Discover Southern Europe, Issue 10, December 2019

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I S S U E 10 | D E C E M B E R 2 019


Las Palmas de Gran Canaria


à la française


colourful spots P R O M O T I N G

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


DECEM BER 20 1 9



10 Higher education in France and Spain

40 Eat and sleep in Spain With siestas and tapas being two of the most famous Spanish words, it is clear that you can both eat and sleep very well in Spain. Especially at one of these places.

Choosing a university, you don’t do lightly. Let us help you pick the right one by taking you to France and Spain’s greatest institutions. 18 Nine colourful spots to visit

46 French holidays for beginners Chocolate-filled calendars, Père Noël... The French holidays are amongst the most festive ones around. Celebrate Christmas ‘à la française’ with our beginners’ guide.

Blue cities, yellow palaces, orange caves: Southern Europe has it all. Join us on a trip to the region’s most colourful destinations. 24 France’s most ravishing châteaux Few things say France like impressive towers and a wide moat. These marvelous gems are our favourite French ‘châteaux’. 34 A weekend in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria


There is more to Gran Canaria than white, exotic beaches and all-inclusive resorts. We spend a weekend in its warm and sunny capital, the next city break in vogue.


Enchanting Grenoble Built against the mighty Alps, Grenoble seems like a fairy-tale setting. Especially if you – like we do – visit it during these snowy winter days.

REGULARS 6 Southern European Style 8 Design Finds 56 Business & Innovation 68 Diary Dates 77 Food 78 Quiz Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  3

Discover Southern Europe  |  Editor’s note

Dear Reader,

Discover Southern Europe Issue 10, December 2019

Published by Scan Group

Esme Fox Kate Harvey Paola Maggiulli Ingrid Opstad Gerard Plana Noelia Santana Hannah Jane Thompson Pierre Antoine Zahnd

Print Uniprint

Cover Photo Simon Fital

Executive Editor Thomas Winther

Sales & Key Account Managers Katia Sfihi Victoria Crusafon Janina Delgado Sara Mariscal Mathilde Rineau Alice Tanghe

Published 12.2019 ISSN 2832-3398

Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Arne Adriaenssens Copy-editor Karl Batterbee Graphic Designer Audrey Beullier Contributors Nicola Rachel Colyer Eddi Fiegel Steve Flinders

Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3TY United Kingdom Phone: +44 208 408 1938

We’ve reached issue number ten! Even in ever-relaxed Southern Europe, time seems to be flying. In fact, it is hard to believe that it is December already. Blame it on the sun that doesn’t stop shining or on the warm atmosphere that still lingers through its streets, but the twinkle lights in the shopping streets and the soft smell of pine trees in the living rooms has come as a bit of a surprise to me, this year. Yet, not to worry, this Discover Southern Europe contains a crash-course on how to celebrate your holidays ‘à la française’ (page 46) and how to cook your family an Italian Christmas supper (page 77). We also leave no time to waste and commence our holiday shopping straight away. Christmas gifts, festive outfits… we help you to find them all. Another perk of winter is that we can dust off our skis again. We pay the region’s specialists on winter sports gear a visit, after which we head straight to the vibrant city of Grenoble and the impressive Mer de Glace, our favourite skiing destination at the Mont Blanc. This pearl-white glacier is soft on the eyes and a true paradise when on a snowboard. And that is just one of the nine ‘unicoloured’ places that we have paid a visit to this month. We head to nine intriguing spots where one colour is king. Join us on a trip to the purple lavender field of the Provence, the pink salt lakes of Torrevieja and the yellow palace of Sintra, for example. For some indoor fun, we visit museums, castles, restaurants, hotels, theatres… and there is way more Southern European greatness up for grabs in this issue, so just flip this page and start your journey through our last issue of 2019. We’ll be back in 2020 with more French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese inspiration than ever. On behalf of the entire Discover Southern Europe team, I wish you a merry Christmas and a prosperous and sunny 2020.

© 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

Time to shine


See out the year in style with fashion worth celebrating, from mood-boosting metallics and sparkling accessories that spread the seasonal spirit, to sleek suiting and classic black for a sophisticated statement. Whether it’s the office party or family festivities, ensure you’re dressed for the occasion with our favourite festive finds.

Whether you’re dressing up a cosy jumper for an afternoon of mulled wine and mince pies, or adding the final flourish before an elegant soirée, this bejewelled headband will inject some seasonal style to your look, with minimal effort. Zara Padded Rhinestone Headband, €18

Lend some French flair to your look with this gold brocade suit from Parisian label, Sandro. A simple shirt and loafers temper the decadence for a more casual affair, while a pair of black heels and a silk camisole will see you dancing the night away. Sandro Brocade Tailored Jacket, €375; Sandro Flared Brocade Tailored Trousers, €245

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Ideal for desk-to-dinner dressing, this pretty blouse from French designer, Maje, will help you avoid any ‘what to wear’ dilemmas. Pair with tailored trousers for a day at the office before slipping on your party shoes and dialling up the drama for the evening. Maje Lurex Ruffled Shirt, €195

Tweed gets a glam makeover with the oversized embellishment and chain trim on this handbag from Spanish brand, Uterqüe. Pair it with black jeans and a cashmere knit for a casual dinner with friends, or go all in with sequins and glitter as you ring in the new year. Uterqüe Bejewelled Evening Bag, €99

Discover Southern Europe  |  Southern European Style

Show off your sartorial prowess with a sleek, tailored suit that oozes sophistication. This contemporary offering from French brand, Sandro, provides an understated foundation to which you can add some festive flair without falling behind in the style stakes. Sandro Suit Jacket, €395; Sandro Suit Trousers, €225

It’s easy to succumb to seasonal clichés when it comes to December dressing, but opting for a monochrome palette will ensure you look more suave, less Santa. This black and white patterned shirt from France’s The Kooples will lend a playfulness to a tailored look that’s just perfect for partying. Black Cotton Shirt with Print, €148

Italian fashion house Fendi knows how to do details and this classic belt is just the ticket for finishing off your festive look. Understated yet eye-catching, it’s a timeless accessory to add to your collection. Fendi Leather Belt, €390

Velvet slippers offer a stylish alternative to classic dress shoes, with the extra dose of luxe that December events often demand, and this simple black cotton-velvet pair from Spain’s Massimo Dutti is an excellent wardrobe addition that you’ll come back to year after year. Massimo Dutti Black Velvet Slippers, €90

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Discover Southern Europe  |  Design

Design Finds Need present ideas for the design lover in your life this year? From personalised items to classic design pieces for the home, we have created a gift guide with things you can wrap up and put under the tree. Time to spread some festive joy! TEXT: INGRID OPSTAD  I  PRESS PHOTOS

Give a beautiful design piece this Christmas. This Prepese crib from Alessi was designed by Massimo Giacon and is a playful and modern version of the Nativity scene. The design has been enriched over the years by new colour versions and numerous characters, becoming an inevitable piece of interest for both collectors and lovers of Christmas. Alessi, ‘Presepe’ crib set of five, €65

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The HT1 clock from Spanish design brand Alba Arribas is decorative, beautiful and elegant - perfect for the design lover in your life who appreciates simplicity and geometric shapes. This triangular concrete clock with black needles is a modern variant of the classic round clock, and can be used as a table clock or conveniently hung on the wall. Alba Arribas, ‘Clock HT1’, €45

Discover Southern Europe  |  Design

Who doesn’t love a personalised gift? These prints from French brand Papier Tigre are customisable, meaning you can get whatever you like printed on them to fit whoever is receiving the gift - a message, a name, a verse… you decide! Available in a range of different colours. Papier Tigre, ‘Night ABC’ personalised print, €40

We love the look of this blanket from Portuguese brand CHIcoração, and know that it would be a great gift for those who like being cosy at home. Made with looms from the ‘60s and ‘70s, and finished by hand, it is made of 100 per cent sheep wool with a classic pattern and timeless design. Working great as a bed cover or for the sofa, it will give a splash of colour to any of your rooms. CHIcoração, ‘Flower’ wool blanket, 130x180cm, From €84 A single plate or mug can express the personality of its owner or its recipient, but lots of them together give the opportunity to create personalised table settings for each of the guests, or to spread gleaming messages of optimism. The Lettering collection from Bitossi Home consists of items with a gold letter decorated on white porcelain - a great gift for the one who has ‘everything’. Bitossi Home, ‘Lettering’ collection, little plate, €16; container, €20; rectangular bowl, €22

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Higher education in France and Spain Universities and business schools are the factories of our future. Here, the best and brightest receive the knowledge they need to reflect on yesterday and the critical mindset that allows them to change tomorrow. Picking the right university is, therefore, a decision you should not make lightly. As many students and students-to-be are currently racking their brains about where to study next year, we roamed some of the most prestigious schools for higher education in Southern Europe. Join us as we sit down in their auditoriums, promenade through their corridors and peruse many a textbook to find those few schools that pass our university exam cum laude!

Photo: Unsplash

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Live, learn, innovate… in the place to be Bordeaux is fast becoming the French city on everybody’s lips – and with good reason. Recently ranked in the world’s top 100 most innovative universities by Reuters, the University of Bordeaux is now an international centre of academic research that responds to some of society’s biggest challenges. Located in the world’s largest urban UNESCO World Heritage Site, it provides an unrivalled quality of life for students. TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: UNIVERSITY OF BORDEAUX


he University of Bordeaux has excelled itself across multiple fields – also known as its Clusters of Excellence. These clusters, including five with national LabEx accreditation, unite teams from different research units in compelling fields such as archeology, environment and climate, public health and technologies, neuroscience, advanced materials, laser and photonics.

International joint laboratories “Research across borders is strongly boosted thanks to the International Joint Labora12  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

tories scheme, which unites the University of Bordeaux with 22 research labs worldwide,” explains the director of the international office, Véronique Debord-Lazaro. These include joint research into light matter in Canada, nanostructures, photonics and nuclear structures in Japan, vascular plasticity in Taiwan, particle physics in Korea, computer science in India, prehistoric Eurasian art in Russia, cognition and ageing in Mexico, clinical research into infectious diseases in West Africa, applied mathematics in China and immunology and microbiology in Germany – to name a few.

A stunning city The port city of Bordeaux is widely recognised as France’s central winegrowing region, but is also a buzzing, international destination. Instantly recognisable for its beauty, its rich gastronomic culture provides students “with a quality of life that Parisians so yearn for”. The city is surrounded by Atlantic dunes and coastline, thick forest, medieval and Renaissance ruins – making it a beautiful place to live and learn. With multiple campuses across the south-western region in Bordeaux, Dax and Bayonne, within minutes the buildings transform into undulating vineyards. Unsurprisingly, the university leads the way in viticulture and boasts its very own Institute of Vine and Wine Science.

Courses in English and French The university offers a wide range of international Masters courses taught entirely in

Discover Southern Europe  |  Higher Education in France

English, by visiting European and international professors as well as faculty staff. “Specialised training is proposed to the teachers here so they may maximise their teaching skills in English,” the director explains. The university also works hard to facilitate French-language learning for their international students. “We encourage students to improve their French skills during their studies – so they can make the most of their time in France,” she tells us. French classes are offered free of charge to help exchange students integrate into the campus and the city of Bordeaux. As of next year, online classes will also be available to all international students prior to their arrival.

Summer school The University of Bordeaux redefines the concept of summer schools. Since 2012, it has organised summer schools that offer a range of high-quality, multidisciplinary international courses for postgraduate students and young researchers. Their sessions allow students to make the most of learning and living in Bordeaux during the glorious summer months in south-western France.

Reap the benefits of European membership For more than 15 years, the university has been seizing opportunities from European programmes. “The likes of the Erasmus

scheme, for example, offers us the chance to internationalise our courses while also enhancing their quality,” says the director. With hundreds of partner institutions across the world, the University of Bordeaux offers its French students numerous opportunities to follow their studies abroad in institutions across Europe. This is facilitated by the rating system, known as the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) developed by the European Union. It allows students to transfer their grades between higher education institutions and move from one country to another, easily. “It makes studying at the University of Bordeaux very attractive for students from non-European countries, too. The number of EU-labelled

courses and projects (over 130) we propose is also a strong selling point and gauge of quality for those coming from abroad,” explains the director. Recently, with the launch of a ‘European Universities Initiative’, transnational alliances between higher education institutions have aimed to revolutionise the quality and competitiveness of education and research in Europe. “The University of Bordeaux is collaborating with eight partner universities across Europe to promote quality of life, sustainability and global engagement,” explains the director.

