Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Orange Cinema in Lausanne

Last night we were at the Orange Cinema in Lausanne. We went to see X-Files, not because we were expecting a great movie, but because it was one of the few English-language movies showing on a night we could actually attend.

In fact it was a pretty awful movie, but it was really worth going because it was a spectacular night to be out, with the clouds lit up by the sunset and a thunderstorm further up the lake. We did get a little bit of rain but not enough to dampen the spirits!

We're going to see another 'surprise' movie in August, which will hopefully be in english, but anyway it is just great fun to be out doing something so unique in fantastic surroundings.

Paléo - Nyon

On the Weekend we headed out to Nyon for the Paléo music festival (not to be confused with the Sienna Palio horse race). We had opted for the Paléo over the Montreux Jazz Festival because it seemed ludicrous to spend so much more for a single concert in Montreux, when we could have a whole day at Paléo!

The Paléo is one of the largest music festivals in Europe, and 2008 was its 33rd anniversary. It was amazingly well organised and, although we expected the crowd to be dominated by a university aged crowd, it was actually a very diverse mix of people, from young children to a more 'mature' demographic. Also, although there was alcohol sold at innumerable stalls, no-one seemed particularly drunk or otherwise inebriated.

We were going mainly for the atmosphere and actually didn't recognise most of the acts (which varied from world music, to classical, to popular) although there was a few bigger groups playing that we recognised, including Yael Naim, Dionysos, and R.E.M.

Of the day I think our favourite act would have to be Dionysos, who put on a very energetic and fun show, beating out R.E.M (the 'big act' of the night) who had a light show that was really over the top and distracted rather than complemented their act, which was anyway a bit lacklustre.

Aside from the music there was heaps of good food; so much choice in fact that we ended up wandering around for ages before finally committing to our duck sandwiches, and there was an amazing fireworks display that went off right above us before the R.E.M. act.

We left the festival a little early to make sure we didn't get home too late, being a work day the next day, and got home around 2am. It was a real credit to the festival organisers and SBB for making it all run so smoothly. Even so, it will be difficult to refuse the option of a concert at Montreux next year!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Divonne-les-Bains Markets

On Sunday we went to Divonne-les-Bains, which is just across the border in France. There are some markets there that have a great reputation, and my sister had some friends living there that we wanted to meet up with, so we had two good reasons to go.

We caught the train to Nyon and picked up a Mobility car for the short drive into France. It was incredibly easy to do so I'm sure we'll repeat the journey in future.

We spent some time wandering around the markets, checking out the smelly cheeses and fresh fish that were on offer before meeting up with Cate's friends, who lived nearby, for an excellent lunch and good company.

The return journey would have been equally smooth if it weren't for the fact that I was somewhat rushed getting out of the car, locking it with my electronic key but forgetting about the physical car key. I got all the way back to Vevey before I realised I still had it in my pocket, so spent another 2h on the train ferrying the key back to the car.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

BBQs by Lac Léman

Recently we have been taking advantage of the warm weather and long days to go for swims in the lake (which is not so warm) and having picnics and BBQs in the park by the lake.

We've had to set aside our Australian bias for giant gas-powered BBQs and bought ourselves charcoal-powered disposable units, which always leave you wondering if you will be eating raw meat for dinner until the heat finally kicks in.

It stays light until quite late in the evening, so there's always plenty of time to make up for any lack in cooking performance, and also to polish off a bottle of wine. Best of all, when its time to head home, you just pour some water on the BBQ and throw it in the bin with the rest of your rubbish!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


On the weekend we checked the forecast and noticed Saturday was clear and sunny while Sunday would be rainy, so we hopped on a train to head into the mountains and make the most of the clear sunny weather.

We had been to Rochers-de-Naye previously when Jenni visited in May, but at that time it was covered in snow and cloud so we were looking forward to some nice clear weather to properly see the view.

In fact it was a perfect day to be up in the mountains, and we could see all the way up Lac Lèman and to the Eiger mountain in the other direction.

We wandered around the top of the hill taking lots of photos of the flowers and views, and had a look in the Jardin Alpin, where we found our first Edelweiss flowers.

Everyone seemed in good sorts in the fine weather and, for no apparent reason, there was a Jazz band playing out on the balcony of the visitor's centre, so we had a musical accompaniment!

As we were leaving it started to rain, and it indeed rain on Sunday. In fact it was pouring for most of the day so we had made a good decision to head out on Saturday. We didn't let the rain stop us from going for a swim in the local pool in Vevey - which we did in the rain, and in the company of one slightly lost duck.

All my photos from our day at Rochers-de-Naye are here.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Provence - Wrap

It took me far longer than I would have liked to blog all of our trip to Provence (which once again turned into an epic task), so here is the wrap up of all the entries.


