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筱晴散文集:光影跳躍的普羅旺斯 | The Rhythm of Provence

Roussillon 紅色山城露絲揚 / By Hawobo at German Wikipedia

 

作者:筱晴

亮白熾熱的陽光,灑落滿山滿谷、翠綠如玉的葡萄園,排列成行,微笑的向日葵,在一望無際的田野排排站,紫色夢幻的薰衣草,更是飄香醉人,還有來自大地的豐饒物產,調配出普羅旺斯的繽紛色彩,猶如一場流動的盛宴。

普羅旺斯位於法國東南方,東以阿爾卑斯山,與義大利交界,西與隆河為鄰, 南接寶石般晶亮的地中海,北為橄欖樹生長的界限。

我們從羅亞爾河的城堡群中脫身後,就往南走,一路風光無限,平直秀麗的鄉間道路,看不盡的麥浪起伏,和深淺交錯的綠林田野,阡陌連綿的葵花田, 一個轉彎,就有它迎向陽光的身影,讓人捨不得眨眼,法國國土遼闊,平坦富庶,向來有 「歐洲糧倉」之美譽。

Image: klassenfahrten.aureliaev.de

修道院前的薰衣草我們一路貪看風景,趕到普羅旺斯省的第一站小鎮露絲揚 (Roussillon),已是午夜,還要勞駕民宿主人帶路,露絲揚盛產紅土,普羅旺斯的典型房屋顏色是赭紅色,紅土就出自於此,朝陽下的紅色村莊,朝氣蓬勃;夕陽西下的小鎮,寧靜安祥,如溫潤的琥珀。

千泉之都 – 愛克斯 (Aix-en-Provence)探訪薰衣草的故鄉是此行的重要目的,當一開上蜿蜒的山路,我們就發現走錯了路,但狹隘的小徑已無退路,只好硬著頭皮往上爬,未料峰迴路轉,竟然走進中古世紀村莊--賽揚 (Saignon),中午時分,商店酒館都未開啟,杳無人蹤,斑駁古樸的建築,矗立山頭頹圮的修道院,走在石板路發出篤篤的腳步聲,深怕打擾沉睡中的居民,驀然一陣清越的鐘聲從村莊教堂發出,原想古城終於醒了,但等了半把個鐘頭,還是一片靜默,果真是孤寂的小鎮。   

Saignon 賽揚 (Source: Wikipedia)

Saignon 賽揚 (Source: Wikipedia)

未經一番寒徹骨,哪來梅花撲鼻香? 我們上山下山,坡上坡下,越過天際般高的峽谷,穿過三兩戶可愛的石頭屋,走過 「山居歲月」作家彼得梅耶思的桃花源,終於尋覓到薰衣草的故鄉--索特 (Sault),站在高台俯看一片片紫色花田, 雜夾著黃色麥田和綠色玉米田,豐富有層次的色彩,賞心悅目。除了靜態的風景, 還有動態的人文,一群老人正聚精會神的比賽槌球,悠然閒情,躍然紙上,令人羨慕。

身心浸沁了濃郁的薰衣草香,猶嫌不夠,還有藝術之旅的重頭戲,拜訪梵谷的創作地與長眠地,我有強烈的好奇心。亞爾市 (Arles) 因梵谷的畫作而名聞於世,他在十九世紀末來到這裡尋找光與影,創作許多不朽名畫,在 「星空下的咖啡屋」 喝杯咖啡,好似與梵谷對話。

亞爾市位於隆河畔,自古即是重要城鎮,遺留許多羅馬時期的遺蹟,包括羅馬競技場及劇院,皆列入聯合國教科文組織的世界遺產。附近不遠處還留有羅馬水道—嘉德高橋 (Pont du Gard),三層拱門大橋,歷經二千年仍完好無缺,厚重石頭, 古羅馬人的高度文明技術,令人讚嘆,真不可思議,被列為世界遺產,名符其實。

羅馬時代建造的橋斷了亞維儂 (Avignon) 曾是教皇的故鄉,如今每年暑假舉辦的嘉年華會,使它成了藝術表演殿堂,其可看之處是教皇的皇宮和羅馬時代建造的斷橋,爬上保存良好的城垣,斷橋就橫臥在翡翠般的隆河上,古橋連接城垣和對岸的小島,這小島把隆河一分為二,再匯集一處,城堡最高處自然是宏偉的教堂,這是法國最大的哥德式教堂,建於十四世紀,廣場熱鬧非凡,許多街頭藝人預做廣告,招攬觀眾。    

亞維儂 Avignon 羅馬時代建造橋 (Source: Wikipedia)

義大利哲學家但丁來到玻堡城 (Les Baux),走上壯觀險峻的堡壘,山風狂襲,宛如鬼哭神號,他隨口說了一句「地獄大概也只不過如此吧!」而我們竟然自投羅網,在地獄住了兩晚,與哲人的感受截然不同。車子不能進城,只能停在山腰,行李箱無法拿進城,因為高低起伏的石頭路要很費力的拖上拖下,我們只好用小袋子裝要換洗的衣服。

小城很小,只有兩條街道, 三家小旅館,卻美的驚人。當我們走到民宿時,忍不住哇的尖叫起來,原來我們住在石頭城最高處,與六百年歷史的城堡共用城牆,主人是藝術家,一斧一鑿打造山洞,歷時四十餘年才完成,三間風景絕佳的房間,可以眺望對面的石頭山,頂樓陽台,一覽無遺的頹圮城堡與之等高,猶似雲端,夜晚星辰滿坑滿谷,晴空閃爍,流星剎那劃過,可惜來不及許願,夜半果真狂風怒號,飛沙走石,令人顫慄,似乎要印證哲人的咒語。

