Kommetjie

Kommetjie is a small town near Cape Town, in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It lies about halfway down the west coast of the Cape Peninsula, at the southern end of the long wide beach that runs northwards towards Chapman’s Peak and Noordhoek.The area is a popular spot for surfing, since powerful waves from the Atlantic Ocean rise up over rocky reefs formed by hard sandstones of the Table Mountain Group. Wherever the bottom is rocky, the shallower waters are thick with giant kelp forests.

Kommetjie is famous for its excellent crayfishing despite recent changes in fishing quotas which have seen a drastic reduction in the daily catch allowed.

Cala Bassa Beach

One of the most beautiful coves on the west coast with the famous Cala Bassa Beach Club, easily accessible by ferry from San Antonio. 

  

  A popular beach near San Antonio which draws tourists daily and locals on weekends, Cala Bassa Beach truly offers something for everyone. It is reachable by car, boat and bus, with a range of useful facilities and wooden walkways providing access for the disabled and prams, making it easily accessible to all ages.

Cala Bassa Beach is surrounded by a wooded area of ancient, gnarled Sabina trees, and boasts clear, turquoise waters and soft, pale golden sand. It’s a safe bathing spot for kids, but not exactly a ‘sleepy’ beach, as there is a range of watersports on offer for the adrenalin junkies – including jetskis.  
    
    
    
 

Soller, Mallorca Attractive rural town in the west of Majorca

image imageSet in a lush valley of orange groves between the mountains and the sea, Soller is popular with day trippers who arrive on the vintage train from Palma and seem to do little but sit outside the cafes in Placa Constitucid soaking up the atmosphere and the sun. With several tapas bars, a fine selection of pastry-shops, local ice-cream and freshly squeezed orange juice, there is little temptation to move on.

Soller lies a couple of miles inland from its port, Port de Soller. There is a vintage tram that runs from the town to the port for those who don’t have a car. Soller hosts many fairs and festivals throughout the year – ones of note include the Apropa’t A L’Art (art weekend) and the Moros y Cristianos Fira & Firo in May.

A word of advice: if you are planning a day trip, come here by train from Palma, rather than car. There is a road tunnel on the Palma road (with a pretty steep toll, €4.70 each way April 2012) through the mountain if you do drive. The alternative is to drive up the Coll de Soller, with its 57 hairpin bends, one of the most twisty drives in Mallorca (although views from the top are pretty good!). It’s also very popular with cyclists who are not allowed through the tunnel and who seem to enjoiy the thigh-busting climb! The train journey is a delight, and passes through wonderfully scenic countryside. The train has real character and is an attraction in itself, so sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

Things to Do in Soller

Many people come to Soller to enjoy “The Great Outdoors”. The surrounding countryside is so beautiful, it’s almost a crime not to be outside to enjoy it! Hiking is a major draw for visitors who are spoiled for choice when it comes to hiking trails. You can choose from coastal walks to heading deep into the Tramuntana mountain range.

The trails are well maintained and sign-posted. The famous ‘dry stone wall’ trail runs from Andratx in the south to Pollenca in the north of Mallorca, and is over 50km in length. Mountain refuges dot the trail so hikers have place places to stay en-route. Alternatively, use a local hiking guide such as Tramuntana Tours or Mallorca Hiking who can arrange all sorts of ways to discover the area.

Both road cycling and mountain biking are extremely popular ways of exploring the mountains around Soller. A guide for mountain biking is particularly recommended as much of the land in the area is privately owned. The roads from Soller up into the Tramuntana range provide great challenges for the road cycling enthusiast, with plenty of bends, ascents & descents. you can hire bikes and get information on cycling routes from Tramuntana Tours.

Tennis is a popular activity in Soller and there are public tennis courts at the Paddle & Tennis Club in the Argeles area of Soller (no website!). Shopping is not a major deal in Soller – there are a few gift shops and some lovely delicatessens.

