Tag Archives: holiday

A Taste of the Périgord

Travel is a wonderful way to broaden our horizons… and our waistlines, n’est-ce pas?

Dear Husband and I have just returned from two weeks in France, a trip that was slightly more ambitious (a.k.a., complicated) than might have been ideal. Since many of you have been to Paris I won’t go into detail here, other than to note that the city seemed to have especially poor air quality versus previous visits, not helped by the ubiquitous smokers everywhere. (How is this still a ‘thing’ ?!) And for the love of all that’s holy do NOT arrive for one day in Bordeaux on Nov. 1 which is a holiday, and then return for another day on a Monday when the museums are closed. Oh well, the Intercontinental hotel is still a great place to hang out.

We’d both been eager to visit the Dordogne (inspired by our love of Martin Walker‘s delightful Bruno, Chief of Police novels) and planned the trip based on our schedules, which proved rather an error: Once the tourist season ends (Oct. 31) it REALLY ends, and not only attractions but most shops and restaurants are closed. Note to future travelers: you can avoid the worst of the craziness by traveling in late Sept/early October when the weather is still warm. We also did not realize we had chosen a school holiday period (cue hand smacking head), which also meant crowded trains and limited seating for the Paris/Bordeaux connection. (Bordeaux is well worth visiting but otherwise I suggest flying/taking the train directly to Bergerac rather than renting a car in Bordeaux, as we did, at the rather harrowing 4th-level and hard-to-find train station location.)

Most important — since the Sarlat tourist office had not clued me in when I’d contacted them weeks before — you still need to prearrange tickets for the caves and other points of interest.

Let the photos begin! First up, Montignac, and our home base at the gorgeous Hôtel de Bouilhac.

A partial view of our private terrace at the delightful Hôtel de Bouilhac
A hint of the expansive terrace view
And its wonderful restaurant

Of course, we have to visit Lascaux IV, which is an exact replica of the original cave. I was lucky enough to visit the real one as a child in 1960 before it was closed to the public due to threats of deterioration.

This exhibit shows how the replica was painstakingly created. It’s huge!

On to Saint-Léon-sur-Vézère, one of many beautiful villages in the area.

The Romanesque 12th century church was originally a Benedictine priory. Its limestone slate roof is typical of Périgord, with flat stones wedged between chestnut wood slats.
Driving has its challenges (but offers views of sheep and cows along the way)
Imagine building a house up there

Next up, Sarlat-la-Canéda, after which we head to Château de Beynac.

Sarlat
Beynac castle, built in the 12th century, was a key fortification during the Hundred Years’ War
A commanding view of the surrounding countryside, and below

Above is La Roque-Gageac, a lovely town but too far up the cliff to explore when rain is threatening.

A pretty church in Carsac-Aillac:

Another day, we head to the farmers’ market in Périgueux, which is a lively spot at the base of the cathedral.

Which makes us hungry, so we stroll around looking for lunch, and stumble onto a terrific Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Epicurien, quite by accident.

The next day, we discover the fascinating museum of prehistory in Les Eyzies, a must if you visit the region. It is a stunning reminder that prehistoric people living 15,000-20,000 years ago were creative, practical, family-oriented, and artistic.

And, it’s built into the cliff (pretty amazing in and of itself), with more spectacular views.

The lovely towns of Trémolat, Cadouin, and Limeuil are also worth a visit.

Trémolat
Abbaye de Cadouin (and below)

A major highlight of the trip: the cave at Font-de-Gaume, which unlike Lascaux is the real deal. We are a group of four (joining us, a couple from Paris who’ve never been here before) with a guide who explains the drawings in both French and English. After climbing the steep hill to the cave’s entrance, it’s a dramatic conclusion to our time in Périgord.

Photo from the website, as cameras are forbidden

And, finally, the food. I don’t think we had a bad meal anywhere, and so much of it was as gorgeous as it was delicious.

Vive la France!

Snapshot: Hoorn

The great thing about a cruise like this is that we see places we would otherwise miss.

Hoorn (pronounced ”horn”, as in Cape Horn, which was named by Dutch navigator Willem Schouten in 1616 in honor of his birthplace) is a charming and historic harbor town in North Holland.

In the 1600s, it was a prosperous trade center for the Dutch East India Company, as evidenced by elegant merchant houses and the Hoofdtoren, the magnificent watchtower overlooking the harbor that was built in 1532, with its clock added in 1651.

Modern shops, restaurants, and sailboats mingle comfortably with centuries-old architecture and barges. We would love to come back!

