Unusual villa overlooks Infinity pool.
Dragonissi is a unique property overlooking Dragonissi Island and the peaceful Lia Bay. This charming home is a fusion of Horo, the Mykonian country style, and modern simplicity, which come together to create elegance and comfort.
Natural stone living area
The outdoor area, designed to preserve natural elements around the structure, shows an impressive infinity lap-pool composed of bare rock edges. Numerous plants, flowers and cacti surround the property. Inside, beautiful antique pieces, personal items and some unusual creations decorate the many rooms with harmony and charm.
Endless sea views
The white walls have rough surfaces, the corridors have been carved into rocks, and each room is a real discovery and elicits admiration from the eye and spirit. The side terrace with dining area features a BBQ-oven ideal for entertaining guests while enjoying endless sea views.
Wise words from Emily Kaufman
I recently devoured a book that had so many good and wholesome tips for travelers, so well expressed, that I decided I needed to share a few excerpts directly with you guys. So, the following tidbits are from Emily Kaufman's The Travel Mom's Ultimate Book of Family Travel. Enjoy!
Tulip Festival in Skagit
For me, traveling inspires a spirit of adventure. Adventure can be about testing your physical limits through activities, but it can also be about stretching your mind beyond what it is used to in everyday life. Family vacations require that you suspend your normal life and make a certain shift in attitude. What is that attitude, precisely? It's the attitude of being open to trying new things – a type of food, activity, or destination. I ask you, if we take vacations to get away from it all – work, school, worries, and the busy routine of life at home – then why wouldn't we step outside of what is familiar? This is how and why travel can be such a gift – not only for your children, but for you and your husband or partner as well.
Travel teaches us to look at our surroundings in a different way, experience the world in a different way, and as a result experience ourselves in a new, different, and often larger way. Children especially learn to expand their vision of the world, gain confidence as they meet the challenges presented by living outside of their normal routine, and develop understanding of other cultures, histories, and topographies. And when families travel together, we support and encourage one another as we try new sports, hike a mountain... indeed, vacation has that special power to bring families closer. So here's to your spirit of adventure! Break those internal boundaries and discover a part of yourself you never knew existed! Watch your kids grow in strength of mind, body, and spirit! And by all means, have fun!
Although the key to good planning is to research your options, gather information, and make some plans for what to do on vacation, it's also important to avoid over-scheduling. Parents of young children usually are more aware that their babies, toddlers, and preschoolers need to rest or nap at least once during the day. But it's easy for parents to forget that tweeners and teenagers – and, yes, even adults – need to take time to do nothing. My family and I like to take power naps – ten or twenty minutes of lying down on the bed or sofa, closing our eyes, and letting our brains just stop. Naps such as these will leave you feeling not only refreshed but also reinvigorated for the rest of the day – or evening! My advice: take mini-breaks throughout your trip so you continue to have the energy to enjoy being on vacation!
The first way you can prepare for your vacation is to clear your mind and leave your work at home. I know, I know: with e-mail, voice mail, and now BlackBerries, no one at the office believes that you are out of reach. But don't leave your access up to your boss or coworkers. Make the decision beforehand to not work on vacation. A true vacation is time away from life at home, and that means work.
Emmanuel & family
I am glad to announce the launching of the French region of Dordogne. With over 30 properties in that area, you can find just the right place for your vacation and enjoy the wonderful countryside of this Southwestern region of France, well known for its many castles and villages, marvelous food and wonderful people. We are also in the process of adding properties on Ile de Re, an Island located off the Atlantic coast of France.
For those longing for sunshine after a long winter, you may want to consider the Caribbean. We are currently adding a number of new and wonderful properties there.
Surprisingly, we have been very busy with bookings for Europe. This is probably a sign that many Americans have realized that we only live once. So, why put off our vacation plans until next year? Also, many people realize that staying in a villa is far cheaper and more convenient than staying in a hotel and having to eat out every day.
We are currently working on improving our website, which will allow you to search and find exactly what you want with more ease and speed than ever before.
Emmanuel de Ricard, President
Photos to share
Montsoreau cave cottage
France's Pays de Loire beckons lovers of architecture, fine wines, history and art. This is an enchanted land, its rich valley soil and softest of climates dividing the north of France from the south. Here you find chateaux built for the kings of France, and a myriad of small and artistic villages to amble through. Don't forget your camera, for the images are delicious!
There are a handful of rivers that run through the valley, all eventually joining the largest, the Loire, on their way to the Atlantic. Somehow the peaceful reflections of water against the backdrop of ancient chimneys, turrets and cottage roofs gives this area a special artistic accent. No wonder it is cherished above all as the land of poets, from Charles d'Orleans to Pierre Ronsard. It was here that the passionate Joan of Arc led the French to victory against the English at Orleans in 1429, and other major historical battles were fought here during the Hundred Years War. In the cradle of the French Renaissance, the French court led the entire country while living a life of enjoyment and pleasure.
The Loire is also a region of historic abbeys. The Benedictine abbey of Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire is where the Lutheran doctrines of the Reformation were embraced. And at Fontevraud lies Henry II, who founded the English Plantagenet dynasty with his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their eldest son, Richard the Lionhearted.
