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Pau A Balcony Over the Pyrenees

The English discovered Pau in the mid-19th century, fell in love with its mild climate and turned it into one of their favourite summer resorts. This is borne out by the well preserved oldest golf course in Europe outside the United Kingdom. The capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques Département, well known as a city of art and history, offers visitors generous helpings of history, cuisine and fine wine, in addition to an adrenalin rush in the watersports available to all-comers at the Pau-Pyrénées Whitewater Stadium.

Pau – A City with History

The historic centre of Pau is distributed around its castle, the birthplace of Henry IV of France (and III of Navarre), known as "Good King Henry", France’s first king of the Bourbon dynasty. The hallmark of this castle is its architectural diversity and, like all national museums in France, admission is free every first Sunday of the month. Opposite the castle stands the Parliament of Navarre, set up in the mid-17th century after the edict of unification between France and the historical region of Bearn. It is now the seat of the General Council of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

The old town features a number of interesting sights, including such emblematic buildings as the Church of Saint-Martin and the Maison Sully, a 17th-century mansion. Touching its doorknocker is said to bring good luck, so you are advised to go through this ritual before leaving the city, just in case.

The Boulevard des Pyrénées – A Balcony Overlooking Nature

One of the landmark spots in Pau is the Boulevard des Pyrénées, designed as a replica of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. It connects the castle to the Beaumont Palace and affords beautiful views of the mountain range separating France and Spain. A pastime very much in vogue among locals and, by extension, among many visitors too, is to sit at one of the terrace cafés and soak up the fabulous mountain views.

Several museums are open to sightseers in Pau, notably the Bernadotte House, the birthplace of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, a French general who ascended to the throne of Sweden, and the Fine Arts Museum, which houses a collection of paintings by Victor Galos, as well as works by local artists and even Degas and Rubens.

Cuisine and Sports in Pau

Pyrenean cuisine, with its standout local sausage and tasty cheeses, is another of the major attractions in the capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. One highly popular dish is poule au pot (casseroled chicken), an icon of traditional Bearnese cuisine. Prominent among local wines is Jurançon, which comes in two flavours – dry and sweet. Lastly, to burn up the calories ingested, watersports come highly recommended, notably rafting and hydrospeed. And, they can both be done at the nearby white-water stadium which in 2017 will be hosting the Canoe World Championships.

Be sure to visit this beautiful city – book your flight here.

Text and images by Tus Destinos

Images by Jean Jacques BROCHARD, Alban GILBERT

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London Attired in Balenciaga

London is in a class of its own when it comes to cultural offerings. This list of exhibition spaces to visit may seem overwhelming, but it is well worth seeing some of these museums or exhibition halls whenever you happen to be in London. One such privileged spot is the Victoria & Albert Museum, dedicated to art and design, which has been hosting an endless stream of exhibitions lately. This alone warrants at least a brief visit to London.

This is true of Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, the latest jewel put out by the V&A to steal our hearts, cajoling us into making room on our agenda to delight in the work of this brilliant couturier. The exhibition, inaugurated on 27 May and running until 18 February 2018, pays tribute to Cristóbal Balenciaga, one of the great visionaries of haute couture. A contemporary of Coco Chanel and Christian Dior, he managed to seduce everyone with his technically perfect minimalist designs based on polished lines and new materials. His craftsmanship once prompted Coco Chanel to remark, “He alone was a couturier in the truest sense of the word… the others are simply fashion designers”.

On display at this exhibition, curated by the fashion specialist Cassie Davies-Strodder, are a hundred garments and twenty hats, most of which come from the V&A collection. Among the curiosities at this show is the chance to discover some of Balenciaga’s dresses and hats in detail, thanks to the collaboration of artist Nick Veasey who uses X-ray imaging techniques to reveal the complexity hidden in the designs.

This is the first exhibition in the United Kingdom dedicated to Balenciaga, who opened his first boutique in San Sebastián a hundred years ago, while eighty years have gone by since he arrived in Paris, fleeing from the Spanish Civil War. It was there that he eventually set up his own workshop and earned international fame. However, recognition was late in coming to this outstanding couturier. Acclaimed for his meticulous craftsmanship, he always shunned the limelight, despite boasting such customers as Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner and the millionaire, Mona von Bismarck.

