In fact, the chateau itself served as a holiday resort for painters seeking inspiration in the surrounding landscape: “Vincent Van Gogh spent the remaining 70 days of his life in Auvers-sur-Oise,” reveals Delphine Travers, director of the Château d’Auvers.

Dive head-first into the world of Impressionism Watch the magic of Impressionism unfold into a digital masterpiece – inside one of the most breathtaking castles in the Giverny region. The chateau invites visitors to immerse themselves in the 'Impressionist Vision’ experience; a multimedia journey through the stages of Impressionism. With light projections, mappings, morphings and giant screens, visitors are taken on an emotional and sensory experience like no other. The exhibition showcases the influence of Impressionism upon the village of Auvers-surOise, as well as the artists’ work, alongside later movements such as Proto Cubism, Fauvism and abstraction.

Virtual reality in full bloom In the Giverny region, the artistic potential of the flower is undeniable, and the chateau it-

Discover France & Spain  |  Stunning chateaux in France

self is home to an oasis of irises, clematises and roses. From 22 until 24 May 2020, visitors can witness flowers come alive at the Fleuramour Festival of Arts and Plants. Walk among more than 140,000 flowers into a fantasy world of petals and pollen, all within the setting of an enchanting French garden. Each one of the flowers has been incorporated into a series of creations to compel and excite.

Photography inspired by humans and nature The chateau also pays tribute to a number of contemporary artists that are continually inspired by the natural world, such as

photographer, Nils-Udo. From the Creuse Valley to the ponds of the Chateau d’Auvers, Udo’s photography perfectly captures the ephemeral nature of light just as his Impressionist predecessors once did. Set in the chateau orangery, his upcoming photography exhibition will take place between 7 March and 24 May 2020.

From the Impressionists, to the Post-Pictorialists Head to the chateau during the summer months, and witness the evolution of Impressionism across a series of contemporary pieces. From 6 June to 26 July

2020, the chateau will exhibit the work of Tony Soulié, a famous pioneer of the French Pictorialism movement and descendent of Impressionism. Visitors can wander the chateau and admire his bold and flowery prints, alongside a number of other paintings. At the Château d’Auvers-sur-Oise, you’re sure to pass the time as the Impressionists once did – one brush stroke at a time. Bookings can be made online, where it is also possible to reserve the Orangery and Atelier for a private function.

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The French chateau fit for an Italian queen In the heart of the Loire Valley, a region of France teeming with Renaissance chateaux, Chenonceau and its arched gallery have sat across the Cher river since the 16th century. An architectural masterpiece, Chenonceau demarcates itself by combining French opulence and elements of Italian style. Re-imagined by Catherine de Médicis, Chenonceau became a prime example of aesthetics and pleasant living. But beyond the physical edifice, Chenonceau also stands for a rich cultural heritage ranging from gastronomy to wine-making and floral art. TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND  |  PHOTOS: CHATEAU DE CHENONCEAU


s one might expect of a French chateau, Chenonceau has a long and eventful history. While the domain itself dates back to the 12th century, the edifice was conceived between 1514 and 1522. Two decades later, in 1547, King Henry II gifted it to Diane de Poitiers, his official mistress. Passionate about the chateau, Diane commissioned an arched bridge straddling the river, as well 22  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

as flower gardens arranged in eye-catching shapes on the opposite bank. After Henry II’s death, his actual wife, Catherine de Médicis, reclaimed Chenonceau from Diane de Poitiers, and proceeded to commission yet more ambitious modifications and expansions. The queen from Tuscany set out to bring an Italian flair to Chenonceau, overseeing, among other things, the development of the chateau’s

stunning Grande Galerie, which was built along the existing bridge. As queen regent, Catherine had ample room to throw lavish parties, and Chenonceau became famous for its night-time celebrations. In 1560, on the occasion of her son’s coronation, it hosted France’s first fireworks displays. Chenonceau also made the chateau an important point in wine history by implanting the Italian Chenin grape in the Chenonceau vineyard.

Discover France & Spain  |  Stunning chateaux in France

Culinary prowess Close to five centuries later, Chenonceau still holds the values of taste, elegance and celebration. Culinary prowess, for instance, is embedded within the chateau’s DNA. Again, Catherine de Médicis proved an inspiration for the Chenonceau style: her love of sweet treats prompted her French chefs to learn how to cook France’s first sorbets, macaroons and frangipane sweets. Under her, refined royal feasts became a marker of political strength: now, the Orangerie restaurant carries on this culinary legacy by offering a rich menu highlighting local, seasonal products as well as varied vegetarian options. And to accompany the food, the chateau holds a yearly wine-tasting event: on the third Saturday of July, the wine-making association of the Touraine Chenonceaux appellation gather at the domain for free samplings of their red and white offerings. Lucky visitors can even enjoy these wines in the Grande Galerie, occasionally open at night.

Stunning floral bouquets Beyond extraordinary architecture and good cheer, Chenonceau is noteworthy for its horticulture. For over 20 years, the chateau has hosted the ‘Atelier Floral’ (flower workshop), a unique occurrence in Europe. Every day, two florists work from the one-hectare flower garden, to conceive and realise the stunning floral bouquets for which Chenonceau is known. Headed by Jean-François Boucher, who holds the title

of ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France’, the Atelier and its resulting creations are partly responsible for Chenonceau’s unofficial status as ‘France’s most elegant chateau’. The 80-hectare park that surrounds Chenonceau, nestled deep inland, is bound to appeal to nature lovers, and is home to many free-roaming animals and birds. To that end, visitors are encouraged to walk around the woods as well as in the gardens (pets on a leash are even allowed to join in).

A variety of other activities In the summertime, Chenonceau offers a variety of other activities: visitors may, for instance, rent a barge and go paddling on the Cher river, or take an evening stroll

around the gardens. In the spirit of spreading Catherine de Médicis’ enthusiasm for good eating and exciting entertainment, the Orangerie restaurant, the historic wine cellar and the gardens can all be booked for private events, including light shows, music and evening-time entrance into the grounds. In 2020, the Chateau opened the Cabinet de Chenonceau, a curiosity cabinet created by the influential philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 18th century. Later this year, for Christmas time, Chenonceau will unveil its ‘Paradis Royal’.

Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  23

Discover France & Spain  |  Stunning chateaux in France

A charming chateau stay The area surrounding Tours is steeped in history. Famed for its abundance of opulent castles, it was favoured by 15th-century aristocrats thanks to its beauty and proximity to Paris. For those who wish to do more than simply visit the castles, La Tortinière also offers a rare opportunity to travel back in time and stay in one. TEXT: ALEX BEVERIDGE  |  PHOTOS: LA TORTINIÈRE


ust ten kilometres from the city of Tours, La Tortinière is nestled in the heart of the Loire valley, just one hour from Paris by train. The 15-hectare estate welcomes guests not only in the castle itself, but equally in the former servants’ quarters and farmhouses, all transformed into charming and luxuriously modern four-star accommodation. The castle was originally built in the 1800s by the prominent Dalloz family before being bought by the Olivereau family in the 1950s and turned into a magnificent chateau-hotel. Now, three generations later, husband and wife team Anne and Xavier run this family affair, continuing the legacy left by their ancestors and offering an elegant stay in one of France’s most enchanting regions.

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The Olivereaus have welcomed many guests over the past 70 years, including Audrey Hepburn and former French president Georges Pompidou, with 26 rooms and six suites that appeal to families and couples alike. Whether it be in the charming chateau, the prestigious pavilion or the gardener’s chalets, tradition meets modernity in every room with its antique furniture and striking architecture allowing guests to journey back in time and experience the opulence of the elite of yesteryear, all with the added modern touch of air-conditioning and other essentials. What makes La Tortinière exceptional is not only its majestic grounds or breathtaking views over the Indre valley, but its ability to

remain refined and luxurious without being ostentatious, a discrete sophistication that many of its surrounding lavish castles fail to achieve. The on-site restaurant is a prime example of this discrete luxury, offering a wide selection of food, from bistro-style to high-end gastronomy, serving local produce in a chic yet casual environment. Sample Sainte-Maure’s finest goat’s cheese or the Marigny Marmande truffle in this simply stunning setting, all while taking in the view from its terrace. As well as visiting the historic castles, the estate offers numerous noble activities to keep you busy, from bike rental to billiards, a heated outdoor pool and even a sauna and spa service. There is also a ‘barque’ (a small rowing boat) available for those who wish to saunter along the Indre river before taking a picnic on its banks. Travel back in time and experience history and high society at this charming chateau, where discrete luxury meets timeless elegance.

Discover France & Spain  |  Stunning chateaux in France

From humble B&B to the height of luxury A 14th-century fairytale castle on the banks of the Dordogne River, the Château de la Treyne oozes history. It’s been a home to knights and noblemen since medieval times, as well as to the Louvre Museum’s Egyptian collection during the Second World War.

grounds stretch across nearly 300 acres and there’s something for everyone, from formal gardens to a forest, plus a heated infinity pool and tennis courts.


