2/14/2017

Valentine's Day Around the World: Happy Valentine's Day

Heart cookies from Budapest
Locks of Love - Paris
 Farmers Market - Chicago


Classic Frank Sinatra - My Funny Valentine





2/07/2017

France: Postcards from the Côte d'Azur

From Seaside to Tippy-Top Medieval Ruins
Walking the sentier du littoral from Nice to Menton, France -  Côte d’Azur
Basilica St. Michel - Menton, France
Menton is the best-kept secret in France. Where the upcoming Fête du citron (Lemon Festival) begins on
February 11, 2017.  With its incredible exterior, the bell-tower and the colored cobblestones
all arranged to form the Grimaldi’s coat of arms. Saint Michel is a jewel of baroque architecture.  
View atop Eze Village
This commune is located on the French Riviera, extending from Èze-sur-Mer to the hilltop.
Where the medieval village of Èze, and Saint-Laurent-d'Eze connects these villages.
Iconic diving boards near the port in Nice have been transformed into a stylish bar-restaurant  www.leplongeoir.com

When walking the seaside footpaths along the French Riviera your will find this Coexist Fountain and others promoting peaceful coexistence (project  is spearheaded by Bono).















1/21/2017

Bourg, France: A Storied Medieval Village


Just a few weeks ago, we introduced you to the petite but mighty hamlet of Blaye, France.   Where the Citadel of Blaye played an extraordinary role in history; protecting the Gironde Estuary and the port of Bordeaux during the 18th and 19th centuries.  Now let me tell you about the strong and brave neighbor Bourg. A quaint medieval village perched atop a quiet secret: hence it seems to be forgotten by the crowds.

Bourg held a prominent position at the confluences of the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers, inside her own fortified community.  Where this tiny hamlet was invaded by Visigoths, ravaged by the Normans, fortified  by the English, visited by four kings and hosted more royalty than anyone ever expected.

Chateau de Citadelle of Bourg
 photo: T. Sonnnontine
Blaye and Bourg are synonymous in history and heritage but each embraces a special legacy, where they walked hand-in-hand through the middle ages.  Bourg, France, is a hidden gem on the right bank of the Dordogne River, in the heart of the wine appellation of Côtes de Bourg, in the Gironde department. 

1/20/2017

Spotlight on Blaye, France


The Historic Town of Blaye: Le Citadelle De Blaye
photos credits Terry Sonnonstine-Austin, TX - La Citadelle De Blaye - Blaye, France

The Aquitaine region stretches long and lean against the French Atlantic coastline, reaching up to the Pyrénées mountain range and transcending to the Spanish border.  Here in the Gironde department, intrepid travelers scamper to the summit of storybook castles, bike through vineyard-laced countryside, walk through ancient villages, and sip world-renowned wines.  It is here that tourist and travelers alike can discover the douceur de vivre in this tiny one-kilometer long settlement, once named Blaye-et-Sainte-Luce. 

Let me introduce you to Blaye, France, a petite but mighty hamlet, sitting at the southern tip of the Gironde estuary formed by the confluences of the nearby Dordogne and Garonne rivers.  Blaye is a historical and powerful commune from medieval times, where the Citadel of Blaye and its military fortifications sit majestically over the waters of Western Europe’s largest estuary.

Le Citadelle De Blaye, a medieval fortress, along with Fort Médoc and Fort Paté, formed a military defense system, during the 18th and 19th centuries to protect the downstream port of Bordeaux from sea invasions and wars.  It is a legendary example of engineering genius and Romanesque architecture designed and built by the famous engineer Vauban and named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.  A picture-postcard town, with scarred ramparts, that bears witness to battles and conflict through this gallant maritime route.  

Nowadays, we find the citadel is a living monument, where inside the bastion, a warren of cobblestone streets, stone houses, artisan shops, cafes and wine shops, still thrive.  From atop the medieval walls of this photogenic Blaye Citadel there are stunning panoramic views of the estuary and across to the famed Médoc. Where photographers return many times to capture the reflections in the golden hour light, capturing mirror images off the estuary waters.

