Discover Southern Europe, Issue 9, November 2019

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I S S U E 9 | N OV E M B E R 2 019



in France


F R A N C E ,   S PA I N ,   I TA LY   &   P O R T U G A L

Discover Southern Europe  |  Contents



NOVEM BER 20 1 9


do a proper siesta? We teach you the ins and outs of a traditional Spanish nap.

12 A weekend in Nantes There’s way more to France than just Paris. In Nantes, the capital of Pays de la Loire, you can enjoy an urban getaway amongst giant storks and wooden elephants.

44 Barcelona’s top-five panoramas Barcelona is a fantastic city to stroll through, but it is equally as dazzling from above. We guide the way to the city’s greatest viewpoints.

20 Beauty and beyond in France That the French have a long tradition of developing sublime cosmetics is no secret. To date, it has been the country to look to for the next big thing in the beauty sector. 26

52 France’s gaming experts The French sure know their way around a joystick. With plenty of young blood and refreshing ideas, the country’s gaming industry is one of the most vibrant ones around.

A cinematic road trip Southern Europe is one big film set. We take you to those spots where many a film crew have unloaded its trucks and made the magic happen, and we even take a ride in James Bond’s Aston Martin.


Spain’s magical getaways


Southern European Style

There’s no place like home. Unless, perhaps, in Spain. At these enchanting retreats, you will feel at home in no time.


Design Finds

40 Siestas for beginners 36


Nothing is as Spanish as closing your eyes after a tasty lunch. But how do you

48 Business 58

Diary Dates


Film & Book

65 Cheese 66 Quiz Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  3

Discover Southern Europe  |  Editor’s note

Dear Reader,

Discover Southern Europe Issue 9, November 2019 Published 11.2019 ISSN 2932-3399 Published by Scan Group Print Uniprint Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Arne Adriaenssens

Steve Flinders Esme Fox Jennifer Greco Kate Harvey Ingrid Opstad Gerard Plana Noelia Santana Hannah Jane Thompson Claire Webb Pierre Antoine Zahnd Cover Photo Will Araya Sales & Key Account Managers Katia Sfihi Sara Mariscal Mathilde Rineau Alice Tanghe

Graphic Designer Audrey Beullier

Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3TY United Kingdom

Contributors Nicola Rachel Colyer Eddi Fiegel

Phone: +44 209 409 1939

Copy-editor Karl Batterbee

Autumns are for pampering; for staying home and enjoying that well-deserved me-time. And there are so many great ways to do that! With video games and friends, with beauty products and bubbles, with films and popcorn… the possibilities are endless. This month, we roam Southern Europe, trying out some of those relaxing indoor activities. We head to France to chat with the nation’s most talented video game developers. Lately, the global industry’s eyes have been pointed towards France as it’s becoming a major hub for digital innovation and creativity. Furthermore, we talk beauty, health and self-esteem with the most renowned French cosmetics experts around. They share with us their secrets to looking good and feeling even better. Film buffs might want to join us on our road trip past Southern Europe’s most legendary film locations. Hollywood clearly loves this region as much as we do, as it heads down here to shoot scenes for its blockbusters all the time. We take you to the brutal city of Braavos, the dystopian continent of Panem and the lush planet of Naboo, passing 007’s favourite holiday destinations along the way. Back in the real word, we head on a city trip or two. First, we visit Nantes, one of France’s best-kept-secrets. This cosy town in Bretagne is the home of a giant stork and a humongous woolly mammoth and has a full army of medieval knights on the lookout, a stone’s throw away from the city centre. More than enough reasons for us to immerse ourselves in their fascinating culture. We also pass Barcelona, where we gaze down upon the city from its best viewpoints. If you love Barcelona – and let’s face it, who doesn’t – you must definitely take a trip to our website, as well, where you can now find our first-ever digital travel guide: A weekend in Barcelona. In this quirky city trippers’ staple, I take you on a journey through my amazing home town during one busy-yet-wonderful weekend. We will briefly stroll past obvious hotspots like La Rambla and the Sagrada Familia, after which I show you some amazing, off-the-beaten-track gems, as well. So, head to our website (, download that travel-guide-with-a-difference for free and take us along with you when you next vamoose to Barcelona. But first, enjoy our great November issue!

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

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Arne Adriaenssens Editor

Discover Southern Europe  |  Southern European Style

A new mood


With winter on the horizon, it’s time to embrace the sartorial shift to a richer, more sophisticated palette. Deep red and burgundy sit alongside black and brown for a subtle pop of colour, while seasonal staples are elevated with luxe fabrics and dazzling details. Update your wardrobe with a statement piece that will see you through any occasion this season, like this black and red printed dress from French brand Maje, which offers an understated elegance to take you from day to night with ease. Maje Printed Satin Dress, €275 Maje Heeled Stretch Vinyl Thigh Boots, €395

When it comes to cold-weather dressing, wellchosen accessories are the best way to show off your fashion prowess, and this jewel-embellished fedora from Spanish brand Uterqüe is guaranteed to turn heads. Uterqüe Bejewelled Wool Hat, €69

Put your best foot forward in these suede ankle boots from Italian label Gia Couture. Handcrafted by artisans in Florence, the contrasting snakeskin panels ensure that this wardrobe staple is anything but boring. Gia Couture Giada Suede Ankle Boots, €398

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Discover Southern Europe  |  Southern European Style From contrasting fabrics to curated layers, texture takes centre stage in autumn/winter style. This corduroy suit from Italy’s Boggi Milano offers a relaxed approach to tailoring, while the subtly patterned shirt and wool jumper tie in seamlessly thanks to the refined colour scheme. Boggi Milano Velvet Brescia Suit Jacket, €349 Boggi Milano Stonewashed Merino Wool Round Neck Jumper, €129 Boggi Milano Slim Fit Garment-Dyed Dark Brown Shirt With Button Down Collar, €69

A well-styled outfit can easily get lost under outer layers, but this classic-yet-cool leather bomber jacket from Spanish high-street hit Massimo Dutti will ensure your top layer doesn’t let you down. Massimo Dutti Nappa Bomber Jacket with Sheepskin Trim, €249

Opt for basics with a little extra detail, like this textured long-sleeve T-shirt from Zara, to create added interest with even the simplest of get-ups. Made with ecologically grown cotton, it’s a sustainable choice, too. Textured T-Shirt with Buttons, €18

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Discover Southern Europe  |  Design

Design Finds While some trends come and go, the elegant and sophisticated Art Deco interior style is a classic example of something that has managed to stand the test of time. Characterised by rich colours, geometry and gold details, we have selected a few pieces that will help you to add a glamorous touch to your home. TEXT: INGRID OPSTAD  I  PRESS PHOTOS

The elegance of the Stockholm sidetable from Spanish Punt Mobles comes through its sophisticated and linear design, high-quality materials, and the minimalist singular aluminium finish on the top surface. The series was designed by Mario Ruiz, including sideboards, chests of drawers and TV benches, and was the winner of the Red Dot 2015 Award. Punt Mobles, ‘Stockholm’ sidetable, €2,312

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Discover Southern Europe  |  Design

The Olympia chaise lounge from Portuguese brand Munna projects pure haute couture, with its sensuous feminine outline and voluptuous shape. Each exquisitely curved design features detailed seaming to the front and reverse, surmounting bold metal stands, creating the pièce de résistance for any interior. Munna ‘Olympia’ chaise longue, €7,900

A walnut that eats other walnuts…. The Noix nutcracker from Seletti is a precious and unique object to add a bit of beauty to your everyday. Following the shape of the hard shell of a walnut, this object becomes more than just a utensil - it is more like a practical art piece for your home. Seletti, ‘Noix’ nutcracker, €250

With its geometrical lines of brass that seem to defy the laws of gravity, the Prego mirror can be hung in a variety of ways leaving free rein to the user’s imagination. The mirror was designed by Sam Baron for Eno Studio (‘Edition Nouveaux Objets’), a design studio with the aim of implementing a sublimated form of French elegance in people’s homes. Eno Studio, ‘Prego’ mirror, €229

Gatsby is the perfect lamp to create an extraordinary atmosphere, with its elegant, functional and modern look. The collection was designed by Ramón Esteve for Vondom based on the idea of creating a surrounding atmosphere through a play of lights by means of the lamp’s surfaces, where the material reproduces the shapes and sensations of engraved glass. Vondom, ‘Gatsby’ prisma table lamp, €195

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La Casa de Mijas. Photo: Victor Grabanchky

Functional holiday-home style Imagine the tranquillity of enjoying Marbella’s beautiful beaches, rich history and vibrant architecture, then returning to your beautifully appointed accommodation to enjoy the sunset and a refreshing cocktail. The perfect day and evening.

surviving the physical wear of life, but also timeless in design, fulfilling its purpose across periods with vibrant personality, whilst staying true to the original structure.



hat’s exactly what Linadela de Pasión, the mind and soul behind Linadela Interior Design (LID), interior architects based in the beautiful Costa del Sol, wants everyone to feel. Born in Sweden, she started exploring her creativity in many ways: sketching, fashion designing, and even rearranging the family home to achieve the harmony and functionality that her sevenyear-old intuition was itching to express. When she later moved to Marbella and graduated as an interior architect, she decided to start her own company, LID, with the main goal of creating spaces that combine practicality and style. 10  |  Issue 9  |  November 2019

More than design There are three words that are key to understanding the firm’s approach to its work: purposeful, architectural and timeless. “Interiors, whether at your home or workspace, should enrich your life, so we purposefully design the space to create an environment that is functional, that helps you find energy, be inspired and feel relaxed,” says Linadela. Without a good foundation, even the most beautiful interiors can degrade, which is exactly why LID gives even more priority to the architecture of the design before they start ‘making things pretty’. In this way, their work becomes timeless, made to last. Not just for

At LID, they are very aware of the importance of matching the interior to the exterior, so they get involved in all aspects of this process. “We do everything! From the moment

Linadela de Pasión.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Design

La Casa de Mijas. Photo: Victor Grabanchky

the client buys the property, we help with the construction, project management, interior design and styling at the end. Most of our clients are from abroad so they want a straightforward service, someone they can trust to arrange everything, to build their perfect holiday home,” says Linadela.