Of course, being so close to the coast there are a heap of nautical activities to enjoy too. Boat trips up and down the coast start in Port de Soller and are a wonderful way to view the coastline with it’s majestic and dramatic scenery. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can charter a boat with or without a captain. It is also possible to SCUBA dive in the waters up and down the coast.

Port de Soller also has a couple of beaches if you prefer to take it easy, and the promenade is lined with cafes for refreshments. The beaches are quite small and narrow and do tend to be busy during the summer months. The sand is a little bit gravelly, but the sea is calm and shallow and fun to play in. Sun loungers and canoes are available for hire.

Soller has a number of satellite villages which are worth having a look at. Fornalutx has been voted the prettiest village in Spain and lies a couple of kilometres up the valley from Soller. En-route, you also have the chance to pass through Biniaraix, a tiny and sleepy hamlet.

Pont Du Gard ,a masterpiece of ancient architecture

 

The Pont du Gard is a Roman monument built halfway through the 1st century AD. It is the principal construction in a 50 km long aqueduct that supplied the city of Nîmes, formerly known as Nemausus, with water. Built as a three-level aqueduct standing 50 m high, it allowed water to flow across the Gardon river.

In essence, the bridge is constructed out of soft yellow limestone blocks, taken from a nearby quarry that borders the river. The highest part of the structure is made out of breeze blocks joined together with mortar. It is topped by a device designed to bear the water channel, whose stone slabs are covered with calcium deposits.

In designing this three-storey bridge, which measures 360 m at its longest point along the top, the Roman architects and hydraulic engineers created a technical masterpiece that stands today as a work of art.

As a result of numerous scientific studies, we now know that an impressive volume of rock was needed to complete the construction.

Moreover, archaeologists also uncovered evidence of how well organized the project was. They found numbering on the stones, points of support for scaffolding, and evidence of the use of hoists.

Celles,Lac du Salagou

Celles is a commune in the Hérault department in southern France.The original village sits on the bank of Lac du Salagou. The French authorities are allowing this village to decay and all buildings except the town hall and the church are in ruins. It is a popular place for fishing and picnics. 

    
    
    
   

Lac du Salagou

The Lac du Salagou is a large lake near to Clermont l’Herault in the Herault department of Languedoc Roussillon. Well known in the area for the vivid colours of the lake and its surroundings it is very popular for various water sports, walking and cycling.

The Salagou lake was created in 1968 when a barrage was erected across the river Salagou in order to allow a diversification of local agriculture and regulate the river Salagou which was very prone to flooding in autumn. The lake covers 750 hectares and has become a popular tourist spot.
The earth surrounding the lake is extremely rich in iron giving it its distinctive orange-red colour. This combined with the deep blue of the lake and the greens of the surrounding trees and fields forms a wonderful patchwork of colour which takes on different forms and combinations around each different curve of the lake.
It is possible to drive round the lake to see the many different views but if you have the chance use the ‘route forestiere’ to walk or cycle round the lake and really have the time to admire it. Unfortunately my trip in November didn’t allow me to capture on photo the wonderful colours that shine out in the sunshine usual to this part of France.
SalascIf you are driving to the lake pass first by Moureze to see the very different scenery of the Cirque de Moureze. Even if you haven’t time for one of the walks amongst the dolomites the drive from Moureze to Salasc on the southern side of Lake Salagou takes you through part of the dolomite-filled landscape.
Salasc like the other villages around the lake offers a pretty stopping point for lunch or a coffee if you have forgotten to bring a picnic to eat on the edge of the lake.
Continue around to the unusual village of Celles. Thought to be in the zone to be flooded the village of Celles was evacuated but the lake stopped short of the village.
Celles became a ‘ghost town’ though now its church and marie appear to have been renovated and contrast bizarrely with the surrounding abandoned houses whose roofs have collapsed and whose walls are gradually falling. Perhaps the village is in the process of being re-populated.
The views from the patio area in front of the renovated church and marie are very nice.
  

