France Travel Guides for Backpackers

An Unforgettable Day in Annecy: how to get there and things to do

While travelling on the forty-five-minute bus ride from Geneva to Annecy, I didn’t really know what to expect. It was a spontaneous half-day trip I’d booked for myself during a long holiday in Switzerland and all I knew was that I was crossing over the Swiss border into a tiny French city that was famous for its pretty landscape and medieval chateau. Little did I know that I would stumble upon a hidden gem that would be the highlight of my entire trip.  View of the French Alps from Annecy’s old town How to get to Annecy A small alpine town in southeastern France, Annecy is easily accessible by road or rail from mainland France, and parts of Switzerland and Italy. The closest cities to travel from are Lyon (1 hour and 45 minutes), Geneva (1 hour) and Turin (around 3 hours). I’d booked myself onto a guided half-day bus tour to Annecy (Viator has good ones with informative tour guides), leaving from Geneva at 1 in the afternoon. After walking around beautiful Geneva in the morning, I made my way to the pick-up point near the train station. A quick round of introductions and pleasantries between the tour guide and the small group of tourists later, we were on the road. From Geneva, Annecy is less than an hour’s drive away along the picturesque A41. While it may look like it, Annecy is not just a pretty holiday town. Thousands of locals travel to Geneva and back every day for work, preferring the 2-hour drive time over leaving their hometown for the big Swiss city.  Once you cross over into France the landscape quickly changes from the wide 2-lane highway to narrow roads flanked by trees and beautiful stone buildings. For me, the most unforgettable part of the journey came a little after we entered the city and the bus took a turn to reveal the spectacular Lake Annecy. A large expanse of crystal clear blue-green water flanked by the peaks of the French Alps, it looks almost otherworldly. Like a utopian painting come to life. The First Unforgettable Glimpse of Lake Annecy Things to do in Annecy You can go to Annecy with a set list of things to do or just get there and explore the town on foot, which is what I recommend. However, here is a list to get you started, and one you can comfortably cover in a day’s time: A short hike to Château d’Annecy Take a walk through the old town and up a moderately challenging steep cobblestone path to the beautiful château in the centre of the city. Originally a castle built between the 12th and 16th centuries for the Counts of Geneva, the château was acquired and restored by the city of Annecy as recently as 1953. Part of it houses the Museum of Alpine Popular Art and the Alpine Lakes Regional Observatory. Once you’ve explored the château, step out onto its terrace and take in the beautiful and unforgettable […]

Top 10 free things to do in Paris

France is a unique country that you will never forget for sure. Every city or a small village that has been visited will ask you to come back again and again. That is Paris for me: the city of lights, history, and beauty in every single detail. Paris is the unique place that I simply cannot stop coming back. Unfortunately, the prices in the capital are always higher than in the province as in any other country. So, is there any possibility to save up? The answer is yes! In this article, I’m gonna tell you how to visit Paris and do not come back home with absolutely empty pockets. Moreover, there are a lot of enjoyable activities that can be totally free for you! Do not use public transport Instead of wasting your time in hot and overcrowded metro trains why don’t you walk more? The point is that all of the main places in Paris are situated not so far away from each other. It will take you from 10 to 45 minutes to walk from one famous place to another. Even if your walk will last for hours it is the only way to explore the real city with its hidden places, secret local’s cafes and cozy streets with no tourists but the spirit of real french city life. Also, walking a couple of hours every day will give you a perfect opportunity to eat an extra baguette without any pangs of consciousness. Get your free excursion through the city There is an incredible opportunity to see Paris through the eyes of a local person. Volunteers propose you to explore the city for free! Use Greeters Paris to make an appointment with an ambassador who would become your guide without any payment. I strictly recommend trying, because it is a perfect opportunity not only to know about the history of the city but although to find a new local friend ( as it has happened to me personally). Take a free boat trip by the river Seine If you happen to be in Paris on your birthday then you need to know that the agency Vedettes de Paris offers you a gift of 1 hour of free sightseeing cruise and a glass of champagne in addition. All you need to do is to show your ID on Vedettes de Paris registration desk before the cruise. Go to Louvre with no fee All of the greatest museums of France like The Louvre, Orsay Museum, Picasso Museum, Centre Pompidou and so on are free of charge every first Saturday of a month. Besides, there are numerous museums and exhibitions to visit without paying a dime any day of the week. You can check the full list on the official website of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Paris. Dance near the river Seine There are a couple of dance points in Paris like Republique square, Grand Opera steps and the quay of the river Seine which are opened to […]

