Discover Southern Europe, Issue 11, January 2020

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I S S U E 11 | JA N UA R Y 2 02 0


This is Barcelona

12 inventions




in Strasbourg

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



J ANUARY 20 2 0



Camino de Santiago for Beginners Going on a pilgrimage might sound like something from yesteryear, yet, a nice hike never goes out of style. Join us as we walk the legendary Camino de Santiago.



Bilingual education in France Being fluent in English and French opens doors aplenty. Bilingual education is, therefore, a great way to give your children a head start in life. These fine institutions are our absolute favourites.

A weekend in Strasbourg Is it France? Is it Germany? Is it both? Wherever it may be, Strasbourg is absolutely worth a visit. Cosy streets adjoin futuristic buildings while lush parks look out onto the metropolitan city.

12 Southern European inventions that have changed the world Reading the paper, relaxing in a Jacuzzi, driving a car… None of it would have been possible if it weren’t for the Southern Europeans. Allow us to introduce you to the nations’ cleverest minds.

This is Barcelona Barcelona is so much more than Gaudí and La Rambla. Experience the city, taste its flavours or simply relax at some of our favourite spots.




Design Finds

8 Style 56 Business & Innovation

38 10

France’s greatest chateaux and museums

60 Diary Dates

What is France if not a country of culture? Immerse yourself in its history at our favourite cultural temples.

66 Quiz

64 Cheese

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  3

Discover Southern Europe  |  Editor’s note

Dear Reader, Let me start by wishing you a fantastic 2020 and – by extension – an amazing decennium full of promising opportunities, pleasant surprises and everlasting memories. Discover Southern Europe Issue 11, January 2020

Published by Scan Group

Jennifer Greco Kate Harvey Ingrid Opstad Linda Perez Gerard Plana Noelia Santana Hannah Jane Thompson Pierre Antoine Zahnd

Print Uniprint

Cover Photo Shutterstock

Executive Editor Thomas Winther

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

Published 01.2020 ISSN 2832-3398

Creative Director Mads E. Petersen Editor Arne Adriaenssens Copy-editor Karl Batterbee Graphic Designer Audrey Beullier Contributors Steve Flinders Esme Fox

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

January is a month of fresh starts. I, myself, aim to start doing some sports and eat healthier. I will start sleeping a solid eight hours per night and will neglect my parents a bit less (Hi mom!). This issue of Discover Southern Europe is packed full of fresh starts, as well. Among other things, we visit some of France’s finest bilingual schools, where tomorrow’s greatest are kicking off their success stories. We also zoom in on 12 of the greatest inventions our region has ever conceived. Because, besides pizza and flamenco, bare essentials like the newspaper and the car were invented here, as well. If you want to start something truly special this year, commence a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela! Regardless of your beliefs, the hike to the north-western tip of the Iberian Peninsula is an unforgettable journey. In a handy crash course, we tell you all you need to know to walk the iconic ‘Camino de Santiago’. Another often-heard resolution is to finally see the world. As I suffer from a severe travel addiction myself, I can only applaud ideas like that. To give you a head start, we take you to Barcelona, where we introduce you to the greatest experiences, events, food and hotels around. At the other side of the region, in the north-eastern French region of the Alsace, we discover how the unique combination of German and French culture shapes the heart of the European Union: the city of Strasbourg. And that is merely the tip of the iceberg of what we have on offer for you this year. Not only here in our trusted magazine, but also on our brand-new website. Surf to to peruse the greatest businesses and must-visits in the region and subscribe to our monthly newsletter to make sure you don’t miss any of it. Isn’t that a great resolution?! Enjoy our January issue!

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

4  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

Arne Adriaenssens Editor

Discover Southern Europe  |  Design

Design Finds Geometric shapes, forms and patterns can be a great way to add a modern touch to your home. Be bold and decorate your walls, invest in a sculptural and geometric piece of furniture or use smaller, interesting and unique designs for a personal touch. Be creative and get inspired by our selection. TEXT: INGRID OPSTAD  I  PRESS PHOTOS

Cerne is a set of decanter and glasses from Portuguese brand Vicara that uses different types of tree trunks as moulds to create a unique shape. The pieces are individually produced employing traditional glass-blowing techniques. Vicara, ‘Cerne’ decanter, €147; Vicara, ‘Cerne’ glasses, €50

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Discover Southern Europe  |  Design

‘Bien Fait’ means ‘well made’ in French. It is also the name of a small French design company shaking up the world of wallpaper with a subtle blend of multicoloured shapes, mysterious patterns and childhood memories. The Diabolo wallpaper is sold in bespoke sizes using the dedicated form, or in standard format packs. Bien Fait, ‘Diabolo’ wallpaper, from €450

With a name that speaks for itself; the S Table is remarkable in any kind of space. Designed by Xavier Lust for the Milan-based design company MDF Italia, it features curves inspired by the (de)formation process of metallic surfaces. The interesting s-shaped twisted stand can have different types of tops - crystal, wood fibre, marble or Cristalplant - to further customise an already unique object. MDF Italia, S ‘table’, from €2,846 This ceramic pendant lamp is designed and handmade by Patrícia Lobo, and since it is hand-painted, each colour offers nuances that make every piece unique. With its straight lines and geometric design, it stands out. From ceiling, wall (using a wooden bracket) or table, this lamp has several purposes, adapting easily to every space. Patrícia Lobo, ‘WEBA’ ceramic pendant lamp, €220

Iconica is a timeless design piece designed by Gabriel Teixidó and manufactured by Spanish company Capdell. Its unique structure makes it a protagonist in any environment, eminently Mediterranean with Nordic influences. The lounge chair’s comfort is one of the basic characteristics for its ergonomics. Capdell, ‘Iconica’ chair, €706

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  7

Discover Southern Europe  |  Southern European Style


Decoding the Parisian style during Haute Couture Week January kicks off the season of the Fashion Weeks with some lush haute couture fashion shows in Paris. During the Paris Haute Couture Week, the beautiful streets of the grandiose city are filled with elaborate outfits, uberstylish fashion personalities and photographers chasing the best looks. TEXT: NOELIA SANTANA   I  PRESS PHOTOS

Haute couture is the summum of high-end fashion. In fact, it is so exclusive that in the whole world, its market consists of only an estimated 2,000 customers. The term Haute Couture only applies to certain houses and designers. Every year, they have to be approved by the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture to keep this prestigious label. Fashion houses like Chanel or Dior confirm their statuses year after year by creating shows that write unaltered fashion history. In 2015, Chanel’s famous guests sat and played poker in a casino while models paraded around them wearing the new collection. In 1998, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Dior’s head of design, created what must be one of the most spectacular fashion shows of all time. The show ended with all the models dressed in extraordinary couture lounging gracefully in the marble staircase of Opera 8  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

Garnier with tissue-paper butterflies raining over them. The words luxurious, hand-sewn and innovative characterise all haute couture collections. For instance, in the last Valentino’s Fall Couture collection, a sleeveless gown in rose gauze squares took around 2,010 hours to be put together. Strictly opposed What: Haute Couture Spring-Summer Collections Where: Paris, France When: 20-23 January How: Fashion shows are generally invitation only. But that’s no reason to be put off. Get as close to the action as you can; the street style in the areas surrounding each event is just as powerful and inspiring as the catwalk.

to the ‘prêt-à-porter’ approach to fashion, Haute Couture is made to fit the client precisely. A piece of art that you can wear. With such creativity filling the streets of Paris, it is no wonder Parisians are known to have such an enviable sense of style and a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ about them. If you are planning to visit Paris during the Haute Couture Week, you had better wear your best ensemble and prove that the French are not the only ones with style aplenty.

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

Discover Southern Europe  |  Style

W H AT T O W E A R ? Less is more when talking French style, so keep your outfit simple with pieces that stand out for their refined details and well-made structure.

A piece of the sun Parisian jewellery designer Annelise Michelson wants to empower women through her sculptural pieces of jewellery. These statement hoops are part of her Solar collection inspired by earth, fire and volcanic spaces. Annelise Michelson, Solar earrings, €450

A classic in leather

Dark florals

The perfect pair

It’s all about the unconventional mac now, and this mac in soft leather from Uterqüe will be a versatile piece to use during the cold months but also once Spring starts gracing us with its presence. Uterqüe, leather mac with belt, €399

Dream of Spring days wearing this gorgeous floral dress from the epic French brand The Kooples. Channel a Victorian vibe with a slightly puffed-up sleeve, perfectly balanced with the mini length to keep it modern. Wear with sheer black tights for a bit of an edge and to keep warm during freezing January. The Kooples, short formal dress in floral print, €328

Complete your Parisian-inspired look by wearing the perfect pair of black boots by one of the greatest houses of French design, Saint Laurent. Saint Laurent, Laura boots in suede, €1,195

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  9

Camino de Santiago for Beginners Going on a pilgrimage might sound like something from yesteryear, yet, a nice hike never goes out of style. That’s why over 300,000 pilgrims from 200 different countries still walk to Santiago de Compostela every year; not necessarily to pray in its iconic cathedral, but often just for the journey itself. But what is it that makes ‘el Camino de Santiago’ so legendary? And what does this walk to the Galician capital entail? Well, strap on your hiking boots and get your legs warmed up, because we take you along with us on the world’s most iconic pilgrimage. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: UNSPLASH

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Discover Southern Europe  |  Camino de Santiago for Beginners

Why Santiago de Compostela? In the crypt of the city’s humongous cathedral, lie the remains of Jesus’ disciple Saint James (Santiago in Spanish). Rumour has it that in the ninth century, a local hermit heard music in the woods. When he went to look, he saw a bright light, which he knew had to be an appearance of that same saint. Since then, the city attracts plenty of pilgrims. In the early Middle Ages, an annual 250,000 devotees walked to the sacred city. Surprisingly enough, that isn’t the beginning of the Camino. In the eighth century before Christ, people already walked the roads to – what now is – the popular pilgrimage site. As the route follows the shape of the Milky Way, they believed that it would lead them to the end of the world.