Form meets function Linadela describes their style as contemporary: “Each design is approached with creative eyes to take it to the next level by experimenting with different designs, materials and techniques.” They build spaces that last, not allowing themselves to be distracted by ephemeral trends. They use materials and furniture that can withstand the test of time and prove its value. Linadela takes this so seriously, she has decided that LID will launch its own furniture line to fill a gap in the market for useful and durable statement pieces.

Alhambra Penthouse.

Capanes Golf.

Alhambra Penthouse.

When not making its own furniture, the firm’s sustainable approach to sourcing furniture is noteworthy. Often, they will use local craftsmen and workshops where traditional and conservative production is critical. They will occasionally scour antiques dealers too, to find special pieces. This adds a level of authenticity and history to the home that can’t be bought in any big box furniture store. As a Scandinavian living in Spain, Linadela has found the perfect way to merge the cosy interiors, minimalist design and use of artificial lighting from Scandi style with the Spanish obsession for the outdoors, by creating airy spaces full of natural light that are also comfy and ‘hygge’. Before they allow their creativity to flow, the team at LID come up with a concept, following an initial study of the project. This helps set the foundations for great inspiration. They spend time getting to know their clients inti-

Capanes Golf.

Capanes Golf.

mately, so they can translate their personality and vision into the space. Through ‘mood trays’ they offer a glimpse at each room once finished, with a selection of furnishings and lighting, right down to the fine details, so clients can visualise their future home. They manage the entire project, selecting the appropriate craftsmen and builders for the work, so the client can rest assured that everything is taken care of (and won’t have to deal with any stressful situations). Once architectural work is complete, the finishing and furnishing is done. Linadela’s team style the property, leaving it ready to be lived in, enjoyed and filled with memories. Working with clients from many different countries means culture also plays a big part in the design process. Whether they are working with clients who are looking for a minimalist approach or those who believe ‘more is more’, the goal is to always find eloquent functionality even in the most contemporary of spaces. By combining captivating interiors, enduring furniture, and stimulating designs with a holistic approach to interior architecture, Linadela De Pasión and her team at LID can bring your dreams of beautiful relaxation in the Costa del Sol (or anywhere) into striking reality. Come in and make yourself comfortable! Email: Telephone: + (34) 630 420 265 Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  11

Le Passage Pommeraye. Photo: Pixabay

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Discover Southern Europe  |  A weekend in Nantes

A weekend in Nantes

A mechanical mammoth and a snug stork’s nest Long considered one of France’s best places to live, Nantes has gone from a heavily industrialised port to becoming one of the country’s most stylish, creative and unquestionably quirky urban hubs. Built around the banks of the River Loire, just a few hours’ drive south-west of Paris, Nantes has everything you’d hope for from a French city: excellent food, history and culture aplenty – with fantastic architecture from Gothic cathedrals and elegant 19th-century squares and arcades to cutting-edge contemporary showstoppers, as well as museums, parks and a grand château in the middle of town. TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL


lephants might not be the first thing you’d associate with a French city break, but in Nantes, it’s all about the elephant. Or almost. It’s not just any old elephant, however. Standing some 40-feet-high, the elephant in question is a wooden, mechanical mammoth who struts its stuff spraying water from its trunk whilst passengers enjoy spectacular views of the city. Children,

meanwhile, frolick around, vying with each other to see who can get the most drenched. Created by the same Nantes-based studio who built a similar elephant a few years ago, the beast, who gets its swagger from a recycled combine harvester engine, has been a huge hit with visitors of all ages. But there’s more to Nantes than mechanical animals. Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  13

Discover Southern Europe  |  A weekend in Nantes

Saturday: Historic treasures and futuristic hotspots Kick off your weekend with a wander through the medieval streets of ‘Le Bouffay’ as locals call the central neighbourhood, which is essentially Nantes’ old town. The narrow, pedestrianised streets are lined with quirky, timber-framed shops, selling everything from kitchenware to handmade clothes, toys and books as well as tantalising chocolatiers, patisseries and fromageries. Le Bouffay is also where you’ll find two of the city’s key sights: the 15th-century Château des Ducs de Bretagne – an impressive moated and turreted affair, and the equally impressive Gothic cathedral. Unusually for a château, this one sits right in the heart of the city and is home to the Nantes History Museum – a detailed tour through the history of the region. Spread over several floors, detailed displays take you from the Middle Ages to the present day. Along the way we discover the area’s maritime glory years and learn about its involvement in two world wars, as well as its historical heyday as a biscuit making centre, with a fascinating display of decorative Art Nouveau biscuit tins and advertising posters.

Le Nid. Photo: Marc Domage, LVAN

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Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul. Photo: Pxhere

Less than five minutes’ walk from the château, you’ll find the 15th-century Gothic Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul. Built in white stone with a double towered façade and one of the highest naves in Europe, it’s well worth a visit.

ing warehouse which now houses ‘Les Machines de L’Île’ - the atelier which created not only the elephant but an eight-metrewide heron hanging from the roof and several other giant mechanical creatures including a hummingbird, spider and ant.

When it comes to lunch, there’s no shortage of choice. Le Bouffay is filled with quintessentially French pavement cafés and brasseries and if you enjoy a spot of peoplewatching, look no further than Café Le Pilori on the cobbled Place du Pilori, where you can tuck into steak frites and salad washed down with a glass of chilled rosé or beer.

Elsewhere on and around the Île, you’ll find a surreal carousel inspired by Nantes native Jules Verne as well as contemporary French architectural star Jean Nouvel’s imposing black courthouse.

After lunch, hop on a tram or take a 15minute stroll along the banks of the Loire to the Île de Nantes – home to the aforementioned elephant. Spanning around three miles, the area was once home to Nantes’ naval shipyards but has recently become reincarnated as a hip, family-friendly hangout. Things to see include a former shipbuild-

From here, amble across one of the bridges back over the Loire and head into to the Graslin district. With its elegant, mid-19thcentury avenues, this is where you’ll find Nantes’ most elegant shops, as well as fountained squares and the ornately galleried, shopping arcade – Passage Pomeraye, which is almost worth the trip alone. Filled with upscale boutiques, the arcade runs over three galleried levels flanked by

Discover Southern Europe  |  A weekend in Nantes

Les Machines de L’Île de Nantes. Photo: Pixabay

neo-classical statues, a grand staircase, topped off with a sky-skimming railway station-style, glass roof. For dinner, wander five minutes north to the Place Graslin, home to Nantes’ grandiose opera house as well as La Cigalle – a brasserie with one of the most impressively elaborate Art Nouveau interiors you’re ever likely to find. Seafood is their speciality so you can enjoy platters of super succulent prawns and briny oysters amidst florid tilework, leafy parlour palms and a ballroom style beamed ceiling. Round off your day by gazing out at Nantes by night with a drink at Le Nid (the nest) – a cocktail bar with spectacular panoramic city views, designed by French graphic designer and illustrator Jean Jullien. Set on the 32nd floor of Nantes’ tallest building – Le Tour Bretagne, the bar is designed in the shape of an outsized stork, whilst the tables and chairs take the form of its eggs.

Carrousel. Photo: Pexels

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Discover Southern Europe  |  A weekend in Nantes Le Signe du Triomphe show. Photo: Puy du Fou

Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantômes. Photo: Puy du Fou

Le Secret de la Lance show. Photo: Puy du Fou

Photo: Puy du Fou

Sunday: A trip through time You could easily spend at least another day in the city but for something a little different, albeit still very French, head an hour’s drive out of town to Puy Du Fou – France’s second most popular attraction after Disneyland Paris. Set amidst more than 120 acres of forest and lush parkland, Puy du Fou is a theme park with a difference and there isn’t a ride in sight. Instead, there are spectacular shows and historical re-enactments on an epic scale. (Day passes from 36 euros for adults and 26 euros for children). You’ll get the most out of your visit if you plan your day. There are seven principal daytime shows running for about half an hour each and they all run punctually several times a day, so you can easily fit in four in a day. Each one is differently themed, ranging from the Roman circus style Le Signe du Triomphe 16  |  Issue 9  |  November 2019

set in a 7,000-seater amphitheatre, complete with lions, leopards and tigers, to the First World War (Les Amoureux de Verdun – a love story set amidst the trenches). Elsewhere, you’ll find Viking longboats appearing from beneath the sea, Knights of the Round Table, sword-brandishing musketeers or, in the case of Le Bal des Oiseaux Fantômes – horseback knights and Medieval maidens as well as some 330 birds of prey from falcons and vultures to eagles and owls soaring just above your head. In between the shows, stroll through the park where you’ll find fountains, rose gardens, waterfalls and animal pens, as well as reconstructed historical settlements like the Iron Age and Medieval villages. There’s also plenty of choice when it comes to lunch from medieval-themed buffets and picnic areas to Le Bistrot – a Belle Époque

style brasserie with servers in 19th-century bustles and waistcoats. As the sun sets, you can either return to Nantes or catch one of the two spectacular evening shows at Puy Du Fou. Check the schedule for which one is on but if you get the chance, don’t miss La Cinéscénie. Unfolding before your eyes on the world’s largest stage, spanning some 56 acres, the show tells the story of France’s Vendée region, taking you on a journey from the Middle Ages, through the Renaissance and French Revolution to the 1940s. Featuring 2,500 actors and 4,000 volunteers, it’s an astounding spectacle with mesmerising lights and special effects, as well as dazzling costumes and hundreds of animals. The fireworks extravaganza at the end makes for the perfect finale to the weekend.

Discover Southern Europe  |  A weekend in Nantes

Getting There: EasyJet flies to Nantes from London Gatwick and London Luton, with oneway fares from €30.

