Final countdown to Valentine’s Day: take your pick!
For the last week or so, I’ve had Valentine’s on the brain. I’ve been posting restaurants offering special Valentine’s meals, chocolate shops making all sorts of beautiful Valentine’s chocolates, as well as hotels offering Valentine’s packages on the Swiss Foodies Twitter account.
I’ve been trying to get you in the spirit, but now it’s time for the final countdown, because time is running short. To make things easier, I’ve gathered all the Valentine tweets here so you can start making plans for the weekend!
This list is by no means exhaustive and I may well add to it during the week, so keep in touch either here on The Rambling Epicure, or by following the Swiss Foodies tweets. Every time I stumble on something interesting, I’ll make sure and tweet it.
Valentine’s specials: something to suit everyone’s budget and schedule
- On Sunday, 14 February 2010, the CGN is sponsoring Valentine’s lunch cruises on all their major routes.
- List of restaurants all over Switzerland with Valentine’s specials; just click on your canton! Please note that I haven’t tested these restaurants, but they should include something appropriate for everyone’s taste, location and budget.
If you’re looking for greener pastures, this weekend is the time. Swiss’expo, the “largest farm” in Switzerland, opened 14 January 2010 and will continue until the 17th.
It is being held at Beaulieu in Lausanne.
The agricultural show includes more than 1,000 show animals, including calves, cows, horses, ponies, and goats, as well as local and regional produce, to be eaten on site or to take away, and an organic farm and village.
More than one thousand European-bred cows will be in competition. The “coronation ceremony” of showered down, brushed up and decked out cows will take place on Friday 15 January, when the prize cattle will be put up for auction.
Saturday night offers music and awarding of prizes to champion livestock.
For the children: Lovely is coming to Beaulieu
The Swiss milk producers association and their cow Lovely will show you how a cow produces milk and how it is turned into butter, cheese and yogurt through the use of games, diagrams, photos and tastings.
Colorado Country Band: it’s party time this weekend
The Colorado Country Band will play on Saturday 16 January 2010 from 19H30 to 20H30 and on Sunday 17 starting at 13H. They play new country rock.
For information:Beaulieu exhibition centre, 1000 Lausanne 22, tel. +41 021 643 21 11, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.beaulieu.org
Check out Nextstop‘s brilliant list of all the trendiest night spots in Lausanne!
Genève Tourisme is featuring a list of special Christmas and New Year packages in all hotel categories.
It should be noted that not all hotels are participating in the scheme.
The packages include board, breakfast, a CHF 60 shopping voucher for the high-end Globus department store, an audio guide to Geneva, a travel card good for your entire stay, as well as informational material about Geneva.
All photos courtesy of Fiveprime.
Rambling ’round France: Chartres Cathedral, a Gothic wonder
Chartres makes for an easy, affordable weekend jaunt. There is no lack of things to do.
The cathedral itself, both inside and out, is truly one of the wonders of the world. The crypt includes a Romanesque church on top of which the cathedral was built, Roman ruins, an old Druid well, and a gallery that was probably used by the Druids to worship Bellissima, and later converted into a chapel dedicated to the Mother and Child of Chartres (it is said that the Druid goddess Bellissima also held a baby in her arms, although in a different position from the classic Christian manner).
The tower gives wonderful views of the medieval town, as well as the sculptures, buttresses and framework of the cathedral itself. My neighbor Eric Vivien gives extremely detailed explanations in his tours. Don’t forget to look for the labyrinth in the middle floor of the cathedral as well. On certain days, they clear away the chairs, and let pilgrims walk around it.
Another neighbor, Englishman Malcolm Miller, who fell in love with the stained glass windows in Chartres decades ago, is the great specialist on the Chartres’ stained glass windows, considered by most to be the most beautiful and well preserved in the world. He gives regular tours at 12 and 14H25 except on Sundays. It is best to contact the tourist office at the end of the cathedral esplanade just to make sure. Please note that his tours are private, and not associated to those organized by the tourist office.
Another interesting stopoff is the Loir family stained glass store to the left as you face the cathedral. The Loir family has been making stained glass for generations, and continue to provide cathedrals all over the world with stained glass windows. The shop includes restored as well as contemporary stained glass, and has rotating exhibitions of contemporary artists.
A walk around the medieval city is also breathtaking if you are interested in architecture. During the Middle Ages, the town is said to have had over 120 churches. Some people say the very ground is telluric, meaning that it is full of good (and perhaps holy) energy. That might be one of the reasons that people have been making pilgramages there for at least 5,000 if not 6,000 years, well before Christ was born. Suggestion: get a good map from the tourist office before you start getting lost in the “labyrinth” of the city.
How to get there
easyJet lands at Orly Sud and from there you walk across the street and pick up a car at Sixt. If you rent online well ahead of time, you can take advantage of their Sixti deal for as low as 5 euros a day.
For true pilgrims, there is plenty of lodging at the Maison St Yves. For lovers of luxury, choose the Hôtel Grand Monarque, a Chartres institution where many of the grand bourgeoisie celebrate weddings, baptisms, birthdays and anniversaries. If you are celebrating something special, you can download the program of special dinners and weekend packages from their site.
Otherwise check out the Chartres tourist site for all other types of B & Bs, inns, furnished apartments and hotels.
The Grand Monarque is great for special occasions, and they have a bistro that is open late, but my favorite restaurant is the Restaurant St-Hilaire in the rue St-Hilaire, right off the St-Pierre Church square at the bottom of the hill. They offer both traditional dishes from the region, and a number of more modern (and delightful) ones, and use only products from the region. Chartres is in the Beauce, the Iowa of France, so you’ll find wheat incorporated into some surprising dishes, such as wheat risotto, wheat crème caramel, and, of course, the bread, which they make themselves. All the cheeses on the cheese board are from the Beauce region.
The owner, Mr. Brémont, is the former sommelier of the Grand Monarque, and he always has new and delicious wines on offer. Take his advice. He knows, boy does he know. I always discover some new wine or producer, so each time I go, it’s a new adventure. In Chartres, they consider the Loire Valley wines to be “local”, since the beginning of the Loire Valley is only half an hour away, and Mr. Brémont is from the heart of the Loire Valley.
They offers several menus, one based entirely on products and traditional dishes from the Beauce. They start at 26 euros and go up to around 50. Somehow, I always end up choosing the 26 euro one. It’s about the best quality for the money I know, and changes with the seasons.
NOTE: Reservations are absolutely necessary, and I would suggest calling well in advance.Restaurant Saint Hilaire
11, rue du Pont Saint Hilaire 28000 Chartres
Telephone : +33 02 37 30 97 57
The Rambling Epicure covered this Cave Berthaudin’s spring wine tasting and gala dinner at the Beau Rivage in Ellen Wallace’s blog Among the vines.