Cirque de Navacelles 

The Navacelles cirque is located between the limestone plateaus of Le Larzac and Blandas, between the departments of Gard and Hérault, and is a listed Grand National Site, forming an impressive natural amphitheatre with its tall limestone cliffs. The beauty of the place can be fully appreciated from the panoramic viewpoints of La Baume Auriol and Blandas. At the centre of the cirque, the picturesque village of Navacelles is particularly photogenic, with its waterfall and spectacular environment.       

Chateau de La Ferte Saint – Aubin

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The castle of La Ferté Saint Aubin is located in the department of Loiret, 22 km south of Orleans. It was built in the 17th Century by the architect Théodore Lefebvre under instructions of Henri of Saint-Nectaire. The castle changed hands several times until it was purchased in 1987 by Jacques Guyot, who made it available to the public. There is a 40 acres park, created as a French garden and stalls. This castle is a historical monument.

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During your visit you will discover more than 15 furnished rooms inside the castle, stables and tack with the collection of harnesses, large collection of toys and dolls (1st floor of the Orangerie ). You are also invited to the demonstration in the kitchen of the castle, where you can enjoy delicious honey madeleines, made ​​according to the recipe of the day.

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A great place to wander around, with 40-hectare park features ,and the reconstruction of a 1930s train station, an enchanted island for the children and a wildlife park

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Beaugency,Loire Valley

Beaugency

Beaugency is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France. It is located on the Loire river, upriver (northeast) from Blois and downriver from Orléans.

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History

The lords of Beaugency attained considerable importance in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries; at the end of the 13th century they sold the fiefdom to the Crown. Afterward it passed to the house of Orléans, then to those of Dunois and Longueville, and ultimately again to that of Orléans.

The city of Beaugency has been the site of numerous military conflicts. It was occupied on four separate occasions by the English. On June 16–17, 1429, it was the site of the famous Battle of Beaugency, when it was freed by Joan of Arc. Beaugency also played an important strategic role in the Hundred Years’ War. It was burned by the Protestants in 1567 and suffered extensive damage to the walls, the castle, and the church.

On the 8th, 9th and 10th of December 1870, the Prussian army, commanded by the grand-duke of Mecklenburg, defeated the French army of the Loire, under General Chanzy, in the second battle of Beaugency (or Villorceau-Josnes). It was fought on the right bank of the Loire to the northwest of Beaugency.

In 1940 and again in 1944, the city was bombed by Nazi Germany. On 16 September 1944, German Major General Botho Henning Elster and his 18 850 men and 754 officers surrendered at the Loire bridge of Beaugency to French résistance.

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Chateau de Talcy

The Château de Talcy is a historical building in Talcy, Loir-et-Cher, France. It lies on the left bank of the Loire River, in the Loire Valley, known for its 16th-century châteaux. It was commissioned around 1520 by Bernardo Salviati, a Florentine condottiero and cardinal with connections to the Medici family. The château, which is embedded in the village to one side, where the village church forms one side of the courtyard, is more Gothic in its vernacular feeling than might be expected in a structure built for an Italian patron at the height of the Renaissance.

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The estate is better known in literary rather than architectural history. Salviati’s daughter and granddaughter, Cassandre and Diane, were the muses of two leading French poets of the time, Pierre de Ronsard and Théodore-Agrippa d’Aubigné, respectively. Ronsard fell in love with the 15-year-old Cassandre in 1552, during his stay at Talcy. He dedicated to her some of the best known sonnets in the French language. D’Aubigné, a neighbour of the Salviati, composed for Diane in 1571 the collection of sonnets, ballads, and idylls entitled Le Printemps and at her death the finest of his poems, Les Tragiques.

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Among the outbuildings preserved from the 16th century are a presshouse and a dovecot; there is also a traditional vegetable garden. In the château is the “chambre de la Médicis” where Catherine de’ Medici and her son Charles IX are said to have planned the Massacre of Saint

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The Salviati retained the ownership of the estate until 1682. Henceforth it passed through a succession of owners, including Philipp Albert Stapfer. In 1933 it was sold to the state, on condition that the 18th-century interiors would be preserved intact. The château is visited by 20,000 tourists annually.

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