36 hours in Salzburg, between tradition and modernity

Austria Europe Salzburg

36 hours in Salzburg, between tradition and modernity

Salzburg is a baroque gem that is a must-see! Whether musical, historical, vibrant or traditional, the Austrian city can be discovered in less than 48 hours. With a thousand-year-old fortress, a sparkling river that divides the city and a mountainous environment, you will feel like you are in a fairy tale from the moment you arrive.

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Lake Brienz: Iseltwald and Giessbach, peaceful Bernese hideaways

Bern Switzerland

Lake Brienz: Iseltwald and Giessbach, peaceful Bernese hideaways

Give me a lake and mountains and I would feel at home. I didn’t think I’d get such a familiar impression when I first went to Lake Brienz, and throughout my visits, it has become my favourite place in Switzerland. A place for which, one day, I could perhaps leave my beloved Riviera.

Situated in the Bernese Oberland, this corner of Switzerland is certainly the perfect postcard and shows the diversity of landscapes that Helvetia enjoys. Colourful lakes, majestic mountains, enchanting villages and lush green fields – no more clichés than that. And this is probably its charm!

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The complete guide to Edinburgh

Edinburgh Europe Scotland United Kingdom

The complete guide to Edinburgh

“There’s no leaving Edinburgh, No shifting it around: it stays with you, always.”

Alan Bold

With my eyes fixed on the gloomy sky that covers Lake Léman with an opaque mist, I see no ray of sunshine emerging from my balcony. I am simply reading but my thoughts are elsewhere. My heart too. I am nostalgic, happy to be back in my beloved Switzerland, but I can’t repress the tiny depression that hugged me when I returned at the beginning of the year 2020. It seems that students often feel this feeling when they return from a university exchange. I miss it, I miss my adventure, I miss my Scottish life, and above all I miss Edinburgh!

This state of mind doesn’t go away but, life goes on, you get used to it again, you start classes again. Then, Covid-19 takes over… It’s almost a year since I left for Edinburgh. But I look back and ask myself: How did this city manage to fascinate me so much, to give me an incredible feeling of freedom? Everyone is different and will experience the same thing in a totally distinct way, yet Edinburgh is worth visiting, worth living, and I will reveal its secrets in this article. This is the complete guide to discovering the Scottish capital.

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Välkommen till Stockholm – the must-sees of the Swedish capital

Europe Sweden

Välkommen till Stockholm – the must-sees of the Swedish capital

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, appears to be a quiet and trouble-free little town. However, beneath its apparent tranquillity, it hides a dynamic city. Situated on the Baltic Sea, Stockholm is built partly on fourteen small islands at the mouth of Lake Mälaren and is mainly grouped into five districts that are not to be missed (Gamla Stan, Ostermalm, Södermalm, Djurgården and Norrmalm).

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The Vintgar gorge, between limpidity and hordes of tourists

Europe Slovenia

The Vintgar gorge, between limpidity and hordes of tourists

Slovenia has some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world, and the Vintgar Gorge is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful places of all! But all this instagrammable beauty comes at a price, and it can be frustrating to struggle to get a glimpse of it without crowding and bumping into hordes of tourists along the narrow paths and trails.

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Die Romantische Strasse, an enchanting road trip in Germany

Bavaria Europe Germany

Die Romantische Strasse, an enchanting road trip in Germany

From the vineyards of Franconia to the first foothills of the Bavarian Alps, the Romantic Road is a lovely trail which meanders among the most authentic and historic German towns on approximately 400 kilometers.

It is the most renowned and valued itinerary in Germany and whether we are foreigners or native Germans, we all have the same feeling: an impression of going back in time to discover the rich history of that region and its culture. All of that is pleasantly accompanied by landscapes which change over the crossed territories: vineyards, countryside, meadows, forests, and to conclude marvellously the journey, the Bavarian mountains.

From Lower Franconia in Würtzburg to the south of Bavaria in Füssen, gateway to the prestigious castles of Ludwig II of Bavaria, let yourself be guided by one of the most charming roads in Europe.

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Hallstatt, an idyllic alpine village overwhelmed by mass tourism

Austria Europe Hallstatt

Hallstatt, an idyllic alpine village overwhelmed by mass tourism

Nestled among the rugged Dachstein and Salzkammergut mountain ranges and overlooking a crystal-clear lake, the alpine village of Hallstatt in Austria offers a truly breathtaking sight. In recent years, however, this place has become a major centre of European mass tourism. When I visited it in the summer of 2019, I never thought I would be surrounded by so many tourists, even in the middle of July. I mistakenly thought that this village was not affected by the summer tourist season.  But at the same time, if I had been able to discover this place on social networks, a lot of people could have done the same…

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The ultimate guide to Québec’s national parks

Around the world Canada North America Québec

The ultimate guide to Québec’s national parks

* This article groups together the different parks described in the various articles on Quebec

Vastness territory where nature is omnipresent, Québec represents a world of discoveries. During our road trip in the province, we focused on this wild natural side of the region, which led us to explore several national parks.