Provence - Pont du Gard

Okay we're on the last legs of our trip now, on the way to Pont du Gard, and by this stage we were well and truly stressed out at the prospect of our long drive back to Geneva. This was only exacerbated by taking the wrong turn at a couple of points, eating into our already tight schedule.

After some time on some of the amazing french motorways, however, we decided to risk the stop, and pulled into the giant carpark at Pont du Gard. When we were planning our time in Provence I had imagined picnicing and swimming under the Pont du Gard, but ultimately we had time only for a flying visit.

We power walked down the the old Roman aqueduct, built in the middle of the 1st century AD and standing 49m high. It was good to take a breather after a hectic and stressful drive to this point. I was certainly glad to have stopped and would have really regretted not seeing it.

We hopped back in the car and onto the motorways, and it was really good to feel the kilometres fall behind us at 140kmph all the way back to Geneva. We managed to navigate our way back into the carpark at Geneva airport to drop off the car and caught one of the last trains to Vevey, arriving back home after midnight and well and truly ready for a good night's sleep.

Provence - Arles

On our last day in Provence, we had set ourselves quite an ambitious schedule. Possibly too ambitious, as usual, and we ended up running from one place to another to see everything we on our list. We started in St. Remy de Provence, where Van Gough was sent to recuperate when he started acting too crazy in Arles. St. Remy was quite frustrating, mainly because we turned up just about lunch time when all the shops and the art gallery were closed. We stayed for lunch, and poked our heads into the gallery when it opened, before getting back on the road.

On the road to Arles we stopped, somewhat determinedly after our partial failure at St. Remy, at the Moulin Jean-Marie Cornille, a 17th century windmill that turned out to be comically small.

We then headed on to Arles itself, which has a very long history, having been founded by the Greeks, then taken over by the Romans and backed Caesar in his battles, earning itself some of the spoils of his victories.

The main attraction of Arles is its roman theatre, which we did a tour around, and its ampitheatre which was under scafolding in preparation of the concerts and plays that are shown there over summer.

Though it was a lovely little town, we spent only a relatively short time there, feeling pressed by our schedule. We headed towards Pont du Gard, our last stop for our journey before heading home.

Provence - Aix-en-Provence

On Monday we drove a very windy path through the Luberon towards Aix-en-Provence.

In fact it was so windy we ended up taking some very pleasant detours in the wrong direction before finally getting back on track, ending up at the Abbaye de Silvacane, where we reluctantly paid €2 'protection money' to park our car, only to find entry cost to the Abbey was unacceptably high (there seemed a myriad of ways to part us from our money while in France), leaving us to snap a couple of photos over the fence that was keeping us out.

So we continued on to Aix-en-Provence, one of the larger towns in Provence and one with a long history, a 'thousand' fountains, and a number of universities.

We spent a lot of time wandering around the paved streets of Aix-en-Provence, and no small amount of time in the shops or snacking in one of the street-side cafés.

Linda was disappointed to find out that the Le Musée Granet, which houses some work by Cézanne, who lived in Aix-en-Provence, was closed; an ongoing frustration in France (the same thing happened to us in Nice).

Our trip home was similarly windy, dropping by some other small villages before ending back in Saignon where we had a delicious dinner in the hotel restaurant (dessert proving once again to be the pinnacle of the meal).

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Provence - Gordes and Around

After Roussillon we headed over to Gordes, one of the big tourist attraction towns of Provence due to its hilltop location and 15th century architecture.

I think we were a little hilltop-village'd out by the time we got to Gordes, and while it is a lovely town we walked around it only half-heartedly taking photos and having a bite to eat in the shade by the church (another hot day in Provence).

I did, however, manage to find a much sought-after wine carafe in one of the shops there (I tend to become a little obsessive about these things).

We then moved on to the Sénanque Abbey, which we found under seige from tourists (in fact the car park was grid-locked after a bus had bumped into a car and they had parked in the exit to argue it out).

The Abbey is one of those picture-perfect locations, with the old Abbey surrounded by fields of wheat and lavender. We took lots of photos of course, and visited the shop which seemed to take up an entire wing of the Abbey.

It's the sort of place that is on all the tour bus itineraries and we watched the hordes of tourists flow in and out on the tight schedules. It made us happy to have our own car!

Our last stop for the day was at the Village des Bories, which is a village (largely reconstructed) of a type of building that appears all around the Luberon. These buildings give the impression that their makers had figured out how to build a wall and then extrapolated this into house-building. They were tiny and smoky inside.

It was quite interesting to see the conditions under which many farmers must have lived, some of them until surprisingly recently. We headed home, stopping to take photos of lavender and wheat near Saignon, and another fantastic dinner in the village.

All my photos from in and around Gordes are here.