Month: January 2016

Chenonceau at Christmas

While my parents were in town, I wanted to take them to at least one château. I mean, when in Loire, right? Knowing their taste and love of flower arranging, I knew that Chenonceau was the right choice. I’m so glad, as it was stunningly decorated with some of the most creative floral displays I’ve ever seen. Not only was it a gorgeous, mild (warm, even!) sunny December morning, but it was practically deserted at Chenonceau. It was a joy to be able to wander the grounds and the halls without masses of other tourists, like our visit in the summer. My parents were delighted with our visit. They revelled in the history and were charmed by the beauty that surrounded them. The château was warmed by crackling fires in the massive fireplaces. We wandered throughout and thoroughly enjoyed the sense of having the château nearly to ourselves. The flowers did not disappoint! Every room was elegantly dressed with masses of flowers and greenery, as well as traditional Christmas decor. Themed but not cheesy, and …

Loches

While my parents were here, their excitement about Loches inspired me to take my proper camera around town to snap some pics, instead of always relying on my iPhone. I love the convenience of the iPhone of course, but I brought a new(ish) lens with me to France and I have not once put it on my camera since we arrived. So, I decided to trip around town and give it a test drive. The photo above was taken from our doorstep, looking up the hill. I will miss this when we go back home. I love the way that black + white photography brings out the texture in the stone buildings, and enhances the contrast with the roofs. I think when we come home to Victoria I’d like to take some more time to learn photography. I’ve got a few goals that I’d like to work on, so it’s time to make some strides towards them.

Around Town

Around Town VI, holiday edition. We continued with the beautiful clear dry weather throughout most of December here in Loches. Still unseasonably warm, and less rain than ever. The skies treated us to some spectacular sunrises over the valley. I insisted on chasing the glow most mornings after dropping the kids off for school. The view from the grounds of the donjon was perfect. Pretty much the minute we solidified our plans to spend a year in France, my parents announced that they would come and spend Christmas with us in Loches. They are avid travellers, and have formed several close friendships with couples throughout their many expeditions. The decision to come to Europe at Christmastime was an easy one for them. Like me, they’ve always wanted to see German Christmas markets. Friends in Dusseldorf and Frankfurt made that dream of theirs come true. A couple weeks spent in Germany and Holland, followed by two weeks with us in Loches, and capped off with a week in London to celebrate New Years with more friends. I think they’ve got this …

Around Stuttgart

Whenever we are in a city for several days, we typically let the kids each choose one preferred activity to do was a family. After looking around online, Danica chose to visit the Wilhelma Zoo, while Oliver was extremely excited to see that the Mercedes Benz Museum was right in Stuttgart. Derek and I chose the Staatsgalerie for our pick – we are limited as well, as even though the kiddos are getting relatively interested in certain aspects of museums and galleries, they definitely have their boiling-over point, and we can usually only squeeze in one good gallery visit per trip. The Staatsgalerie turned out to be a great choice. They had an incredible exhibit on called Poetry of Colour, with a wide selection of pieces by Franz Marc, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, among a few others. It was a really inspiring collection of works (no pics allowed). We also took a walk through the modern art wing. The kids enjoyed some of the pop art, and also were pretty fascinated by Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet — me too! Up next …

Ludwigsburg Baroque Market

The last Christmas market on our list to visit while in Stuttgart was the Baroque Market in Ludwigsburg, a short train ride away. We arrived before dark and enjoyed watching the sky darken in the square, with the lights coming on to magical effect. The theme this year was Christmas Angels, and ethereal angels’ wings lights seemed to float above us, creating a beautiful scene against the cobalt sky. The market itself had a slightly different feel. Maybe more old-timey, though I’m not sure I can quite put my finger on it.   We had some very delicious gluhwein (our favourite of the trip!) and as usual ate loads of market-food delights. The kids had their kinderpunsch in adorable boot mugs, which of course had to come home as a souvenir. There was a lovely choir singing Christmas songs, which added to the magical atmosphere. Actors wandered through the stalls dressed in feathers and angels’ wings. All in all it was a great night, and an awesome way to round up our German Weihnachtsmarkt experience. So, I still have …