5 things to do in Lille to enjoy the city like a local

I was born in Lille, France. The city is the capital of the region Hauts-de-France located in the north of France and is a cluster of history and culture. It used to be a Flemish city, before Louis XIV annexed it as a French territory, which is why you will find a lot of baroque buildings. Lille is also known for its good food and one of the traditional meals is the potjevleesch (or meat in a small pot). Furthermore, being next to the Belgian border, the city has a lot of good beers to offer! Northern people are known to be welcoming and very nice, which is why I decided to show you how to enjoy Lille like a local! I picked 5 things to do in Lille to understand the “Lillois” and our way of life! 1. Go shopping in the Vieux Lille Image by Albert Dezetter from Pixabay Old Lille is the historical centre of our city and every Lillois knows how to enjoy its little streets and its magnificent architecture, but furthermore we know the good spots to shop! If you’re more into the big brands, head over to the rue Neuve and rue de Bethune. If you like the high-end brands, rue de la Monnaie is for you! And if you just want to walk around and enjoy the architecture, then rue Esquermoise and the little streets all around will be perfect! 2. Go for a run in the Citadelle The citadel was built by Vauban as a military defense for the city. The construction in itself is still a military base in use but the park around is a hotspot for runners! If you’re not much of a runner it is still a nice place to spend an afternoon reading in the park or to go for a walk! 3. Enjoy a beer at Notre Dame de la Treille Image by VIVIANE MONCONDUIT from Pixabay I told you earlier that we love beer up in the north, but what we love the most is enjoying it with friends on a sunny terrace! One of the most frequented spots is right next to the Cathedral Notre Dame de la Treille. A lot of bars surround the place and you can easily find a spot there to spend some times admiring the cathedral with a nice cold drink in hand! 4. In the mood for partying? Head over to la rue de la Soif We love beer…and we love to party! We have a well known street where you will find bars after bars and several nightclubs for a full night of dancing and fun! We call it la rue de la Soif (or the thirsty street)! After a nice meal out (or not) head over to rue Solferino to find a lot of cute bars, and don’t worry, you will find other drinks than beer too! 5. Visit Lille and learn more about its history You will quickly understand that Lillois are pretty proud of […]

France: Pau – gate to the Pyrenees

If you decide to explore the French Pyrenees, it is best to start with the city of Pau. A free funicular takes you from the train station to the Boulevard des Pyrenees, opposite the Royal square. In clear weather, at least 83 peaks of the famous mountains can be seen from the Boulevard des Pyrénées. Right in front of you will see a crevice in the peak of Midi d’Ossau, one of the highest in the Pyrenees. Church of Saint-Martin Passing along the boulevard, on the right we will see the church of Saint-Martin. It began to be built under the influence of the neo-gothic style in the 1860s. Every Sunday, the church’s automatic carillon plays the notes of “Little night Serenade” and “Ah, mother, let me tell you” written by Mozart. Castle of kings of Navarre At the end of the boulevard, we are waiting for the main city attraction – the royal castle. Marguerite of Angoulême, the sister of the French king Francis I, married the king of Navarre, turned the gloomy castle into a Renaissance palace with doors, windows, and arches covered with wonderful carvings. Remarkable kitchen premises of the XVII century have been preserved here. French king Henry IV was born in this castle. The castle still has a huge turtle shell, which served as Henry’s cradle. You should walk along the streets behind the Boulevard Pyrenees, especially in its western part. It stretches along the edge of the cliff above the mountain river Pau from the castle to Beaumont Palace (now there is a conference center), with an English-style Park. Bernadotte Museum Pau is the only European city where two founders of the Royal dynasties were born. In addition to Henry IV, the native of this city is the Swedish king Charles XIV Johan (Bernadotte). This is Napoleon's General, who became king of Sweden. House of the beginning of the XVIII century, the museum is a perfect example of the architecture of the Béarn. On its two floors, there are stages of the rapid ascent of the son of the lawyer Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, produced in the kings of Sweden and Norway. Features of the exhibition allow the visitor to systematically immerse themselves in the atmosphere of Bearn XVIII century and the Napoleonic era. In addition to the beautiful examples of traditional Bearn furniture in the house, there are several valuable works of art that Bernadotte collected during his life. Interestingly, since 2010,  every autumn the museum Bernadotte is transferred to a Scandinavian time. Pau and the English Pau, ironically, owes its beauty to the British. It was here that settled retired British officers of the army of Wellington after the war with Napoleon. Thanks to his efforts, Pau has become a very popular holiday destination among the British. The elegant Pau invites you to stroll along the shady boulevards, past the elegant art Nouveau mansions and through the narrow cobbled streets with half-timbered houses. Come to France, to Pau. This city is always happy to […]

Toulouse – the pearl of southern France architecture

Each city has its own symbol. For example, in Moscow – the Kremlin, in London – Big Ben. Well, the southern beauty of Toulouse in France is the Capitol (city hall). As in ancient Rome, the Capitol governs, if not the country, but the whole city. This is a beautiful building in a beautiful square, which I have already told you about. But the Capitol has a secret that you don’t know yet. Place Charles de Gaulle Go around the building. Here the square de Gaulle rustles with trees, with a funny fountain. It consists of a dozen smooth granite slabs, directly from which water jets periodically beat. And it is unclear: where will shoot the next stream of water. So this place is of particular interest to children and dogs who frolic among these jets. Near the fountain stands a bronze old man and it’s none other than Claude Nougaro (1929-2004), the famous French poet and singer, a native of Toulouse. On the pedestal, there is a line of his song “Voici le Capitole, j’y arrete mes pas (that’s the Capitol, where I stop my steps)”… Yes, he was not always a dry old man near the fountain!   Church Of The Jacobins We’ll walk down Lafayette street and turn left into Lacanal street. Almost immediately we will see the gloomy block of the Church of the Jacobins. But its austere architecture is deceptive. Go inside for her secrets. Here the impression of massiveness at once dissipated. The high nave is bathed in soft light, illuminating the so-called “Jacobin palms” – powerful Central columns with a height of more than 25 meters, from each of which 22 ribs diverge at the top, forming the structure of the arch. These unique, dizzying palm-shaped columns glorified the Jacobin Church as one of the most beautiful buildings in Christian Europe. It is also known for the fact that Thomas Aquinas is buried here – the most famous of all the Catholic theologian. Jean de Bernuy’s mansion We’ll go a little further down Lacanal. Ahead we see the hexagonal tower of Bernuy mansion, the highest in Toulouse (26.5 m). The mansion was built in 1533 for the rich merchant, who made a fortune on the trade of “waida” (Isatis tinctoria). This is a plant, from which in the middle ages made blue paint. At the moment, in the mansion of Bernuy is the city Lyceum, named after the famous mathematician Pierre Fermat, who worked almost all his life in Toulouse. The mansion also has a secret – the arches of the courtyard are decorated with medallions with images of various mythological characters and real people – you can find “portraits” of the architect of the house – Louis Privat and its owner – Jean de Bernuy. The Museum “Old Toulouse” A stone’s throw from the street of St. Ursula, which will lead us to another mansion of the XVI century, owned by Antoine Dumas, the personal doctor of the famous Queen Margot. The […]