Quebec national parks are grouped under the name “SEPAQ”, literally “Société des Établissements de Plein Air du Québec”, administered by the Quebec government, although some of these parks are part of the Canadian national parks network. Only three parks in Quebec are given the appellation of “Parks Canada”.

With over twenty destinations located throughout Quebec, according to the organisation’s official website, these parks list more than “6,995 km² of protected areas”.

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Visit through Edinburgh’s bookshops

Edinburgh Europe Scotland United Kingdom

Visit through Edinburgh’s bookshops

Edinburgh has seen the birth, growth and death of many writers and especially their greatest masterpieces. It is therefore not insignificant that the city was declared the first by UNESCO: City of Literature. A well-deserved title, since the city arouses curiosity, that impalpable atmosphere that gives inspiration to the greatest writers.

It is true that culture, in all its forms, is present in Edinburgh, but literature is the one that stands out the most, or I would say that has touched me the most. My only desire is to return in August for the International Book Festival, which is one of the most famous in the world. And then, I discovered the history of these writers linked to the city but also to Scotland.

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Québec guide: Gaspésie

Around the world Canada North America Québec

Québec guide: Gaspésie

The Gaspésie was my favourite stop on our Canadian road-trip! The Gaspésie is an encircled peninsula where ocean, mountains and wilderness come together. Indeed, it is this piece of land that looks like a small paw when you look at the map of Quebec. Its name comes from the Micmac “gespeg” which means “where the land ends”, and it is true that arriving at the extremity of this piece of land, I am surprised to think that indeed, facing the Atlantic Ocean, the impression of being at the end of the world is perceived.

We spent a few days discovering the Gaspesian land and its many assets that make it a popular destination for Quebecers and a destination that is as big as Belgium! As soon as we arrived in Matane with the ferry, we took route 132, which splits in two in the gaspésie to form an itinerant loop of about 885 kilometres. We decided to take the northern route of the island in order to arrive in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region while having seen the vast majority of the Gaspésie.

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The complete Harry Potter tour in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Europe Scotland United Kingdom

The complete Harry Potter tour in Edinburgh

Who doesn’t know Harry Potter? I may not be a fanatic, but it is a universe that is fundamentally rooted in my generation (I was born in the year the first book came out). And then, when I arrived in Edinburgh during my university exchange, I learned that the Scottish capital was the birthplace of the young wizard.

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Highland Games: an expression of the Scottish culture

Europe Scotland United Kingdom

Highland Games: an expression of the Scottish culture

I have always wanted to attend the Olympics, indeed, as a huge sport lover (yes watching sport on television is a sport to me) being able to attend such a competition would be phenomenal. Then, two weeks before I left for Edinburgh, I discovered a documentary about the Highland Games. For twenty minutes or so, I was stunned on my sofa by what I was seeing on television – no, but who has the idea of taking a tree trunk and turning it into an event? I absolutely had to go and see it for real, but it quickly went off into a corner of my head with the last final touches before I left for my university exchange.

However, what was my surprise, when I saw the list of events for the university’s fresher’s week, to see a one-day expedition to the Pitlochry Highland Games. I could not resist the temptation.

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Behind the scenes of Guinness fabrication in Dublin: Slaìnte!

Dublin Europe Ireland

Behind the scenes of Guinness fabrication in Dublin: Slaìnte!

Dublin, the capital of Ireland, had long been on my list of European cities to discover. As you know, I have in mind to visit all the European capitals before I turn 30 (see bucket list) and for 2019, the only one that was discovered is Dublin. Apart from crossing this city off my list, Dublin was to be explored for two main reasons: Trinity College Library and Guinness Storehouse!

I will tell you more about my adventures in the library in another article, as this one will talk about Guinness, my favourite beer! So, coming to Ireland and not visiting its famous brewery would be like a serious crime for any self-respecting beer lover or who wants to spend 18,50€. But anyway, we decided to pay the entrance fee for the Guinness Storehouse, since I couldn’t leave without having discovered the secrets of this beer and above all, I also wondered if it tasted different in Ireland, but I’ll come back to that later.

