Hôtel du Palais Biarritz

1 January 2024 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, House of the Month, Hotels Reading Time:  11 minutes

© flickr.com - Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0

© flickr.com – Dennis Jarvis/cc-by-sa-2.0

The Hôtel du Palais Biarritz is a historic luxury hotel beside the Atlantic beach in the resort town of Biarritz, on the Côte Basque in the French department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques. It was originally built for the Empress Eugénie around 1855 as a summer villa. It was due to the visits of the imperial couple that the village of Biarritz developed into a fashionable resort. In 1880, the villa was sold and converted into a hotel casino. It was devastated by fire in 1903, but was lavishly rebuilt and enlarged within the original walls. For many years the hotel attracted the international elite, including members of the European royalty such as King Edward VII, who paid several extended visits. Although the hotel later fell into disrepair, and closed for a period in the 1950s, it has since been refurbished and is again a luxury hotel. The hotel is managed by Hyatt.   read more…

Theme Week Asturias

25 January 2021 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Theme Weeks, Environment, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  21 minutes

Gijon © Labé/cc-by-sa-3.0

Gijon © Labé/cc-by-sa-3.0

Asturias, officially the Principality of Asturias, is an autonomous community in northwest Spain. It is coextensive with the province of Asturias and contains some of the territory that was part of the larger Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages. Divided into eight comarcas (counties), the autonomous community of Asturias is bordered by Cantabria to the east, by León (Castile and León) to the south, by Lugo (Galicia) to the west, and by the Bay of Biscay (Cantabrian sea) to the north. Asturias is situated in a mountainous setting with vast greenery and lush vegetation, making it part of Green Spain. The region has a maritime climate. It receives plenty of annual rainfall and little sunshine by Spanish standards and has very moderated seasons, most often averaging in the lower 20s celsius. Heatwaves are rare due to mountains blocking southerly winds. Winters are very mild for the latitude, especially near sea level. Asturias is also home of the Princess of Asturias Awards. The paleolithic art in the caves of Asturias is declared World Heritage Site with the Paleolithic Art of Northern Spain.   read more…

The islands Île de Ré, Île d’Oléron and Île-d’Aix in the Atlantic

16 October 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  11 minutes

The island Île de Ré

Île de Ré - Saint-Martin de Ré © Brice Rothschild

Île de Ré – Saint-Martin de Ré © Brice Rothschild

Île de Ré is an island off the west coast of France near La Rochelle, on the northern side of the Pertuis d’Antioche strait. The island highest point has an elevation of 20 m ; the island is 30 km long and 5 km wide. A 2.9 km bridge, completed in 1988, connects it to La Rochelle on the mainland.   read more…

Donostia-San Sebastián on the Bay of Biscay

11 July 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, European Union, European Capital of Culture Reading Time:  9 minutes

De la Concha bay © Keta/cc-by-sa-2.5

De la Concha bay © Keta/cc-by-sa-2.5

San Sebastián (Spanish) or Donostia (Basque) is a coastal city and municipality located in the Basque Autonomous Community, Spain. It lies on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, 20 km (12 miles) from the French border. Capital city of Gipuzkoa, the municipality’s population is 186,000, with its metropolitan area reaching 437,000. Locals call themselves donostiarra, both in Spanish and Basque.   read more…

Theme Week Brittany – Fougères

1 July 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  5 minutes

© S. Möller

© S. Möller

Fougères (Breton: Felger) is a commune and a sub-prefecture of the Ille-et-Vilaine department. Fougères’ major monument is a medieval stronghold built atop a granite ledge, which was part of the ultimately unsuccessful defence system of the Duchy of Brittany against French aggression, and part of a tripartate with Vitré   read more…

Theme Week Brittany – Concarneau

9 June 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  6 minutes

Aerial view of Ville Close, harbour and town centre © Ronan Voltz

Aerial view of Ville Close, harbour and town centre © Ronan Voltz

Concarneau (Breton: Konk Kerne, meaning Bay of Cornwall) is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France.   read more…

Theme Week Gascony

23 March 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks Reading Time:  6 minutes

Château de Castelmore in Lupiac, birthplace of Comte d’Artagnan © Jibi44/cc-by-2.5

Château de Castelmore in Lupiac, birthplace of Comte d’Artagnan © Jibi44/cc-by-2.5

Gascony is an area of southwest France that was part of the “Province of Guyenne and Gascony” prior to the French Revolution. The region is vaguely defined and the distinction between Guyenne and Gascony is unclear; sometimes they are considered to overlap, and sometimes Gascony is considered a part of Guyenne. Most definitions put Gascony east and south of Bordeaux.   read more…

Theme Week Galicia

23 February 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Theme Weeks Reading Time:  11 minutes

Carnota © Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez/cc-by-sa-3.0

Carnota © Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez/cc-by-sa-3.0

Galicia is an autonomous community in northwest Spain, with the official status of a historic nationality. It comprises the provinces of A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense and Pontevedra, being bordered by Portugal to the south, the Spanish autonomous communities of Castile and León and Asturias to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the north. Galicia has over 1,660 km (1,030 mi) of coastline, including its offshore islands and islets, among them Cíes Islands, Ons, Sálvora, Cortegada, and—the largest and most populated—A Illa de Arousa. Hundreds of ancient standing stone monuments like dolmens, menhirs and megalithics Tumulus were erected during the prehistoric period in Galicia, amongst the best-known are the dolmens of Dombate, Corveira, Axeitos of Pedra da Arca, menhirs like the “Lapa de Gargñáns”. From the Iron Age, Galicia has a rich heritage based mainly on a great number of Hill forts, few of them excavated like Baroña, Sta. Tegra, San Cibrao de Lás and Formigueiros among others. With the introduction of Ancient Roman architecture there was a development of basilicas, castra, city walls, cities, villas, Roman temples, Roman roads, and the Roman bridge of Ponte Vella. It was the Romans who founded some of the first cities in Galicia like Lugo and Ourense. Perhaps the best-known examples are the Roman Walls of Lugo and the Tower of Hercules in A Coruña. During the Middle Ages, a huge quantity of fortified castles were built by Galician feudal nobles to mark their powers against their rivals. Although the most of them were demolished during the Irmandiño Wars (1466–1469), some Galician castles that survived are Pambre, Castro Caldelas, Sobroso, Soutomaior and Monterrei among others. Ecclesiastical architecture raised early in Galicia, and the first churches and monasteries as San Pedro de Rocas, began to be built in 5-6th centuries. However, the most famous medieval architecture in Galicia had been using Romanesque architecture like most of Western Europe. Some of the greatest examples of Romanesque churches in Galicia are the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the Ourense Cathedral, Saint John of Caaveiro, Our Lady Mary of Cambre and the Church of San Juan of Portomarín among others.   read more…

Theme Week Brittany – Vannes

1 February 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General Reading Time:  6 minutes

Vannes and his wife © Myrabella

Vannes and his wife © Myrabella

Vannes (Breton: Gwened) is a commune in the Morbihan department in Brittany in north-western France. It was founded over 2000 years ago. Vannes is located on the Gulf of Morbihan at the mouth of two rivers, the Marle and the Vincin. It is around 100 km northwest of Nantes and 450 km south west of Paris. Vannes is a market town and often linked to the sea.   read more…

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