Where does the road to Compostela start? In the days of yore, the trip started at your front door. People left their houses and walked to the closest point on the trail, from where they followed the route. Today, most pilgrims handpick a starting point somewhere on the trail. As there are seven official ‘Caminos’ (one of which starts in the north of the Netherlands while another commences a mere 117 kilometres from Compostela), you can’t pinpoint an exact starting point. The ‘Camino Francés’ – the most popular Camino – starts in SaintJean-Pied-de-Port, a small village on the French side of the Pyrenees. From here, you are still 769 kilometres (or, roughly a month of walking) away from Santiago de Compostela. The entire trip (as well as all other Caminos de Santiago) are marked with golden or yellow scallops on the ground or at the walls of every crossroad, guiding you to Santiago. How does a day of the Camino de Santiago look like? Most hikers start walking at around 5am, long before the sun makes it too hot to hike. By 11am, they have conquered 20 or 25 kilometres already, after which they call it a day and relax until the evening. If you undertake your journey the oldfashioned way, you must spend the night in monasteries. Along the way, you will

find plenty of abbeys where pilgrims can sleep for next to nothing. Many modern hikers opt for inns, where you can stay for as low as five euros. What are the typical Camino traditions? To make your trip official, you need to get your paperwork straight. Every pilgrim carries a card with them on which they collect stamps in every village or city that they pass. If you walk over 100 kilo-

metres, this card earns you a certificate and a scallop ‘medallion’ upon arrival. If you follow the Camino Frances, you should also carry a rock from your hometown with you. The tradition is to haul it with you until the Cruz de Ferro – a monument about ten days’ walking away from the holy city – and leave it underneath the cross, where a high pile of internationally sourced pebbles will await you. Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  11


Racing to new heights The Pyrenees are world-famous for the cycling race Le Tour de France, but hot on its wheels is another sporting event exploring these magnificent mountains: the Luchon Aneto Trail. Started in 2014 by a group of friends, the trail event is based in the border spa town of Bagnères-de-Luchon, under two hours’ drive from Toulouse, and just four kilometres from its namesake, Aneto; which, at 3,404 metres, is the tallest peak of the Pyrenees. TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON  |  PHOTOS: LUCHON ANETO TRAIL


ith six races, from ten kilometres to an 85-kilometre ‘Ultra’ and – new for 2020 – the LAT Challenge, which is 87 kilometres spread over two days, the event is open to everyone from highly-trained athletes to families. Each trail takes in famous sights such as the Lac d’Oȏ and Port de Vénasque, and the spectacular views are just as likely as the steep climbs to take your breath away.

grown year-on-year since 2008 – and this is no different, attracting 2,400 participants in 2019, compared to 600 in 2014. This is more than just racing – it’s an open door to everything the region has to offer. At its heart is the French concept of ‘convivialité’ – best translated as ‘lively friendliness’.

‘gâteau à la broche’ (cake cooked on a spit). Race winners receive a basket of goods from the many local partners, plus free entry to next year’s race; and even the slowest runners get a prize. Community is key. Some race for charity – in 2019, a Banque Courtois team raised 1,500 euros for the charity for disabled sports Comité Departemental Handisport Haute-Garonne – and more than 150 volunteers help out. “Our runners always remember the volunteers,” explains Dejean. “Their help: little words of support. It’s an extra level of friendliness.”

“Luchon is known as ‘the queen of the Pyrenees’ for good reason,” explains co-founder Olivier Dejean. “We thought: why not do it? We have everything we need on our doorstep.”

Last year, over 20 nationalities took part, and this year there are already nine nationalities signed up, including Brits, Swiss, Germans and Canadians, who come for the race but stay for the rest. “We want people to do the trail, yes, but to discover the area, too,” says Dejean. “It’s so important that people relax, enjoy themselves and want to come back.”

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, sports tourism has Facebook: luchon.anetotrail

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The food is as hearty as the hospitality – think foie gras and mountain favourite


Taste, relax, experience: This is Barcelona! There is no bad time to visit Barcelona. The city is always in motion and hides exciting gems behind every corner. But, to experience the liveliness and pleasure that make the city unique to the fullest, you must celebrate with its locals. Luckily, there are opportunities galore to do that. Mark the following days in your calendar as they are the ultimate moments to head to Barcelona in 2020. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS

Photo: Unsplash

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Discover Southern Europe  |  This is Barcelona

Pride BCN. Photo: Adjuntament Barcelona

La Mercè. Photo: Wikipedia

Festa Major. Photo: Adjuntament Barcelona

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  15

Discover Southern Europe  |  This is Barcelona

Epiphany 6 January The Epiphany is a huge deal in Spain. In the grand finale of the festive season, kids receive the biggest presents of all, and families gather for the last, snowy celebration of the holiday. In Barcelona, a grand parade with the three kings and their magical entourage roams the streets and warms up the hearts of all ages the night before.

Llum BCN Poblenou 14-16 February For one weekend in February, Poblenou, Barcelona’s busiest business district, gets lit up by the work of over 20 local and international light artists. Follow the lasers from one installation to the next while you stroll through the chilly Eixample.

Carnival 19-25 February The carnival of Barcelona is a rather intimate gathering. Many neighbourhoods organise small parades and parties and in the city centre, a sizable cavalcade marches through the streets. Yet, to experience the real Catalan carnival, you’d better take a train to Sitges, a picturesque coastal town 40 minutes west. Here, madness characterises the colourful carnival week with big costumes, tons of confetti and tens of thousands of party people.

Sagrada Familia. Photo: Unsplash

16  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

Discover Southern Europe  |  This is Barcelona

Epiphany. Photo: Adjuntament Barcelona

Sant Jordi 23 April Forget Valentine’s day. In Catalonia, Sant Jordi is the day of unaltered love. Traditionally, girls receive a rose from their loved ones and boys a book. Therefore, the streets are filled with book and rose markets where hopeless romantics take their pick.

Museum Night 16 May During the museum night, you can visit your favourite museums long after the usual closing time. Until 1am, the collections of most museums remain on display, often with atmospheric events and activities on the side.

Primavera Sound 4-6 June Barcelona kicks off the spring with a vibrant, alternative festival with ocean views. The line-up keeps a safe distance from all that’s commercial, yet the festival welcomes everyone to its amazing bubble of beats.

Pride! BCN 20-27 June Traditionally, June is Pride month – a month during which the global LGBT+ community hits the streets to demand equality and respect. During the last weekend of June, Barcelona turns pink as well, with a big parade, plenty of parties and a fair share of unconditional love taking over the city.

Sagrada Familia. Photo: Pixabay

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  17

Discover Southern Europe  |  This is Barcelona

Sónar 18-21 June Sónar is the annual gathering of all the big names on the Catalan, Spanish and international electronic music scenes. Together, they host a series of legendary sets, parties and showcases to entertain their international audience.

Sant Joan 23 June In Catalonia, summer solstice is celebrated with fire. All over the region, you’ll bump into bonfires and correfocs (traditional fire parades). Children aged seven to 77 enjoy themselves outside, lighting fireworks and firecrackers, filling the streets with festive bangs until the early hours.

Museum Night. Photo: Robert Ramos

Grec Late June until late August The theatre of Montjuïc’s Greek garden is the stage of a most-cosy theatre, dance, circus and music festival: Grec. All summer long, they host events in the historic hemisphere, as well as in many other theatres around town.

Sala Montjuïc Late June until early September In summer, the Castle of Montjuïc turns into the biggest cinema in the city. Multiple times a week, you can sit down on the grass and enjoy a film beneath the stars. The films are always shown in their original version with Spanish subtitles, so you don’t have to worry about Spanish dubbing.

Festa Major de Gràcia 15-21 August No Festa Major in all of Catalonia is as popular as the one in the district of Gràcia. Its main attractions are the spectacularly decorated streets. All year long, each street’s committee creates brilliant decorations to spruce up the roads with, hoping to win the title of Best Decorated Street.

Grec. Photo: Adjuntament Barcelon

18  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

National Day of Catalonia 11 September On 11 September 1714, Catalonia lost the

Discover Southern Europe  |  This is Barcelona

war to Spain. They remember this day every year by celebrating it as their national holiday. Besides fireworks and concerts, the main event is the humongous independentist protest in the heart of the city. In 2014, a record 1.8 million people waved their banners at this peaceful protest. It always kicks off exactly at 5.14pm (or 17.14, the year of the Catalan defeat).

La Mercè 18-24 September On top of each district’s proper Festa Major, the city of Barcelona also hosts a big one at the end of summer. Correfocs, concerts at the beach, light festivals and markets entertain all demographics while awaiting the big magnum opus: the piromusical, or musical fireworks on the final night.

La Castanyada 1 November La Castanyada is a festival for the hungry, as all there is to do is eat and drink. Traditionally, the dessert of the Castanyada dinners consists of roasted chestnuts, panellets (almond balls covered in pine nuts), moniatos (roasted sweet potatoes) and candied fruit. To help you digest it all, they serve a fine glass of Moscatell (Muscat) on the side. Salut!