Unwavering student and financial support The University of Bordeaux campuses provide the academic community with an ideal environment for both living and learning. Local services are available to students on each site, including a helpful buddying system for international students to get to know their new home city. France is renowned for having one of the best systems of higher education in the world, and their public universities are funded by the national government. “The system is financially very accessible for students. Thanks to a fee-waiver system, students coming from outside the European Union and the European Economic Area may pay the same fees as a French student,” she explains. For more information on the wide range of courses available at the University of Bordeaux, you can visit their website. Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  13

The business school that educates for tomorrow’s jobs For many international business students, choosing to study in France would already feel like a confident, bold step; but for those who come to the 7,260-student emlyon business school, their outlook is certain to become even more dynamic, forward-thinking and global. Located less than 20 minutes’ drive from central Lyon, its main campus opened in 1872, and is today one of the oldest and most-respected business schools in France. TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON  |  PHOTOS: ROMAIN ETIENNE


ith its Executive MBA (EMBA) reaching 55th on the prestigious Financial Times EMBA ranking – a jump of eight places in just one year, up from 63rd place in 2018 – the school builds on the city’s strong culture and heritage to offer a truly world-class option for students seeking to study and work in Europe and beyond.

International dimension “There is real expertise in Lyon, in biotechnology, healthcare, the environment and the 14  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

digital sector,” explains marketing officer Emma Patrone. “Plus, Lyon is well known for its gastronomy, cultural scene and strong entrepreneurial spirit, which attracts ambitious professionals looking to do an MBA.” Indeed, all students can benefit from the school’s global reach. Undergraduates can even choose to change campuses each year, moving to the school’s other sites in Paris; Saint-Etienne; Casablanca, Morocco; Shanghai, China; and even the new location of Bhubaneswar, India. “We offer a real in-

ternational dimension,” explains marketing officer Elie Krawczyk. “We are in a diverse world, and the students have that advantage, which truly maximises their adaptability and employability.” A further example of this is the flagship International MBA programme itself, which is taught entirely in English, is comfortably rated at number 80 on the Top 100 of the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking, and rated third in France on the same list. An

Discover Southern Europe  |  Higher Education in France

intensive, 12-month, full-time programme, it welcomed students of 31 nationalities last year, including from the United States, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, China, Egypt, Ghana, Angola, Cameroon, the Philippines, Thailand and Azerbaijan. Candidates must demonstrate high potential and existing workplace experience to enter, including total fluency in English, and a minimum of three years’ professional working experience. And, unusually for often-maledominated MBA programmes, last year the course enrolled 42 per cent women.

‘Early makers’ Alongside the school’s centuries-old heritage, emlyon now offers some of the most hightech, future-facing methods in the field, of which the IMBA makes full use. This ethos is built on the school’s signature ‘early makers’ concept, a ‘manifesto’ that encapsulates its multi-disciplinary, cooperative, experimental and entrepreneurial state of mind. In practice, this has led to the development of the pioneering ‘makers’ lab’ laboratories, which allow students easy access to the real-life resources they need to put business ideas into practice, including 3D printing, coding and more. “The labs allow real co-creation,” explains Krawczyk. “It’s crafting, sharing, testing, project management, prototyping. It’s learning by action; going beyond theory.”

This focus underpins the vast majority of the IMBA course, which offers various Action Learning Projects, and the Entrepreneurial Leadership Project (ELP). This enables students to take on challenges such as pitching start-up concepts to a panel, learning to predict future business trends, and even working in consulting roles with existing companies or NGOs. Previous collaborations have included global giants such as Renault and Airbus. “We really push them as much as possible,” explains Patrone. “This is the ‘early maker’ spirit. The aim is that they become successful managers and entrepreneurs in any global sector.” This approach also translates into the workplace; 86 per cent of students find employment within three months of graduation, and many are snapped up by business leaders even before they leave. This is in no small part due to the programme’s emphasis on careers, via coaching, weekly workshops and highly-connected networking events.

Jobs of tomorrow The course’s super-practical focus also means that emlyon students are highly adaptable, as technology and societal demands continue to shift and evolve. Current hot topics include Artificial Intelligence, sustainability, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

As the school’s director, Professor Tawhid Chtioui, said in a recent interview: “There has been a paradigm shift in the new generation. How can businesses contribute to society? Our future graduates are far more aware of environmental and social impact.” “We know that most of the jobs of tomorrow have not been invented yet,” explains Krawczyk. “But we can train our students to be ready. It's about questioning what you know, adapting, and understanding the evolution of technology, business and design.” With 54 per cent of IMBA participants last year choosing to remain and work in France, and 11 per cent in Europe, this school is directly nurturing bright minds that will go on to contribute not only on home soil, but further afield, too. In today’s 24hour, global world, in which Europe and beyond has recently appeared wracked by division, economic uncertainty and political upheaval, it’s clear that emlyon business school graduates are still forging an innovative, practical, compassionate, multi-connected and, ultimately, hopeful path ahead. LinkedIn: emlyon business school Twitter: @EMLYON

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  15

Discover Southern Europe  |  Higher Education in Spain

An international university education in one of Europe’s most dynamic cities Barcelona is one of Europe’s most vibrant cities, and there’s no doubt it attracts people from all around the world thanks to its climate, art, architecture, coastline and food. Many dream of moving to this dynamic city, and studying there can be a great way to do so. The Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, UIC Barcelona, is a perfect option because of its multicultural environment and vast offer of courses in English, as well as in Spanish and Catalan. TEXT: ESME FOX  |  PHOTOS: UIC BARCELONA


IC Barcelona was founded in 1997. Since then, it has grown to around 8,000 students from all over the world. There are currently 99 different nationalities at the university, many from nearby countries such as France, Portugal and Andorra, but also from further afield, including Japan and the United Arab Emirates. “We even host students from Burundi, in

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Africa,” says Raquel Peula, director of outreach and admissions. The university offers 16 different degrees, 30 double degrees and a wide range of masters and postgraduate courses. While offering a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programmes, UIC Barcelona is particularly well known for the ones focused on health sciences, located at the Hospital Universitari General de Catalunya building. For example, its Dentistry and Oral Sciences course was listed in the world-famous Shanghai Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2019. The university is also known internationally for its Architecture or BBA Masters, and nationally for its ground-breaking degree in bioengineering. Classes take place across two campuses,

one in Barcelona and the other in the neighbouring town of Sant Cugat del Vallès. “With a ratio of 8.75 students per professor, we can offer a personalised service, where everyone is called by name from the first day. We accompany our students on their path to professional success and personal development,” says Peula. During their time at UIC Barcelona, students will benefit from around 300 mobility agreements. The university is also wellconnected to the labour market through internships and work placements, as well as its network of over 20,000 alumni. Every year, the university invests 5.5 million euros in scholarships to attract new talent, so there are plenty of opportunities. “My favourite thing about UIC Barcelona is that it’s in a constant state of evolution, where ideas and projects flow all the time. I love to think that we are somehow helping those who will someday change the world,” concludes Peula.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Higher Education in Spain

Antonio Obregón, Vice Chancellor of Academic Organisation and Teaching Staff.

Prestigious education in a multicultural environment Studying abroad is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture, learn new languages and meet new people. Madrid is one of the cities chosen by many students every year thanks to its multicultural, vibrant life and great higher education options. TEXT: NOELIA SANTANA  |  PHOTOS: JOSÉ ANGEL MOLINA


niversidad Pontificia Comillas is a Catholic University founded in 1890 by the Society of Jesus. The society runs over 200 universities around the world and they are clearly committed to supporting their students to value and learn from other cultures. They believe in preparing individuals that are responsible for their society with ethical and social values that are going to assist them in their professional and personal lives. “We focus on the individual and their integral development. We of course want them to learn the necessary skills for their studies, but we also want to help them to prosper as a person: being able to work as part of a team, develop their communication, leadership, en-

trepreneurial skills and to be willing to serve society and others.” says Antonio Obregón, vice chancellor of academic organisation and teaching staff of the university. At Comillas University, they are experts in bringing various nationalities under one roof, having agreements with over 625 universities around the globe. For example, their Erasmus programme with countries in the European Union allows British students from degrees such as Business, Engineering, Law or International Relations, to study in this prestigious institution for a minimum of three months and a maximum of 12. Thanks to their bilateral agreement, they also pioneer in student exchanges from countries

like the United States, Argentina, Australia and Japan, among many others. Some of these degrees, such as the International Relations Studies, and also many postgraduate studies, are taught fully in English. Nevertheless, international students will benefit from having a good level of Spanish, mainly to enjoy the culture and the city to the fullest. Comillas’ employability rate is as high as 95 per cent, being first in Spain and second in Europe. They ensure that their students get the right internships and help them every step of the way into their work integration. Their students are able to find jobs in all sorts of respected national and multinational organisations, in a diverse scope of businesses all around the world. Telephone: (+34) 915 406 352 Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  17

Tuscany. Photo: Pexels

From bright-red poppies to pitch-black beaches

Nine of Southern Europe’s most colourful destinations Southern Europe is a mishmash of colours. In cities like Cinque Terre or Girona, the streets contain bright-coloured buildings aplenty; from a vigorous orange to a soothing green and everything in between. If you, however, prefer a more singletoned streetscape, other Southern European spots can cater to your tastes – the purple lavender fields of the Provence, the yellow palace of Sintra or the alienating ‘Smurfs village’ of Juzcar, where every wall is painted blue, to name a few. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

1/ Red - Val d’Orcia, Tuscany, Italy Whereas the Tuscan landscape is usually defined by smooth hills and elegant cypresses, in April and May, the bright-red poppies are the protagonists of the region’s landscape. This little flower adores the Tuscan climate and grows lavishly in and around the natural reserve of Val d’Orcia. The crimson variety that takes over Southern Europe in spring is even nicknamed ‘the Tuscan poppy’. Besides it being easy on 18  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

the eyes, the flower is also valued for its medical purposes. In the Roman age already, they brewed it into a tea which would ‘sooth away the aches of love’. From the 18th century on, the flower was used to create opium, a dangerous and illegal drug that is mainly produced in Central America, South-East Asia and the Middle East. In Val d’Orcia, however, poppies are nothing more than a feast for the eyes, preluding the soothing Tuscan summer.

Tuscany. Photo: Pexels

There are multiple direct flights to both Florence and Pisa every day. Both are great starting points for a road trip through Tuscany.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Colourful Southern Europe

2/ White - Mer de Glace, Mont Blanc, France What better place to look for the whitest spot in Southern Europe than on the Mont Blanc, or White Mountain? On its northern slope, the impressive Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) stretches out – France’s biggest glacier. The frozen river is 12 kilometres long and up to half a kilometre deep and moves an impressive 95 metres a year. In summer, hikers can walk alongside the frozen river and enjoy the spectacular mountain sights and dazzling vistas. In winter, you must be on skis or a snowboard to inspect the glacier from up close. If you are lucky, you can ski all the way down to the village of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, a trip of about ten kilometres. Here, you can hop on the cable car and head back up again.

Take one of the many flights that leave for Geneva (Switzerland) from London and continue by train to Chamonix, where you Mer de Glace. Photo: Unsplash

take the cable car.

3/ Purple - Provence, France The Southern-French region of the Provence is as odorant as it is beautiful. Delicious herbs like thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram and summer savory grow everywhere you look and are sold in their dried form as ‘Herbes de Provence’. Yet, the region’s most iconic plant is undeniably its lavender. Pictures of acres-wide fields of the purple gold adorn calendars and screensavers worldwide, but nothing compares to gazing at them in real life. The many, remote fields are as stunning as they come, but make sure to pass the Abbey of Sénanque, as well. It might not be a household name like the Eiffel Tower or the Palace of Versailles, but the photogenic sight of the medieval monastery amidst the mauve fields appears on many a Facebook timeline. Lavender aficionados better plan their trip to Southern-France well, as the lavender gloom only lasts from the last week of June until early August.

Provence. Photo: Unsplash

One way to go to the Provence is by taking the Eurostar, straight from London to Avignon. Another option is to fly to Marseille and rent a car or take public transport to continue your trip.

Provence. Photo: Unsplash

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  19

Discover Southern Europe  |  Colourful Southern Europe

4/ Pink - Salinas de Torrevieja, Torrevieja, Spain

Salinas de Torrevieja. Photo: Unsplash

Salinas de Torrevieja. Photo: Shutterstock

A mesmerising, fuchsia lake. While it sounds like a line from The Beatles’ Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, it actually paints quite an accurate picture of the Salinas de Torrevieja (the Salt mines of Torrevieja). This humongous puddle of salty water was originally designated for fishing. From the 14th until the 18th century, fishermen threw out their nets here, but without much luck. The water is so salty that the fish swam away as soon as they arrived. In the 1700s, they turned the lake into a salt mine, which it still is today. To why the water has its unique colour, scientists have yet to find a definite answer. They are convinced that it has something to do with the halobacteria and a type of algae called Dunaliella Salina. Both thrive in saltwater and the red pigment they secrete would account for the peculiar colour. Whatever the reason, the Salinas de Torrevieja are a paradise for nature lovers and influencers, wanting to make that perfect snapshot.

