March, 2010 browsing by month


The Maison’s appeal is reflected in the charm of this French/Bavarian region; full board about $60

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

The Maison is quartered in a lush wooded valley on a site once occupied by a Cistercian monastery that played an important role in the region.

The Maison is quartered in a lush wooded valley on a site once occupied by a Cistercian monastery that played an important role in the region. Historically, and until the French Revolution, the village belonged to the Cistercian abbey. The town’s coat of arms is derived from the monastery’s seal. Today, however, the only remains of the Cistercian complex are a part of the walls, a stone portal and some 17th century caves.

Alsace has the look and feel of a foreign, non-French country. The older half-timbered houses, many with wooden balconies, are identical to those across the Rhine in Baden. To see Alsace at its most typical, follow the Route du Vin through scenic terrain dotted with wine-producing villages. Since Roman times, the Alsatians have tamed the hillsides that are crisscrossed with footpaths through the vines. Local costumes, wine festivals and much of the region’s wine product reflect the area’s Germanic roots.

The town of Eguisheim is an easy day trip from the Maison. Located on the Route du Vin, the town dates to the Middle Ages. Its charm resides in its fountains, winding flower-filled alleys and the beauty of the countryside. The name of the city comes from “home of Egino” the Count of Eguisheim. Archeological research reveals that tens of thousands of years ago, homosapiens from the Dordogne lived in the region. At the core of the fortified city are traces of a 13th century castle and three towers. The castle was built by Count Eberhard, nephew of Sainte-Odile. In 1049 Bruno of Eguisheim was born in the town; years later he became pope.

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Medieval Catalonia and the historic Call of Girona highlight a stay at this monastery… about $25 a day full board.

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

The monastery has been declared a Spanish national monument.

The monastery is highly regarded for the beauty of its Romanesque church and cloister that date from the 13th and 12th centuries respectively. A very attractive complex, it is a blending of ancient and modern architecture.

It is near ancient Girona

, a city distinguished by the Sant Feliu Cathedral reached by a climb of nearly one hundred steps. Begun in the early 14th century, it took the place of a Romanesque structure. Two hundred steps further leads to the top and views of the red tile roofs of old town. The Cathedral’s solid west face is pure Catalan Baroque; the remainder is Gothic. Beyond the cathedral is an atmospheric labyrinth of medieval streets reminiscent of Girona’s past. Lying in the shadow of the cathedral is the Jewish Quarter, known as the Call. A warren of arched streets, steep stairs, little piazzas and solid stone buildings, until recently, this gem of ancestry lay concealed under a patina of more modern construction. Today it is among Spain’s best-preserved testimonies of the Middle Ages and of its once flourishing Jewish community.

From the cathedral, Passeig Arqueologic, a signed archaeological trail, offers a garden-like stroll along the walls leading to the important sights in the old town. The walk begins near the 12th century Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants, a former monastery of the Benedictine Order. The cloister is home to a museum with exhibits from prehistoric to medieval times including Roman mosaics and medieval Jewish tombstones.

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Elegant architecture and antiquity mark this monastery where accommodations are $25.00 with full board.

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Brilliant white plaster walls define the upper cloister where hallways lead to the guest rooms

Surrounded by woodlands, the monastery occupies an elevated position and was built between 1627 and 1632. Almost square in shape, the two-story structure is enhanced with a small patio. The tall ceilings are lavishly decorated with cannon vaults supported by Roman arches and twenty cross-shaped pillars. The lower cloister is a place of harmony, pure lines and aesthetic pleasure. Brilliant white plaster walls define the upper cloister where hallways lead to the guest rooms and to the rooms of the monastic order. The ceiling is a series of beautifully curved lines with multiple barrel vaults.

The old-world town of Alcaniz is not far from the monastery. Enclosed by hills it is home to the 12th century Castel de los Calatravos; the cloister, chapel and keep are all that remain from the original construction. The keep and great hall are ornamented with 14th century frescoes, most depicting scenes of chivalry.

The monastery is close to a region called El Maestrazgo, a milieu of high mountains, deep gorges and stark countryside. Villages and hamlets are tucked here and there throughout the landscape. Beceite is typically Argonese; Penarroya de Tastavins is known as the Albarracin of Lower Aragon because of its beauty.  Rubie los de Mora is completely girdled by a wall, its stone and timber houses underscored by coats of arms. Medieval Mora de Rubielos claims a 12th century Gothic collegiate, its chapels adorned with azulejos.

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