Before I moved my old wordpress page til to this engine, I had written years and years of travel logs when out and about for work, or just brought my pens somewhere. In the hustle and bustle of moving – a decision was made to drop the blog part. Which I kind of regret and now will remedy. So, picking up the pen again to document my visit to Abbaye des Veux de Cernay.

The old abbey is now a hotel located south-west of Paris, and I went there as my pre-bustle vacation before high season in my shop and gallery at Bryggen in Bergen. Also, it was a gift to myself. I had saved up for staying here since I contracted covid a second time, and used it as a goal for when out of my second round of post covid maladies. The place popped up in my feed one day and I was like “When I’m well again I’m going there.”

The abbey has been described as a “Disneyland Hogwarts for grown ups” – and I agree. The staff all wore beautifully tailored Victorian outfits, there were hidden staircases by fireplaces, and the buffet under vaulted ceilings was a visual feast and nothing less than opulent.

Fortunately the abbey had bikes, and we made good use of them exploring the grounds.

To not get lost they had made their own map. I love maps. Especially the ones that tweak reality and distance or only show you specific places, like the London Underground map or Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. When I drew the Tall Ships Races and Fløyen maps I worked the same way, tweaked and pinched to visualise navigating and what to discover, the actual distance drawn with a pinch of salt. Which might seem odd, but many user friendly small scale navigation maps are created this way. If you are a tall ship navigating the coast, or hiking for posts up a mountain, then of course those maps follow the proper measurements.

No fairytale hotel without their own map over the gardens and lake.

Everything was so well produced, even the tactile feel of the paper used for the maps and other printables was of splendid quality, and the graphics were pristine.

The designers must have had a blast, the work was almost like a movie set. Elements from the architecture made up different patterns printed on napkins, tablewares, wallpaper and umbrellas, and the different restaurants had their own visual profile in both graphics and textiles.

It really was like a theme park! They didn’t have branded litter bins like in EuroDisney tho’.

But they had wellies with frog’s eyes. Much of our stay there was shared between exploring the abbey and gardens, and the hotel had wellies that you could borrow.

I spent a lot of time in the grounds taking it all in, and drawing.

And took a turn around the lake.

In the evenings; lounging about in different rooms with massive fireplaces and hidden staircases.

This staircase came out in a panel in the wall in the upstairs hallway.

Lounging about in vaulted opulence is a privileged and expensive affair. But I was so happy to finally see it, and it was such a cool experience if you like a bit of lush branding work paired with leopard carpeting.

So after enjoying a bit of wonderland we climbed back up the rabbit hole and took the RER back to reality, in this case Paris! Which you can read about here if you are into small grungy places that serve delicious truffle pasta.