Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Heart Beat, Covent Garden, central London

The work of French artist Charles Pétillon, the 54-metre long Heart Beat installation in Covent Garden features 100,000 white balloons, illuminated by pulsating white light. Pétillon says the goal is to draw attention to Covent Garden's role as the beating heart of London.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Stage 8, Tour of Britain, central London

Sunday, 9 August 2015

La Plage Municipale de Thonon, Lake Geneva, France

With broad vistas over Lake Geneva from its grassy banks, this outdoor pool complex is a pleasant and popular place to while away a steamy summer afternoon. For your 4.5 euros admission fee you get access to several swimming pools and diving boards, as well as loos and showers. You can also swim in the lake itself, but you need to negotiate the stony shoreline. Spanning three hectares, the site also has its own restaurant and bar, plus a fun 100-metre water slide (you need to buy tickets for this, but they are very cheap), volleyball court and table tennis tables. Note, men are supposed to wear swimming trunks, rather than shorts, in the pools. Busy, but not crowded, la Plage Municipale de Thonon is both picturesque and great value. 8/10

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Yvoire, Lake Geneva, France

A medieval village on the banks of Lake Geneva, Yvoire is undoubtedly attractive, but also very touristy. Its crumbling stone walls and gateways enclose a distinguished chateau and a distinctive church, as well as dozens of shops, cafes and restaurants adorned with flowers. Thanks to the large car parks outside the walls, the village itself is traffic-free and a little twee.

Le Château de Ripaille, Avenue de Ripaille, Thonon-les-Bains, France

Once a castle and a monastery, partially destroyed during the French Revolution, Le Château de Ripaille was restored in 1892 by a rich industrialist and art lover, Frédéric Engel-Gros.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Lac de Montriond, Haute-Savoie, France

A modest, but azure, body of water surrounded by steep green hillsides, on which trees cling precipitously, Lac de Montriond attracts scores of sunbathers in the summer.  Most of them cluster around the shallow outdoor pool, leaving plenty of space on the grassy banks of the lake proper. It is a very pleasant 3km walk or jog around the circumference of the Lac de Montriond. Or you can go for a swim, once you have waded through the muddy shallows. On site, there are toilets and a couple of places to eat. When temperatures rise into the thirties in the Alps, the Lac de Montriond offers a scenic reprieve, but parking can be tricky.

The Pointe des Mossettes, Chablais Alps, France

In the summer, you can park in the car park about a kilometre or so above the goat village of Les Lindarets and hike up to the Mossettes chair lift, which climbs up to the Pointe des Mossettes (2,277 metres). From this grassy mountain top, there are far-reaching views into Switzerland, as well as back into France. The walk down is quite hard on the knees, but the scenery is spectacular and you get to watch the mountain bikers hurtling down the bare ski runs.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Summer in Morzine, Haute-Savoie, France

As well as being a well-known winter resort, the mountain town of Morzine has established itself as something of a mountain biking and outdoor sports mecca. In the middle of summer, it draws hordes of middle-aged men in their body armour, many from Britain. To gain some height, they sling their bikes on special contraptions on the side of chairlifts and then come charging down the trails, which are lined by lush grassy slopes or dense coniferous woodland. There are also zipwires, good walking, road biking and white water rafting in the vicinity. After burning through the calories, you'll find dozens of reasonably-priced (by ski resort standards) restaurants, cafes and bars on Morzine's two main thoroughfares. In the centre of the town, there are some pleasant pedestrianised areas, complete with modern sculptures, vintage lampposts and baskets of flowers. And on some days, a large street market camps  in the car park near the tourist office. By Alpine's standards, Morzine's altitude of 1,000 metres is quite low, but its lift systems and road network link with the higher modern resort of Avoriaz.