Getting around:: Nantes is compact and easy to get around on foot or tram. The Nantes Pass gets you not only discounted fares but also entrance to the major museums and attractions in the city. For full details on this and on Nantes in general, visit:

Where to stay: The stylish and excellent value Mercure Passage Pommeraye is in the heart of the Graslin district and less than ten minutes’ walk from the old town, cathedral and château. Doubles from €86.50, room only. Puy Du Fou also has five historically themed hotels on site with double rooms from €160, including breakfast and one day’s access to the Park.

La Vallée Fleurie. Photo: Puy du Fou

La Cinéscénie. Photo: Puy du Fou

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Discover Southern Europe  |  A weekend in Nantes

Creativity, culture and community in Nantes In today’s world of room rental platforms such as Airbnb, successful hotels must work ever harder to offer guests that ‘home away from home’ feeling. Luckily for Hotel Amiral, in the heart of the French city of Nantes (Pays de la Loire), this is what it does best. TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON  |  PHOTO: HOTEL AMIRAL NANTES

For all its city convenience, the 49-bedroom hotel is cosy, and run with care by respectful staff with deep local knowledge. General manager Nadine Witczak has been here since the hotel opened in 1988, and much of the team has worked here for almost as long, making them perfectly-placed to help guests personally. And there is much to see – all within walking distance. Formerly overlooked as an industrial port, Nantes is now an international tourism destination, with a thriving arts and culture scene, and a major lowcost airline hub. Highlights include the majestic Château des Ducs de Bretagne, the articulated Jules Verne-esque Machines

de l’Ile de Nantes, the Arbre aux Hérons project coming in 2022, the Passage Pommeraye, the gothic Cathedral, the romantic Bateaux Nantais, and historic monument and brasserie La Cigale.

Hotel Amiral Nantes offers a friendly, artistic, creative and calm ‘home from home’ for its guests

The hotel itself is also just one of six to have a ‘Chambre d’Artiste’ bedroom, created with tourist office Voyage à Nantes (VAN). Designed by Japanese artist and Nantes resident Makiko Furuichi, the room symbolises the city’s creativity and international appeal. “We wanted to put artwork in the street, to reach the greatest number of people,” says Witczak. “Nantes is waking up to how much it has to offer.” And not a year goes by without the hotel considering its future. For example, it is now proud to serve a breakfast with 90 per cent organic and local products, and is committed to being as eco-friendly and modern as possible. “Last year was about culture. It was fabulous,” explains Witczak. ”I expect next year to be just as rich.” Facebook: HôtelAmiralNantes

Discover Southern Europe  |  A weekend in Nantes

Stéphane Le Guiriec.

A history of taste Connoisseurs of typical French foods will undoubtedly have heard of Nantes, a stately city seated on the Upper Loire Valley in the Brittany region. The Berlingot or the Petit Beurre Lu, for instance, are iconic products of the Breton heritage. But the lesser-known Rigolette Nantaise is well worth a trip in itself. Colourful, finely crafted, and full of history, this fruity ‘bonbon’ is a fitting introduction into the magic of Nantes. TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND  |  PHOTOS: RIGOLETTES NANTAISES


téphane Le Guiriec, who took over the company in 2010, goes so far as to call the Rigolette “part of the cultural heritage of the city”. The story starts in 1902 when Charles Bohu, a local grocery clerk, set out to conceive a new sort of confection that would be softer than the Berlingot, made out of cooked, hardened sugar. In contrast, the Rigolette consists of a thin shell of steamcooked sugar, filled with a soft, frosted fruit pulp. Unlike the Berlingot, this more sophisticated sweet could be consumed in two ways: by biting into it, or by letting it melt. To add a touch of fun, Bohu called the sweet after his facetious cat Rigolette, a named inspired by Verdi’s opera Rigoletto, but also linked with the verb rigoler: to laugh. The success of the

new product was such that he permanently converted his business into a sweet shop. Whereas Berlingot was a product for the common man, the Rigolette was aimed at the more demanding palate of the city’s bourgeoisie. The five traditional flavours, which are still produced by Le Guiriec and his team, were on the exotic, costly side: lemon, tangerine, blackcurrant, pineapple and raspberry. Since then, the Rigolettes have acquired new flavours, all in keeping with the company’s cultural legacy, and Le Guiriec’s staunch love for his region: their salted caramel, for instance, is a Breton classic. The sweets also come in seasonal fillings, with fig, pear, grapes, quince and chestnut for winter; apri-

cot, lime, cherry and ‘Muroise®’ for summer. As a hint to Charles Bohu’s original formula, Le Guiriec has also extended the range of exotic flavours, with violet, rose, hibiscus, and orange blossom. A pragmatic traditionalist, Le Guiriec is proud to follow the same recipe as his forebear Charles Bohu. All sweets are made from French products, free of colouration and artificial flavouring, and the same man-made processes are observed. Les Rigolettes Nantaises are a fine example of modern confectionary, a part of the Nantes cultural heritage, and, evidently, quite a tasty treat.

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Beauty and beyond in France What is France if not a country of beauty experts? Its lush creams, innovative beauty treatments and amazing cosmetic lines give millions of people around the world a daily boost of their self-esteem. The epicentre of this rich beauty industry lies in the Eure-et-Loire and Loiret departments in the centre of the country. Here, household names such as Dior, Hermès, Nina Ricci and Paco Rabanne, have united in a business cluster called Cosmetic Valley. Since its founding in 1994, it has solidified its status as the world’s leading perfumery cosmetics network. TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND  |  PHOTO: UNSPLASH

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Discover Southern Europe  |  Beauty and Beyond


osmetic Valley is to beauty products what Silicon Valley is to tech: a cluster of industry-leading companies supported by scientific research. The Valley gathers around 550 cosmetic and perfumery groups working towards the international outreach of French-made luxury beauty products, and serves as a repository of expertise in the various fields of the industry: from the cultivation of aromatics, perfume-making, and the formulation of beauty powders, creams, and aromatic materials (essential oils, ‘active’ ingredients), to product testing, quality control, packaging and logistics. Cosmetic Valley reckons with a wide network of skills to ensure France’s leadership in the industry. It brings together 1,500 businesses country-wide, employing some 150,000 professionals in the many fields of competence that constitute it, with 1,500 new hires in 2018-19, equalling a one per cent employment growth. With a yearly revenue of around 30 billion euros, it is also France’s second-largest exporting market. Part of the success of Cosmetic Valley may be due to how well-connected it is with the sphere of scientific research: eight French universities are currently part of the cluster, including two Parisian institutions. With 8,200 researchers among its members, it works closely with 220 public laboratories and with some of the country’s top research foundations, including the CNRS (National Committee for Scientific

Research) and INRA (National Institute of Agricultural Research). Since its foundation, Cosmetic Valley has shaped the French cosmetics and perfumery landscape through its global approach. It functions as an active network, fostering interaction between businesses in the industry, boosting innovation and supporting research projects. On a global level, it aids businesses in their expansion abroad (providing help in exportation or implantation), while on the level of the individual, it encourages continuous learning by accompanying employees through further training and education. By sustaining and growing its dynamic network, Cosmetic Valley aims to create the most favourable conditions for businesses to expand, along with their employment rates. But beyond the role it plays for companies already in France, Cosmetic Valley has also encouraged foreign businesses to relocate. The national and international cosmetics heavyweights that are now part of Cosmetics Valley are too many to list in their entirety, but the sheer number of important players in the region shows at least one thing: that when it comes to beauty and perfume, the French are still leading the way. So, join us to France where Europe’s best beauty experts are waiting to show you around. A new and more confident you is just a page flip away. Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  21

Discover Southern Europe  |  Beauty and Beyond

The new face of France France is well-known as a hub for traditional fashion and beauty, so it is refreshing to discover home-grown brands such as Absolution Cosmetics, who do things a little differently. Founded in Paris in 2009 by entrepreneur Isabelle Carron, the company specialises in organic, accessibly-priced, healing skincare, that encourages users to renew and to absolve themselves of any less-than-healthy habits or polluted surroundings. TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON  |  PHOTOS: ABSOLUTION COSMETICS


verything in nature has its own ecosystem, just like your skin, explains Carron; and this idea underpins the company’s entire philosophy. Firstly, everything is certified organic, with the labels Ecocert, Greenlife, and Cosmos, and the packaging is both eco-friendly and attractive. “Organic products work in harmony with the skin, compared to synthetic ones that the skin doesn’t recognise,” Carron says. “We ‘accompany’ the skin, rather than ‘manage’ it. Like nature, it does what it wants.” Secondly, the brand was gender-fluid ten years before the phrase became mainstream, and rejects the concept that men and women need different skincare ranges. “No-one has the same skin as the next person,” says Carron. “Of course, we are different at age 50 as at 20, but the only reason to make separate products for men and women is marketing. I never wanted 22  |  Issue 9  |  November 2019

in France’ credentials help to support this openness, too. “The lab is in France, the workers are here; it’s about craft and quality,” explains Carron. “I absolutely want to keep prices accessible, but price is not my only criterion. Our mission is to help people rediscover beauty. In their skin, but also in the world around us. I think we have something of the French spirit in that.”

to contribute to the industry’s smoke and mirrors, and make women feel bad, or treat people like idiots.” Thirdly, the brand allows customers to mix and match products totally tailored to their changing needs. “Our skin is affected not only by the outside, but also our inner state, such as hormones, diet, stress, sleep…” explains Carron. “By listening to your skin, you can give it what it needs. It’s like mixing mayonnaise. You have the benefits of the oil, and the eggs: and when you mix them, together you create something new and beautiful.” This creativity also ensures that Absolution products actually work. “We say what it will really do, and under-promise,” Carron explains. “Our clients say that those promises are more than kept. They say their skin feels more awake.” The company’s ‘Made

Isabelle Carron. Absolution is an organic, Made-in-France skincare brand that puts respect for the skin, the planet, and the individual customer at the heart of its approach

Boutique and treatment rooms: La Maison Absolution, 30, rue des Vinaigriers, 75010 Paris, France Facebook: Absolution Instagram: @absolution_cosmetics Telephone: +33 (0)1 40 18 36 94