Santa Llúcia Fair 30 November-23 December Although Barcelona is not a Christmas city per se, there are many fun things to do when the holidays kick in. At Plaça Nova, in front of the cathedral, you can shop at the Fira de Santa Llúcia. This Christmas market does not sell your average mulled wine and raclette, but offers the most beautiful pesebres: statues for your nativity scene.

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

La Mercè. Photo: Unsplash

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  19

Wine tasting in a Barcelona monument In 1888, just in time for the Universal Exposition of Barcelona, a large monument was erected at the bottom of La Rambla, which has become one of the most important icons of the city. This is the Mirador de Colom, the statue of Christopher Columbus, standing proudly and pointing towards the port, where he ended his journey upon his return from the Americas. TEXT: ESME FOX  |  PHOTOS: TURISME DE BARCELONA


e is not in fact pointing towards the New World he discovered, as many people think. Although Columbus was thought to be from Genoa in Italy, he served under the Spanish Catholic monarchs King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I, and presented his findings to them in Barcelona when he returned. Yet, this is just a theory; some historians in fact believe that Columbus, or Colom as 20  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

he is called in Catalonia, could actually be Catalan, as opposed to Italian. Whichever you believe, Columbus has become an important symbol of the city of Barcelona.

60 metres, 233,000 kilogrammes In 1881, Barcelona City Council agreed to erect the monument as a tribute to Columbus and held a competition to decide who would design the column. The winning

design was by the architect Gaietà Buhigas, while the statue itself was created by the sculptor Rafael Atché. It took nearly a year to cast the iron column and a further six years to complete the entire monument, which weighs a total of 233,000 kilogrammes and measures 60 metres from the base to the top. This makes it the tallest monument in the city. The statue itself measures 7.7 metres high and 2.5 metres wide, which makes it the biggest Columbus statue in the world. The finished monument has three parts: a circular base decorated with eight lion statues; the bottom part of the column, which is adorned with statues of people and me-

Discover Southern Europe  |  Experience Barcelona

dallions; and the top, which features the shield of the city and a crown, representing the crown of Aragon.

Unique views Tourists may be surprised to find out that you can actually go down inside the base of the monument, and even ride a lift to the top. The lift stops just under the statue and arrives at a small circular platform, offering some of the best views in the whole city. Up here, it’s both cosy and intimate. The first thing you’ll notice is the view of the city’s famous La Rambla, winding its way up to Plaça Catalunya. “It’s one of the most unique views of the celebrated boulevard that you’ll see in the whole city,” explains commercial sales manager for Turisme de Barcelona, Gianluca Camaggio. To the north lies the Gothic Quarter, where you’ll spot the Cathedral and the Church of Santa Maria del Mar. Further up, you’ll see Gaudí’s famous Sagrada Família, and east towards the coast, you’ll see the old harbour and marina filled with yachts. To the south stands Montjuïc Hill with its Olympic stadium and old castle, and finally to the west is Barcelona’s green lung – the Collserola Natural Park.

Cavas, reds and whites Upon descent, there are other things you can explore inside the monument, from a

souvenir shop selling quality local, Catalan crafts, to a wine cellar. It may be an unusual place for a spot of wine tasting, but in fact this cosy little bar has a great selection of quality wines from across Catalonia, from the Penedès to Empordà. “The room actually feels like an authentic cellar with low ceilings and the original old stone work dating from 1888,” continues Camaggio. Here, you’ll get the chance to sample sparkling cavas, fruity whites and bold reds. Not only will you get the chance to try different wines, but you’ll also be able to buy them to take them home as souvenirs, too.

A ride to the top of one of Barcelona’s most iconic monuments, paired with fabulous city views and wine tasting, is a Barcelona experience like no other. The monument is open every day of the week from 8.30am to 8.30pm, with the last lift ride at 8pm. Tickets to the top cost six euros for adults and four euros for children and retirees. The viewpoint and wine-tasting combination ticket costs eight euros for adults and six euros for retirees.

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  21

Discover Southern Europe  |  Experience Barcelona

Mr Blai Matons.

Much more than a journey Have you ever had the pleasure of being truly chauffeured? No, not merely in a taxi. A real chauffeur is more than just a driver: they are true professionals, assistants, even confidantes. For them, it really is about the journey and not just the destination. TEXT: NOELIA SANTANA  |  PHOTOS: BLAI LIMOUSINES


hours to see the most picturesque places around from the comfort of your own private, luxurious vehicle. The market for chauffeurs has certainly changed since Mr Matons was driving Salvador Dali, so Blai has been refining their offering to achieve the highest standards. They can provide transport to an event for thousands of people, or chauffeur a royal family with the requirements and protocol that it requires. Both very different jobs, but both treated with the utmost respect and enthusiasm from everyone involved in providing the service.

t Blai Limousines, they strive to make each journey special. Each client deserves the best. When Mr Blai Matons founded the company, he wanted to create something different. He knew that chauffeuring is more than just the mere act of taking someone from one place to another, but should be an experience, personalised to match each client. So, he made it his mission to turn it into an art.

al, to assess how best to interact with the customers in every situation. They speak English and Spanish, among other languages, and they are required to have at least five years of experience as a driver. The company matches the driver with the customer for optimal results. And one thing is certain: the driver’s aim is to exceed your expectations and make your journey unforgettable.

They have more than 55 years of experience and a very impressive client list. Mr Blai Matons himself was the personal driver and adviser of Salvador Dalí, and since then, they have been looking after important personalities in the world of music – like Madonna and Bruce Springsteen – Hollywood actors, royal families and world leaders.

“Our offering is completely bespoke,” explains Alex Maillon, Blai Limousines’ director of sales and marketing. “We understand every customer is different and has different needs. This is why we work extremely hard to learn their needs and match them to the best driver and car to create the perfect experience.”

The company uses first-class vehicles that have all the comforts and safety requirements for every type of journey. They are also very aware of the impact of transportation on the planet, so they are working towards helping the environment by upgrading their fleet to electric vehicles and reducing the use of the more polluting forms of transportation.

Each journey is different, and each driver is trained to understand each individu-

If you are visiting a Spanish city for the first time, they also offer tours of four-to-eight- Bookings:

22  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

Discover Southern Europe  |  Experience Barcelona

The monastery of Montserrat.




Inner peace above the clouds Back in 1025, Abbot Oliba founded a monastery in Santa Maria de Montserrat. Today, it is an essential destination for many pilgrims. Montserrat will most definitely leave you speechless, astonished by its magnificent mountains and spiritual atmosphere. It is the perfect spot to disconnect from the city rush and enter a peaceful state of mind that will recharge your inner soul. TEXT: GERARD PLANA  |  PHOTOS: MONTSERRAT


f you are looking for some relaxation while visiting the busy city of Barcelona, take the FGC train from Plaça Espanya and, in less than an hour, you will end up somewhere truly magical. As the train approaches the natural park that is Montserrat, the mountains grow like rocky spikes in the middle of the green flatland. The aeri (cable car) or the cremallera (cable railway) bring you directly to the sanctuary, a Benedictine monastery hidden above the clouds.

Once there, you can go for a hike or stay at the sanctuary’s complex. There are many hiking routes, such as the hike to Sant Miquel or Sant Joan. However, if you don’t

feel like walking too much, you can ride a funicular to Sant Joan’s chapel, high in the mountains with astonishing views over the Catalan landscape. The mountains’ shape is also ideal for climbing. Montserrat is a cultural reference in Catalonia for its art and literature collection. The Benedictines’ library is one of the most significant ones in the region. The monks have taken care of it almost without interruption since the foundation of the monastery in 1025. They study history, theology and liturgy, among other sciences. Unfortunately, however, the library is not open to the public.

The museum, on the other hand, is open to everyone, and includes many pieces which they received as donations from private collectors. You can find a unique collection of masterpieces in this not-yet-so-renowned museum: Dalí, Caravaggio, El Greco, Picasso, and even archeological objects from Mesopotamia, Egypt or the Holy Land. Truth to be told, the whole of Montserrat is a museum in itself. Many pilgrims arrive in Montserrat to behold its most iconic masterpiece: La Moreneta, Catalonia’s patron saint. This statue was supposedly found in the Santa Cova, a chapel near the sanctuary up in the mountains. Every day at noon, one of the oldest boys’ choruses of Europe, L’Escolania, sings the traditional song El Virolai, Montserrat’s anthem. Accompanied by the glorious sound of the choir and the organ, this majestic abbey will really touch your soul. Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  23

Discover Southern Europe  |  Experience Barcelona

A night to remember at one of Barcelona’s most historic clubs On the border of El Raval and Poble Sec, around Avinguda Parallel, lies Barcelona’s old theatre land, which once hosted an array of concert halls, cabaret shows and entertainment clubs. Today, while few of them have survived, one is still going very strong – Sala Bagdad. TEXT: LINDA PEREZ  |  PHOTOS: SALA BAGDAD


At its centre sits a circular rotating stage – the heart of the club.

As the name belies, the club is decorated in an exotic Persian style. Step into an opulent reception decorated with geometric tiles, elegant columns and ornate doorways, then head downstairs into the underbelly of the club itself. Bathed in red light, it’s decked in glittering chandeliers, mirrored ceilings, dance poles and images of Bagdad’s girls.

