Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Glamping in Switzerland

Camping in a tent outdoors evokes memories of warming the water over the gas cooker for my spaghetti, then crawling unwashed into my sleeping bag and sand that somehow always found its way into the tent.

Well, those days are over... welcome to the art of sleeping under the stars in glamorous style; it's called glamping and the Swiss are champions at it... but beware the prices have changed along with the tents!

Near Les Giettes, in the heart of Valais mountains, 18 luxury igloos are available for rent, including winter overnight stays. The bullet-shaped tents, called pods, offer different comfort gradings. The deluxe version contains a king-size bed, a shower and toilet as well as a satellite-TV and Wifi. Breakfast is hand-delivered to the pods. The comfort however will cost from CHF 1'180.- for two nights. The suite with a private sauna will set you back CHF 1'700.- for two nights.

Also in the canton Valais, in the small community of Weiler Blatten, you'll find the following glamping offer: at around 1,500 meters above sea level you can hire a luxurious lodge tent, complete with oven, sofa, warm-water shower and a sun roof. The lodge tent will up to sleep six people. The cost for a weekend is just under CHF 500.-.

Much smaller, but more transparent, is the Bubble Hotel. Six locations in the canton of Thurgau offer transparent, water-proof bubbles, including breakfast. Prices start at a relatively cheap CHF 190.-.

Feel like spending the night as if you are staring in a Hollywood Western movie: under the tepees on the TCS campsite in Disentis you do not have to miss out on a good night's sleep. The glamping tents are equipped with double beds. The fireplace is the perfect place to cook dinner but you can also enjoy a meal in the nearby restaurant. The highlight for families is the natural lake with a water playground. What are you waiting for?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Be part of InterNations Expat Survey

Ever heard of Expat Insider, one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive surveys on life abroad? You can be one of over 18,000 expats from across the globe taking part in the survey. 178 nationalities are represented, living in 187 countries or territories, from over 1,600 participants in Germany to one each in Greenland and Equatorial Guinea, they all provide a unique insight into life abroad.

If you’ve already taken this year’s Expat Insider survey, great. If you haven’t, it’s not too late! Join in and be part to it.

Take InterNations survey on expat life in your country, and you’ll have the chance to win one of ten exciting prizes. Filling in their anonymous questionnaire only takes about 15 minutes, and this year’s prizes include: an iPad, a GoPro, premium headphones, and one of seven hotel vouchers worth 150 Euro each.

Don’t miss your chance to vote and help uncover the best (and worst) expat destinations of 2019.

If you have any questions, email

Thursday, March 14, 2019

10 must-have Apps in the Swiss Alps

What I learnt this winter is that using your phone is not always a bad thing when skiing in the mountains. In this digital world there is an app for everything. My kids and their friends opened up a whole new world to me with their recommendations.

No more hunting for change to pay the parking and convenient ways of accessing essential and most up to date resort information. Ski tracking, snow reporting, technique analysis and even finding the best après hot spots or spot of lunch on the mountain... it's all in your phone!

Taking my winter fun to the next level, I thought I'd share these cool ski-friendly apps on and off-piste:

SkiSet - for hiring equipment at a better price
CheckYeti - is a search engine for ski and snowboard lessons
SEPP - a parking app - really easy, you just need to "check in/out" - just make sure you're within the parking site when you check in and don't forget to check-out at the end of the day!
SBB SnowNRail - 20% off return ticket and 20% off a 1, 2, or 6 day ski pass
Skyline - enter your skipass and it will tell you how many lifts taken and estimated distance
Ski tracks Lite - Record your entire day on the slopes without the need for mobile data, worldwide!
Ski and Snow Report - offers snow reports from over 2,000 ski regions around the world, including first-hand reports from other users who are right there in the thick of it.
White Risk - an avalanche app for all those who engage in winter activities in the mountains outside marked and open pistes. It gives access to the interactive avalanche bulletin as well as the latest snow and weather data for Switzerland.
MeteoSwiss - customizable live tiles and zoomable maps. Save your favourite places in Switzerland and get the corresponding weather details
REGA - the Swissest of them all! Receive fast, uncomplicated emergency assistance.
Rega is free of charge and contains everything that is necessary to call out Swiss Air-Rescue in the event of an emergency. A yearly donation is recommended.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Swiss ski teachers called Skeachers

If you think everything was better in the old days, this does not include the Swiss ski school. In my childhood ski school was not fun, but a kind of survival training in the snow.