It is free to enter the citadel and its ramparts, but within its walled city visitors pay for guided tours of Abbey Saint Romain or Musée d’Archéologie et Histoire de Blaye, through the Office of Tourism.

While walking the main street of Blaye, there is a feel of authentic living, transcending through en plein markets, held every Wednesday and Saturday, in front of the Citadel. Where the street is vibrant, rich and strewn with colorful tented stalls, where locals and travelers buy local produce and seafood from the region.  The soil in Blaye is rich and varied, boasting 240 days of sunshine that produce prized asparagus, figs, and celebrated Côtes de Blaye red wines from family owned wineries in the Gironde. A must visit is the Maison du Vin on the Cours Vauban to taste the famous wines from this enchanting region.

A visit to Blaye is a step-back in time where the locals are warm and welcoming making your time in the Gironde, a captivating experience.







12/31/2016

Happy New Year: Celebrating Beautiful Memories of 2016

Happy New Year! Thanks to our readers who joined J. Christina in our travel adventures.  We zigzagged through picturesque hamlets, strolled beautiful cobblestone streets, sipped regional wines, and climbed to the tippy-top of medieval ramparts, through Spain, Portugal, France, and many other dreamy destinations.

We enjoyed sharing our outstanding year of travels with you: on foot, river cruise ship, motorcoach, and private transport to places that will linger in our memories forever.  We had the great privilege to wake up each day to vistas that some only glimpse on a postcard.  Happily, we invite you to reminisce through our images and reflect along with us. 

 Smiling with your eyes is a wonderful thing!

copyright scribblesandsmiles.net
Terrace -  Paris, France

We are looking forward to our 2017 travels, hopscotching through The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and France, once again. While looking beyond to travels in China and India.  Wishing you health, happiness, and safe travels always. 




Citadel of Blaye - Blaye, France                  photos credits T. Sonnontine


Monolithic Church - Saint-Émilion, France


St. Stephen's Cathedral - Vienna, Austria


Hagia Sofia - Exotic Istanbul, Turkey
 
Flamenco Dancer - Madrid, Spain

Château d'Abzac -  Baron Jean d'Anglade - Abzac, France


You can always find us here on Scribbles and Smiles, TwitterInstagramFacebook and Flickr
 sharing photos, travel journals and memories. We welcome your emails and comments.







12/24/2016

Celebrating A Wonderful Year of Travel And More: Happy Holidays

Wishing our readers and followers the happiest of holidays and a very Merry Christmas! Thank you for traveling vicariously with us through so many beautiful cities, towns and quaint villages in Europe.  As we prepare for the holiday season and a joyous New Year, J. Christina would like to share some of our beautiful images and warm memories. Smiling with your eyes is a wonderful thing!
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J. Christina at Scribbles and Smiles wishing you the happiest of holidays

 photo Chateau dAbzac-Isle River-Terry Sonnontine_zps1pks8yej.jpg
Chateau d'Abzac where we shared wine with Baron d'Anglade - River Isle - Abzac, France    image provided by T.Sonnontine
 photo QuintaAveledaWM_zpsens7wyri.jpg
Enchanting Quinta de Aveleda - Amarante, Portugal
 photo Sofia Museum Madrid-ScribblesandSmiles_zpski9clxho.jpg
Gardens at Reina Sofia Museum - Madrid, Spain

Holiday Window Display - Menton, France
 photo Madrid Street-ScribblesandSmiles_zpsnppbjebj.jpg
Old Town Madrid - Madrid, Spain

Inside the Hagia Sofia  -Exotic Istanbul, Turkey
 photo BourgWM_zpspnkx1k5i.jpg
  Gardens at Chateau de Citadelle of Bourg - Bourg, France
 photo Auvers-gates-WM_zpsk9u8pylq.jpg
 Vincent van Gogh spent the last 70 days of his life in Auvers-sur-Oise, France
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A little shopping - Beautiful ladies from Doha, Qatar- Istanbul, Turkey airport
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Bucharest, Romania

We are looking forward to our 2017 travels, hopscotching through The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and France, while looking beyond to travels in China and India.  Wishing you health, happiness, and safe travels always. 