馬賽 (Marseille)港灣的紫杉堡,據說是基督山恩仇記中監禁男主角的場景,它也曾惡名昭彰,淪陷為海盜窩,而今努力洗刷罪惡,脫胎換骨成為法國的重要港口,拜古蹟藝術與美食之賜,今日的馬賽已是蔚藍海岸上的一顆明珠。

九天的南法之旅,只能走馬看花,看個輪廓,我與普羅旺斯相約,不久的將來,定會帶著家人再度來訪。 

玻堡城 Les Baux (By Benh LIEU SONG - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5143955)

Beautiful Destination: Val d’Isère, a Picture Perfect French Alpine Town

A motorcyclist cruising down the windy Col de l'iseran mountain pass in France. © Eileen Hsieh

Magnificent peaks, blinding white snow, set against a gleaming sun as daredevil skiers and snowboarders go off piste seeking virgin powder and the next adrenaline rush -- this is the romantic vision I've long reserved for the Alps. It is a playground for the bold & active who return year after year for endless winter thrills and unrivalled landscapes.

Val d’Isère is located near the French-Italian border and an easy drive from the idyllic Lake Annecy. © Frommers

Arguably the most famous mountain range in Europe, the far-reaching Alps stretch across parts of France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria and Slovenia. Its highest mountain, Mont Blanc, stands imposingly at 4,810 meters (15,781 ft) above sea level and for centuries has been the object of affection for many artists and adventurists alike.

Having virtually no expertise in any winter sports and little tolerance for cold weather, I opted to visit the region near the end of its summer season, which ran from June 28 - August 31 this year. Val d’Isère in southeastern France was my destination.

Situated near the French-Italian border, Val d’Isère is about a 2.5 to 3-hour drive from four airports - Geneva, GrenobleLyon and Chambéry. It's one of the most popular ski resorts in Europe and receives tens of thousands of visitors every year, but the town has merely around 2,000 residents during the summer months with many hotels and restaurants closed for the entire duration. In an effort to attract more tourists to explore its year-round beauty, the local tourism body has started a promotional campaign for non-winter activities including hiking, cycling and rock-climbing via Ferrata (Italian for "Iron Road") that cater to all ages and strengths. 

The typical chalet architecture in Val d'Isere. © Eileen Hsieh

Via Ferrata climbing in Val d'Isere. © Nick Davies

The history of the valley where Val d’Isère now sits can be traced back to Roman times, but the harsh winter weather saw it being used mainly as a summer refuge for farmers looking after animals in the high mountain pastures. 

It wasn't until the 20th century when winter sports became fashionable that the town of Val d’Isère started to get noticed for its top-notch snow conditions, and around 1937 with the construction of Col de l'Iseran (2770m) - the road leading to the highest paved pass in the Alps - it began to evolve into an established, full-fledged ski resort and has since hosted Olympic events and become one of the most beloved destinations for winter sports enthusiasts.

Challenging path to the top of mountain. © Eileen Hsieh

The scenic Col d l'Iseran mountain pass. © Eileen Hsieh

To the top for the obligatory shot. © Eileen Hsieh

Checkpoint: on the French-Italian border. © Nick Davies

Marmots here are used to posing for tourists. © Eileen Hsieh

Two-thirds of Val d’Isère is located within the Vanoise National Park - France’s oldest national park. Created in 1963 and one of the 9 national parks in the country, Vanoise has stunning flora, glaciers, mountains above 3,800m, and one-third of France's Alpine ibex population (at about 2,000). You can also find plenty of smaller mammals here such as the Alpine hare, the marmot and the snow vole.

The Savoie region is also the producer of the delicious Beaufort cheese which can be found at many local supermarkets. The pale yellow alpine cheese has a smooth and creamy texture that tastes slightly similar to cheddar but with a milder aroma. It's definitely a gift cheese lovers would welcome back home. 


See more pictures of this beautiful town on my Instagram

Piccadilly Circus Circus | 皮卡迪利圓環馬戲團

Winter Wonderland at Piccadilly Circus

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2012年是倫敦的歡樂年,從六月的女王鑽禧慶典開始,接下來陸續登場的奧運,帕運,一連串目不暇給的藝術表演,令人耳目一新,驚喜連連。

Piccadilly Circus Circus -- 皮卡迪利圓環馬戲團 -- 是倫敦夏日活動中的重頭戲之一。來自十七個國家的250多名表演者,週日下午在十二個戶外舞台為遊客獻藝,壓軸則是傍晚在Piccadilly Circus上場的法國馬戲團空中特技表演。

成千上萬的觀眾聚集在廣場上,興奮的期待 20:00 的來臨。當燈光亮起,音樂響起,只見高樓上方的藝人緩緩滑下鋼索,一個接一個的使出渾身解數,翻滾,滑翔,跳芭蕾舞,還有倒立,運用高超的技巧在鋼索上表演,時而優雅,時而驚險。這時充氣的巨無霸胖天使也湊上一腳,在空中與特技演員們玩耍,極為逗趣。

突然間天上灑下片片如雪花般的羽毛,四處飄散,點綴着Piccadilly Circus的愛神丘比特雕像,浪漫萬分。頑皮的表演者似是玩上了癮,將一團團的羽毛傾瀉在萬千觀眾的頂上,讓大家驚呼不斷,趕緊拍下精彩鏡頭,傳上網路與世人分享。


For one night only London's Piccadilly Circus was turned into a giant wonderland, with the help of 1.5 tonnes of feather, a cuddly angel and an enchanting performance by France's Studios de Cirque

Watch the spectacular PLACES DES ANGES from my vantage point: