AACS Madrigal Singers European Tour 2003
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•  Thursday, June 12

•  Friday, June 13

•  Saturday, June 14

•  Sunday, June 15

•  Monday, June 16

•  Tuesday, June 17

•  Wednesday, June 18

•  Thursday, June 19

•  Friday, June 20

•  Saturday, June 21

•  Sunday, June 22

•  Monday, June 23

•  Tuesday, June 24

Saturday, June 14

We awoke to a beautiful sunny day, had breakfast in the hotel, and boarded the coach to the Chateau de Ripaille in Thonon les Bains France.

Chateau de Ripaille


Today's Agenda


Excursion to Lake Geneva with a guided tour of Chateau de Ripaille
  Arrive in Roanne
Afternoon Lunch in Yvoir


Dinner in the hotel

We were given a guided tour of the Chateau which was built in 1434 by Amedee VIII who was the first Duke of Savoy. There were originally seven towers of which only four remain. The castle used to be a monastery for monks who lived an isolated life only meeting with others once a week for meals. The inside of the castle has been restored during the nineteenth century. The Chateau is also a wine producing vineyard and also now serves as a facility hosting receptions and concerts. The madrigals had the opportunity to perform The Lord's Prayer (en francais) in what is considered the more modern kitchen of the castle.

At the end of the tour, the Madrigals performed the Barocha for our guide who seemed genuinely moved by the performance.

The Mediaeval Town of Yvoir

From Thonon les Bains we boarded the coach to the mediaeval town of Yvoir which is right on lake lac leman which is known as Lake Geneva by the swiss.

The town of Yvoir is known for its colorful flowers which are everywhere adorning the ancient stone buildings and streets which are absent of any automobiles. At the edge of town there is a castle which is privately owned and is actually used as a home.

The group split up and had the afternoon to walk along the cobblestone streets, visiting the local shops, and having lunch at various street side restaurants and cafes. Tasting the local culture, lunch consisted of deep fried fish from the lake, a variety of crepes, as well as many other specialties.

We boarded the coach for Roanne and stopped by a beautiful lake-side rose garden back in Geneva.

We continued on to Roanne and were treated to an inspiring devotion given by Art Hill.

A day of wonderful weather and great sights!

Reflections on the Day - Loris Nebbia

Psalm 68:19 defines our amazing situation saying, “Blessed be the Lord who daily loads us with benefits. (New KJV). How else can a trip like this be explained? As we begin our journey, we understand the immense blessing we’ve been given to travel together in place as beautiful as Europe. To the Lord we raise grateful hearts.
As Art Hill mentioned in his first devotions today on the bus, we are grateful for Liz Pairman, our tour guide, who has already endeared herself to us with her immense knowledge and appealing personality. Thanks to Liz, everything has run smoothly and while she is making that happen, she is also delighting us with fascinating facts about our surroundings. Liz, who speaks French with the fluency and ease of a native, knows the history and culture of Switzerland and France. She has begun giving French phrase lessons to prepare us for speaking to our hosts tomorrow at lunch and the home-stay families.

When I observe cities I love -- like Geneva-- I think in terms of color and beauty and light. My prose grows too fancy, I think, and offer my condolences to the poor reader, but in case you don’t mind flowery writing, I’ll tell you what I saw.