 You can always find us here on Scribbles and Smiles, TwitterInstagramFacebook and Flickr
 sharing photos, travel journals and memories. We welcome your emails and comments.

 photo Noel_zpsion9cehu.jpg




J. Christina

12/19/2016

Paris, France: Three Top Tips.....


Paris is always a good idea but can be expensive for most travelers, but there are ways to make your money go further. Discover the Paris of locals, authentic and real, gorgeous as always but not expensive. It’s all too easy to keep to the tourist destinations but look a little further and you’ll find the real Paris at a fraction of the price.

rainy-day-paris

If you like sketching, photographing or sometimes just need an art museum fix then Paris is the perfect place to enjoy all three. With a little pre-planning, Paris can be enjoyed without spending the children’s inheritance. One place that is a bit off the beaten-path but well worth the effort is between Monceau and Batignolles in the 17th arrondissement. My favorite stop is always Rue de Lévis, a historical pedestrian street market, clearly off the tourist route. Here you can fill your shopping bags with bread, cheese and wine and where the smell of rotisserie chickens wafts through the air – one-stop shopping. You can find everything foodie here from delicatessens to grocery stores as well as some fun boutiques.  You can eat well by shopping at local market, a feast for the eyes and for the artists at heart. It costs nothing to sketch or photograph a colorful and fun street scene with beautiful vendor carts and stalls.

Art for Art’s Sake
rue-de-levis-paris

Where: Rue de Lévis – Street Market (closed Sunday afternoon and all day Monday); location:  Between the neighborhoods of Monceau and Batignolles; Metro: Villiers metro

Get around town by boat

Use the budget friendly Batobus water taxi- shuttle service on the Seine, around 20 euros for a two-day pass, with nine scheduled stops – all close to Paris’ main districts and monuments.  You can hop on-and-off, all day long, sketching and photographing until your heart and sketchpads are full. Some of the most magnificent photo-ops are at night when all the monuments are illuminated or when the Eiffel Tower begins to twinkle. What better way to finish off a wonderful day in Paris than with night photography.

letrain-bleu-flickr

Lastly, take a refined break in the regal Le Train Bleu Restaurant hiding inside the Paris-Gare de Lyon train station, in the 12th arrondissement.  It is the most unexpected location to find original art and a wonderful ambiance – setting the stage from the 1900’s. The restaurant depicts European landscapes in frescoes and paintings by the most prominent artists of the 19th century: François Flameng, Henri Gervex, and Gaston Casimir Saint-Pierre.  All can be enjoyed for the price of an Espresso or Cappuccino in the Le Train Bleu Bar – it’s the perfect end to a perfect day in Paris, with ambiance and art in a graceful and refined setting.

Le Train Bleu Restaurant, Gare de Lyon Train Station, Place Louis Armand 75012 Paris

Credits: J.Christina is the blogger behind www.scribblesandsmiles.net. Blogging from the Midwest, J. Christina, and her husband, Mr. Christie, share their European trips so others can travel vicariously through their travel scribbles and images.

