Posts tagged with "France"

Ten European teams selected for the Helsinki Energy challenge

Ten European teams selected for Helsinki Energy Challenge

Ten teams have been selected for the final phase of the Helsinki Energy Challenge. The finalist teams highlight the international and interdisciplinary nature of the participants. They have a wide variety of proposals for how Helsinki can phase out the use of coal for heat production in the most sustainable way possible by 2029. Next, the competition is advancing into the co-creation phase.

In the 252 teams taking part in the Helsinki Energy Challenge, there were 1,528 experts and innovators from across the globe designing potential solutions to the challenge of decarbonising the heating of Helsinki.

The ten proposals selected to advance consist of a diverse set of solutions that have significant potential for further development in the coming phase. Many of the suggested solutions are also scalable to the needs of other cities. Included in the race are several wide-ranging comprehensive solutions, some of which find new ways to combine technologies that are already in use. There are also competition entries that include entirely new technologies. Among the solutions are new approaches to heat storage and transfer, waste heat utilization, energy consumption control and consumer activation. Included are also some non-technological innovations that enable the realisation of future sustainable solutions and the combination of centralised and decentralised solutions.

“I launched the Helsinki Energy Challenge to bring the world’s best talent together to consider solutions to Helsinki’s heating challenge. The competition has sparked conversation around the topic on a global scale. It has succeeded in combining wide-ranging international expertise and ambitious problem solving, and we are certain that this collision of different competences will generate new ways of thinking in the future as well. Our challenge competition has strong international support from different organizations and from several of my fellow Mayors, and we will be working together to make sure the solutions that are created are put to use as broadly as possible. Every city must do their part in the fight against global climate change,” says Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori.

The teams are interdisciplinary and international

The teams that have advanced to the final phase are each made up of 3–20 members and together include 85 experts from a diverse set of fields. The finalists include, and are primarily made up of combinations of, start-ups, large companies, research institutes and universities, as well as international consortia made up of various companies.

The finalist teams represent excellence and a credible combination of various expertise, making them capable of elevating their competing proposals to the next level in the final phase of the competition.

The finalist teams are all European. The selected teams represent organizations from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, Austria and France. Most of the teams include experts and organizations from more than one country.

“When you consider that we received such a large number of proposals and that the competing teams included 1,528 experts from different backgrounds and countries around the world, it becomes clear that the competition includes a very wide range of different solutions. Evaluating these solutions has been more difficult than expected. However, the hard part is now behind us, and the competition is advancing to the next, even more interesting phase.Currently, the teams’ solutions are only provisional proposals, and each team will receive support and additional information to further develop their proposal in the co-creation phase. We are looking forward to seeing what the finalist teams’ final proposals will look like. They have some impressive and diverse expertise on display, so we are going in with high expectations,” says Project Director Laura Uuttu-Deschryvere.

The co-creation phase begins

The teams selected for the finals are invited to the co-creation phase, during which they will receive support for further development of their solution and additional information to enable them to tailor their idea to the context of Helsinki. At the centre of the co-creation phase is the boot camp in December.

An international panel of judges will evaluate the final competition proposals at the beginning of 2021, and the winner of the competition will be announced in March 2021. The proposals will be evaluated on the basis of their climate impact, impact on natural resources, cost impact, implementation schedule and feasibility, security of supply and capacity. The City of Helsinki has committed to openly sharing the lessons and results of the competition to allow other cities to use them in their own climate work.

Proposals submitted in the first phase of the competition included also a large variety of other ideas and concepts that did not reach the finals but which the City of Helsinki intends to highlight during the competition process too. The 252 submissions included ideas in which solving the challenge is “gamified”, new solutions for the utilization of different heat sources, new market and business models, heat storage solutions, decentralized heat production models, new technologies such as small modular reactors (SMR), and hydrogen based solutions.

Cities have a key role – the COVID-19 pandemic will not stop Helsinki’s climate work

Climate change is the biggest challenge of our time, and cities have a decisive role in mitigating it. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Helsinki keeps investing heavily in its climate work. The climate crisis has not been cancelled and the City of Helsinki is working its way towards a carbon neutral Helsinki by 2035. At the moment, more than half of Helsinki’s direct carbon dioxide emissions originate from heating the city. This is why finding a sustainable heating solution will have a critical impact on achieving the City’s carbon neutrality goal. Currently, more than half of Helsinki’s heating energy is produced with coal, the use of which will have to stop by 2029. Helsinki wants to find long-term sustainable solutions, which is why it does not want to replace the use of coal with biomass-fired production.

Helsinki wants to find long-term sustainable solutions to heat the city in the future and to act as a platform for new and innovative solutions that also other cities around the world can benefit from. For this purpose, it opened the international Helsinki Energy Challenge competition on 27 February 2020. The competition seeks solutions through which the city can be heated sustainably in the coming decades – without coal and with as little biomass as possible. The competition’s first prize is one million euros.

