Martigny sculpture garden

There’s a wonderful gallery in Martigny, a town about 40 minutes away by train.  Head towards the Valais and if you keep going over the alps, you’ll end up in Chamonix, France.

The gallery is the Fondation Pierre Gianadda and last year hosted a wonderful Modigliani exhibition.  There was also a photography exhibition with a handful of Henri Cartier Bresson’s portraits of his artist friends.  This one is magic.  Matisse sketching a dove.

IMG_1575Bird in the hand.

Right now they have a Renoir exhibition.

Surrounding the gallery is a lush garden with pond, ducks and a sculpture garden.  Here are a few of my favourites.

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And downstairs, there’s a car museum with some classic old cars.

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Martigny is the site of ancient Roman ruins and boasts a stunning ampitheatre, which has been restored.

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Bern and Läderach chocolate

Last week I had a quick day trip to Bern with my Aussie pal, Sue who studied there so she knows her way around and all the cool Uni haunts. We wandered around town, over a bridge spanning the river Aare

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and up the hill to a beautiful rose garden.

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with this stunning view over the city

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Bern is the capital of Switzerland and it’s a lovely city. It feels more like a big town than a city. Zurich has a lot more bustle and business feel, Geneva hums as a working international hub, where Bern just does its own thing at its own pace. Bernese are teased for walking slowly. They’re taking their time. And this is where Einstein apparently came up with the theory of relativity, while living and studying in Bern.

We ducked into this underground restaurant/bar just for a peek.  Stunning, isn’t it?

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To add to linguistic confusion, not just Swiss German is spoken here, but a dialect called Bernese.  “Merci” serves as thank you, rather than “Danke” as I was taught in German Z back in high school.  I’m always too shy to bust out the ancient German in my head as it sounds nothing like what is spoken (with High German – which is what is taught at school & a bit more formal) is quite different to Swiss German (which is the spoken dialect).  Also, I’m trying so hard to keep french at the front of my cortex, I don’t want any other languages creeping into my consciousness!

No visit to a Swiss town is complete without a chocolate shop pilgrimage. This time to Läderach. They’re quite a new player on the scene, being less than 10 years old, which compared to the old players like Lindt (founded 1845 initially as a pastry shop) or Nestle milk chocolate (1875), Villars (1901) etc, you get the picture.

Läderach specialises in great big heaving slabs of chocolate.  Bring it on!

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And truffles.

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Look at these sweet chestnut truffles.

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It’s coming up to chestnut season.

And this statue is the Kindlifresserbrunnen, a warning to children to behave otherwise they’ll be eaten by the giant.

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Or it could also be seen as a representation of what I looked like when I gobbled up this Läderach slab selection.

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(Insert Cookie monster sound effect here)

signs and the signified

I must say, I love a good sign.

Nothing like positive reinforcement for puppies.

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Could this be a warning for green flames?

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What about this one?

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Watch out for people who could kick you down the lift shaft? Please explain.

Look at these ones instructing hikers how to exercise.

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Note to designers: Careful where you put the arrows.  They’re a bit Mardi Gras, otherwise (not that there’s anything wrong with that)!

And finally, love the accurate representation of the lovely CGN paddleboats that churn up & down the lake over the warmer months.  Whatever you do, don’t swim beside them.

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a visit to Freibourg and the Villars chocolate factory

Earlier this week I ventured to Freibourg, a 40 minute drive away in the next canton.

The university town is split by the Aarne river where french is spoken on one side and german on the other.

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Some pretty bridges and dramatic scenery make it a scenic place.

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Not to mention the Villars chocolate factory.  This blog’s source is an homage to chocolate after all.

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No longer open to the public, curious chocoholics are only allowed in the factory shop where a few old factory curios are on display.

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And many chocolates available to purchase.   Love the deco art on the tins.

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Across the road from the factory is a live music venue, Fri-son  http://www.fri-son.ch/

Cool street art adorns the entire facade of the building.

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And there is some pretty brutal architecture in this neighbourhood.  Jeffrey Smart inspired.

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Les Avants hike

There’s a regular Friday hike with some of the school Mums and I went on my first one today.

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Quite a strenuous walk which included a river crossing and a schlep through a forest up a rather steep muddy embankment.

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Yep, we got lost!

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Worth it for the stunning views though, once we found our way out of the woods.

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Love the swirly shapes of shingles on a roof.

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And the trodden terraced cow paths along the hillside.

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Here’s where we started and ended up.

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look up

Funny how we move about the world with our eyes open but not really seeing things.

Occasionally I like to look up.

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And quite often you will see tourists doing this – you can spot them a mile away, stopped on a street corner with a map in their hands, looking up at a building or a view.  It’s a different way of looking at the world.  I think we get that when we’re foreigners or tourists or new to a place.

Maybe we should behave more like tourists more often and we would see gems like this – sense of humour in the old town of Vevey with a butcher’s shop.  See the pink pig running for it’s life on the roof and down below, on the first floor level on the street corner, a brass pigs head.

Victory to the butcher!

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There are some handsome signs around the old town
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and check this guy out – pretty self sufficient dude who’s erected a little roof for himself so the pigeons don’t mess up his helmet coiff.

Because he’s worth it!

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chives and pussycats

It seems we’ve acquired a new friend.  One of the neighbours has a lovely pussycat & she loves to come & play on our balcony.  A handful of her toys have made their way here, beside our wild strawberries or basil.

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There’s something really homely about a balcony full of herbs with a pussycat lounging or sleeping or pouncing on a bee or piece of string tugged along by a child.  It’s the little touches that make you feel more like you’ve created a home.