La Vallée des Singes
After lots of island fun on l'Ile de Ré we drove through the French countryside to a valley that I have been wanting to visit for years: la Vallée des Singes, the Monkey Valley! I heard it is a place where monkeys live in near wild conditions. And actually that's pretty much it! We had a lovely afternoon walking around the park in close (very close!) presence of over 400 monkeys.
La Vallée des Singes opened its doors in 1998 and is completely different from a "regular" zoo. There is very little "entertainment", unlike anything Disney, and you experience a complete immergence in the monkeys' territory. You can walk through the 16 hectares park with several different areas and where the larger species live on their own islands, separated from you by water. There are hardly any fences and just a few panels with information about the different breeds of monkeys. They want you to really watch, observe, experience and become aware of the importance of protecting these beautiful animals. Through their Primate Conservation Trust they fund conservation programs for populations of wild primates.
Capuchin monkeys, gorillas, bonobos, makis, gibbons, magots, mandrills, chimpansees... I think my very favorite monkey was this male Saki monkey with his beautiful bangs and haircut:
The most wonderful experience in the park, was that at some moments it was just like a regular walk in the park although we realized there were dozens of monkeys above our heads in the top of the trees. It makes you so aware of how we are part of nature and not the masters of the universe like we tend to behave like.
How many Maki eyes can you spot:
A quick and quirky Squirrel monkey (a.k.a. Mr. Nilsson) making a rude gesture:
One more gorgeous monkey that I had never seen before is the Black and White Colobus with a wonderful drapey tail and jacket:
Another facinating thing was that most of the monkeys completely ignored us. They didn't interact with us or any other visitor and lived very independently. Through movies and media we get a very human impression of monkeys and sure: we look very much alike, but these are wild animals and the Vallée des Singes created a very natural environment for them where the balance between "nature" and "zoo" is particularly well respected.
Several times a day the team of La Vallée de Singes feed the monkeys in front of the visitors. A unique moment to observe the monkeys up close:
And yes, we also saw a lot of baby monkeys! In 17 years there were over 500 births in the park! Look at this cute South American Titi:
Or this adorable baby Magot monkey (the only free-living primates in Europe by the way!) that held on to his mama:
I also loved it when they fed the chimpanzees some fresh endives: they just came out of the trees (not all of them, one was having more fun in the top of a tree!), just ate their veggies and went back into the forest. No show or "entertaining the audience", just food. Well, it was actually very entertaining to watch them and their movements, sounds and interaction, but it felt all very natural ;)
La Vallée des Singes /// Le Gureau /// 86700 Romagne /// France
Open from February to November, all opening hours on the website.
The park is located at less than 4 hours from Paris, in the Vienne region, not far from Poitiers and Angoulême and totally worth the time spent in the car to get there. For an extra special experience, you can spend the night in a beautiful tree hut in the nearby Les Cabanes de la Belle and/or visit Futuroscope.
I heart Hartô again
I have a few more beauties from Maison & Objet to share with you. Over the week I checked the M&O coverage and realized I didn't get to see at least 80%, but I'm happy to show you the booth of my January crush: Hartô. This time around, this fresh brand from Paris presented a more toned down collection, colorwise. With a hint of retro and a bit of toile de jouy in the new Moogli cushions and pouches:
New is also a jewelry box called Edmée in painted ash and a mirror on the lid. I'd love to use the Suzanne carpet with its swimmingpool feeling in our new bathroom (once it's finally finished, that is...):
Navy and cobalt blue carpet Noé... for a very cosy winter feeling:
Can you so what's in this little bowl on the table?
Yummm... Hartô candy by Papabubble! (they are coming to Paris this fall!)
And of course I couldn't help taking a #mirrorselfie ;)
I think my favorite new Hartô product is the Léon tray in laquered metal (like the pale and salmon pink ones above). Ultra sleek and a round twist of the famous Hay kaleido trays.
Have a great weekend! I'm getting so excited because I'm close to running for the 200th time! Reason enough to throw a little party, right?!