Discover Southern Europe  |  Beauty and Beyond

Summits in sun care With over 50 years of experience, Pharmaltitude is a leading player in the world of sun protection, particularly in extreme conditions. Its founder, Micheline Bosserelle, an early expert in the industry, developed the first sun cream for high altitudes, and has since continued to innovate in the field. Micheline Bosserelle’s history with highperformance skin protection was milestoned with adventure and discovery. Originally trained in cosmetics, Micheline was later introduced to mountaineering in 1969, where she found that proper sun protection for very high altitudes had not yet been developed. As Micheline herself puts it in conversation, she “liked the challenge of doing something that nobody had been able to do”. Setting about to work on what is now 8882, Pharmaltitude’s flagship product, she teamed up with a laboratory to develop a product that could offer the levels of protection suited to the world’s highest peaks. She conceived one of the key ingredients to her preparation while in the Caribbean. Learning that turtle liver oil was traditionally

used for skin protection, she adapted the idea to a vegan, plant-based substitute to avoid interfering with the fauna. The result, chélonine, comes from the Greek world for ‘turtle’ and bears similar beneficial effect when it comes to skin health. Combining chélonine with state-of-the-art sun filters, she decided to try out the efficiency of her formula on herself: in sunny conditions, she climbed up the Aiguille du Midi, an iconic summit of the Mont Blanc massif in the French Alps, towering at 3,840 metres. By 1969, she had created her company and the 8882 sunscreen, a reference to what was then accepted as the Everest’s altitude, and a sign of her dedication to the highest levels of skin protection. Pharmaltitude is now well-established as


the reference point in high-altitude sun protection. The brand has been selected by the medical commission of the French Olympic Committee since 2014, the last time for Pyeongchang in 2018. But Micheline has also developed a wide range of other sun products, covering various levels of protection for diverse activities (everyday use, hiking, or a day at the beach). This selection also includes lip balms, after-sun creams and sunglasses, extending the brand’s expertise into the broader sphere of sun protection and skin care. And as a small company recognised for its expertise, Pharmaltitude welcomes contact from potential collaborators abroad.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Beauty and Beyond

Fabrice Monti.

Breaking a sweat An innovative Parisian start-up is about to change the face of the cosmetics industry forever. With its latest breakthrough, Microfactory can effectively mimic the perspiring process using its SOD4 machinery: this tiny piece of technology will allow companies to run faster and more accurate skincare tests that are, in effect, cruelty-free. TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: MICROFACTORY


nventions such as the ballpoint pen, the pregnancy test – we have the field of microfluidics to thank for such groundbreaking discoveries. Now, the founding trio of Microfactory, Fabrice Monti, Patrick Tabeling and Jacques Lewiner, present their latest discovery in the field – their Smart-Pore™ and SOD4 technology. Experts have already managed to create artificial skin, but as Monti explains: “the sweat function was always missing in skin tests. Companies were producing sunscreens and antiperspirants without figuring out how they behave when exposed to sunlight or sweat.” Given that humans produce several litres of sweat a day, it has held back significant progress for the industry. When used in their SOD4 machine, Microfactory’s ‘transparent biomimetic pore’ mimics the human sweat mechanism on demand, at a flow rate that corresponds

with the skin’s secretions. This microchip is specifically adapted to industry requirements; helping them to better understand the impact of sebum and sweat on cosmetic products. Their discovery couldn’t be timelier, at a point when consumers continue to demand skincare that is free from controversial ingredients. “Companies want to know how much you can lower the proportion of aluminium salts in antiperspirants without noticeably impacting their efficacy.” explains Monti. In fact, the technology satisfies both the consumers’ ethical needs, as well as the demand for more efficient industrial testing – two things which are often juxtaposed. As an example, the micropore will allow companies to test the effectiveness of antiperspirant in just one hour, when, according to Monti, previously this would have taken “one month of toxicology tests, and then another

month of testing on humans,” a process that is both costly and time-consuming. They are hoping to accelerate the rate at which the European cosmetics market can test new products: a crucial development, considering that “every three months, a new list of formula-deteriorating ingredients appears.” Having been put to the test in the antiperspirant market with some of the world’s biggest manufacturers, the pore, which can grow artificial skin on top, will soon be able to test other products such as makeup. If you’re interested in knowing what Microfactory can do to help understand the impact of sweat on your products, visit their website. Email:

Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  25


Plaza España, Sevilla. Photo: Unsplash

A Cinematic Road Trip

Seven legendary film locations you can actually visit Anyone who believes that Hollywood and Bollywood are the sole cinema paradises of the world is sorely mistaken. In Southern Europe, as well, one can travel from one spectacular set into the next, and not just from smaller local films, but also from some of the biggest blockbusters this world has ever seen. We take you to some of the places in Southern Europe that have been immortalised on the silver screen. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

1/ The planet of Naboo – Star Wars A galaxy far, far away needn’t always be all that far away. To get to the lush planet of Naboo, a short flight to Spain suffices. In the heart of Sevilla, at the famous Plaza España, you can behold the palace of Queen Amidala. At the break of the new millennium, George Lucas and his crew struck down at the immense square to shoot the scene of Anakin 26  |  Issue 9  |  November 2019

and Amidala arriving on the latter’s beautiful home planet. Later in the film, the duo walks through the bright-white marble corridors of the palace and gazes at the water from a most-idyllic terrace. Those two scenes were shot in Southern Europe, as well; at the Royal Palace of Caserta, near Naples, and at the Villa del Balbianello, overlooking Lake Como. Star Wars fans might want to travel a bit further to Platja de Alcudia in Mallorca and Mount Etna in Italy, which are the earthly locations of the planets Scarif and Mustafar. May the force be with you! Plaza España, Sevilla, Spain

Star Wars – Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Photo: Lucasfilm

Royal Palace of Caserta, Caserta, Italy Villa del Balbianello, Lenno, Italy

Discover Southern Europe  |  A Cinematic Road Trip

2/ Lansquenet-sous-Tannes – Chocolat Few writers have captured the essence of the French countryside lifestyle as well as Joanne Harris in her bestseller Chocolat. After Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp went to the picturesque-yet-fictional Lansquenetsous-Tannes in 2000 for the eponymous film, the whole world started dreaming of a quiet life in ‘la douce France’. Lansquenetsous-Tannes might be fictitious, yet, the village in which the film was shot does exist and is just as adorable as you would imagine it to be. The sleepy medieval town of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain counts a little over 300 citizens, a handful of hotels, three restaurants and a bookstore. A chocolate shop like La Céleste Praline, however, they don’t have: yet, they do have a charming shop dedicated to their delicious, local anise candy, Anis de Flavigny, which is a true phenomenon in France. Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, France

Chocolat. Photo: Miramax

Photo: Flavigny-sur-Ozerain

Photo: Flavigny-sur-Ozerain

Photo: Flavigny-sur-Ozerain

Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  27

Discover Southern Europe  |  A Cinematic Road Trip

City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia. Photo: Unsplash

3/ Tomorrowland - Tomorrowland As it is one of the least-successful Disney films of the last decade, few people remember the high-budget science-fiction epic Tomorrowland. In this picture with George Clooney and Hugh Laurie, the ‘It’s a Small World’ attraction at the 1964’s World Fair transports a young inventor to Tomorrowland, a mystical city in a distant future. While most of the film was shot in front of green screens in a studio, one major scene was filmed in the open air, at the City of Arts and Sciences in sunny Valencia. With its big water parties, humongous metal constructions and minimalist colour palette, it is the perfect setting to shoot a sciencefiction film. More recently, the HBO series Westworld has also shot some scenes in the area for its yet-to-be-released third season. City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia, Spain

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Tomorrowland. Photo: Disney

Tomorrowland. Photo: Disney

City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia. Photo: Unsplash

Discover Southern Europe  |  A Cinematic Road Trip

Cinecittà, Rome. Photo: Pixabay

Doctor Who. Photo: BBC

4/ Rome - Rome If we told you that the HBO series Rome was shot in Rome, you probably wouldn’t be all too surprised. Yet, what if we told you that it was shot entirely inside Cinecittà, a huge film studio at the edge of the city? Cinecittà opened its doors in 1937 as a prestige project of Italy’s tyrant Benito Mussolini. He wanted to compete with Hollywood’s film industry and built up a strong Italian film sector. And with great success, too: because in the following decades, Italian cinema grew bigger than ever. Throughout the years, many blockbusters were shot in these studios. Among others, La Dolce Vita, Ben-Hur and The Godfather III were created here. For the HBO series Rome, they even built a full-size replica of ancient Rome at the studio’s premises. Afterwards, this décor would be recycled for an episode of Doctor Who which was set in Pompeii. Although the studio is still up and running, tourists can now take a tour amongst the sets, studios and dressing rooms. Cinecittà, Rome, Italy

Rome. Photo: HBO

Cinecittà, Rome. Photo: Pixabay

Rome. Photo: HBO

Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  29

Discover Southern Europe  |  A Cinematic Road Trip

5/ Ariadne’s dream - Inception Where Paris may have been a dream destination to many already, it literally became one when the blockbuster Inception got released. In this slightly-complicated action film, Leonardo Di Caprio is specialised in building dreams and is up for his biggest challenge yet. While teaching his new apprentice Ariadne the tricks of the trade, he takes her on a dream journey to the Pont de Bir-Hakeim (Bir-Hakeim Bridge) in Paris. Since then, this bridge has been a mustsee for film buffs on a visit to the French capital. Apart from its cinematic value, Pont de Bir-Hakeim is also a prime spot to view the Eiffel Tower. So, you don’t have to miss out on any of the city’s hotspots while walking in Leo’s legendary footsteps Pont de Bir-Hakeim, Paris, France

Inception. Photo: Syncopy

Pont Bir-Hakeim, Paris. Photo: Wikipedia

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Discover Southern Europe  |  A Cinematic Road Trip

Girona. Photo: Pixabay

6/ Great Sept of Baelor – Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones. Photo: HBO

