About Sasha H
Lives in Healey, United Kingdom
Since Jan 2015
I’ve swum with wild dolphins in the Maldives, fed baby kangaroos in Australia, spent hours in the shopping malls of Dubai and crash-landed a hot-air balloon in Poland – having spent the last decade travelling and freelancing, I am a joyful, nosy traveller, always meeting new experiences head on. I enjoy digging into the culture, listening to what’s happening around me and taking thousands of photos on the way. Thanks to two decades of travelling extensively through Europe, the Middle and Far East and the Caribbean, I know the cities and countries I write about inside out. And even though I live in the Yorkshire Dales – surely the most beautiful place on earth – I never lose my enthusiasm for skiing in Zermatt, visiting my favourite cities in Italy and Poland or discovering new places to shop in Dubai.
Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas
Nature & Wildlife Areas, National Parks
Canyons, Geologic Formations, Bodies of Water
Geologic Formations, Waterfalls, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Walking Areas
Historic Sites, Speciality Museums, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Bridges
The most famous of the bizarre, craggy limestone escarpments that surround Aix-en-Provence is Montagne Sainte-Victoire, to which Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cézanne returned more than 50 times to paint between 1902 and his death in 1906. Reaching 1,011 m (3,317 ft) in height, the peak is a popular spot for hikers and cyclists, with a variety of routes of all levels covering the slopes. Topped with a simple wooden cross and blessed with views of the rolling vineyards and lavender fields of Provence, Sainte-Victoire’s rugged southern flanks change color as the sun moves during the day, from soft yellow in the morning through soft rose-pink to blue and purple by evening.
The Lubéron’s defining characteristics are its rolling hills interspersed with neat rows of vines, and fields of purple heather disappearing into the distance. The tranquil, rural landscape — shaped over several millennia by man — is interspersed with crumbling abbeys and ancient hilltop villages such as Gordes and Roussillon, where daily markets virtually burst with the fragrance of fresh flowers, lavender, and honey. The park is a haven for cyclists, walkers, and climbers, with trails leading through dramatic river gorges, along meandering lanes, and up into the peaks of the Lubéron Massif.
The lovely Provençal city of Arles, with its UNESCO-listed Roman remains, is a gateway to the Camargue; a vast, open flatland of marshy wetlands, punctuated with étangs (saltwater lakes), and populated with wild white horses, black bulls, and neon-pink flamingos. Virtually cut off from mainland Provence between two branches of the River Rhône and the Mediterranean Sea, it is also a working landscape of rice paddies, saltpans, and vineyards, where man lives alongside nature in harmony. The region is a paradise for walkers, horseback riders, cyclists, sailors, fishermen, artists, and photographers, as well as for family vacationers in the seaside town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
Stretching 25 km (15.5 miles) and sandwiched between the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Var, the Gorges du Verdon forms one of the most spectacular river canyons in Europe. In places up to 700 m (2,300 ft) deep, the soft-green waters of the River Verdon flow between vertical limestone walls that are as little as six meters (19.5 feet) apart. Formed more than 250 million years ago, the gorge is at its most spectacular between the villages of Moustiers Sainte-Marie — itself one of the prettiest villages in France — and Castellane; roads snake their way along both sides of the canyon, and the circular Route des Crêtes takes in some hair-raising drops and awesomely steep hairpin bends.
An hour north of Aix-en-Provence in northern Provence, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is a time-warp village that sits over the mysterious underground source of the emerald-green River Sorgue, and is hemmed in by soaring limestone cliffs. Thanks to its inaccessible but photogenic location at the end of a winding road, many of the brightly painted houses clinging to the river banks have changed little over the centuries; a paper mill is still powered by ancient waterwheel, a ruined castle nestles above the village, and the 19th-century Aqueduct de Galas frames the river downstream. Today, the narrow cobbled streets of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse are lined with souvenir stores, ice-cream stalls, bars, and restaurants with views across the river.
One of the most seductive stretches of coastline on the planet, the Côte d’Azur is famous for its stylish enclaves including Cannes, Antibes, and St-Tropez. Every summer the cobbled streets, designer stores, market squares, and sandy beaches fill up with A-list celebs, straight off the world’s most expensive super-yachts that moor up in the marinas. Ramp up the glamour stakes for hanging around in St-Trop’s quayside Patisserie Sénéquier, watching Russian supermodels stalk past, mooch around the daily Marché Provençale on Cours Masséna in Antibes, or join the international film stars kicking back on the manicured beaches along La Croisette in Cannes. After nightfall, retire to a waterfront restaurant to sample Provençal bouillabaisse and a glass of fine local rosé wine.
The lovely Provençal hill town of Saint-Rémy sits among the forests, olive groves, and vineyards of the Alpilles Natural Regional Park. It is famous as the home of Vincent van Gogh, who stayed at the Monastère St Paul-de-Mausole in 1889 as he recovered from the mental illness that scarred the last year of his life. The ocher-hued town is crammed with meandering streets, sun-filled squares, creamy stone churches, and ornate fountains. Among the sunflower fields and limestone formations just south of Saint-Rémy are the spectacular ruins at Glanum, one of many Roman towns dotted across Provence. First settled in the 6th century BC, the complex reveals fragments of the original bath house, temples, and grottos, as well as houses and a marketplace; pride of place however, goes to Les Antiques, the monumental duo of Triumphal Arch and Mausoleum that stand on the edge of the ruins.
Traversing the River Gardon near the medieval village of Vers-Pont-du-Gard, the ancient Pont du Garde forms part of the technological marvel that was the 50-km (31.25-mile) aqueduct delivering water from Uzés to the city of Nîmes (the Romans knew it as ‘Nemausus’). Its triple layer of arches march across the riverbed at 50 m (164 ft) high and almost 360 m (1,180 ft) long; a breathtaking sight that was created 2,000 years ago, constructed from massive blocks of soft limestone quarried locally and floated downriver by boat. Pont du Gard was UNESCO-listed in 1985, and has an exhibition space, a museum tracing its history, and an activity center for families, along with various themed walks.