Salinas de Torrevieja. Photo: Shutterstock

Torrevieja is just a one-hour bus ride away from Alicante, to which Ryanair and

5/ Yellow - Palácio de Pena, Sintra, Portugal In a castle-packed village, you must go the extra mile to stand out. When, in the 18th century, the Portuguese royals decided to build a summer residence in Sintra – a hilly coastal town near Lisbon – they ignited a castle craze in the sleepy village. In a desperate attempt to become friends with the monarch, the country’s richest built themselves palaces in the town as well. The result: in no time, Sintra was packed with nothing but lush residences. The most unique one is the Palácio da Pena, a bright-yellow, eclectic masterpiece, towering out above town. It was built by the royal family in the 19th century, replacing the old one. The yellow, exoticlooking masterpiece is an intriguing cocktail of Moorish, Manueline, Neo-Romanesque, Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Gothic elements. Its interior is less colourful but equally impressive, with plenty of rich woodwork and fin-de-siècle decorations. Cast a glance at the impressive and unique ceilings, as well. To reach Palácio de Pena, take tourist bus 434, which drives uphill four times an hour during high season. Avid hikers can head up on foot. 20  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

EasyJet offer multiple flights a day from most of London’s airports.

Sintra. Photo: Unsplash

Sintra. Photo: Unsplash

Many airlines fly from London to Lisbon multiple times a day. From here, Sintra is just a one-hour train ride away.

Sintra. Photo: Unsplash

Discover Southern Europe  |  Colourful Southern Europe

6/ Green - Puy de Dôme, France As violent as its volcanic eruption was around 7,780 years ago, as peaceful does the Puy de Dôme look today. The 1,465metre-high lava dome is now covered in greenery and is a hikers’ Walhalla. Climb to the top by the Roman road that runs from Ceyssat to the start of the Chemin Des Muletiers, the most famous walking trail up. Once up, your efforts are rewarded with a most-marvellous view over the Massif Central in general and the Chaîne des Puys in particular. This belt of cinder cones, lava domes and maars is all that remains of the region’s volcanic past. Daredevils should not walk back down the way they came but opt for a more adventurous method to descend. The Puy de Dôme is known as one of Europe’s best spots for paragliding. So, strap on a parachute and experience the Chaîne des Puys from a bird’s perspective. Puy de Dome. Photo: Pixabay

A trip to Puy De Dôme takes some time.

7/ Blue - Júzcar, Spain

By train, it takes you about eight hours to go to the city of Clermont-Ferrand, if you change trains in both Paris and Lyon. With KLM and Air France, you can fly to Clermont-Ferrand from Heathrow, this takes you approximately four hours, with a stop in Amsterdam or Paris.

Juzcar. Photo: Donatella D

Juzcar. Photo: Ernesto+Nuria

When passing the sleepy mountain village of Júzcar today, it is hard to believe that it once was one of Andalusia’s famous white villages. In 2011, production company Sony Pictures struck a deal with the town’s government to paint every wall in the village blue to promote the new Smurfs movie. 4,000 litres of blue paint were spilled over the white walls of the houses and even the church, but the result sure was unique. The deal was that Sony Pictures would paint every wall white again by December, but in a referendum before, the 200 villagers decided to stick with the blue. The reason for that was that in the six months of the campaign, the tourist rate increased by 2,000 per cent. Over 95,000 people visited the tiny Smurfs’ village in just half a year's time. Today, it is way calmer in Júzcar, making it the perfect spot for a relaxed day away from the city. So, what are you still smurfing for?!?

Take one of the many flights from London to Malaga or Gibraltar. From Malaga, you are still a 45-minutes bus drive to Marbella and a one-hour taxi ride away from Júzcar. From Gibraltar, you have to do a similar trip. This time, with a stop in Estepona.

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  21

Discover Southern Europe  |  Colourful Southern Europe

8/ Orange - Cuevas de Can Riera, Barcelona, Spain Why head to America for something we have in Europe ourselves? At the Cuevas de Can Riera, just outside of Barcelona, you walk through a miniature version of Arizona’s Antelope Canyon. With its smooth lines and nearly-artistic curves, the resemblance is uncanny. Unfortunately, it is quite a bit smaller. After having taken a few pictures in the cave and perhaps having enjoyed a small picnic, there’s not much more to do than to continue your walk. Luckily, the nature surrounding it is equally stunning, with dark-green trees contrasting with the bright-red soil. So far, many tourists have yet to stumble upon this hidden gem. So, now might be the perfect time to visit it. Tonnes of airlines fly from London to Barcelona multiple times a day. From the airport, you can get to Torrelles de Llobregat with two buses and a train in a little over an hour. Here, you can start your three-kilometre hike to the caves.

Lanzarote. Photo: Unsplash

Cuevas de Can Riera. Photo: ig: @eloyssemb

9/ Black - Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain Exotic islands usually come with white beaches on which you can lie underneath a palm tree. In Lanzarote, black is the new white. The island is covered in ashes and volcanic rock, painting it – Rolling Stoneswise – black, almost everywhere you look. Most famous is the Timanfaya National Park, a moon-like terrain that got its current form by over 100 volcanic eruptions between 1730 and 1736. Yet, there is more black beauty up for grabs on the island. At the northern shores, the dark and pointy Roque Del Herrero towers high 22  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

above the Atlantic water. And, as dead the black soil of Tenerife might look, as fertile it is; hence the many exquisite vineyards on the island. If you want to put your towel down on a white beach instead, Lanzarote also has plenty of golden sandpits, like Playa de Papagayo.






London. Multiple airlines fly you to the island in a little over four hours.

Lanzarote. Photo: Unsplash

Lanzarote. Photo: Unsplash


Château de Chenoceau. Photo: Unsplash

24  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

Discover Southern Europe  |  France’s most ravishing châteaux

France’s most ravishing châteaux France, the country of castles! Wherever you look, both in the city, as well as in the countryside, you will see majestic palaces, castles and forts – all more impressive and bigger than the next. Yet, the French palaces are more than just relics of the nation’s lush past. The so-called châteaux also play an important role in today’s life; be it as a museum, a hotel, a wedding venue, a film set or – true to their initial purpose – a unique and spacious residence. Let’s visit some of France’s nicest castles and discover what makes a French château unique. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS


here better to start our journey than in the city of Versailles? If it weren’t for King Louis XIII and his son, Louis XIV, nobody would ever have heard of this provincial town, 20 kilometres outside of Paris: yet, today, it is one of the most touristic places in France. In the 17th century, this swamp was one of King Louis XIII’s beloved hunting grounds. To be able to hunt in style, he ordered the construction of a ‘humble’ (it ‘only’ counted 26 chambers) hunting lodge in it. After his death, his megalomaniac son expanded the château step by step to the unparalleled proportions it has today, giving him the nickname ‘Le Roi de Soleil’, or

Sun King. With 700 rooms, 2,513 windows and 500 mirrors, the palace of Versailles is one of the biggest and lushest castles in the world. It is, therefore, no surprise that it adorns the top-three of the most-visited places in France, after the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. If you have visited the humongous palace before, you know that you can also come to stroll through its gardens. The 800-hectare-large yard is big enough for an entire day of moseying in the sun.

The 300 châteaux of Pays de Loire But France, of course, counts many more castles than just Versailles. If you want to see plenty of them without too much driving, Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  25

Discover Southern Europe  |  France’s most ravishing châteaux

Château de Chambord. Photo: Unsplash

Château de Versailles. Photo: Unsplash

Château de Versailles. Photo: Unsplash

Château d'Ussé. Photo: Pxhere

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Discover Southern Europe  |  France’s most ravishing châteaux

you can go to the Pays de Loire, a beautiful region in the north-west of the country. The 32,000-square-kilometre-large region counts well over 300 castles. The biggest of them all is the Château de Chambord, a Renaissance palace with 440 rooms and 365 towers on a humongous piece of land. The wall surrounding the estate measures no less than 32 kilometres. A bit further down the Loire river, you will find Château d’Ussé, also known as Sleeping Beauty’s castle. This dreamy castle amidst the greenery is said to have been Charles Perrault’s inspiration to write the legendary fairy tale. Its big rose garden truly makes you believe that you have entered a fairy-tale book. Architecture aficionados will also enjoy the interesting mix of Gothic style with medieval elements, making it difficult to keep your eyes off it. That also applies to Château de Chenonceau, a fascinating palace built on top of the river Cher. The castle itself, its gigantic courtyard and its galleries, are all floating above the water, supported by mammoth, white pillars of rock and brick. Its big gardens are built on the shore and display textbook French elegance. The vegetable and flower gardens still produce topnotch ingredients for the castle’s banquets and colourful, odorant flowers to spruceup the chambers with. In the shadow of the château, you enter a mystical maze of hedges. Trying to escape might seem easy, but it is trickier than you might think.

Photo: Château de Lesigny

Château de Siradan. Photo: Nikki Leponne

Up to 7,000 châteaux And like these castles, there are thousands more spread around France. How many exactly is unclear. Depending on your definition of the word château, you might end up anywhere between 1,000 and 7,000. The French National Monuments Centre clocks up 6,450 of them. Visiting them all, of course, would take a lifetime. That’s why we have selected our absolute favourite ones. Flip the page and join us on a road trip past Château de Lesigny, the castle that starred in the BBC series Versailles; Château de Siradan, a picture-perfect wedding location, a stone’s throw away from the Pyrenees; and Château de Cheverny, where comic book legend Hergé found his inspiration for Moulinsart, the castle of Captain Haddock.

Château de Cheverny. Photo: C. de Vibraye

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  27

A château that will capture your heart Tucked away in the rural outskirts of Paris is one of France’s best kept secrets. With a history that extends back to 1508, the Château de Lésigny was built on the ruins of a medieval castle – and now encompasses one of the finest wedding, event and film spaces in the entire region. Having transformed constantly throughout the centuries, each corner of this fairytale property is a delight for the imagination. TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: CHÂTEAU DE LÉSIGNY


fter speaking to marketing director and co-owner, Daphné Reckert, it’s clear that the château has evolved through the narrative of French history. “I spent every summer there as a child, but it was not until I moved to France that I was really able to delve into its past,” says Reckert. Under the reign of François I, the château belonged to Louis de Poncher and was built in the elegant Renaissance style we see today. The former medieval 28  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

structure was destroyed in a fire, apart from the picturesque moat and dungeons which remained intact. The contrast in architectural styles is particularly striking. Old Renaissance stone sits alongside more embellished buildings and water features, while the château itself transforms across different floors. The entrance hall interiors are incredibly grandiose, yet the cottage-like tiles on the top floor give it an

intimate feel. “Visitors will fall in love with the little details,” says Reckert.

Falling into the hands of women The property itself has undoubtedly received a woman’s touch. In 1613, it was purchased by Léonora Dori, an influential favourite of the French queen, Marie de Médicis. Dori, who was also known as La Galigaï, designed the château’s orangery, manicured gardens, and also built the chapel. Unfortunately, Dori met her untimely end under the guillotine in 1617: “Before they came to take her to Paris, they say that she had enough time to hide her treasures. But nothing has been found – yet!” Daphné reveals. Interestingly, the estate has been assumed by females throughout history. “I noticed

Discover Southern Europe  |  France’s most ravishing châteaux

that for almost a century and a half, the château had been passed down from mother to daughter – which is rare considering women weren’t supposed to own property,” Daphné explains. Even today, Daphne, her grandmother and mother are now upholding the legacy of what her grandfather brought to their family. And visitors need only wander the corridors to notice the many original paintings – all of which honour their female subjects.

A picture-perfect property Capturing incredible photography has been at the heart of the Château de Lésigny for a long time already. In fact, visitors might recognise it as the film location of the popular Canal+ and BBC series Versailles, among others. With a large lake, a forest cabin, dove tower, dungeons, winding walkways and quaint farmhouses, “producers can endlessly explore their creativity,” explains Daphné. “When my grandfather purchased the property in 1984, the furniture had already been sold to auction, which made it the perfect shell for filming. He made some structural changes to create a studio space, and enlarged the

reception hall,” explains Daphné. As a result, the largest of its three interior spaces can accommodate up to 300 people – whether for a film crew or a dreamlike reception.

ous Disney Princess-themed ceremonies, for example!” she reveals.