Game of Thrones. Photo: HBO

Never before did a series captivate the world like Game of Thrones did over these last eight years. Fans from all over the world dream of spending a day on the brutal continent of Westeros. Well, just hop on your dragon and fly to the Catalan town of Girona, where many of the series’ scenes were shot. Most iconic is the staircase of the Great Sept of Bealor which, in reality, is the staircase of the city’s cathedral. In the series, the original church has been replaced digitally by the Great Sept, yet its stairs are the exact same ones as in King’s Landing. For season six, the crew returned to Girona to shoot some scenes set in the mighty town of Braavos (which fits perfectly, as Girona is located on the Costa Brava). Big fans will easily be able to spot a street and alley here and there that looks oddly familiar. Cathedral of Girona, Girona, Spain

Girona. Photo: Unsplash

Girona. Photo: Pixabay

Issue 8  |  November 2019  |  31

Discover Southern Europe  |  A Cinematic Road Trip

7/ The Capitol – The Hunger Games

Espaces d’Abraxas, Paris. Photo: Fred Romero

With Mockingjay Part Two, the Hunger Games saga finally reached its magnum opus. At the beginning of the film, Katniss and her fellow rebels head back to the capital where they get ambushed in an arenalike housing colony full of lethal traps. This dystopian building is actually located just outside metropolitan Paris. Les Espaces d’Abraxas, as it is called, is an experiment by architect Ricardo Bonfill from 1978. Today, it is still fully functioning as a residential building. Yet, if you would ever drive from the city of Paris to the magical world of Disneyland, the complex is right on your route and definitely worth a quick stop. Espaces d’Abraxas, Paris, France

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part II. Photo: Lionsgate

The set of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part II. Photo: Lionsgate

Espaces d’Abraxas, Paris. Photo: Fred Romero

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The banks of the Ebro, Italy.

007 in Southern Europe If you are ever in need of a tour guide in Southern Europe, James Bond might be up for the job. Throughout his 26 films, Great Britain’s deadliest weapon visited all corners of the region and passed by some of its most beautiful monuments. So, hop in your Aston Martin and cruise the countries in 007’s tire tracks. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS



In his early days, Bond loved heading to France to visit its chateaus. In the broad region around Paris, the spy passed Château d’Anet in Thunderball, Château de Vaux-leVicompte in Moonraker and Château de Chantilly in A View to Kill. The latter is the perfect location for a day trip out of the city while on a holiday in Paris. Its many former inhabitants with blue blood and deep pockets turned the estate into a delightful garden of Eden with a huge castle full of art, richly decorated suites and precious manuscripts.

We leave Spain behind us and set sail to Portugal to end up in its capital, Lisbon. Portugal has failed to attract many film crews throughout the years, yet, for the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, a big Hollywood delegation took over the sunny city and its surroundings. The Portuguese Riviera is well-represented in this film, especially the posh coastal town of Estoril. In Lisbon itself, Bond cruises his Aston Martin over the bright-red Ponte 26 Abril, Lisbon’s most important bridge.

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Ponte 26 Abril.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Cinema roadtrip

Spain After travelling to Spain, Bond-style (by helicopter, submarine, zeppelin... you name it), head to Bilbao, the biggest city of Basque Country. In The World is Not Enough, Bond passed here to visit the city’s biggest hotspot: the Guggenheim Museum. The building is designed by Frank Gehry, who is world-famous for constructing with metal building blocks in a myriad of shapes. Inside, you will find the work of contemporary Basque artists alongside big names like Mark Rothko and Clifford Still. Bond didn’t have time for art when he passed there, yet, that shouldn’t stop you from immersing yourself in its great collection.

Château de Chantilly, France.

Italy We end our journey in Italy, by far Bond’s favourite destination in Southern Europe. As early as in Moonraker, he had already paid a visit to Venice’s Piazza San Marco. In his next picture, For Your Eyes Only, he explored the Veneto region even more by visiting the skiing destination of Cortina d’Ampezzo. Yet, it was only when Daniel Craig took over the role of James Bond that the boot of Europe got the attention it deserved. In Craig’s first picture, Casino Royal, he makes Venice unsafe again when he chases his former associate Vesper Lynd through the narrow, water-infused city. In Spectre, the last film of the franchise so far, Bond travels to Rome and the Vatican. During a high-speed chase, the spy passes hotspots like Saint Peter’s Square and the Colosseum, as well as the banks of the Tiber. Follow in his car tracks and you’re up for a city tour which will leave you shaken (not stirred).

Château de Chantilly, France.

Casino Royale.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.


Piazza San Marco, Italy.

Ebro, Italy.

Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  35


Cosy chalet hotel in the Pyrenees Set in the heart of the Aragonese Pyrenees in northern Spain sits the Hotel Viñas de Lárrede, a four-star Pyrenean chalet-style hotel. It’s located within the historic tenth-century village of Lárrede, between the Sierra de Guara and the Ordesa y Monte Perdido Natural Parks.

five-minute drive away. Other adventures in the surrounding area include visits to castles, cathedrals and monasteries, or even hiking part of the Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James).



f you’re looking for a place to simply get away from it all, or to enjoy a playground in the Pyrenees, this is the place. It’s the ideal winter retreat, surrounded by soaring mountains and snow-capped peaks. Inside, it’s warm, welcoming and cosy with lots of natural wood. The hotel has just 17 rooms, each one individually decorated and completely clad in wood, from the walls and ceiling to the floor and furniture. “All areas of the hotel are charming, but the porch and the circular terrace are my favourites,” says director general Joaquín Del

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The hotel lies just 20 kilometres from the largest ski area in Spain, Formigal – Panticosa. The area comprises 179 kilometres of ski slopes across six different valleys, and as well as skiing and snowboarding, visitors can try their hand at kite-skiing, heli-skiing, snowmobiling, sledding and snowshoeing.

And when you come back from a day out on the mountains, you can return to dine at the cosy Restaurante Viñas, where you can enjoy the Pyrenees with all five senses, with the dining being matched with incredible views. The menu is based on local seasonal produce from the hotel’s own garden, as well as meat from the valleys and fresh fish brought in from the Cantabrian Sea. “If I could describe the hotel in three words, they would be unique, magical and paradise,” concludes Del Rincon Lopez.

In the summer, guests can enjoy golf at Las Margas, an 18-hole course located just a

Rincon Lopez. “They are relaxing places to gather, both to eat and enjoy a good drink.”

Discover Southern Europe  |  Spain’s most magical getaways

A relaxed, slow stay by the green fields There is a place right in the heart of the warm Costa Blanca (Alicante), where you can truly relax and enjoy your holidays, living its slow-paced lifestyle. La Finca Resort is a unique, award-winning space that will make you forget your daily routine right away.

Hub and Al Fresco Grill & Pool Bar, located under the big umbrellas and allowing you to glance at the green fields.


And speaking of green fields, La Finca Resort has three golf courses on which you can practice your golfing skills. If you are a rookie, don't hesitate to take classes in the Golf Academy; if you are a seasoned player, you will enjoy the three courses designed by Pepe Gancedo and Robert Dean Putman.


a Finca Resort stands green and flowery in the middle of the arid lands of Alicante. Its halls – decorated with modern furniture – are luminous and spacious and welcome you into a warm atmosphere which guarantees you a relaxed state of mind. Great for couples, La Finca becomes an ‘adults only’ hotel in summer. Peace is the king and the Mediterranean the queen of this resort, exclusively set to let you immerse yourself in the Mediterranean atmosphere. Sunny and far away from the busy vibes of Costa Blanca, this five-star hotel offers you all kinds of services. You can spend

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your morning sunbathing by the outdoor swimming pool while drinking a refreshing cocktail prepared at the pool bar. Or what about feeling as good as new after having had some magnificent beauty and body treatments in the resort’s spa? There are many bars and restaurants, all offering the best quality products to indulge your palate. Los Jardines de la Finca restaurant is the perfect place to discover Spanish cuisine with a gourmet touch, looking at the vast gardens of the hotel under the starry night. Another option is to enjoy tasty aperitifs and cocktails in both The

The perfect place to hit the sweet spot

Furthermore, the resort has now been awarded by the World Travel Awards as Spain’s Leading Sports Resort 2019, and recently, it also received a World Golf Award for Spain’s Best Golf Hotel 2019.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Spain’s most magical getaways

Art Deco glamour on Spain’s Atlantic Coast The Northern Spanish coastal town of Gijón, in Asturias, might not be the first place you’d associate with Art Deco glamour and New York-style industrial, minimalist chic, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at the El Môderne boutique hotel in Gijón. TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTO: EL MÔDERNE

Set in a listed 1931 building, the hotel is impressive from all angles, with its original Art Deco grey stone façade now painstakingly restored as well as highly contemporary interiors which are both stylish and warm. The 47 spacious, high-ceilinged rooms, including 26 generously proportioned Junior Suites, feature a chic palette of grey, charcoal and white, whilst in the reception and bar areas, décor is an equally stylish and inviting mix of warm-toned wood and soft lighting. All rooms also feature rain-showers and are fully sound-proofed. The ground floor champagne bar and café has also become a popular choice for both locals and guests, be they travellers or tourists, thanks to its mix of smart, urban décor and grand picture windows – ideal

for people watching, as well as an extensive list of cocktails, champagnes, spirits, teas and coffees. Since El Môderne opened in December 2018, the boutique hotel has become emblematic of the formerly industrial port city’s regeneration and a beacon of style across the region. “The owner,“ explains the hotel’s manager Élida Suárez Muiños, “is from Gijón,

but has travelled extensively around the world, so he wanted to bring the style and comfort he had seen in hotels elsewhere back here. And we know he has succeeded because now we have guests who choose to come here instead of to other towns in the region. They know that we have something different and special to offer.”