Sala Bagdad is not only one of the most famous nightclubs in the city; it’s one of the most unique, too. This is not your average club: here, it’s all about one main event – the two-hour live erotic show, which is said to be one of the best in Europe. Here, the audience gets to enjoy not only exotic dance performances and strip teases, but also the chance to participate in the show. Absolutely nothing here is left to the imagination. “Because of its interactive nature, no two of our

ne of Barcelona’s most historic and erotic nightclubs, Sala Bagdad first opened in 1975 and has built up a reputation to become one of the most renowned clubs of its kind in the whole of Europe.

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shows are the same, and the experience completely changes each time you visit,” says the club’s director Juani de Lucia. She has been at Sala Bagdad since its inception and is involved in everything from the choreography and the booking of new talent, to making sure its clients are well looked after. Given its 90-euro entrance fee, the clientele is more mature than found in your average city club, and its stage attracts stars from around the world. “We even have legendary icons from the United States performing here,” continues Juani de Lucia. From its opulent décor and unique performers to its interactive live show, a night at Sala Bagdad is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Relax in Barcelona

When you only need a hotel for a few hours, say hi to microstays Booking a room for a full day and night when you only need it for mere hours is a complete waste of money. Therefore, the innovative booking company BYHOURS allows you to book one for just the time you need; whether it’s for a long lay-over or a quick siesta. TEXT: ESME FOX  |  PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK


tephanie is a fashion editor, attending meetings and events across the world. This week, she’s flying to Barcelona for a fashion show, before returning to London the same day. She’s only in Barcelona for the day, so doesn’t need a room for the night, but she could do with a space to change after her journey and prepare before the show. She would also need the room mid-morning, so it wouldn’t help checking into a hotel at the normal time of 2pm. This is a common example of someone needing to book a room for just a few hours. Jordi is the manager of a hotel chain with properties in Barcelona. The hotel industry’s current occupancy rate is around 60 per 26  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

cent, and often, Jordi’s guests only use their room for up to 12 hours. He could increase his bookings were he to allow visitors to book for just a few hours. This is where BYHOURS comes in, an innovative company set up in 2012, which allows customers and hotels to book and sell microstays. “We are the first and only international online platform and app which allows people to reserve a room for just three, six or 12 hours, any time of the day or night,” says brand and communications manager, Maria Velasco. With this original concept, Stephanie can now book her hotel in Barcelona for just three

hours, giving her time to change. It also gives Jordi the chance to sell the same room twice, once to Stephanie in the morning and then to a family in the evening, who need a room for a long layover. This means customers just pay for the time they need, saving up to 50 per cent on the full rate, while hotel brands have the potential to increase their revenue. “BYHOURS works with the best independent and chain hotels, including companies such as Hilton, Barceló, NH, Sheraton and W Hotels,” says Maria. It’s not just business people like Stephanie who benefit from BYHOURS, but also couples and families who might want to check in to a hotel early, make use of the facilities or just relax. The platform has connections with more than 300 hotels in 24 different countries throughout Europe, Latin America and travel hubs in the Middle East.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Taste Barcelona

The kitchen of Nuncio Cona 2,254 is the number of kilometers that separates Palermo from Barcelona. This is the trip the chef Nuncio Cona made on a Vespa from his hometown to Catalonia, a journey among the culinary styles of the Mediterranean. Now, all this knowledge is captured in 2254 Restaurant, a personal project created by this Mediterranean chef to honour this so-different-yet-so-similar cuisine. TEXT: GERARD PLANA  |  PHOTO: RESTAURANT 2254

Nuncio Cona was 20 years old when he left his hometown of Palermo and went to explore the south of Europe, driving his Vespa through all of the Mediterranean countries. Even though Barcelona wasn’t supposed to be his final stop, he ended up there when he realised how much the city had to offer. The Catalan capital became the place where Nuno could give in to his culinary curiosity through inspiration, creativity and selfexpression. 12 years later, he has written a book that contains all the life-lasting memories and thoughts he had during his trip: 2254: El Viaje y la Vida de Nuncio Cona (2254: The trip and life of Nuncio Cona). 2254 Restaurant offers a broad and per-

28  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

sonal interpretation of the Catalan cuisine, influenced by what he saw in Italy and France. His signature tapas are a singular yet exquisite selection that best represents the restaurant’s identity and Nuncio’s talent. All of them have a twist that makes them unique, like the potato mochis with mascarpone, sea-

Nunzio Cona.

sonal mushrooms sauce, truffle and parmesan cheese. Enjoyed in the industrial setting with a vertical garden and an open kitchen, this food guarantees an easy-going and interactive dining experience, perfectly mirroring the pure Italian soul of the chef.

Patato mochis with mascarpone, mushroom sauce, truffle and parmesan cheese.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Taste Barcelona

Gaudí Collection.

Sergio Gil.

Chocolate at its finest For the Aztecs, it was considered the food of the gods, and for many today, chocolate might as well be of divine inception too. Its addictive nature lifts the spirits and goes well with pretty much anything.

oils of aromatic plants, medicinal roots and spices like guarana, ginseng or sandalwood, each with their own health benefits, to give us yet another excuse to indulge in chocolate.



t Cacao Sampaka, they want you to experience the pleasure of chocolate at its very tasty best. Their company was founded in 2000 by a family from Barcelona, and their mission is simple: rediscovering the fascinating culture and history of cacao and chocolate. Chocolate is a simple indulgence with a very intricate process of production. The origin of the cacao and the process in which it is farmed and sourced gives place to diverse connotations in flavours. Cacao Sampaka’s ‘History of chocolate’ collection helps you appreciate this, as it takes you on a delicious journey around America and Africa, homes of the best cacao on the planet. This special line is made with great care, keeping the best features of each va30  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

riety of cacao so you can enjoy the different aspects between them. Pleasure, harmony and experience describe the feelings they hope to provoke for their customers. “All of our recipes are precisely calculated for the enjoyment of all the ingredients, nuances and flavours. When you try a product, you need to be able to taste all the ingredients to identify all its attributes,” says Sergio Gil, chocolate maker at Cacao Sampaka. And truly, the way they mix and match ingredients with the best cacao is sort of an art. Their ‘innovation’ range of bonbons contains such unexpected flavours to excite and even confuse your taste buds; like gin and tonic, wasabi or curry. With their ‘Passion et chocolat’ series, they mix chocolate with essential

Their flagship store is in Barcelona, but they are also spreading their recipes in places like Japan, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia. When you visit their chocolate mecca, don’t forget to get a taste of Spain with Mediterranean flavours like rosemary, orange, almond and even Ibizan salt. Their ‘Gaudí’ collection shapes each chocolate with sculptural designs inspired by Gaudí’s architecture, and makes a great gift to take home as a reminder of times well spent in chocolate heaven. Barcelona store, C/ Consell de Cent 292. (+34) 932 720 833 Madrid store, C/ Orellana 4. (+34) 913 195 840 Bookings: Instagram: @cacaosampaka

Cathedral. Photo: Paul Prim

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Discover Southern Europe  |  A Weekend in Strasbourg

A weekend in Strasbourg

A postcard city with a lot of bite Although Strasbourg is the easternmost city in France, set on the shores of the Rhine across from Germany, it is a central place in all other aspects. In the Middle-Ages, this Alsatian city assumed a position as a hub of artistic and intellectual life, attracting figures such as John Calvin and Johannes Gutenberg, who first experimented with the printing press in Strasbourg. Today, it is the official seat of the European Parliament, and the converging point for ideas, cultures, and people from a multitude of nations. Both steeped in history and future-forward, Strasbourg is a city to discover and rediscover. TEXT: PIERRE ANTOINE ZAHND


he question of whether it lies in France or Germany is one of the first preliminary queries about Strasbourg. Depending on who you ask, it could be both, and it could be neither. From the battle of Strasbourg, pitting the Roman Empire against Germanic tribes in 357 BCE, until the Thirty Years’ War and the end of

the Second Word War, Alsace was a hotly disputed territory between France and Germany. As a result, the region developed a distinct personality, amalgamating styles, folklore and customs from the two nations to reach its own individuality: German precision, French ‘joie de vivre’, and a home-grown, nononsense attitude cohabit in Strasbourg. Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  33

Discover Southern Europe  |  A Weekend in Strasbourg

St Paul’s Church. Photo: Sarah Sergent

Saturday: Indulge your senses Walking out of the train station (with a utopiclooking glass dome that encapsulates it like a giant drop), the central avenue takes you straight over the Ill River and into the Grande Île, the inner island at the historic heart of Strasbourg. Visitors can comfortably spend their first couple of hours exploring the medieval atmosphere of the centre, down cobbled streets and narrow pathways, crossing over to another side across picturesque bridges, taking in the typically Alsatian tiled roofs and half-timbered buildings. Going further into the picturesque Kruteneau quarter, one visit is particularly worthwhile: the Historic Wine Cellar of Strasbourg Hospices. Established in 1393, this ancient vaulted cellar is the place where some of the region’s finest wines are still matured, and contains the world’s oldest drinkable wine, dating back to 1472 (it has only been served three times in the last five centuries, however, so it would have to be your lucky day). The cellar closes at 12.30pm on Saturdays, which is a good window to try an ‘apéritif’ before lunch.

