In the Loire Valley the mornings and afternoons are rich—full of leisurely cycle rides along the beautiful and famous Loire River, past verdant vineyards, visiting sprawling chateaux with their ancient towers and lush gardens, and strolling through historic, well-kept towns. The weather is mild and pleasant. And the cost of living is inexpensive.
About Gigi Griffis
I stumbled upon the Italian town of Biassa quite by accident while looking for rooms to rent in the famed Cinque Terre—five pastel-coloured towns built along the cliffs of Liguria—and I knew right away that the town would be perfect. While I love Italy in the summertime—full of laughter, sunshine and gelato—I also crave peace and quiet, to get away from the crowds and experience something authentic, something all my own.
When I think about my time on Malta, I think of bright blue skies, ﬁelds of richly green clover, the sound of the ocean smashing against the cliffs, all only steps away from the well-worn stone streets of ancient cities and the chatty and perpetually kind people. And all of it—cities, coastal walks—warmed and cheered by the seemingly endless sunshine, even at the height of winter.
Cycling a beautiful, well-loved path along the river in France’s famous Loire Valley, it was just as stunning as I imagined it would be…long, quiet stretches of shimmering water, beautiful stone towns, arched bridges, river birds, happy cycling families and castle after magnificent castle. While cycling through a small, forested area, it suddenly started pouring down with rain—and so I stopped to wait out the storm in the next town I reached…the beautiful waterfront city of Beaugency.
Lying at the heart of sunny Andalucia, Seville is one of southern Spain’s most beautiful cities. Waves of conquerors, from the Romans to the Moors, have left their stamp on its spectacular architecture. Thousands of tapas bars line the streets, and the warm Spanish sun nurtures parks full of palm trees. With such beauty all around, it’s easy to see what drew expats Karen and Rich McCann to Seville, where they now enjoy fine dining, a great social scene and terrific, inexpensive healthcare.
Last November, I was in Paris—just the latest in a long line of visits. My first night of that trip, I was invited to an international Thanksgiving celebration. The hostess, an American expat who has been in that city for many years, had made turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and had invited her international friends to join her for a celebration of gratitude. The room was full of people from all over the world—Parisians, of course, but also Australians and Venezuelans and Italians and Portuguese. The hum of languages was beautiful and unusual. And the joy of the gathering was universal.
Gozo is a small island (with an area of just 42 square kilometers) in the Mediterranean, just south of Sicily. It’s the second largest island (after Malta itself) in the Maltese Archipelago. And it’s known for being a quiet, rural getaway, a retirement haven, and the home of a special, mild goat cheese called Ġbejniet, which tastes just a little like fresh mozzarella.