I heart Hartô
The good thing about a grey and rainy Sunday in Paris? You can spend it at Maison & Objet and bring home an overdose of inspiration, lots of nice conversations with designers, many giggles with fellow bloggers and a full SD card with loads of images. That's exactly what I did ;)
One of my design crushes from M&O 2014 is called Hartô, a young French brand that creates clever & colorful furniture for happy homes. Even more than the designs themselves, the colors totally got me: bright, unexpected and inspiring. Oh and they also have a beautiful simple logo... that's how to win me over: bold colors & a beautiful logo. I'm easy ;)
Look at that minty blueish green... and deep raspberry red ♥
A cute little Hartô Honoré desk to work on, or write some snailmail:
Be prepared for more images from Maison & Objet in the next days... there's a lot more I want to share with you!
Ho ho ho x100
HO HO HO, Merry Christmas!
I hope you are having a wonderful day with loved ones, or if you're not celebrating: just a nice regular Wednesday. Oh and if you need it, our Lego genie grants you 3 wishes if you rub the lamp ;)
Also, I wanted to thank you for all the cheers and support via instagram, email and messages, during my runs. This morning I ran for the 100th time and it made me feel proud and grateful. I never thought I could do it, but in the end it's all about discipline and time management. And serotonin ;)
This year we dressed our wooden tree in Lego mini figures. Quite different than the pine branches last year. Our cats love it even better. Always a surprise which figures are missing in the morning!
My favorite Aire de Jugy
I love traveling in my own country. The Oise region is really nice, but nothing makes me happier than driving on the Autoroute du Soleil. Ohhh... the promise of sun, la mer and pine trees in the South of France... ♥
A break at one of the many rest areas along the road makes it even more fun and relaxing. Especially if you happen to stop at Aire de Jugy. Before reaching the aire de repos, located near Chalon-sur-Saône (in the Burgundy region between Dijon & Mâcon) there's little bit of suspense:
As a kid it was always such a joy to spot these fellows along the road. On our way to the Provence last month I couldn't help but stop to take a few playful pictures. Unfortunately most mushrooms are for kids only, but they look fantastic.
I can highly recommend to make a stopover at Aire de Jugy if you'll ever travel southbound, with or without kids!
Don't judge a book by its cover. Ever so often I'm disappointed when flipping through children's books at Fnac. Why make an attractive cover with a boring inside? Why? This book called Malmok is a nice exception: the blue foil letters and pelican illustration make the cover look pretty, but the illustrations inside are even better. The book was written by Sjoerd Kuyper for 7-8 year olds and tells the story of a bird called Malmok. It's very cute, but the visually-minded-me prefers looking at the penstrokes, colors and paper scraps by Dutch illustrator Annemarie van Haeringen. I simply love mixed media, strong colors and her very personal style.
Do you have a favorite illustrator?
A playful week
When Tina and I were playing around with Google doodles for her Vive la Différence series, she mentioned that both our homes are full of toys even though we don't have kids. I guess we both have a playful spirit!
This week I stretched the limits of my playfulness by going on a little tour through the park on a miniature steam train. The Friends of Steam, organized an afternoon of free rides for everyone, which turned out to be a great dose of unexpected fun! I loved it!
And later this week I was invited to the oldest theme park in France: La Mer de Sable. Fifty years ago it started as a playground near a natural dune in the forest, where retired circus camels enjoyed a calmer lifestyle. Many Isariens visited the park during their colonies de vacances, but recently it was completely updated.
For younger children (4-12) it's a great alternative to bigger parks like Asterix and Disney: hardly any lines, it's very clean, spacious, well decorated and I never heard so many laughing kids in other parks. The stunt show with Cowboys and Indiens was also a highlight. And a big plus: no It's A Small World tunes on repeat the entire day ;) La Mer de Sable is located at 45 mins from Paris. More info here.
The palm trees at La Mer de Sable made me dream of summer holidays in the sun, chilled drinks and the sound of cicadas...
Probably I won't hear any cicadas during this upcoming Bank Holiday weekend, but it will be a festive weekend, that's for sure! Hope your weekend will be sunny & festive too!
Ever since I was a little girl, these 4 piggie banks stand on the windowsill at my parent's house. They were made by my mom in the early 80s when she was into pottery and ceramics. One of them lost part of his belly in the oven, but he survived.