Rolls-Royce Young Designer Competition

WINNERS REVEALED IN WORLDWIDE
ROLLS-ROYCE YOUNG DESIGNER COMPETITION

  • Rolls-Royce announces winners in its Young Designer Competition
  • Winners awarded in four categories, with further entries awarded Highly Commended
  • Selected by Rolls-Royce Design Team from more than 5,000 entries submitted online by children in over 80 countries during Covid-19 lockdown

Find out more >>

“We are delighted to announce the winners in our Young Designer Competition. The entries that stood out for us were those that showed a real depth of thought, effort and expression, and incorporated lots of different details. The winning entrants didn’t just draw ‘the nicest car’: they created amazing experiences that showed the freedom of their imagination, not hindered by physical, real-world constraints.”

Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

“The number and diversity of the entries proves once again something we’ve always believed and lived by within Bespoke Design: that Inspiration is Everywhere. As adults, we’re often too quick to stop ourselves pursuing fantastical ideas. At Rolls-Royce, we encourage clients to be bold and creative, unfettered by conventional notions of what they think a car ‘should’ be like. This competition and the ideas generated reminds us of the incredible power of the question: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if…?’”

Gavin Hartley, Head of Bespoke Design, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is delighted to announce the global winners in its Young Designer Competition, which invited children around the world to design their dream Rolls-Royce of the future.

The four category winners, who hail from Japan, France, China and Hungary and range in age from six to 16, will each enjoy a chauffeur-driven journey with their best friend in a Rolls-Royce to school. The designs of the winners and three additional Highly Commended entrants have all been transformed into beautiful digitally-rendered illustrations by the Rolls-Royce Design Team, using the same software and processes as they would in a ‘real’ Rolls-Royce design project.

Devised to provide a creative outlet for children aged 16 and under, confined by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, the competition attracted more than 5,000 entries from over 80 countries. With no rules or specified judging criteria to constrain them, children were able to let their imagination run free, creating designs of extraordinary richness, creativity and diversity. 

Faced with a truly formidable task, the judges selected overall winning designs in four categories – Technology, Environment, Fantasy and Fun – based on the most popular themes that emerged from the 5,000-plus entries. Three further entries that defied categorisation but caught the judges’ attention were Highly Commended; the panel also selected winning entries from the various regions around the world in which Rolls-Royce Motor Cars operates.

Launched in April as lockdown conditions were imposed across the globe, the competition proved an instant success; so much so, the original deadline for entries was extended. Asked only to design their ‘dream Rolls-Royce of the future’, children had complete creative freedom, allowing them to develop ideas of astonishing scope, complexity and vision far beyond the realms of automotive design.

Winning entries included designs inspired by (amongst other things) unicorns, turtles, space travel, the Egyptian pyramids, Pablo Picasso and bumble-bees. Many are capable of flying or travelling underwater; the designs also featured a host of clever devices and novel technologies to save labour, provide pleasure and entertainment and benefit humanity and the environment.

Reflecting on the competition, Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said, “On behalf of myself and everyone at Rolls-Royce, I would like to thank every single Young Designer who entered the competition, and for all the thought, hard work and creativity that went into their designs. There is some amazing talent out there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of our entrants went on to work as car designers one day – perhaps even at Rolls-Royce.”

He concluded, “The most important thing I’ve learned from this competition is that whatever our circumstances, we have the power to create amazing things, because our imagination is always free to fly. I hope the children who took part will recognise this, too, and that it will be something positive they can take from their pandemic experience.”

Category winners:

Technology

Rolls-Royce Bluebird II by Chenyang, age 13, China

Environment

Rolls-Royce Capsule by Saya, age 6, Japan

Fantasy

Rolls-Royce Turtle Car by Florian, age 16, France

Fun

Rolls-Royce Glow by Léna, age 11, Hungary

Highly commended:

Rolls-Royce Bolt by Declan, age 10, United Kingdom

Rolls-Royce Prosperity by Tim, age 9, Germany

Rolls-Royce House of Esperanto by Alisa, age 6, Russia

About Rolls-Royce:
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BMW Group and is a completely separate company from Rolls-Royce plc, the manufacturer of aircraft engines and propulsion systems. Over 2,000 skilled men and women are employed at the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ head office and manufacturing plant at Goodwood, West Sussex, the only place in the world where the company’s super-luxury motor cars are hand-built.
Find out more >>

Spend a Weekend in the Cher Valley

Located in the heart of France’s Loire Valley region is the Cher Valley, which encompasses the area from Chenonceau to Valencay. For now, would-be travelers can scout out their next trips to the iconic chateaux of the area, which wouldn’t be complete without sampling the region’s signature wine and goat cheese.

Chenonceau

One of the most famous chateaux in all of France as well as the world  Chateau de Chenonceau is unique not only due to it being an architectural marvel, but also thanks to its legacy as the “Chateau des Dames.” The chateau has always been owned by women, notably Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici, whose lasting touches and influences can be seen today. The exceptional gardens, named after both Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici, are today managed by American gardener Nicholas Tomlan, who takes inspiration from the ladies of the castle’s past. As of last year, the chateau unveiled a recreation of Catherine de Medici’s apothecary, where Nostradamus once prepared remedies for the queen. Visitors can also tour the chateau’s own on-site floral workshop, where leading craftsman Jean-Francois Boucher creates daily flower arrangements to decorate the chateau. An incredibly unique way to see the chateau is by taking a boat ride directly under the chateau’s iconic arches, along the Cher River, either by canoe or boat. Or, see the chateau by air via a hot air balloon ride or plane.

