Thursday, December 08, 2011

As Quaint As Clarens

If you look up the word 'quaint' in the South African pictorial dictionary, you will find a photograph of Clarens. maybe that's just a literary myth, but there isn't a better way to describe this enchanting little town, which is set against the glorious Maluti Mountains. I recently visited the 'Jewel of the Free State', which cast a spell on me with it's majestic charm and tranquil ambience. Once I got there, I never wanted to leave. 

This is the view of the town from our porch at Rosewood Cottage, where we spent the weekend. I now know what it feels like to breathe in crisp, fresh mountain air and have your breath taken away by the spectacular scenery at the same time. This area of South Africa is renowned for its beautiful sandstone structures. The sandstone is found in the adjacent Golden Gate National Park.

Clarens is a place where artists come to inspire, and be inspired. Many artists chose to settle down in this serene sanctuary permanently. The streets are lined with art galleries, displaying unique paintings and sculptures, one more extraordinary than the next. An 'artsier' place, I have not yet been to. Besides paintings, one can purchase exotic artifacts and curios, as well as handcrafted wooden furniture and metal artwork, all made in and around Africa.

The thing that makes Clarens as quaint and old-world as it is, is the absence of franchises. There are no chain stores or popular fast food branches. Not one. Every store and restaurant is individually owned and designed to blend into the chocolate-box surroundings, retaining the antique character of the town. The numerous deli's sell homemade delights with a difference. Pictured top left are miniature melt-in-your-mouth créme brûlée chocolates, which I regret not buying more of. Bottom left, are glass-jar condiments with adorable names like 'You are Berry Licious' jam, 'You are Peri Hot' sauce and 'Sweet as Nectar' honey. I lost myself in a sweetly scented store selling all-natural beauty products. That's the testing station pictured top right, you can imagine how many indulgent hours could be spent there.

Above are photos of the Garment Gallery, which is one gallery that must not be missed when visiting Clarens. An endearing boutique inspired by the timeless beauty of Mona Lisa, the Garment Gallery seeks to gratify the trendy shopper with vintage glamour. They stock one-of-a-kind and well-tended vintage clothes and evening gowns, as well as new, more modern pieces. Antique strollers store a myriad of lace and crochet scarves, and they house a historic hat collection that Jackie O would be proud of. I am still infatuated by the embroidered pink and white tulle ruffle dress from the 50's (pictured bottom middle). 

Visiting Clarens was like stepping into another world for two days. A place lost in time, where prettiness and creativity flows freely and abundantly. I have discovered that there are two types of people you will find in Clarens: the soulful artists who come here to nurture their ingenious talents; and then there's the rest of us, who come to bask in all of it's rustic beauty.

*All photos taken by me.


Gabi said...

beautiful place, great photos!

Kassi said...

Wow, what a quaint, artsy and beautiful place.
I would take pictures of the snow, but it has melted. Next time it snows (which I'm sure won't be long) I will take some photos of it!

Bailey Schneider said...

You write beautifully! I haven't been to Clarens since I was a little girl... I would LOVE to go back... I know I'd appreciate it more now.

Much love, Bailey from Vanilla Blonde

Macherie said...

Wow, what a great place to visit! I hope I would be able to here too!

Purvi said...

I would love to see this place :)

Rahul Bhatia said...

Sam you live in such a heavenly place!I wish I could travel sometime! My sincere thanks to you for having pointed out the error in my blog which I have now rectified!

Vanisha @ Vanisha's Life In...Australia said...

I wouldn't want to leave here either! I can't wait to visit. It's just so dreamy Sam!

Hazel said...

WOW! That place is absolutely gorgeous! I would love to visit it myself someday :)

Sam said...

@Kassi - can't wait to see the pictures.

@Bailey - Thank you, I hope you get to visit Clarens again.

@Rahul - No problem, I'm glad it's fixed.

Rakhshan said...

it's a beautiful place this Clarens, i wish i could visit,love such places away from the big busy city's bustle!! love the front view of the Garment Gallery shop!
you must've had an amazing time there, lucky you! x

Denise said...

Amazing! So now I'm drooling, and I need (want!)to try convincing my partner to go there with me! (Well, if not, I'd go alone, as I many times do!) It's a wonderful world there, really amazing! I love art! This atmosphere!
I don't want to be negative :), but yes, you should have bought more créme brûlée chocolates! (And next time, send me some! Please!) They must be extremely delicious! (I love chocolate!) I am also in love with the flower cup! And of course, even before I read, the tulle dress!!! I would love to wear it! (So much "love"... but all sincere! Besides, it's my favorite word ever!)
Fantastic trip, thanks for bringing this lovely city to us!

Aimee Victoria Long said...

You have such a lovely blog, I really do like this post. Sparked some great memories.
Thank you for the comment on my blog, Please come back and visit again and maybe even follow if you like it. I am a new follower of yours.

Jayme and Mendi said...

Wow, how beautiful! I hope one day I get to visit South Africa! Love all of these photos!!
We are hosting a giveaway of Sephora products going on now and we'd love for you to come back and enter. We also have 3 more giveaways this month!
Jayme & Mendi @ Her Late Night Cravings

lauralegendary.x3 said...

How beautiful ♥
thanks for your comment (:
Do you intrestet in following each other?<3

Inhale | Fashion and Beauty said...

very cool, thanks for your lovely comment.

Daniella said...

What a beautiful look place to go!! Love this :)

Take care,Daniella xox

LOSAWAY said...

Great pics! Is a beautiful place :)

Fictitious Fashion said...

Wow.. THe place looks amazing.. really mystical!!
New post is here..maybe u cud take a look :)


Anonymous said...

Its really , really amazing. I would love to go there :)

Kisses Joana |

jill said...

The Garment Gallery looks so perfect, I want to visit!

x. jill
those ghosts

Molliee said...

looks like an adorable place!

Fashion.MakeUp.LifeStyle said...

So beautiful! South Africa keeps growing and growing oh so much and glad they're getting tourists! Amazing photos girl and thanks for sharing.

<3 Marina

Violets and Cardamom said...

Looks like such a beautiful place! And your pictures are great!