Food, Hotels, Places, Restaurant

QT Hotel Melbourne

First and foremost let me wish you all a very healthy and happy 2017. 

It all started very well for me and my family with some holidays off the slopes in Val d’Isère ( previous post ) followed by a business trip to visit my company’s headquarters in dream city Melbourne

I love that city. Its people. Its passion for nature, sport, food and coffee. Never been there ? Pin it for one of your next trip then as it is a must !

I have been lucky enough to stay at the QT Hotel. It recently opened and is all I like. Small. Excellent service and friendly staff from all over the world. Free internet. Great rooftop terrace. Competitive pricing at around 250 AUD including breakfast. And last but not least an exceptionally good restaurant and room service at excellent value for money ratio. 

Check out some of the dishes I have been lucky to honour for you ! 

Vive Melbourne !

Rooftop terrace with great cocktails and music

Ocean chargrilled prawns

Crab cake avocado fusion

Crazy watermelon topped with vanilla délice

Lounge world class bar

A chair , a table and a mousse

Red snapper – such a beautiful flesh I can still remember it !

Brewery next door

Slow cooked oven potatoes !

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With such a picture, text is useless. Not that the photograph is particularly gifted ( indeed I really am not ), but the conditions were simply perfect that week end back in March 2013. Less then an hour drive from geneva airport lies the very charming ski resort of Manigod – croix fry. It was my first time there. I rented a small chalet in the Hotel de la croix Fry, which is the first one you can guess on the picture. Fantastic breakfast and food, extremely welcoming owners, and very reasonable pricing ( 165€ per night with breakfast included ). This is really my first 2013 gem. Please don’t tell anyone ! And book now for the 2014 powder season !

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Hotels, Places, Restaurant

Chalet hotel de la croix fry

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Cooking, Food, Hotels, Places, Restaurant

Thyme at Southrop Manor, a cotswolds dream

We are just back from two days spent in the Cotswolds, 90 miles away from busy London. Count 1h30 mn at best to get there. More likely to be 2h as getting out of London can be quite challenging. But the reward is worth it. Many small immaculate villages, beautiful landscapes, a handful of bed and breakfast’s and hotels to choose from and some very interesting gastro pubs and restaurants flourishing here and there. No really, this is an easy journey for any Londoner and one you can’t escape from if you need a bit of fresh air !

We did stay at the Thyme southrop manor estate which is an old barn entirely restored and turned into a cooking school, some luxury suites and cottages, some facilities where corporations can run offsite meetings or seminars (  needless to say this latter was not really our first driver ! ) and a gastro pub next door called The Swan where we had all our lunches and dinners. A simple but anthentic cuisine, ran by a very welcoming family. Within seconds, you will feel at home. The place is very cosy and we have been lucky enough to enjoy our latest treat next to the centuries old fireplace. Not a luxury after a walk in the freezing countryside with our 4 months old baby.

Unfortunately we could not attend any cooking class as the resident chef ( like DJ’s but for gastronomy ) was off. But for the food freaks please find the next months classes program here for download. In between others, a very interesting session planned for March the 17th of 2012 with guest chef José Pizzaro who just opened his own restaurant in East London.

With our very young baby, we have not been able to do much more then feeding him. And feeding us during those two days break. But I am sure there is much more to be seen and discovered in the wonderful Cotswolds. So please share with us your secret spots and hidden gems ! And make sure to take a deep breath of fresh air before to head back to the city which never stops !

Benoît for Art de vivre !

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Hotels, Places

Onefinestay.com : Live like a Londoner !

A quick post ! To let you know of a great new website where you will find the perfect apartment or house to stay when visiting London. This is called Onefinestay and really hosts a couple of gems fully serviced. Much better then staying in an hotel which I have found quite difficult and over expensive in london.

They are for now only covering London but planning to rapidly expand across the UK and possibly Europe. So stay tuned and enjoy your stay.

ADV Family

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Hotels, Places

Rue amandine : exclusive apartments rentals in Paris

Are you one of the 76M° people visiting Paris every year ? And most likely looking for a nice boutique place to stay ? Well, “www.rueamandine.com” is offering a pretty narrow but exclusive apartment selection Paris intra-muros. For 250€ per night you’ll be provided with fully serviced apartments and a customized guide of what to do, where to eat and pass by which amandine herself ( the owner we met ) will cook for you after you’ve filled in a small questionnaire.

A very nice and fresh initiative from a very energetic parisian young lady. We like and recommend !

 

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Cooking, Food, Hotels, Places, Restaurant

A taste of Luberon at "Le Pavillon de Galon" B&B

We’ve been silent the past weeks as we are working hard on our next professional adventure. But do not panic ! ;-) We still do have time for long week-ends and will continue to post our “Art de vivre” findings on a regular basis.
Just back from a short stay in “Le Pavillon de Galon” B&B, i just could not resist sharing this experience with you. The “pavillon” is located in the little village of Cucuron, South Luberon, Provence. We decided to take the TGV train from Paris to Avignon (2h40mn). We then rented a car ( i do recommend Sixt which i booked through their iphone app ) and thanks to my great tomtom app we reached Cucuron after an hour of relaxed driving.