Wine tasting stops in the area include the Chateau de Nitray, just 20 minutes from the chateau, located in a 106-acre landscaped park. Registered as a national heritage site since 1947, this Renaissance architectural masterpiece houses 25 acres of vineyards dating back three centuries, labelled AOC Touraine. For now, would-be travelers can experience the chateau via a virtual visit here. Another stop is Chateau de Fontenay, an intimate chateau-hotel and vineyard, offering five rooms in the chateau, and three cottages located in the 42-acre park. Finally, at Caves Monmousseau, visitors can try sparkling wines that have been perfected for over 130 years, while experiencing a very unique art show. In the underground cellars, images are illuminated on the tunnel walls, telling the story of the chateaux of the Loire through a spectacular sound and light show.

Foodie destinations include the gastronomic restaurant at Auberge du Bon Laboureur in the village of Chenonceaux and Bistrot’quai, an open-air cafe located in a garden right by the water, open from May to September. Accommodations include the charming La Folie Saint-Julien B&B, featuring five guest rooms, a garden, and an indoor pool located in a barn; and the Chateau de Chissay, built in the 16th century as a royal residence under Charles VII and transformed into a hotel in 1986 with 27 guest rooms and five suites.

Bourr

Sites to see in the Bourr area of the Loire Valley include the Cave Champignonnie des Roches, which grows button, shitake and blue foot mushrooms; in fact, 40% of the world’s blue foot mushrooms come from this farm. In total, 100 tons of high-quality mushrooms are produced here, all of which are harvested by hand. Other explorations include the Troglo Degusto wine cellar, where visitors can pair wine tastings of AOC Touraine-Chenonceaux with a stroll underground in a historic troglodytic cave site. For more wine tastings, Domaine de la Chapinire vineyard offers an equestrian center, vineyard and accommodations. Today, the domaine is part of the “Terra Vitis” association, an environmental certification ensuring they use sustainable practices. For families, a must-visit is the ZooParc de Beauval, regarded as one of the best zoos in the world, which is home to over 35,000 animals. In 2020, they unveiled a massive new Equatorial Dome, featuring 200 species in a bioclimatic structure, including saimiris, red ibis, and Komodo dragons.

Selles-sur-Cher

Some of France’s best goat cheese can be found in Selles-sur-Cher, which is tangy and mild when young, becoming saltier and stronger when aged. Fromagerie HUCHET and Palais du Petit chevre in Chatillon-sur-Cher are top spots to find the cheese. Aside from tasting goat cheese, travelers should stop at Cha;teau de Selles-sur-Cher, a historic cha;teau and winery with Renaissance Pavillons, a medieval castle and a farm.

Valençay

Located just 20 minutes south of the Cher River is Valencay, known largely by name for its goat cheese and wine. The Valencay vineyards, which overlook the scenic Cher, have a long history, with the first written records dating back to 965. White Valencay is fresh and balanced, with a nose of citrus and flower; red Valencay is structured, fine and fresh on the palate; and rosé; Valencay is flexible and structured. Top wine tasting spots include Domaine Roy and Domaine Jourdain. A perfect pairing with Valencay wine, Valencay PDO goat cheese is made from whole, raw goat’s milk, characterized by a truncated pyramid shape and a bluish gray rind. A top spot for cheese tasting is Fromagerie Jacquin. Find more details on Valencay AOC here.

Aside from the wine and cheese pairings, travelers in the area should look to Domaine de Poulaines spanning 62 acres of woodlands including beautiful themed gardens and an arboretum (with more than 1,200 plants). Beautiful trees and boxwood surround a Renaissance mansion and a set of buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. The domaine also offer overnight stays in private guest houses in the heart of the gardens.

Another must-visit is the Chateau de Valencay, one of the 22 major sites of the Loire Valley, featuring both Renaissance and classic architecture, overlooking the Nahon Valley. The estate’s 13-acre grounds feature traditional and modern gardens, a deer park, and a two-mile path. The chateau hosts the Talleyrand Festival every two years (with the next festival taking place in 2021), showcasing ancient musical instruments.

Located less than ten minutes from the Chateau de Valencay, at the foot of the majestic ruins of a Renaissance castle in a charming flower-filled village, is Restaurant Auberge St Fiacre. The restaurant is located in an authentic 17th-century house, transformed into a restaurant in the early 1970s, the restaurant today offers a selection of top local cuisine.

Netflix – Cuties

By Cassandra Yany

One of Netflix’s newest films, Cuties, has garnered much attention and backlash since its Sep. 9 release on the streaming platform. The coming-of-age film depicts a young girl as she tries to navigate her life as a pre-teen growing up in a Muslim family living in Paris.

Many critics have spoken out against the film, which currently holds the no. 7 spot in Netflix’s ‘Top 10,’ for its depiction of 11-year-old girls dancing and behaving in an indecent manner. According to the New York Times, the movie was first deemed controversial in the U.S. in August when Netflix released the promotional artwork. The original marketing for the film displayed an image of four young girls in skimpy dance costumes posing provocatively.

This, along with the trailer, prompted opposers to start petitions online and call for the removal of the film from Netflix’s catalog. Netflix apologized and changed the artwork for the film to a more innocent photo of the same four characters walking down the street with shopping bags, donning bras and underwear over their clothes.

