If it’s spring it’s time again for the creative extravaganza that is the UNIcréa Arts & Crafts Salon, which twice annually brings together more than 100 artisans ‘handpicked’ for their originality, passion and talent by UNIcréa founder and director Céline Dreveton. I spoke with Céline last autumn (Meet Céline Dreveton: Artisan, Entrepreneur and Creative Force) just before the Salon’s 22nd edition at the Château de la Sarraz and she impressed me with her commitment to unveiling fresh, new talent at each subsequent fair.
Since the early 1900s, Geneva’s food hall has been a beloved feature of culinary life in the city. Many generations of the same local families — and expatriates and visitors who come and go and come back again — loyally purchase goods from the merchants whose stands line the two long corridors of the Halle de Rive. The President of the Halle’s Merchants’ Association tells me why that’s so. One of my favorite shortcuts — whether or not I needed food — when walking to my former home in Geneva’s Eaux-Vives district from the city centre led me straight through La Halle de Rive, a culinary corridor running between Rue Pierre-Fatio and Boulevard Helvétique. The observance of quality and service, the array of beautifully presented produce, the friendly greetings of the food merchants, and the enjoyment of the locals gathering for lunch or raising un verre at the in-house Bistro des Halles left me feeling I was sharing a cherished, time-honored tradition in the life of the city. Which, of course, I was.
The diversity of foreign foodstuffs on Swiss and local French supermarket shelves has dramatically increased over the past few decades as has the number of independent suppliers offering high-quality ethnic ingredients from faraway sources. So an expat desperate for a fix of home needn’t go far to satisfy cravings for a favorite edible or to find the necessary ingredients to whip up a beloved dish in their own kitchens.
Many medieval villages dot the landscape of Vaud Canton, but of those that lie in populous areas and withstand heavy traffic, possibly none have preserved their charm and architectural integrity more successfully than the Bourg of Coppet. Located about halfway between the cities of Geneva and Nyon, Coppet’s main street, the “Grand-Rue”, runs parallel to the Lac Leman shoreline and in summer, day-trippers disembark from paddlesteamers at the town’s quay to visit the Château de Coppet, located a five minute walk uphill along a village sidestreet.
Due to unanticipated, and to me at least, deeply disturbing events in our world this past year, I’m really craving some comfort and joy this Christmas time. Happily, there’s plenty on offer at Christmas markets across Switzerland this November-December, including some very special ones right on our doorstep in the Lake Geneva region. Here are a few of my highlights for you to consider, all of them within easy distance by car or public transport.
Preserving the country’s natural heritage is right up the Swiss Heritage Society’s alley and what better way to do that than to entice people out into nature to show them what’s on offer. A Baroque garden, a large landscaped park, a varied urban square: Swiss gardens offer charming diversity. In honor of the Year of the Garden in 2016, last year Swiss Heritage profiled fifty of these special spaces in a newly-revised, 2nd edition of Swiss Heritage’s guide to the “Loveliest Gardens and Parks in Switzerland”. The 120-page pocket-sized French/German brochure is full of practical information including symbols indicating what’s to be found in each park: a coffee or a place to play, a particular natural setting or a spectacular view. The booklet can be ordered online at CHF 16.- for non-members and CHF 8.- for members of Swiss Heritage. Visiting one of the 50 gardens featured in this booklet promises a journey into a new world of expertise, imagination and discovery. Who knows? You might even come away with tips and inspiration for your own garden. Coppet Garden Fair on 12, 13, 14 May 2017 Nothing …
I can’t imagine anything that puts me more in the mood for seasonal merrymaking than a good, old fashioned Christmas market filled with handmade arts and crafts and delectable seasonal biscuits, cakes and chocolate confections. What with myriad neighbourhood markets and larger affairs in cities including Montreux and Basel, opportunities to shop, mingle and make merry with a glass or two of steaming mulled wine (or spicy chai tea) are coming at me faster than I can write up a Christmas list and check it twice. Château de Coppet Christmas Market I’m lucky to have the Market at the Château de Coppet just down the street from me. I stopped in yesterday for its first day and as usual, there’s an excellent selection of artisans and small businesses offering their high-quality wares. The food market housed in the caves, where jazz concerts are held throughout the year, features homemade honey, cakes, pannetone, spices, gourmet nuts, and of course, excellent chocolate confections from Phillipe Pascoet and Coppet-based chocolatier Guillaume Bichet. Meanwhile, children are entertained with baking and crafts courses in the caves’ kitchens (unless they prefer to enjoy the nearby …