Stephanie runs the chateau day-to-day, heading a team of 35 staff catering to visitors’ every need. “I describe what we offer guests as the ‘A to Z’ of service. Nothing is too much trouble,” she says. “I want guests to really feel at ease here.”


ittle wonder, then, that current owners, Stephanie and Philippe Gombert, wanted to add their own chapter to the story. “20 years ago, my mother-in-law was running the chateau as a B&B and we used to come down at weekends to help her out,” says Stephanie.

identity and in keeping with the historic surroundings. The hotel restaurant also now holds a Michelin star. It’s run by chef Stéphane Andrieux, who has worked with the couple since the beginning and uses locally-sourced produce and organic vegetables grown on site.

The husband and wife team now run the château as a prestigious Relais & Châteaux hotel with its own Michelin-starred chef. “We wanted to give these wonderful old stones a new lease of life,” Stephanie continues enthusiastically. “The place was getting a bit run down, but we had grand plans! It’s an absolute passion project.” Despite having no experience of the hotel trade, Stephanie and Philippe quit corporate life in Paris and never looked back.

“He’s exceptional,” explains Stephanie. “He’s only ever worked in Michelin-starred kitchens and after coming to the chateau he got his star in a matter of months.” The chateau’s

The Château de la Treyne now has 17 sumptuous bedrooms each with a unique

The secret to the Château de la Treyne’s success? Stephanie is absolutely clear: “You can only make something like this work if you have a wonderful team moving forward together, with the same vision, passion and drive.”

Left: The Château de la Treyne is run by husband and wife team Stephanie and Philippe Gombert.

Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  25

Exciting history within fortified walls Spain is a country full of hidden gems and charming spots. And for the discerning traveller itching to explore while learning a thing or two, Galicia is a stunning region where wild nature has adapted to historical landmarks, creating oases of history to enlighten the most inquisitive minds. TEXT: NOELIA SANTANA  |  PHOTOS: CASTELO DE SOUTOMAIOR


here is a place in the popular ‘Rias Baixas’, in the province of Pontevedra, where a powerful fortress brimming with historical significance is waiting to be rediscovered. Nestled in a valley, surrounded by a lush forest and gardens, is Castelo de Soutomaior, where you can learn some fascinating details and fun peculiarities about the making of Spain.

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A symbol of Pontevedra Castelo de Soutomaior is a medieval castle dating back to the 12th century. It is one of the few medieval castles still fully standing in all its glory. Over the centuries, it has belonged to some very different owners who have altered the castle to their will, but each modification has added architectural value and enriches the history and narrative of the place.

Nowadays, the castle belongs to the Pontevedra provincial council and it has become a symbol of the province. The castle is something of a museum and visitors can go around the different rooms on their own or book a guided visit. The rooms are all

Discover France & Spain  |  Stunning castillos in Spain

dedicated to the different parts of history the castle has gone through, as well as the characters that have played a part in shaping what Castelo de Soutomaior is today. It is the perfect family outing. Even the little ones will feel like a part of the adventure by solving the clues that each room holds in a fun game of ‘Detective of the Castle’.

A different experience every month The 19th-century botanical garden surrounding the castle was declared of ‘International Excellence’ by the International Camellia Society in 2012. What makes this luscious park especially unique is that it’s filled with exotic and rare species, even four kinds of trees that are listed as relics. But the protagonist of the garden is the camellia. This oriental flower made its way into Galician territory a long time ago and now there are around 400 types thriving in it, 19 of which are over 100 years old. The flower has become an emblem of the castle that accompanies the visitor throughout the tour of these colourful grounds. The castle is open all year round and offers a different experience depending on the month. You can visit the vineyards during the harvest or take a walk along the hidden paths of the deep forest and enjoy the picture-perfect autumn scenery. February and March are the perfect time to catch the gardens at their best and, of course, to see the expectant flowering of the camellia.

Hungry after all that walking? There is a cafeteria near the castle, but we recommend a visit to Arcade – around five kilometres away – to try some of the best Galician seafood. Oysters are its speciality.

Key players in the castle’s history During the 15th century, the castle became the property of the feudal lord Pedro Alvarez de Soutomaior. He was best known as Pedro Madruga – ‘early riser’ – and he was an important figure in the history of Galicia. There is also a very interesting theory that suggests that he was none other than Christopher Columbus. According to the theory, Pedro Madruga didn’t actually die in 1486, but in-

stead changed his identity, a disguise that enabled him to make the pact that took him on his conquest of the Americas with the Catholic Monarchs, who weren’t really fond of him. The plot thickens with many more details, but we will leave those to you to find out during your visit. Later during the 19th century, the marquesses of La Vega de Armijo y Mos made the castle their summer residency. They were very cultured people and during that period the romanticism of the medieval age was trending, so they decided that a medieval castle was the perfect summer home for a family of medieval idealists. They also proceeded to add some architectural alterations, which turned half of the castle into a neo-gothic structure. The botanical garden was probably also started by them, as during the romanticism there was an exaltation for exotic plants, to show off their culture and knowledge of faraway lands. The castle then passed onto Maria Vinyals, niece of the marquess. An exceptional woman – a feminist, a globe-trotter, versed in many arts – she made the castle a cultural hub for artists and bohemians of her time. Sadly, like many other significant women of the past, her story and input in history are not common knowledge, something Castelo de Soutomaior is trying to change by educating its visitors about the woman that played such an important part in the history of the castle. Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  27

Eiffel Tower.

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Discover France & Spain  |  A Weekend in Paris

A weekend in Paris

Art and style in the city with a thousand faces Although comfortably established as a leading capital of culture and sophistication, Paris has long been a revolutionary place. In 1889, celebrating the centennial of the French Revolution, Paris hosted the Universal Exposition, a major-scale event held over six months, covering a square kilometre of the city centre. The event celebrated the country’s and the world’s scientific and technological progress, and ushered in a promising new century: by the early 1900s, Paris had become Europe’s hotbed of artists, as well, with significant foreign musicians, painters, and writers (such as Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein) settling in the city. Another century later, one thing is clear: in Paris, creation is tradition, and the city fills all those who go through it with an energy that has to be experienced to be understood. TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND  |  PHOTOS: UNSPLASH


hether you are a first-timer in Paris or a return visitor, the odds are you’ll only experience a fraction of what the city has to offer by the time you leave. But never fear; at times, the capital feels more like a general

mood than a sum of places. Paris, in the words of Ernest Hemingway, is “a moveable feast”, a changing geography of energy and ‘savoir-vivre’. To that end, below are a few routes and suggestions on how to make your stay memorable. Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  29

Discover France & Spain  |  A Weekend in Paris

Top: Mur de je t'aime. Photo: Paris Tourist Office, Amelie Dupont. Middle: Palais Garnier. Bottom: Moulin Rouge.


Saturday: Life imitates art Bienvenue à Paris! Check into your accommodation, grab a croissant and a ‘café serré’ at the nearest boulangerie, and set out to discover as much as you can. The Saturday is best spent exploring and placehopping, as many businesses will be closed on Sunday. Start north of the Seine and make your way towards the Butte Montmartre (Métro Abbesses). Popularised by the 2001 film Amélie, the neighbourhood has become more touristic in recent years, but it has retained its casual elegance. Enshrining the Sacré-Cœur Basilica and dotted with cafés, bistros, flower shops and other colourful establishments, Montmartre’s village feel makes it an ideal place to start discovering Parisian life. Romantics at heart can stop at the nearby ‘Mur des je t’aime’, a 40-square-metre wall created by visual artists featuring 311 love declarations in 250 languages. Some of Montmartre’s best places for lunch have names as quirky as the food is tasty: La Boîte aux Lettres (The Mailbox), La Vache et le Cuisinier (The Cow and the 30  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

Cook) or Le Carafon (a small wine carafe) are all good bets. In the early afternoon, you have two options: take a metro eastward to La Villette, and have a digestive walk around Paris’ third-largest park. Scientific minds might also delight in a visit to the City of Science and Industry (covered on page 40 of this issue), Europe’s largest science museum. In case it rains, take refuge at the Géode, an arresting globe of monumental size finished in a reflecting surface and which serves as an IMAX theatre, offering immersive nature and travel documentaries. Alternatively, if you’d rather explore the local Parisian spirit, head north to Porte de Clignancourt and the bustling Saint-Ouen Marché aux Puces. It is the largest antiques market in the world (Paris likes to do things big, evidently), offering some 2,500 stalls across the neighbourhood. For a touch of intense ‘Parisianess’, top off the afternoon with a visit to La Chope des Puces (closes 7pm).

A dinky jazz club, La Chope casually hosts France’s most accomplished players of Jazz Manouche – a red-hot, hard-swinging style founded by the two-fingered guitar icon Django Reinhardt. As the evening sets, make your way back towards the historic centre via a passage through the infamous Pigalle and its Moulin Rouge. A walk along the Seine should whet your appetite, and present plenty of dining options on either side. Thereafter, Paris offers plenty of evening and night-time entertainment: for cinephiles, the Cinéma du Panthéon and the Lost in French Translation group offers French films with subtitles. Music-wise, Paris is one of the main classical music centres worldwide, with the Palais Garnier, the Opéra Bastille and the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, to name a few. Jazz lovers will find happiness at one of the countless top-tier music venues such as the Duc des Lombards, the Caveau de la Huchette and the Baiser Salé (‘Salty Kiss’).