Bayonne – the capital of the French Basque

If you like chocolate, you should definitely visit Bayonne, the main Basque city in France. After all, chocolate has created the glory of this city. The first floors of all the houses on Port Neuf street are occupied by boutiques and shops selling this delicacy. Church of the Holy Spirit The town was founded at the confluence of two rivers, the Adour and the Nive which flows into the Adour here. Unlike all other cities, Bayonne has three Old Cities. The Nive divides the city into a Large Bayonne and a Small Bayonne. And in the 16th century, they were joined by a third part – the district of Saint-Esprit, on the other side of the Adour. Here Sephardic Jews began to settle. They escaped from the Spanish Inquisition and brought with them the recipe for chocolate. However, the peak of commercial success of the city reached only becoming a center of production of weapons and ammunition in the 18th century. After all, there was invented the bayonet. It is no accident that the word reminds us of Bayonne. Your acquaintance with Bayonne begins with Saint-Esprit because here is the station where all trains arrive. Not far from the station you will find the Gothic Church of the Holy Spirit. It was she who gave the name to the whole area. It was built by the knights of the Hospitaller order on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. And immediately behind the station, there is a massive citadel of Vauban. Built-in 1680 to defend against Spanish attacks, it never saw a real battle until the Napoleonic wars. Then its garrison in 1813 withstood a 4-month siege by British troops. Basque Museum But we will not go to the citadel, and cross the Adour on the bridge of Saint-Esprit and find ourselves in a Small Bayonne and on the embankment of the Nive. It is here that this river flows into the Adour. If you have very little time, just walk along the promenade. The most beautiful mansions of the 17th and 18th centuries lined up along it. The excellent ethnographic Basque Museum is located in one of them. Its exhibits tell about the life of the Basques for centuries. There are even reconstructed farm buildings, with the interior of the houses, utensils, tools, and makhilas – innocuous – looking carved sticks of wood, with a hidden steel tip at the end: if necessary, pilgrims and shepherds used them for self-defense. One of the departments is dedicated to the sea-going classes of the Basques (skipper of Columbus was Basque), and several rooms – the national game “pelota” (the history of this game and the Champions) and the famous Basques. Bayonne Cathedral Crossing the Nive on the Marengo bridge we will soon find ourselves near the famous Bayonne Cathedral with stained glass windows 15-17 centuries and Benedictine monastery with an internal garden for prayer and meditation. The most beautiful streets go from the Cathedral square: D’espagne with half-timbered houses and de […]

How to spend a weekend in Aix-en-Provence on a budget

Ah, Provence. I imagined myself waking up in front of a window that framed chalky mountains cutting like teeth into a brilliant blue sky. I imaged myself riding a vintage Vespa through rolling fields of gold and lavender in search of a baguette. I would throw my hands up in the air and exclaim “C’est belle la vie!” I came back to reality when I saw the accommodation prices in Aix-en-Provence. For all its beauty, the south of France is not the place for a cheapo backpacker. Yet I was determined to visit. After several nights of research, I figured out a way to visit Aix-en-Provence for cheap(ish). Here’s how to spend a day or two in Aix-en-Provence on a shoestring budget. Getting in Best way: If you’re coming from Marseille, getting to Aix-en-Provence couldn’t be easier. Head to Gare de Marseille and hop on a train to Aix-en-Provence. It will take you straight to the central train station. It’s a short walk to the town centre from there. It was about 6 euros for a one-way ticket and trains come every 30 minutes. Note: Many tourists come to Aix-en-Provence after visiting Marseille. Argue with me if you want but I think Marseille is a cesspit. If you’re coming from farther south, I would just change trains in Marseille and go straight to the charming streets of Aix-en-Provence. Other ways: If, like me, you’re coming from another part of France, getting to Aix-en-Provence isn’t as straight forward. You have three options: TGV (high-speed rail), bus, or Blablacar. TGV: I came from a pretty rural area so my only option was the TGV. The high-speed train is great but it cost me over 100 euros! It broke my budget a little. The other downside of the high-speed train is that the TGV station is not in the centre of town. You have to get a Bus 40 to the centre. It costs 4.30 euros. Follow the bus sign to a little bus stop underneath the station. Everybody else will be getting the same bus. Bus: There are limited Flixbus services from major cities. They cost between 5 and 30 euros. Blablacar: You can share a ride for the cost of a tank of fuel with Blablacar for 15-40 euros depending on the distance. This would definitely be a fun option if you’re organised and speak a little bit of French. Where to stay When you step off the train and your shoulders ache under the weight of your backpack, you’re going to want to find somewhere nice to lay your head. Unfortunately, if you’re a poor backpacker, finding accommodation is the trickiest part of staying in Aix-en-Provence. Hostels: Goclands is the only hostel in the area. Their ‘dorms’ are actually shared tents and they cost upwards of 30 euros per night. It’s also over 2km from the centre of town. I didn’t stay there because I wanted to be in the town centre. Airbnb: I am mindful of how badly AirBnB […]