Even before sunrise, we had to walk (sometimes over half an hour wearing heavy ski boots and carrying our skis) to the collection points, our life was then in the hands of taciturn mountain people with sclera and piercing eyes. They did not know compassion or pedagogical training, their legitimacy was the red ski instructor jacket. We were equipped with a thick layer of sunscreen and a 5-frank coin for lunch. The worse case scenario was that our parents forgot both which meant we were dehydrated and sunburnt in the evening.

I did not suffer any lasting damage from my first experience with skiing on the contrary it was good training... but don't complain and tell me that everything was better in the past because I will have you wear a pair of woolly gloves for the next ski holidays.

"Skeachers" - a combination of skis and teachers - are the new ski instructors for the spontaneous, an offer that is being piloted in the canton Graubünden this winter. You'll find skeachers on the slopes of Davos, Scuol and Andermatt.

Instead of booking a course in advance, guests spontaneously get in touch with a skeacher on the piste. At your request the instructors will accompany you on a couple of descents, give individual feedback, analyze your skiing technique and help you to improve it immediately. If you wish, you can film while skiing and judge your style. "

"Skeachers" can be recognized by their white armbands. 1 lesson of approx. 30 minutes costs 40 francs for one person. Two spontaneous guests pay 25 francs, three guests 20 francs and four guests 15 francs per person, payable in cash or by card. Maybe next year there'll be a skeacher near your ski resort!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Decoupage: a little known Swiss tradition

Decoupage (paper cutting) has been part of the local traditions for centuries in this part of Switzerland. It is an art that is instantly recognisable and can be adapted to many canvases.

Over the decades, we have travelled the world which included moving containers full of "menage". One part of our household is my Swiss guest room filled with decoupage from curtains to sheets to lampshades to candles. It is an eccentricity my family has let me indulge in just like my pink furniture ... but that is another story.

One of the few rainy days during these ski holidays Expat Girl and I took ourselves off to Chateaux d'Oex to discover the local museum. Founded in 1922, the Musée du Vieux Pays d'Enhaut has become one of the principal folk-art museums in Switzerland showcasing collections which have been gathered together over the years by people who were passionate about the history of this region and its traditions.

Early on, two local artists chose paper and scissors to express their talent and their emotional impressions. Whether through examples of finely cut book marks, larger symmetrical monochrome compositions or later, collages of many colours, they left a beautifully balanced treasure of traditional art called "decoupage".

Decoupage of Rougemont

The atmosphere of homes from bygone days 
of a kitchen in which you can imagine people still living.

This museum provides the "memory", the record of a mountain region which for many years was quite cut-off.

Its people created a craft industry of an exceptional quality and their beautiful chalets housed treasures of a living art.

Amongst these treasures you can admire a huge forge

A room devoted to the early days of tourism

A family crest carved into a window frame

My personal favourite this painted cupboard

Everyday objects abound: kitchen-ware, work-tools, cow-bells, toys, pottery, lace-work and objects made from straw.

Paper cutting has become a tradition of the Pays-d’Enhaut. More than 60 paper cuts from past centuries are presented at the Musée du Vieux Pays-d’Enhaut.

Louis Saugy (1871 – 1953), a man of a jovial and playful character, let his imagination run riot in the creation of scenes of village life, country and mountain views remembered from long rambles around Rougement.