Discover France & Spain  |  A Weekend in Paris

Sacré-Cœur. Photo: Paris Info

Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  31

Discover France & Spain  |  A Weekend in Paris

Sunday: The culture tour After immersing yourself in Parisian life, we suggest you turn to one of the capital’s major products: art. Paris is simply constellated with museums, from legendary institutions to small, quaint houses full of objects from another time. We’re sorry to say that it is very difficult to choose. A fun way to do it, however, is to start just south of the Seine, at the Museum of National History (a mind-bogglingly vast exploration of the evolution of life on earth, covered in detailon page 36). The magnificent Grande Mosquée and the Panthéon are just a few minutes away, as is the Arab World Institute, a secular institution for cultural research set in a stunning example of modernist architecture. From there, go west towards Notre-Dame and the Eugène Delacroix National Museum. Impressionism buffs will be spoiled for choice in this area: sitting on either side of the Seine, the Orangerie and the Musée d’Orsay (dramatically set in a former railway station) are both landmarks for impressionistic works. The Louvre, of course, has pride of place at the heart of the 1st Arrondissement. Further west along the river, you can bask in sumptuous sartorial pieces at the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, travel to remote regions at the National Museum of Asian Art, or visit the house of Honoré de Balzac, one of France’s

Eiffel Tower. Photo: Paris Info

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Grande Mosquée. Photo: Paris Touirst Office, Daniel Thierry

Discover France & Spain  |  A Weekend in Paris

seminal 19th-century writers. Crossing the Seine again, discover an intriguing collection of tribal artefacts at the Quai Branly Museum. After ingesting all this culture, you’ll likely be hungry for some more worldly food. Consider dining at L’Affriolé or Au Petit Tonneau for a final meal in the rich, generous French style. And if you time it right, you might even see the sun set on the Eiffel Tower – it’s just down the road from there.

Getting there Paris is as easy to get into as it is difficult to leave. The Paris Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports connect the capital to a vast array of destinations within and outside of Europe. The many train stations, especially the Gare de Lyon and Gare du Nord, provide comprehensive connections to the rest of France, while the Eurostar will take you to Great Britain, Belgium or the Netherlands in a couple of hours.

Getting around The city benefits from an efficient metro service; just try and avoid peak hour with luggage or you might get some dagger eyes from the locals. We recommend renting a bicycle for a day – between the public Vélib’ bike rental system and other companies like Paris à Vélo, the options are numerous.


Grande Mosquée. Photo: Paris Touirst Office, Daniel Thierry

Musée d'Orsay.

Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  33

Parc de la Villette. Photo: William Beaucardet

The grass is greener in Paris The French capital is unlike most concrete jungles – and for centuries, parks and gardens have featured heavily in Parisian life. That is why Paris remains ever the trendsetting city, and continues to envisage an eco-friendlier future. By maximising both its green spaces and urban trails, this is now a place that truly lives and breathes. TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: PARIS CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU


pring has almost sprung, which means it’s about time to rediscover the natural delights of the French capital. “When we talk about Paris we think mainly of monuments and culture – but it is also one of the greenest cities in Europe,” says Corinne Menegaux, general director of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau. Great efforts have been made in recent years to make the city greener, and as of 2020, Paris has more than 450 hectares of green space: including parks, gardens, and numerous ‘vegetal’ buildings and rooftops scattered throughout. A trip to Paris is now a trip back to nature.

Explore the ‘lungs’ of Paris The Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes, nicknamed the green lungs of the capital, are crucial features of the Paris eco-scape. With lakes, theatres, floral 34  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

parks, zoos, farms, cycle paths, running trails, velodromes, and racetracks; there’s plenty for just about anyone to enjoy. The recent transformation of the Paris Zoological Park in the Bois de Vincennes has catapulted it into the 21st century. Organised by biozone, it is the first of its kind, and a must-see for any nature enthusiast.

has been developing the city’s themed urban walks for pedestrians to discover lesser known districts. Nature is at the centre of the walk through the 12th Arrondissement, thanks to 35 hectares of parks and gardens; the 13th is a corner of street art and innovation, and the 14th invites visitors to soak up the Parisian rhythm through its architectural and artistic flair.

The Jardin des Plantes is also a wonderful spot to unearth Paris’ biodiversity. The ‘Tree Tales’ tour showcases trees from around the world, recorded over centuries by passionate travellers. Boasting 11 gardens from rosaries to alpine gardens, it is also home to the largest herbarium in the world.

Live like a Parisian Each district, or arrondissement, of Paris has its own identity, residents and unique local businesses. This is why the Visitors Bureau

Corinne Menegaux.

Discover France & Spain  |  A Weekend in Paris Jardin des Plantes. Photo: Mary Quincy

“The urban walks allow visitors to discover a more authentic Paris, and live like a local. We encourage all tourists, whether French or foreign, to step off the beaten track,” explains Menegaux. Paris can be discovered in a thousand and one ways, without necessarily seeing the essential.

Pedal along miles of cycle lanes And what better way to discover the ‘city of love’, than in the open air? There is little more romantic than gazing at the sights from behind your handlebars. Paris comprises over 1,000 kilometres of cycling routes, making it possible to while away the weekend with a more mindful form of transport. “The bicycle is becoming an essential way of getting around, both for locals and visitors. It is possible to rent a bike through Paris à Vélo, or Holland Bikes tours and rentals, which offer three-hour guided tours to discover the most famous sights,” says Corinne Menegaux.

Photo: Foodframe

Berges de Seine. Photo: Mary Quincy

Sleep soundly, and sustainably

Food that feels good

An eco-responsible trip to Paris doesn’t need to stop at the gates of its leafy parks. From solar-powered energy, to aviaries on the roof – a number of hotels are striving to be more sustainable. “Establishments such as the Hôtel de la Porte Dorée and Paris Marriott Champs Élysées Hotel, as well as the Mandarin Oriental (which has hives on its roof), are all mobilising to reduce their environmental impact. Not forgetting the Hotel Sofitel Le Scribe Paris Opéra, which, as part of the Sofitel Planet 21 programme, is committed to various recycling and water conservation programmes to reduce its carbon footprint. Even the Novotel Paris Porte de Versailles is doing its bit for the planet, actively reducing food waste, among other schemes: “They’re using vegetable peels to make sauce bases or homemade broths in the hotel kitchen,” reveals Menegaux.

Parisian gastronomy continues to make headlines, but this time with organic and responsible produce on the menu. Take the time to visit the traditional Brasserie Sacré Frenchy just a short distance from the Centre Pompidou, where they are serving up fresh French products. Visitors can expect organic meat from Landes, artisan bread, and even organic wine from Paris itself. Alternatively, there’s the gourmet restaurant ANONA, which uses no gas or plastic, but instead homemade produce from the Ile-de-France region. Even the furniture is made locally. So, what are you waiting for? Offset your trip to Paris and plan the eco-responsible city break of a lifetime.

Parc de la Villette. Photo: Marie-Sophie Leturcq

Petite Ceinture. Photo: Studio TTG

Photo: Mandarin Oriental

Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  35



Musée de l'Homme. Photo: JC Domenech

Making history France’s cultural landscape may not have been what it is without the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle. It was first established in Paris in 1635 by King Louis XIII as a royal garden for medicinal plants, as well as a place of learning and teaching. The time was ripe for cementing the nation’s intellectual identity: the very same year, the Cardinal de Richelieu would establish the Académie Française, which still codifies the French language. Since then, the Muséum has acted as one of the country’s foremost centres for studies in the natural sciences, currently curating some 68 million specimens within its collection. With 500 researchers and 350 postgraduates, it also constitutes a part of the Sorbonne Universities, and is run around a general purpose: to further our understanding of nature as to better to preserve it. TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND  |  PHOTOS: MUSÉUM NATIONAL D’HISTOIRE NATURELLE


he Muséum holds a unique status among similar institutions abroad: rather than consisting of a single site, it is made up of 13, the most prominent three of which are in Paris. Among these, the original 1635 Jardin des Plantes is France’s main botanical garden as well 36  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

as the central seat of the Muséum. It was renamed as the Paris Botanical Garden during the French Revolution, and became the ground for the Muséum by decree of the 1793 National Convention. The Muséum’s expansion through the 1850s, including the establishment of the Gallery of Mineralogy

and Geology, marked the first time that a building had been conceived as a museum, rather than converted into one. Each individual gallery now constitutes a museum in its own right, specialising in a given aspect of natural history.