New Design Museum in London

Still within the confines of design, to make the most of your London getaway we recommend you take the opportunity to visit the new premises of The Design Museum, which opened its doors on 24 November. Housed in the former Commonwealth Institute, the building has 10,000m2 of floor space and a parabolic ceiling. Renovation work on the premises was assigned to British architect John Pawson. The goal of this reconversion was to turn the museum, previously housed in more modest premises in the city, into a veritable beacon of design, by way of a Tate Modern of design and architecture. Apart from revelling in the new design space, you can also visit the newly unveiled exhibition, Designed in California. It explores how the ideals of the 1960s counterculture morphed into the tech culture of Silicon Valley, and how the “Designed in California” concept became the global phenomenon we know today.

Fire up and make your getaway to fine design – book your Vueling to London here.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Photo: Dovima with Sacha, cloche and suit by Balenciaga, Café des Deux Magots, Paris, 1955. Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation

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8 Things to Do If You re Touring London With Children

Don’t be fooled – a trip with children is never like one without them. Those long walks to discover Shoreditch’s designer stores, the night-time gin tonic in a new, stylish bar in Dalston or endless mornings spent trying out vintage spectacles in Spitalfields will morph into such activities as throwing breadcrumbs to our friends the ducks. Following is a rundown of the things we can do if destiny takes us to London in the company of our household nippers.

Lunch at La Roma Bella

Just opposite the British Museum, an essential visit if our children are minors – and even if they aren’t, what the heck – stands this restaurant, defined as “the most family friendly place in London”. Here, the kids can enjoy a dish of tasty, wholesome pasta, while the staff amuse them and give them paper and crayonsto draw, to later hang up the results on the restaurant’s main wall. Their prices are moderate, a break from the somewhat exorbitant prices in town.

A Visit to the Zoo

Reaching the Zoo can end up being like a desert crossing if you happen to start off outside the city centre. Distances in London are enormous, but the effort is worth your while, as it is the oldest zoo in the world after Vienna’s, dating from 1828. They have an incredible reptile section and species which the whole family will probably be seeing for the first time, as well as lots of spots to relax. We recommend approaching the zoo by crossing beautiful Regent’s Park, one of our favourite London parks for children – apart from the fact that there is always something going on there, it has a big lake with various species of friendly ducks which, for your kids, will really make their day. As if that weren’t enough, there is also a huge playground and a lovely restaurant with a pleasant terrace.

An Incursion into Europe’s Largest Toy Store

In Piccadilly, where the lights, the festive atmosphere and the multi-coloured shop windows make this an attraction in itself for young and old alike, be sure to stop off at Hamley’s, an amazing department store dedicated solely to toys, where the most variegated product presentations seem to be happening all the time. You won’t leave empty-handed and are likely to spend more time in the shop than you bargained for, but the look on your children’s faces will be priceless.

The House of Sherlock Holmes

You don’t need to know anything about Sherlock Holmes to have a great time in the house of this aloof, intelligent investigator with the odd addiction. At 11 Baker Streett here is the perfect mock-up of what is supposed to be the home of the most famous detective in the history of fiction. The children will be aghast at the sheer number of objects on display in there.

An Afternoon in the London Transport Museum

This museum, located in Covent Garden, features a collection of over 80 vehicles which youngsters are allowed to climb into and play around in as much as they want, in addition to numerous interactive devices distributed throughout the depot.

Lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s Union Street Café

This restaurant is not exclusively for children, but a very pleasant spot for the whole family to enjoy the cuisine of one of the United Kingdom’s celebrity chefs (with the permission of Jamie Oliver and Lorraine Pascale). It is sited in the pleasant district of Southwark, once a working-class area, which is gaining momentum as a hipster venue of late. It is near the Tate Gallery (another museum which is ideal for families, as they lay on numerous activities for children), so it is ideal for having lunch before visiting the museum. The menu features carefully prepared Italian cuisine which caters to all tastes.

Cereal Killer

After lunch at Ramsay’s and a visit to the Tate, a good option would be to head for this café in Brick Lane, run by two hipster brothers who serve only breakfast cereals, with various types of milk and toppings. There you will discover more kinds of cereal than you could imagine, including limited editions, which children will delight in. They will feel very much at home in the midst of the sweet paradise that unfolds before their eyes, apart from rubbing shoulders with customers in this modish locale.