Grande Île. Photo: Paul Prim

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Discover Southern Europe  |  A Weekend in Strasbourg

Grande Île. Photo: Philippe de Rexel

From there on, food options are multiple. Alsatian eateries will come aplenty, featuring the typical choucroute and Bäckeoffe, but the city has a knack for spicing up tradition with international approaches. To that end, the Restaurant Le Mandala offers a disconcerting and delicious fusion of Alsatian and Asian cuisines (and runs a ‘siesta bar’ on the upper floor for those in need of a digestive nap). After lunch, a walk along the Quais des Bateliers will lead to the striking St Paul’s Church and the old university buildings. From there, it is easy to take a tram to the Parc de l’Orangerie and the European institutions, some of which are open to visitors. A Saturday night in Strasbourg is best spent among people and music. Start at the Kitch’n Bar or at Le Grincheux for a local brew and some traditional homemade chips, then head to Le Local for a taste of the city’s jazz talent. If you’re here to party, check out the Molodoï, an alternative venue with a varied programme of big band, hip-hop, and electronic music.

European Parliament. Photo: Philippe de Rexel

Parc de l’Orangerie. Photo: Philippe de Rexel

Strasbourg train station. Photo: Paul Prim

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  35

Discover Southern Europe  |  A Weekend in Strasbourg

Rhine Palace. Photo: Christophe Hamm

Sunday: Sightseeing, art-spotting Sundays are certainly a day for taking it slow in Strasbourg. Having breakfast in Neustadt is a great way to explore another historic area, but one with a different feel, brimming with stately 19th-century architecture. It is also one of the greenest areas of Strasbourg, with the Parc du Contades, the Jardin de la Place de la République, and the Botanical Gardens (which are also free of charge). From there, you’re only a tram ride away from the Jardin des Deux Rives, or Garden on Two Shores, a vast expanse of greenery separated by the Rhine but connected by a pedestrian bridge to its sister city, Kehl, symbolising the renewal of friendship and unity between France and Germany. Back in the centre, you’ll have a slew of museums to choose from: the Contemporary Art Museum offers a rotating programme of special exhibitions as well as a solid permanent collection. The Tomi Ungerer Mu36  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

seum, though it isn’t huge, presents the dreamy work of luminary Alsatian illustrator Tomi Ungerer, and is clearly worth a visit to get an insight into the artist’s head. Those looking for something even more out there than Tomi Ungerer may be interested to read that Strasbourg also hosts a well-furnished Voodoo Museum: set in a former water tower, it gathers over 1,000 artifacts and fetishes from its founder's travels. And if you haven’t seen it yet, go see the stupendous gothic cathedral: it’s quite a sight at sunset. In Strasbourg, even the most touristic spot has got something peculiar and unsettling to it: topped by a single tower, it was originally intended to be complemented by another one, but the project was so logistically ambitious that it could never be completed. The lone tower remained without its lost twin, giving the edifice a memorable and asymmetrical feel that befits Strasbourg itself.

Discover Southern Europe  |  A Weekend in Strasbourg

Getting there The airport of Strasbourg is located just a few kilometers outside the city, with an eight-minute transit time on the €2.80 shuttle train, although it isn’t connected to many foreign destinations. Another option is to fly to Basel EuroAirport, the region’s foremost centre for international travel, and from which Strasbourg is a two-hour Flixbus journey away. Although it isn’t the easiest to reach by air, Strasbourg is very well-connected to Paris, Lyon and other main French cities through its train network.

Getting around The regular and efficient bus and tram service will take you where you need to be reliably and fast. However, the city might just be the perfect size for walking across, if you have the time. A third and appealing option is the possibility of renting a bicycle from the city-managed service Vélhop, conveniently located inside the train station.

A time for everything Sunday is a great day for culture, as museums tend to be open while many other places aren’t. Alsace is one of France’s most traditional regions, and has more religious holidays than the rest of the country, so it’s worth checking ahead what will be open and what won’t.

Neustadt. Photo: Philippe de Rexe

Cathedral. Photo: Philippe de Rexe

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  37


Great food, wine and golf Whether you’re teeing off from the 27-hole golf course set in the tranquil Dordogne countryside, relaxing in the spa, or indulging in Michelin-star gastronomy, a stay at the historic Château des Vigiers will leave you feeling revitalised. Known as the ‘Petit Versailles’, this four-star hotel is the definition of luxury. TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: CHATEAU DES VIGIERS


he Dordogne is dotted with hundreds of castles, but the Château des Vigiers stands out among the rest. The architectural style recalls the classical trends of centuries gone by, with marble fireplaces, decadent period furniture and hand-woven tapestries. It’s no wonder, then, that it was nicknamed ‘Petit Versailles’ for its resemblance to the Parisian chateau. The 16th-century chateau itself belonged to the Vigiers family until the French Revolution, but it wasn’t until some Swedish friends re38  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

stored it to its original splendour that it flourished as a golf and country club.

A wide choice of accommodation When it comes to choosing a place to stay, guests will be spoilt for choice. For example, there are 25 rooms within the chateau itself, which are each uniquely decorated. “The best way to describe the décor is discreetly luxurious,” explains Niels Koetsier, managing director at Vigiers. Golfers will relish staying in the eco-friendly Le Relais hotel, just a stone’s throw from the first tee. Inspired by the local

tobacco drying barns of the Dordogne, there are 40 spacious and contemporary rooms with exclusive access to the breakfast room, pool, fitness room and sauna. For golfers looking to concentrate on their game, the hotel is fully equipped. After a visit to Vigiers, you might never want to leave. With its very own real estate, guests can now stay in one of six lake residences or seven estates overlooking the nearby vineyards. “The Dépendances holiday homes were built in the traditional Perigord style and reflect the quality of local craftsmanship.” says Niels.

An impressive ‘natural’ golf course The Château des Vigiers is also the ideal place to begin or improve your golf game. The 27-hole golf course opened in 1992 and was designed by Donald Steel, who is considered to be one of the very best ‘nat-

Discover Southern Europe  |  France’s Greatest Chateau

ural’ golf course architects. The nine greens have been shaped to blend effortlessly into the landscape, with enviable views across plum orchards and oak woods. Arranged in three nine-hole loops, giving three 18-hole combinations, their golf course was rated in the top-ten courses in south-west France by Fairways Magazine. Other golf facilities include a six-hole academy course, a covered driving range, practice greens and bunkers, as well as their very own resident golf professional to offer sound advice.

Prepare to be pampered Vigiers has all of the facilities to help you wind down after a day on the green. Its intimate spa by Sothys offers a range of wellbeing activities such as a hydrotherapy pool, a beauty shop, fitness room, sauna and Jacuzzi, along with the hammam and indoor pool which will be completed in June. With two heated outdoor pools, guests can swim close to nature for a quiet moment of total relaxation. “The chateau perfectly strikes the balance between its golf and spa activities. We are known locally for our golf course, but word is now spreading about our spa and restau-

rants,” explains Niels. With a wide range of beauty treatments and packages on offer, whether you’re here for the day or the weekend, you are sure to get that all-important rest and relaxation.

pending on their tastes. Head to the renovated wine cellar-cum-restaurant Le Chai for a more informal dinner setting, complete with a magnificent lakeside terrace and plenty of regional dishes to choose from.

Local fare in a gorgeous setting

Among all the other delights on offer, the chateau boasts its very own fine-dining restaurant. Expect a sumptuous and innovative menu from head chef Didier Casaguana, who has been awarded a Michelin star every year since 2014. Les Fresques restaurant also boasts an extensive wine list: “our neighbouring winemakers regularly supply our restaurants. We produce our own award-winning AOC Bergerac red, white and rosé wines, and we harvest Merlot, Cabernet and Sauvignon grapes,” says Niels.

Vigiers is home to not just one, but two spectacular restaurants. Guests can dine in a relaxed or sophisticated atmosphere, de-

Tucked in the Dordogne countryside Despite its pollution-free location among the region’s vineyards, European guests can fly directly to Bergerac Airport just a short distance away. “The airport is just 20 minutes’ drive from the chateau, so guests can relax as soon as they arrive.” The Château des Vigiers is the ideal base for exploring the region’s rich history and culture, and its multilingual staff will be more than happy to advise guests. Head to the nearby food markets and try the local delicacies, explore the River Dordogne and make the most of the gorgeous climate in southwest France. Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  39

Discover Southern Europe  |  France’s Greatest Museum

The museum tells the lesser-known story of Roman-era Ardèche.