An architectural expression of love

Daphné, who is originally from California, is passionate about engaging with local businesses. Wherever possible, she therefore works with photographers, catering companies and florists from the nearby villages, and also with the mayor to host public events. “There is a budding community which we really try to embrace,” she explains. Located just 30 minutes from the centre of Paris, the château provides the ideal rural escape. Visitors can easily access the French capital and its two main airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, in just under an hour, and guests can arrange accommodation options just a short distance away.

Comprising 54 hectares of land and forest, this majestic château is the perfect place to immortalise that special moment. From the moat that crowns it, to the fine details etched into its walls, guests will go home with unforgettable memories created in a place of deep reaching heritage. “The beauty of the château provides a deep and emotional experience for its guests, and makes their dreams reality. In fact, the Château de Lésigny is the definition of a fairytale venue that perfectly complements its neighbouring Disneyland Paris. With so much room to play around with, the château serves as a versatile location for both filming and weddings. “We provide an American-style customer service to our guests. We help them plan, but don’t impose much,” explains Daphné. Reckert and her staff aim to cater to their guests’ wishes with the utmost ease, and have hosted all sorts of weddings across various religions and backgrounds. “We’ve hosted numer-

A château at the heart of the community

For more information on the services available for your special occasion, visit their website or get in touch. You can also follow them on Instagram and Facebook, for updates on their public events. Facebook: chateaudelesigny Instagram: @chateaudelesigny

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  29

Château de Siradan, where old-world charm meets modern luxury Nestled at the foothills of the breathtaking Hautes-Pyrénées, is the lovingly restored Château de Siradan. In the centre of the small village of Siradan in the south-west of France, an hour from Toulouse, this 17th-century château embodies the heart and soul of traditional French living. The six acres of private estate, adorned with ancient trees, provide a stunning backdrop for weddings, private events and all-inclusive château hosted retreats. TEXT: KIERA COTTEN  |  PHOTOS: NOELIA SANTANA AND KIERA COTTEN


uilt in 1680, the château was passed down through generations of the same noble family until French-American couple Jean-Olivier and Nikki Lesponne purchased it in September 2017 with the goal of 'Sharing The Art Of French Living' with their clients. They spent the next two years meticulously renovating their 1,000-square-metre castle. The couple has made every effort to preserve the essence of the home’s historical beauty with its original floors and marble mantels, as well as sourcing antique furniture, clawfoot bathtubs, chandeliers and mirrors throughout Europe. They created 16 bedrooms with

30  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

ensuite bathrooms, added a commercialgrade kitchen, on-site bar, heated swimming pool, spa and many other exquisite details. The result is a successful mix between the splendour of the past and the comforts of the 21st century, while maintaining the welcoming feeling of a family home shared for many centuries.

A fairy-tale wedding destination Picture saying “I do” in an intimate ceremony amidst the romantic panorama of the grandiose Pyrenees mountains. You can celebrate your special day with your closest friends and family at this fairy-tale wedding destina-

tion surrounded by magnificent beauty in an unpretentious and relaxed environment. Jean-Olivier and Nikki appreciate that every couple and each wedding are unique and offer full-service bespoke planning with a team of multilingual experience curators to make your wedding dreams a reality. Château de Siradan’s team of chefs handpick only the best local products to create elegant, classic French fare throughout your wedding weekend. “Our wedding menu consists of a rotating variety of regional favourites designed to delight even the most discerning palate,” Nikki explains. The pâtissier will work with you to create a delicious wedding cake and the florist will produce arrangements that are the perfect complement. Add style and sophistication with additional options such as personalised invitations, custom-labelled wines, photography packages and much more. Your dedicated wedding planner will be there every step of the way to ensure that your day is entirely focused on saying “I do”.

Discover Southern Europe  |  France’s most ravishing châteaux

A wedding at the château gives the bride and groom exclusive use of all interior and exterior spaces. This includes bedrooms for 36 guests (with plenty of local accommodations for extra guests available in the surrounding villages), the grand salon, dining room, bar and an 80-square-metre reception hall where 100 guests can dance the night away to complete the magical day.

Unique, all-inclusive retreats Château de Siradan’s all-inclusive retreats are a great way to experience the pleasures of this French ‘paradis’. You can spend a week connecting with your girlfriends, romancing your love or even cruising with

your cycling buddies through curated stays. Jean-Olivier and Nikki have designed a variety of special outings for guests to explore the region while leaving plenty of time to relax and rejuvenate. All retreats are unique but can include: a tour of Toulouse (La Ville Rose); a day in the medieval fortified village of Carcassonne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; a trip to the elegant seaside town of Biarritz on France’s Basque coast; a journey to Spain’s Val d’Aran for tapas; or a trip to the local market to pick up some fresh ingredients followed by a chef-led French cooking lesson in the château’s commercial kitchen. Most eve-

nings start with an ‘apéritif’ and wine tasting from a different region of France, and end with a gourmet dinner expertly prepared by the chef. All retreats conclude with the château’s exclusive Soirée Blanche – a traditional French feast where everyone wears white and indulges in scrumptious fare and fun to end the fabulous week. The Lesponnes have succeeded in turning Château de Siradan into a haven of luxury and elegance in an authentic environment where guests can truly 'Share the Art of French Living'.

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  31

Discover Southern Europe  |  France’s most ravishing châteaux

Photo: Digikode, JN Thierry

Photo: Th.Lajouanie

Photo: Pradeau

Exposition Tintin. Photo: Digikode, JN Thierry

A tale of two castles France, as is commonly known, contains a great deal of châteaux. But among them, Cheverny holds the rare status of being a double icon: as a stunning 17thcentury example of the French classicism that abounds in the Loire region, and as the inspiration behind the stately home of the Tintin series.

ly assigned to the domain, Cheverny is also said to have served as a sheltering place for the Joconde during the Second World War, something which, while possibly true, could easily have been the plot of a Tintin book.



ince the mid-20th century, Cheverny has also been known as Tintin’s Moulinsart, the seigneurial residence where the dynamic reporter lives when he isn’t embarking on a wild adventure with his dog Milou and his friend Archibald Haddock, both equally rambunctious travel companions. The original building, however, is even more imposing than Tintin’s home. Hergé, the Belgian creator of the series, once pointed out that he had chosen Cheverny as his model for its perfect symmetry, but he left out the two outermost wings. In this case, reality outsizes fiction, and the château presents itself as something of a museum, as well as a home. The social importance of the Hurault family over the centuries has attracted a wealth of artistic skill, and

32  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

in this way the domain serves as a cultural repository. Jean Monier’s elaborate inside decor boasts a few of Cheverny’s highlights, recounting among other stories the myth of Perseus and Andromeda across the ceiling of the king’s bedroom. Other items of note are the Gobelins tapestry in the armoury and Monier’s panels retracing the Don Quixote narrative. Today, Cheverny retains its role of artistic patron: earlier this year, the sculptor Gudmar Olovson was commissioned to create six monumental bronze statues. Olovson, who has been hailed and exhibits his monumental sculptures worldwide, took this opportunity to work on the general theme of life and love, which he considers “the backbone of his creation”. And besides the art that is permanent-

But besides its grandeur and status, Cheverny remains a home, and has been inhabited throughout its five centuries of existence. Its current owners, Charles-Antoine and Constance de Vibraye, share a sense of responsibility toward the cultural inheritance that Cheverny constitutes. To help support the domain’s upkeep, the family keeps it open for visitors year-round, with a varied programme of seasonal events and activities. And for those wishing to stay a little longer after a tour of the inside and a stroll in all four of the domain’s gardens, several large rooms are available for private functions: the orangerie, the trophy room, the dining hall, as well as the room dedicated to the Chevalier de Haddoque, Captain Haddock’s fabled ancestor.

La Ciceri. Photo: Unsplash

34  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

Discover Southern Europe  |  A weekend in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

A weekend in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Volcanic beauty in the city of eternal Spring The Canary Islands are well-known for their ever-lasting good weather and cheap package holidays. But forget about the resorts and over-crowded destinations, because the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the next city break in vogue, with a great deal to offer: art, culture, sports, delicious food and – of course – sun! Lose the myriads of tourists at the airport and take the less-travelled roads to mingle with the locals in this beautiful city of the sea. TEXT: NOELIA SANTANA


ran Canaria sure has no shortage of tourists. It welcomes a staggering four million visitors every year (20 per cent of which are British), making it the second-most-touristic Canary Island, after Tenerife. A vast majority of them comes for the sunny weather and golden beaches; especially its desert-like Maspalomas beach attracts many a ‘playaphile’. In the

core of the island, lies the mighty Pico de las Nieves, the volcano to which Gran Canaria thanks its existence. Around it, you can undertake plenty of fabulous hikes. Yet, alongside all its natural beauty, Gran Canaria also bursts of urban cosiness in the capital. Because Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is way more than just another town by the ocean. Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  35

Discover Southern Europe  |  A weekend in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Views from La Cicer. Photo: Hello Canary Islands

Saturday: At the seafront One of the must-do’s when visiting Las Palmas, is to soak up some sun and fresh sea breeze at Las Canteras beach. Locals take extreme pride in this stunning city beach, and you will quickly find out why. The 'playa’ stretches for over four kilometres of golden sand, but the best way of taking it all in is by walking the seven kilometres of ‘Sendero Azul’ that will take you from the untouched beauty of ‘El Confital’, to the monument of ‘el Atlante’, a volcanic stone woman praising the Atlantic Sea. Along the path there are 15 panels that tell you little stories and fun facts about the beach. There are many restaurants along the promenade to enjoy the best of the Canarian cuisine. Fresh fish is the main produce, ‘canary style’ the best option: grilled with garlic and parsley and accompanied by ‘papas arrugadas’ and ‘mojo picón’. Don’t forget your swimsuit and your goggles for some spontaneous snorkelling around the middle of the beach in ‘Playa Chica’, the rocky complex that you can see from the promenade. If the tide is not too high, you can enjoy the incredibly rich wildlife with your own eyes. After a dip, indulge your sweet tooth with the best ice cream from ‘Peña la Vieja’ ice-cream shop. 36  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

Keep walking along the promenade towards La Cicer, the bohemian part of the beach. Admire a bit of modernism by the artist Nestor de la Torre and impeccable street art telling a story about the depths of the ocean. La Cicer is also the best place for the adrenaline junkies to test their surfing skills either by renting a board or booking lessons from the many Surf Schools available. You will be sharing waves with some of the best surfers in the world, so watch out for tips! The beach is watched over by the emblematic symbol of the city: The Alfredo Kraus Auditorium. This fortress-like building was built in remembrance of the acclaimed Canary tenor, Alfredo Kraus, and holds a great number of cultural events. Walk around the exterior to get a glimpse of all the different details surrounding the structure, like the realistic statues of the island’s marine fauna guarding the four façades of the building. Be sure to book a tour or a ticket to one of the many events to witness and admire the interiors. After plenty of walking – and hopefully a little swimming, too – take a break and finish off a perfect day with a drink at Mumbai Sunset’s terrace. Try a Macaronesian gin and tonic; the gin is made right here in the Canary Islands. They also have live music on Saturdays, so stay for a party with the locals!

Photo: Unsplash

Discover Southern Europe  |  A weekend in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  37

Discover Southern Europe  |  A weekend in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Vegueta. Photo: Unsplash

Ermita de San Antonio, Vegueta. Photo: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Sunday: Inlandwards After a great day spent on the beach, immerse yourself in some more Canary culture by visiting the city centre. The best place to start is in Parque Doramas, where you will be welcomed by the Atis Tirma, a monument that represents the resistance of the aboriginals against the European conquerors. Follow the beautiful gardens to transport yourself to the Belle Epoque by admiring many great examples of Canarian modernist architecture such as the hotel Santa Catalina or the Pueblo Canario. At noon, you can enjoy a show of folk music and dance, followed by some shopping for handcrafted souvenirs and, of course, traditional Canary food at a tavern! Carry on by foot towards Triana, a high street full of life and colourful buildings, for even more examples of Canarian Modernism. Go off the main street and follow the stone pavements to find little boutiques and cosy restaurants.

Pueblo Canario. Photo: Hello Canary Islands

38  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

After a good lunch, keep walking towards the old part of town, Vegueta, the 15thcentury settlement that is the birthplace

Discover Southern Europe  |  A weekend in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

of Las Palmas. The charming streets are flanked by historical buildings such as the Casa de Colón, the Santa Ana cathedral and the Museo Canario. Get lost in it, amble through the cobbled streets, take in all the architectural compositions around you, varying in style from Gothic to Renaissance. During summertime, those same enchanting streets turn into the setting of many live theatre experiences and concerts. Before catching your flight home, head to the roof terrace of La Azotea de Benito for a refreshing cocktail and fabulous views. What better way to say ‘hasta pronto’ to this dreamy volcanic island lost in the Atlantic Ocean?

