Bucharest Seen From the Arch of Triumph

Tourists may not know, and its inhabitants may have forgotten, how beautiful Bucharest can be.

I’ve realized that, together with the people who lined patiently, last Sunday, waiting to get inside the Arch of Triumph, visited the small museum, got to the upper terrace and admired the panorama from 27 meters high.

The Arch of Triumph - Bucharest,Romania - May 2012 / People line waiting to visit the inside museum and upper terrace


May 16, 2012 4 comments

May 1st, Labor Day and May Day in France

May 1st (May Day) is known worldwide as Labor Day, but in France it is also May Day - Fête du Muguet (Lily of the Valley) when the French greet each other with a sprig (or a small bouquet) of lily of the valley, a flower that is considered a lucky charm.

The tradition dates back to the beginning of the century when unemployed people (the unemployment benefits did not exist and people had to finding ways of making ends meet) went into the woods that were still found in the big cities ‘suburbs to pick lilies of the valley.

C. m. cv. Plena

Lily of the valley, Double-flowered Convallaria majalis


May 1, 2012 5 comments

Wind energy industry in France

Long gone is the time when farmers used windmills to grind their grain and pump water.  They certainly didn’t know they could use the power of wind to generate electricity for the whole country. Many of the disused mills that have not been left to fall to ruins have been converted into houses, a fun way of protecting them and finding them a new lease of life.

Traditional windmills have been replaced by wind turbines to produce electricity by using wind which is a clean source of renewable energy!

Wind turbine

The cherry on the cake is that wind is free! The only cost, and I know it is quite significant, is the erection of the turbines, but it is a medium term investment that is good for our planet!

Wind energy industry is in full expansion in France and you will notice more and more turbines as you travel through the country. Many ridges and hilltops or windy flat areas are crowned with turbines as municipalities invest for the future as they get tax reduction for doing so.

For example the Midi-Pyrénées Region and especially the Aveyron (south of France) have invested in renewable energy and already produce about 5% of national energy; this places the wind turbine production in 3rd place after nuclear and hydroelectric production.

The Aveyron windmill farm produces about 50MW and is currently the largest windmill farm in France.

Wind turbine installed in a flat but windy area

Wind turbine installed in a flat but windy area

French wind farming is run by Electricité de France and is rated third in Europe after Germany and the UK.

We have grown used to the turbines’ gigantic white silhouettes and I find that they often blend into their surroundings or at least don’t deface the landscape as long as they are not too many of them.

The last thing we want is hundreds of them lined up on our hills despite the fact that mass production considerably reduces the running costs; and wind farming has got many detractors as you can imagine!

They think that turbines are ugly and noisy and are a threat to the environment and wide life as many birds get caught in their blades. I agree with this but have to point out that electric cables have exactly the same disastrous effects.

I am neither in favour nor against wind farming; I just think that it is a brilliant concept as long as it is developed under strict control and respect the environment and the beauty of the landscape as France is the number one tourist destination.

The downside of wind farming, though, is that you need wind… and sometimes there is none!


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Windmills in France

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April 13, 2012 Comments disabled

Windmills in France

Most French people will tell you that bread is a basic food, that they won’t go a day without it… our milling industry has therefore always been thriving!

For many centuries, women painfully ground grains by hand to obtain the precious flour but this was a very tedious and time consuming exercise.

Windmill in France

17th century restored and working windmill


April 7, 2012 2 comments

From our contributors: week of March 19

Here’s some interesting reads to brighten up your week brought to you by our team of contributors from around the world.


March 20, 2012 Comments disabled

Meet Liz, our new contributor from Sydney!

Meet Liz! Liz is our newest regional contributor here at Pocket Cultures, and joins us from Sydney, Australia. Liz has lived and travelled all over Asia, but now she and her family have settled in Sydney, at least for the time being. In today’s interview, Liz tells us all about the best and worst parts of living in Australia, and what surprises people most when visiting her in Sydney (hint: contrary to popular belief, there aren’t kangaroos running wild all over the city!)

Tell us a bit about yourself

I live in Sydney, I’m married with two little girls and I love to travel, eat and write. I used to be Deputy Editor of AsiaLIFE Phnom Penh, a lifestyle magazine where I wrote a lot of the food articles and interviewed interesting locals and expats, plus the odd celebrity like singer Ronan Keating when he toured Cambodia. I updated the Phnom Penh section of two editions of the Cambodia & Laos LUXE city guide, wrote a Saigon column for Tiger Tales magazine and have freelanced for various other publications and websites. I also joined the blogosphere a few years ago, first with A Girl in Asia where I blogged about food finds, shopping, cafes and travel in Asia, and now at devoured (www.devoured.com.au) which has similar topics but a Sydney focus.

February 9, 2012 5 comments