Monthly Archives: June 2017

The colorful storefront shops in Paris offer a fascinating way to see the city

In a metropolis teeming with awe-inspiring façades—the Grand Palais, the Louvre, and Les Invalides, not to mention towering monuments like the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower—a visitor’s powers of observation are, understandably, quickly diluted. It can be easy to miss the quieter jewel-box treasures at street level, however abundant they may be. So, the German photographer Sebastian Erras began a pilgrimage to capture the living, breathing City of Light.

Having built a reputation for his winning architectural photographs—namely of colorful tiled floors in Europe’s cultural capitals—Erras has most recently turned his camera on Paris’s rainbow-hued storefronts. The project, dubbed “Paris Re-tale,” a collaboration with PixartPrinting, aims to spotlight both the city’s shopkeepers and the charming characteristics of their businesses—beautifully hand-painted signage, intricate tilework, arched thresholds, inviting interior lighting schemes.

Stories of the various proprietors, alongside a map pinpointing their locations, are also told. There’s Boris Lumé, whose century-old bakery in Montmarte, Patisserie Boulangerie Boris, is known for its heavenly petit choux (Meryl Streep apparently stopped in for a taste while filming Julie & Julia) and is listed as a French historical monument, thanks to the artwork on its façade. And there’s La Galcante, a shop near the Louvre, overseen by Jacques Kuzma, whose sole trade is collecting and selling clips from some 8 million printed materials—of which only about 10 percent are housed on site—from the 1700s until the present day. Want a Le Figaro from your birth date? Monsieur Kuzma is your guy.

“The idea for the project was not only to showcase some of these beautiful and old storefronts in Paris but also to dig a bit deeper and go beyond the image and tell the story,” Erras says. “Locals and tourists walk by these shops regularly, and some even stop to take a picture of them, but rarely do we get the chance to hear more about the history of the shop and its owner. That is what I was trying to change.”

Fall Foliage Road Trips

I once dreaded the end of summer freedoms and the ever-shortening days. But now I eagerly await the crisp weather and dazzling changes during fall foliage season. While leaf peeping is best done on foot — the better to engage all of your senses — you have to get there somehow, so here are some suggestions for fabulous fall foliage road tripsthroughout the US. Check out Travel’s Best Fall Foliage Road Trips. 

Northeast Region

In the Northeast, New England reigns supreme for fall-foliage viewing. Such states as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York all offer picturesque, bucolic settings to watch this colorful phase of photosynthesis. Autumn leaves in many other states are equally brilliant but New England is blessed with rolling, forested terrain and quaint towns — both of which accentuate the leaf-peeping experience.

Top road trips in Maine include Route 17 from the coastal city of Rockland to the state capital of Augusta, and routes around Sebago Lake, northwest of Portland, and Baxter State Park, in north-central Maine.

In Vermont, try an 88-mile loop in the center of the state along Routes 100, 107, 12 and 106 through Gaysville, Barnard, Woodstock, Ludlow and Killington.

New York’s Hudson River Valley has been drawing leaf peepers since the advent of the United States. On the best days, you can see 5 states from the elevated panoramic view at the famous Point Lookout Inn on the Palisades Interstate Parkway.

Connecticut is laced with old timey country roads, including US Route 44 throughNatchaug State Forest and State Route 154 through Old Saybrook.

Other northeastern highlights are New Hampshire’s White Mountains, including the town of Jackson; New York’s Adirondack and Catskill mountains, and the Finger Lakes region; Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, Lancaster County and Laurel Highlands; and New Jersey’s Whitesbog Village, on Route 530.

Mid-Atlantic Region

Most people don’t equate North Carolina with premium foliage viewing. But most probably don’t know that Mt. Mitchell, in western North Carolina, is the highest mountain in the eastern US (6,684 feet), and that the surrounding Pisgah National Forest harbors vast expanses of deciduous trees. Other leafy road trip opportunities include a drive through waterfall country on US Route 276, south of Asheville, and anywhere along the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, which stretches from Virginia to North Carolina.

Other mid-Atlantic highlights include Maryland’s Gambrill and Cunningham Falls state parks, Sideling Hill area on Interstate 68; and Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.

Midwest Region

The Midwest also comes alive with radiant foliage in the fall. The coup de grace of Midwest autumn road trips is the Lake Superior Circle Route, which includes scenic stretches of Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario, Canada.

The Hocking Hills of southeast Ohio unfurl their colors on the western slope of the Appalachian Mountains.

In Wisconsin, the glacially carved Kettle Moraine State Forest, east of Madison, offers prime viewing — and hiking along the Ice Age Trail — in early fall.

Western Region

The Rocky Mountains offer stunning fall colors, although early snowstorms can impact road trips anytime after Labor Day. The aspen trees in and around Aspen, CO, turn a warm golden hue in the fall. The Maroon Bells, a pair of peaks in the 2.3 million-acre White River National Forest, southwest of Aspen, provide an idyllic backdrop for fall photography. In an effort to preserve the natural experience, traffic is restricted on September weekends on the main access to this area, Maroon Creek Road. But regular shuttle buses can get you in.

When to Go

Prime viewing dates vary yearly based on weather. In general Mother Nature’s autumn show kicks off at the Canadian border and makes its first appearance in New England states such as Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont in early September. As the month progresses, the colors wind their way down South where the final colors fade away in early November.