Instagram: @elmodernehotel

Siestas for beginners If you have ever been to Spain, you probably know that, when the sun is at its highest point, the liveliness out on the streets dies out somewhat. During these sizzling hours, the Spanish enjoy their traditional siesta, a beauty sleep which cuts their working day in two. Throughout the years, ‘siesta’ has become a synonym for the Spanish culture and its laid-back character. But how does such a traditional nap look like? This beginner’s guide shows you the ins and outs of the perfect, Spanish afternoon shut-eye. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

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Discover Southern Europe  |  Siestas for beginners


here many believe that siestas have been common in Spain since the beginning of time, it is a rather new phenomenon. It was only in the 1920s that high-ranked clerks started to rearrange their working hours, creating a longer lunch break in which they could take a nap. In the following decades, their subordinates followed this example, creating the nowlegendary Spanish working rhythm.

Why take a siesta? The question to ask is: why not take one? Closing your eyes after lunch prevents stress, improves your memory and is good for your heart. Yet, the foremost reason for the Spaniards to take one is, of course, to escape the Spanish summer heat. As Spaniards usually work until 8 pm, they like to stay up late as well. Taking a siesta also helps them to compensate for those short nights.

Ready to go to Spain? Great! Because we are off on a trip to Barcelona. Follow in our tracks in our brand-new e-book A weekend in Barcelona. This digital travel guide takes you past the city’s hidden secrets and legendary sights for one busy-yet-atmospheric weekend in the Catalan capital. Download it for free on

When is siesta time? Traditionally, the Spanish are off between 2 pm and 4 pm. They call these long lunchbreaks their ‘little weekends’. Once off, they first cook themselves a hot meal. Given the importance of proper lunching in Spain, this can even be a three- or fourcourse meal. Once full, they settle somewhere comfortable and try to catch some sleep. Before closing their eyes, they usually drink a cup of coffee. Although this might sound odd, it actually makes total sense. As it takes about 20 minutes for the caffeine to kick in, the energy boost will present itself right when they want to wake up again. Because a siesta is all but a multiple-hour sleeping break. A selfrespecting Spaniard always limits it to 20 or 30 minutes only. If you stay horizontal much longer, you probably remain sleepy for the rest of the day.

Where to take a siesta? Those working close to home, usually opt for the comfort of their proper bed or sofa. Yet, as many people can’t head home during their break, it isn’t weird at all to take your nap in your local park or square. Lay down in the grass underneath a tree, make yourself comfortable on a park bench or occupy the back of your car.

Rain plan: When going home for a siesta isn’t possible and the weather isn’t outdoor-siesta-proof, you can go to Siesta & Go in Madrid. In this first siesta bar in Spain, you can rent a bed per minute or hour. For example, you can have a top bunk in a dorm for €8 an hour. You can book your brief stay beforehand or just walk in whenever you feel sleepy.

Photo: Pexels

In need of a lullaby: To help you catch your sleep fast, you can watch Napflix. This quirky, free parody on Netflix only offers videos which are so boring that you fall asleep instantly. A one-hour video of a juice bottling plant, a traditional mass in Latin… the choice is yours!

Issue 8  |  November 2019  |  41


Between the mountains and the sea There is a place like home! It’s in Pollensa, situated in Majorca, a charming little town nestled between the mountains and the sea.

with history. Follow the 365 steps to visit the Calvario chapel and take in the breathtaking views of Pollensa.



mong the historic landmarks and heritage is Son Sant Jordi – absolutely not your average hotel. It’s a gentle immersion into Majorcan culture, a place where you get to experience how the locals live, where the word ‘homely’ can’t even begin to describe its cosiness. Distributed across a complex of three buildings from the 17th century, the 14 rooms, still bearing the original stone walls and authentic ornamental arches, brim with character, but also with comforts you would expect from any luxury hotel. The hotel is run by the Salas family who, between them, have many years of experience in the industry. “After travelling the world working in big hotels, we knew we wanted to create something different, 42  |  Issue 9  |  November 2019

a place where our guests would feel at home,” Aina Salas, the hotel director, says. And the passion and joy that has gone into it radiates out from every detail of this beautiful boutique hotel. The main building, the original grandparents’ house, overlooks a lush garden, where you can spend time relaxing by the pool, reading under the shade of one of the many fruit trees or enjoying the many family pets, even including two parrots named Pipo and Petra. Pollensa is an idyllic spot, snuggled up into the mountains of Sierra de Tramuntana, but also very close to the sea. Paradise seekers will enjoy the crystalline waters and solitude of the many beaches and coves in the area, all a short drive from the hotel. The hotel itself is right in the old town, a place bursting

After a day of exploration, tuck into some Mediterranean comfort food in the hotel restaurant, where the fresh produce is cooked with plenty of love. How about a complimentary breakfast with homemade jams from those luscious trees that provided you with shade the day before? “Son Sant Jordi, and Pollensa has something for everyone and is a great spot to experience the not-so-touristy part of Majorca," concludes Aina. The hotel is open all year round and Majorca’s mild temperature – an average of 18 degrees Celsius – makes Son Sant Jordi the perfect escape from the cold weather. Email: Tel.: (+34) 971 530 389


Cutting-edge wine-making in Castille-La Mancha Over the last decade, Spain has become renowned for producing some of the world’s most cutting-edge wineries. However, whilst La Rioja may still be the country’s best-known wine-producing region, the region of Castille-La Mancha in central Spain is home to one of the most modern, forward-thinking wineries in the country: Bodegas Ayuso.

“I’m extremely proud of all our wines,” Ayuso says, “and I’m also especially proud that we’ve been able to honour traditional, artisan methods of production whilst also leading the way when it comes to sustainability.”



e wanted to create a winery that was eco-friendly and sustainable in almost every way,” says Fermin Ayuso, President of Bodegas Ayuso, one La Mancha’s most successful wine producers. And that is indeed very much what they have done. From solar panels in the roof and natural light provided by prisms to extend the hours of daylight, to the use of natural fuels and recycled water, energy efficiency and sustainability are a priority throughout. This is no mean feat for a vast winery which spans 15,000 square metres, producing some 35 million litres of wine per year. These include the multi-award-winning Estola – a velvety smooth, spiced, fruity red made from the best Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and aged in American oak casks. Bodegas Ayuso was originally founded in 1947 by the current president’s father and

now comprises nearly 900 acres of vineyards near Villarrobledo, just under two and a half hours’ drive south of Madrid. The new winery was built in 2015 and in addition to Estola, the winery also produces many other highly successful reds, whites and rosés, from high-end Reservas to table wines, including Finca Los Azares, Castillo de Benizar and Abadia del Roble. “Our wines have a very special and individual character,” explains Ayuso. “Firstly, it’s the soil and climate here. We’re some 700 metres above sea level in a micro-climate with very hot summers and very cold winters. The dry climate produces very healthy, disease-resistant grapes, which means we have no need to use pesticides or chemicals. Secondly, the low-level acidity of the soil makes the wines very palatable and these two factors enable us to grow an unusually large variety of grapes.”

The Bodegas Ayuso winery is open to visitors by appointment. To arrange a visit, phone: (+34) 967 14 04 58 or visit the website:

Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  43

Rosellon Hotel. Photo: Ayre Hotels

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Discover Southern Europe  |  Barcelona’s top-five panoramas

Barcelona from above

Five unmissable panoramas In the beautiful city of Barcelona, there are plenty of places from which you can gaze down on the city and see the Eixample grid in all its glory. These are our five absolute favourites. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc. Photo: Wikipedia

1. A pool with a view The Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc is one of the most impressive pools in Europe. Implemented in the slope of the eponymous hill, you can look out over the city while floating in the Olympic tub. To get the best views, climb the ten-metre-high diving platform. Because of its unique setting, the swimming pool has already starred in an iPhone commercial and a Kylie Minogue music video, and hosted the 1992 Olympic diving competition. Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  45

Discover Southern Europe  |  Barcelona’s top-five panoramas

2. In the King’s garden Hidden between the many parks of Montjuïc, you’ll find the lush paradise that is the Jardins de Joan Maragall. Not only does this park amaze with its Versailles-like water parties, but it is also the garden with the nicest panoramic views of Barcelona. Walk behind the central mansion, plant yourself on the steps and enjoy this stunning view, which even many locals don’t know exists. No wonder the King of Spain opts to sleep in the park’s estate whenever he travels to Barcelona.

3. High-altitude amusement park If the thrill of height is not enough to get your legs shaking, you might want to climb Mount Tibidabo. At its top, you’ll find Spain’s oldest amusement park. The charmingly deteriorated fun park was built in 1889 and still combines stunning views with plenty of fun activities. If you are not in the mood to hit those rides, you can head to the free panoramic area, from where the view is just as impressive.

4. On the city’s roof A metropolitan city like Barcelona counts numerous rooftop bars, and it is hard to pick out just one. Yet, the view from the Ayre Hotel Rosellón’s roof is undoubtedly exceptional. While sipping your cocktail or nibbling on some tapas, you can stare at the mighty Sagrada Familia from up close. Even better: the prices are rather reasonable considering the view on offer. So, take the elevator up and find yourself a table next to the city’s most famous construction site.

5. Floating over town

Teleferico del Puerto. Photo: Unsplash

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When on a tight schedule, you can gaze at the city while on the way to your next destination. From the adorable cable car between Barceloneta and Montjuïc, you get amazing views across town. Make sure to have your camera ready, as the trip passes faster than you might think. Once up, you can visit other viewpoints such as Jardins de Joan Maragall or La Piscina Municipal de Montjuïc, or take another cable car to go all the way to the top: to Castell de Montjuïc. Here, you can walk around the fortress for free, enjoying the beautiful vistas of the city and its harbour.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Barcelona’s top-five panoramas

Photo: Pexels

Tibidabo. Photo: Unsplash

Tibidabo. Photo: Unsplash

Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  47

Photo: Unsplash


A waste of time and money This is the true story of how an otherwise cost-conscious company has wasted oodles of money because of poor international communication.

which is not enough for any meaningful learning to have taken place.


I will leave you to work out the cost of flying someone across the Atlantic to waste 150 expensive man hours – and all the American needed to do was to speak 25 per cent more slowly. I was told later that he does not have time for that; the company has decided instead that the Germans need more language training.