Jardin des Plantes Set at the heart of the fifth arrondissement, the Jardin des Plantes is still the site of the Muséum’s most iconic institutions. Among them, the Gallery of Comparative Anatomy is an imposing repository of about 650 skeletons, articulating the similarities and divergences between species. On the upper levels of the same building, the Gallery of Paleontology contains a collection of fossil vertebrates, invertebrate and plants. As a whole, this double gallery offers a 540million-year journey, guiding visitors chronologically through the story of biological life

Discover France & Spain  |  A weekend in Paris

and illustrating the earth’s main three geological periods: from Paleozoic fossils to the Mesozoic (known as the golden age of the dinosaurs) to our current Cenozoic era. Another highlight is the near-legendary Grande Galerie de l’Évolution, where some 7,000 mounted specimens retrace the evolution of life on earth. Divided into three sections, the gallery’s ground floor first presents the diversity of living habitats both on land and at sea, while the third floor illustrates the main steps in the evolution of species. Finally, the second floor is concerned with the man-made impact on natural habitats and its potential consequences on evolution. The Grande Galerie also contains several annexes, one of the most significant of which is the room dedicated to extinct or endangered species. Among other specimens, it features the Schomburgk’s deer, the world’s only mounted example of a species of deer native to central Thailand. The animal in question, in fact, lived in the Jardin des Plantes until its death in 1868. The King Island Emu, endemic to Australia, is another example of an extinct species whose only remaining example stands in

Grande Galerie. Photo: A Iatzoura

the Muséum today. Further on, are a pair of giant pandas, on display since 2019. They were the specimens collected in the Mountains of Eastern Tibet 150 years ago, and used to draw up the original scientific description of their whole species, now endangered. More than a mere exhibition of rare or unheard-of animals, the gallery is

a moving testament to the finitude of life, and the care that is required to foster it. By presenting us with the last specimens of individual species, it encourages us to work toward the protection of those that may one day become extinct. In order to increase awareness among the younger generation, the Muséum opened the Children’s Gallery in 2010. This twofloor space enables children to roam around four distinct ecosystems (city, river, tropical forest and planet) so as to familiarise themselves with biodiversity.

Musée de l’Homme

Paleontology. Photo:Carnotaurus

Musée de l'Homme. Photo: JC Domenech

The Musée de l’Homme, or Museum of Mankind, is another central point of the institution. Built on the grounds of the former Trocadéro Museum of Anthropology, it was established in 1937 by Paul Rivet, who became known for his involvement against fascism during the Second World War. Its fundamental purpose was to better define humanity under its multiple facets, illustrating its various socio-cultural expressions over time. Some 1,800 items form an exploratory route through the museum, articulating three main questions: 'Who are we?', 'Where are we from?', and 'Where are we going?'. These thematics aim to define and interpret mankind’s evolving role among living beings, and, by understanding what it has been, to conjecture what it may become. Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  37

Discover France & Spain  |  A weekend in Paris

Zoological Park of Paris Finally, the third foremost Parisian site of the Muséum is the Zoological Park of Paris. Located in the 12th arrondissement, it covers a 36-acre area within the Bois de Vincennes, and is recognisable from afar thanks to the iconic, 65-metre-high artificial ‘Great Rock’ that towers over the park. Opened in 1934 as a complement to the smaller zoo at the Jardin des Plantes, it was fully renovated from 2008 to 2014, when it reopened its doors to the public. The parc aims to offer an immersive experience into a great variety of natural habitats: its fourkilometre pathway goes through five distinct biozones: Patagonian, Sahel-Sudan, Europe, Guyana-Amazon and Madagascar. It also contains a 4,000-square-metre greenhouse that harbours a tropical rainforest climate. Spanning mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates, the parc includes 194 species, with over a

Parc zoologique. Photo: FG Grandin

Parc zoologique. Photo: FG Grandin

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Discover France & Spain  |  A weekend in Paris

thousand animals on the grounds: an added testimony to the Muséum’s commitment to biodiversity.

Regional sites Beyond these three main Parisian institutions, the Muséum is complemented by regional sites across France. A non-exhaustive list includes the Marinarium in Concarneau, Brittany; the Garden for Exotic Botany in Menton, in the south-east of France; and the Pataud Shelter, a prehistoric museum site in the Dordogne region, originally occupied by some of the first Homo Sapiens 20,000 years ago. While more modest in size and scope, these sites add individuality and variety to the Muséum, while bringing significant contributions to its central concern: the understanding of life and its evolution, especially in the context of contemporary issues.

Menton. Photo: C Joulin

Menton. Photo: A Iatzoura

The Muséum in 2020 The Muséum consistently strives to offer a rich programme of events. A full list can be found on its website, but must-see 2020 events include the I eat, therefore

I am exhibition, which investigates the biological, cultural and ecological sides of food consumption (at the Museum of Man until 7 June, 2020). At the Jardin des Plantes, Precious Stones: from Minerals

to Jewels focuses on gems, crystals and other rare minerals, tracing their journey from the mines to jewellery (from 3 April 2020 until 3 January 2021). Finally, the Zoological Park will feature a season centreing on its most fascinating species, either animal or vegetal; real or imaginary Parc zoologique. Photo: FG Grandin

(from 4 April to 1 November 2020).

Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  39

Discover France & Spain  |  A Weekend in Paris

Where the heart of science beats Are you looking for exhibitions, activities and shows that will leave you with an incredible memory of your visit to Paris? Located in la Villette, one of the largest parks in Paris, the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie is a must-see! Far from being a specialised centre aimed at science geeks only, the ‘Cité’ is an inclusive space geared towards the needs and interests of one and all, adults and children alike. Its impressive infrastructure, emphasis on pedagogy, and wide-ranging cultural offerings make it a compelling part of any visit to the French capital. TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND  |  PHOTOS: PH LEVY


esigned by Adrien Fainsilber, the architecture of the Cité is striking from the get-go, playing on the contrast between its monumental concrete frame and its glass façades overlooking the park. The edifice stands out not only through its sheer size, but also in that it provides a multiplicity of pathways to science. Built on a cooperation with the scientific community, its wide programme comes in the form of permanent and temporary exhibitions, events and a high-definition planetarium.

Among its various exhibitions, Spies drives you to the core of the French Intelligence Services inside a classified case. Are you observant, analytical? Do you have a good intuition and reactivity? Well then, this is a mission for you up until August 2020! 40  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

Robots displays genuine, functional robots and explores all facets of modern robotics. BR4IN, meanwhile, the famous permanent exhibition, offers new experiments to understand the functioning of the brain and to get to know yourself better. The e-LAB explores video games in all its facets. The Cité des enfants (the subsection focused on kids) offers two age-specific zones for children from two to 12 years old to exercise their scientific curiosity. Following the success of the Cité des enfants, the institution opened the Lab de la Cité des bébés, a similar space designed for babies under two years old. Conceived as a sheltering nest, it is geared around the wellbeing of very young children and their psychomotor and cognitive development. This

unique experimentation is carried out as a collaborative workshop and out of upcycled materials from past exhibitions, and seems to be highly successful, as it tends to be booked out every day. As one of France's major scientific institutions, the Cité participates in global events such as the Festival of Science and the European Museum Night and also proposes a wide range of unique events: ‘Les Silencieuses’ et ‘Les Éclatantes’, for instance, are series of evening events giving young adults a chance to rediscover exhibitions set to music in a more casual context. The Cité des sciences et de l’industrie will definitely leave you with an indelible memory. Few museums in the world have gone to such lengths to present the cutting edge of science to the public. Tuesday to Saturday: 10am to 6pm Sunday: 10am to 7pm Closed on Monday 30 avenue Corentin Cariou 75019 Paris

Discover France & Spain  |  A Weekend in Paris

Grand Roissy offers a hidden world right next to Charles de Gaulle airport.

Roissy, not your average layover For most travellers, a long airport layover is unwelcome, to put it mildly. Not enough time to explore, but more than enough hours to get supremely bored; cramped in an uncomfortable seat, with patchy WiFi, mediocre food, too much noise and too many people. Some might have access to a bland lounge or hotel room – at best. So that’s why discovering Grand Roissy – five peaceful, countryside villages, within super-easy access of Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport (the second-busiest in Europe) – almost feels like finding a magic door to a hidden world.

modern archeological museum Musée Archéa, which is currently hosting the last-ever chance to see real, locally-found mammoth skeletons. The Roissy-en-France Mairie (town hall), with its beautiful garden cherry trees that blossom each spring, also hosts an annual photographic art show.


Even those looking for simple rest and relaxation will find it here; a meal in Roissy’s traditional French brasserie (alongside the usual international restaurant options) is a far more tempting prospect than one might expect for your typical airport fare. The local shopping centre, Aéroville, even has a multiplex cinema, offering escape on bad weather days. “When people think of Roissy, they think only of the airport, and they might be scared to go far, in case they miss their flight,” says Côme. “But there is such beauty to explore... just next door.”


o need to find time for central Paris; here is the real France, mere minutes from a major international hub. Even visitors who have seen the capital will find more to explore here, with historical villages such as Luzarches and Gressy pretty enough to please even the most jaded city hopper. Frequent buses take travellers the short distance from the airport (and its TGV and RER train stations), directly to Roissyen-France; and many hotels even offer free shuttles most of the day and night. From solo travellers to couples to families, there is something here for everyone, ex-

plains Denis Côme, president of the Grand Roissy Tourism Office. He says: “Whether for several days or a few hours, people can tailor their visit however they like.” Sporty types will love the countryside walking and cycling routes, and boat rides on the Ourcq canal; and new for this year are a golf course – open to all from September – plus, a refreshing swimming pool at Mesnil-Amelot. Culture-seekers will enjoy the medieval Saint-Martin church in Gressy; the magnificent Château d’Écouen and its National Renaissance Museum; plus, the super- Instagram: @everydayinroissy Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  41


Stop and smell the roses in the Loire Valley With its subtle perfume, soft pigment and velvety petals, the rose has been a source of poetic inspiration for generations of artists. The Loire Valley in central France is both a botanical paradise and the best place to see these flowers in bloom. Embark on the romantic Route de la Rose – for a leisurely ride through the region’s 15 most fragrant spots. TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: TOURISM LOIRET


he rose is a symbol of timeless beauty, and was in fact the first flower to be grown for ornamental purposes. By collaborating with various producers, gardeners and restaurant owners throughout the region, the Loire Valley has established its very own dedicated rose route to honour the reigning flower of the region. The Route de la Rose is a special circuit around 15 parks, gardens and producers throughout the Loire, which allows visitors to admire the flowers up close and personal. Discover its rose-tinted heritage at your own pace along the trail – the little pleasures will make it worth your while.