Last week’s release of the film has sparked conversation once again amongst parents, politicians and others, causing #CancelNetflix to trend on Twitter. Lina Nealon, the Director of Corporate and Strategic Initiatives at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation has spoken out against the film saying “While we commend Director Maïmouna Doucouré for exposing the very real threats to young girls having unfettered access to social media and the internet, we cannot condone the hypersexualization and exploitation of the young actresses themselves in order to make her point.” She called for Netflix to cut the “sexually-exploitive” scenes from the film, or remove the film from the platform altogether.

On Friday, Hawaii Rep. Tulse Gabbard tweeted, “@Netflix child porn ‘Cuties’ will certainly whet the appetite of pedophiles & help fuel the child sex trafficking trade. 1 in 4 victims of trafficking are children… Netflix you are now complicit.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz penned a letter to Attorney General William P. Barr Friday calling for the Department of Justice to start an investigation into the production and distribution of the film to “determine whether Netflix, any of its executives, or anyone involved in the making of ‘Cuties’ violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography.”

Cruz wrote that “the film routinely fetishizes and sexualizes these pre-adolescent girls as they perform dances simulating sexual conduct in revealing clothing, including at least one scene with partial nudity” falsely claiming that there’s a scene exposing a “minor’s bare breast.” The Associated Press reported that one of Cruz’s representatives, Lauren Aronson, said that the senator has not seen the film.

According to the Washington Times, some critics are even calling on the Obama’s— who have a production deal with Netflix— to take action against the film. Deadline stated that “The reality appears to have been lost in the storm, and the truth is very few of the people reacting so strongly will have actually seen the film.”

Netflix told USA TODAY “‘Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. It’s an award winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up— and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”

Director Maïmouna Doucouré defends the film, saying that it works to shed light on these issues so they can be fixed. Cuties first premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23, where it won the Directing Jury Award for the dramatic film category. According to the New York Times, the movie did not stir up much conversation in France after its theatrical release (as Mignnonnes in French) in August.

Deadline reports that Doucouré did not see the promotional material prior to when it was circulated on the internet. She said that she received death threats as the outrage grew over these images. She told the news site that the film is not apologetic about the hypersexualization of children, but instead is her “…personal story as well as the story of many children who have to navigate between a liberal western culture and a conservative culture at home.”

Cuties was Doucouré’s feature directorial debut. Similar to the film’s main character, Amy, Doucouré is of Senegalese descent and grew up in a Muslim culture in Paris. In an interview at Sundance, she said she first had the idea for the movie after attending a neighborhood gathering in Paris where she saw a group of 11-year-old girls doing a stage performance of a “sensual” dance. She was shocked to see girls that age dance like that in short clothing. “We can’t continue to close our eyes about that,” she told the interviewer.

Doucouré researched for a year and a half, meeting with hundreds of pre-teens who told her their stories. She learned about their ideas of femininity, and how their self image is affected by the emphasis of social media in today’s society. According to IndieWire, the young actresses’ parents were on board with the project to spread awareness of the issue, and there was a psychologist working with the girls throughout filming who is still helping them throughout the release process.

The film is centered around Amy, an 11-year-old girl who has recently moved to a housing development in a poor suburb of Paris with her Senegalese, observant Muslim family. She looks out for her brothers, takes care of responsibilities around the house, and is in the process of being taught how to ‘be a woman’ by  her aunt.

One day after prayer, Amy walks by the laundry room and sees a girl her age dancing to music playing from her phone. In a subsequent scene, Amy is seen trying to straighten her hair with a clothing iron, burning part of it off as a result. 

Amy learns that her father, who is still in Senegal, has taken a second wife and will be coming to Paris soon to have the wedding. Her mother, Mariam, tries to hide her reaction to the news, but Amy sees her grow upset and take her frustrations out on herself. This is where Amy’s behavior begins to shift; she starts to reject her culture and identity, and instead tries to conform to fit in with the other girls at school. 

At school, Amy is teased for her clothes and lack of fashion sense, so she begins to wear her younger brother’s t-shirt to match the crop tops that her classmates wear. After seeing a group of girls her age dancing after school, Amy steals her cousin’s iPhone to learn how to dance, herself. She comes across their social media accounts and begins taking selfies, imitating what she sees on their profiles. 

Amy finds herself a spot in the girls’ friend group and dance troupe, and as a result, begins to neglect her responsibilities at home. Amy starts to show more self expression, wearing her hair natural rather than pulling it back. She also begins to explore the internet more, finding videos of almost-naked women dancing rather suggestively and moving their bodies in ways that an 11-year-old probably shouldn’t be watching. 

Taking what she found online, Amy practices dancing with her friends and teaches them how to twerk. This is where the movie begins to make viewers slightly uneasy. It was jarring to see these young, innocent girls tainted by this inappropriate content and doing dance moves that they didn’t understand the implications of. It appears that this was the intention of director Doucouré, as she stated in an interview with Netflix that the film is “…a mirror of today’s society; a mirror sometimes difficult to look into and accept but still so true.”