Getting there Many airlines travel directly to Gran Canaria. From London, Jet2, Ryanair, EasyJet, Norwegian and British Airways all have direct flights (around four hours’ journey) to the only airport on the island. It’s the same for almost all the major British airports. Easy connections from Las Palmas Airport to the city are available through Salcai (approximately 20 minutes) and cost around €5 for a one-way ticket, which takes you either to the city centre (Parque San Telmo) or, for those staying near the beach, to Parque Santa Catalina.

Getting around The best way to travel is by Guagua, the local yellow buses that run all around town. Grab a card that you can top up as you go. Taxis are also cheap and easy to catch.

A great night’s rest The best place to stay is by the beach, with many hotels catering for all budgets. Reina Isabel (from €185 per night) or Hotel Aloe Canteras (around €90 per night), both with amazing views of the beach.

Where to eat For amazing fresh fish straight from the sea, try La Marinera in Las Canteras. For tapas with an unexpected twist, La Macarena. Many other cuisine options are available, but please, don’t go home without trying the local fish!

Atis Tirma Monument. Photo: Hello Canary Islands

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  39


Slow food in a homey place In the heart of the famous Eixample neighbourhood, in the busy city of Barcelona, you will find a cosy and inviting place where you can taste the familiar flavours of Mediterranean food mixed with fascinating textures from exotic places all around the world. That place is Pau Claris 190, a restaurant that will surely awaken all your senses. TEXT: GERARD PLANA  |  PHOTOS: PAU CLARIS 190


wner Raphael Wanda sits at a table on the terrace, close to the tender light of the candles. “When I arrived in Barcelona, I had to choose whether to adapt myself to someone else’s kitchen or follow my own path.” He smiles while he looks at his wife Lizbeth. “Yet, soon enough, I knew that I wanted to do my own thing”.

in Ibiza. Once here, he designed his own space, set up his own kitchen and created his own specialties. The result is a small, yet super-cosy antique flower shop transformed into a welcoming restaurant. It is decorated with handmade furniture and filled with smells and flavours from around the world.

Before moving to Barcelona, Raphael spent two years in Gran Canaria and seven years

“We change the menu every season, that allows us to only use seasonal products,”

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Seasons matter, ingredients too

explains Lizbeth as she stands behind the reception. Her smile immediately makes you feel welcome and relaxes you. “Furthermore, we also assemble our wine selection with care.” Pau Claris 190 offers an interesting variety of wines that will satisfy the most delicate palates. The selection includes bottles from France, Catalunya, La Rioja and Gran Canaria, where Raphael started his career behind the cooktops. And the whiskey, of course, couldn’t be anything other than Irish, in honour of Lizbeth’s father. And what about the food? Perhaps you would like to have baby squid with yogurt hollandaise and a touch of watermelon as a starter, obviously combined with some of Spain’s finest wine. Or, as a main dish, tender, dry-aged duck breast with coffee and

Discover Southern Europe  |  Eat in Spain

orange reduction. Pau Claris 190 never fails to surprise you with their dishes. As the two paintings inside the restaurant suggest, fruits and vegetables are the two pillars on which their kitchen is built. Raphael and Lizbeth truly care about the ingredients they use for their dishes: high-quality and local products are to be found in every single dish. Furthermore, the both of them participate in the creation of the menu, exploring different ingredients and tastes. A given, however, is that all dishes have an interesting, fruity twist. Both love how the fresh notes of the fruits mix with the salty flavours of the meat. The result: a tasty creation that will leave you speechless. And even if you are vegan, you still have plenty of choice; like the homemade tofu with organic vegetables and homemade teriyaki sauce, or the ‘canelones’ with vegan béchamel, an interesting combination of contemporary and traditional food that comes together as an exquisite dish.

Slow food and good memories Living in a busy city like Barcelona, it’s always a nice idea to find a place where slow life is the norm. Luckily, Raphael and Lizbeth believe in the power of slowness. “We aim to make slow food, just the way

our grandmas cooked when we were little,” says Raphael with a smile. Old family memories are still very present in many of Raphael and Lizbeth’s creations. Their signature dessert, for example, is called ‘Tarta Mutti’, in honour of his mother who used to bake it every year on his birthday; a delicious chocolate crumble cake with quince, hazelnut, praline ice cream and pumpkin. It will leave you wanting more. As Lizbeth and Raphael are so passionate about their work, both pay attention to the smallest of details. Nothing that leaves the

kitchen is anything less than perfect. The restaurant has been awarded twice as the 'Best Fine Dining Restaurant in Barcelona' by Lux Magazine. But that doesn’t make it lose its welcoming atmosphere. This lovely spot in the middle of Barcelona is a perfect place to enjoy a relaxed dinner or have a delicious celebration with friends or family. If you are visiting this great Mediterranean city, do not hesitate to go to Pau Claris 190 and delight yourself with Raphael and Lizbeth’s haute cuisine.

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  41

Discover Southern Europe  |  Eat in Spain

Where to find the best traditional tapas in Barcelona In an age when Spanish food has become internationally hip, and tapas in particular even more so, it can often be hard to find somewhere truly traditional and authentic. Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter and the Born area in particular have become a foodie mecca and you can hardly move for tapas bars heralding their cutting-edge culinary wizardry. However, those in the know who want something more traditional at prices which won’t break the bank, head for Bar Celta. TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: JELIEN MOERMAN


or us,” says Ángel Gallego, manager of Bar Celta, “it’s about cooking with love.” Bar Celta has long been an essential destination on the insider’s foodie map and has two restaurants – one at Carrer de Simó Oller 3, very close to Barcelona’s old port area, and the other at Carrer de la Princesa 50, just moments from the beautiful Ciutadella Park and zoo and the Picasso Museum. At both branches you’ll rub shoulders with neighbourhood locals, families 42  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

visiting the park on Sundays and restaurant chefs in search of the real culinary deal. Originally founded some 50 years ago, Bar Celta is still run by the same Galician family and the restaurants are renowned for their hearty portions and exceptional home cooking. Specialities include specially sourced, super-fresh Galician octopus (pulpo), pimientos de padron (or, padron peppers), pigs' ears and ‘calamares’. Not

to mention one of the Bar’s signature dishes and also one of their most popular: patatas bravas made with Bar Celta’s own sauce, which is still made to a highly guarded recipe handed down over generations. “We’re not looking to create designer tapas or new dishes, with foams or purées,” explains Gallego. “That’s not what we’re about. Our dishes are based on the recipes we learnt from our grandmothers and it’s getting harder and harder to find real, authentic cooking like that. For us, it’s about paying attention to every detail to create exactly the right kinds of flavours. What we do is about cooking with love and with affection. Cooking from the heart.” Facebook: BarCeltaPulperia

Discover Southern Europe  |  Sleep in Spain

A taste of the real Mallorca “With a wellness programme, Michelin-starred gastronomy and a unique event space built into a 17th-century cellar, we have something truly special to offer,” promises Susanne Turowski, general manager of the Hotel Predi Son Jaumell in Mallorca

ural products such as lavender, thyme and olive oil grown in the hotel’s grounds. The spa also offers vinotherapy treatments using its own vine leaves and grapes.


Son Jaumell has also unveiled a spectacular new event space built into a cellar on the hotel estate, complete with original ceiling architraves and pillars. The space will be available for hire for private dinners, conferences and group events and the hotel will also be arranging its own events, including cinema screenings and gin and wine tastings.


et in a converted 17th-century farmhouse on the eastern side of Mallorca, just over an hour’s drive from Palma airport, the Hotel Predi Son Jaumell is surrounded by three-quarters of an acre of gorgeous Mallorcan countryside, including olive groves and vineyards. The idea was to create a luxurious rural getaway, where guests can also enjoy an authentic taste of the land and culture of the island.

The connection to the island is a central theme throughout the hotel, not least in the food and wine. There are two restaurants, one of which holds a Michelin star, and the emphasis is very much on championing local produce such as freshly-caught fish and gambas rojas (red prawns). The wine list, meanwhile, features some 400 wines, including many from the hotel’s own vineyard.

With this in mind, each of the 24 rooms are decorated in a high-end, contemporary and uncluttered style, with light reflecting whites, yellows and blues, whilst also incorporating traditional island techniques such as ‘llata’ (palm leaf weaving) and exposed stone walls.

The hotel has opened a luxury spa with gorgeous views onto the surrounding vineyards and olive groves. The spa features a sauna, plunge pool and Jacuzzi, but most importantly, there is a wide range of treatments available, including several using local, nat-

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“We offer our guests the real essence of Majorca, with exceptionally high standards,” explains Turowski. “From the moment they arrive, they can feel a real connection to the island whilst relaxing and switching off from their day-to-day cares.” Facebook: hotelsonjaumell Instagram: @hotelsonjaumell

French holidays for beginners Family, presents and indigestion: this is the French holiday period in a nutshell. As the Christmas shenanigans kick off already on 1 December and continue until 2 February, a full-option, French Christmas ritual consists of multiple parties, thousands of calories and no less than two holy men. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTO: UNSPLASH

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Discover Southern Europe  |  French holidays for beginners


hen to start?

In general, the French start counting down to Christmas from 1 December. The tastiest way to do this is with an advent calendar from which you can steal a chocolate on every day that passes. If you want even more chocolate, you can write a letter, put it in your shoe alongside a carrot, and hope that Saint Nicholas fills it with sweets and toys. On the night of 6 December, this holy man roams the roofs of Northern France with his horse, to bring all children a little surprise. Or, at least the ones who have been good this year. If your shoe doesn’t get filled, you can try sending a nice letter to Père Noël (Santa Claus) instead. He will be handing out his gifts on 24 December.

How to celebrate Christmas? Most French households organise their big party on Christmas eve – 24 December – where they patiently wait until midnight. Not that this waiting is torturous; French Christmas tables are traditionally filled with the greatest delicacies from the sea. Oysters, lobster, caviar, shrimps, fine fish… and all of it accompanied by green beans, gratin dauphinoise and multiple glasses of bubbles. Carnivorous families can opt for the tastiest treats of the land, like turkey or foie

gras. The soundtrack of this rich feast is atmospheric chit-chat, a ho-ho-ho from Père Noël when he enters the living room and the sound of gift-wrap being shred to pieces. After the clock strikes 12, the kids are put to bed and the parents enjoy a digestif. The following day, many families repeat this entire ritual over lunch, when they visit their grandparents.

What about New Year’s Eve? Where Christmas is a party for families, New Year’s is usually celebrated with friends. Families with kids invite befriended couples and their kids to end the year together. Teenagers celebrate the new year while partying with friends in the city. Yet, regardless of where you are celebrating, at midnight, everyone gazes up to see the colourful spectacle going on in the sky.

When does it end? After the first of January, France is done celebrating its festival of lights. Yet, to keep the warm and fuzzy Christmas spirit inside living rooms, the illuminated tree does not have to go into the attic before 2 February, exactly 40 days after Christmas: after which you are more than welcome to start looking forward to the next 1 December. Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  47



Enchanting Grenoble Picture yourself in a walkable, vibrant town surrounded by some of the world’s most impressive mountain peaks. Well, that is the French city of Grenoble, an often-forgotten urban gem next to the Alps, just a stone’s throw away from both the Swiss and Italian border. Wandering through its cosy streets is a delight in itself, but the best way to get a first impression of the city is from its cute, spherical cable cars, which start in the city and head straight up the mountain, where a fabulous view of the city, the valley and the Alps awaits you. So, why not head to this impressive town amidst the mountains this winter? When combined with a bit of hiking or winter sports, Grenoble makes for the perfect winter getaway.