Begin in the forest… or the city The Route can be accessed by both nature lovers and urban dwellers alike. Even the nearby city of Orléans is home to a plethora of rosy delights: such as the Parc Floral de la Source, and the Roseraie Jean Dupont. There are over a thousand and one roads 42  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

lined with rose bushes, so you can plan your own route accordingly. Thanks to its fertile soil and an exceptionally mild climate, the Loire is the ideal place for this classic flower to thrive. Alternatively, visitors can begin in the forest where wild rosehip was first picked in the Middle Ages; it was from this moment on that the Loire became a centre point of horticulture and botany. Immerse yourself in the natural world and head to Chilleurs-aux-Bois, where you’ll witness the thorny climbing roses and dog-rose bushes in their native setting.

A warm welcome from a community of rose lovers Parks, gardens, restaurants, chateaux and hotels will welcome you throughout your journey, to tell you about the rose and its many virtues. Visitors will leave with a new favourite rose variety and ideas for their garden back home – and, of course, visual and fragrant memories to last a lifetime.

Some of the chateaux possess over 450 ancient rose varieties. “Bellegarde is a town intimately linked with the history of the rose,” says Anne Marie Leforestier at Tourisme Loiret. “When the rose is in full bloom, Orléans and the Roquelin garden in Meung-sur-Loire are a must.”

Plan your visit The Loiret roses perfectly mark the passage of time, as the seasons change from May through to September. Visitors therefore have plenty of time to catch the flowers at their finest. Visit the Tourisme Loiret website for a detailed map and plenty of recommendations on where to eat, sleep and explore.

Discover France & Spain  |  Visit France: Our favourite spring destinations

Photo: AS Flament

Photo: Celine François

Spectacle Spectre Lab pour Amiens Metropole. Photo: L. Rousselin

Photo: AS Flament

Heritage and horticulture hiding in plain sight Amiens could be the most impressive city you’ve never heard of. As the hometown of French president Emmanuel Macron, the Somme hub has become better-known of late, but it is the city’s surprising heritage, quirkiness and beauty that has sparked a spike in tourist curiosity more recently. TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON  |  PHOTOS: OFFICE DE TOURISME AMIENS


ts history is unmistakable; this year marks eight centuries since the first stone of the majestic, gothic cathedral was laid, with many celebratory events planned, including a choir of 800 children for each of the 800 years, plus concerts, exhibitions, and a stunning light show. Also key for 2020 is the newly-revamped Musée de Picardie, a must-visit 19th-century treasure trove that was the first ever purpose-built museum in France. Heritage is also found here in the city’s 300 hectares of picturesque ‘floating gardens’. Dubbed ‘hortillonnages’, these canals and islands led to Amiens being named ‘the Venice

of the North’, and they now play host to 50 garden and art exhibits for the city’s annual International Garden Festival event, including work from many international artists. Visitors can hire boats to explore this watery world, which was once home to the city’s ‘hortillons’ (market gardeners, who still sell their fresh produce every Saturday), and the most intrepid can even stay overnight in supercolourful, tiny island cabins. A short bike ride away, the historic, waterside Saint-Leu neighbourhood below the cathedral offers an easy option for drinks or dinner. “Families and young couples love the hortillonnages,” explains Stéphanie Cadet, from the Amiens tourist office. “It’s a real adventure.”

The city’s heritage also extends to literature: famous French writer Jules Verne married an Amiens woman, and wrote 30 books in their local home, including most of his Extraordinary Voyages collection. The house is now open to the public as an atmospheric and immersive homage. But Amiens does not only look to the past; as the 2020 European Capital of Youth, new plans are always on the horizon, including a multi-part revamp of the city’s zoo. The city is also proud to be a welcoming, eco-friendly city that is easy to get to by train, does not require a car, and is green in all senses of the word. “People are always so surprised by the feeling of peace and wellbeing here,” says Cadet. “The station is right in the centre of town, and everything is accessible on foot or bike. That is yet another sign of our truly relaxed spirit.” Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  43

Discover France & Spain  |  Visit France: Our favourite spring destinations

Sarlat, where natural beauty, gastronomy and history combine Sarlat Tourisme has something to offer for all types of visitors to the region, from outdoor adventure getaways to cosy gastronomical discoveries, and inspiring walks through medieval castles and local markets. TEXT: STEPHANIE UWALAKA  |  PHOTOS: DAN COURTICE


etween the Dordogne valley and the Vézère valley, the region of Périgord Noir boasts a rich history and agricultural heritage that make the small town of Sarlat an unmissable tourist destination in southwest France. The tourist office offers a whole range of experiences, highly recommending the Sarlat town market, guided castle tours, truffle-finding excursions, and night walks. Apart from the nature walks available, Sarlat also has a panoramic lift in the bell tower of the old Saint-Marie church, constructed by the well-known architect Jean Nouvel, giving a beautiful view of the town; and of course, a chance to visit the inside of the church, now an indoor market. The Périgord noir region 44  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

also holds several seasonal events during the year, with its upcoming Local Produce Weekend in May, where you can sample all the best chestnuts, strawberries, wines and even caviar, that the region has to offer. Other notable regional events throughout the year are the Christmas Market, the Truffle Festival in January, and various cultural festivals involving theatre, film and jazz and swing music. Also located in the region is the medieval town of Rocamadour, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts tourists from around the world and is known as the third-most-visited tourist site in France; it is

also not far from the stunning Padirac natural caves. Not just exceptional for its natural beauty and medieval heritage, the region offers a host of locally sourced produce, giving any visitor an indulgent taste of local French gastronomy, including foie gras, black truffles, ceps and goat’s cheese: all farmed in the region itself. It is possible to rent a holiday home for visitors in groups and book all the activities together, such as walks in Dordogne and guided tours, so that you can enjoy your stay without hassle. Surrounded by beautiful villages and with its enviable markets, Sarlat has a special mix of outdoor sport activities, heritage site visits and proudly produced local food, that make it an essential travel destination this year, and hopefully, for years to come.


Paintings through time To visit the cave at Pech Merle is almost akin to a visit to another world while travelling through time. Located in the picturesque Lot Valley in France (just over half an hour’s drive from Cahors, or two hours’ from Toulouse), the Centre de Préhistoire du Pech Merle is one of only a few in the old province of Quercy to offer visitors the chance to get up close and personal with prehistoric paintings from tens of thousands of years ago. TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON  |  PHOTOS: P. CABROL - CENTRE DE PRÉHISTOIRE DU PECH MERLE


lthough less than 100 kilometres from the super-famous Lascaux caves, this site offers an even more authentic experience: because these Paleolithic paintings are not copies, they are the real thing. This is what is so unique about Pech Merle, and adds an extra, thrilling dimension to a visit here. Guided tours last around 45 minutes, with translations available in 12 languages. “Visitors say that it is very moving,” explains Bertrand Defois, director of cultural and tourist development at the centre. “Here, you can stand a few 46  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

dozen centimetres away from artwork that was first created 29,000 years ago.”

Amedée Lemozi The visit is set up to emphasise this rare experience, with visitors encouraged to immerse themselves in the otherworldly feeling of the cave. “You feel like you are in another universe,” says Defois. “There are strange noises and shapes – stalactites, stalagmites – and it’s dark. You lose all of your reference points. It's like being in a time machine.”

Discovered in 1922, the site would become the project of local priest and prehistorian, Amedée Lemozi. Having come to the nearby village of Cabrerets after the First World War to teach, he encouraged his students not only in religious education, but also in his love of prehistoric treasures. Energised by his lessons, three teenagers aged 13 to 16 were exploring nearby when they came across the artwork, and their teacher became the first person to study the paintings. Inspired, Lemozi decided to open the cave to the public in 1926, realising that the paintings were in such good condition that they could be viewed in their original, authentic form. There are 800 drawings in total (of which not all are accessible to the public), with the most famous work being The Punctuated Horses: a horse head next to symbolic dots, which has become the centre’s logo. Equally as astonishing is an

Discover France & Spain  |  Museum of the month in France

actual footprint in the dirt – a real-life remnant of the European early modern humans who walked in that exact spot. The Pech Merle cave, as it came to be known – taking on the Occitan name of the hill above it – would later become today’s visitor centre.