Fun and fashion in Roman France Think French boutiques, and your mind likely goes straight to Paris, but nestled in the heart of the lush Ardèche department are the remnants of another stylish French capital. Alba Helviorum, as it was once known, was the Roman capital of this region more than 1,500 years ago, and is now home to the MuséAl (Museum Alba), which opened in 2013 as part of a push to highlight the department’s rich heritage. TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON  |  PHOTOS: P. FOURNIER


mong the vineyards, halfway between Lyon and Marseille, archaeologists have found evidence of a thriving metropolis, with running water, an open-air theatre and beautiful, wide boulevards. “We say that the main street is the Champs-Élysées of the Ardèche,” explains head of museum Claire Géraud-Stewart. “You can walk, point and say: ‘This shop sold glass, this shop sold decorative bronze’. It’s fascinating.” Open from February to November, the museum highlights a rich Gallo-Roman past, in a region often better-known for its prehistoric caves. Now a major archaeological hub and exhibition space, the museum showcases more than 300 objects that tell the tale of these two strong cultures. None more so than 40  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

the ‘Emperor Statue’. In its heyday, the marble sculpture once stood at more than two metres tall, and is thought to have displayed the ‘godlike’ power of a Roman Emperor, perhaps Trajan or Hadrian. “It’s very stylised, and in the right light, it literally sparkles,” explains Géraud-Stewart. “It is incredible.” Indeed, the site’s prestigious ‘Musée de France’ label means that such objects must be respected, protected and responsibly-presented for all French people, as a matter of national pride. But this seriousness does not come at the expense of fun or creativity. This year will see the restoration of the ancient theatre, with a view to holding outdoor drama performances such as the annual Circus Arts festival held in July or the

many shows put on during warm summer evenings. In the museum, more than 50 hands-on workshops encourage visitors to take part in experiences such as dressing up Roman-style, shield making, and even sugar blowing, to mimic the Roman art of blowing beautiful glass. “When it comes to visitors, we present the science, but we also invite people to think critically and take part. For example, we found some thin, foil stars in a burial, but we don’t know what they are. So visitors can enjoy the mystery of these things here, too. It’s really exciting.” Alba Helviorum’s archaeological site is free, and open all year round. MuséAl’s exhibition is open from February to November, starting at €3 entry-fee for children and €5 for adults. Concessions are available. English-language visitor booklets are available at reception. English-speaking tours and workshops are available for groups of ten or more. Facebook: cgardeche

Innovative Southern Europe

12 inventions that have changed the world The innovative Roman empire, the Enlightenment thinkers in France… Southern Europe always had a nose for progression. Throughout the centuries, the region came up with plenty of amazing solutions for some infuriating problems. Without the brilliant minds of France, Spain, Italy and Portugal, the world would look very different today. Try to imagine a life without these 12 brilliant Southern European inventions and innovations. TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS  |  PHOTOS: UNSPLASH

1/ Newspaper Unknown, 131 B.C., Roman Empire No, the Roman emperors did not receive a tabloid in their mailbox every morning, but they did come up with a way to spread the news of the day through writing. In all corners of the empire, the Roman propaganda machine carved the latest bits of news into mammoth tables of stone, so-called annals. It was, however, very slow and time-consuming 42  |  Issue 11  8  |  |  January January2020 2020

to carve it letter for letter. In 50 B.C., the legendary consul Julius Caesar came up with a solution to this problem. His people wrote a daily update of what was happening in the empire on pieces of parchment and hung it in public places in the cities. After a few days, these Actas Diurnas (or, Daily Acts) were archived to make room for more recent novelties.

Discover Southern Europe  |  12 Southern European Inventions

Photo: Pixabay

2/ Animal testing Avenzoar, 12th century, Al-Andalus The reign of the Moors over the Iberian Peninsula was a glory time for innovations. One of the brightest Arab minds of his time was Avenzoar, a physician, surgeon and poet who was settled in Sevilla. To limit the human losses in his practice to a bare minimum, Avenzoar tested his procedures on animals first. He, for example, performed tracheotomies on goats to perfect his skills. Whereas this would be considered cruel and ethically dubious today, it did save plenty of lives in Avenzoar’s progressive practice.

3/ Vindaloo Unknown, in between 1505 and 1961, Portugal It’s hard to believe that the Portuguese can take credit for the creation of this spicy, Indian curry, and yet it is true. From 1505 to 1961, Portugal had colonies all over the Indian peninsula. The biggest of them all was Goa, a palm-tree-covered paradise at the western shores of the country. Many a colonist settled here and introduced their Portuguese delicacies to the locals. Most popular was carne de vinha d’alhos; or, meat in garlic and wine. Throughout the centuries, the locals spiced up this classic dish until it became Vindaloo, a fiery curry which is popular in all of India and far beyond.

Photo: Shutterstock

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  43

Discover Southern Europe  |  12 Southern European Inventions

4/ Car Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, 1770, France Whereas Karl Benz, Armand Peugeot, Henry Ford and other inventors-turnedcar-brands usually get credit for the development of the modern car, it was the French inventor Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot who built the first one, in 1770. The steam-powered vehicle looked nothing like the metal steeds you see on our highways today, but worked according to the same principle, with fuel igniting an engine which then brought the front wheel in motion. One year after inventing his ‘steam dray’, Cugnot drove his invention against a wall, causing the first motorised car accident in history. Shaken by the event, he stopped developing his machine, leaving the fame and glory to others.

Photo: Wikipedia

5/ Canned food Nicolas Appert, 1809, French Empire Who isn’t familiar with opening a tin of tuna or diced tomatoes now and then? That wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for Nicolas Appert, an inventor living in the French Empire of Napoleon. As the emperor was looking for a cheap way to preserve large amounts of food for a long time on the battlegrounds, he granted 12,000 Francs to the person who could come up with a solution. Appert discovered that food didn’t spoil unless the pot’s lid leaked, which led him to discover the air-tight can. Napoleon paid the inventor royally for his discovery, but could never produce the cans on a big scale, as the empire fell before the production method could be perfected. 44  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

Discover Southern Europe  |  12 Southern European Inventions

6/ Photography Nicéphore Niépce, 1826, France Serendipity, that’s what you call it when inventions see the light of day because of pure luck. Besides X-rays, Viagra and the discovery of America, photography is also a product of serendipity. When the French inventor Niépce left a light-sensitive plate to dry in the sun, he could not believe that it showed an imprint of the view a few hours later. This led him to develop the first camera, with which he made the first picture: View from the Window at Le Gras - Nicéphore Niépce. Sadly, Niépce didn’t become rich with it. It was fellowFrenchman Louis Daguerre who perfected, patented and monetised the technology.

View from the Window at Le Gras – Nicéphore Niépce. Photo: Wikipedia

7/ Coca-Cola Bautista Aparici, Ricardo Sanz and Enrique Ortiz, 1884, Spain According to most history books, Coca-Cola was invented in 1885 in Atlanta, Georgia by Colonel John Pemberton as a healthier alternative for the popular drug Morphine. Yet, in the village of Aleyo de Malferit, close to Valencia, they are convinced that it was invented by three of its citizens, instead. In 1884, Bautista Aparici, Ricardo Sanz and Enrique Ortiz brewed ‘Nuez de Cola-Coca’, a drink whose recipe is very similar to that of today’s most popular fizzy drink. The year after, they attended a drinks conference in Philadelphia, presenting their new pop. That same year, a soda shop in Atlanta started selling Coca-Cola, preluding the birth of the world’s most influential brand. It is proven that the Valencian distillery brewed their Nuez de Cola-Coca around the same time that Coca-Cola kicked off in the States. But who stole the idea from whom, will forever remain a mystery.

8/ Hairdryer

Photo: Unsplash

Alexander Godefroy, 1888, France Not surprisingly, it was a hairdresser who invented the hairdryer. It was Parisian barber Alexander Godefroy who designed this clever machine that could be attached to any heat source. It was a large tool that he kept in his salon and underneath which his clients could sit to get their hair blow dried. While the apparatus was groundbreaking, it was not the first machine used to dry hair. Up to then, plenty of people used the blow function of their vacuum cleaners instead. Yet, it wasn’t all that effective … nor that hygienic. Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  45

Discover Southern Europe  |  12 Southern European Inventions

9/ Ice cream cone Italo Marchiony, 1896, Italy/United States Where else could the ice cream cone originate than from Italy, the land of the gelato. It was Italo Marchiony who had the idea when he moved to the United States and opened an ice cream parlour in New York. Its initial purpose was not for the cones to be tasty or fun but to be hygienic. Ice cream used to be served in glass cups which were hardly rinsed between uses. The new-fangled, single-use cones proved extremely popular, and the rest is history.

10/ Spacesuit Emilio Herrera Linares, 1936, Spain While the record states that the first Spaniard went to space in 1963, the Spanish contributed to the space race from day one. 25 years before the first man went to space, physicist Emilio Herrera invented the spacesuit. This full-pressure suit looked more like a wetsuit with a helmet but became the basis for today’s state-of-the-art astronaut outfits. 46  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

After his academic career, Herrera went into politics. During the reign of dictator Francisco Franco, he even became president of the Republican government in exile (which was settled in Paris) from 1960 to 1962. Today’s Spanish government ad interim also counts an extra-terrestrial member, as Pedro Duque (the country’s only astronaut), is Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities of Spain.

Discover Southern Europe  |  12 Southern European Inventions

11/ Lollypop Enric Bernat, 1958, Spain Where this list is packed with inventors who failed to monetise their revolutionary inventions, Enric Bernat built a giant empire with his. When he invented the lollypop in Barcelona in 1958, he started selling them under the name Chupa Chups. The idea came to him when he was tired of having sticky hands after eating candy. Unlike today, sweets were not marketed towards children at the time. Bernat, however, instructed shopkeepers to place the display with lollypops on the counter, in reach of the kids: a trick that proved highly effective. In 1969, he rebranded the product with a new logo designed by surrealist painter Salvador Dalí; a logo that adorns the candy to date.

Photo: Pxhere

12/ Jacuzzi Candido Jacuzzi, 1963, Italy/United States Bubbling hot tubs are extravagant signs of wealth. But that is not what they were invented for. The Italian-American inventor Candido Jacuzzi invented the Jacuzzi in 1963 for his 15-month-old son, who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis. The lively, hot water relieved the boy’s pain. Soon, Jacuzzi discovered that you don’t have to be ill to enjoy the relaxing bath and marketed it to the upper-class.

The French-Spanish invention disputes While most inventions have a clear history, others are heavily disputed. In the kitchen, many a traditional dish is claimed both by the Spanish and the French. Take mayonnaise, for example. This popular sauce has been served on both sides of the Pyrenees but is named after the city of Mahon, a town in Menorca. While this gives the Spanish the benefit of the doubt, the French claim that a traveller got inspired in the Spanish city, after which he perfected the sauce in France. The same counts for crème brulée, a French dessert menu staple. Nonetheless, the Catalans claim that they have been cooking their crema Catalana way longer than the French have. Who invented these dishes is hard to prove. But make sure to taste both the French and Spanish varieties to decide which one you like best.