Snapshot: Amsterdam

We arrive in Amsterdam a day before we embark on our Viking Cruise through The Netherlands and Belgium, and check into our wonderful hotel De L’Europe. The hotel is an easy walk to the Museumplein, the square that’s home to the three major museums, the Rijksmuseum (famed for its collection of Dutch Masters including Rembrandt, Vermeer and Jan Steen), the Stedelijk, featuring works by Picasso, Matisse, Rauschenberg and Warhol, among many others, and the Van Gogh Museum.

But much of the art is the city itself, with its 16th and 17th century brick houses lining the streets and canals.

One of the best ways to explore the city is by boat
Bikes are everywhere, and they can come at you from any direction!
The newly restored Rijksmuseum is glorious
Our pre- and post-cruise hotel
The view from the room is not too shabby!
The gorgeous marble bathroom
En route to dinner

Good News Monday: Easy Weight Loss

Prunes: they’re not just for old folks anymore! I’m giving this a try ASAP.

Prunes

(© Dionisvera – stock.adobe.com)

[Reprinted from studyfinds.com]

Prunes may be the secret weapon to prevent holiday weight gain

LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom — Has Thanksgiving already sent your diet spiraling off a cliff? You’re probably not alone. With holiday weight gain a major issue for many, a new study has found the one snack that may keep your holiday appetite (and your waistline) in check — prunes.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool discovered that eating more prunes helped a group of dieters control their appetite better, consume fewer calories, and even lose slightly more weight than people choosing others snacks during a 12-week test.

“These studies demonstrate that dried fruit can both produce satiety and be incorporated into the diet during weight management,” says Professor Jason C. G. Halford, President of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), in a media release.

Researchers examined the impact of eating prunes in two phases. The first compared the reactions of participants who either ate prunes, raisins, or jelly bean-like candies during the experiment. The team found that people eating prunes generally consumed the fewest number of calories during their next meal. The prune snackers also reported feeling less hungry throughout the day, feeling fuller after eating, and feeling as though they couldn’t eat as much later on.

Prunes make it ‘easier’ to lose weight

In the second part, study authors examined the amount of weight each person lost after completing a 12-week weight loss program. They split the volunteers into two groups, one eating prunes as their daily snack and one who only received guidance on healthy snacking but could choose whatever snack they wanted.

Although researchers say the weight loss difference between the two groups was not significant in terms of total pounds lost, results show the prune group participants lost slightly more weight on average (4.4 pounds vs. 3.4 pounds). People eating prunes also told the team they felt it was easier to lose the weight than those eating other snacks.

“This study reveals that nutrient-dense prunes can provide an advantage over other snack choices due to their favorable effects on satiety and appetite control,” adds Andrea N. Giancoli, MPH, RD Nutrition Advisor for the California Prune Board.

“These are the first data to demonstrate both weight loss and no negative side effects when consuming prunes as part of a weight management diet,” Halford concludes.

A recent poll found that Americans expect to gain eight pounds during the holiday season. Although prunes have a reputation of being a snack people only choose to relieve constipation, researchers say putting out a bowl at your next holiday party may cure you of festive overeating.

The findings appear in the journal Nutrition Bulletin.

Gobble, gobble: US Edition

Happy Thanksgiving, dear US readers!

If you’re wondering what wine to bring or serve with turkey, here are the top suggestions, according to a search of the all-knowing Internet:

  • Chardonnay.
  • Pinot Noir.
  • Viognier.
  • Gamay.
  • Dry Riesling.
  • Zinfandel.
  • Champagne.

Plus, a few hints to avoid overeating today — or at any large holiday meal this season:

  1. Your brain can only crave 3 or 4 things at a time.  So decide what you most want to eat, instead of trying a little bit of everything.  If you go back for seconds, that’s the time to sample other foods — you’ll eat a lot less.
  2. Experts say that a serving is the size of your loosely held fist, not the entire plate.
  3. Eat slowly and stop after 10 minutes to let your brain register whether you’re satisfied. After a five-minute break, you may find that you don’t want much more.
  4. Plan ahead to “save” room for dessert, rather than “making” room for dessert; ie, be sure you’re actually still a bit hungry.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday, however you’re spending it! xx, Alisa

bread food plate light

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Independence Day

Happy 4th of July to all in the US! This really, though, should be an international holiday.

Let’s declare July 4th to be Independence Day Worldwide. With independence from:

  • Bullying
  • Bigotry
  • Pettiness
  • Negativity
  • Intolerance
  • Humorlessness
  • Bad pizza
  • Bad hair days
  • Bad skin
  • Our exes
  • Know-It-Alls
  • Money worries
  • Indifference
  • Climate change denial
  • Holocaust denial
  • Bad grammar
  • Lack of imagination
  • Fear
  • Garden pests
  • Overpriced anything
  • Lousy service

I could go on and on…. what would you add?

Happy #IDW!

abstract bay boats bright

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