The 18th century mansion – Roman Pool

The little village of Cucuron is nice and is a central spot to discover Luberon. “Le pavillon de galon” is located at the exit of the village along a small road. A “remarkable” garden will welcome you entering this multi acres domain, bought 12 years ago by Bibi and Guy, a parisian couple. 

Apart from an amazing restoration of the 18th century main house, they planted more then 10.000 fruit trees along the years. They also have a decent number of olive and truffle trees, as well as a small kitchen garden. All they will serve you for breakfast is home made except the fresh goat cheese coming from a neighbor. Be ready to re-discover the forgotten and genuine taste of apricot and fig. They even produce their wine called “Hocus Pocus”.

10.000 fruit trees we did say !
Fresh goat cheese from the neighbor at breakfast

You got the point ! This place is designed by and for “Epicureans”. The owners even propose cooking and wine tasting classes mainly during the summer. In their own wonderful kitchen, the largest room of the house !

There is also a very nice minimalistic pool to refresh, as well as a couple of fountains and basins dating from the roman empire. So relax and feel the history, you’re in good hands at Pavillon de Galon.

For eating, wether at lunch or dinner time, we do recommend “La Closerie” in the very charming village of Ansouis, ran by Delphine and Olivier Alemany. Book long in advance for dinner at +33(0)490099054. We went for lunch and opted for the 23€ menu which was simply exceptional. In particular the starter “Cauliflower soup with local black truffle”. “Un sans faute” as we like to say in French. They also strongly recommend “La bartavelle” restaurant in Goult, 40 mn away from Cucuron. Should you try that one, let us have your feedback at bsimeray@gmail.com

La Closerie – Ansouis – Luberon

Cauliflower Cream – thin chips – black truffle

In Cucuron you will also find a one star michelin called “La petite maison“, ran by chef Eric Sapet. We had diner there which i would qualify just average. Completely overrated and overpriced. Unless they had a bad day that night ! Which can always happen.

All in all another long week end we will keep for long in our memories. We wish you to discover this wonderful region and experience the flavours of Luberon.

Hasta pronto !
Benoît

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Hotels, Places

Folegandros – Cyclades – Greece

In our permanent search of unspoilt places, we decided mid August to discover further the Cycladic islands, which we already visited a couple of times the past years. In such a popular destination as the Greek islands, one could say this is an illusion. Or a lost battle. 


The very good news is that it’s NOT ! You can still find very well preserved places. Authentic villages. And local people still living like centuries ago.

The first one we would like to share with you is the very small island of Folegandros. Various options to reach the unique harbor called Karavostasis :
  1. You fly to athens and then take a boat from Piraeus port. ( Count on a minimum of 4 hours by speedboat and the double with regular ). You can check timelines and book tickets here.
  2. You fly to Santorini ( direct flights from most European capitals ) and then take a fast boat from there ( 1 hour cruise with seajet )
In terms of lodging, you can wether stay at the port or at the main town called Chora up in the hill. We did stay at the port in a boutique hotel called Anemi for which a dedicated post will follow. 
Pool at Anemi hotel – Folegandros
Another 2 great lodging options we did visit and recommend are located in Chora ( old white washed village overlooking the Aegan and a great spot to admire sunset ) :
Wether you stay at the port or in Chora, you’ll be just 10mn away by scooter to reach the beautiful beach of Agkali. From there you have a few trails to reach some other small ones. Or you can take small boats leaving every other hour dropping you along the south Coast should you look for empty spots.
Agkali beach – Folegandros
In agkali beach you have several options for lunch or dinner. We tested one and quality was very average. We would recommend you to drive 10mn to the little village of Anomeria and stop by the 3rd “Taverna” when on the main road. We just can’t remember the name of this family owned restaurant. But it’s damn easy to find. We’ve had lunch there a couple of times. They exclusively serve products from the island. All is fresh and delicious. Count on approximately 15€ per head wine included.
Greek salad with local cheese from Folegandros
Folegandros, just like most of the other cycladic islands, has got churches at almost every corners ! They are all extremely well preserved and maintained. They absorb and captivate. We particularly recommend you to walk up from Chora to the top of the hill church. An hour before sunset. Just feel the peaceful atmosphere, breathe and dream !
White washed trail – Church up from Chora – Folegandros
Mi Amor
Magic sunset – View to Chora and Aegan – Folegandros
I hope this island will bring you the peace of mind and happiness we felt. Or at least a parenthesis of it in the everyday life we are all up to. Next stop is Sifnos. So stay tuned and keep on sending your comments or sharing your own experiences.
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