11/15/2017

Visit Menton A Hidden Seaside Treasure on the French Riviera

published 11/15/2017

Perfectly Provence is a Provence-based food, travel and lifestyle digital magazine.  J. Christina is honored to share A Hidden Seaside Treasure on the French Riviera in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region on this resourceful online magazine.

by J. Christina:

Menton is a commune in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France.  It’s the last major town before leaving the French Riviera, wedged in-between the French-Italian border. It’s a place where you can tickle the turquoise sea, or enjoy the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Whether you call it the Côte d’Azur or the French Riviera, this is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and sophisticated regions in the world.
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
Some call this place “the Pearl of France”. It’s a storybook setting, a hidden seaside treasure, that is just far enough away from the playground of the rich and famous - to enjoy this Franco-Italian Riviera destination. 

Menton boasts 316 days of endless sunshine, “but who’s counting?” all producing a microclimate favorable for growing the town’s trademark aromatic and sweet Menton lemons. It’s no wonder, this is where the Fête du citron is held every February, where Menton welcomes thousands for a grand festival of fireworks, performances and parades in celebration.

There’s nothing like sitting on the Promenade du Soleil watching the sparkling sea in the intense sunshine, cascading shadows off the ochre and pink facades. Or, simply watching a magnificent sinking orange sunset in the distance. If the breathtaking landscape wasn’t enough, there’s so much history and culture to explore in this enchanting seascape, with its confluence of French and Italian cultures.
A must see is The Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, from 1619, a minor basilica since 1999. Lying at its feet is the Grimaldi coat of arms, all inlaid with white and grey pebbles from Menton’s beaches.
Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
And, for a final hurrah, climb the majestic multi-level yellow stone staircase, up and past St. Michael, for a magnificent view over Menton-with storybook pastel houses, and the shimmering Mediterranean Sea.
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
For more astonishing Baroque architecture, stop in at the Chapel of the Conception, that once belonged to the Order of the White Penitent. While down by the sea, explore the Musée Jean Cocteau, exhibiting the world’s largest collection of works, by the most multifaceted artist of the 20th century. Squeezed between St. Michael and the seafront, shop the historic 1898, Belle Époque covered Marché; that sells local and specialty items of the region.
Discover the renowned gardens, some public, others private, where the Alpes-Maritimes climate generates a variety of exotic flora, not grown in other regions of Europe. Enjoy the historic gardens, e.g. the Jardin de La Serre Madone, with plants from exotic lands, or the Jardins du Palais Carnolès, containing the largest citrus collection in Europe. Or, saunter and explore the many gardens that are hidden gems, growing betwixt and between the sloping terraces of citrus groves.

In the heart of quaint Menton, pause for a moment in the Place aux Herbes, where Menton commemorates American and Canadian forces for liberating the town from German occupation in 1944, during World War II.  Taking nearly ten years of perseverance and dedication - Menton rebuilt and repaired the damage in this idyllic seaside town, for all to enjoy.

The commune of Menton is just waiting for you to amble through the winding side-streets, duck into passageways, climb the curlicue hillsides, and discover hidden treasures that will leave an indelible impression on your heart.

Transportation: bus #100-1.50€.
Train: Nice to Menton
Menton Tourism

About J. Christina:
J. Christina is the author and hobbyist photographer behind  Scribbles and Smiles, writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of in-house editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina’s blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.

11/01/2017

Parisian Life: Hidden Treasures in the City of Light

It’s certainly no secret that Mr. Christie and I enjoy Paris. We especially like going in autumn to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage, strolling the less crowded streets, and stopping to warm ourselves in a cozy sidewalk café.  Our year was filled with intrepid travel,  enjoying destinations in five countries - many storybook perfect; but we always enjoy circling back to Paris and sharing our memorable moments. 
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina

We have made several trips to Paris to revisit and reacquaint ourselves with the city over the years. We enjoy ambling through side streets, ducking in passageways, stopping in a quiet spot to sit, reflect, and admire the beauty of the City of Light, all the while attempting to discover more of its glory. We are the type of visitor who needs a bit more; we aim to look beyond the iconic Eiffel Tower to find an intimate setting that will leave an indelible impression on our hearts. 

