A post for Sophia

From time to time, fellow bloggers post difficult questions on my blog. I usually do my best trying to answer to all of them but, some days, when a question is very difficult to answer, or my English capabilities –English is not my mother language- don’t allow me to say what I really want to say, or simply if I didn’t sleep well the night before, I just write “thank you for visiting” or put that silly face that appears on screen when you type : and ) … 🙂

Some months ago, Sarah (fellow blogger, super chef and virtual friend) posted here a very difficult question. I hesitated: to answer or not to answer. To say 🙂 or to put my life at risk dealing with phantoms just to get the answer Sarah was waiting for …

I accepted the daunting challenge and provided her with a comprehensive response in “The Queen’s magic recipe

This week, for second time in this blog’s history, I face a similar dilemma: to say 🙂 or to write a specific post about a beautiful area of Europe that is relatively far away from Covetotop’s headquarters …

Sophia, fellow blogger and talented photographer, asked this questions in my last post:

“Where in Switzerland were you? I am planning a trip to France in June and one of my stops will be St. Julien (where I spent the first 6 yrs of my life) near the Geneva border. Where do you recommend near the border (of France and Switzerland)? Also I want to stop in a town in the south of France where there are old stone buildings and those magnificent lavender fields. Which town would be the best choice for that?”

This was my first answer:

“Thank you for your comment, Sophia. I’m afraid I don’t cross that border (of France and Switzerland) very often; consequently my advice about that specific area is not that of an “expert”, but of a casual “vagabond”.  In any case, don’t worry: I’ll try to provide you with my “vagabondish” advice about your questions soon. Stay tuned … ;)”

Sophia, if you are reading these lines now, here below you’ll find my “vagabondish” answer to your questions.

Swiss border

1) “Where in Switzerland were you?”

Here and there. Switzerland is a very nice little country to explore, so I don’t stay two days in the very same place when I visit it …

I like its mountains, its lakes, its villages …


Gstaad Hotel

Swiss mountains

Swiss house



Old Couple Sw

Mountains sw

Swiss peaks

If I had to recommend just one single hotel in Switzerland (taking into account quality/price), it would be this one: Grandhotel Giessbach.

Its location is amazing: above lake Brienz and right next to the Giessbach waterfalls.


It is not expensive (by Swiss standards), it has a lot of charm, it has a lot of history …

Giessbach façade

Salon Giessbach

Breakfast by the waterfall of Giessbach

A room with a view Giessbach

By the way, some time ago, watching TV, I discovered that some scenes of Steven Spielberg’s miniseries “Band of Brothers” were filmed at this very same hotel (it was the American troops headquarters in Austria!). I’m not a devoted fan of Mr. Spielberg, but I was surprised to see how often he chooses for his films the very same locations where I use to go. This is the second post in which we share a location (the other one: “A risky Mediterranean experiment in Cabo de Gata”). Apparently we, the greatest geniuses of the entertainment industry, share the same taste for locations …

2) “Where do you recommend near the border (of France and Switzerland)?”

Not far away from said border, in France, I’d suggest …

Annecy: Very nice village, full of charm.


Evian: Nice village, full of mineral water.


Aix-les-Bains: Spa-village. There is a casino in Aix-les-Bains (I don’t like casinos). This city is on the edge of Lake du Bourget, boasting sandy beaches. Radisson Hotel is a good choice (below: shot of Aix taken from a Radisson’s room).

Radisson Aix les Bains


Amis du vieux Chambery

I like this city very much. Narrow streets, outstanding bakeries (people queue up just to buy a loaf of bread), theaters, castles, elephants … Chambery has them all.

Chambery streets

Bakery France Chambery


Château Chambery

Chambery elephants

3) “Which town would be the best choice for that (to stop in a town in the south of France where there are old stone buildings and those magnificent lavender fields)?”

You’ll find old stone buildings and magnificent lavender fields almost everywhere in the Southeastern of France.

My suggestions:

Avignon: Known as the “City of Popes” because it was full of popes and antipopes from 1309 to 1423, during the Catholic schism. It has an outstanding theatre festival every year, an awesome castle and a bridge (and an old song: “Sur le Pont, d’Avignon, on y danse, on y danse, sur le pont d’Avignon, on y danse tous en rond”). For lavender fields, visit the area of Mont Ventoux, northeast of Avignon and Carpentras. For outstanding wines, visit Châteauneuf du Pape  (Côtes du Rhône wine). The coteaux of Châteauneuf du Pape are between Orange and Avignon.


Orange: If you love old stone buildings, in Orange you’ll find a really old one: Its Roman theater.

Orange, France

In the same area, you have the most impressive “old stone building” of Southern France: The “Pont du Gard” (1st century AD).