Stained glass, spinning wheels and traditional costumes

A bedroom with the bed still made

An old fashioned loom, a device used to weave cloth and tapestry

A well deserved hot chocolate while writing a "decoupage" postcard

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

It feels good to be on the slopes

Lucky, lucky me... I am STILL skiing and the sun is STILL shining! My friends are starting to wonder if I will ever return to Paris. Let's just say I feel blessed and spoilt for having had such a wonderful and long ski holiday with family and friends. I feel at home and it feels good!

The only one missing was my hubby but I have a strong suspicion he planned his business trip in order to avoid the slopes?!?

Hashtag: I love skiing in the sunshine

Early risers get the best slopes

When the gondola is too steep to look down....

Nature in all its force

Feeling on top of the world

No words, no filters, no noise... simply perfect!

.. until you get stuck on the chair lift...

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Irresistible and pure indulgence

Chocolate is my passion. It is my addiction, always has been, always will be. During my visits to Switzerland I do not miss an occasion to indulge in my passion, especially during the ski hols. Chocolate tastes the best on a slope. Overindulging in chocolate... NEVER! Chocolate is happiness! Yes, I admit, I am a chocoholic!

Ovomaltine Muesli for breakfast

A hot chocolate before hitting the slopes

When - after lunch - the waitress brings you chocolate with your coffee ... without even asking

A quick snack on the ski lift

My favourite Swiss speciality called Carac... filled with chocolate ganache

 Hot chocolate and a Carac while writing postcards

Heissi Ovi with a plum crumble on the top of the mountain

Teatime at the chalet: another Carac

Hot chocolate and a blackberry tart

Tea with an Ovomaltine biscuit

My favourite chocolate bar "Chokito" with another heissi Schoggi

Mövenpick has come out with a new Chocolate flavoured ice cream... how can I resist?!?

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Ready for Rabadan?

Carnival time is upon us already. A centuries-old tradition, carnival (known as "Fasnacht" in German, "Carnaval" in French and "Carnevale" in Italian) is celebrated every year in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, which falls on March 6th this year.

Carnival is traditionally a chance to indulge and make merry before the lean times of Lent. And while the religious significance of the festival may have diminished with time, a spirit of indulgence remains very much the order of the day with eating, drinking and partying all high on the agenda. The pounding drums of traditional ‘Guggenmusik’ bands, the elaborate costumes and the confetti-strewn parades are all part of a strong Swiss tradition albeit hardly known abroad.

Known as Rabadan (which means "noise"), Bellinzona’s carnival is the most important in the Italian-speaking canton. It all gets underway this year today when the keys of the city are handed over to "King Rabadan", who is chosen by the carnival committee to rule over the city's revellers until Tuesday March 5th.

As well as the traditional Guggenmusik, parades and children's festivities, there are also DJ sets, concerts, aperitif events and even a mass risotto-eating session on the Tuesday. Keep in mind that if you can't make it to Bellinzona, there are plenty of smaller local carnivals all over the canton which are also worth a visit.

Click here for Ramadan programme:
Click here for the Ticino Carnevale calendar: Carnevale in Ticino 2019

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Touching the sky...

It has been a glorious week for skiing. Lots of snow, cold overnight temperatures, blue skies during the day and not many tourists. This is karma, over the years you win a few you loose a few when it comes to good ski conditions. You know you are REALLY lucky when your half-term break falls onto the perfect week.

It's not too cold, not to hot, the fir trees are deep green, the birds tweeting, the mountain restaurants not overflowing with people, the slopes are perfectly prepared, the snow crunching below your skis, the magnificent summit panorama, each peak glistening in the sun and the view, oh those views are simply breathtaking! I am in seventh heaven...

Gstaad's slogan: Come up slow down!

Looking over onto the Valais mountain range

View from the top of the Videmanette

Rinderberg has a new little restaurant...

... great for a hot chocolate break

Hitting the slopes again

Off piste?!?

Even the chairlift ride is pretty

Another panoramic beauty

I just can't get enough of this view!
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