The Best Arrondissements to Stay In Paris

In the twinkling city of love, the bustling crowd to the aroma smelling coffee shops. It’s no wonder Paris is one of the most popular tourist attractions in France. Definitely a top seller for couples who are looking for a romantic getaway. Ask anybody, and they’ll say that Paris is on their bucket list, regardless if it’s a honeymoon trip or a college gift.  Personally, I find Paris a confusing city, particularly the arrondissement districts. Choosing the perfect neighbourhood to stay in can be overwhelmingly stressful. Nobody wants to waste time and money, involving the tedious task of picking the wrong arrondissement. Imagine being scammed by a shiny brochure, displaying a beautiful bedroom, when really it’s a dirt cheap run-down hotel. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.  Here a local guide where I recommend the top three Paris arrondissements to stay in and my tips and tricks in getting the best deals depending on your needs. I’ll be also recommending you the best bargain, places, and things to do in each unique arrondissement. Paris Pass For the best bang for your buck, get a Paris Pass in which it includes many advantages: free travel on the metro (unlimited travel on public transportation), 1-day hop-on-hop-off bus pass, wine tasting- O Chateau,  Seine boat cruise, free entry to over 60 attractions, and many more. A Paris Pass can last between 2 to 6 days, so don’t forget to grab one when you travel in France. #3 1st Arrondissement: Social Media Attraction   If you’re a social media enthusiast, then the 1st arrondissement is an instagrammable place.  A high-end business district near the River Seine, it’s one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Paris. Offering a multitude of premium hotels- the possibilities are endless. To the Ritz Carlton Paris Hotel, Saint James Paris and the popular sightseeing: Jardin du Palais Royal, the Louvre and Rue de Rivoli. My top recommendation is to book a hotel room at the Hotel Crayon Rouge. Known for its affordability and convenient proximity to the Jardin du Palais Royal. You can rejoice at getting your cardio workout while marvelling the lush gardens and the trendy boutique shops. If you want to get the most out of this luxurious arrondissement. Here are the top recommended tours: Coco Chanel’s Paris: Under the historical background of the famous designer brand while visiting la Rue de Rivoli. An introductory tour to explore Chanel’s leisure spots, boutiques and her favourite places where she got her inspiration for the reclaimed luxury international brand. Louvre Tour, skip the line: Follow an expert guide who will show the highlights of Louvre. You’ll be excluded from a long waiting line and get an exclusive private tour. If I had to sum up the 1st arrondissement in one sentence, the neighbourhood is the representation of trendy cafes and elegant designer brands ( Chanel & Dior). In which you can visit many Parisian clothing boutiques such as Les Halles: a famous underground shopping center. Local boutiques are a great way to find unique looking souvenirs for your loved ones.   #2 Saint-Germain-des Près 6th Arrondissement: the artistic and foodie enthusiast If you want the traditional Parisian atmosphere of France. Look no further, because Saint-Germain- des Près encapsulates the […]

Toulouse — the pink city of violets

I want to introduce you to Toulouse in France — the pink city of violets. Why is the city pink? Many houses in Toulouse are built of pink brick. A violet — a real symbol of the city. It is grown here in large quantities and then used for the production of perfumes, cosmetics, liqueurs, jams, honey, all kinds of sweets and even covered with sugar. The station Matabiau If one day you get to Toulouse, I wish you to come there by train. The fact that the station Matabiau, where you arrive — a real business card of the city, resembling the Palace of a local count with two towers on the sides and 17 coats of arms of the cities of the province of Languedoc, decorating the facade. For the second hundred years, it meets visitors, with a promise that the best is yet to come. The city of Saint Saturnin And these expectations are justified. Go straight from the station on the Rue De Bayard and focus on the ringing of bells. Soon in front of the right over the roofs of the houses, you will see an unusual octagonal tower. This is the dome of the Basilica of St. Saturnin. I visited many cities in Europe, but only in Toulouse, I met such church architecture. Saturnin was a missionary. He went to Gaul to convert pagan tribes to Christianity. One day the priests seized him and forced him to renounce Christianity and worship pagan deities. It was not possible to break the missionary, then the torturers tied him to the tail of a mad bull. A wild bull dragged Saturn's body through the streets of Toulouse. When the rope finally broke, the Martyr was dead. The women buried his remains. This place converts, the Christians built a small chapel, and in the V century, it was rebuilt into a church. In the Holy place reached the pilgrims. The small church could not accommodate all, and in the XI century, it was decided to build a large basilica. Now it is the largest church in Europe in the Romanesque style. But it is not the only Church in Toulouse connected with this story. Further, on the street de Taur there is a Church with a strange name Notre-Dame de Taur /our lady of the Bull/. It is built on the spot where the bull who killed Saint Saturninus fell lifeless, struck by the heavenly fire. The Capitol square The same street will take you to the most beautiful square of Toulouse — the Capitol square. Capitol — so-called city hall in Toulouse, in memory of the 8 capitals, members of the City Council in the middle ages. By the way, the facade of the Capitol is decorated with 8 columns, the number of members of the City Council. In addition to the city meeting in the Capitol building, today are concert and Symphony Hall and the Capitol Theater. This is the second most important Opera scene in […]