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Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  49

Discover Southern Europe  |  Enchanting Grenoble

Access-all-areas in the Grenoble-Alpes region Nestled at the heart of the Alps, the region of Grenoble-Alpes has it all. Not only does it offer an incredible natural setting, the city of Grenoble is also an important scientific and technological ecosystem. Whether you’re looking to organise a business event or hit the slopes, the Grenoble-Alpes Métropole Tourist Office will assist you throughout. TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTO: PIERRE JAYET

The image of Grenoble’s futuristic cable cars clambering up an Alpine summit is the perfect metaphor for this city. Now an attractive destination for global science conventions, the ‘capital of the Alps’ has developed into an international hub for research and industry. “We were voted the fifth most innovative city in the world by Forbes in 2013,” explains Yves Exbrayat, director of the Tourism Office. “Grenoble is home to various historic, original and quite frankly quirky spaces, which are perfect for hosting professional events,” says Exbrayat. Spots like the towering Bastille fortress and the contemporary Musée de Grenoble are notoriously easily accessible

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by tram, centrally located, and crowned by a dramatic, mountainous panorama. Visitors can also enjoy their very own Grenoble Pass, which allows them to discover more than 20 sites across the city and beyond. For those visiting in winter, there is also the possibility of purchasing ski passes to make the most of the pistes. With three 3,000-person capacity congress centres and more than 200 meeting spaces, it’s no wonder that this region leads the way for business tourism. The Convention Bureau, which forms part of the Tourist Office, is committed to organising professional events in Grenoble and surrounding areas. “We provide a free, personalised ser-

vice and tailor-made support for each stage of your project,” says Manon Di Gennaro, MICE project officer.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Enchanting Grenoble

Explore Grenoble and admire the Alps A prime location in south-eastern France with a deep-reaching history, the Hôtel d'Angleterre provides an unforgettable place to stay during your trip to Grenoble. Whether it is for work or play, gaze out from your balcony to see the Hausmannian streets alongside unrivalled views of the Alpine peaks. TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: HOTEL D’ANGLETERRE GRENOBLE


yril and Cilia Sarrasi have been running the hotel since 2011, but its history extends back much further. Built in 1891 at the heart of Grenoble, it is one of the oldest hotels in the whole city – and the romantic Haussmann façades are effortlessly French. “We updated the rooms at the end of 2013, but ultimately we kept the rattan furniture to preserve its original charm,” explains Mr. Sarrasi.

An unrivalled winter location For Grenoble’s famous Christmas markets, the hotel couldn’t be more primely positioned in the Place d’Hugo square – making it a great spot for a festive visit. “Guests can see the illuminated market stalls and fir trees from their balconies,” explains Mr Sarrasi. Lyon St. Exupéry airport is also easily reachable via train, tram and car.

“Grenoble is both culturally and environmentally rich,” explains Mr Sarrasi. “Visitors have endless outdoor activities available on their doorstep, but it’s also brimming with fantastic museums such as the Dauphinois Museum. In spring, we also partner up with Street Art Fest, making it great for visitors to stroll through Grenoble, looking for urban art.” Furthermore, enjoy skiing on some of the world’s Olympic-level slopes, canyoning, kitesurfing across Alpine lakes, or a simple walk in the Alps to marvel at their beauty.

Savour the local customs Fancy a tipple of the local Chartreuse liquor, or a bite of some delectable Royans ravioli? The hotel works in partnership with a number of local restaurants, so every night, guests can try some of the regional delica-

cies. “We’re always happy to offer advice about the region,” says Mr Sarrasi. “We also have a discount on the Bastille cable car, which provides breathtaking views over the Alps,” says the owner.

Great deals on local amenities Whether you’re visiting to relax or to work, the hotel accommodates wherever possible. Guests can choose from room sizes ranging from single, double twin and family sized, and they can also make use of the local gym for a discounted price. The hotel offers a range of other discounts for guests, including one child under three can stay for free and enjoy a free breakfast. Fully equipped with a desk, free WiFi, a flatscreen television, air conditioning, a safe and a hairdryer, guests are made to feel more than comfortable. For a little more luxury, choose a deluxe room which includes a sitting area, welcome tray, minibar, bathrobes and spa bath. Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  51



Stéphane Froidevaux.

Art, food and nature come together in fine dining in the Alps It’s often said that great food is made with love and passion and the adage certainly holds true at the fine-dining Restaurant Fantin Latour in Grenoble. Opened by star chef Stéphane Froidevaux, the restaurant sits in an elegant 19thcentury villa in Grenoble in south-eastern France and has become renowned for Froidevaux’s exceptional, highly idiosyncratic, fine dining. TEXT: EDDI FIEGEL  |  PHOTOS: RESTAURANT FANTIN LATOUR


he Michelin Guide has described his cuisine as “inspired”, “original” and “a new take on mountain gastronomy”, all of which it certainly is. Grenoble is known as ‘Capital of the Alps’ and the surrounding mountain countryside plays a key role in Froidevaux’s creations. “The mountain landscape is his inspiration,” explains Froidevaux’s wife and restaurant partner Léa Froidevaux. “He creates his dishes using wild mountain plants and herbs with distinctive aromas.”

fried foie grass with blackthorn (sloe) flower jus. Each one is like a small work of art on a plate, with intricately arranged leaves and flowers creating an experience which is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the taste buds. “What Stéphane creates,” says Léa, “is not classic French cuisine, but something very personal. He has an extremely high level of technical expertise but he combines that with an emphasis on flavours and aromas. He also draws on culinary memories from childhood.”

With both a brasserie menu at lunchtime and a gourmet menu available for dinner, Froidevaux’s signature dishes include rack of lamb cooked on a larch branch and pan-

Froidevaux had previously spent many years working in a three Michelin-starred restaurant before opening his own first venture in smaller premises in Serre Chevalier. When

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the restaurant outgrew the space, it relocated to the larger Fantin Latour villa in July 2017. It’s perhaps fitting that a restaurant where nature, food and art come together so closely, should be housed in what was originally a museum dedicated to one of Grenoble’s most famous 19th-century painters, Henri Fantin-Latour, known primarily for his still-life paintings of flowers. “There’s a sense of connecting with nature here,” continues Lea, “even though we’re in the city: both in the food and in the surroundings. From spring to autumn, we have tables in the gardens and you can enjoy your lunch or dinner in the shade of a 200-yearold linden tree with hens and rabbits roaming freely around you.” “For Stéphane, creating food is not an intellectual exercise,” she explains. “It’s about savouring sensation, flavour and, above all, taking pleasure in food.”


Sporting safety on the slopes To buy a product from Cairn Sport is to buy a piece of advanced sports technology – and a part of French history, too. Created in Lyon in 1938 by Albert Baudet and his dressmaker wife, the company started as a forward-thinking glove manufacturer, eventually becoming Cairn Sport in 1994. “We have inherited historic French expertise,” explains Canonico Folco, Cairn deputy general director. “Some big brands see these products as simple accessories, but we add real value.” Today, the brand offers modern equipment for outdoor sports such as skiing and mountain biking, including helmets, goggles, sunglasses and gloves, and clothing such as dorsal back protectors. Priced competitively given their technical attention to detail, Cairn prides itself on making equipment that not only protects the wearer, but is also well-fitting, comfortable and innovative. For example, one flagship magnetic goggle design allows users to change between six different lenses in seconds, making it adaptable to all kinds of weather, terrain, faces and styles. “People know that a Cairn product is going to fit well

and respond to their needs,” explains Folco. While proud of its French roots, the brand also has a deep understanding of its international customers and wider trends. For example, in recent years, mountain sports fans have increasingly started to prioritise protective gear, seeing it as an essential piece of kit. “People are realising how important it is to protect those vital body parts, their head and back” explains Folco. “Southern

The magic of the mountains As a ski resort, the picturesque Courchevel in the French Alps is synonymous with luxury winter holidays, and, as part of the Les Trois Vallées – with its 600 kilometres of modern, connected pistes – is home to one of the world’s largest ski stations. But while this prestige may be Courchevel’s key strength, an unfamiliar visitor planning their first trip could easily feel as daunted as a beginner at the top of a black slope. Therein lies the beauty of companies such as Ski Optima, which take care of everything from start to finish, and in style, too. Ski Optima is a private ski school and much more besides. Founded by director Christophe Serres, it has 25 years of experience helping clients to enjoy the mountains in luxury, offering guests tailored packages including everything from airport limousine transfer, equipment hire and lift passes, to

exclusive chalet accommodation, including coveted ‘ski in, ski out’ locations. “We see our clients as VIPs,” explains Serres. “We take care of everything, without them having to worry about the details. They trust us.” Whether you ski, snowboard, go cross country or even heli ski, private instructors


Europe used to be behind Northern European and Nordic countries in terms of protective equipment, but now we are seeing a real catch-up everywhere.” Cairn’s mission is to help its customers stay safe and on track, true to its namesake – those tall piles of stones leading the way along mountain paths. “We are their guide,” says Folco. “Protecting them as they explore.” Facebook: CairnOfficiel Instagram: @cairn_officiel YouTube: Cairn Sport


will customise your tour by time, interests and skill level, guided by the company’s mantra: ‘Skills, Security, Success’. And when the sun goes down, apres-ski is far from an afterthought: Ski Optima’s vast local network allows it to secure the best restaurant reservations, and offer tips on where to shop, drink, or go clubbing. “The area of Les Trois Vallées is so large that you can stay here for a week and never do the same piste twice!” says Serres. “I’ve worked all over the world, but Courchevel is unique. The infrastructure, the snow... Every morning you can ski out on a perfect magic carpet, and dream that you’re in paradise.” Booking at Ski Optima is arranged directly through director Christophe Serres, on +33 609 20 67 69 or Facebook: skioptima 54  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

Photo: Unsplash


Make soft power work for you Joseph S. Nye Junior is an expert on power. In his book, The Future of Power, he demonstrates how governments can no longer simply exercise hard power to achieve their aims, but need to combine this with soft power – the ability to “control the narrative that influences people” – to maintain and enhance their position in the world.

Knowing about your style and its impact and understanding audience expectations are important aspects of how managers exercise power and influence effectively.


It is not just politicians who need to understand the nature of power. Managers too must understand how a changing business environment requires them to adapt the way they wield power and exert influence. One training activity to teach this is to get groups of five or six people to choose a candidate for a job, while observers note and then give feedback on which group members were more or less successful in influencing the final decision and why. The next stage is where one representative from each group makes a pitch to all the participants as to which is the best candidate. Everyone then votes on who made the best pitch, followed by a debrief. 56  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

I did this once with an assortment of 40 factory managers from across the globe: there were six presentations, all by non-native speakers of English. I was really impressed by one of them in particular – a self-confident, high-octane sell from a Brazilian who had done an MBA in the States. And yet he did not get the most votes. The winner was a low-key, distinctly unflamboyant German who gave a structured and detailed set of reasons for his recommendation. Initially I was amazed, until I realised that this was the style embraced by the majority of the group, the one they trusted more. Consciously or unconsciously, the German had succeeded in influencing the outcome by having the right style of communication for that audience.

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 & Innovation

Diple. Photo: Pixabay


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


Every step you take…

Photo: Pazzi


The nine-million-euro pizza The robots are officially taking over, and they start their journey in Val d’Europe, a commercial centre near Disneyland Paris. Here, PAZZI opened last month, the world’s first 100 per cent automated pizza restaurant. Developing the technology had a price tag of nine million euro but was worth every penny. After ordering your pizza on a screen, robots prepare it in front of you with nothing but fresh products. Five minutes later, you are eating. The menu counts 14 options, including the whimsical ‘La Queen Epazzibeth’, royally covered with tomato sauce, mushrooms, ham and cheese. 58  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

Spain’s statistic agency INE has commenced its biggest experiment ever. For eight days, they will track the location of every phone in the country to get a better notion of the Spaniard’s travelling habits. This could help them improving traffic issues, amongst other things. The three biggest phone operators will collect the data and send them anonymously to INE. The first five days of tracking are already behind us, the last three are planned on Christmas Day, 20 July and 15 August.

Photo: Unsplash

Diple. Photo: Pixabay


A detailed look

The quality of our phone cameras has increased a lot over the last decade. Now, the Italian start-up Diple wants to make an even bigger leap forward by turning them into microscopes. All you need is a starter’s kit with a standard and one or more lenses. You can already get a basic set for less than 50 euros. Their top model, the Diple Black 150x, will allow you to magnify up to 0.7 microns, enough to see cell details and bacteria. Having received over double the amount of money they were aiming to gather on Kickstarter in mere days, the team has now started producing the system. By May 2020, it should be on the market.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Business & Innovation

Going the extra mile Whether heading far or near, moving to a new country is always a challenge. While the language barrier is a definite hindrance, many other logistical and cultural aspects of being an expat can be disorienting. ExpatSymphonie, a Paris-based onboarding company, works with businesses to give their international hires a warm Parisian welcome, helping them in all steps of the expatriation process so as to continue their professional career as smoothly as possible. TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND  |  PHOTO: EXPATSYMPHONIE

Katia Lambert and Sophie Reffet, the minds behind ExpatSymphonie, are no strangers to international living. In many ways, the company is a product of their own expatriate experiences, after their professional lives led them to move abroad themselves. Expatriation, as they realised, is a complete change of parameters, and they both admit how much they would have appreciated a little push from an onboarding company. And because none existed, they created their own. ExpatSymphonie is a personalised accompaniment service designed around the needs of professionals moving to Paris.