Not long ago, at our pied-à-terre in the 8th arrondissement on Rue de Laborde, near Boulevard Haussmann, is where we enjoyed our hidden treasure.  Discreetly tucked away on a quiet street in a quaint garden courtyard – situated just far enough away from tourist-filled streets and crowds. Inside, there was the most inviting bank of nearly floor-to-ceiling windows – with perfect south-facing views of rooftops gardens and Parisian streetscapes. After a busy day of exploring, on foot and metro,  we would enjoy a glass of wine and watch the golden glow of lights flickering on in the neighboring buildings, just as the sun was setting. We felt like we were getting a peek into real Parisian life.
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina

Truth is, there are many scattered hidden treasures in the 8th arrondissement and throughout Paris. They range from little niches of solitude, serene retreats, or off-the-beaten track cafés. It sometimes happens serendipitously – moments that take you by complete surprise – moments that simply take your breath away.

It was a typical Paris day for us as we wandered through the streets and alleyways with no map or matter in mind as to what would be next on the itinerary. Suddenly we found ourselves at 46 Boulevard Malesherbes, site of the grand Église Saint-Augustin de Paris (Church of St. Augustine).
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
This grand Haussmann-designed Catholic Church is perched on a quiet secret in Paris; hence it seems to be forgotten by the crowds.

The Église Saint-Augustin Catholic Church can be seen all the way from the Arc de Triomphe– down Avenue de Friedland– and seems to call out like a beacon; “Come on in and savor the moment – enjoy my majestic surroundings.” The red steel spire with its golden cross sits atop the slate blue steel dome – soaring 100m high in the sky. Inside, this Byzantine and Romanesque designed church gives an intimate feel. Neighborhood families quietly come and go, kneeling, praying, lighting candles and elderly women faithfully praying the rosary. They have found their peace and comfort in this local church.

For us, it was drifting along softly and quietly, down the aisles, all the while admiring the stained glass, religious icons, and soaring iron angels…when suddenly, we glanced into the chapel and realize we were about to witness a beautiful, and private baptism! What a glorious moment.

The petit bébé was delicately dressed in his long, white, flowing christening gown, tied with satin ribbons. The priest held him high for everyone to see, all the while offering blessings and prayers to the child and his family in affirmation. Family members snapped photos and basked in the moment.  We glimpsed – and even felt a part of – this family’s private ceremony on this special day.

To us, that is precisely what makes Paris so incredibly special: stumbling upon serendipitous moments that you’ll always treasure. I don’t think I will ever forget how truly magical that day was, and we feel thankful for the memory.

About J. Christina:
J. Christina is the author and hobbyist photographer behind  Scribbles and Smiles, writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of in-house editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina’s blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.

10/20/2017

Château Royal de Cazeneuve: Sauternes vineyards

Here in North America we are settling back into our daily routine after a summer of travel around Europe.  We are watching autumn unfurl in fiery red and gold foliage - with glorious sunsets floating in brilliant pink and orange.  It's easy to move on with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but today we're having a throw-back moment - visiting the Aquitaine - one of the most diverse regions of France. Come on along and enjoy food and wine with us - at this storybook castle.

The alluring Gironde countryside is a wine lover’s paradise and every traveler’s dream. This appellation is a feast for the senses: panoramic views, storybook castles, chateau-dotted hillsides, and winding rivers, all nestled among flourishing vineyards, in the heart of the Aquitaine. Here we discover the time-worn Cazeneuve Castle, an ancestral residence for the House of Albret-in the small commune of Préchac, France.
JChristina ScribblesandSmiles
Located 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 it became the residence of Henry IV and  Queen Margo, and where history still lives on. Today this fortified castle remains a family legacy – cascading down through descendants, of the ducal family de Sabran-Pontevés.
Chateau Cazeneuve majestically overlooks the Gorges du Ciron, surrounded by a moat, and defended by two rectangular towers. The chateau was awarded the benchmark of Tourism in Aquitaine, the prestigious two-star Michelin Green status - and 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.