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Québec guide: from Fjord-du-Saguenay national park to the Côte-Nord

Around the world Canada North America Québec

Québec guide: from Fjord-du-Saguenay national park to the Côte-Nord

This is our third step of our road trip after having spent some days at Lac Saint-Jean, which is famous for its microbreweries (I wasn’t expected Canadians to be so good at making beers). We are quietly heading towards Saguenay, a region well known for its fjord and its beautiful national park. While spending a few days in Saguenay, we had the opportunity to visit two national parks and then gently make our way to Tadoussac, a famous place in Quebec for observing whales. We were also able to discover a bit of the Côte-Nord region before boarding a ferry to reach the Gaspésie peninsula.

GUIDE TO THESE DESTINATIONS IN QUEBEC

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Piran and Izola, the pearls of the Slovenian coast

Europe Slovenia

Piran and Izola, the pearls of the Slovenian coast

During my road trip in Slovenia, we stopped for the day in Piran and Izola before starting our return to Switzerland.

DISCOVERING SLOVENIAN ISTRIA

Its history is particularly rich and long and goes back to times before the Roman Empire. This past can be felt by strolling through the narrow streets of the coastal towns but also by exploring a little further inland. Although tourism has developed greatly in this region, the human atmosphere of a very welcoming Slovenian people, open to passing travellers, is noticeable.

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An unusual Sunday at Mauerpark in Berlin

Berlin Europe Germany

An unusual Sunday at Mauerpark in Berlin

Berlin is fascinating! The German capital bears many scars left by the Second World War and by an iron curtain that split it up until 1989, yet you go there once and want to return as soon as possible.

Being a Berliner at heart and visiting this city every year, during the month I spent in this incredible city in 2016, I heard the name Mauerpark for the first time.

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Québec guide : A day in la Mauricie National Park

Around the world Canada North America Québec

Québec guide : A day in la Mauricie National Park

Vastness territory where nature is omnipresent, Québec represents a world of discoveries. During our road trip in the province, we focused on this wild natural side of the region, which led us to explore several national parks.

Quebec national parks are grouped under the name “SEPAQ”, literally “Société des Établissements de Plein Air du Québec”, administered by the Quebec government, although some of these parks are part of the Canadian national parks network. Only three parks in Quebec are given the appellation of “Parks Canada”.

With over twenty destinations located throughout Quebec, according to the organisation’s official website, these parks list more than “6,995 km² of protected areas”.

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Moravian gateway

Czech Republic Europe

Moravian gateway

CZECH THIS BEAUTIFUL REGION!

Moravia? Absolutely unknown to the battalion would you tell me. And yet, it is a magnificent region of the Czech Republic that deserves to leave the vibrant Prague to make a diversion for a few days.

Spending two days in Bratislava, I seized the opportunity to discover another aspect of the Czech Republic since Moravia is located on the Slovakian border. It also interested me to confront these two countries which, during a good part of the 20th century, were grouped into one nation: Czechoslovakia! The history of these two countries is absolutely captivating, especially because of its Austro-Hungarian past and then, of course, the Second World War and the consequences that followed (Warsaw Pact).

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Bratislava, capital in vogue

Europe Slovakia

Bratislava, capital in vogue

I decided every year to try to visit at least one European capital, in the hope of arriving at the age of 30 and having discovered them all. I made a commitment, about ten of these cities remain on my bucket list and for the year 2018 (yes, I am late in my articles), Bratislava intrigued me. Taking advantage of the extended Easter weekend, I ventured there for two days and then continued my exploration in the Czech Republic, in the Moravian region.

You don’t drool over Bratislava, but the Slovakian capital arouses curiosity. As a young emancipated city, Bratislava confronts the advantages and disadvantages of the small and recent capitals that are still developing. However, it seems to be starting to emerge from the shadows of its sisters Prague, Budapest and Vienna to become one of the new Central and Eastern European destinations that count.

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Bern, discovering Switzerland’s capital

Bern Switzerland

Bern, discovering Switzerland’s capital

For a Zurich or Geneva resident, time in Bern passes more slowly. Overcoming a hard-skinned cliché, it is true that hurry and frenetic activity are foreign words in the capital. The Bernese naturally declare that they are celebrating a true “art de vivre”. They even have their adage for their city: “Bärn i ha di gärn”, which could be translated as, “Bern, you are in my heart”. And you have to admit, you let yourself be carried through the historic town and take the time to appreciate what the town and its people have to offer.