12/02/2016

Vienna, Austria: "Fräulein Apfelstrudel"


Vienna, the capital city of Austria, hardly needs an introduction as a romantic imperial city. This palatial and historic city has all the ingredients of a dreamy fairytale: Christkindlmarkt, Hapsburg palaces, medieval cobblestone streets, and chandelier-lit cathedrals, all creating the perfect holiday dreamscape.  Today we are sharing some memories from our travels to Vienna, Austria. 
December is a beautiful time to discover this  magical city, all dressed for the holidays with just a whisper of  refinement and elegance.
 The Belvedere Palace                                photo credits Birdas-Flickr
There is a certain air about this medieval city and especially the captivating Viennese coffee culture; where kaffeehauses and cake simply go hand-and-hand - it's a lifestyle.   To experience this time-honored  tradition, and what the Viennese aristocracy and bourgeoisie enjoy so much, we stopped at the old-world DEMEL; where we meet the delicate and sweet Fräulein Apfelstrudel!
The Demel is a famous pastry shop and chocolaterie in Vienna dating from 1786.  The company today still bears the title of Purveyor to the Imperial and Royal Court (k.u.k. Hofzuckerbäcker).
Fräulein Apfelstrudel

Fräulein Apfelstrudel floats in the window display at the Demel - where master confectionery baker, Mr. Nitsche; designs the shop windows with elegance and whimsy, all made from paper-thin pastry –  this fine art of window dressing is disappearing over the generations. Isn't she lovely?
This  centuries old cake shop draws from its past as the official supplier of cakes and sweets to Empress Sisi, who counted the delicate Apple Strudel among some of her most favored sweets. At the Demel, the master baker and his design team creates elaborate themed window displays.
The Demel 2016


Fräulein Apfelstrudel

Demel has dedicated its display window to the apple strudel. A young girl is being lifted up by a whirlwind of autumn apples and leaves, thus escaping her dreary everyday life.


11/17/2016

Magical Paris: Galeries Lafayette Christmas 2016

Over the years, we have had the pleasure of being in Paris at the holiday season. We cherish our memories of the French capital being transformed into a Christmas wonderland. It becomes a magical fairytale city, all decked out in her holiday sparkle - just waiting to enchant visitors, children and Parisians alike. One must-see is the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann department store.  This year's decorations and window displays are designed with exquisite paper artistry, all staged beneath the majestic art nouveau stained-glass dome.

Galeries Lafayette holiday theme is An Amazing Arctic Christmas.  It specifically features remarkable design and innovation, with the first-ever fine, hand-cut paper Christmas tree.  All handcrafted in the same style as their animated Christmas window displays on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, France.
 
Designed and created by Lorenzo Papace a French artistic director, producer and composer. Over the years, Papace has specialized in the delicate art of paper shaping. His unique artwork is found in displays, stop motion and photography.
       Galeries Lafayette's first ever hand-cut all paper Christmas Tree                
Under the art nouveau stained-glass dome - Christmas 2016
Replica of the grand staircase in Galeries Lafayette all made of paper

To bring Lorenzo Papace’s paper artworks to life for its Amazing Arctic Christmas, Galeries Lafayette called on the Creative Papers and Graphic Papers divisions of Arjowiggins, an Anglo-French fine paper supplier. Arjowiggins has been making fine papers for the most demanding creative requirements and techniques since 1770, with a relentless focus on innovation and environmental consideration.

Noël Extra Polaire
The Amazing Arctic Christmas is part fun, frolic and fairytale with a subtle nod to the environment.  Bringing awareness to the disappearing of the Arctic ice caps.
          all image credits to Galeries Lafayette Press Department


The 8 minute video below is about the amazing craftsmanship and the one-year journey of creating the Galeries Lafayette Christmas displays


Making of GALERIES LAFAYETTE Christmas 2016 from Lorenzo Papace on Vimeo.