After a recent tour of the castle-fortress, medieval cellars, troglodyte caves, and royal apartments, we entered the castles large vaulted reception room. Inside the walls are honeyed limestone, warmed by a medieval fireplace, accented with red velvet chairs, and luminous silver candlesticks.  Our tables are bejeweled, a feast for the eyes, with sparkling stemware and silver for pairing Bordeaux’s sweet wines, Sauternes.  Sauternes is a French sweet wine taking its name from the Sauternes region and Graves area, here in the Gironde department.  

JChristina ScribblesandSmiles

Historical Royal Castle of Cazeneuve, in partnership with La Maison du Vigneron de Sauternes, reserved an artisanal wine-pairing luncheon fit for a King and Queen, that we enjoyed. Pairing Reserve Classique, Sauternes - with ribbon of smoked salmon with creamy horseradish emulsion, along with Classified Growth of Sauternes, to complement cilantro caramelized hen supreme, 

JChristina ScribblesandSmiles

and a finish of Peach Melba on a wine barrel staved with crunchy praline – all crisp and balanced with Reserve Old Vine, Sauternes.


This gilded sweet wine comes from a mix of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have ripened until aromatic and sweet by the Botrytis cinerea, or more commonly called, noble rot.  Noble rot is a welcomed fungus by winemakers, enhanced by moist conditions from the maritime climate of the Aquitaine, accompanied by low-lying misty fog, -from the Ciron and Garonne rivers and specific terroir-viticulture. With this magical combination, grapes shrivel, resembling wrinkled raisins, resulting in fine and concentrated sweet wines of the Sauternes region, a wine not to be missed.

The Aquitaine capital city of Bordeaux is among the most diverse regions of France. This protected region offers unparalleled scenery, historic sites, chateaux, and classified terroir, all waiting for travelers and wine connoisseurs from around the world to enjoy.

Bordeaux Tourism


About J. Christina:
J. Christina is the author and hobbyist photographer behind  Scribbles and Smiles, writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world; sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of in-house editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina’s blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.




9/18/2017

Sainte-Agnès: A Hidden Treasure in the Alpes-Maritimes, France


published September 18, 2017

Perfectly Provence is a Provence-based food, travel and lifestyle digital magazine.  J. Christina is honored to share historical discoveries while exploring Sainte-Agnès, France - a seemingly forgotten, lost in time village, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.

Sainte-Agnès, France is a perched medieval village, 10 kilometers inland from Menton, in the southeastern corner of the Cote d’Azur.  This rocky outcrop gracefully dangles at an altitude of 800 meters above the sea. Since 1997, this medieval village has been classified as one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.  What’s more, this quaint village also boasts the title of “highest coastal village in Europe”. 
Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
Gracefully dangling Sainte Agnes
Reaching Sainte-Agnès is an exhilarating feat, driving up the steeply winding, precarious mountain road, where at every turn, you are welcomed with incredible views of this Provençal hilltop village. Once you’ve mastered this twisty road, reaching this jagged peak you’ll find this enchanting village offers tourists several atelier shops, arched pathways, and cobblestone streets beckoning to be explored. The village has a few terraced restaurants and vantage points, to enjoy the incredible view that spans east and west along the French Riviera coastline below and across the azure sea. 
Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
Luminary shop along the ancient cobblestone walkway           
In this off-the-beaten path medieval village, there is an unexpected cosmopolitan surprise; we discovered de l'Espace Culture à Ste. Agnes - a cultural center building. The center exhibits significant historical works of archaeology, history, heritage, and artistic expression by local artisans. Here we are welcomed with a sneak preview, a gallery of images, by well-known local street photographers: Jilly Bennett and Philippe Chiodi.  Even in this small French commune, you will find incredible artistic talent flowing, all the while being recognized, honored, and celebrated.
Many scenic hilltop villages are centered around ancient churches, castle ruins, religious pilgrimages, and legends. Here we discovered a unique site, the Baroque Church of Notre Dame des Neiges (Our Lady of the Snow), dating from 1535, with its amazing bell tower and rooftops covered in glazed-enamel tiles. According to legend, this church was built in commemoration to Virgin Mary’s miracle of snowfall in August, 352AD, in Rome.  For those making the rugged pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, in northwestern Spain, the trail leads through Sainte-Agnès, and is easily recognizable with the metaphorical scalloped shell pointing the way.
As you weave your way along the rough, stone streets, and through the primitive passageways, heading south, you will find Fort Sainte-Agnès Museum. An original and fully equipped military bunker fortification, built in the 1930’s, it was part of the Maginot defense system, intended to deter an invasion by the Germans.
Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
Maginot defense system                    
Climbing even higher above the village, you will discover 9th century castle ruins and gardens, perfect for a day of exploring (and photo ops!). At this vantage point, you can also enjoy a panorama view of the Cote d’Azur, and see the defensive position that Sainte-Agnès occupied during World War II.
The Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, is one of the most diverse and beautiful areas in France. Like Sainte-Agnès, there are several ancient perched villages, seemingly forgotten, lost in time, just waiting for an intrepid traveler to discover its history.