The Pays de Loire is said to be where the purest French is spoken. Here there is an almost elegant mixture of country gentlemen's residences, Louis Philippe mansions, pretty gardens, local limestone houses, and carefully tended potagers. These potager caves reflect the essence of French taste. Because the soft limestone of the region lends itself to natural erosion and human excavation, the cliff caves are used for the aging of wine and cheese, and often used to grow mushrooms. They are without light, perfectly insulated from wind and sun, and many have even been refined into comfortable homes. Their location is easily seen by brightly painted doors on the limestone cliffs.
Candes-Saint-Martin is a typical village of the region. The fine grass sloping towards the river, the sandy beaches when summer arrives and the water has receded, and magnificent local stone and slate buildings merge. There are even some troglodyte (cave cottage) homes towards the top of this hilltown.
Monsoreau was put on the literary map by the French novelist, Alexandre Dumas. He published La Reine Margot in 1846, based on the tragic ending of a love affair between a count's wife and her lover. The jealous 30 year old count forced her to set up a rendevous with her lover at Chateau de Coutanciere, on the opposite bank of the Loire. Here he attacked and killed his rival. Today the village remains splendid, with its chimneys, turrets and blue slate roofs reflected in the river. The surrounding hills are planted with vineyards, and a walk through the narrow village streets will lead to two ancient windmills, one of which is completely restored. Another spotlight of the village are the remnants of hundreds of original troglodyte houses honeycombed into the cliffs. Stop to enjoy the tasty cuisine and sip a sampling of the splendid local wines, including Saumur, Souzay-Champigny and Turquant.
Lavardin's ancient bridge
Lavardin is built overlooking the Loir, another similarly named river in the valley. This particular village is so peaceful and perfect it forces you to slow down to the pace of the meandering river. The ancient bridge has survived the attacks of two English kings, Henry II and Richard the Lionhearted. The fort is now in ruins, but stabs the skyline with the reminder of historical conflict. Stroll through its medieval lanes. The church displays some of the best twelfth-century frescoes of the area.
Montresor is reached across what used to be a drawbridge. In its wooded setting beside the river Loir, it is a traditional medieval village where time seems to stand still. Its fort is set high on a rock and is now in ruins. A covered market from the seventeenth century still exists, and the old wool exchange continues to do business.
Amandine Dupin, the famous novelist better known to the world as George Sand, had a house at Gargilesse-Dampierre, described in Promenades autour d'un village. She loved touring the area with such companions as Turgenev and Flaubert, and also her lovers Chopin and Liszt. Her house remains as a small museum that is open to the public.
Apremont-sur-Allier is another medieval river village that is very striking, with its honey colored stone buildings and warm red roofs. The river's summer beaches attract families who come to bathe and picnic, reminding us of the colorful riverside gatherings so often painted by French artists. Apremont's chateau was at first a feudal fortress. It has been occupied since being renovated in the 1700's, and is occasionally open to visitors. It's well worth a visit, and be sure to see the fine stables and coach house while there. A more recent addition to the village is the stunning public gardens, with bridges, gazebos and lush plantings in the English style.
Fashionable living room
Maubourg is a classy apartment located in the 7th arrondissment on Boulevard de la Tour Maubourg. Built in the late 1800's, it retains much of its original charm. This second story apartment with elevator can accommodate five to seven guests with its three bedrooms. If you want to discover Paris, this is an ideal location as it is in close proximity to the Seine River, Les Invalides, the Grand Palais, Champs Elysees, the Concorde and the Orsay Museum. Rue Clerc with its street markets and Rue Saint Dominique with all of its interesting shops are just a few steps away, as are various restaurants.
"Our family had a wonderful time this summer in Paris at the Apartment Tour Maubourg! It was a beautiful apartment and in a perfect location for our family to walk to the local market as well as the Eiffel tower etc..".
- LB, Westfield, NJ.
Apple muffins have
a crisp sugary crust
Sour Cream-Apple Muffins
1⁄2 c brown sugar
1⁄3 c flour
4 Tbsp butter, chilled
2 c flour
3⁄4 c sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
3⁄4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp nutmeg
1⁄4 tsp allspice
1⁄4 tsp cloves
1⁄4 tsp salt
1⁄2 c walnuts, chopped
2 Tbsp dried currants
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1 1⁄2 c sour cream
2 c (2 large) tart green apples, chopped
Prepare the streusel in a small bowl by combining the sugar and flour. Add butter in chunks and cut in with a pastry blender or fork until coarse crumbs are formed. Set aside.
Preheat over to 375 degrees F. Grease 12 standard muffin cups.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, walnuts and currants. In another bowl combine eggs, melted butter, and sour cream with a whisk until well blended. Add the chopped apples and sour cream mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until evenly moistened, no more than 15-20 strokes.
Spoon batter to the top of each muffin cup. Bake In center of preheated oven until browned, and the tops feel dry and springy, and a cake tester Inserted Into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Do not overbake. Let muffins rest In the pan 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool.
Newsletter Editor: Kathy Hayes