Some of the scenes, frankly, are very disturbing to watch. These include the girls dancing provocatively for two older male workers at a laser tag facility so that they wouldn’t get in trouble for sneaking in, as well as Amy beginning to undress for her cousin once he found she had stolen his iPhone in an attempt to smooth over the situation. Perhaps the most disturbing scene is when Amy takes a picture of her genitals to post on her social media profile so that people at school would think she’s mature. While there was no nudity shown in this scene, the implied action was horrifying to watch. 

At the end of the film, Amy performs with her dance troupe at a local competition. Dressed in revealing outfits, they dance immodestly in front of a crowd of people who quickly seem unsettled. (This is the scene from which the original promotional photos were taken.) Toward the end of the song, Amy freezes as she begins to think about her mom, then runs off the stage crying. She goes home where she asks her mom not to attend her father’s wedding. Her mom continues to get ready for the event, but tells Amy that she doesn’t have to go.

Instead of going to the wedding, Amy steps outside and begins jumping rope. This scene depicts a mixture of her two identities: she is wearing jeans and a crop top with her hair down, but is surrounded by people of her culture dressed in traditional garments. After suppressing her family’s background for a majority of the movie, Amy is finally able to find the balance where her multiple cultures intersect in order to be her honest self. 

After watching Cuties, it is evident that it is not meant to promote this behavior among young girls, but instead provide commentary on what is happening today and warn the adults who see the movie. The harsh reality is that more pre-adolescents are exposed to this type of content than we think. Any child who has access to a smart device and social platforms have the potential to see a video not meant for them. Take TikTok for example: racy dances to Cardi B and Meg Thee Stallion’s “WAP,” as well as a recent trend where women make “thirst traps” to Beyoncé’s “Rocket” are some of the most popular videos on the app right now. Young TikTok users can easily see creators on their For You Page enjoying themselves while engaging in these trends, causing the young viewer to want to do the same.

When speaking to Deadline, Doucouré said, “What happens is young girls see images of women being objectified, and the more the woman becomes an object, the more followers and like she has— they see that as a role model and try to imitate these women, but they’re not old enough to know what they’re doing.” In a separate interview, she posed the question, “Isn’t the objectification of a woman’s body that we often see in our Western culture not another kind of oppression?”

Overall, Cuties shows the dangers of uncensored media for young children and displays how impressionable they can be. It also shows the journey of Amy’s self-discovery and learning how to blend her multiple cultures in order to shape her identity. Unfortunately, the risqué nature of the film overshadows the storyline and the message is lost for a number of audience members.

In various articles, Doucouré is quoted discussing the meaning of the film in the broad context of femininity and what it means for young girls to enter womanhood in this digital age. During her aforementioned interview with Netflix, she stated “The real question of Cuties is can we, as women, truly choose who we want to be, beyond the role models that are imposed upon us by society?”

Rustic and beautiful suite at The Refuge de la Traye

The Refuge de la Traye 

Experience an authentic take on French living at The Refuge de la Traye.

Once COVID cases diminish and we begin to travel safely again, this French oasis should be at the top of your list. In the heart of the ski area of Les Trois Vallées, nestled in a green haven between the lake and the mountain, the Refuge de la Traye offers its guests a mesmerizing experience. With meditative spa services and a stunning natural surroundings, the Refuge de la Traye is a must-see luxury resort for your travels.

The buildings themselves hold plenty of charm and sustainable features. Constructed using local natural materials like stone, old larch wood, and lauze, the Refuge evokes the authentic style of the original 1982 mountain refuge. Also, nestled in a fabulous preserved natural site, the Refuge advocates for an eco-responsible approach through active and preventative actions such as solar panels and electric vehicles.

In terms of what to do beyond enjoying the grounds, the Refuge offers many exciting activities and outings for guests. Skiing trips, dog sled rides, snowshoe hikes, zipline adventures, and hot-air balloon trips are all offered at the Refuge. In addition, the on-site animal pen so visitors can learn about the innerworkings of bee hives or the gentle manner of Valais Backnose sheep.

For those looking for a more mellow stay, guests can enjoy fine dining with both cozy indoor and vast outdoor seating options. Others will enjoy fine wines in the wine cellar or artisan cheeses at the cheese counter, nestled under a stone vault.All in all, Le Refuge de la Traye is the first prestigious mountain refuge present to today with a restaurant, spa, tearoom, wine cellars, gift shop, conference room, chapel, and more. Before dining, guests can enjoy a hay bed, a milk bath, an outdoor Jacuzzi, and other relaxing spa and meditative practices. But, for those who cannot travel to the Refuge now, check out some of our favorite at-home spa treatments.

The Refuge de la Traye can arrange accommodations for events such as weddings, baptisms, seminars, product launches and conferences with a chapel and conference rooms on-site. In terms of dining, guests have many options to dine in style by enjoying a meal in an igloo, a marquis or even a teepee at the Refuge.

From business to leisure, the Refuge offers anything and everything guests could want in a vacation. Enjoy an unforgettable trip at the Refuge de la Traye by going to their website and booking your stay now.

Meditative spa at The Refuge de la Traye Stunning rooftop dining view at The Refuge de la Traye Quaint and charming indoor dining at The Refuge de la Traye Authentic French Mountain lodge designs at The Refuge de la Traye

Top 5 European Countries That Offer Freelance Visas

An increasing number of Americans are seeking options for better living—long-term—beyond the U.S. borders, however to earn a living while away requires something beyond a tourist visa. A new report from International Living explores the top five European countries that offer the best freelance visas.

