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Archive for Self Catering Holiday Houses

Holiday in Casablanca, Marocco

ON the industrial outskirts of Casablanca, Morocco, feral dogs roam the grounds of an abandoned meatpacking plant. Today, the sprawling factory, still replete with dangling meat hooks and blood-stained floors, is the unlikely venue for Casablanca’s largest independent art exhibition space, Les Transculturelles des Abattoirs, or the Transcultural Slaughterhouse, which has featured unusual site-specific pieces: sets of sculptured feet placed side by side on the ground, for instance, and faces pasted directly on the white tiles lining the space’s walls. If you need a place to stay in Casablanca, why not a Riad?

The transformation was made possible in 2009 when Casablanca’s mayor, Mohamed Sajid, warded off eager commercial developers and placed the 215,000-square-foot complex (rue Jaafar el Barmaki Avenue, Aïn-Sebaa Hay Mohammedi; 212-526-51-58-29; casamemoire.org) in the hands of Casamémoire — a nonprofit architectural preservation society — with help from the city’s nascent arts community. The move was a testament to the emerging importance of Casablanca’s cultural sector, as were the openings, over the last two years, of a stable of contemporary art galleries across the city. Stayrentals.com has plenty of holiday houses in Marocco.

Nestled amid the street peddlers and roaring diesel engines that clog Casablanca’s boulevards is the nearly two-year-old Galerie Atelier 21 (21 rue Abou Mahassine Arrouyani; 212-522-98-17-85; atelier21.ma). For Aziz Daki, the gallery’s co-owner and an art historian, the city’s mushrooming art scene is a reflection of the cultural interests of King Mohammed VI, an enthusiastic collector. “His passion for the arts has been one of the inspirations for what is now a growing group of Morocco-based collectors,” said Mr. Daki, whose gallery represents 14 Moroccan contemporary artists. “He really is one of our art world’s most important role models.”

The years since the 1999 transition from the relatively repressive reign of King Hassan II to the more tolerant and economically savvy regime of his son, King Mohammed VI, have meant big business for entrepreneurs like Youssef Falaky, a co-owner of the six-month-old Matisse Gallery (2 rue de la Convention, Quartier Racine; 212-522-94-49-99), a spinoff of a location in Marrakesh. “Before the death of Hassan II, people were living in the dark,” he said. “No one wanted to look rich. But now people are spending, and that has meant more investments in the art market.”

Hassan Hajjaj, an artist who splits his time between his native Morocco and London, was one of the first artists featured in Matisse’s Casablanca space. “Casablanca has its own special flavor,” said Mr. Hajjaj, whose work updates stereotypical Orientalist imagery with an almost Andy Warhol Pop Art flair. “The city is at that stage where there are a lot of hungry people that need spaces to show. It’s a big, chaotic city. But good things are growing out of it.”

Myriem Berrada Sounni, 29, who owns the 11-month-old Loft Art Gallery (13 rue Al Kaissi, Triangle d’Or; 212-522-94-47-65; loftartgallery.net) with her 26-year-old sister, Yasmine, said the city’s art scene has gone mainstream. “At the opening of our last exhibit we had ministers and presidents of banks,” she said. During a recent visit to the gallery, little red dots signaling a sale could be found next to nearly every painting on its pristine white walls. “In Casablanca,” she said, “art galleries are now a place for people to see and be seen.”



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The 53rd Venice Biennale is officially underway in Venice and signs of it are everywhere, bubbling up out of the canals, blaring from loudspeakers, flapping from the sides of palazzi. Probably the most thematically appropriate — given the shaken state of the art market and the art world as a whole — is the schoolchild’s maxim on a huge sign dangling from a sun-bleached facade near St. Mark’s Square: “I will not make any more boring art.”

When the Venice Biennale began back in the Victorian era, Britain ruled the waves and so ruled the Biennale. Thus the British pavilion is splendidly sited at the top of the large gardens that host the jamboree, while the American pavilion is out on the edges. China doesn’t get into the park at all. If you’re a Brit in Venice in June you can walk tall. This highlight of the art world calendar is a celebration every other year of the most cutting-edge art from all over the world, presented in grandly titled and grand-looking pavilions in the Giardini, acres of gardens a vaporetto ride from St Mark’s Square.

The nations who weren’t doing enough in Victorian times to have a permanent presence in the Giardini find alternative accommodation around Venice. It remains the most political of all art gatherings. In 1974 it was given over entirely to the art of Chile in protest at the Pinochet regime. There is always nostalgic talk of that and of the cultural protests of 1968, just as there is seldom, if ever, talk among our Italian hosts of the 1930s, when the running of the Venice Biennale was directed from the office of Sgnr Mussolini.

Like all good festivals, the Biennale has a fringe, the Aperto, housed in a series of waterside warehouses called the Arsenale. Hats off this year to a group of young London artists who have cheekily confused visitors to Venice by nicking the word “pavilion” to set up the Peckham Pavilion.

Self Catering in Venice

Farm holidays – are they for you?

Staying on a working farm can give town and city children the chance to experience country life, and to take part in activities such as feeding baby lambs and collecting eggs. If you really want to experience farm life then you should choose a working farm. Ask what animals there are and what the arrangements are for visiting them, so you know what to expect.

There are plenty of  interesting things to do: in some cases castles to visit, adventure parks, a dinosaur park, butterfly farm, chocolate farm (very popular), bee farm – where you can actually see honey being made – behind glass of course, goldmines and an iron age settlement, and steam trains all nearby.

Children like to make new friends and in self catering holiday houses they can do that very easily. Occasionally parents and children make friends with another family and they go to the same farm several years running to enjoy their holidays together.

Look at the accommodation provided and see how baby and child-friendly it is. Click on the following link   on self-catering holidays for more information.