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SRI LANKA – POL ROTI

Asia Sri Lanka Sri Lanka

SRI LANKA – POL ROTI

It was in Sigiriya that we experienced a typical breakfast for the first time. We stayed in a guesthouse which allowed us to discover the local cuisine of a multitude of flavours, somewhat spicy but delicious.

The national dish is the famous rice and curry, which will be different in each restaurant. However, although extremely good, it was the roti that was my favourite taste of the island.

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Ella, a haven of peace and greenery amid (many) tourists

Asia Sri Lanka

Ella, a haven of peace and greenery amid (many) tourists

Ella, a haven of peace and greenery, was my favourite destination in Sri Lanka. After a night’s rest in Nuwara Eliya, we said goodbye to our driver and took the train to Ella. I have already told you in the article on the itinerary that this train ride was not as beautiful as I had expected, although it is still a route that I recommend to soak up Sri Lanka. And if you’re lucky, if the weather is nice and if there are not too many people in the train (that’s a lot of ifs though), it’s the most beautiful track on the island!

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Discovering southern Sri Lanka

Asia Sri Lanka

Discovering southern Sri Lanka

When I prepare a trip, I will always “stalk” photos of the country or place in question on social networks and mainly on Instagram, in the hope of discovering places off the beaten track. There are so many places in the world that have gone from singular activities to viral places to visit during your trip. A few popular Instagrammers or Bloggers expose a simple location and then, little by little, it becomes a must-see when visiting the country!

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Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage: Is it a suitable environment for elephants?

Asia Reflections Sri Lanka

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage: Is it a suitable environment for elephants?

*This article has been first published in April 2019 in French. Since that date, many things might have happened which is not mentioned there.

This is the question that has been debated for some time about this place, which is well known from the tourist circuits and which I also visited during my stay. By doing a little research before our trip, this orphanage seemed interesting and reliable, mainly because it is under the aegis of the government. Hotels in the area are also well rated on various sites (I always rely on Booking.com) and we had found just the right accommodation, the Elephant Bay Hotel, from where we could see the elephants bathing in the river.

The orphanage was created in 1975 by the Sri Lankan government to collect, care for and protect the elephants, the sacred animal of the island, which are victims of malicious owners, hunting, poaching and deforestation, and which have been thrown out of their natural habitat. Located in a national park, when it opened, it had only five baby elephants. Nowadays, the orphanage, located in the village of Pinnawala, is home to nearly 90 elephants, males, females and young elephants combined.

So, at first glance, it seemed like a fantastic place where we could make a positive contribution to the well-being of these animals and then when we hear “elephant orphanage”, it seems like it should be legitimate, shouldn’t it be?

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The ascent of Adam’s Peak, a stairway to heaven?

Asia Sri Lanka

The ascent of Adam’s Peak, a stairway to heaven?

When we were preparing our itinerary, this stage was very welcome, in particular knowing that we would have the opportunity to witness a magnificent sunrise. And then we also learned that it meant a lot to many cultures. Indeed, the idea of joining a stream of pilgrims of all religions for a night-time ascent seemed interesting to us, although we have no particular beliefs. Moreover, as we liked to walk in our Swiss mountains, it seemed within our reach… However, indeed, we did not expect what we discovered in terms of effort.

This summit is revered by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians, at the crossroads of religions, since the giant footprint at the summit is variously claimed to be either that of Buddha, Shiva, Adam or St. Thomas. Several legends mention this trace. It is said to be one of the oldest and most sacred footprints ever made (this footprint was even cited in the writings of Marco Polo)!

Aerial view, image taken on the official website

Adam’s Peak in English is the most important peak on the island of Sri Lanka, but by no means the highest, an honour that goes to Mount Pidurutalagala, also located in the part of the country known as the “Central Highlands”. At 2,243 metres, the peak is located 7 kilometres from the village of Dalhousie, commonly known as Nallathanniya. The ascent consists simply (what we thought at the beginning!) of climbing steps, more than 5’500 (yes, this is where it gets complicated) to reach the summit. To give you an idea, the Eiffel Tower has 1665 steps, and the Empire State Building has 1860. As a result, in just a few hours, we climbed up and down the famous New York landmark almost three times.

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“Ayu Bowan”: Itinerary and transportation in Sri Lanka

Asia Sri Lanka

“Ayu Bowan”: Itinerary and transportation in Sri Lanka

Although not fading away immediately, the tears of the 2004 tsunami and particularly of the civil war which will have caused thousands of deaths until 2009 have calmed down and dried up so that Sri Lanka can start smiling again and above all open up to tourism. Nearly 10 years after the declaration of the end of the war, this small country has become a fashionable destination that travellers love since Sri Lanka was crowned “major destination” for Asia and “best adventure destination” in 2017 by the World Travel Awards in the Asia & Australasia category.

