Monday, 23 January 2017

Black Love by Dominique Noguez (1997)

“I had never looked at her eyes so closely before. They were of a dark brown, almost as dark as the pupils. I could not write that I looked into the depth of the eyes, because those eyes had no depth. They were only a black, desperately opaque surface, inhuman eyes, of a bird of prey or a lynx, with the hardness of marble or a meteorite, eyes which looked at me but did not see me, which did not love me, which would never love me, which neither love nor would ever love anybody, eyes from another world.”

Author: Dominique Noguez was born on September 12, 1942 in Bolbec. He is a French writer. He has been awarded several literary prizes: 
1995: Roger Nimier prize for "Les Martagons"
1997: Femina prize for "Amour noir" (the subject book)
2013: Jean-Jacques Rousseau prize for "Une année qui commence bien"

My thoughts: I remember as if it was yesterday how I was absorbed by reading this book. I could not put it down and in the early hours of the morning I had devoured it. It is a story of passion and unrequited love. It traces the tormented life of a man fighting for the woman he loves. He hopes to see his love reciprocated... This story takes place in Biarritz, in the French Basque Country. While writing these lines and flipping through this book again I was smitten by a terrible desire to re-read it. If you enjoy (dramatic) love stories, you will adore this novel.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017


I love Basel. I nearly lived there before opting for Geneva for professional reasons. I nevertheless kept a special place in my heart for the city, even though I don’t return there frequently. Our last visit was at the beginning of December for the Christmas Market, some cultural visits, shopping, great food... All in all, we had a perfect stay filled with fun and lots of laughter.

The buzz of Basel is fantastic and the locals are so friendly, welcoming and warm in this Swiss German region. There are many staggeringly beautiful architectural jewels which have earned the town a reputation as a centre of excellence for art, design and architecture. Basel is also celebrated for its charming Old Town, arguably the most beautiful in Europe. The city holds Switzerland’s largest and   most impressive Fasnacht (Carnival).

It’s such a “feel good” city that I recommend you to visit it if you haven’t already!

In case you want to visit the town, there are unique events there all year round. Basel Carnival (late February and March), Baselworld (late March), Art Basel which is the most important art fair in the world (June), a well-known ATP tournament (October)... to name but a few.

Oh yes, I almost forgot, there is a magnificent Christmas Market (from late November until Christmas), but you will already have read my post on that subject.

Below, the “must-see” things in Basel.

Together with the Mittlere Brücke, the Cathedral is the most famous landmark of Basel. With its red sandstone walls, colourful roof tiles and twin towers, no other building adorns the cityscape of Basel like the Cathedral.

The City Hall, situated in the Markt Platz, is the seat of the Basel government and its parliament. In the midst of the Old Town, it is particularly eye-catching with its red facade, the characteristic tower and playful frescoes.

There is hardly another monument in the city of Basel that has become such a symbol of the city as the Mittlere Brücke. Opened in 1226, it is one of the oldest Rhine crossings between Lake Constance and the North Sea.

Where the stage of the old city theatre company once stood, in 1977 Jean Tinguely created sculptural machines in a shallow fountain and in the process gifted Basel a famous new landmark.

The Spalentor is the most magnificent and impressive of the three surviving entrance gates to the old walled city, which date back to 1400.

The Blue and White Houses, also known as Wendelstörferhof and Reichensteinerhof, were built between 1763 and 1775 by the architect Samuel Werenfels as residential and business houses for the silk ribbon manufacturers Lukas and Jakob Sarasin. These former residences on Rheinsprung were purchased by the municipality of Basel-City in 1942 and 1968 and today are used by the Department of Commerce, Social Affairs and the Environment.

Basel Old Town is one of the most well-preserved and prettiest in Europe. On every corner you find buildings dating back as far as the 15th century and also fabulous modern buildings designed by world-renowned architects. Thanks to the compact size of the city, it is ideal to discover its charms by foot and walking tours, marked with blue symbols, are a good way to explore the old town.

The St. Alban-Tor (St.Alban’s Gate), dating back to ca. 1400, was part of the fortifications of the old walled city and is the gateway to a magical quarter of the city. The St. Alban-Tor, known locally as the “Dalbedoor”, is now the gateway to the St. Alban quarter of the city, which, with its narrow, winding streets and historical buildings, is like stepping back in history to the Middle Ages.

The moated castle of Bottmingen, a community to the south-west of Basel, is a highlight for all romantics. Dating from the 13th century, it is one of the few such buildings in Switzerland that are still intact. Today Schloss Bottmingen makes a wonderful setting for weddings, banquets and other festive occasions.

I have adapted the descriptions of the monuments from the Basel tourist office website.