“If you’ve paid attention to headlines in recent weeks, you’ll have likely seen all the many stories about Americans wanting to escape the US Covid crisis,” says Jeff D. Opdyke, editor of The Savvy Retiree, a publication of International Living. “Stories on how to seek second passports. Stories on countries where Americans are increasingly seeking information on emigration. Stories on certain countries and Caribbean islands aiming to attract Americans for a year abroad.

“What’s often missing amid all these many words is the story of how to live abroad for longer than a year without having to spending $100,000 or more buying a passport. For the fact is, a number of countries, particularly in Europe, offer ‘freelance’ visas specifically aimed at those who want to live and work in a particular country for the long haul.

“This report addresses that. Because, frankly, that’s often the quickest and easiest way for the average American to gain permission to live and work legally in Europe.

“Only a limited handful of European countries offer freelance visas. In most countries, you’ll need a job offer from a local firm, or you’ll need to work for a multinational will local operations that transfers you into a particular country. For most of us, that’s not an option. Instead, we have to look to countries that specifically welcome the independent, freelance worker.”

The report explores the five best countries to consider in Europe:

Czech Republic

“I chose to pursue a freelance life two years ago in Prague, one of Europe’s most comfortable and picturesque cities, after careful consideration of other European destinations,” says Opdyke. “Primary among those reasons is the fact that the Czech Republic offers what’s known locally as a Zivno, widely regarded as one of the best freelance-worker options in Europe.

This isn’t a visa, and it not specifically targeted at foreigners. Instead, the Zivno is effectively a national registry of independent workers, whether they’re native-born Czechs or foreigners with long-term residence status. As such, applicants will need a long-residence visa to pair with the Zivno.

“But assuming you have marketable skills in something that allows you to earn income online or even locally – as, say, a language teacher,” says Opdyke, “you will likely obtain your Zivno and with that it is easier to qualify for a one-year, long-term residence visa, a stamp in your passport. Then, assuming you play by Czech rules (pay your taxes and the mandatory health and social security insurance – combined, about $200 a month, minimum), you’ll apply for and receive a biometric, long-term residence card good for two years and renewable for another two. After five years, you can apply for permanent residence/citizenship, if that appeals to you. (Note: Because the Czech Republic is part of the European Union, its passport is one of the five best in the world.)”

Prague, the capital, is a wonderful city to call home—folks are close to so much in terms of weekend getaways or longer trips. The lifestyle is relaxing. The city is eye-candy pretty much everywhere you go. And the food is great. A couple can live the good life there on a budget of $1,900 a month.

Germany

“Here, you want the Freiberufler, Germany’s self-employment visa,” reports Opdyke. “It’s not terribly difficult to obtain, so long as you jump through various paperwork hoops that exist – and Germany has lots of paperwork hoops, including revenue plans, letters of intent or contracts from potential or existing clients, and various other documents.”

Folks will also need to prove income sufficiency, which generally means at least €5,000 (just over $5,900) in a (preferably) German bank account.

Freiberufler is good for six months to three years, depending on the application, and it’s renewable. The primary challenge is that an applicant will (probably) need to prove he or she has German freelance clients. Once armed with the Freiberufler, should a freelancer ultimately want permanent residence in Germany, it’s possible to apply after eight years.

Germany offers an excellent standard of living, with good infrastructure and quality healthcare. However, Germany’s cost of living tends to be higher than the European Union average. A monthly budget for a couple living in a suburban area, close to Munich, runs $3,610 to $4,160.

Spain

The autónomo is what freelancers pursue in the land of sangria.

“The process, while not especially difficult, can be lengthy – taking upwards of six months to complete, which means a 90-day tourist visa for the Schengen Zone (of which Spain is a member) will often expire before you receive your autónomo,” advises Opdyke. “So, you need to plan for that by completing as much of the process as you can outside of Spain. Conversely, as your 90-day limit approaches you can hop across to a non-Schengen country such as Ireland or the UK for a few weeks or months to stop your Schengen clock from winding down.”

The autónomo is identical to the Czech Zivno in that it’s good for one year. An applicant can apply for two, two-year extensions, and after five years of surviving on tapas, then, apply for permanent residency/citizenship if he or she wishes to remain in Spain as a naturalized citizen eligible for an EU passport.

Granada, overlooked by the snow-capped peaks of the majestic Sierra Nevada, is a timeless city of many layers, many people, and many stories. The city is quickly gaining ground as a top choice in Spain—the climate and weather of Granada justify why so many peoples have sought to be here. And the nearly 500-year-old University of Granada plays a major role in the city’s youthful vibe. Here a couple can live well on a monthly budget of $2,476.

Portugal

This is, perhaps, the easiest freelance/self-employed visa to pursue in the EU, which makes it quite popular for those seeking a visa that allows for both long-term residence and permission to earn a living in Europe.

There are two options:

1) residence visa for independent work (working locally for Portuguese clients as a contract employee);

2) residence visa for entrepreneur work (essentially the digital nomad stuff collecting clients from around the world).