So it was not innocently that I ventured into these faraway lands. Firstly, with the accounts of several of my friends who had spent holidays there, this island, formerly called Ceylon, seemed to have a lot to offer, and in particular, would allow me to spend a stay filled with adventure and relaxation. Besides, I had never set foot in Asia.

Asia is a continent that at first sight does not really attract me. In fact, you evoke with me South America or Europe and I am already looking at the flights, my bank account and my availability to fly to these destinations that amaze me, whereas when you mention Asia, my heart doesn’t make as much excitement. It is true that the Asian culture and its landscapes, although so rich, have always attracted me the least. So, I also had hope when planning to go to Sri Lanka, to discover and why not fall in love with this part of the world.

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Marvel at the Iguaçu/Iguazu falls

Argentina Brazil South America

Marvel at the Iguaçu/Iguazu falls

Exhilarated, this is the feeling I had when I arrived in Brazil and met up with my two friends.  Having arrived around noon in Foz do Iguaçu, I gently acclimated myself to this country and its atmosphere. The girls took me directly to eat the traditional feijoada: in Brazil, they are the guides!

We soak up the quiet city (although some 200’000 Brazilians live there) which doesn’t offer much interest but allows us to feel safe, to tame the Brazilian culture and to enjoy a bit of rest. And then, looking back in the evening on the rooftop of our hostel, how could I be more pleased than at that moment? I’m surrounded by Argentina and Paraguay and the next day, I’m finally going to discover the Iguaçu Falls, the ones I missed on my previous trip, the year before in Argentina and Chile.

Far away, Paraguay and Argentina
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Teufeulsberg, theatre of Berlin’s history

Berlin Germany

Teufeulsberg, theatre of Berlin’s history

Sunday morning, families are cheerfully wandering, by bike or on foot, elderly people do the same, sometimes at a nicer pace, in the largest forest of Berlin, Grunewald.

Letting the walkers go deeper into the forest, we amble on the main road when suddenly a wood panel tells us to take that direction (actually, we didn’t know which way was going to the top). Heading to the hilltop, we eventually arrived up: but not on the right hill… 

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Around the world Brazil History South America

Brazil’s history

*This article has been written in January 2019. Since that date, many things might have happened which is not mentioned there.

View from the Corcovado, taken on this website

Towards independence

Despite some independence movements, Brazil became ” popular ” when the Portuguese royal family arrived in the country in 1808. As a result of this and the economic boom, many foreigners, mainly Europeans, immigrated to what they called “the new world”. A year after the return of the royal court to the country, the king’s son proclaimed the country’s independence and was crowned emperor in 1822. Without bloodshed, the transfer of power was easy but left slavery behind, which was in contrast to the reputedly liberal regime of the time. Slavery was abolished definitively many years later in 1888.

Subsequently, the republic was proclaimed in 1889. From these years onwards, a great deal of political and cultural change followed (a period of industrialisation and nationalism, but also of foreign modernist movements), which reinforced social inequalities.

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Brazilian clichés: reality or fantasy ?

Brazil South America

Brazilian clichés: reality or fantasy ?

*this article was first published in French on the 3rd of January 2019

Being the subject of fantasies or apprehension, Brazil generates a lot of clichés that are a bit hard-skinned. But are they really accurate?

For example, to mention just a few negative comments about this country, I was asked why I ventured there, apart from waddling my booty on beaches with a caipirinha in my hand, or that it was too dangerous to be an unaccompanied girl (three in this case for this trip) of a man to avoid being bothered!

To sum up, although I was a little annoyed by these prejudices about a country that does indeed have stereotypes but like every country on the planet; I challenged myself to deconstruct them and make my own analysis. Because of course, I also have my own preconceptions and I often ask myself a lot of questions about what I am going to discover while travelling. It is precisely this curiosity that allows me to change my points of view or to strengthen them, to open my view of the world and particularly of our society today.

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Tine de Conflens

Switzerland Tine de Conflens Vaud

Tine de Conflens

I am always so surprised when I talk about the Tine de Conflens and my interlocutor answers me that she/he doesn’t know this place at all. Then, I show her/him a few pictures and here I am once again on my way to make her/him discover this magnificent place.

However, more than a year ago, I didn’t know this place either. And what a discovery! Only a few kilometers from Lausanne, we can’t imagine the wonder that we are going to discover well-hidden at the heart of the Gros-de-Vaud!

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