A few hours after I took their picture, I petted these cuties at the Easter petting zoo at the mall. I'm still not over their warmth and softness... so cute!
Pantone Emerald or Saint Patrick's?
Without a doubt this was one of my favorite spaces in Stockholm: the children's workshop at the Arkitekturmuseet. It's bold, it's green and it smells like craft glue and linoleum. What more can you wish for?
Besides the supercool lampshades, I really like the chairs with one "ear" (or raised hand?):
My first internship ever was at a Museum in Denmark where I also got to work with the younger visitors in the workshop. We decorated the space with sketches and drawings, but it certainly didn't look as good as this one!
These kids are so lucky, don't you think?
Adeline Klam in Paris
Earlier this week I blogged on Jillian in Italy again while she is recovering from surgery on her hand. I'm introducing you to a super cute & welcoming boutique in Paris, called Adeline Klam. Check it out here!
Adeline Klam /// 54, Boulevard Richard Lenoir /// 75011 Paris /// +33 (0)1 48 07 20 88
Open every monday through saturday: 11AM – 7PM.
So many kids
One of the perks of december is a mailbox full of festive cards. For the 8th time in a row, my dad & I worked on the xmas cards for an elementary school in the Netherlands.
The challenge is to be as efficient as possible, because with 460 kids and always a few ill ones ( due to Sinterklaas stress ), we want to keep the number of photoshoots & hours of retouching as low as possible.
Our idea was simple: every class was separated in 4 small groups that used their hands & fingers to point out 2 0 1 3!
But the funny thing was that as soon as the cards were printed, the deaf children at school pointed out that the signs used by the kids, are not correct according to sign language. Why didn't we think of that?!?
Of course we did a new photoshoot for the inside of the card. Isn't it intruiging that the deaf kids' hands below are so much more expressive than those of the hearing kids above?
To see the previous cards we made, click here.
Gift wrapping ideas for IKEA Family live
My new guest post at IKEA family live just went live. I'm sharing a few ideas about gift wrapping. Check it out here!
While it has been snowing in large parts of Europe ( it IS december after all! ), we enjoyed a nice autumn sun in the Oise this last couple of days. Flipping through one of my photo albums I found these two photos of myself in the forest nearby our home ( wearing the same dress as here ). At age 2 I learned that inside a mushroom live these tiny gnomes. And if you listen carefully, you'll hear them talk.
It's clear that I took this very seriously. I wonder what I thought the gnomes were saying.
Thirty years later we have mushrooms in our garden, but I didn't hear a single gnome...
Hens and Roosters
The sound of hens immediately takes me back to the garden of my grandparents. My grandma used to keep hens in a shed and as a little girl I didn't dare to come anywhere near them: their feathers & unpredictability freaked me out. I know my grandma's hens were brown, but it's mostly their clucking sound that I recall. A continuous background noise while we picked dahlias or watched my grandma harvest some veggies. Or while we did the coolest thing in the garden: dig for pig bones that the former house owner, a butcher, threw in there. We were true archaeologists...
Even though the chickens at the Verbeke Foundation near Antwerp were predominantly roosters, their sound was somewhat familiar to my grandma's hens. But this time I did dare to approach the poultry. And snapped some pictures too!
(photos of me as a 2-year old in my grandparents garden, taken by my dad)
JOELIX in Butterzart magazine
Earlier this year I met Nina in Berlin when we both attended The Hive, a European Blog Conference. We immediately hit it off ( we talked for hours during the cocktail party! ) and have been in contact ever since. Nina writes a monthly magazine called Butterzart about kids fashion & lifestyle.
It's an honor to be invited by her today to Butterzart to tell you a little bit more about me & my blog in the column "Wer bloggt denn da?". You can read it HERE. It's in German, but you can read the English translation here.
Baking some LEGO pastries
What do you do when it's raining & you've just found several new Lego sets in the stash of your husband? You build a Lego bakery! Including 1 croissant, 2 baguettes & cupcakes! Any idea what these stacks of tiny "balls" are? Maybe chouquettes? Or oranges?
Even though I'm not a big fan of pre-fab Lego, ( I rather prefer basic bricks ), the pastries are really cute!
