Embrun - South of France

Embrun is a commune in the Hautes-Alpes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France. It is located between Gap and Briançon and at the eastern end of one of the largest artificial lakes in Western Europe: the Lac de Serre-Ponçon. 

Located in a geographically transitional zone, formed by the valley of the Durance on one side, and surrounding areas rising to elevations near 3000m, Embrun (870m), has a climate among the driest and sunniest of the Alps. This is the reason why it is rightly nicknamed the "Nice of the Alps", due to its temperate climate. Embrun is also surrounded by mountains and unspoiled nature. The town is included in the peripheral zone of Ecrins National Park, with fully equipped ski stations such as Les Orres, Vars-Risoul, Reallon Crévoux. Embrun was the capital of the Alps during the Roman Empire, as an Ecclesiastical metropolis, it was the seat of a bishopric since the 4th century with Saint Marcellin, then Archbishop until the French Revolution. Later in the 17th century, it became a military town, fortified by Vauban.

We have travelled to this area many times, one reason is family another because this is just such a fantastic place. You can hike, bike, run, swim, high ropes course, river rafting, mountain biking, skiing (winter time) and so much more. We stayed at La Robéyère a very nice hotel only 10 minutes walk from the centre of Embrun.

Twice a week, Saturday and Wednesday, there is huge "farmers market" in the city. You get the best and freshest produce France has to offer at really good prices. If you are in the market for patches, clothes, hats or other stuff, you can of cause get that too. We would start every day with a cafe creme and a croissant from the local patisserie. And on market days, after loading up on dried ham, goat cheese, tomatoes, melons, baguette, and other delicacies, we would head for the mountains or find a lake, eat our picnic and simply enjoy life.

I love hiking, and the French Alpes was my first encounter with the sport. Back then we would carry everything with up, tent, food, sleeping bag, cloths etc. We would be up in the mountains for 3-4 days, enjoying the fresh air, nature, the views and the solitude. Now we do more 1 day hikes, up and down again in the same day. I would like to stay up there for longer, and I hope we will find time for that in the future. This time we cheated a little and took a lift up-up-up. Then we hiked down to a lake, where we had lunch and went for a swim, before we headed the rest of the way down. 

Late Night Paddle Boarding

Each summer we enjoy the long, light evenings in Denmark. The girls went paddle boarding most nights around 11pm, when the sea was come and quiet. If you have not yet tried paddle boarding, do it, it's so much fun and a very good workout too.

Møns Klint

Møns Klint are a 6 km stretch of chalk cliffs along the eastern coast of the Danish island of Møn in the Baltic Sea. Some of the cliffs fall a sheer 120 m to the sea below. The area around Møns Klint consists of woodlands, pastures, ponds and steep hills, including Aborrebjerg which, with a height of 143 m, is one of the highest points in Denmark. The cliffs and adjacent park are now protected as a nature reserve. There are clearly marked paths for walkers, riders and cyclists. The path along the cliff tops leads to steps down to the shore in several locations.

Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen

Coming to Copenhagen on vacation and also have a whole day together with Birgitte, my photo partner in Focusnomore, was like winning the lottery. I wanted to go to so many places but had to choose, which meant saying no to some of them. I decided to focus on the old house and the new architecture in Copenhagen. I could easily have made an entire blogpost with only photos of bikes. We Danes love our bikes, and every Dane have one.

The bottom right photo I feel like represent Copenhagens "Painted Ladies". The photo is from Gråbrødretorv in the center for Copenhagen.

Soft blueish tones in this foursome. Top left is a photo is of the iconic towers on Knippelsbro, which is the first bridge to connects Christianshavn with the rest of Copenhagen.

Nyhavn is the top left photo, one of the most photographed places in Copenhagen. H.C. Andersen lived in 3 different places in Nyhavn. Top right is one of the many Harbour Beaches along the canals in Copenhagen. On warm summer days they are packed with locals and turists cooling off and enjoying the weather.

Evening Swim

Every summer when we visit Denmark, one of our favorite things to do is our family evening swims. The light is so magical because of the long sommer evenings and the tempture of the water is warm and refreshing.

Iceland

If you like us only have 1.5 day's in Iceland, you want to spend them wisely. We started the day we arrived with a walk through Reykjavik. Our first stop was at The striking concrete Hallgrimskirkja church, where you can go to the top of the tower and get a 360 degree view of Reykjavik.  

One place you have to visit is Braud & Co the local bakery that bakes the best cinnamon buns I have ever had. You can't miss it, the front of the bakery is so colorful. You can also get a freshly baked roll with butter and cheese, also amazing. 

The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is your best opportunity to get a good feel for the country. There is a saying about the weather: if you don't like the weather in Iceland, wait 10 minutes. And it's true, the weather changes all the time.