Èze – A medieval city overlooking the Côte d'Azur

Our goal was to visit the Côte d’Azur, we set base in Nice but didn’t have much else planned. At our first day, we started talking with people in Nice about the cities around and which ones we should go to. We did receive a lot of suggestions, but Èze was definitely the best one. Èze is a medieval city at the top of a mountain around 30 minutes from Nice, by Bus. It is the cutest and the most charming city I´ve ever visited and it has the most amazing view of the French Riviera. Is the perfect place for you to spend a few hours or even a day. You can also choose to spend a night or a few days, there are a few hotels in the village, but be prepared for the prices. How to get there The most common way to get to Èze is either from Nice or from Monte Carlo, you can book a tour, take a taxi or a bus. We took a bus from Nice, but we stop at Saint Jean Cap Ferrat before we take another bus to Èze. If you want to go straight to Èze Village from Nice, you need to take the Bus 12 or Bus 82, check the days and time of the bus before you go. If you go by car there is a parking lot at the Village´s entry. The Village is for pedestrians only, so the bus stop is outside of the city´s walls. You can go right to the tourist office and get a map of the village with all the instructions that you will need. Things to do in Èze Before you even get in the village, you should visit for free the laboratory-factory of Fragonard, one of the leading producers of perfume in France. I´m not going to say how you should visit Èze and what street you should go, I do believe the best way is to get lost in the narrow streets and see for yourself what catches your attention. Every street, every building, restaurants or little store has its own charm and getting lost in this village is one of the best non-planed tours you will ever do. At the top of the hill, there is the Exotic garden of Eze, if I’m not mistaken that is the only place you need to buy the ticket to visit, but it´s completely worth it! The garden is located at the highest point in Èze, is the best viewpoint place with the view of the entire Village and a privileged view of the French Riviera. The garden is made of a range of cactuses and succulent plants. At the end of the day we took another bus straight to Monte Carlo, we had time to visit a little bit of the city in Monaco and went back to Nice by train at night. If you are visiting the south of France know that is very easy to go from […]

Top 10 Choices From Cafés in Paris

When in Rome do like Romans, and when in Paris do like Parisian. This is the most obvious reason why you should spend some time sitting at a café, whether in a sunny afternoon or a rainy morning, for a cup of coffee or a glass of champagne, to rest or to work. French cafés are not just coffee shops, but a statement and a way of life. And the perfect choice for a snack or a full meal. In the last thirty years, I’ve spent quite a number of days in France strolling around this amazing city and have built my list of favorites at different cafés and restaurants. The list is always changing as I find new places every visit. I know some menus change according to season and, unfortunately, these favorites may not be available all-year-round. But if you see them listed, I strongly recommend trying them out. I bet you will not regret it! Having said that, I present you my current top 10 choices from cafés in Paris. 1. Le Select – 99 Boulevard du Montparnasse, Montparnasse I absolutely love walking around Montparnasse streets, and if I’m in the area at lunchtime, invariably, I choose to have a steak tartare aller-retour. I’m a big fan of raw dishes and boeuf tartare is no exception, I just ask aller-retour (gently seared on the edges), because this is the Parisian way. 2. Café Des Deux Moulins – 15 Rue Lepic, Montmartre From regular local-coffee to world-famous tourist attraction. In the 2001 film, this is where Amelie Poulain works and to honor this, they have set a small area with film memorabilia, including the garden gnome. I like to sit here and enjoy a Crème Brulée with a coffee on the side. 3. Coutume Institut – 60 Rue des Écoles, Quartier Latin With seven shops in Paris, this is the best choice for a relaxing break with a nice coffee during the day. My favorite is inside the Finnish Institute, near Sorbonne. Perfect to sit with your computer and do some work while sipping excellent coffee. 4. Juice Lab & Co. – 25 Place des Vosges, Marais This is the perfect spot to start the day off with a breakfast bowl or to stop for a refreshing snack in the middle of the afternoon. Everything is very fresh and you instantly feel an energy-boost to face some time strolling around the city. I love to have a “Wake Me Up!” in the morning, with its perfect blend of citric fruit and Jasmin tea, or a sweet “Date Me” as a pick-me-up later in the day, with almond milk and dates. 5. Wild & the Moon – 138 Rue Amelot, Marais This is my favorite address of W&M! The natural atmosphere is just what I seek whenever I need some time to think or a couple of hours to work. The colorful drinks are hard to choose from and when paired with one of the bowls, you have the […]