To see more of the artistic paper creations follow this link

11/01/2016

Blaye & Bourg, France - Medieval Storybook Villages


Let me introduce you to Blaye, France, a petite but mighty hamlet, sitting at the southern tip of the Gironde estuary formed by the confluences of the nearby Dordogne and Garonne rivers.  Blaye is a historical and powerful commune from medieval times, where the Citadel of Blaye and its military fortifications sit majestically over the waters of Western Europe’s largest estuary.
Le Citadelle De Blaye, a medieval fortress, along with Fort Médoc and Fort Paté, formed a military defense system, during the 18th and 19th centuries to protect the downstream port of Bordeaux from sea invasions and wars.  It is a legendary example of engineering genius and Romanesque architecture designed and built by the famous engineer Vauban and named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.  A picture-postcard town, with scarred ramparts, that bears witness to battles and conflict through this gallant maritime route.  

   Colorful and charming Blaye, France, a historical and powerful commune from medieval times, sitting majestically over the waters of Western Europe's largest estuary.
colorful Blaye, France
curlicue street in Bourg, France
Bourg, France, is a hidden gem on the right bank of the Dordogne River, in the heart of the wine appellation of Côtes de Bourg, in the Gironde department.  Here in this ancient commune, Bourg is perched atop a quiet secret, where she seems to be forgotten by the crowds.

captivating Bourg, France

10/23/2016

Le Train Bleu - Paris, France

   
 Paris, France needs little introduction as the cosmopolitan capital city of France, located in the north central part of the country.  The City of Light is just waiting for you to amble through the side streets, duck into passageways and discover hidden treasures that will leave an indelible impression on your heart.
With so much to see and do in Paris, it can be overwhelming to know where the real treasures are hiding.  Getting to know the secrets of this wonderful city can simply take a lifetime.  We all travel with the anticipation of experiencing that perfect moment that transports us to another time. Sometimes those destinations are hiding in plain sight, like Le Train Bleu Paris…

Inside the magnificent Paris-Gare de Lyon train station, you will find the regal Le Train Bleu restaurant.  Yes, inside a train station! It is a curious location to find classical French food, original artwork and ambiance, all in one stop.  The palatial Gare de Lyon train station built for the International Exposition - the World’s Fair of 1901, to exhibit technological progresses and expressed optimism moving into the 20th century. Paris- Gare de Lyon, located in the 12th arrondissement, on the right bank of the Seine River, is ranked third busiest train station in the French capital with trains operating from south-and eastern-France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and beyond.

Le Train Bleu was originally named the "Buffet de la Gare de Lyon”,  but was renamed "Le Train Bleu" in 1963, after a luxury French night express train of the wealthy and famous, which operated for two decades before World War II.  Le Train Bleu gained international fame as the preferred train by movie stars and other affluent passengers traveling between Calais and the Côte d'Azur.



10/02/2016

Royal Castle of Cazeneuve: Sauternes region and Graves area

 Gironde department
Préchac, France

The Aquitaine region straddles a prominent position in the southwest of France; stretching long and lean against the Atlantic coastline, touching the Pyrénées mountain range and transcending to the Spanish border. Where it is composed of the five departments: Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Landes and the Gironde.  Some of Europe’s most beautiful cities, stunning beaches, and vineyard-laced landscapes are in the storied Aquitaine.
From châteaux, castles and breathtaking scenery, this alluring region is an oenophile’s paradise and every traveler’s dream. In the heart of the Aquitaine, between the wine regions of Bassin d’Arcachon and the Sauternes vineyards, is the historical Château Royal De Cazeneuve; a family jewel of the Duke of Albret. First built in the eleventh century, and later residence of Henry IV and where Queen Margo stayed; while awaiting their official divorce and where history lives on. Today this fortified castle remains a family legacy – cascading down through descendants, of the ducal family de Sabran-Pontevés.

Royal Castle of Cazeneuve located in Préchac, Gironde department, only 52 kilometers from Bordeaux – awarded with the benchmark of Tourism in Aquitaine, and with the prestigious two-star Michelin Green status; as well as, the bestowed honor of Historical Monument.  Here individual, private, and group tours are received; along with bespoke gala dinners, weddings and seminars, all by appointment only.
Fortified Royal Castle of Cazeneuve                                                         image via Flickr