On Friday afternoon, the memories of the long flight quickly evaporated as our tour guide Liz Pairman led us through the elegant streets of international Geneva toward the immense blue of Lac Lèman. The city of Geneva is fast-moving, full of energy, thriving upon the shores of the lake. Our walking tour across one of the city’s bridges gave us view of the impressive jet d’eau-- a towering fountain of water that shoots straight up in the air making a white water plume. The breeze across the lake fans the descending stream out in a light-filled arc of moving spray. It is easy to understand why the city of Geneva admires this unique fountain, but I love even more the sight of the Rhone River flowing out from the lake and on through the city center in swift, bright blue-green power. The color of the river water is akin to the singular Annapolis color, but clearer and greener, making it look colder.
Old Town Geneva -- Vieux Ville -- stands atop a hill above the ancient stone wall that once served to fortify the city. As we labor up the incline, our feet uncertain on the rounded stones, our guide explains that once, long ago, enemies of Geneva tried to mount the wall and capture the city. An elderly woman took her hot soup pot and dumped the contents on the intruder before beating his head with the emptied cauldron. Her victory is commemorated yearly on December 13 when families create petite cauldron-shaped chocolate bowls and fill them with marizpan shapes. The two family members who hold the distinction of being the oldest and the youngest, smash the cauldron into pieces, whereupon the family members feast on the chocolate and the marzipan -- Swiss specialties.

The stone -paved streets are steep as the city’s history. Homes and shops show an elegance in style and taste that whispers antiquity and beauty and a deep sense of order in their polished, honey-colored wooden doors, the stately curves of their arches and the distinct curling shape of the wrought iron lamps. We were late arriving in Old Town, but not too late to see the afternoon sun set the creamy brown stones to glow in subtle high lights and shine in gold glare on the window panes. One of my favorite places-- a book store -- has books shelves outside lining the central bay window. These are set within cupboards that the proprietor must open and shut each day. We passed a chocolatier’s shop, in whose window showed sculptures of chocolate, shapes and shades of chocolate and trays of neatly stacked chocolates compelling the passer by. Antique shops, all impeccably kept, with spotless brick sidewalks and shuttered, lace-curtained windows decked with bright flowers stand beside tiny neat gift shops.
At the top of the hill, presides the Hotel de Ville, city hall. This must be entered by a street-side gated archway which leads into a large, sunny courtyard with a round fountain at its center. The offices in the buildings tha form the square have historical significance, but I am delighted to discover tht the curved staircase built into an arched stone tower was built to the scale and strength that visiting dignitaries from around the world need not dismount to ascend the stairs. The beauty and efficiency of Geneva inspires the imagination.

After a delicious dinner of tomato, basil, motzarella salad and chicken in cream sauce with an alpine potato dish and apple tart nearly everyone enjoyed a good night’s sleep and met in the morning rested and ready for the day’s adventures which began with a visit to the impressive Chateau de Ripaille, on Lac Leman’s shore. The chateau was constructed by the first Duke of Savoy, one of the most powerful dynasties in Europe, It looks like a medieval castle should, with seven towers and a promenade of arching mulberry trees that shade the distance to the monastery beside. The chateau, made of the same golden colored stone of Geneva’s old homes, wears its age with a confidence as inexorable as the sunrise that blesses its vineyards and fruit trees. The order of the vineyard is beauty itself in green, fruitful branches that recall those life-giving metaphors from the gospel. The rows are straight, the y-shaped supports that encourage the vines to grow parallel to the horizon for optimum sun exposure are each precisely the same height. But the endurance of the cherry trees espaliered upon the chateau walls-- so old their trunks are knotty and thick -- shows in their red fruit. The cherries gleam like Christmas balls beneath the dark green leaves, but their wild, bright scent reveals enduring and productive life.
Inside Chateau de Ripaille, we find a medieval castle modernized and decorated in the style of the Arts and Crafts movement -- La Belle Epoch in French. The sheer age of the home’s artifacts which include tiny religious medals crafted of lead, a vegetable and fruit dehydrator and a meat smoker nearly 800 years old, astonishes our American perspective. We delight in the huge stone fireplaces in every room, sniff the lingering scent of wine stored long ago in the cool, damp wine cellar and mount stone staircases worn with the passage of feet.
The end of the tour finds us in the kitchen and Cindy with the Madrigals and alumni sing the blessing to the tour guide. In that room, with its massive stone fireplace, sturdy stone walls and vaulted ceilings, the voices resound with power and joy that brings tears toour eyes. Our tour guide is nearly overcome with emotion at the deep and meaningful impact of this gift of truth and love in song.