France: Aix–en-Provence – the city of fountains

If you want to see the blessed South of France and for this purpose flew to Marseille, do not rush to the beach. I have a pleasant surprise for you! Just half an hour by bus (8,6 euros) from the airport and you will find yourself in the most charming city of Provence, which was once its capital. Is — Aix–en-Provence, the city of water. Why is Aix–en-Provence called the city of water? After all, there are no large rivers nearby, and the sea is 27 km away, in Marseille? This city in 123 BC was founded by the Roman Consul guy Sextius Calvin. And called it «Aqua Sextasy», that is, «water of Sextius». The fact that the Romans found here healing springs with mineral water. They immediately built the baths according to their custom. By the way, these terms in the modern version exist to this day in the same place – almost in the city center. And now the word “aix” in the name Aix-en-Provence is derived from the Latin « aqua», that is water. But Aix–en-Provence is named after the city of water not only because of the famous Spa. On its streets, there are about a hundred fountains – large and small, simple and richly decorated. Mirabeau Boulevard The bus will take you directly to the city center. Just five minutes walk from the bus station and you are on the main street – Mirabeau Boulevard. Here is the largest and most famous fountain – rotunda. The bottom of the fountain adorned with lions, and the top three statues, representing the main activities of the city. The one that looks at the Mirabeau Boulevard symbolizes justice, in the direction of Marseille – trade, and agriculture, in the direction of Avignon – art and culture. The Mirabeau Boulevard, lined with centuries-old plane trees and is very beautiful. During a pleasant walk through it, you will find a few more unusual fountains. It is covered with juicy fluffy moss “fountain of warm water” and “fountain of nine guns”.  The boulevard ends with a monument to King Rene the Good, who also plays the role of a fountain! Stay at the monument. Rene the Good was a real king-troubadour. Rene arranged magnificent national holidays. Knights and troubadours came to the court of the king from all over Provence to compete in eloquence. There weren’t many rulers on Earth like him! The Mirabeau Boulevard divides the city into two parts. To the South of it is the Mazarin quarter. It was built for the rich citizens by the brother of the famous cardinal – ruler of France. It is here that you will find the sweetest ancient fountain of the city – Three Dolphins. The Old Town To the North of the boulevard is the Old Town with its magnificent town hall square. The square is dominated by a gothic clock tower. Pay attention to the figures that are under the clock and indicate the seasons, changing each other depending on […]

Travel Like a Local: Must See in Montpellier

Montpellier is a glamorous student city in the south of France. You will have the great chance to explore the boutique stores in the old town, sipping the 2 EU ‘best’ wine on the grass and drink coffee with your friends at a patio under the sun… Key highlight: Plaza de la Comedie,  good weather, young Being attracted by the awesome weather and great life in southern France, I decided to share my experience after staying here for half a year as a master student. I tried to explore as many places as I could (touristy attractions, shopping centers, coffee shops, etc.). I am always awed by the ancient French architecture and endless wine culture here. I listed 3 things locals do almost every weekend in Montpellier. If you want to visit Montpellier like a local for 1 day, keep reading!! Estimated time: 1 day Budget: 10 EU for lunch (plat du jour), 2-3 EU for beer/wine during happy hour Fun fact: 70% of the people are under 30 years old. From my point of view, most people are in their high school/university. As a master student, I feel like everyone looks way younger than me when I am walking on the street… There are more than 300 sunny days in a year. It is 20 ish degrees all the time. It would be the perfect place to retire if I could choose. The weather is definitely what I appreciate the most after I decided to move here. Cheek kissing: people do 3 times kissing on the cheek! (not 2 times like Paris). When I met someone from Paris, it is always super awkward because we are not sure how many kisses are we supposed to give to each other. We always ended up laughing at each other. Explore Place de la Comédie one day in Montpellier one day in Montpellier Highlight: Live performance, walk, boutique Place de la Comedie is the center of the city. The plaza is surrounded by the Three Graces (the fountain) and the  Opéra Comédie. You can see people sipping coffee at the patio, roaming around with friends, having pizza in the restaurants, etc. You will immediately feel the laid-back southern France vibe once you step on the ground. As a local, my favorite thing to do is to meet up with my friend and walk around in the old town. There are lots of boutiques, shops, local clothing stores to explore. You will be amazed by the unique designs. There are also performances if you are lucky: dancing, singing, magic shows. It is a great place to explore the local culture. Tip: However, if you are planning to take a drink at this place, you might get overcharged. Drinks here are more expensive than a regular bar in Montpellier because it is always full of tourists. Triumphal Arch visit montpellier in 1 day like a local Highlight: view, wine If you have been to Paris, this would not surprise you at all. Yes, in […]

