June 7, 2012
Just Back: Austria, Germany, Switzerland & France
Artisans of Leisure founder and CEO Ashley Isaacs Ganz shares a few of her favorite things about her recent two-week overland trip that visited parts of Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France.
Favorite hotels on this trip: I love the luxurious Old World hotels found throughout the region, such as Brenners Park-Hotel in Baden-Baden, Germany; the Hotel Sacher in Salzburg, Austria; and the Baur au Lac and Dolder Grand (above) in Zurich, and the Beau-Rivage Palace (below) in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Touring highlights of the trip: We spent a day in the Alsace region in France, right near Baden-Baden, Germany. Colmar is one of the most pleasant European towns I have ever visited. It’s incredibly picturesque. There are interesting antiques and crafts shops, and I adored the town’s covered market. It was also fascinating to learn about the town’s history, visit attractions such as the house of Frederic Auguste Bartholdi (the sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty), and to walk among the canals and narrow streets of the old tannery quarter.
Another highlight was stopping in Gruyeres–the village that produces one of my favorite cheeses.
Bern’s Old Town is a UNESCO site and the view from a distance is incredible.
It was very exciting to see places in Salzburg, Austria, that were featured in the film The Sound of Music.
Unique activity: We arranged a porcelain painting experience for our kids at Augarten, one of Austria’s most prestigious porcelain brands. The pieces they made are already treasured heirlooms.
Most memorable meals: The Wiener schnitzel prepared tableside at the Old Swiss House, a restaurant in Lucerne, Switzerland, is legendary.
I loved dining in the elegant breakfast room at Brenners Park-Hotel in Baden-Baden.
Lunch on the terrace at m32 restaurant in Salzburg’s modern art museum, with its panoramic view of the entire city, was a definite highlight.
A lunch of fondue and raclette in Gruyeres, Switzerland, included gluten-free baguettes upon request.
Favorite art and architecture sites: I sought out installations that are part of the Salzburg Art Project. There are many around town by major international artists such as James Turrell, Stephan Balkenhol and Erwin Wurm.
Another highlight was exploring the backstreets of Munich to see the traditional architecture. I loved exploring the Residenz, a historic palace in Munich, which has endless halls of portraits and porcelain.
In Baden-Baden, Museum Frieder Burda is worth visiting.
The Fondation Beyeler outside Basel is spectacular and worth devoting half a day. There are many other incredible museums and architecture sites within the region, such as the Vitra Design Museum, Ronchamp Chapel, Zentrum Paul Klee, Kunstmuseum Basel and Kunsthaus Zurich.
Kids will love: Touring the Chateau de Chillon in Switzerland and learning about its history…
…touring car factories and museums, including those for Porsche, Mercedes and BMW; flying and jumping at the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne; stopping at the many parks and playgrounds that are such a part of the lifestyle throughout Europe; the amazing children’s amenities at hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental, Munich; day tours in Switzerland to experience incredible mountain scenery in places like the Berner Oberland and Mount Pilatus; and soft-adventure activities such as hiking, biking, ropes courses, and sledding and skiing on glaciers.
Local style: We enjoyed seeing gorgeous chandeliers, such as this one at the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois in Basel…
and this one at the Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne.
I loved these chairs on Lake Fuschl, just outside Salzburg. They offer a perfect way to enjoy the crisp air and views of the incredible Alpine mountains and lakes.
Best shopping: Wonderful art and antiques can be found everywhere in the region.
To learn more about Artisans of Leisure’s private tours in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France, visit www.artisansofleisure.com or contact your preferred travel consultant.