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  47


Bilingual Education in France Languages are, today more than ever, the key to a successful life and career. And what better way is there to make a second language your own than by living and studying in a foreign country? France counts numerous international schools that are destined to turn your offspring into fluent French speakers, while also maintaining their high level of English. We take you to those institutes that are second-to-none in French and English education, as well as in the general upbringing of your children. PHOTO: PIXABAY

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  49

To bilingualism and beyond Many international schools would pride themselves on offering high-quality language tuition, but for The International School of Nantes, that is only the beginning. Set across two campuses in the western Loire-Atlantique city – the sixth-largest centre in France – the school offers a truly bilingual programme, enabling students to master both English and French. For example, French, history and maths are taught in French, while English, geography, science and sports are in English. TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON  |  PHOTOS: UNSPLASH


ll teachers are native speakers in their given languages, and lessons are based on either the French or English national curricula. Students are regularly tested using the internationallyrecognised Cambridge English exams, to ensure that their skills are improving consistently, so their bilingualism becomes a lifelong, invaluable skill. “To be perfectly bilingual; to master two languages – it opens so 50  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

many doors,” explains headmistress and director, Nathalie Paulin. “And we offer a truly bilingual experience.” But the real difference at The International School of Nantes goes far beyond language. Its caring environment, which treats every child as an individual, is what really sets it apart. Whether at the Nantes Guist’hau school (for nursery and primary education),

housed in a beautiful city centre ‘maison de maître’, or the nearby Saint-Herblain campus grounds, which besides the primary school include an expansive forest (for the high school and the creche), pupils are taught in an attractive and peaceful setting.

Focused on the individual learner Across all levels, each class is capped at just 15 pupils, ensuring that teachers have the capacity to adapt lessons to suit the individ-

Discover Southern Europe  |  Bilingual Education in France

ual learner. This is key, as some pupils arrive speaking neither English nor French, and others have varying abilities and knowledge, depending on their background, nationalities, home cultures, previous countries or school environments. “Our team is very motivated and loves their jobs,” says Ms. Paulin. “They are constantly training in how to understand why one child might be better at this, and another might struggle; and how to help them learn differently.” Herein lies another of the school’s stand-out qualities: teachers here stay up to date on the latest neuroscience, with research recently proving that paying attention to children’s developing brains, rather than expecting everyone to learn in the same way, is key to fulfilling each pupil’s potential.

Warm welcome The school also offers piano and guitar lessons, as well as a programme called Mind and Body Health, which includes daily yoga classes and attention training (similar to mindfulness meditation), and philosophy workshops from the age of five. “It’s so important to develop these skills,” says Ms. Paulin. “Concentration, curiosity, motivation. To talk about friendship, cooperation, respect, diet, brain function, sleep... It's about enabling pupils to understand these tools, which will become part of their lives, if they aren’t already.” This compassionate approach extends to the school’s community, which prides itself on offering a warm welcome to all families. Parents and teachers work hard to create a caring environment, and the appropriatelynamed weekly ‘Happy Club’ also allows working parents much-needed support after hours or during school holidays. “Our parents do a huge amount for the school,” explains Ms. Paulin. “If foreign families arrive, they are quickly able to find friends, a sense of community, and a social life. That’s quite unusual for schools in France.”

Vibrant, compassionate and academically rigorous This adaptable, international approach reflects the school’s place at the heart of Nantes: a cosmopolitan, culturally – and historically – rich French city with a genuinely global vision. More major companies are opening offices here – including aircraft gi-

Campus Saint-Herblain: Rue Olympe de Gouges 15, Saint-Herblain Campus Guist'hau: Rue Marie-Anne du Boccage 1, Nantes

ant Airbus and global consultants Accenture – and Nantes mayor Johanna Rolland regularly states her intention to open the city even more. In such a fast-changing world city, the need for a vibrant, compassionate and academically-rigorous international school such as this has never been greater.

The International School of Nantes runs Open Days to any potentially-interested pupils and their families. Parents are also invited to make an appointment with director Nathalie Paulin directly, to discuss their child’s individual needs, at or (+33) 02 404 005 87. Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  51

Global citizenship at the International School of Paris In 2020, we know that a global mindset is necessary for success in an interconnected and changing world. In 2018, the OECD defined global competence as the “ability to critically examine issues, understand multiple perspectives, and take responsible action towards sustainability and collective wellbeing”. At the International School of Paris (ISP), fostering this competence is a common thread that unifies the school’s values. Their robust International Baccalaureate programme, and students’ unique access to the city of Paris, are key to developing global citizenship. TEXT: KATE HARVEY  |  PHOTOS: THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF PARIS


he International Baccalaureate, or IB, is the curriculum of choice at ISP. Since the 1960s, the IB has developed an international curriculum framework in order to “create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect”. ISP imple52  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

ments the three main IB programmes, for children aged three to 18. The IB curriculum framework represents a departure from its national counterparts: critical thinking, research, self-management, communication and social skills make up the core areas of student development. It is these approach-

es to learning, rather than national histories, literature, cultures, or ways of thinking, that guide pedagogical planning. Teachers give feedback on both students’ understanding of subject-area content and, for example, their ability to collaborate with classmates or voice an opinion in a respectful manner. The approaches to learning and feedback from educators offer students a clear foundation for understanding what it means to be a global citizen in 2020.

Three Campuses in the heart of Paris: creating opportunities to think locally, act globally At ISP, an international curriculum is only the first step to fostering global competence. They strongly believe that experi-

Discover Southern Europe  |  Bilingual Education in France

ential learning, particularly through service to others, is the most meaningful way for students to exercise their responsibilities as engaged citizens. Students are encouraged to face global societal challenges in Paris, first and foremost. ISP students volunteer to help refugees. And, during the Paris Peace Forum last November, some pupils participated in a debate on whether or not we should trust traditional governments. Helping members of the ISP community is encouraged through student-led service projects. Recent projects include implementing a campus recycling programme and measuring its effectiveness, volunteering at senior homes, or partnering with other schools to provide academic tutoring and share teaching best practice. ISP favours projects that include planning, action and reflection stages. These offer more possibilities to gain leadership experience.

Leadership: learned or innate? At ISP, forming leaders is, above all, a community effort. ISP continues to build on a community-wide discussion which aims to help students hone their leadership skills. One grade-nine student advocated for “exploring levels of leadership and learning to navigate through other peoples’ attitudes”. A grade-11 student hoped to better promote

“diverse leadership”. These students are global citizens, who, through their contributions, demonstrated a willingness to understand multiple perspectives. They also gave the community a common goal: diversity in leadership. This goal will further focus ISP’s leadership learning and teaching initiatives. Visit or follow them on Twitter (@isparisedu) to learn more about ISP or to participate in conversations about global competency, service learning or leadership.

Spotlight on ISP – Founded in 1964; over 30 years’ experience delivering the International Baccalaureate programme. – Remains a non-profit, independent school governed wholly by the parents of its students and co-opted experts. – Accredited by the Council of International Schools, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the International Baccalaureate Organisation. – 750 students across three unique campuses (primary, middle, high school) in the 16th arrondissement of Paris."

Spotlight on Digital Citizenship Online global competence is important at ISP, which is why the school collaborates with a children’s rights lawyer to learn about smartphone addiction, online dangers and using technology for productivity and positive change. After a primary school workshop, a grade-three student said: “I make sure the games I’m playing are appropriate”. The school’s IT guardians also ensure that students know how to safely and responsibly use the IT available to them. They communicate tips and tricks, remind students to log out of their accounts on shared machines, and make repairs to IT equipment. Students are responsible for their own online safety and presence, and teach others to be responsible.

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  53


Goldie Uttamchandani.

Support for modern families Bullying, the stresses of modern life or even overstimulation from the media can really affect how teenagers perceive themselves. It can lead to feelings of failure and struggling to stay motivated. It is important to target these issues early and help young ones gain a sense of direction and purpose in their lives. TEXT: NOELIA SANTANA | PHOTOS: GOLDIE UTTAMCHANDANI


oldie Uttamchandani is a family and teenager life coach based in Barcelona. She found her niche after giving regular talks in high schools in 2013. She talked about common issues that families go through and realised that teenagers were encouraged to share their feelings with her. She draws from her own experience to support children and their families who are struggling to belong in their new home, as she too has endured the pressures of moving to a new country and being perceived as ‘different’ by her peers. 54  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

Many of her clients have issues managing their time or need extra support in building their confidence. No matter what the issues are, Goldie’s process is very simple: she listens, showing genuine interest and finding the right questions to ask to get to the root of the problem. She works closely with her clients to find a solution, helping them to set attainable challenges to work towards reaching their goals. She knows that with the right tools and a lot of effort on their part, they can achieve powerful results.

“Coaching is not forever. After the end of your sessions, it should give you a sense of purpose, the power and the tools to face any stumbles that you may go through in your life,” says Goldie. After each session, she gives appropriate feedback to the parents, helping them to continue making progress by finding the right ways to keep open communication with their children, to support them once the coaching is finished. At the end of the day, as she puts it: “Children and teenagers are the future. By supporting them we are working towards creating a better society.” Email:

Photo: Unsplash


Towards nirvana in the workplace 60 per cent of UK employees work longer hours than they want to. 24 per cent find it hard to relax outside the office because they are thinking about work. These are the depressing findings of the annual UK Working Lives survey from Britain’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Most British employers are paying no more than lip service to the notion of good work-life balance for their people. Their inflexible approach to staff presence contributes to employee overwork, stress and physical exhaustion.

