Father Christmas also lives in Switzerland
Did you know that you don't need to travel to Lapland to visit Father Christmas? That's one of the things that makes him so magical - he has the gift of being in more than one place at once! From the end of November to 24 December you can also find him in the charming town of Montreux, in Switzerland, just over one hour by train from Geneva Airport (allow a little more if you're travelling by flying sleigh).more info
Tallinn the Perfect PreChristmas Getaway
Northern Europe with its markets and ad hoc decoration is the perfect destination for anyone seeking to get into the Christmas spirit before actually celebrating the festivity with their family. One city with a must-visit flea market is Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, which boasts one of the best preserved medieval towns on the Baltic. The historic precinct, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, is ringed by walled fortifications which have withstood all wars. Any further reason for visiting Tallinn? Well, it has one of the most beautiful seafronts in the world and, according to Condé Nast Traveler, it is due to become one of the most prosperous cities of 2017. What else?
Tallinn was a major commercial hub during the period when the Hanseatic League dominated the Baltic and North Sea trade routes. At that time it was known by the Germanic name Reval and such was its prosperity that it could afford to have two mayors and twenty-four municipal councillors who only worked alternate years. The Old Town dates from medieval times and is arranged around the City Hall, which bears the city’s symbol, “Vana Toomas” (Old Thomas), a weathervane in the shape of a mercenary holding a sword in one hand and a flag in the other. Noteworthy, too, is the Lutheran St Mary’s Cathedral, also known as the Dome Church, in bare Gothic style, and the Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, dating from 1900, located on Toompea hill. Danes, Germans, Swedes, Russians and, lastly, Soviets have left their mark on Estonia’s history. Prominent from the latter period is the cinema, now one of the major leisure centres in Tallinn, and the network of inner patios scattered across this Baltic city.
You can’t say you’ve been to Tallinn unless you walk down Pikk jalg (Long Leg) Street and Lühike jalg (Short Leg) Street and stop to take in amazing iconic views of the city from the Patkuli viewing platform overlooking the sea, the harbour and the Church of Oleviste (St Olaf). Neither will you be seasoned experts on the capital of Estonia unless you take a stroll through the modern Rotermanni district, or if you fail to laugh on hearing the names of two of the best known towers on the city wall – “Look in the Kitchen” and “Fat Margaret”.
The inhabitants of Tallinn enjoy going to the beach and one of the most crowded in summer is Pirita (Brigid). With its fine white sand, locals have no qualms about bathing in the wild, frigid waters of the Baltic, where freshwater fish like the pike can also be caught. This coastal district has a marina where athletes who took part in the 1980 Moscow Olympic sailing events were housed.
The Museums of Tallinn
Tallinn boasts a plethora of green areas and museums. Kadriorg Park is home to the palace of the same name, commissioned by the wife of Czar Peter I of Russia. The palace houses the Art Museum of Estonia which exhibits works by Italian, Dutch, German and Russian artists, among others, ranging from the 16th to the 19th century. Nearby is the Kumu Art Museum, one of Tallinn’s most modern and unique buildings, structured in limestone and copper, which hosts all kinds of exhibitions throughout the year, both permanent and temporary.
Other cultural venues well worth seeing, particularly for families travelling with children, include the Rocca al Mare Museum, located in a large wooded park with thatched roof farm cottages dating from the 18th to the 20th century, a timber church and a school. Another highlight is the Estonian Maritime Museum, which features such emblematic nautical exhibits as the Suur Tõll icebreaker – the largest surviving icebreaker in Europe – the Kalev mine-layer and the submarine Lembit.
Make a point of visiting the capital of Estonia – book your Vueling to Tallinn here.
Text by Tus Destinosmore info
The Museums of Le Marais
When thinking of museums to visit in Paris, the first thing that springs to mind are the great temples of art, notably the Louvre, epitomised by the enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa, the Orsay Museum, featuring a stunning collection of Romanticism and Impressionism that will delight any art lover, and the Pompidou Centre, with one of the most comprehensive modern and contemporary art collections in the world.
However, apart from those grand institutions, Paris also has other venues where, in addition to art, you can discover the life and times of other personages associated with the city, or simply enjoy the works of private collections displayed in fabulous exhibition halls.
One of the trendiest districts of late is Le Marais, situated in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements on the right bank of the Seine. It boasts numerous venues where in some cases you can enjoy a different, less crowded and at once rewarding exhibition experience. Here, then, is our selection of some of the museums you should make a point of visiting while touring this colourful, cosmopolitan district.
Maison de Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo is the first protagonist in our selection as he is privileged to have his own museum in what is the nerve centre of Le Marais, the Place des Vosges. From 1832 to 1848, Victor Hugo lived on the third floor of the Hôtel de Rohan-Guéménée, where he wrote most of Les Misérables. Currently a museum, where visitors can gain greater insight into this essential figure of French literature.
Another great name, this time of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, makes up our second option. The Musée Picasso, housed in the Hôtel Salé, has a large collection of 200 paintings, 100 sculptures – this is the most prominent section in the museum – and ceramics, and 3,000 drawings and engravings covering all periods. It also features the painter’s own art collection, with works by Paul Cézanne and Henri Rousseau, among others.
What started out as a monument to the “Unknown Jewish Martyr” grew into the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, one of the largest Holocaust documentation centres in Europe. The Hebrew word shoah, which means “catastrophe”, is used to designate the Holocaust. The entrance to the building is inscribed with the names of the 76,000 Jews that were deported from France to the Nazi concentration camps.
Museum of Jewish Art and History
Situated in Le Marais is the Jewish quarter, known locally as the Pletzl (meaning “square” in Yiddish). It is worth strolling around the streets in the area and enjoying the sight of the colourful shops. While in this quarter, we recommend a visit to the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan, located at 71 Rue du Temple, as it houses the Museum of Jewish Art and History, where you can learn all about the history of the Jewish communities of France, Europe and North Africa, from the Middle Ages until the present.
Housed in the Hôtel Donon, the Cognacq-Jay Museum features the 18th-century collection of artworks built up by Ernest Cognacq and his wife, Marie-Louise Jay, from 1900 to 1925. Your visit will reveal more than 1,200 works and objects collected by this couple of art collectors, the standout pieces being paintings by Canaletto, Tiepolo, Boucher, Fragonard, Greuze and Reynolds.
Museum of Magic and Museum of Automata
The Museum of Magic reveals the secrets behind the art of magic, conjuring tricks and illusionism. On display are all manner of items used to perform magic tricks (magic wands, boxes, magic caps, etc.) and visitors are treated to live shows, too. Also housed in this building is the Museum of Automata, boasting a collection of 100 mechanical contrivances which will amaze you. Ideal for those travelling with children.
Book your Vueling to Paris, tour one of the city’s trendiest districts and venture into some of its unusual museums.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS