Bettany Hughes goes in quest of the nice life round Europe

Roaring across the Arc de Triomphe in a classic Citroen DS because the solar beats down should absolutely be essentially the most excellent manner to absorb Paris.

And it’s the way in which historian Bettany Hughes chooses to see town as she units off on a cultural journey by way of Europe, as a part of an inspirational new Channel 5 journey sequence.

‘As Audrey Hepburn as soon as stated, “Paris is all the time a good suggestion’”, she explains. ‘I’ve all the time simply cherished this place; its devotion to magnificence and glamour is so inspiring.

‘You’ll be able to’t assist noticing the Parisiennes look so super-stylish and filled with joie de vivre.’

Oh, la la! Historian Bettany Hughes travels from Paris to Rome for Channel 5's inspirational new travel show

Oh, la la! Historian Bettany Hughes travels from Paris to Rome for Channel 5’s inspirational new journey present

The French capital supplies the principle backdrop for the primary episode of her new four-part sequence, Paris to Rome with Bettany Hughes.

Within the present, the historical past professor goes in quest of what the French would name ‘la belle vie’ or the nice life. 

Stopping off at a number of the most interesting cities in Europe she immerses herself – and the viewers – within the artwork and the tradition, the music, the surroundings and the meals that feed our minds and gasoline our senses.

And it’s her day job that makes this journey further particular as fascinating info effortlessly journey off her tongue, placing every little thing into an historic context and including a richness not often seen in journey documentaries.

A LOVE AFFAIR WITH PARIS

Something's in the air... Bettany tells us the city gained its romantic reputation during the Enlightenment period

One thing’s within the air… Bettany tells us town gained its romantic fame in the course of the Enlightenment interval

Bettany first visited the Metropolis of Gentle in her teenagers, drawn each by a love affair and a love of journey.

We by no means discover out if the romance labored out, however her relationship with Paris has continued to today. How may it not when even the cafes are so particular?

Bettany visits Les Deux Magots, a espresso hotspot the place a number of the best thinkers put ahead new theories and dared to problem the established order.

‘For many years their concepts had been cultivated proper right here,’ she says. ‘They dreamt up all types of recent and thrilling concepts and mentioned how the world ought to be.’

These brains included feminist Simone de Beauvoir and her associate, author Jean-Paul Sartre.

‘They had been mainly the “it” couple of the day who dreamt up these unbelievable, radical concepts,’ says Bettany. ‘That’s one of many issues concerning the café tradition in Paris – it’s not nearly your first espresso of the day, it’s about having time to debate new thrilling concepts and dream up new methods of being.’

PEACE IN THE VENICE OF THE ALPS

AND breathe... Annecy, known as the Venice of the Alps, is a picture of tranquillity and the ultimate travel destination

AND breathe… Annecy, often known as the Venice of the Alps, is an image of tranquillity and the last word journey vacation spot

However there’s extra to the nice life than classic vehicles, beautiful structure and world-class artwork – pure magnificence can take your breath away too.

Bettany motors down (in a beautiful 2CV, after all) to the charming city of Annecy whose place, surrounded by rivers and nestling within the foothills of the Alps, means it’s also called ‘the Venice of the Alps’.

The twelfth century city itself is a delight but it surely’s the peace and tranquillity of its enormous lake that basically attracts folks to its shoreline. Even Queen Victoria visited on a sketching vacation every year, taking a steamer boat into the center of the water to seize the surroundings along with her watercolours.

‘She writes about it, you may inform she was having such a stunning time,’ says Bettany. ‘She talks about the way it was troublesome to sketch as a result of the panorama and the climate saved on altering.’

The monarch would additionally slip off to a neighbouring city underneath a pseudonym to take the waters, having fun with a uncommon second of anonymity.

Queen Victoria, regardless of all of the pressures of state, had discovered what really made life good for her – artwork, leisure and being surrounded by magnificence.

It’s the identical for Bettany – and for us – as she continues her travels over the border into Italy.

COFFEE AND LOVERS

Coffee time! Bettany explores the beautiful St Mark's Square in Venice

Espresso time! Bettany explores the gorgeous St Mark’s Sq. in Venice

First cease is Venice and the gorgeous St Mark’s Sq. – ‘the drawing room of Europe’ in keeping with Napoleon.

And it’s time to study the nation’s strict guidelines for espresso – milky brews are solely allowed for breakfast so that you by no means order a latte after 11am.

It’s fortunate Bettany may even get a cup, as espresso was banned for years in Italy by the Catholic Church till a Pope truly tasted some and adjusted his thoughts.

She additionally explores the opposite nice icons of Venice – the gondolas, the Grand Canal and glass of Murano – and even the legendary Casanova, who lived and cherished within the metropolis within the 18th century.

‘He took the nice life very severely,’ says Bettany. ‘And, wandering these streets – his playground – late at evening, I can’t assist however consider him.

‘He’s addictively thrilling to study. He was obsessive about immersing himself within the pleasures of physique and soul. He stated the entire level of life is to pursue the pleasures of the senses.

Bettany takes us on a tour of Venice with its famous canals, gondolas and Murano glass

Bettany takes us on a tour of Venice with its well-known canals, gondolas and Murano glass

‘He declared, “I’ve cherished ladies to a frenzy” and he introduced his driving ardour to every little thing he did from romance to his writing.

‘He was additionally a very good man. He translated poems, he composed music and poetry so he sums up the type of darkish passions of this metropolis.’

However the remainder of Italy is looking so it’s time to maneuver on with Bettany making stops within the historical streets of Bologna, the gorgeous Amalfi coast and the Bay of Poets.

Travelling, says Bettany, ‘can appear very self-indulgent and that you simply’re simply having an excellent time, but additionally you come to locations to stay and to like and to study and find yourself a greater model of your self.’

Even in the event you’re watching another person’s journey on a tv display…

Paris to Rome with Bettany Hughes begins on Channel 5 and My5 on Friday at 9pm 

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