“Under Portugal’s ‘non-habitual residency’ program,” says Opdyke, “income generated outside of Portugal for certain types of ‘high-value’ activities is eligible for a tax exemption, meaning you pay no local taxes (you will still owe self-employment taxes to the States, and, potentially, personal income taxes, depending on how much money you earn living abroad).

Permanent residency/citizenship rules in Portugal follow the Spanish and Czech model in that you can apply after five years.

Porto, the second-largest metropolitan area in Portugal after Lisbon, is an increasingly popular city amongst digital nomads. Porto is a living, breathing picture-postcard of European charm, with plenty to see and do. There’s a proverbial banquet of exciting activities, from historic city walks to wine tastings across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia’s wine caves. But best of all, it’s good value. A couple can live well here on a monthly budget of $1,550.

France

“France’s entrepreneur/profession libérale visa is similar to Portugal in terms of ease of attainment,” says Opdyke. “It’s an ideal way for Francophiles to gain legal permission to live and work in France.

“You need to demonstrate that you can fend for yourself financially by proving you earn at least the French legal minimum wage (about €1,540 per month, or $1,800). Beyond that, there are typical documents and whatnot that are necessary for the application, but nothing particularly difficult.”

And despite widespread misconceptions about cost of living in France, outside of Paris the country is a pretty affordable place to call home.

Given its ideal placement along the French Riviera, the coastal city of Toulon in southeastern France provides an idyllic lifestyle for residents and short-term visitors. Away from the hustle-and-bustle of big “resort” towns like Nice, Cannes, and St. Tropez, unassuming Toulon lies a bit off the radar. A couple can live well here on a monthly budget of $1,986 to $2,228.

The full report, including information on a bonus country, The Netherlands, can be found, here: 5 Best Freelance Visas in Europe

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Ariana Papademetropoulos Limited Edition Print

ABOUT ARIANA PAPADEMETROPOULOS

Ariana Papademetropoulos (b. 1990, Pasadena, CA, USA) lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Papademetropoulos completed her BFA at California Institute of the Arts in 2012. Solo exhibitions include Vito Schnabel Gallery, New York, NY (forthcoming), Soft Opening, London, UK (forthcoming), Just Like Arcadia, The Breeder, Athens, Greece (2019), Sunken Gardens, Soft Opening, London, UK (2018), and The Man Who Saved a Dog from an Imaginary Fire, Wilding Cran, Los Angeles, CA (2017). Selected group exhibitions include All of them Witches, Deitch Projects, Los Angeles, CA (2020), and Anima Mundi , Manifesta , Marseille, France (forthcoming) . In 2017 she curated Revenge of the Crystal at SADE, Los Angeles and in 2014 she organised Veils, an exhibition at The Underground Museum in Los Angeles.

EXHIBITION A

ARIANA PAPADEMETROPOULOS

Her tears were expensive; fresh water pearls

Archival Pigment Print

Limited Edition of 50 

20″ x 16″

$200


EMILY MAE SMITH

Memento Mori Wall Clock

$350


JAY MIRIAM

Fountain of Youth

$200


YVES TESSIER

Capri Interior

$150


MARINA ADAMS

Blue Star (Saquasohuh)

$250


SADIE LASKA

Fight the Future

$600


SHUNSUKE IMAI

Untitled (Flag)

$150

Bastille Day Cocktail illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

D’USSE Bastille Basil

As you may know, the bold, yet remarkably smooth character of D’USSE Cognac was conceived at the prestigious Château de Cognac – a 200-year-old venue and one of the oldest Cognac houses in France. Thus, making it an opportune time to explore an exclusive cocktail from the brand to celebrate Bastille Day! 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Parts D’USSE
  • 1 1/2 Parts French Rosé Wine
  • 3/4 Part Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 Part Simple Syrup
  • 1 1/2 Part Sparkling Water

Garnish

  • ​4 Basil Leaves
  • 1 Lemon Wheel

Method

Add D’USSE, Rosé, lemon, simple syrup and basil leaves into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an ice filled glass. Top with sparkling water. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a sprig of fresh basil.

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wine, 360 MAGAZINE

Bastille Day Gourmet Tasting Kit

With Bastille Day just around the corner, Francophiles are getting ready to celebrate Le Quatorze Juillet in true Parisienne style. To help you join in on France’s most festive fête from the comfort of your home, beloved French liqueur brand St-Germain and NYC-based Gastronome Catering have teamed up to design an exclusive gourmet tasting kit, Menu du Quatorze Juillet, scheduled to launch on July 14 (details below).

While New Yorkers have started slowly venturing out since the Phase 2 reopening last month, the vast majority have realized the truth of the matter – apartment dining will not be going away any time soon. But preparing a meal for two doesn’t have to be a laborious chore. In fact, quite the opposite. The deluxe Bastille Day tasting kit – created by St-Germain and Gastronome whose high-profile clientele includes Fendi, Alice & Olivia, One King’s Lane, Tribeca Film Festival and Mark Cross to name a few – offers a 4-star tasting experience in the comfort of our homes.

Available for purchase through August 14, the kit will be equipped with everything you need to enjoy an elevated evening – including a Drizly code for the ingredients to make a St-Germain Spritz cocktail, paired with a Parisian-inspired tasting menu from award-winning chef Alex Ureña (bio below). This collaboration is an extension of the St-Germain Moment du Jour social initiative that aims to inspire creativity, elevate daily rituals and design special moments in people’s daily lives at this time.