 

Text and photos by Laura Conde of Gastronomistas.com

 

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Essential Culinary Highlights in Gijón

Some months ago we wrote about five must-visit restaurants in Gijón: Los Pomares, where the fabada is a winner; El Quinto, a wine tavern with globe-trotting tapas; Casa Trabanco, a cider mill with guided visits laid on and dishes based on ingredients from their own market garden; El Candil, which boasts the best fish in town, and La Bolera, a grillroom acclaimed throughout Spain.

Should the list not make the grade – it does, I can assure you – Gijón also hosts several gastro-events which provide an excellent pretext to visit.

Flavours of Arcu Atlánticu

Billed as a culture festival featuring a blend of literature, performing arts, fine arts, music and cuisine from the Atlantic regions of Spain, France, Portugal, Ireland and the United Kingdom, the festival also features star chefs in action. Graced with awards by the city of Gijón, they cook on an enormous stage in the Plaza Mayor before more than 1,000 people, flanked by giant screens, as if a rock concert were being staged. This year, it will be held on 1 August. The event has already hosted such celebrities as Elena Arzak, Eneko Atxa, Andoni Luis Aduriz and Dieter Koschina, the chef at the Vila Joya restaurant, until recently the only Portuguese eatery with two Michelin stars.

Natural Cider Festival

In the week from 22 to 28 August, Gijón tastes only of cider. Around thirty cider mills set up their cider-serving stalls in two urban settings – the Plaza Mayor and the marina (alongside a sculpture known as “The Cider Tree”, made up of bottles from 80 Asturian cider mills). For a token fee, visitors get a commemorative glass they can fill up free-of-charge at any of the stands throughout the day at the so-called Mercadín de la sidra y la manzana (cider and apple market). There are various activities during the week. The bus de la sidra or “cider bus”, which visitors can take to the local cider mills, cursos de escanciado (courses in cider-pouring) and cancios de chigre (cider tavern songs) when hundreds of people gather in the Plaza Mayor to sing the most popular songs of Asturias, while on Poniente Beach there will be an attempt to break the Guinness simultaneous cider-pouring record. Set in 2014, it brought together 8,448 cider pourers.

Gijón de sidra

The Gijón de Sidra festival is held for eleven days each October (this year, from 6 to 16 October), during which cider mills from all over Asturias are twinned with emblematic cider taverns in the city. Each tavern then offers a bottle of cider from the mill they represent, in addition to a homemade portion of food served in a cazuelina, all at a moderate price, accompanied by the singing ofcancios de chigre(cider tavern songs).

Gastronomic Workshops

You can always join some gastronomic workshop around the time of the traditional fiestas. The celebrations of Antroxu (Carnival), with pote (hotpot), picadillo (mince) and frixuelos (flour fritters); those of Holy Week, the Asturian de Pinchos contest (in February), the pinchos (meat on the skewer) contest at the Gijón Sound Festival (last held from 15 to 17 April), and the Pinchos de Gijón championship (in November).

The Cider Route

A good way of learning everything you need to know about cider, the Asturian beverage par excellence, is by indulging in it. Depending on the ticket you purchase, you can learn the secrets of cider making, visit outlets where it is sold, take part in tasting sessions or eat candies made with apple. (There are four types of ticket, which are sold at the Gijón Tourist Offices or online). Available throughout the year.

Gijón Gourmet

Epicureans have the chance to lunch or dine at seven of the best restaurants in Gijón (Casa Gerardo, Agua, Bellavista, El Candil, La Salgar, Casa Víctor, Ciudadela) at an attractive price – 50 euros in the case of Michelin-starred eateries and 45 euros in the others. The menu comprises two starters, two main dishes, dessert and wine. When booking, all you need to point out is that you want a Gijón Gourmet Menu (only tables of up to 8 diners are eligible for the offer).

Gijón Goloso

Gijón Goloso works in a similar way. Considering it is one of Spain’s cities with the most confectionery shops, sixteen of them were selected to make a special sweet which visitors can taste after buying a ticket online or at the Infogijón offices. Five tastings costs 7 euros, while 10 tastings costs 13 euros. The offer lasts all year long, so you have ample time to prepare your trip, as sweet-toothed tourists will never be short of their candies.

Text and photos by Ferran Imedio of Gastronomistas.com

 

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