This includes prior correspondence, the completion of important admin work, as well as an airport pick-up – straight to their client’s new, hand-picked apartment. Their guidance streamlines the nitty-gritty process of expatriation, allowing foreign employees to separate their personal and professional integration. The serenity offered by ExpaSymphonie helps expats adjust to their new work environment, allowing for an efficient transition into the company and maintaining the balance between the teams. Beyond their expatriate experience, what sets ExpatSymphonie apart is their

commitment to their clients. From their days abroad, Katia and Sophie know the importance of wellbeing in the workplace: to that end, they are always ready to jump in and help out with a problematic aspect of their expat clients and their families. For expats who have come this far, it’s worth going the extra mile.

Katia Lambert.

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  59

Pools of talent Marianne Thiebaut’s art, to say the least, is unconventional: she designs swimming pools. In July 2018, at just 33, with a vision of the pool as a bespoke product unique to each client, she launched Marianne Créations, which is now a major player in the Côte d’Azur as well as throughout France. TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND  |  PHOTOS: MARIANNE CRÉATIONS


arianne Thiebaut’s practice doesn’t concern itself with ready-made, fibreglass shell pools and other common designs. Instead, she works with the more traditional concrete, which has been considered the state-of-the-art material since personal pools became available to the French public in the 1960s.

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As many pools as people who order them In spite of her young age, she has already created a few masterworks. As it happens, she learned her craft as a protegee of the late Pierre Alessandra, who was considered a pioneer in contemporary pool-making, and was a frequent prize-winner for his designs across the French Riviera.

What characterises Marianne Thiebaut’s practice is adaptability. In her world, there are as many kinds of swimming pools as there are people who order them. The pool maker’s art is to create an individual design according to the owner’s wishes, but

Discover Southern Europe  |  Business & Innovation

befits your personality as well as environmental conditions.”

it must also take into account the ground on which the pool is being built. In this regard, Marianne Thiebaut is able to adapt and work with potentially problematic terrains, such as clay-heavy soil and sloping ground. Her bespoke approach is a stepby-step process to ensure durability, safety, and satisfaction.

The resistence of concrete For each new pool, she first visits the construction site to gauge its stability, whether the ground needs clearing, and whether anchoring posts are required. In cases where she deems it necessary, a concrete engineer is called upon to examine the terrain and assess what kind of iron framework is required. “The pool maker is like an orchestra conductor,” Marianne Thiebaut states. “Their artistic mission is to offer the basin shape that most closely

And although working with concrete allows her to create whatever shape she chooses with each client, as she explains it, the importance of this material also has to do with stability. Concrete is more resistant and reliable than any other material used to make swimming pools. Fibreglass shell, for instance, is brittle and given to cracking under shock. Even the slightest seismic activity can easily ruin a shell-based swimming pool. Concrete pools are a different story, however. The team at Marianne Creations can personally attest to the resistance of concrete: even though the southeast of France is a well-known seismic region, traditionally built concrete pools hold their own in the face of a (minor) earthquake.

Limitless choice of colours Marianne Créations also demarcate themselves through their range of flooring, a key component to the aesthetic of a traditional swimming pool. A popular method is the use of granite spray, allowing for an even coating without applying either paint or joints. This process, originally imported from the United States by Pierre Alessandra himself, offers a virtually limitless choice of

colours and is easily manageable from the point of view of upkeep. Like on a sailboat, it is a polyester backing that ensures the flooring is waterproof. Another common choice combining aesthetic advantages as well as practical convenience is moiré stonewear. Typical of Bali and other island destinations, it offers a certain sophistication, but is also second to none in terms of stability.

Infinity and mirror pools A large choice of the options and add-ons accompanies this made-to-measure process. These include heating and a poolside spa, but also a counter-current stream unit for diligent swimmers with a limited surface area. Those in search of a striking visual experience may also be charmed by their “infinity” or “mirror” pool designs. And for those who already have a pool in their backyard, Marianne Créations also offer renovation services, applying the same skill set to the upkeep of an existing pool. Possible operations include changing the liner, laying a new slab, or even building a new pool on the inside of the basin. Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  61

Discover Southern Europe  |  Business & Innovation

Three Gardens House by AGi architects.

Custom-made homes designed with clients in mind Buying a new house can be a daunting process, but what if you could get a specially-designed, custom-made home, built exactly the way you want it?

it’s a couple or a family, each person has their own idea, so it’s our job to bring all those ideas together to create one cohesive design.”



Gi architects is a design firm that specialises in exactly that, working with clients to design and build their ideal spaces to live in. Currently, they work throughout Spain and Kuwait, in the Middle East, with many projects located in places such as Madrid and the Costa del Sol. However, with a multilingual team and a growing client list, they can design projects in various countries all across Europe. Each house is unique and each client is different, meaning that no two designs are the same. “We like designing properties with an international design aesthetic and a contemporary feel, fitted with quality brands, but each project is completely driven by the 62  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

client and what they want,” says managing director Daniel Muñoz. The firm works with a variety of budgets and aims to fit the clients’ vision around this, meeting at every step of the way with various teams such as lightings or interiors. Currently, they are designing several luxury properties in Marbella. “We listen to what type of vision our clients have for their home, but we also ask them about their lifestyle, their hobbies and family dynamic, helping them to realise what type of home they actually want and advise them on how we can do that for them,” says Muñoz. “The clients’ dream is not just one vision: if

AGi architects always aims to use local materials in its designs. On its projects in the Costa del Sol, the firm has used locallysourced stone to help emulate the traditional style. “We also ensure our designs are as sustainable as possible. Many of our designers are passive house-certified, focusing on energy efficiency to reduce a building’s ecological footprint,” explains Muñoz. The company is primarily a design firm, but as well as designing your ideal home, they can also help you find the perfect location, advise on which markets are doing well and where, and what you could sell the property for later down the line.


Musée de l'Homme. Photo: JC Domenech

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


he Muséum holds a unique status among similar institutions abroad: rather than consisting of a single site, it is made up of 13, the most prominent three of which are in Paris. Among these, the original 1635 Jardin des Plantes is France’s main botanical garden as well 64  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

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

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

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

Discover Southern Europe  |  Museum of the month in France

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

Grande Galerie. Photo: A Iatzoura

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

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

Musée de l’Homme

Paleontology. Photo:Carnotaurus

Musée de l'Homme. Photo: JC Domenech

The Musée de l’Homme, or Museum of Mankind, is another central point of the institution. Built on the grounds of the former Trocadéro Museum of Anthropology, it was established in 1937 by Paul Rivet, who became known for his involvement against fascism during the Second World War. Its fundamental purpose was better to define humanity under its multiple facets, illustrating its various socio-cultural expressions over time. Some 1,800 items form an exploratory route through the museum, articulating three main questions: “Who are we?”, “Where are we from?”, and “Where are we going?”. These thematics aim to define and interpret mankind’s evolving role among living beings, and, by understanding what it has been, to conjecture what it may become. Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  65

Discover Southern Europe  |  Museum of the month in France

Zoological Park of Paris

Parc zoologique. Photo: FG Grandin

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

Parc zoologique. Photo: FG Grandin

66  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

Discover Southern Europe  |  Museum of the month in France

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

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

Menton. Photo: C Joulin

Menton. Photo: A Iatzoura

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

I am exhibition, which investigates the biological, cultural and ecological sides of food consumption (at the Museum of Man until 1 June, 2020). At the Jardin des Plantes, two events explore the wonders of the marine and geological worlds:

Illuminated Ocean (until 19 January) is an invitation to discover the biodiversity of oceans and the need to preserve it, while

Precious Stones: from Minerals to Jewels focuses on gems, crystals and other rare minerals, tracing their journey from the mines to jewellery (from April 2020 until January 2021). Finally, the Zoological Park will feature a season centreing on its most fascinating species, either animal or vegetal; real or imaginary (from 4 April to 1 Parc zoologique. Photo: FG Grandin

November 2020).

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  67

Discover Southern Europe  |  Editorial Feature

Cogne Ice Opening. Photo: Wikipedia

Diary Dates


Chocolate fairs, light festivals, carnivals, winter sports events… They are all happening here, in Southern Europe. Don’t miss out on these fabulous events in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal this month. Cogne Ice Opening 12-15 December, Cogne, Italy When the temperatures start dropping, the hamlet of Cogne – amidst the Italian Alps – transforms into an ice-climbing paradise. During the Cogne Ice Opening, the village inaugurates the ice climbing season with a brisk weekend of intense Alpinism. Join some of Europe’s best climbers as they head up the village’s steep slope. 68  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

Eurochocolate 12-15 December, Paganella, Italy Nothing makes you forget about your cold winter toes as a cup of hot chocolate. During the annual Eurochocolate Christmas exhibition, the rich-brown indulgence is celebrated in all its forms in a magically mountainous setting, surrounded by the Dolomites peaks. Conquer a chocolate climbing wall, get up-close and personal with the world’s best chocolatiers and taste

Cogne Ice Opening. Photo: Unsplash

Discover Southern Europe  |  Diary Dates

as many kinds of chocolate as your stomach can handle.

Habits de Lumière 13-15 December, Epernay, France Visiting Habits de Lumière is definitely a great tradition to start. In Epernay, the capital of the Champagne region, they end the year with light and colours as the city welcomes a mesmerising, glowing parade. The enchanting event lures people of all ages to the city centre and is always full of surprises. During the daytime, the spotlights are pointed at vintage cars and exquisite gastronomy. Photo: Eurochocolate

Market night 23 December, Funchal, Portugal It’s the day before Christmas Eve and you still haven’t bought all your gifts? No problem: at the Market Night on the island of Madeira, you can shop until the early hours! The markets stay open for you to buy the last remaining dinner ingredients you need, and in the shops, last-minute shoppers peruse the gift section, looking for that

perfect present. When the crowd finally heads home, the Christmas days can officially commence.

Carnival of Alcázar de San Juan 25-28 December, Alcazar de Sant Juan, Spain Better known as Europe’s last carnival,

the carnival of Alcázar de San Juan (in Castilla-la-Mancha) is a true explosion of colours, sounds and experiences. Forget the fact that Santa Claus has just roamed the roofs and instead give in to a festival of costumes, drinks and music. It might get a bit brisky sometimes, but celebrating on the streets in between Christmas and New Year is as Southern European as it gets.

Habits de Lumiere. Photo: Ville d'Epernay

Habits de Lumiere. Photo: Ville d'Epernay

Habits de Lumiere. Photo: Ville d'Epernay

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  69

Discover Southern Europe  |  Diary Dates

International Music Festival. Photo: Wikipedia

La Vijanera 6 January, Silió, Spain Where the festival in Alcázar de San Juan is the last carnival of the year, the one in Silió is the first. Better known as La Vijanera, this feast with fluffy costumes and folklore galore is always held on the first Monday of the new year. Its goal is to expel the evil spirits from the town and bring fortune to its citizens.

International Music Festival of the Canary Islands 9 January – 9 February, Canary Islands, Spain The ever-sunny Canary Islands kick-off the new year with classical music. For one month, six islands (all but El Hierro) present a world-class classical programme in their most prestigious concert halls. Philharmonic orchestras from all over the world head south to give the Canary year a wonderful start. 70  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

La Vijaneral. Photo: Wikipedia

Discover Southern Europe  |  Holiday Dates

Three Kings. Photo: Adjuntament Barcelona

New Year's Eve. Photo: Visit Madeira

Three Kings. Photo: Adjuntament Barcelona

Strasbourg Christmas Market. Photo: Atout France - Jean Isenmann

New Year's Eve. Photo: Visit Madeira


Ho-ho-holidays in Southern Europe It might not be as cold here as it is in the rest of Europe, but the Christmas vibes are present nonetheless. These holiday events in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal are absolute must-attends Strasbourg Christmas market Until 30 December, Strasbourg, France With its picturesque buildings and cosy, cobbled streets, Strasbourg spreads the Christmas vibes all year round. During the last days of the year, they step up their game and cover their city in twinkle lights, pine trees and mulled wine stalls. Discover the amazing food and goods up for grabs at the fair while listening to a jolly soundtrack of festive carols and atmospheric chit-chat.

Christmas in the land of the chateaux 7 December – 5 January, Pays de Loire, France To celebrate Christmas like a royal, you must head to the Pays de Loire region. This area (famous for its many castles) annually

hosts a Christmas extravaganza amidst the walls of their nicest chateaux. Winter tales, light, music, sweet indulgence… every palace hosts a different festive event in its fairy-tale setting.

