Friday, April 27, 2012

Cassis on the Riviera

The rampart of rock soars straight up; we crane our necks to see the top. Scattered across the vertical face, nearly 1,000 feet high, are stunted windswept junipers that cling bravely to the odd crevice. The layering and subtle colors of stratification turn the cliff into an abstract canvas painted by a giant…”

Tom Koppel, travel writer and journalist, and his wife, Annie, journeyed to the south coast of France to uncover something atypical; a place unlike the rest of the trendy towns around the coast, such as  Nice or Cannes.

He ventured to the hidden gem of Cassis by the blue waters of the Mediterranean.

Dramatic cliffs, spectacular fjords or “calanques,” and medieval castles are only the beginning.

Read all about his invigorating experience here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Most Beautiful Villages of France: Burgundy

Medieval, cobblestone streets, and magnificent abbeys and century-old chateaus abound the “Most Beautiful Villages of France” in Burgundy. So much to discover, and so little time.

Châteauneuf / Côte d''or
Chateauneuf-en-Auxois is a pretty hilltop village watching over flat open country and the Burgundy Canal. Châteauneuf is best known for its 12C Chateau, which once played an important defensive role for the road leading to Autun. The medieval streets reveal many fine merchant houses from the 14th -16 centuries, built in yellow-white stone and having several interesting facades to discover as you take a stroll around.

Flavigny-sur-Ozerain / Côte d''or
Perched high on a rock, Flavigny-sur-Ozerain brings the old world Burgundian charm to life. Known for its religious buildings - above all the church of St. Genest and the Benedictine abbey of Saint Pierre - , the tiny town is also interestingly a city of craftsmen and traders. Venture along cobblestone streets into its alleys; the source of its hidden charm with turreted houses and other medieval architectural details.

Noyers / Yonne
Enter the well-preserved medieval city of Noyers, curled up on the banks of the River Serein. Inside the town walls, there are half-timbered, 15th century stone houses, pretty squares and arches leading to narrow cobbled streets. Additionally, take one step onto Place du Marché-au-Blé or Place du Grenier-à-Sel (Wine, Corn Market and Salt Storehouse Squares), and you’ll catch a glimpse of the town’s thriving period of farming and trade.

Semur-en-Brionnais / Saône et Loire
Heritage enthusiasts will relish Semur-en-Brionnais, the formal capital of the Brionnais region where Hugues de Semur was born, founder of Cluny Abbey. The fascinating 9th-century Château St Hugues is the oldest castle in Burgundy. Take a walk to romanesque Church of Saint Hilaire with its tower displaying eight arches and columns, and the Maison du Chapitre famous for its painted chimney breast.

Vézelay / Yonne
The charming village of Vezelay sits high on a hilltop overlooking onto the Monts du Morvan. Home to beautiful stone Romanesque houses that are mostly cafes, galleries and gift shops and the magnificent St. Madeleine Basilica - a brilliant work of Romanesque art and architecture that contains relics of Mary Magdalene herself – the village personifies typical Burgundian character. Vézelay and the abbey are listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Venture to Burgundy's beautiful villages along a Hotel Barge Cruise!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Classical, Choral, and Folk Music at the Rencontres Musicales de Vezelay in Burgundy!

Inspiring. Religious. Beautiful. Between August 23th - 26th, 2012 the enchanting village of Vézelay in Burgundy brings the rich sounds of classical, spiritual, gospel and liturgical music together in one room during its annual "Rencontres Musicales de Vézelay."

Vézelay, dubbed "One of the Most Beautiful Villages in France" and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a charming town perched high on a hilltop in Burgundy.

Home to stone Romanesque houses and the magnificent Basilica of St. Mary Magdalene - a brilliant work of Romanesque art and architecture that contains relics of Mary Magdalene herself - it personifies typical Burgundian character.

The village will host the 4-day festival, showcasing 10 concerts of vocal and instrumental excellence with the best choirs and orchestras from all over Europe. They perform timeless religious masterpieces from the Renaissance to present day beneath the Basilica and along its surroundings. This concert will fill your soul with spiritual renditions of sacred classics and contemporary ensembles, creating an overall uplifting celebration of voice.

See the "Rencontres Musicales de Vezelay"in Burgundy from a Hotel Barge Cruise!
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