Did you play with Lego as a kid? And do you or your kids still play with Lego?
Weekend tip: Grimp a l'arb
In stead of buying her a gift, we invited my sister to do an activity for her birthday. My sister is a true dare devil ( not! ) so climbing trees in the forest was just the thing for her. In the middle of the forest of Pierrefonds lies this tree climbing adventure parc called Grimp a l'Arb. Their website is oldskool with Comic Sans & a pointer mascot, so be prepared, but the parc is pretty cool.
Through different courses criss cross through the treetops you "get in touch with your inner monkey". Well, something like that ;o) Obstacles are suspended between trees and while being attached to a safety cable you hop from 1 tree to another. The trails have zip lines, suspended bridges, scramble nets, swinging logs, a cool surf board, and much more...
We first walked through the parc to take a look. The children's courses looked easy, so we were all pumped to start the adventure. But when my sister saw the higher trails for adults, she totally chickened out... She's not such a monkey after all!
Anyway, the warm & sunny weather had ice cream & café terrace written all over it, so we opted for a different activity. But if you're looking for a cool adventure, I could totally recommend Grimp a l'Arb. Everyone we saw climbing through the treetops had so much fun!
I scream for ice cream!
Summer started in France & I couldn't be happier. I'm not sure if it's true, but most people prefer the season they were born in. I was born in the middle of the summer and it's absolutely my favorite season. Sunshine, people-watching from a sunny café terrace, leaving the house without a jacket, sunbathing & late dinners in the garden, cool drinks, life slowing down and of course ice cream!
I scream for ice cream reminds me of "Wij eisen ijs" ( we demand ice cream ) from Dutch children's book Floddertje by Annie M.G. Smidt. Fiep Westendorp's illustrations for this book are one of my favorites.
Mostly drawn to it by its color, I tasted my first Violette ice cream this week. Delicious! My sister went for mango & raspberry ;o) In Avignon I had the best caramel au beurre salé ice cream ever. Yummy! What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
Tomorrow I'll share a new ice cream recipe to keep you cool!
The last & only time I won something was when I was 6 years old and won a Queensday drawing contest. I wrote Happy 05th wedding anniversary to the Queen, in stead of 50th anniversary. That was probably "funny" enough to let me win... I remember the prize very well: a voucher with the equivalent of nearly 2,25 euros to spend in the local toystore. It took me a long time to decide what to choose. I went home with a tiny yellow version of this plush caterpillar, because this was above my budget. Aaahhh the toys of the 80s...
A while ago, a few days after I wrote about the Humanoid flagship store, I received an email: " Congratulations, you won! ". First I thought it was spam, but when I read further, I saw that I really won a shopping voucher to spend in the Humanoid webshop! The sales articles were still in my basket and as soon as I received the voucher I ordered them right away. I just received them and they are perfect! Soft & airy: perfect for this week's summer sun. The voucher came with the beautiful Humanoid S/S 2012 lookbook. Merci Humanoid!
Have you ever won something? What was it? And how did you win? Hmmm makes me wonder, maybe I should organize a contest so that you could win a prize too...
As of next week my stepdaughter will be here at Studio Sapique! This photo shows what she looked like when we just met in 1999. She's proudly showing me her new Pikachu hand puppet which I made for her. It became her favorite and soon looked loved & greyish.
My role as a stepmom is a privileged one. We're only 13 years apart, just as much as me and my husband, which makes us really close. I'm not her mother, not her girlfriend, but just Judith.
One of the things that didn't completely change in 13 years, is that she still likes to watch movies over & over again. Her (and my!) favorites then were Kirikou and the Sorceress (by Michel Ocelot) and Morph (by Aardman). These days we watch more embarrassing stuff like The Bachelorette or worse…
As she will be practically living in the Oise, although temporary, I may ask her to pose for a Styloise feature!
We gathered the childrend in the shape of a star. Of course again it took quite some time, especially because we absolutely wanted to include all the children on the cards. In november a lot of kids are ill due to the Sinterklaas stress... so we had to leave blank spaces in the composition and add photos of those kids when they were fit again.