Pont du Gard

Arles: Van Gogh was here. And some great Roman and Medieval architects too …

Cafe de la nuit

Rome in Arles

Romanesque masterpiece, Arles

Aix-en-Provence: Charm and merchant. Cezanne was born here.

Aix prov1

Aix-en-Provence marché

Saint Remy de Provence: Van Gogh was here too. Wandering in its countryside you’ll find many of the places painted by this artist: Wild flowers, olive trees, cypresses, the Alpilles, the Saint Paul de Mausole Asylum … There are also some Roman ruins around. Nostradamus was born in Saint Remy. It is a strange village this one, but very “Provençal”.

Saint Remy de Provence

I am aware that the information provided above is not very practical, but it is sincere and very personal. On the Internet you’ll find tons of very practical, impersonal and insincere information.

If you or any other friendly reader needs any further (sincere) information, please do not hesitate contacting me, but, please, don’t get angry if I just say …   🙂


About Covetotop

A Mediterranean blogger
This entry was posted in Mountains & Valleys, Towns & Villages and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to A post for Sophia

  1. harri8here says:

    Lucky Sophia. This is a tremendous ‘tour’ … and your photographs supersede any postcard.

  2. Christina says:

    Gorgeous photos! I am try to plan a trip to Spain and you are distracting me with all of these other beautiful locations 😉

  3. Covetotop,
    I just clicked on my “Blogs I Follow” link and when my name popped up in a title of the most recent blog. I thought it was perhaps a blog about Turkey. But as it turns out it is a well thought out response to my questions. Splendid! I am so glad I chose to leave you a message on here rather than the telepathic method you suggest on your “About” page. Annecy and Chambery look wonderful. Plus I love elephants so I may have to go just to see that statue;).
    As for the blog post for Sarah….You say your english is not very good, however you created a whole fairy tale with vivid imagery just to get the info to her. I am lucky these days to speak a grammatically correct sentence in French. Well done my friend, well done.
    Thank you so much for your personal recommendations of the areas. It is being added to my
    “France trip” bookmark on my computer. I have been doing research on places to visit in France from other bloggers for the very reason you stated, the info is sincere and personal.
    I have one final question, “What does the title of your blog mean”? I could find no translation online. Does it have an interesting story? Hoping you will not answer this question with a ;).
    Thank you again

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you for your comment, Sophia. I’m glad you liked this post. And, answering your question about this blog’s title, I have to point out that … 😉

      Ha. Seriously, there is no interesting story about the word “Covetotop”. When I had to choose a name for this blog, I wanted to use a self-explanatory title. My first thought was the phrase “From a beautiful Mediterranean cove to the top of the Pyrenees Mountains”, but it sounded a little bit long. I didn´t like it. Hence I cut it: “From the cove to the top”. I didn’t like it either. Hence I cut it and formed a brand new word: “Covetotop”. I am afraid this title wasn’t self-explanatory any longer, but it was short, and better than something like “Cotop” or “Cototo” …

  4. trishworth says:

    I think you’re GREAT. All of this information was useful to me (and hopefully to Sophia). So well done.

  5. Fairytales take place in your photos, Covetotop. Another great read – thanks for doing this.

  6. augusta says:

    Nothing to say but, “Thank you once again.”

  7. Sarah says:

    You have a gift for answering difficult questions in a very intriguing, beautiful, and entertaining way. My prediction is that more questions will be coming your way just so people can read your answering posts. 🙂
    The pictures of Switzerland are stunning! I was able to see Montreux, Leysin (my mom went to school there), Interlaken, and Gimmelwald high in the mountains. Ah, it was amazing! Thanks for bringing back the memories!

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you very much for your comment, Sarah. But I hope not to receive any more difficult questions, because answering them is exhausting (one has to visit daunting palaces, deal with phantoms, climb mountains, and so on …) 🙂

  8. As always, your photographs and narrative are a delight. I am especially fond of Annecy and Aix-en-Provence, and would recommend St. Paul de Vence.

    • Covetotop says:

      Thank you for your comment, Patrick. I agree with you; Annecy is probably the most beautiful French village close to Geneva. And Aix en Provence is one of my favorites too (and Arles and St. Remy). Saint Paul de Vence, Grasse and the rest of villages of the “arrière pays” of the French Riviera are certainly beautiful and worth visiting (as the French Riviera itself), but I disregarded them in my post because they are perhaps too far away from the area I think Sophia wanted to visit (and the Provençale autoroute –A8- is a nightmare from June to September).

  9. Pingback: 38: Handmade Books and Snow Crystals, among others. | Almofate's Likes

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s