Leaf peeping is serious business in many states, so expect crowds on peak weekends and, to the extent possible, plan ahead for lodging and dinner reservations — or (even better) sneak away midweek to have more of the experience to yourself.

The US Forest Service offers regular updates on where and when to catch the best fall colors in 29 states. To make the most of your fall foliage road trip, slow down, stop frequently for photo ops and interact with the locals along the way.

The Largest Flower Garden in the World, You Should Know

For green-thumbed travellers, there are a few iconic must-visits on the floral bucket list: the tulip fields of the Netherlands, the historic gardens of England, and the elegant jardins of France. But to experience the world’s largest natural garden, one needs to head to a surprising spot: the desert. Dubai Miracle Garden, which opened in 2013, is home to over 100 million flowers planted across 775,000 square feet. Even more impressive than the sheer number of blooms are the artistic and often sculptural arrangements throughout the garden. This being Dubai, a city known for it’s over-the-top attractions, the landscape designers went far beyond traditional topiaries and arches. In 2016, Dubai Miracle Garden earned a Guinness World Record for creating the largest floral installation, a life-size model of a Emirates A380 Airbus—complete with moving engine turbines—made out of 5 million flowers by a crew of over 200. Across the massive park blooms climb trellises to create a neighborhood of flower-covered houses, towering heart-shaped arches, and even a fleet of automobiles.

While a garden in the desert may sound like an ecological nightmare, the attraction uses a number of water saving methods, including waste-water recycling through drip irrigation and capillary mats and polymers to distribute moisture more efficiently. The garden changes each year with brand new installations and will be open for its fifth season November 1– May 31, 2018. While designs for the next season haven’t been released, something tells us a life-sized plane is just the beginning.

Miavana and King Lewanika Lodge Changing the character of an African Hotel

From above, Time + Tide’s Miavana is what you’d expect paradise to look like: a spattering of stone buildings lining an ivory beach, lapped by pale blue ocean. This is how most people will first view the new resort on an island off the northeastern coast of Madagascar: from the air. On closer inspection, the stone buildings reveal themselves to be a resort, spilling out onto a beach so untouched you’d work hard to find another footprint. This is Miavana, the Indian Ocean’s most remote and anticipated new destination.

For years, North Island in the Seychelles prevailed as the king of Indian Ocean island resorts. Its cliffside, sea-facing location and barefoot-luxury style could not be matched. The architects, Johannesburg-based Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, became renowned for their ”up market–Robinson Crusoe” aesthetic. But with the opening of Miavana (also designed by Rech and Carstens), North Island’s reign has come to a sudden end. For their newest project, Rech and Carstens wanted to create something different, despite North Island’s design’s garnering a lot of positive attention. “We’ve grown a bit tired of the whole ‘Robinson Crusoe’ look. It’s become our signature, but our minds are too active, and we wanted to do something different [for Miavana],” says Rech.

The first thing to notice about Miavana is that it’s hard to distinguish the beach sand from the stone buildings. “The color of the sand, the rock [which is compressed sand], and the color of the decks [which is an environmentally friendly composite] seamlessly dissolve into one color,” says Rech. Counterbalancing this heavy, neutral tone is a sprinkling of bright, lively stripes and multilayers of colors: Breton-striped daybeds and shiny orange and pink deckchairs. The stone and glass villas are decked with modern furniture. “We love the modern movement, so we thought, Why can’t we make pieces out of solid wood and use them on an island experience?” says Rech. The second thing to notice is how, like at North Island, the resort manages to be five-star but still produce an effortless holiday feel. “What we’ve tried to do is create this relaxed environment—so it just feels natural. That’s why it’s ‘barefoot luxury’. We want people to just zone out,” says Rech. With the myriad sofas and deck chairs in the communal area, all of which gaze onto the ocean, you certainly won’t have a hard time zoning out here. For Rech and Carstens, it has been a busy year. Not only did Miavana open for business, but the duo also unveiled a project in western Zambia. Located in the remote Liuwa Plain National Park, King Lewanika Lodge (also from Time + Tide) is the first permanent camp inside the park. With only six villas, comprised of steel, canvas and thatch, the lodge is noticeably less dialed up than Miavana. “We looked at creating interesting design using modern, local materials, while reducing our carbon footprint,” says Rech. Rather than blow you away with lavish features, the lodge’s intention is to have minimal impact on the surroundings. The roofs are designed to catch water when it rains and the simplistic furniture is made out of metal (a kind of a modern take on military pieces). “We’ve tried to condense everything into what you really need. It’s not meant to be ‘bigger is better,’” says Rech. The villas are designed to be aware of the natural surroundings. Through canvas walls, the sounds of animals can be heard and views of the never-ending Liuwa plain can be seen at every turn.

Whether the experience involves waking up surrounded by the open plain or the ocean, both properties have been designed to perfectly fit their location. This is something that Rech and Carstens have worked hard to achieve. “Besides the architectural delight, we tried to look at the choreography of 24 hours in that destination—how do you feel when you wake up in the morning? How do you feel after you’ve had a siesta? What happens when it’s raining? We wanted to use all the experiences we’ve had over the past 30 years to tick all these boxes,” says Rech.