You may loathe the idea, but I can’t help being a yoga evangelist. Somewhere in a parallel universe, people are starting their working day with a yoga class provided by their benign employers, leaving them serene and focused until home time. If only we could find a wormhole through to that better place.


Workers need time and space to manage stress, and companies should help with this. If you’re a manager, do you know how your team members (would) like to get going in the morning, and to unwind? Jogging, walking the dog, playing the piano – we all have different ways – but too few bosses do anything to encourage their staff to start and end the working day in a way that promotes wellbeing. My day starts with some yoga. I’m a relative beginner and my new knee means I can’t kneel properly, let alone sit in lotus position. However, the more I practise, the more ob56  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

vious the benefits become. And there are several of these. First, it’s a great way to wake up the body: stretching bits that would otherwise stay dormant forever makes one feel brighter and more alert. Breathing regularly and deeply gets the lungs working and has a calming effect on the relentless mental buzz. Staying still in a favourite pose helps with mental control and relaxation, too. Other positive outcomes for me include weight loss, improved posture and the disappearance – touch wood – of an old back problem.

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


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  I  PRESS IMAGES

TOMORROW’S COMPUTING Europe’s strongest


Vatican City, the world’s smallest nation, has a reputation for being a tad oldfashioned. But don’t let the traditional vestments and dusty Bibles trick you: even on this sacred square kilometre, there is room for innovation. With the eRosary, the team of Pope Francis has rediscovered the century-old praying staple by developing a digital one. Besides it providing you with audio-visual praying aids, the modern, chrome cross also tracks your health. This rosary saves both body and soul. 58  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

From 2021, Southern Europe will be the epicentre of European supercomputing. Attempting to compete with digital giants like the United States and Japan, the European Union has invested in three new super computers, which will rank in the global top five. They will be able to do a staggering 150 million billion calculations per second. Alongside Finland, the Union chose Barcelona and Bologna as the locations for the state-of-the-art centres, making the Mediterranean one of the greatest supercomputing hubs in the world.

TOMORROW’S DECORATION Everchanging wallpaper

Turin start-up Scribit defends the Southern European honour in the prestigious Best Inventions 2019 ranking of Time Magazine. The company invented an adorable, small apparatus that can make the most beautiful drawings on your wall and windows. You don’t have to be a Michelangelo for it. Just download or create a design you like and the little robot does the rest, with its CMYK-coloured markers. Don’t worry about getting tired of the drawing, either. The robot also acts as an eraser and lets the patented Scribit ink disappear in no time. So, experiment away.

Diary Dates Carnivals, bonfires, food festivals, dog-sled races… They are all happening here, in Southern Europe. Don’t miss out on these fabulous events in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal this month. Guadeloupe Carnival 1 January – 6 March, Guadeloupe, France Nothing compares to a Caribbean carnival. On the paradisiacal island that is Guadeloupe, they celebrate for two months straight. Colours, feathers, glitters, beads, masks, parades… There is no trick in the carnival handbook that the locals don’t know about.

Cirque du Soleil: Corteo 3-12 January, Lisbon, Portugal When clown Mauro passes, the circus is in mourning. To celebrate their friend’s life, 60  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020


lines, spectators aplenty support for their favourites. In between, there’s nothing but the jockeys, the dogs and deafening silence.

they catch up on memories of all the nice times they had together. Cirque du Soleil’s latest show is a melancholic masterpiece whose acrobatic mastery will – as usual – leave you breathless.

Grande Odyssée Savoie Mont Blanc 11-22 January, Mont Blanc, France La Grande Odyssée is one of the hardest dog sled races in the world, but it sure is one with a view. Spread over 12 days, the dogs and their jockeys make a snowy trip of over 375 kilometres. At the start and finish

Truffle Festival. Photo: Pixabay

Discover Southern Europe  |  Diary Dates

Grande Odyssée Savoie Mont Blanc. Photo: Vincent Piccerelle

La Fòcara 16 January, Novoli, Italy Why not start the year with a humongous bonfire? In Novoli, they traditionally light the Fòcara – the Mediterranean’s biggest beacon. 80,000 vine branches form a pile of 20 metres wide and 25 metres tall. Before igniting it, fireworks galore entertain the crowd on this night of fire.

Truffle Festival 18-19 January, Sarlat-la-Canéda So rare, so exclusive, so delicious! Truffle can turn any dish into a culinary masterpiece. In Sarlat-la-Canéda, the home of the Black Périgord Truffle, they start the year with a big truffle extravaganza. Taste, discover and buy the world’s most precious mushrooms.

The Peasant Wedding 19 January, Castelrotto, Italy Few events are as lovely,


Corteo. Photo: Cirque Du Soleil

Issue 11  |  January 2020  |  61

Discover Southern Europe  |  Diary Dates

and shamelessly misogynistic as the reenactment of the peasants wedding. Yesteryear, South-Tirolian marriages came with a year-long ritual. During this engagement year, the wife-to-be had to cook for her fiancée and all his friends to show what she’s worth in the kitchen. On the wedding day itself, the couple had to take a carriage to buy a goat before heading to church. Annually, the people of Castelrotto (an otherwise-modern mountain village) head back in time to relive these traditions once more.

Photo: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Jarramplas 19-20 January, Piornal, Spain Navarra has its bull runs, Valencia its Tomatina and Extremadura the Jarramplas. This folkloristic festival circles around a colourful figure with a mask and a costume of ribbons who represents the devil and has to be chased out of town. This is done by throwing beets at it while it runs through the streets. While the person inside the costume always ends up bruised from head to toe, it is considered a major honour to play the Jarramplas for one year.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 28 January – 2 February, Madrid, Spain Fashionistas, get ready! Because in January, we’ll head from one catwalk to the next. After passing the Paris Fashion Week (see page eight), we head straight to Madrid for its Spanish counterpart. In collaboration with major brands like Inditex, the event features the capital’s greatest fashion talents and their avant-garde creations.

La Focara. Photo: Andrea Fistetto

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Fumeiro Fair 6-9 February, Vinhais, Portugal The smell of smoked meat awakens the winter spirit. That’s why, in Northern Portugal, they have elevated the act of smoking to a real art form. During the Fumeiro Fair, it’s all about smoked sausages in the city of Vinhais (the self-declared capital of smoked meat). Not exactly a veggie-friendly festival, but the amazing sausages sure are a treat for the carnivorous masses.

Discover Southern Europe  |  Cheese


Cantal. Photo: Jennifer Greco

Salers cows.


Cantal AOP

A cheese to satisfy any mood In terms of time-honoured cheese making traditions and French cheese history, Cantal – a tall, cylindrical drum named after the region where it was first created – wins by a mile. With three different versions of ripeness and intensity to choose from, there’s a Cantal to satisfy any mood. TEXT: JENNIFER GRECO  I  PHOTOS: UNSPLASH


he production of Cantal cheese goes back a staggering 2,000 years. It was mentioned in the writings of the ancient Roman historian and naturalist Pliny the Elder in the first century AD, who referred to this cheese as “the most appreciated in Rome”. Though technology has changed over the millennia, the basic process of making Cantal has remained unchanged since the time of the Gauls. Some even believe that all cheddar-style cheeses are based on Cantal cheese, which is produced in the same way. Its origins lie in the mountains of the Auvergne region in central France, which is often referred to as ‘the land of a thousand volcanoes’. Pastures here are never mowed and the rich, volcanic soil is a perfect environment for the typical salers cows to graze all summer long on abundant grasses and herbs. The result is a region that produces an extraordinary 64  |  Issue 11  |  January 2020

number of delicious, AOP-protected cheeses, one of them being Cantal. Cantal is moist, slightly crumbly and ranges from mellow to robust. For a mild version, try Cantal Jeune. Aged only one or two months, it is milky and sweet, with notes of hazelnut or vanilla, is pale ivory coloured and has a thin rind. Up a notch in terms of character is Cantal Entre-Deux, which is aged between three to seven months. It has a thicker rind and a more golden colour, offering flavours of butter and cream with hints of yeast and citrus. For real personality, look for Cantal Vieux. Its long ageing, more than eight months, means the flavours are more spicy, tangy and pronounced. Cow cheese Cheesemaker: Various Region: Auvergne

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

Discover Southern Europe  |  Quiz


Know your Southern Europe TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS






1. Which French coastal region lies most southwards: Côte d’Azur, Côte d’Opale or Côte d’Amour?

2. Which Spanish city – home of La Mezquita – is the warmest city in Europe?

3. Where in Spain can you taste the real ensaimada?



4. In which Italian city can you visit Romeo and Juliet’s balcony?

7. To which Southern European city do you go if your boarding pass says ‘OPO’?

5. Of which classic Italian dish is the bone marrow the most-loved part?

8. Which French city lends its name to the country’s national anthem?

6. In which French city were jeans invented?

9. Which Southern European language didn’t have the letters k, y and w until 2009?

1. Côte d’Azur — 2. Córdoba — 3. Mallorca— 4. Verona — 5. Ossobuco — 6. Nimes (Denim means ‘From Nimes’ in French) — 7. Porto — 8. Marseille (The anthem is called La Marseillaise)— 9. Portuguese

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