From Wikipedia:  The Golden Circle (IcelandicGullni hringurinn) is a popular tourist route in southern Iceland, covering about 300 kilometres (190 mi) looping from Reykjavík into the southern uplands of Iceland and back. It is the area that contains most tours and travel-related activities in Iceland. The name Golden Circle is a marketing term that has no roots in Icelandic history.[citation needed] The three primary stops on the route are the Þingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss waterfall, and the geothermal area in Haukadalur, which contains the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. Though Geysir has been mostly dormant for many years, Strokkur continues to erupt every 5–10 minutes. Other stops include the Kerið volcanic crater, the town of HveragerðiSkálholt cathedral, and the Nesjavellir and Hellisheiðarvirkjun geothermal power plants.

 

Blue Lagoon

We ended our visit to Iceland in Blue Lagoon. This is what I would call a tourist trap, but fun to visit and very relaxing afterward. The warm waters are rich in minerals like silica and sulfur and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed to help some people suffering from skin diseases. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 37–39 °C (99–102 °F). The lagoon is a man-made lagoon which is fed by the water output of the nearby geothermal power plant Svartsengi and is renewed every two days. A tip, don't get your hair wet in the Lagoon, the water will dry out your hair and leave it very dry for days. We had to buy h

Issy's Garden Project

My youngest has been wanting to improve the little area she has outside her bedroom, and turn it into a small garden. Today was the 2nd day of her summer holiday and her dad had some time to spare. All day I have been enjoying their collaborative work and seen the project take form. This is only vol. 1 of her garden project, next is a bench with pillows, which I think will be a collaboration with me. Can't wait to be part of her creativity.

A Taste Of Napa

This Saturday I had the opportunity to go to Napa for a small private event. We met at Oxbow Market in downtown Napa. Oxbow District of Napa has become the local gathering place for great food and wine in downtown Napa and throughout the Napa Valley. The goal is to create an atmosphere within the Oxbow Public Market to improve the local food culture through education, community outreach and support of local businesses and farms.

 

Gemstone Vineyard

From Oxbow, we drove to our first destination Gemstone Vineyard. The vineyard farm 20 micro-blocks within their 16-acre estate to optimize the uniqueness of their diverse soils and numerous clonal selections. When Thomas Rivers Brown joined Gemstone in 2007, he immediately understood that the estate could support three stylistically distinct expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon.

While sitting outside under the trees, having a very delicious lunch, we were fortunate to taste wines they only had very few left of. And I understand why. To be honest, I'm not a wine person, I don't know much about wine, I'm the kind of person you would not pick to choose the wine. Okay, now you know - but I could tell that these wines are not something you get every day. 

 

Sinegal Estate Winery

Sinegal Estate Winery is one of the oldest vineyards in Napa. It is historically know as The Inglewood Estate, with 30-acres with perfect soil, subtle microclimates and varied terrain.

The first vines was planted back in 1881, by Alton Williams, and 4 years later they harvested for the first time. 130 years later, Sinegal Estate will release its first wine. The Estate has a diverse selection of varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Masque, and Semilion.

The Estate is magnificent. It’s modern with a classic, warm European style. Everything is clean, from the design of the tasting room, the labels on the bottles, to the barrels. For me, and my self-diagnosed OCD, a true pleasure to the eye.

Beth welcomed us and showed us everything. How they sort the grapes, where the store the wine and for how long. The French oak barrels, and made sure we tasted a good selection of their wines. Sinegal produces 3000 cases a year. They mainly sell through their membership club, to a few restaurants, so not easy to get a hold of their wines. Again these wines were something more than every day wine.

Kantine

I was so lucky to get invited to the pre-opening of Kantine on 1906 Market St in San Francisco. Kantine specializes in simple, delicious, wholesome Scandinavian food. They make everything from scratch using whole grains, seasonal ingredients, and Scandinavian methods.

Kantine is open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch six days a week (closed Mondays). We had the brunch menu, with chef Nicole Accettola’s signature sprouted rye bread, and many delicious toppings. This is definitely not our family's last visit to Kantine.

Steep Ravine Cabins

If you follow along on my blog, you have noticed that this is not the first post from Steep Ravine Cabins. I believe it's the 3rd. We love going here for many reasons. It's only 40 minutes drive from our house, you are transported back in time because of the very simple living, you are close to nature, and close as a family. All of these things are important to our family, but my guess is, it's true for every family.

Steep Ravine Cabins and Campground is so private and relaxing. There is not a bad location or spot, the views from all the sites are overwhelmingly beautiful. I love the windy drive down (or walk) to get down to the campground. This is one of my most favorite places to camp and while a bit more challenging to book, considering a weeknight stay is totally worth it!