Moustiers-Saint-Marie : Discover a romantic village in France

If you are in the South of France and looking for a quaint, hillside town that promises to charm you with its old buildings and cobbled streets – I highly recommend visiting Moustiers located in the Verdon region, close to Lac St.Croix. Picturesque buildings adorned by florals   This hillside village is one of France’s best-kept secrets My husband and I first heard about the village while we were still in Paris. Before heading to the South of France, we were asking for recommendations when a French girl told us about a romantic gem that is not well-known by tourists. When you think “Provence” or “South of France” there are numerous popular travel destinations that pop up and, as a result, has kept this little town off the big tourist radar. Every local that we speak to love this little town and think it to be exquisite. So my husband and I went to go see it for ourselves. Aerial view of Moustiers   The town looks like a nativity scene. The town is really special. If you google pictures of this place then you will see an old chapel perched high in a mountain, a small village at its feet, a light river stream flowing through the town center, and a star suspended high above the village where it hovers perfectly in place to make the whole scene appear like a picture from a children’s nativity book. Little village perched on a hill   Majority of the village is built on a hill with a river running through it. Walking around town, you can expect to wind a little uphill – since the whole town is built on a slant. Moustiers is split in two by a small river stream. Along the stream, you will find little shops, cafes, ice cream pit stops and excuses to ‘rest’ from the gradual incline as you wander the streets. Don’t forget to stop along the way to take snapshots of the picturesque scene! River trickling through the village   Getting to Moustiers The best way to travel there is by car. We were staying in an Airbnb in a town called Aups, which is about 30 km away from Moustiers. We had a car rental so we drove there. You can also take a bus depending on which town you are living in in the South of France. However, I highly recommend taking a car and parking just outside the town because it can get hot (we went during the summer months which is usually July – August).  Buses aren’t as frequent as what you might be used to so plan your trip beforehand to double check the bus schedules. There are no airports nearby and many tourists come through from Nice, by car, for day trips. It is much easier to get around by car when you are exploring Provence   Top things to do in Moustiers-Saint-Marie Explore the area slowly and take in the idyllic surroundings. The whole town can […]

Must See Attractions in Normandy, France

Whenever you plan a trip to Paris, remember to take a day or two to go to the Normandy. By car, train or bus, it will take you just a few hours to reach this calm and picturesque region in the north of France. Amazing beaches, great food and unique architecture of this region is a must see for those who want to discover France. Best way to travel in Normandy Normandy is a region in France that lies around the cost of the Atlantic Ocean. The territory isn’t big, but the sightseeing spots are spread all over the area. If you stay in Paris, it will take you just an hour by train to go to Normandy. You can take a train to Le Havre, Rouen or Caen – one of the big cities in the region. There you can rent a car. A piece of advice here: you can rent both, tickets and a car, with the French national railway company. It will cost you less. After arriving in the city you can spend half a day visiting around and then take a car and go further. There are many small cities, chateau, and beaches that are worth visiting, each having their particular attraction and history. Things to do in Normandy Normandy is a unique region with a very vast choice of leisure and activities for any kind of traveler. You can hike in beautiful picturesque areas by the beach, enjoy amazing food, discover the cultural and historical heritage of the region and many more. The region was captured many times on the internationally famous painting of Claude Monet, Eugène Boudin, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro, and many others. Some say that impressionism was born in Normandy. You can find the museum of impressionism art in almost every big city in Normandy. The history of this place is not only important for French people, but also for anyone who considers the Second World War part of his history. The beaches and cities of this region are the places where the turning point of the war happened. Rouen Rouen is the ancient city where the national heroine Jeanne D’Arc was executed in 1437. Famous Cathedral Notre Dame de Rouen is a huge, monumental building that will inspire you as it did for Claude Monet, who painted it many times. Wandering the small streets of this tiny city you will find Le Gros Horloge – the 14th-century astronomical clock. It’s one of the largest clock mechanisms in the world. The old city is small but has its unique architecture and charm with the ancient, sometimes romantically crooked, houses and buildings. Le Havre Le Havre is a big city on the coast of La Manche, and one of the biggest ports in France. The city was heavily damaged during the Second World War, and now totally restored represent the beauty of contemporary architecture. For example, the bridge over the seine that connects Le Havre with Honfleur has a particular interest. It’s one […]

Wintering on the French Riviera

The prospect of spending the winter on the French Riviera sounds enticing – especially if you would otherwise be spending it in more northerly, rather chillier climes. So when the opportunity came up to do exactly that, we didn’t need a second invitation. The place we would effectively be house-sitting from the beginning of December through to the end of March looked palatial in the photos we were sent, came with its own swimming pool (as do most of the large properties in this area), and was set a little way up the slopes overlooking the town of Mouans-Sartoux, a 15-minute stroll away. Excited? We were practically hysterical! The reality Of course, the reality often turns out to be not quite as glorious, but while this was the case to a degree, we found that wintering in the south of France certainly has its charms, and is infinitely preferable to freezing up north. One of the things we discovered was that although the temperature often reaches 18 degrees in the afternoon, so that we were able to achieve enviable tans by sitting out in the garden for a couple of hours every day, the nights do get cold, as it is winter after all. So, as there was a large fireplace in the living room, we became regular customers at Azur Poêle, a friendly firewood supplier near Cannes, and had a good workout every two to three weeks hauling a half stère (half a cubic metre) of oak logs into the van and back out into the garage when we got home. It’s amazing how quickly you get used to sitting in front of a roaring fire in the evening – we even took to toasting marshmallows over it! And that fire is certainly something we’ll miss when we leave. The location The town of Mouans-Sartoux, some of it on gently rising foothills, is about a ten-minute drive north of Cannes and about forty minutes away from Nice if you take the toll road (it’s worth it, as it only costs €4.30 for a van, and less for a car, and the rather longer alternative is a tortuous mountain road that winds through a number of villages). Mouans-Sartoux is also on the railway line linking the perfume capital of Grasse at one end with the Italian town of Ventimiglia at the other, with Cannes and Nice in between. While this sounds – and is – very convenient, the trains only run at the most every hour, and sometimes not even that often – and stop quite early in the evening on weekdays. We didn’t realise this at first, and were caught out after lingering too late in Nice one night, with the result that we had to pay €20 for an Uber back from Cannes. The winter attractions But Mouans-Sartoux is also ideally located for visiting a number of smaller, typically French medieval towns and villages, including Valbonne, Tourrettes-sur-Loup, Mougins and Vence. Come the summer, I have no doubt that […]