German company is building a big industrial installation in North America. German engineers and technicians make frequent trips to the site to transfer expertise to their local counterparts. They have all done extensive language training, have learnt a lot of the specialised technical vocabulary in English, and have also learnt strategies for dealing with possible areas of cultural difference. Nearly all of them can understand a native speaker who delivers slowly and clearly in international English. They also need to understand local safety rules, so an American safety expert travels to Germany to deliver his standard threehour, 200-plus slide presentation to a group of about 50 Germans.

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The American has delivered this talk many times. There is no interaction and the Germans sit passively and listen. The American speaks fast and has a reasonably strong accent. He does not speak a foreign language himself so has little or no idea of the difficulties involved for nonnative speakers in following a densely packed presentation with slides overloaded with text for a whole afternoon. Initially he is asked if he could speak more slowly. He does for about 30 seconds and then reverts to his normal machine-gun style. The second request fares no better, so the Germans sit there, waiting for the end. The average level of comprehension of what has been said is about 20 per cent,

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 Southern Europe  |  Business

Medaweek, Casa Llotja de Mar, Barcelona. Photo: Wikipedia

Business Calendar MobileOne 13 – 14 November, Paris, France The future is mobile, and not a soul at the MobileOne conference will argue with that. By inviting speakers from all corners of the world and a myriad of sectors, MobileOne has become a must-attend event for all those interested in the state of the art of the mobile technology and mobile marketing sector.

RecruITech 14 November, Barcelona, Spain Few employees are as desired as a talented informatician. RecruITech connects these digital prodigies with some of Spain’s most dynamic companies. Get ready to forge new connections and start a new era in your professional career.

50 to Watch Summit 14 November, Paris, France Saving the planet while simultaneously making a profit is no longer a utopian dream. Plenty of start-ups are well on their way to doing just that. At the 50 to Watch Summit, you meet the world’s most prom50  |  Issue 9  |  November 2019

ising green entrepreneurs who are rising to today’s biggest challenges.

MedaWeek 20 – 22 November, Barcelona, Spain The Mediterranean is of great economic value. To give the region’s tourism, industry and other sectors a boost, MedaWeek gathers the best and brightest from all corners of the Mediterranean coast once a year. Together, they discuss how to make

Trusttech, Palais des Festivals, Cannes. Photo: Wikipedia


their amazing region even better.

Trustech 26– 28 November, Cannes, France Online security is one of the great challenges of this decade, especially in the light of a constantly-digitalising economic sector. At the annual event Trustech, the sector’s key players aim to make online payments safer and easier with every year passing.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Architecture

Ibizan houses in dreamy surroundings White stone houses dotted around green hills overlooking the turquoise Mediterranean Sea is the picture-perfect idea of Ibiza. A local firm of design consultants has dedicated decades to keeping this dreamy vision a reality by fusing the Ibizan traditional style with functionality: houses that integrate into their surroundings. Blakstad’s loyalty to rural Ibiza is reflected in every project it creates. When Rolph Blakstad moved to Ibiza from Canada, he quickly made it his home and taught the trade to his kids from a very early age, who followed the family tradition of honouring the island’s folklore. His son, Rolf, is now head of design: “It is very important for us to build in harmony with the landscape and we do this by thor-

Photo: Conrad White, Styling Loli San Vargas, Casa Itaca

ough study of the topography and vegetation of the terrain.” The perfect balance with the surroundings creates homogeneity within the overall structure. It means bringing the exterior indoors by working with the same materials, creating continuity, especially with the pavements and by opening the house with liveable outdoor areas that are as comfortable as the interiors.

Photo: Conrad White, Styling Loli San Vargas, Casa Trull


The weather is a key factor: how to have spaces that are relatively protected from the heat in the warmer months but still bask in splendid sunshine during the brief Ibizan winters. Rolf is inspired by classic architecture and he wants to build spaces that are timeless, but also that adapt to their clients’ visions and lifestyle. Designs that combine functionality with a “sophisticated rustic” style, as Rolf puts it. But the most important thing is to create spaces that radiate warmth, homely houses from which to live the Ibizan island reverie.

Photo: Conrad White, Styling Loli San Vargas, Casa Nemo

Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  51


Virtual heroes and gaming experts 2019 The days that gaming was a dorky hobby, limited to the sanctuary of college boys’ dark basements, lie far behind us. Today, games are cooler than ever, and professional players are unaltered superheroes. Many people believe the heart of the gaming industry lies in the United States or Asia, yet true gaming aficionados know that we can be proud of the European industry, as well. In France, you will find some of the most successful and limitlessly creative developers in the world. We introduce you to the absolute top players in the field. But not before we guide you to the greatest gaming conventions in the country. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTO: PXHERE

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Discover Southern Europe  |  Virtual heroes and gaming experts 2019

Art to Play 16 – 17 November 2019, Nantes At Art to Play, video games, manga and pop culture collide. Amidst the Japanese characters and musical intermezzo’s, it features plenty of sneak previews and demonstrations of the latest French games.

Game’in Reims 23 – 24 November, Reims For two days a year, Reims is all about esports. Over 300 professionals and semiprofessionals head to the convention to crush the competition in League of Legend, Heartstone or countless other modern classics. On the side, there is plenty of cosplay, manga and comic book fun to be discovered as well.

TGS Toulouse Occitanie 30 November – 1 December, Toulouse TGS celebrates pop culture in all its forms. Alongside cosplay, film franchises and board games, they also love all that has to do with video games. This year, they give some extra attention to virtual reality, but without losing track of the new developments in the rest of the gaming industry.

DreamHack Yet to be announced When it comes to LAN parties, DreamHack is the one to go to. This Swedish series of esports gatherings grew out to become the biggest one in the world, with hundreds of enthusiastic gamers showing up wherever they host an event. Last May, they organised an amazing session in France. When and where the next one will be has yet to be announced.

Paris Games Week October 2020, Paris Paris Games Week is a field day for anyone with a heart for videogames. The biggest gaming brands sign presents, living legends are scheduled to appear and you can attend as many exciting demos and competitions as your heart desires. Don’t hold back on dressing up, either. At Paris Games Week, eccentric is the new normal. This year’s edition of the fantastic convention has just taken place. But that shouldn’t stop you from looking forward to the next one already. Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  53

Discover Southern Europe  |  Virtual heroes and gaming experts 2019

So much more than child’s play Anyone unfamiliar with video games could be forgiven for mistaking them as a geeky hobby for kids, but establishments such as the Creajeux school in Nîmes in southern France are committed to dispelling that myth. Open since 2004, its mission is to bring the industry’s growing appeal, both in France and abroad, to its 300 postBaccalaureate students. TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON  |  PHOTOS: CREAJEUX SCHOOL


ur mission is to ensure people know this is a real career option, and that video games are not just a hobby,” explains Lucie Christen, communications manager at Creajeux. Indeed, the industry is expected to be worth 300 billion dollars worldwide by 2025, and game creators today must call on a wide variety of skills from characterisation to coding. As a result, Créajeux’s two main long-term courses focus on all major aspects of programming, art, and graphics, and there are 14 classrooms across 1,350 square metres, ensuring that students have access 54  |  Issue 9  |  November 2019

to the latest technology. “We teach a wide curriculum and stay aware of the different development studios, with whom we have had links since the beginning. Students learn everything and specialise later,” says Christen. The school also helps with job placements, and alumni have become everything from programmers to character designers to artistic directors, at international industry leaders such as Splash Damage, Rockstar Games, and Ubisoft. “We don’t leave them to fend for themselves,” says Christen. “We have an ‘incubator’ at the school that allows

them to launch their own projects, and we make sure they have a real job at the end.” This commitment starts early: the school also offers a week-long introductory summer camp for 14- to 18-year-olds. “We have real family values. Our students are our priority,” says Christen. “Our objective is not just to get them through school. It’s also to give them the tools they need to discover their passion and make it their career.” Facebook: Creajeux Instagram, Twitter, YouTube: @Creajeux Creajeux enrollment opens in December 2019 for courses starting in 2020. Creajeux is also running open days for potential students (and their parents), on 14 December 2019, and 25 January, 26 February, and 18 March 2020.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Virtual heroes and gaming experts 2019

Occitanie’s fantasy dimension


In the medieval French town of Carcassonne, a video game revolution is taking place. Following the international success of their first game, Urban Rivals, the Acute Games team prepare to launch Meet Me - an interactive game that tells a stunning visual tale. For the past 15 years, Acute Games has been developing video games from the heart of one of France’s most picturesque locations. “Our collectible card game, Urban Rivals, took the internet by storm, and in 2010, smartphone users caught on,” explains Florian Montani, CEO and 2D-graphic designer. As they prepare for the winter release of Meet Me, they anticipate that it’s set to be a hit among mobile users with its unique,

colour-driven environments. “It’s a kind of visual novel – a multiple choice, interactive story. It will be based on a young dancer in Prague that is recruited into a dance troupe, when strange things begin to happen…” says Montani. Thanks to a fantastic team of illustrators and sound designers, all of the storylines are written in-house. “We draw inspiration from the mundane: a joke we might have overheard in a cafe, some wordplay, a conver-

sation about an album or film…” The team continues to push creative boundaries, with the Meet Me game format designed as a polar opposite to Urban Rivals. Making waves worldwide, their main game is currently being translated into Korean, following translation into various other major languages. “We’re planning to launch Urban Rivals across Nintendo consoles in April 2020,” as Montani reveals exciting things are on the horizon for Acute Games. Download both games for free on Apple and Android App Stores.

Festival de Montier. Photo: Baptiste Gerbet

Diary Dates Film festivals, sports events, Christmas markets, light celebrations… They are all happening here, in Southern Europe. Don’t miss out on these fabulous events in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal this month. Strasbourg Christmas market 1 – 30 November, Portugal Where most music festivals bring people together, Misty Fest divides and conquers. In November, the festival strikes down in Porto, Lisbon and plenty of other Portuguese cities. With amazing national and international talents taking the stage, it will be a nationwide, month-long, musical adventure.