In 2007 we were wiser and took 1 photo per class and masked it with x-mas words and icons. The few children that were ill, were added later into the group photos.
2008: a new year: a new idea. We tried to create a lighted candle. The larger part of the group formed the candle, one of them was the candle wick and a few kids formed the flame. Again, one of the challenges was to limit the time needed to take the picture.
At first we thought it would be cool if the "candle wick kid" would be carried by the children of the candle and the flame. But the experience learned that it was safer & faster to lay him/her down on a table.
In 2009 it snowed on the x-mas card. The children were photographed in small groups of 6 or 7, catching invisible snowflakes. The snowflakes were added later on. The card was folded right through the snowy part.
This year we were inspired by the performance art called Mass Games, in which large numbers of people take part in a performance that emphasizes group dynamics rather than individual prowess. Our starting point was the typical school picture with 4 rows of children. All the children were holding a blank piece of paper on which we added 3D stars in post production.
As long as I know I've been intrigued by peppermint candy. A few months ago I saw how it's made for the first time (in Gränna, Sweden). I just cannot help myself but there's something magical about sweets. The team behind Papabubble fully agrees to that. In 2004 they opened their first shop in Barcelona and thanks to all it's loyal customers they opened shops all over the world: spreading the magic of delicious & beautiful handmade sweets. If you too are passionate about candy? Then you can now bring Papabubble to your part of the world by opening a Papabubble Concept store. How cool is that?
This is a couple
Earlier this week I stumbled upon two books by Miroslav Sasek, This is Paris and This is Venice. His children's books with illustrations from the 50's, 60's and 70's are very beautiful & detailed and fancy a witty sense of humour. As Mr. Sasek died in 1980 without leaving an heir, the copyright situation of his work is currently unclear. Royalties from reissues are being held in a special fund until the copyright owner has been identified.
Another gem created for children is the Dutch project Big Art for Little People. This is an audiovisual picture book which teaches young children (2-6 y/o) something about the formal language of the visual arts through short artistic movies. Watch one of the videos here. Or download part 1 or part 2 of the book in English.
And the last precious pick is by Guillemette Lanthiez (a French interior designer) who aspires to create a living form of architecture. She creates amazing ceiling mobiles for individuals or visual merchandising under the very poetic name of Les ailes s'en mêlent.
A light breeze
J3 Production published the 3rd edition of the At Your Leisure magazine full of inspiration and beautiful images.
Dutch family business in synthetic pottery Elho introduces the Elho raindrop water tank (on page 182-184). It looks amazing and makes using rainwater so easy!
Prepare a cool jelly pudding for your family or leave it for the jelly loving ants around the house.
A tip for parents traveling with their little ones this summer: in august Appracadabra will launch their new website & 1st app with wonderful children's apps in their own language. Each app will have a playful yet educational element and most of their apps are available in 16 different languages, ranging from Arabic to Lithuanian and Swiss German.
What the Jell'O
Just a day before the shortest day of the year, I have some bright stuff to share. First of all some bright gifts from Pen Pencil Stencil (don't forget the news section for nice photos and ideas). Then get in the photo cabin and get your picture done! Have a playful afternoon and get out your Lego. Finally relax with this video of a scuba diving in a newly flooded meadow. Some bright and "interesting" thoughts on graphic design, especially for my fellow graphic designer collegues.
Merry christmas to all!
Pearl's girl. Not a reference to the song by Underworld, but more to the magpie I am myself. I found some beautiful pearls to share with you.
We will never be green enough, so for some ultimate green inspiration, Veer created this amazing microsite. More inspiration per theme can be found in photographic webmag Purpose. The childhood edition contains some challenging images, definately worth a visit. A website I personally don't visit anymore is Atelier New York. It's too much fashion temptation to handle for me, even more now they accept international orders. I'd better pick a nice parka at Uniqlo, because their Tokyo Fashion Map is so good. Or some extremely weird but beautiful white dress shoes by Koji Horigome. Or don't spend anything and play with the good old Lego, like Jan vormann. I could make a Lego pearl necklace to pair my original Lego bracelet for example...
Almost forgot to mention the last pearl: No lifeguard on duty series by J Bennett Fitts, surreal color palette which really makes me travel far far away.
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