Monday, December 22, 2014

Son et Lumières sur la Place de la Mairie

Arles, samedi 20 décembre 2014 - Coup d'envoi des festivités de la nième édition de 'Drôles de Noël'! Animations tout azimuth dans les rues de la ville.

   La première soirée a débuté avec un spectacle au laser en son et lumières sur la façade de l'Hôtel de Ville du XVIIe. Le début du show était programmé pour 19h50 d'après le programme. Je suis donc arrivé un peu avant. J'étais sur la Place de la République dès 19h40. Il y avait foule. Je suis monté sur les marches de Saint-Trophime pour avoir une vue générale. L'Hôtel de Ville et la place étaient éclairés et une musique d'ambiance accompagnait ce début de spectacle. A 19h45, la musique s'est arrêtée, en prévision du spectacle en son et lumières. A mon grand étonnement, la foule a commencé à quitter les lieux dans un flot ininterrompu! La place s'est vidée de plus de la moitié de ses occupants en quelques minutes!...Et à 19h50, comme prévu, le véritable spectacle a bel et bien commencé sur une place désormais laissée aux visiteurs, qui, comme moi, étaient venus assister à la performance audio-visuelle. Magnifique spectacle dont voici quelques clichés.

Eerie mansion

Electric moment

Back to Château d'Estoublon

This is a follow-up to my post of last September in French. Friday, 19 December was such a beautiful day that I drove my Mum & our friend Mireille to Château d'Estoublon near Fontvieille.
There were many visitors. First, because a Harley-Davidson group had come for a gathering and also because they had  opened some Christmas activities for children: a lovely merry-go-round, some donkey rides and the presence of Father Christmas in his own stand in the courtyard!

Anyway, it was lovely to sit outside for coffee in the park near the château. By the way, they are now restoring the building inside out. It will be interesting next time to see how it looks like.
Mum & Mireille

The light in the chapel was awesome as the sun rays came right through the stained-glass windows.  
The chapel

Mural inside the chapel
Chapel interior
Light through stained-glass
Chapel altar   

Friday, December 19, 2014

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Provence

At the village heart
On Friday, 18 December, I had plans t.o meet friends of mine. They work at Tunis but own a house in Die in the Drôme. This is another American couple, who chose to live in France. They both are originally from Seattle. 
The plan was to meet somewhere between Die & Arles and have
lunch together to catch up with news. We had agreed to meet in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
This is a historic village just north of Avignon now mostly renown for its outstanding brand of wine.

1. A historical landmark.

When the Popes were living in Avignon in the 13th to 14th centuries, they had a summer palace in the village. It is about 18km north of Avignon, not far from the Rhône riverbank.
The Popes built their summer residence on top of the hill. Hence the origin of the village name, which literally means 'the new chateau of the Pope'.
They started planting vines to produce their own wine. But it remained a well-kept secret till  many centuries later.

2. An exceptional wine.

Bottle of Châteauneuf
Today, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is known all over the world for its exceptional brand of wine. It is an AOC, which belongs to the prestigious Côtes du Rhône.
It is predominantly made with Grenache mixed with many other grapes. The earth of the vineyards is covered with flat pebbles to keep humidity in the soil during the dry season.
Since the wine production is limited to a small area, it accounts for its price. But once you have tasted this elixir yo know why it is so expensive and also so renown.

Map of vineyards

Wine logo

Wine shop sign
Village winery

Other links:
Christian Sorand

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas trip to France (December 14-27)

  Waiting for my flight to Paris/CDG at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Non-stop overnight flight aboard the Thai Airways A380.

Then connecting with direct TGV train from CDG to Avignon, where my sister will come to pick me up to drive me to Arles, Provence.

TG930 BKK > CDG1 12hours
Royal Silk check-in counters at Suvarnabhumi

Xmas mood at Royal Silk lounge

Thai Royal Silk Lounge

Boarding wing at Suvarnabhumi

Business class seat #15A

Screen side of the seat

Royal Silk deck on A380

View of toilet

Breakfast tray 2 hours before landing
TGV from Paris/CDG2 to Avignon 3 hours
1st class aboard TGV

French countryside

Soirée à l'Alliance Française de Bangkok

Fireworks over Benjakiti Park for the King's Birthday

On December 5, 2014, the King of Thailand turned 87. From friends' balcony, I wa set to celebrate s able to watch the fireworks for HM the King:


Night view over Benjakiti Park & lake

Friday, December 12, 2014

Celebrating 500 Blips today!

Ever since I was introduced to Blipfoto by a friend and former colleague, who was living in Istanbul at the time, I have really been addicted to it.
It is such a positive site where you can actually make many friends worldwide! The first goal was to reach 360 blips. And now, I've reached the 2nd stage: this is my 500 blip celebration!
So, today I tried hard to find a photo that would consecrate this anniversary.

My Blipfoto site

A hundred lights to celebrate 500 blips.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New update from TripAdvisor

Hi Christian Sorand 525 reviews    298 helpful votes
Hello, superstar
That's you, Christian Sorand: a brilliant reviewer with an incredible 525 reviews under your belt. People like you are what make TripAdvisor such a special place for travelers everywhere. What new discoveries have you made recently?
Thank you!