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
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
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
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.