80,000 visitors Now, the Amedée Lemozi Museum allows guests to understand the history in even more detail, including the screening of a 25-minute documentary film created by a researcher; and the site explores the prehistory of the entire area, placing Pech Merle in context of the region’s wider, prehistoric gems. While the centre itself admits that it “cannot compete” with Lascaux – on visitor numbers or on the level of international fame – it does now attract more than 80,000 visitors per year, and is always fully booked in the summer months of July and August. Guests planning a trip are strongly advised to book their visit in advance, Defois says, to ensure they will be included as one of the limited number of daily guests. Entrances are capped at 700 people per day, to protect the paintings. There are also plans to modernise the centre soon, and add even more English-language guides to the existing daily tours.

Revolutionary drawings

Indeed, the area is popular with tourists, and visitors often pair their trip to Pech Merle with a visit to the nearby medieval village of Saint-Cirq Lapopie. Perched perilously-yet-beautifully on a mountainside

This is a region offering near-unparalleled access to the history of France through the ages, from the cave paintings, to the medieval churches, villages and cathedrals of the Middle Ages – not to mention the stunning natural scenery. And in today’s world

overlooking the picturesque Lot Valley, it is a favourite among painters and writers, and has been named as one of the official Plus Beaux Villages de France. As one might expect, a veritable industry has also popped up closer to Pech Merle itself, with many recommended hotels and restaurants bearing its name.

– so full of images, design, photos and distractions – it is worth remembering how incredible this early art must have seemed to the people who created it, and consider how powerfully somewhere like Pech Merle can remind us of our own place in humans’ journey through millennia. “Today, in our society, there are images everywhere,” explains Defois. “But these are some of the first drawings that were ever made by our species of humanity. They must have been completely revolutionary.” Facebook: Pech-Merle

Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  47


Just a stone’s throw from neolithic France For centuries, hikers and pilgrims have sought solace among the geological wonders of the Causses du Quercy national park. And for almost a century, the Hôtel Restaurant des Grottes has welcomed them to stay at the heart of it all. Located at the foot of one of southern France’s most historic caves, it offers a tranquil place to stay and hearty local food. TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: HÔTEL RESTAURANT DES GROTTES


or exploring the Causses du Quercy national park, you couldn’t be better located than at the Hôtel des Grottes. The hotel and restaurant are named after the Pech Merle grotto; formed over thousands of years by an underground river carving the limestone rock and creating unique subterranean channels. “In the 1920s, Roger Théron decided to take over the family business, together with his young wife Marthe David, who was one of the first to discover the Pech Merle Cave,” explains Clelia Leroux. “A few years later, they built the first four rooms and ‘Maison Théron’ became the Hôtel des Grottes.”

Organic cuisine in a scenic spot Since the fifties, the Théron family have provided warm dishes, and even warmer hospi48  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

tality. The restaurant’s terrace overlooks some of the region’s most peaceful spots, such as the limestone Cabrerets cliffs and the nearby River Célé. Guests can make the most of the sun with breakfast on the terrace: “Every morning, we serve organic local produce in a simple and authentic setting,” says Clelia. The restaurant offers a range of regional dishes; not to mention the long list of local beers and wine from the Quercy region itself. “Our restaurant accommodates up to 150 people, so we can also help with event planning.”

to each marking - some of which were created more than 25,000 years ago. Here, the geological heritage of the Causses du Quercy is very much a lived experience. “Even the nearby Château des Anglais is built into the bedrock,” explains Clelia.

Explore the region of Occitanie Whether you’re hoping to retreat into the natural caves, or spend an afternoon overlooking the cliffs from the pool; a stay at the Hôtel des Grottes is the perfect base for exploring the Occitan part of southern France. There are a number of stunning excursions for exploring off the beaten track on foot, bike, horse or canoe: embark on a seven-day hike of 200 kilometres through the Dordogne and the vineyards of Cahors; or a 175-kilometre hike along the river Célé, which is ideal for a long weekend.

If stones could speak The Pech Merle cave is famous for its neolithic murals of mammoths, bison and horses etched into the calcareous rock. Over time, the geological formations have added texture

The hotel and restaurant will open again on 8 April until 30 September 2020.

Semana Santa for beginners While the rest of the world is counting down to Easter during the last week of Lent, the party is already kicking off in Spain. The celebration of Semana Santa (or, the Holy Week) is a relic of Spain’s deep Catholic past. Symbolism-packed processions with intriguing costumes and golden shrines fill the streets, as well as thousands of eager spectators. For the non-believers amongst us, these cavalcades might seem a bit odd – or even frightening – at first. That’s why we are happy to ‘baptise’ you with this Semana Santa crash course and let you in on all the illustrious secrets of the Catholics’ Holy Week. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTO: PIXABAY

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Discover France & Spain  |  Semana Santa for beginners


hat do we celebrate during Semana Santa?

Where is the place to be?

Unlike Christmas and Easter – which celebrate the birth and resurrection of Jesus – Semana Santa is a bit of a mournful gathering. It commemorates the suffering of the Messiah during the last days of his life and his subsequent passing at the cross. Depending on when and where you attend a Semana Santa parade, you will see different symbols and scenes from this turbulent Bible passage. From a mourning virgin Mary to the bearing of the cross and the crucifixion itself. Whatever story they focus on, it usually isn’t a happy one.

In almost all regions of the Spanish mainland, as well as at the Balearic and Canary Islands, you can attend a Semana Santa procession. Yet, most famous and popular are the ones in Andalusia. Sevilla is the biggest and most popular one of all, but also in Granada, Málaga, Córdoba and Almeria, you can attend a particularly nice one. In the central region of Castille and Léon, you can find many of them, as well. Yet, these are more solemn and mournful than the Andalusian ones. The small city of Lorca (in Murcia) is known for its interesting Roman-themed Semana Santa cavalcade.

What will I see in these processions?

And what happens on Easter?

The protagonists of the parade are the masked members of so-called ‘cofradias’ (or, brotherhoods). Don’t let their white robes and pointy hoods fool you, these people have nothing to do with the more sinister groups in the United States who wear similar costumes. Instead, their aim is to take care of the fellow Christians in their neighbourhoods and far beyond. The reason for their disguise is that, in the Middle Ages, they wanted to walk in the cavalcade without having to face bloody repercussions from their non-religious rulers afterwards. Like Jesus, they usually walk barefoot; sometimes even with shackles or chains attached to them. Furthermore, the parade comes with high numbers of sacred candles, lush shrines and giant statues (or, ‘pasos’); and – of course – crosses galore!

On Sunday, all that mourning is put in the past and it is time to party. After heading to church in the morning, entire families gather at the ‘abuela’ for a nice, heavy meal – supposedly the first one after 40 days of fastening. On the menu: ‘bueñelos’ (small, shapeless donuts covered in sugar), ‘torrijas’ (honey-drenched French toast), ‘pestiños’ (deep-fried fritters with anise, orange and sugar) and ‘monas de Pascua’ (sweet bread rings with whole eggs baked into them). But before inducing that sugar rush, they enjoy a nice garlic soup or seafood dish. This year’s Semana Santa starts on 5 April and ends on 12 April, Easter Sunday. On which day(s) they celebrate, depends from town to town. So, check this online or at the tourist office.

Semana Santa in Lorca.

Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  51

Photo: Unsplash


Task or relationship? Are you happy to walk into a meeting full of people you don’t know and get straight down to business, or do you feel the need to find out something about them first? TEXT & PHOTO: STEVE FLINDERS

Interculturalists distinguish between more task- and more relationship-orientated business cultures. This is important to bear in mind when dealing with people from an unfamiliar company or country. My urge when I meet you professionally might be to find out something about you and your background; your interest might be simply to get on with the job in hand. Your reflex might derive from where you come from or simply from who you are – an interpersonal rather than an intercultural phenomenon. I was once given an example of relationship orientation by a French hotelier who wanted to develop his Saudi clientele. His first visit to the country was a disaster. Although he had arranged a series of meetings before52  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

hand, his timetable soon fell apart since no one was available when they had said they would be, and he wasted hours waiting for people who never turned up. So he forgot about planning and simply started calling people once he had arrived: it worked. His contacts would invite him to join them for elaborate meals. During three or four trips, he did a lot of socialising with little mention of work. But once the relationships had been forged, the business started flowing in and the significant investment in time and money that he had made paid off. Whether working internationally or not, task-orientated people must recognise the need others may have to build relationships. Their impatience to get things done

may lead them to trample roughshod over others’ feelings. Relationship-orientated people, on the other hand, can be so focused on achieving harmony that they lose focus of the essential objective of getting results. As often, it’s a question of awareness and getting the balance right.

Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, based in Malta, who helps people develop their communication and leadership skills for working internationally:

Discover France & Spain  |  Business & Innovation


Southern Europe tomorrow What’s awaiting us tomorrow is a mystery. But, if you want to catch a glimpse of the future, Southern Europe’s vibrant start-up and innovation scene might be the place to look. French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese visionaries are coming up with life-altering ideas daily and manage to turn them into reality in no-time. Welcome to Southern Europe’s future. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  I  PHOTOS: UNSPLASH

TOMORROW’S BEAUTY The make-up robot

TOMORROW’S MUSIC Portable beats

As every music aficionado knows, experiencing music is about more than just hearing the tunes play in your ears. It is all about feeling the beats. With BassMe, you can now take those beats with you, anywhere you go. Attach this French plug-and-play device on your chest, connect it to your headphones (by cable or Bluetooth) and it will pump the beats straight through your body without anyone around you hearing a thing.