Tourism: Côte d’Azur
Transportation: Zest Bus #10 from Menton– 22-25 passengers shuttle bus

J. Christina is the author and hobbyist photographer behind  Scribbles and Smiles, writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world; sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of in-house editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina’s blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.






9/10/2017

France Property Magazine - Gorbio, France

 A nice retweet by France Property Magazine
Gorbio: A Perched Medieval Village in the Alpes-Maritimes 

8/07/2017

Gorbio: A Perched Medieval Village in the Alpes-Maritimes

France Today is the leading website and print magazine for those interested in French travel destinations, food, and. culture.

Please to contribute this article to France Today on August 8, 2017                       
By J. Christina J.@ScribblesandSmiles
Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
                                                         Gorbio, France                                         Photo Credits: Jacques Dufrenoy

Gorbio, France is a perched medieval village, high-up above Menton, in the southeastern corner of the Côte d’Azur. This picturesque village seems to be perched atop a quiet little secret, hence it seems to be forgotten by tourists. As with other historic perched villages, Gorbio has an impressive view, 354 meters high above the Mediterranean Sea. 

On arriving in Gorbio you will see the main square, the Place de la République. It’s a traditional French village square, where people congregate to chat and exchange pleasantries over a café; this is a village where everyone knows everyone else. In this square, history is rich and runs deep, here we find a celebrated 300-year-old elm tree. It was planted in 1713, to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, returning the County of Nice back to the sovereignty of the Duke of Savoy.

With only 300 residents in the village of Gorbio, and 1000 total in the commune, it is an astonishing community of religious fêtes, festivals and celebrations. One is the Procession aux Limaces (Procession of Slugs), where after the olive harvest, snail shells are filled with olive oil and lit to illuminate the entire village on this night of festivities. It is where villagers celebrate the abundant olive harvest and await the processional through the village, led by the local Priest, all-the-while giving thanks to the Virgin Mary.

Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina

Streets of Gorbio, France                          Photo  Credits: J. Christina


Gorbio tugs at your heart strings with its stunning views and medieval vaulted passageways that seem to lure you forward, for a closer peek inside. It’s a little storybook village with a beautiful history, lovely people, and the most charming maze of cobblestone lanes, and houses built from iconic stone, all festooned with flowers. Strolling the steep, winding stone paths of Gorbio is an authentic experience. It’s a lived-in village, seemingly unchanged from ancient times, where centuries old buildings and antiquities cascade throughout, i.e., the exotic fountain in the Place de la Mairie, built in 1882, and the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs de la Sainte Croix, built in 1445.

The village has a Michelin rated restaurant, Le Beau Séjour, owned by the Bracco family. The owners have captured the essence of French décor, in a canvas of French grey and linen white, creating a romantic ambience. The food is homemade with locally sourced ingredients, all composed from traditional recipes, such as rabbit, lamb and fish… along with the not-to-be missed apricot pie!

Truth is, there are many scattered hidden treasures along the Cote d’Azur: secluded hideaways, ancient ruins, and villages like Gorbio steeped in history. Discovering places serendipitously is the pleasure of travel.

Transportation: Zest Bus Line:   Bus 7 from Menton – shuttle bus- 22-25 passenger
Restaurant: Le Beau Séjour (cash only-March–October lunch only//July-August lunch & dinner-*closed every Wednesday)

About J. Christina:
J. Christina is the author and hobbyist photographer behind  Scribbles and Smiles, writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of in-house editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina’s blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.

