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Paris remembers Victor Hugo

Paris remembers Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo lived in 15 different houses in Paris, and the last road he lived in was renamed after him. The actual house has gone, but today if you pass 124 Avenue Victor Hugo, in the 16th arrondissement, you can tell it’s the site because of this frieze. 600,000 people filed by in 1881 to wish him a happy 80th birthday!

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Food from the gods

Food from the gods

A Spanish saying points to the gastronomic delights which await you in Seville: ‘A quien Dios quiere bien, en Sevilla le da a comer’  (He whom the gods favour, they feed food from Seville)

(Seville Episode 11)

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The surprise palace.

The surprise palace

In the early 1700s, Peter the Great gave his wife Catherine some land and she secretly had a palace built on it. A generation later, their daughter, the Empress Elisabeth, got Italian architects in to turn it into the sumptuous residence which is the Catherine Palace.  

(St Petersburg Episode 04)

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Classy coffee stop in Munich

Classy coffee stop in Munich 

One of the classiest coffee stops in Munich is the Café Luitpold, opened in 1888, where you can enjoy the same elegant surroundings as Wassily Kandinsky and other writers and artists of Munich’s Golden Age.  Perhaps order a slice of Prinzregententorte, the multi-layered chocolate cake named in honour of Prinz Luitpold, Bavaria’s much-respected Prince Regent between 1886 and 1912.

(City Breaks Munich Episode 13)

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Giotto’s perfect circle

Giotto’s perfect circle

In the 13th century, Pope Benedict asked Giotto to prove his artistic talent in order to earn a commission.  Giotto sent him a freehand drawing of a perfect circle, saying ‘that is enough and more!’   It worked and today you can see some of his best work in Florence: his madonna is in the Uffizi gallery and his crucifix hangs in the nave at the church of Santa Maria Novella. 

(Florence Episode 06)

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Cheer yourself up in a cemetery

Cheer yourself up in a cemetery

The author Balzac, famously workaholic, did leave his desk occasionally: ‘I rarely go out’ he wrote, ‘but when I do wander, I go to cheer myself up in Père Lachaise’.  It’s the world’s most-visited cemetery.

(Paris Episode 18)

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The power of flamenco

The power of flamenco

The writer Andre Gide recalled that a flamenco performance ‘touched a secret part of my heart’ and said that to hear the song again he would have ‘travelled over three Spains.’  

(City Breaks Seville Episode 09)

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Soviet Art

Soviet Art
Where best to see art in St Petersburg, other than at the Hermitage? There’s a thousand years of Russian art at the Russian Museum.  You can see, beautifully displayed in chronological order, everything from 11th century religious icons right up to works from the soviet era – like this one – and beyond.   It’s a masterclass which you can access for 500 roubles – that’s about £5!  
(St Petersburg Episode 14: Art and Architecture)
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Intellectual Paris

Intellectual Paris

You know you’re in academia as soon as you step off the metro at Cluny la Sorbonne in Paris. Dozens of French intellectuals have ‘autographed’ the ceiling!  Look out for Racine, Heloise and Simone de Beauvoir.

(Episode 11 of the Paris series: Montparnasse and the Latin Quarter)

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