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The Maison’s appeal is reflected in the colorful, old-fashioned charm of this French/Bavarian region where lodging with full board is about $60

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

The Maison is quartered in a lush wooded valley on a site once occupied by a Cistercian monastery.

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.

For more information go to: Monasteriesof france.com

Experience culinary specialties and prehistoric sites when you lodge at this maison.

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Quartered in the town amidst its own spacious park, the guesthouse is conveniently located for daily excursions into the lovely environs.

Quartered in the town amidst its own spacious park, the guesthouse is conveniently located for daily excursions into the lovely environs. Perigeux is an ancient and gastronomic city and like its neighbors Bergerac and Riberac, should be visited on market days when the stalls in the medieval sections offer local specialties. Perigeux is famous for its pates, notably goose livers and truffles. La Cite, a medieval quarter was once the important Gallo-Roman settlement of Vesunna. Remains from Roman times include the arenas, the Vesunna tower and an amphitheater. The 12th century cathedral has five domes topped by cupolas. The interior is adorned with Byzantine-style chandeliers. In the old town, the longest and finest street is the narrow rue Limogeanne; it is lined with Renaissance mansions, many of which are now boutiques and patisseries.

The greatest concentration of prehistoric sites in France is found near the Maison along the Vezere river. Les Eyzies-de-Tayac is encompassed by caves and grottoes, many adored with primitive art. More than 300 animal figures are carved on the walls of the Grotte des Combarelles; the paintings of horses, bison, mammoths and reindeer in the Grotte de Font-de-Gaume are second only to Lascaux.

For more information go to: Monasteriesof france.com

Travel to Tours, original home of the French Language and stay in a beautiful Monastery for $40 full board

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

732 depicts a triumphant Charles Martel (mounted) facing ‘Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi (right) at the Battle of Tours.

The monastery is situated in the hilly countryside of Center in the Loire valley. There are numerous day trips to nearby cities including Tours, chief town of the Loire valley and capital of the Touraine region. The capital is rich with history and a well-preserved heritage. It was in Tours in 732 that Charles Martel halted the Moorish conquest of Europe when his Frankish army defeated the Arab army. Charles Martel’s halt of the invasion of French soil turned the tide of Islamic advances.

Tours was also the cradle of the French Renaissance. Signs of this artistic development include masterpieces such as the tomb of Charles VIII’s sons, the remains of St. Martin cloister and several mansions. In the atmospheric old quarter, the medieval lanes are fronted by an array of 12th to 15th century half-timbered houses, stairway towers, bustling cafes, boutiques and galleries. Quite close to the square the Hotel Gouin is an exemplary specimen of Renaissance domestic architecture. Musee des Beaux Arts is in the former archbishop’s palace. It preserves paintings from the Middle Ages to the 20th century including Mantegna, Rubens, Rembrandt, Boucher, Delacroix and Degas.

Historians have evidence of Jewish life in Tours as far back as the late 6th century. In the Middle Ages Jews lived in an area near the rue de la Caserne. The Jewish community still maintains a synagogue and community center.

The beguiling town of Saumur is among the most beautiful in the Loire valley. Fashioned out of the chalky tufa stone typical of the Loire, Saumur’s fairy tale white limestone castle perches atop the town and is home to a famous miniature, the Book of Hours. Nicknamed the “white town” most of Saumur’s architecture reflects its stone foundations but there are a number of restored half-timbered houses as well. Among its outstanding monuments is the 12th century Romanesque Church of Notre-Dame de Nantilly. Renowned for its sparkling white wines, Saumur’s wine cellars provide tastings of the famous Saumur Champigny, Cremant de Loire and the regal dry Saumur Brut. Beneath the city, mushrooms grow in the caves carved out of the limestone rock. Guided tours of the underground caves are available.

For more information go to: Monasteries of France

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