Gubbio Christmas Tree 7 December – 12 January, Gubbio, Italy The Guinness Book of World Records calls it the biggest Christmas tree in the world, and how could it not be, with a height of 650 and width of 350 metres?! Obviously, the village of Gubbio does not have a real tree of that size in its town. Instead, they create one with coloured lights on the mountain’s slope. It takes a total of 8.5 kilometres of electric wire but the result enchants not only the village, but the entire valley, too.

New Year’s Eve 31 December, Madeira, Portugal For six years, Madeira adorned The Guinness Book of World Records as the place with the ‘greatest fireworks show in the world’. And rightfully so. The spectacle – which you can spot at the break of the new year – is mesmerising. The sparks in the air, the reflections in the ocean and the cruises floating through it, guaranteeing the best seats to view them from, turn a Madeira New Year’s Eve into a bucket-list-worthy event.

Three Kings parade 5 January, Barcelona, Spain With the arrival of the Three Kings on Epiphany, the holiday season is officially over. As a final highlight, the three holy men and their magical entourage roam the streets of Barcelona in an exciting cavalcade that warms up the hearts of all ages on the evening of 5 January. The day after, they bring presents to all the good kids in the city and beyond. Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  71

Discover Southern Europe  |  Culture

Historic opulence mixed with cheeky modernity

Majestically modern musical theatre Tucked away in the heart of the Opéra neighbourhood in Paris, the Athénée Théâtre Louis-Jouvet is a hidden gem, offering modern musical theatre in elegant Art Nouveau surroundings. Classed as a ‘monument historique’, the 549seat theatre first opened in 1896, and is still considered as one of the standout examples of Rococo-style spaces in the capital. TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON  |  PHOTOS: ATHÉNÉE THÉÂTRE LOUIS-JOUVET


urthermore, it is a real haven of peace. From the moment guests step through the pristine façade, spectators travel through time. A majestic bar sits beneath a floor-toceiling Art Nouveau window; while the theatre itself is clad in sumptuous gold and red velvet. A renovation in 2016 has kept the space modern, without losing any of its historic character. The audience is cocooned in luxury before the show even starts. But it is with the show that the space truly comes alive. Each performance builds on the unparalleled artistic heritage of the theatre’s namesake, Louis Jouvet, who was director from 1934 to 1951.

three musicians under the Les Brigands company tell a flamboyant story of class struggle, jealousy and love, set in roaring ‘20s Paris. “It’s a light, joyful, musical experience!” explains the Athénée’s director, Patrice Martinet.

The new show in town is the emphaticallynamed YES! – described as “an operetta in three acts; halfway between opera and musical theatre”. Nine singers, two pianos and

Guests are also welcome to linger. The opulent bar is open before and after each show, with a menu focusing on organic wine from smaller producers, served with seasonal bar

72  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

But for all its history, a night here is far from old-fashioned; the theatre works hard to remain attractive to all, including special rates for students, those aged 30 or under and large groups, as well as ensuring access for those with disabilities. “We also have a more original and cheekier programme than many other theatres.”

snacks. Over the holiday season, guests are invited to pair Champagne with oysters. In the New Year, the theatre is determined to throw its doors open even more, and build on its illustrious past to an ever-changing future. “We want to get even more involved in theatre and modern music,” explains Martinet. “That is our ambition for 2020 and beyond.” Group visits to the theatre are available upon request by emailing: YES! by Les Brigands theatre company, written by Maurice Yvain, adapted from a book by Pierre Soulaine, René Pujol and Jacques Bousquet, with lyrics by Albert Willemetz, is booking seats from 19 December 2019 to 16 January 2020. Tickets are available to buy online, from €10 to €48 each. Facebook: theatreathenee Instagram: @theatreathenee Twitter: @theatre.athenee

Ariane et Barbe-Bleue by Paul Dukas (Sophie Koch : Ariane - Théâtre du Capitole, April 2019). Photo: Cosimo Mirco Magliocca

Flying on the wings of music in Toulouse In the world of international opera and ballet, La Scala in Milan and London’s Covent Garden may be leading lights, but to those in-the-know, the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse is also renowned as one of France’s most prestigious theatres.

very much respect the nature of the drama and the sense of spectacle in the original production.”


“Like most opera houses in the south of France and Spain,” he continues, “the Wagnerian tradition is very strong with us and our audiences, so continuing that tradition and staging a lavish production with superb singers and voices is key to what we do. And this is very much a key performance for the Toulouse Opera.”


n a grand, fabulously impressive 18thcentury building, the Théâtre du Capitole houses both the city’s opera and ballet companies, as well as the city orchestra, and has long held a reputation for staging worldclass productions featuring world-class performers and directors. “What we do here at the Théâtre du Capitole is not about blindly following theatrical fashions,” says artistic director Christophe Ghristi, previously of the Opéra National in Paris, “nor about rigidly following classical rules and recreating the past. Our productions are like our opera house – flamboyant and grandiose with spectacular costumes, staging and lighting. They are bold and vibrant, like our Southern European personality and that’s why our audiences love them.”

Wagner’s Parsifal The theatre’s 2020 season will open with an impressive new staging of Wagner’s final opera Parsifal with major operatic names including renowned Austrian tenor Nikolai 74  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

Schukoff in the title role, as well as German baritone Matthias Goerne, British baritone Peter Rose and, for her very first time in the role of Kundry, the ‘wild woman’, French mezzo-soprano Sophie Koch. Wagner’s final opera delves deep into the themes which had marked his earlier artistic and personal life: sin, guilt, redemption, sacred love and secular desire and the opera broke new ground musically. “That’s why it requires four exceptional voices,” says Ghristi. Facebook: theatreducapitole Instagram: @theatreducapitole Twitter: @theatreducapitole YouTube: Théâtre Capitole

The opera will also involve a huge cast. “Parsifal is an enormous project,” Ghristi continues, “and will involve the entire opera company and orchestra.” The production will be staged by the groundbreaking director Aurélien Bory, who has gained a worldwide reputation for his visionary productions and magnificent sets. “There will be three innovative new sets,” explains Ghristi, “but at the same time, we

Matthias Goerne (Amfortas in Parsifal by Wagner). Photo: Caroline de Bon

Discover Southern Europe  |  Culture Aurélien Bory (Director of Parsifal by Wagner). Photo: Aglaé Bory

PRODUCTIONS FOR 2019/2020: Opera Parsifal will be one of more than a hundred performances included in the new season, with some nine operas and five ballets as well as numerous recitals and musical performances






contemporary artists, including well-known comedy cabaret act Shirley et Dino. Other operas include Norma, Dialogues

des Carmélites, L’Élixir d’amour, Platée, Jenufa and Mefistofele. Norma, Platée and Mefistofele are new productions and the 2019/2020 season also includes early music operas such as Monteverdi’s Orfeo as well as a new work by composer Marc Bleuse -

L’Annonce faite à Marie (The Annunciation of Marie / The Tidings Brought to Mary). Norma by Vincenzo Bellini (Théâtre du Capitole, September 2019). Photo: Cosimo Mirco Magliocca)

“We pride ourselves,” says Ghristi, “on having major-name singers such as Marina Rebeka, Karine Deshayes, Sophie Koch, Matthias Goerne, Ludovic Tézier, Angela Denoke and many others, but we also aim to champion a new generation of French singers, giving them the opportunity to take on grand roles. An example of that will be our production of Rameau’s Platée, directed by renowned Baroque specialist Hervé Niquet.

Ballet Following





ballets by legendary choreographer Serge Lifar, ballets include a new work based on the life of painter Toulouse-Lautrec and The

Nutcracker. There is also Africa – a new collaboration between two choreographers – Salia Sanou and Bouchra Ouizguen, bringing the dance cultures of their respective countries, Burkina Faso and Morocco, to the Ballet du Capitole, exploring both their differences and their similarities. “We want to really connect with our audience,” says Ghristi, “to open up their dreams and passions and take them with us on the wings of music. Opera is one of the few places where you can express your dreams and that is thanks to the special kind of alchemy which happens when all our different artistic teams work together – the singers, the technicians, the choir and the ballet. Together we can Théâtre du Capitole. Photo: Patrice Nin

Don Quijote by Kader Belarbi (Théâtre du Capitole, December 2018). Photo: David Herrero

create magic.”

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  75

Discover Southern Europe  |  Games

Bringing exciting gameplay to life Founded in Paris in 2016, TealRocks Studio is the brainchild of self-taught 2D-designer Maureen Caudron and computer engineer Pierre Proudhon. Following the release of their epic adventure video game DragoDino, the design duo are developing their second game, Phenomena, where players must survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

DragoDino is available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox and Steam consoles.


Experimenting with diverse formats and rich visuals is undoubtedly TealRocks’ forté. Players have thus far been introduced to Bob, a dragon-dinosaur hybrid on a quest to recover his egg from a colourful forest kingdom. “We love dinosaurs, but found them a little simplistic. So we combined them with a dragon – a wiser, more cunning creature. That's how the main protagonist of DragoDino was born.” explains Caudron. To make the game sufficiently challenging, the artist-developer duo collaborate on creative gameplay. ‘DragoDino is designed for all ages and levels, and can be replayed endlessly,” explains Caudron. Targeting the right community to enjoy the game is also

a key part of the process. “It was initially inspired by people like us, who grew up with this kind of game. As it’s a one- or twoplayer game, their children can also play alongside.” Their second game, Phenomena will be an entirely different format. Visually more mature, it is set in a post-apocalyptic world that has been depleted of its natural resources. The main character must quickly adapt to survive. “It’s aimed primarily at a 16 to 25 audience.” says Caudron. As they work on the prototype for Phenomena, the duo also has more ambitious plans. “Further along the line, we want to create even more diverse formats within our gaming universe.”

The TealRocks Studio stand at Paris Games Week 2017 as part of the ‘Made in France’ section. This big video game event falls annually on All Saints’ Day and is a showcase of various French production studios.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Food


Italians, fish and Christmas Eve Italians are renowned for their love of feasting, and Natale – or Christmas – is no exception. Across the country, home cooks roll up their sleeves, ready to showcase their culinary prowess across several nights of dining with family and friends.

the Italians have proven that there is more to feasting than carved meat and heavy carbs. So, opt for something different this December – not only will it jazz up the festive table, but you'll be doubly thankful come January.



ere in the UK, it's rare that we stray from carved turkey and sprouts. But in Italy, the festive menu is more fluid and more changeable: from region to region, and from night to night, different dishes and cooking styles come to the forefront of Italian homes.

My favourite tradition is the Feast of the Seven Fishes, which is celebrated on Christmas Eve. It's a Roman Catholic custom to abstain from meat before the big day, so Italians put the focus on fish and seafood, instead. In Rome, it's traditional to have Baccala – salted cod – fried in a light batter, while the Tuscans serve it in a simmering garlic and tomato sauce.

If you head down towards the seas of Southern Italy, expect to find steaming bowls of spaghetti with mussels or clams. Not only eaten during the summer, this flavoursome dish is either enjoyed with tomato sauce or simply in white wine and garlic. In Naples, the ‘capitone’ – the female eel, is eaten roasted or baked on Christmas Eve and the origin of this tradition is due to ancient superstition. Due to it resembling a snake, a symbol of evil (the snake tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple), it is believed to be a symbolic act that brings good luck. We tend to think of Christmas as a time of overindulgence and tight waistbands. But

Paola Maggiulli, a British foodie and passionate cook with Italian roots, has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to all Italian food; pasta, pizza, gelato, you name it. On her blog, The Tiny Italian, she shares her delicious recipes with the world.

Issue 10  |  December 2019  |  77

Discover Southern Europe  |  Quiz


Know your Southern Europe TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS






1. Which Spanish island is, with 3,640 square kilometres, the biggest one of them all?

2. Which sweet pastry is very popular in all of Portugal and originates from the town of Belém?

3. Which northern French city is famous for its Christmas market and as the home of the European Parliament?



4. Which legendary department store in Paris is the perfect spot to do your Christmas shopping and is, therefore, nicknamed ‘the Harrods of Paris’.

7. The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, Inferno and Origins are four books set in different cities in Italy, France and Spain. Which author has written them all?

5. Reserva, Gran Reserva or Crianza: which Spanish quality label adorns the most expensive bottles of wine?

8. Which Southern European country is apparently the healthiest country in the world?

6. We all know the iconic Italian terra cotta pottery. But what does ‘terra cotta’ mean?

9. San Marino, Andorra, Vatican City and Monaco are all tiny nations. But which one is the biggest?

1. Mallorca — 2. Pastel de nata — 3. Strasbourg — 4. Galeries Lafayette Haussmann — 5. Gran Reserva— 6. Baked earth — 7. Dan Brown — 8. Spain — 9. Andorra

78  |  Issue 10  |  December 2019

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