Cinanima 11 – 17 November, Espinho, Portugal The world of animated films is way more diverse than what Disney and the like have led us to believe. At Cinanima, the best Portuguese and international animated fea58  |  Issue 9  |  November 2019

tures hit the big screen, some of which are not quite meant for a family audience.

Montier Photo Festival 14 – 17 November, Montier-en-Der, France Pictures of animals: really, who doesn’t like them? At the annual photo festival of Montier, you can discover the most stunning, beastly shots of the year. The festival is also a gathering of the greatest photographers of France and beyond, so you will most definitely be in good company. The artists who’ve captured our furry friends best, will walk home with the most prestigious awards in the field.


Festa del Torrone 16 – 24 November, Cremona, Italy Nothing says winter like a sweet piece of torrone. Although the confectionery exists in almost all of Southern Europe (be it under names like turrón or nougat), the Italians are convinced that theirs is the absolute best. That’s why, in the city of Cremona, they kick off the holidays with a festival for this sugary treat. Try the delicacy in all its forms, take a workshop with your kids or witness one of the many folkloristic happenings.

Torino Film Festival 22 – 30 November, Turin, Italy The international film festival of Turin is the second-biggest one in Italy. With its diverse programme, covering all corners of the world, it sets itself apart from the big, America-focused giants. At Torino Film

Discover Southern Europe  |  Diary Dates

Misty Fest, Nitin Sawhne.

Misty Fest, Maria Mendes.

Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  59

Discover Southern Europe  |  Diary Dates

Festival, young prodigies and underappreciated talents get a chance to show the industry what they’re worth, which might just skyrocket their careers.

Strasbourg Christmas market 22 November – 30 December, Strasbourg, France While strolling through the picturesque alleys of Strasbourg, it always feels a bit like Christmas. From late-November until the end of the year, millions of twinkling lights, odorant mulled-wine shops and the familiar sound of Christmas carols complete this jolly experience as France’s brightest Christmas market opens its doors once again.

Festival Internacional de Cine de Cartagena 24 – 30 November, Cartagena, Spain At the international film festival of Cartagena, the film industry celebrates all sorts of cinema. Short films, long features, documentaries, animations, student films… they are all screened alongside each other in the cosy halls of Cartagena’s cinemas, competing for the festival’s desired awards.

Canary Islands Olympic Sailing Week 4 – 8 December, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain While winter takes over all of Europe, the Canary Islands keep enjoying their eternal summer. Join the high-temperature fun during the Gran Canaria Olympic Sailing Week, an exciting regatta in which over ten European countries compete against each other with sail and rudder.

Festival of Lights. Photo: Yann Caradec

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Photo: Unsplash

Discover Southern Europe  |  Diary Dates

Piazza del Campo. Photo: Unsplash

Festival de Montier. Photo: Laurent Geslin

Festa del Torrone.

Christmas Market Strasbourg. Photo: Atout France, Jean-François Rollinger

Festival of Lights 5 – 8 December, Lyon, France Nothing matches the dark winter nights better than a warm beacon of colourful light. During the first weekend of December, the city of Lyon traditionally commemorates the end of the plague in the 17th century. Throughout the centuries, this festival came in many different forms. But, for the last decennia, Lyon has celebrated this joyful day with mesmerising light art.

Il Mercato nel Campo 7 – 8 December, Siena, Italy What is Tuscany if not a gastronomical paradise? During Il Mercato nel Campo, all those typical delicacies are sold, prepared and promoted at the legendary Piazzo del Campo in Siena. While the kids enjoy the many fun activities on the side, adults can dive into the wide assortment of timeless classics and intriguing novelties. Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  61

Discover Southern Europe  |  Culture

Experience flamenco in its true birthplace Citrus-coloured houses stand along the river, ceramic tiles glint in the sun, and the sultry sound of flamenco drifts through open doorways. This is the district of Triana in Seville, one of the birthplaces of flamenco. Here, in this old gypsy barrio sits the Teatro Flamenco Triana, the only theatre in Seville dedicated exclusively to flamenco. TEXT: ESME FOX  |  PHOTOS: TEATRO FLAMENCO TRIANA

The theatre only opened its doors last year, but it’s already widely regarded as one of the best places to see flamenco in the city. This is because the theatre belongs to the Cristina Heeren Foundation, the largest flamenco school in the world, and the only

one where guitar, singing and dance are taught all together. “We decided to build it in Triana, because we wanted to bring flamenco back to the place where it was created,” says Alexandra Hoffer, artistic director at the Teatro Flamenco Triana.

“Although the theatre is connected to the flamenco school, students do not perform there: only former students who are now renowned artists and professionals,” explains Hoffer. Some of these include people such as Antonio Molina ‘El Choro’, Luisa Palicio, Lucia la Piñona, Maise Marquez and Alberto Sellés. The theatre showcases the most traditional form of flamenco, with just one female dancer, one male dancer, one singer and one guitar player. The theatre itself is much smaller than most theatres and has a very intimate feel where you can see the artists up close, feel the rhythm of the pounding feet, and see the expressions on the dancers' faces. “We don’t serve drinks or tapas because we want people to give the artists the true respect they deserve,” says Hoffer.


Discover Southern Europe  |  Book

Emma Donoghure.



Family matters on the French Riviera Nice and its world-famous carnival are the backdrop to a funny, tender novel from bestselling author Emma Donoghue. A retired New York professor has his life and travel plans turned upside down when he has to look after a young relative. TEXT: CLAIRE WEB  I  PRESS PHOTOS


ublin-born Donoghue is best known for Room, a remarkable, harrowing book that was made into an acclaimed film starring Brie Larson. Her new novel, Akin, is an altogether gentler story about an unconventional family holiday. Days before his 90th birthday and a longplanned trip to the south of France, a widower receives an unexpected call: a social worker is looking for a temporary home for a great-nephew whom Noah has never met. 11-year-old Michael lives in a rough part of Brooklyn and has barely left New York. Unsurprisingly, the boy is less than impressed with the prospect of spending a week on the other side of the world with a prim and proper retired professor.

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The holiday doesn’t start well. All Michael wants to do is play with his mobile phone and guzzle coke, while Noah wrestles with his temper and new-found responsibilities. Donoghue’s deft, funny dialogue nails the generational gap between the unlikely travel companions. Young Michael’s blunt putdowns are deliciously believable, and so are their incessant quarrels about everything from the boy’s diet to French etiquette. We see the French Riviera through their jet-lagged eyes: Michael is nonplussed or grossed out by everything he sees, while Noah has a love-hate relationship with Nice. Donoghue merrily tramples over the glossy, glamorous image of the French Riviera and conjures up a noisier, grubbier,

livelier place. Noah and Michael visit during the raucous annual carnival, when Nice lets its hair down and crowds are pelted with carnations during ‘flower battles’ and gigantic papier-mâché effigies are marched through the streets.

Akin also delves into the city’s dark past. After discovering some enigmatic old photographs, Noah worries his French mother was a Nazi spy and sets about unearthing her wartime secrets with the help of Michael’s internet know-how and sharp eyes. Ultimately, though, this warm-hearted novel is as much about new beginnings as old secrets. It’s about an elderly man and a boy realising they do have some things in common after all, and learning to be a family.

Publisher: Picador Price: €19

Discover Southern Europe  |  Food

Photo: Ferme Le Petit Jabron


Saint-Domnin de Provence

The Essence of the south of France A distinctive and eye-catching cheese that reveals the true spirit and terroir of Provence. One bite of this fresh, farm produced ‘fromage de chèvre’ will transport you to the rugged, aromatic hills of the south of France. TEXT: JENNIFER GRECO  I  PHOTOS: PEXELS


and decorated with three sprigs of fresh lavender and almost too pretty to eat, this richly flavoured cheese reveals the true character of Provence. It is produced on a small farm that sits in the shadow of Mont Ventoux, and its unusual name comes from a 12th-century chapel near the farm that is situated on the ancient pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela. The family’s herd of 230 goats spend most of the year outside grazing in the ‘garrigue’, the regional scrubland that makes up the rocky, arid hills of the south of France. The aromatic herbs that grow here include wild thyme, wild winter savory (‘sarriette’ in French), rosemary, juniper and lavender, which perfume the air and give the cheese

an intoxicating combination of tangy, herbaceous, mushroom and floral notes that are subtle at first, then leave a long finish. A very young version of Saint-Domnin will be fluffy, creamy and almost spreadable, while an older cheese will be more firm in texture and taste a bit sweeter. The couple who make this cheese respect the seasons, so it is best enjoyed in the spring, summer and early autumn, and it will pair perfectly with a cold, crisp Côte de Provence rosé or a bright, acidic Sancerre from the Loire Valley. Goat cheese Cheesemaker: Ferme Le Petit Jabron Region: Provence

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’.

Issue 9  |  November 2019  |  65

Discover Southern Europe  |  Quiz


Know your Southern Europe TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS



1. In which city can you find the Ponte 25 de Abril, an almost identical replica of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge?

2. Which city, famous for its bull runs, is the capital of the Spanish region of Navarra?

3. Which famous pizza has tomato, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms and artichokes on it?






4. On the bridge of which French city ‘l’on y dance tous en rond’ (do they dance round and round), according to a famous children’s rhyme?

5. In which Italian city are you when you land at Marco Polo Airport?

6. In which French natural region can you spot flamingos and wild horses?

7. Which three products form the basis of a Spanish ‘tortilla’?

8. Which Southern European language speaks the words raplapla, hurluberlu and blablater?

9. Which two Spanish languages are also official languages of regions in Southern France?

1. Lisbon — 2. Pamplona — 3. Pizza Capricciosa — 4. Avignon — 5. Venice — 6. The Camargue — 7. Eggs, potatoes and olive oi — 8. French (they mean worn-out, weirdo and babbling) — 9. Catalan and Basque.

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