Cead mile Failte! One hundred thousand welcomes! Tis a phrase youll hear quite often in Dublin, a city once ruled by kings and now one of the most cosmopolitan gathering places in Europe. Writers are revered, poets are cherished and publicans are well looked after. Trinity College houses some of Irelands greatest and most ancient treasures, while at the same time educating some of the worlds youngest and brightest. All that mind work requires a bit of down time. In this fun city, its easy to find a pint and a story and a pal or two to share them with.
Though he died young, at just 36 years old, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec left a body of work that still intrigues art lovers today. His paintings, illustrations and drawings give life to turn-of-the-20th-century Paris, and thousands of visitors flock to Albi, his hometown, each year to visit the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum and the collection of his works displayed there.
They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Its doubtful that was the philosophy behind the creation of the apple-based brandy called Calvados, produced in the Normandy region of France. But something had to be done with all those apples lying about. Why not create something truly delish? The Lord de Gouberville answered that challenge and is credited with the first distillation in 1554.
Its all in the Apples
Bite into the typical apple used in Calvados and youll most likely find your face puckering. Think persimmons or even lemons and youll get the picture. These apples are not apples for eating, but have the necessary proportion of sugar, acidity and tannins to produce quality cider.
A few months ago I had the great opportunity to travel to France for a hotel barge trip down the Canal du Midi in the Languedoc region. Having never been to the region before, I envisioned a quaint countryside with farms and the occasional café in the more populated areas. What I found however was so much more.
Like a fine bottle of Bordeaux wine or an exceptional gourmet dinner at a Michelin three-star restaurant, the picturesque town of Sarlat deserves to be enjoyed and savored slowly.
Visitors to this gem of a city should set aside enough time to take a leisurely stroll through its charming cobblestone streets, study the stunning architectural details of its medieval buildings or enjoy a delicious al fresco lunch in the town's lovely main square.
Sarlat, which is also sometimes referred to as Sarlat-la-Caneda, offers visitors a fascinating peek at the way France once appeared.
In some ways, visiting Sarlat is like taking a trip to the past without having to invest in a time machine. The carefully restored town has even been classified as a Ville d'Art et d'Histoire -- or in English, as an Artistic and Historic Town.
About Sarlat: Sarlat is also on the tentative list to be considered for a possible UNESCO World Heritage designation.