ABOUT ST-GERMAIN MOMENT DU JOUR

In collaboration with a collective of lifestyle experts and local bartenders from around the country, The St-Germain Moment Du Jour platform offers a series of lifestyle tips — spanning culture, gastronomy, style, and home décor — and cocktail pairings to help inspire creativity and design special moments in our daily lives. The program brings together local artisans and bartenders, who have been impacted in these challenging times, to share weekly tips on the St-Germain Instagram.

Daniel Boulud, Vaughn Lowery, 360 Magazine

Daniel Boulud Opens Dubai Restaurant

Award-winning, Michelin-starred Chef, Daniel Boulud, to open first Dubai restaurant in Sofitel Dubai Wafi

Brasserie Boulud, a new dining concept by Daniel Boulud – chef-owner of award-winning restaurants around the globe – is set to open its doors this September within Sofitel Dubai Wafi in the United Arab Emirates. Inspired by the French art de vivre, Boulud’s very first restaurant in the Middle East will offer French-inspired contemporary cuisine, rooted in tradition.

While Boulud hails from outside Lyon, France, it is in New York, that he has truly mastered the dining scene and is today considered one of America’s leading culinary authorities. Renowned for the modern appeal he adds to soulful cooking in authentic French classics, he has continuously evolved his cuisine and expanded his dining concepts in Washington DC, Miami, Palm Beach, Toronto, Montreal, London, Singapore, and now Dubai.

Drawing on his vast culinary knowledge, Boulud has chosen French Chef de Cuisine Nicolas Lemoyne to take the helm of Brasserie Boulud. Bringing more than 15 years of experience under his chef’s apron including working at Restaurant Daniel, Boulud’s flagship restaurant in New York, Lemoyne will bring a completely new French experience to Dubai’s current dining scene. The menu is inspired by the rhythm of the seasons and the finest ingredients, with specialties such as Melon Soup with Shrimp and Lemongrass, Homemade Duck and Foie Gras Rillette, Terrine of Spiced Lamb with Eggplant, Dover Sole Veronique with Romanesco Broccoli, BB Burger with Tomato Confit, Arugula and Raclette Cheese, Chicken Tagine with Saffron Cauliflower and Green Olives, Apricot Clafoutis with Pistachio, and Tarte au Chocolat et Framboises.

Stepping into timeless elegance, the beautiful décor of Brasserie Boulud will capture the imagination of the most discerning of diners. As guests walk into the restaurant, the art deco design theme is apparent throughout the venue as modern styles are combined with fine craftsmanship and rich materials. Eyes immediately gravitate to the soaring mirrored ceiling accentuated by modern chandeliers and the classic neutral color palette provides an understated, modern and relaxed atmosphere. The open kitchen offers a multi-sensory dining experience as the chefs showcase their skills. During weekends, live entertainment will accompany the dining experience, inviting guests to take refuge from a busy city life and live the French way.

Said Daniel Boulud of the partnership, “We are so excited to be bringing Brasserie Boulud to our friends in the Middle East for the very first time and we cannot imagine a better partner than Sofitel, a brand that echoes so many of the principles we stand for. They share in our passion for excellence in both hospitality and cuisine, and we look forward to providing an extraordinary experience to their guests.”

When it comes to eating and drinking well, Dubai’s dining scene is renowned for its diverse and globally driven nature. However, Brasserie Boulud is set to be a unique destination in itself – a bastion of taste and the true meaning of gastronomie française.

About Chef Daniel Boulud

Daniel Boulud is Chef-Owner of several award-winning restaurants and the Feast & Fêtes catering company. While he hails from outside Lyon, France, it is in New York that he has truly mastered the dining scene and is today considered one of America’s leading culinary authorities. Raised on his family’s farm in the village of Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu, the chef remains inspired by the rhythm of the seasons and menus driven by fine ingredients.

Since arriving in New York City in 1982, he has continually evolved his cuisine and expanded his reach across the U.S., as well as London, Toronto, Montreal and Singapore. His culinary empire has brought him many accolades, including two Michelin-starred flagship, Daniel in New-York. Boulud’s culinary style and reverence to mentorship is also reflected in ten books, including the definitive DANIEL: My French Cuisine (Grand Central Publishing, 2013), My Best: Daniel Boulud (Ducasse Books, 2014) and a recently updated version of Letters to a Young Chef (Basic Books, 2017. In 2015, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awarded Boulud the Diners Club® Lifetime Achievement Award for his success as a restaurateur, businessman, and ‘chef who is revered as one of the world’s finest.’

About Sofitel Dubai Wafi

A sophisticated and chic address in the epicenter of luxury, Sofitel Dubai Wafi elegantly merges modern French art de vivre and ancient Egyptian heritage with the essence and culture of the UAE. Adorned with a gold pyramidion and in the shape of an obelisk, representative of the Luxor Obelisk currently in Paris, Sofitel Dubai Wafi majestically thrones in the heart of Dubai. Connected to Wafi, a premium shopping and leisure destination, the hotel is just 10 minutes away from Dubai International Airport, as well as major cultural and tourist attractions in the city.