6/21/2017

La Petite France: Strasbourg, Alsace Region, France



Welcome to Strasbourg, France! This is our fourth country on this month-long journey with J. Christina.  Currently, traveling along the Rhine and Moselle rivers with Uniworld, onboard the River Queen.  Strasbourg is the capital and largest city of the Grand Est region of France, and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Strasbourg is located close to the border with Germany in the historic region of Alsace. We find the  Alsace region to be filled with impressive cities such as Strasbourg, Colmar and Mulhouse.

We arrive onboard Uniworld's River Queen, gliding in on the longest and most important river in Europe, the Rhine. Our ship sailed overnight from Speyer, Germany reaching Strasbourg on Thursday, June 22, 2017.  The Rhine river has huge economic activities, as it is indeed the most developed and active part in Europe with industries of all sectors. No other river in the world has so many old and famous cities along its banks: Basel, Switzerland, Strasbourg, France, along with Worms, Mainz and Cologne, Germany - to name a few.

We start in La Petite France the most picturesque district of old Strasbourg. Especially the Maison des Tanneurs, where fishermen, millers and tanners once lived and worked in this part of town. The magnificent half-timbered houses date from the 16th and 17th centuries, where sloping roofs open-out onto lofts, where animal hides were once dried. This district is filled with stylish wooden houses adorned with colorful flowers, gabled roofs, and chimneys - sometimes topped by stork nests.
Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina
La Petite France - half-timbered houses along the historic canals
The city center, the Grande Île,  was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988, the only time such an honor was placed on an entire city center.  Strasbourg is immersed in the Franco-German culture but has been in a tug-of-war throughout history. The city is a cross-cultural bridge for France and Germany, especially through the University of Strasbourg, currently the second largest in France. And where the Cathedral of Strasbourg is the second most visited after Notre-Dame in Paris.

Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
View of La Petite France, Les Ponts Couverts and the Strasbourg Cathedral spire from Le Barrage Vauban

About J. Christina:
J. Christina is the author and hobbyist photographer behind  Scribbles and Smiles, writing a personal travel blog from the Midwest. Christina (Christie) is married to John, a.k.a. Mr. Christie. Where Mr. Christie is right on-board with their travel jaunts around the world - sharing in their blogging endeavors. He supports, encourages, handles gadgetry and embraces the role of in-house editor - hence, their bespoke pen name, J. Christina.

J. Christina’s blogging journey began before the word blog was trending, writing about European travel destinations on share-sites, forums and online journals. After many years of intrepid travel, they thoughtfully opened their treasure-trove of European travelogues, artfully sharing with a worldwide audience. Intentionally sharing the joie de vivre through their words and images, so others can travel vicariously. J. Christina believes smiling with your eyes is a beautiful thing.

You can read their most recent dispatches from aboard an elegant European river ship, sharing the allure of Europe’s great rivers and their capital cities. Or, follow them through serendipitous discoveries in the Cote d’Azur, where J. Christina captures the essence of a perched medieval village.

J. Christina’s work has been featured on France Today, Bonjour Paris, The Good Life France, and Perfectly Provence.

6/20/2017

Speyer Cathedral, Helmut Kohl: Speyer, Germany

Speyer is a 2027-year-old city, along the banks of the Rhine river in southwest Germany, in the Rhineland-Palatinate state. The town is dominated by the Speyer Cathedral, which is named Imperial Cathedral of Speyer.  It is dedicated to St. Mary, patron saint of Speyer, and to St. Stephen.  In 1925, the cathedral was raised to a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 198l.
This is day nine of our European river cruise. Our Uniworld river ship arrived in Speyer on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 8:30a.m. Where we are met by Herman the German, our tour guide, for our half-day walking tour.  Herman shares historic information about his city. Telling us the city of Speyer was liberated by the Americans during WWII, and then became part of the French zone from 1944 to 1989.  Herman is old enough to recall seeing Charles De Gaulle lead the French troops through the city at the end of the World War II.


6/19/2017

Charismatic Bernkastel-Kues, Germany

Bernkastel-Kues is an attractive little twin town in the Moselle Valley, halfway between Cochem and Trier, Germany.  In the early 20th century, Bernkastel on the right bank was merged with Kues on the left bank along the Moselle River.