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Doing your make-up takes plenty of valuable mirror time as your skin never looks quite the same as the day before. L’Oréal’s brand-new Perso device creates your perfect facial cream in a heartbeat and dispenses it straight away. Based on a selfie you make, your personal data, your preferences and on other factors like the weather, air quality and humidity, it calculates the optimal solution. Two other Perso devices provide you with a custom-made foundation or lipstick every morning. They even allow you to colour-match the colour with your outfit or the latest trends.

TOMORROW’S REHAB Digital detox

When plenty of other methods to quit smoking have failed already, the Italian sober-buddy LIFEBOX might be what you need. After determining your dependency level through the app, it calculates your ideal kick-off schedule. The app helps you stick to the plan and motivates you along the way, but it is the electronic cigarette safe that helps you resist the temptation. As it only opens as many times per day as your schedule allows you to smoke cigarettes, it will push you to stick to the plan and be smoke-free in no-time.

Discover France & Spain  |  Business & Innovation

A cinematic vision for your business events Saying that a picture is worth more than a thousand words may sound like a cliché, but it happens to be true. And if we put image and word together, Amagifilms appears: a Madrid-based audio-visual company specialised in conference recordings, event broadcasting and photography in Spain. TEXT: NINA JAREÑO  |  PHOTO: AMAGIFILMS

To many companies, thinking about the audio-visual part of their events is a hard nut to crack. That is why Amagifilms offers its clients a personalised, all-round service with a professional production specialist who oversees the entire process,

leaving no room for errors. “An essential ingredient for a company to function is passion for your work. We are committed to every event or project,” says Bárbara Sokol, the executive producer at Amagifilms. The cinematic expertise of this audio-

visual company, that works in English and Polish as well, allows each project to be treated in a unique, individual way. This is how Amagifilms creates extraordinary videos that fit the customer's vision perfectly. “We specialise in corporate events and take care of it from beginning to end; from the set-up of the equipment, to the recording, broadcasting or event photographing,” explains Sokol. The Amagifilms flagship product is the ‘aftermovie’, a unique video that becomes an audio-visual memory of your event. Barbara Sokol is not wrong in saying that “quality videos or photos project a brand image of trust and excellence.” How do you get that? By taking care of every single detail. “Because no project is too big or too small for us.” So, if you are organising an event in Spain and you need an audio-visual partner, Amagifilms has all the tools and skills to guarantee your success.

Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  55

Build your business brain in Barcelona Barcelona may be one of the top places to consider for a holiday or even to live, but would it be the first place to come to mind when choosing a business school? Barcelona may seem all beaches and festivals, but in fact, it’s a great place for business, too. The city holds world-class conferences such as the Mobile World Congress, Retail Brand Experience World Congress, Startup Grind and Smart City World Expo, and attracts lots of new and progressive start-ups. TEXT: ESME FOX  |  PHOTOS: ESEI BUSINESS SCHOOL


ts popularity as a holiday destination also means that there’s a great many companies dedicated to tourism, from hotels and tour companies to cookery schools, so it’s an ideal place to study if you’re interested in the business side of hospitality and tourism.

and elegant space in which to learn and focus. The school offers both Bachelors and Masters programmes in a variety of fields, from business management and digital entrepreneurship to tourism and hospitality management and international relations.

ESEI Business School is essentially a family business, which first opened in 1989 and draws on the city’s business opportunities to help teach its students and create innovative courses and projects. Located in a grand and beautiful house on the edge of the city, close to the mountains, this is not your usual campus. It offers a unique

The school was founded by Jorge Estera Sanza in order to develop international business in Barcelona. It aims to provide an all-round, internationally-focused education, which combines academic excellence in business studies with humanistic values. With an average of around 250 students and a maximum of 25 per class,

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Personal attention

ESEI offers a lot of personal attention and can tailor projects around students’ interests and needs. All courses are taught in English and pupils are attracted from countries around the world, making the school a very multicultural environment, which sets students up well in the world of business. “We have had up to 90 different nationalities, but currently we have around 35, mostly from Europe, including countries such as the Netherlands, France, Italy and Germany, although we have quite a few from Morocco, too,” says business development manager Carlota Estera.

On- and off-campus learning One of the things that sets the courses at ESEI apart from other business courses in the city are its links with businesses and its practical classes and projects, offering real world experiences. One example of this includes its partnership with the Hotel Majestic, one of Barcelona’s most luxurious hotels. Through project-based learning, students get to acquire first-hand knowl-

Discover France & Spain  |  Business & Innovation

edge about the way in which the hotel is run and managed. The school will also be launching a Masters in Sports Management in October 2020, in conjunction with Bruguera’s Tennis Academy. Because of its affiliations with businesses in the city, the school also helps organise internships and visits to companies. Many modules are in fact taught outside the campus, in co-working spaces or in businesses themselves, so that students can network and learn the necessary business skills in the real world. The courses are accredited by UCAM – the Catholic University of Murcia in Spain, and also have connections with a couple of universities in the United Kingdom.

Social and green “In everything we do, we try to look at our social impact and green issues. Our courses also include volunteering in social leadership and a Go Green Project, which teaches about sustainability in business,” explains Carlota. When students complete their courses, ESEI prepares them with workshops about getting into the workforce and supports them in their job search or advises them on the processes of starting their own businesses. Each year, they hold a career fair in the garden, giving graduates the opportunity to meet companies and speed network. There are also a variety of

other job fairs and conferences in the city, which students can attend.

Hotbed of talent Graduates go on to have careers in everything from tech start-ups and multinational companies to even FTSE 100 and blue-chip companies. Some even go on to start their own businesses and become their own boss. “My favourite thing about our school is our personal touch and care for each student, enhancing their unique-

ness. We dream with them and support them both personally and professionally,” concludes Carlota. Barcelona is a great place to learn your trade and network with an international community. Whether you want to build your business locally or internationally, the city offers a hotbed of talent, knowledge and, of course, a great environment in which to learn and network.

Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  57

Discover France & Spain  |  Business & Innovation

Design with sustainability in mind Sustainability is a hot topic. We are now more conscious than ever that how we live affects the planet. Even the houses we choose to live in could have a drastic impact on our carbon footprint. TEXT: NOELIA SANTANA  |  PHOTOS: CONRAD WHITE

For some companies, sustainability is nothing new. Blakstad is a design consultancy firm that has been building dreamy, Ibizan-style houses for decades, all the while striving to fit the design into the environment, to maintain harmony with the natural elements. Rolph Blakstad, founder of the company, was fascinated by how the crystalline houses were part of the land. He described the architecture of Ibiza as “part of an organic, living relationship between man and nature.” Blakstad designs with this premise in mind. “We understand sustainability as a key part of the design, the orientation of the houses, how to maximise the light and ventilation to save energy,” says Rolf Blakstad, son of Rolph and head of design.

Its ethos is to conserve the cultural significance of the island while combining new and efficient building techniques to suit contemporary lifestyles. Even though its approach to design is traditional, it keeps up with the latest architectural trends that can improve the design but also minimise the environmental im-

Casa Trull.

pact. Houses are built to make the most of the natural light, placing skylights and windows strategically. It uses materials with a high thermal mass that reduces room temperature during the day, but keeps it warm later in the day. The key to having a conscious approach to building starts with the design; thinking ahead about how the structure is going to be in harmony with the landscape, studying the terrain and the vegetation to make the most of it but always respecting it.

Casa Nemo.

Festival Printemps des arts de Monte-Carlo. Photo: Philippe Fitte

Diary Dates Artistic gatherings, vintage rallies, book fairs, blossom festivals… They are all happening here, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Don’t miss out on these fabulous events in France and Spain this month. Málaga Festival 13-22 March, Málaga, Spain Since Money Heist and Pain & Glory, Spanish cinema and television have taken the world by storm. At the Málaga Festival, the greatest Spanish films and most legendary celebrities are honoured and celebrated on the silver screen.

Spring Arts Festival 13 March - 11 April, Monte Carlo, Monaco Where else than in Monaco can you enjoy top-notch culture and soothing spring 60  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

weather? With the Spring Arts Festival, the tiny nation presents the greatest classical music, opera and ballet with a contemporary twist, creating an unforgettable, artistic voyage.

International Tango Festival 17-22 March, Granada, Spain During the International Tango Festival, the city of Granada bursts with love and passion. For the 31st time, the event gathers the best musicians, greatest dancers and most enthusiastic spectators around. So,


dust off your stilettos, pick a bright-red rose and dance the weekend away underneath the Andalusian sun.

Paris Book Fair 20-23 March, Paris, France Despite the many digital tools that we have at our fingertips today, the book industry is still alive and kicking. If you’re looking for the next novel for you to devour, you can peruse away at the Paris Book Fair. As one of the biggest fairs of its kind in Europe, it welcomes 3,900 authors and 160,000 readers from 50 different countries. If you can’t find the perfect book here, you probably won’t find it anywhere.

Discover France & Spain  |  Diary Dates

International Vintage Car Rallye Barcelona-Sitges 21-23 March, Sitges, Spain You’ve got two kinds of people: those who love brand-new cars and those whose mouth waters when thinking about retro old-timers. If you belong to that last group, you cannot miss the annual International Vintage Rallye from Barcelona to Sitges. For three days, you can spot the classic cars and their appropriately-dressed drivers as they roam passed the Mediterranean shores that connect the two cities. Normandy Impressionist Festival; exposition of Bruno Peinado.

International Design Biennale SaintÉtienne 21 March - 22 April, Saint-Étienne, France After two years, the Design Biennale of Saint-Étienne opens its gates again. On the menu there are exhibitions, activities and conferences aplenty, all held in the stunning Cité du Design. Yet, in all other corners of the city, you will bump into a likeminded crowd and some unexpected beauty, as well.

Cherry Trees in Blossom Festival 27 March - 4 April, Jerte, Spain As much as we love the taste of cherries, a cherry tree is at its best when it shows its pretty pink blossoms. In Extremadura’s Jerte, they wholeheartedly agree. So much so that they host a big festival every time

Photo: Festival de Malaga

Design Biennale. Photo: Wikipedia

the trees grow flowers. Expect medieval markets, culinary tastings, open-air celebrations and stunning vistas of the flowerpacked valley.

Normandy Impressionist Festival 3 April - 6 September, Normandy, France While the era of Impressionism lies more than a century and a half behind us, the region of Normandy keeps the spirit alive.

Cherry Trees in Blossom Festival. Photo: Unsplash

Paris Marathon. Photo: Amelie Dupont, Tourism Paris

At their annual Impressionist Festival, they celebrate the movement’s style and values through exhibitions, cinema, activities and installations with a contemporary twist.

Paris Marathon 5 April, Paris, France The Paris Marathon is one of Europe’s most important long-distance running events. It kicks off at the Champs-Élysées, crosses the city and finishes at the Place de la Concorde. The speed record belongs to the Ethiopian athlete Kenenisa Bekelle, who finished in no more than two hours and five minutes. Could you do better?

Night of the drums 7-8 April, Mula, Spain On the night from Holy Tuesday to Good Wednesday, the city of Mula moves to the beat of the drums. From midnight until 4am, people dressed in black hit the drums as they walk through town. When drummers encounter each other, a so-called ‘pángana’ happens; a spontaneous showdown between both of them. Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  61

Tugan Sokhiev. Photo: Marco Borggreve

Flying the flag for Franco-Russian relations in Toulouse Since Peter the Great first visited Versailles in 1717, the friendship between France and Russia has endured, despite tumultuous changes in both nations. Now, more than three centuries later, one of France’s most prestigious orchestras – the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse – is staging a major season celebrating this ‘grande amitié’ (great friendship). TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: TOULOUSE METROPOLE


fter a phenomenally successful debut season in 2019, Toulouse Orchestra’s second FrancoRussian season will run from 10 March to 3 April 2020, with the orchestra’s musical director at the helm – Russian star conductor Tugan Sokhiev. Sokhiev has been director of the Toulouse Orchestra for more than 15 years and is also the musical director and principal conductor of Moscow’s internation62  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

ally renowned Bolshoi Theatre, so is perfectly placed to mastermind the combined programme of works from the two countries.

Cross-fertilisation of cultures “The idea behind the season,” says Thierry d’Argoubet, general delegate of l’Orchestre National du Capitole, “is to encourage dialogue between the two cultures of France and Russia, and also to celebrate our mu-

sical heritage. We want Toulouse to become the focus and a meeting point for a meeting and cross-fertilisation of cultures, and we also want to extend this historic partnership and relationship to incorporate new participants, be they local, regional or international.” With this in mind, the season will not only feature the Toulouse Orchestra as well as numerous international artists, but also the choir of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Similarly, with a view to extending the season’s repertoire, there will also be eight chamber music concerts in addition to the Orchestra’s performance of symphonic works.

New talent There will also be an emphasis on bringing the stars of tomorrow to today’s audi-

Discover France & Spain  |  Culture

ences. “We want to shine a light on new talent,” continues d’Argoubet, “and so Sokhiev will be offering the spotlight to one of the bright new stars of the classical music world - Russian pianist and conductor Maxim Emelyanychev – and we will also be showcasing a new work by young Russian composer Olga Rayeva.”

Maxim Emelyanychev.

Concerts will take place in the Orchestra’s home – the impressive Halle aux Grains, as well as Toulouse’s Les Abattoirs Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and several other different venues across the city.

Further highlights of the Franco-Russian season Paying homage to two giants of the Franco-Russian music world: Debussy and Stravinsky, Sokhiev will bring together two of their key works: Debussy’s Nocturne and Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring, performed by the Capitole Orchestra together with Spain’s Orfeon Donostiarra choir. Other highlights will include two of Tchaikovsky’s operas, Eugene Onegin and Mazeppa, both performed by the Bolshoi Orchestra and Choir, as well as works by Rachmaninov, Borodin, Shostakovitch, Prokofiev, Smetana, Poulenc, Ravel, Fauré and Gounod.

The season will also include cinematic events, such as a screening of pioneering Russian film-maker Sergei Eisenstein’s landmark Battleship Potemkin, with the orchestra providing a live performance of the score.

Beethoven Anniversary Programme In addition to the Franco-Russian season, throughout the year the orchestra’s repertoire will also include special performances celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. These will range from

Maxim Emelyanychev.

the various symphonies (including the third and fifth) as well as his Violin concerto in D Major. Several of these will fall under the batons of hot-shot young Russian conductor Maxim Emelyanychev and dynamic young German conductor Cornelius Meister, both of whom will bring new interpretations to the composer’s classic works.

New audiences Reaching out to new audiences is another key element in the Toulouse Orchestra’s ethos and the 2020 programme will feature family music workshops and concerts with storytelling, as well as daytime concerts specially designed for younger audiences. These will include an introduction for children aged seven and over, designed to help them take their first musical steps with an orchestra whilst hearing the tale of Ondin and the little Mermaid. There will also be overlaps with the Franco-Russian season, such as a new work titled Babayaga! From the banks of La Garonne to the Volga – a work for children incorporating traditional French and Russian folk songs, performed by pupils at the Academy of Toulouse school. Similarly, the series of early evening Happy Hour concerts will include artists from a range of different genres, including young talent in the form of conductors such as Hungarian Gábor Káli, with works by Bartok and Stravinsky.

Tugan Sokhiev.

Tugan Sokhiev. Photo: Marco Borggreve Issue 13  |  March 2020  |  63

Discover France & Spain  |  Cheese


La Fleur du Maquis: Don’t judge a book by its cover Despite its rustic looks, La Fleur du Maquis is not a strong-tasting cheese. It is sweet, delightfully rich and savory, and its herbaceous aroma expresses the unique character of the Corsican countryside. TEXT: JENNIFER GRECO  I  PHOTOS: PEXELS


on’t be intimidated by this herb encrusted, sometimes mould dusted cheese. All the herbs and that fluffy layer of mould can only mean one thing: flavour. First created in the 1950s, La Fleur du Maquis, also known as Le Brin d’Amour, is an unpasteurised ewe’s milk cheese produced on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. The prickly looking rind is made up of le maquis, an aromatic mix of native herbs that grow wild on the island; herbs such as thyme, rosemary, mint, oregano and marjoram, to name a few. The fresh cheeses are hand coated with the dried herbs,

64  |  Issue 13  |  March 2020

often topped with juniper berries and small chilies, and left to ripen in humid cellars for at least two weeks and up to several months. The rind has distinct notes of crème fraîche, nuts and, not surprisingly, fragrant herbs, which are soft in texture and perfectly edible. The snowy white, creamy heart of the cheese is well balanced with flavours of tangy fresh milk, herbs and a soft honey sweetness. Sometimes looks can be deceiving! Sheep’s cheese Cheesemaker: Various Region: Corsica

As an American in France, Jennifer Greco fell in love with the country’s cheeses. On a quest to try them all, she has tasted and reviewed over 360 of them, and counting. As Chez Loulou, she is now one of France’s foodies with the most ‘expertcheese’.

Discover France & Spain  |  Quiz


Know your Southern Europe TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS






1. Which Italian city is known as ‘la grossa’ (the fat one), ‘la dotta’ (the educated one) and ‘la rossa’ (the pink one)?

2. Costa Brava, Costa Dorada or Costa del Sol: which Spanish costa lies most northwards?

3. What are the two main ingredients of Kir, a typical French cocktail?



4. Which eccentric Louis ruled France for 72 years and crowned himself ‘the Sun King’?

7. Which Southern-European capital does not count any stop signs?

5. Which river (the longest on the Iberian Peninsula) runs from the Spanish region of Aragon to the coast of Lisbon?

8. Which pastry forms the base of the classic French dessert ‘croquembouche’?

6. Which coastal town in Gran Canaria – famous for its magnificent dunes and as a popular tourist destination – has a name that means ‘more pigeons’?

9. Which Mexican director filmed his Oscar-winning masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth in the woods surrounding Madrid?

1. Bologna — 2. Costa Brava — 3.White wine and blackcurrant liquor (crème de cassis)— 4. Louis XIV — 5. Tagus (Tajo or Tejo in Spanish and Portuguese) 6. Maspalomas — 7. Paris — 8. Profiteroles (or, puff pastries) — 9. Guillermo del Torro

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