Our river ship, the River Queen set sail from Trier, on Sunday June 18, 2017, at 1:00p.m. and arrived in Bernkastel, Germany at 9:00p.m. and will remain in port overnight. We began Monday, June 19, 2017, with a village walking tour. Our guide, Marita is the daughter of a winemaker and she lives in the town of Kues, which is directly across the Moselle River from Bernkastel.
Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
Looking across to Kues, Germany


6/17/2017

Christ's Holy Tunic: Trier, Germany

Trier lies in a valley between low vine-covered hills of red sandstone in the west of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, near the border with Luxembourg and within the important Moselle wine region. Uniworld's River Queen  docked overnight  near Trier Harbor, along the head of the Moselle river.  Where we begin on Sunday, June 18, 2017, with a city tour of  historic Trier.

As the oldest city in Germany, Trier blends the old and new history together seamlessly with the Moselle river.     Trier was the largest Roman settlement north of the Alps, and had no less than six emperors ruling this Roman City.   Remnants of the old Roman city still stand, and is designated as a UNESCO protected site. Other Roman remnants are the Amphitheater, the Imperial Bath, and Porta Nigra (the Black Gate).

Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
The Porta Nigra is a large Roman city gate in Trier, Germany. It is today the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps.
We start our visit at the Basilica of Constantine, one of two basilicas built by Emperor Constantine in 306AD.  This church was destroyed in WWII, as was 40% of Trier. The other basilica is St. Peter’s Cathedral - home of the Holy Tunic, a sacred relic donated by Constantine’s mother, St. Helena.

On Friday of Easter Week, in 2012, Pope Benedict XVI’s special envoy Cardinal Marc Ouellet, presided over a ceremony opening the pilgrimage to the Holy Tunic, preserved in the Cathedral of Trier in Germany. The relic, piously believed to be the ‘seamless garment’ worn by Christ at the Passion, was exposed for the veneration of the faithful, for only the fourth time in the last hundred years. According to legend, the Holy Tunic was brought to Trier – at the time when Gaul was the capital.


Notably another important fact, Trier is the birthplace of Karl Marx.
The Karl Marx House museum is a writer’s house museum in Trier. In 1818, Karl Marx, the father of modern socialism and communism, was born in the house. It is now a museum about Karl Marx's life and writings.


J. Christina is a personal travel blogger, writer and amateur-hobbyist photographer at Scribbles and Smiles.  Living happily in the USA, married to John, aka, Mr. Christie.  J. Christina is our bespoke identity in the blogosphere.  Scribbles and Smiles by J. Christina is a  means for others to travel vicariously through our blog posts,  Instagram and Facebook.  J.Christina has contributed to Bonjour Paris,  FRANCE Today,  The Good Life France.



6/16/2017

The Grand Duchy: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

The River Queen arrives in Trier, Germany at 1:00p.m. on Saturday, June 17, 2017 and will remain in dock overnight. Where we will visit Luxembourg American Cemetery and also a walking tour of Trier, Germany - birthplace of Karl Marx.

Luxembourg is officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and is a landlocked country in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. Its capital, Luxembourg City, is together with Brussels and Strasbourg one of the three official capitals of the European Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest juridical authority in the EU.

Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
A grand duchy is a country or territory whose official head of state or ruler is a monarch bearing the title of grand duke or grand duchess.


Half-Timbered Houses, Castles and Cobble Stone Streets: Cochem, Germany

Our boutique river ship arrives in Cochem early on June 16, 2017, and we begin with an 8:15a.m. walking tour of the village of Cochem and a shuttle ride up to Reichsburg Castle.

Cochem is situated between Trier and Koblenz along the Moselle river. Few towns in Germany can match its charm with its picturesque beauty. Offering legends, folklore and a rich medieval history - woven into every curlicue street. Situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty surrounded by high elevations, steep vineyards and storybook wine villages.

Scribbles and Smiles by J Christina
view of the village of Cochem from the Moselle with the Reichsburg Castle on the hilltop @Flickr
Cochem boasts some of the most enchanting sights along the 250Km stretch of the Moselle River wine region. There are more than 4000 wine makers,  and a population of only 5800 - an area once settled by the Celts,  nearly 2500 years ago.