Five reasons to visit Cluny – the Medieval gem of France

  Do you know where the biggest church in the world once stood? No? Would you believe it was in Cluny – a little town, situated in the southern part of Burgundy? Next time you visit France, be sure to reserve a day or two in between exploring Paris or chilling on the sandy beaches of its Mediterranean coast and visit the place in between. After all, even the late president of France Francois Mitterrand found it worthy enough to bring the former leader of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev to Cluny during his visit to France. No convinced yet? Let me give you five reasons why Cluny should be in your bucket list of places to discover. 1. Cluny Abbey and Church Cluny is the most famous for its abbey founded in 910. It was one of the most influential congregations in entire Europe, with around a thousand monasteries scattered around France. Even the famous Cardinal Richelieu was once the abbot of Cluny. And yes, the abbey church, which took several centuries to reach its ultimate glory, was the largest church in the world until the day Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome snatched the title. Unfortunately, the French Revolution did not spare the abbey, and especially its majestic church. It was destroyed and sold as construction materials (they say half of the Cluny has been built from those stones). When there was hardly anything left, a road, going through the heart of the church, buried the remaining history under layers of dirt. Only at the beginning of the twentieth century, an American archaeologist Kenneth J. Conant initiated the excavation. Today only the right bell tower of the church still stands, but it is easy to imagine its former size with the help of special street tiles marking the locations of its walls and columns. Besides, once you visit the museum, you can watch a short 3D movie which recreates the entire medieval masterpiece in front of your eyes. 2. Haras National – the National Stud Farm of Cluny Napoleon may have unwillingly contributed to the destruction of the Abbey church by ordering to demolish some part of its ruins to make space for the National Stables he chose to locate in Cluny, but today it is an equally exciting attraction. The stallions are one of the best in entire France. Their majestic stature and size are hard to describe. It’s best to see them, but I am sure they will leave you in awe. When summer arrives, and during Christmas period, the place turns into a stage with equestrian shows and theatrical performances – the symbiosis of acrobatics, dance, music, and human-animal connection, attracting crowds of spectators. 3. Streets that Breathe History   If you are not keen on visiting museums or stables, I can recommend you one of my favorite activities in Cluny – to simply walk the narrow streets, gazing at houses from different centuries. The oldest of them are close to reaching their thousand years of existence. Those […]

Paris on a Budget

Are you one of those folks who’s always aspired to travel a lot, especially to different countries, but somehow lacked the means? It can seem a pretty daunting task to plan for a vacation that looks so clearly out of your reach. That’s what a lot of us think. I thought that way too. But with a little foresight and quite a bit of sound planning you can bring life to that dream of yours. Take it out of the dusty shelf you’ve put it in and breathe new life into it. Let’s dive in and discuss some of the best places to visit in Paris along with a few tips on how to do it on a budget and without making a huge dent in your savings. Top tips for a low budget vacation to Paris: Touted to be the most romantic city on earth, Paris offers a plethora of options for the starry eyed first timers. Once you land at Charles de Gaulle, you will find that the metro is quite simply the most economical and easy option to get around here. The entire city is very well connected and it is possible to get everywhere you want to go. Download the Paris metro map  to chart out your course. Easy on the clothes, not on your tummy. Resist the temptation to pack multiple clothing options and instead plan to pack a lot of snacks, protein bars and instant meals because eating out every time will prove to be an expensive luxury. Plan a few meals outside so you can sample the culinary treasures of your dream destination, but try and keep them minimal. Supermarkets also come in handy for staples that don’t cost much. Take some time out to check out blogs and recent articles on this subject. Airbnbs can be helpful when you compare them with hotel pricing but for those who find them a bit on the pricey side, sites like and provide low-priced, comfortable accommodations. Always make sure to check the ratings and reviews of wherever you decide to stay, make sure it comes equipped with a kitchenette and book months in advance to ensure cheaper rates. Carry a water bottle at all times. There are a few water fountains around the city which you can use to save on the cost of water. Make sure that the bags/backpacks you carry are lightweight and small in size. There are quite a few locations in Europe which do not allow large personal belongings to be taken inside. So, travel light with only your essentials. Must see places in Paris: Once you are off on your adventure, here are a few of my recommendations you may like to visit. Arc de Triomphe: An architectural masterpiece situated at the centre of Place Charles de Gaulle, built to honour the valiant brave hearts of France and commissioned by Napoleon himself. Avenue des Champs-Élysées: From the Arc de Triomphe located at the western end, window shopping enthusiasts […]

Six Things To Do In Les Arcs 1800

The Alps are big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big they are. Ok, nowhere near as big as the universe, but there’s still a lot of places in The Alps and a lot to do in those places. But let’s say you’ve arrived in on particular place; one of the Les Arcs resorts sat just above the Tarentaise valley town of Bourg Saint Maurice. To be exact, you’re in Les Arcs 1800, the biggest and arguably most interesting of the four resorts. You’ve got a week here; maybe two. Yes, you’ve packed your snowboard (or maybe your skis, we don’t judge) but there’s a lot more to do in this bustling mountain resort than throwing yourself down the slopes. Whether you’re planning a trip here, or sitting in your apartment trying to work out what to do with your time, there’s bound to be something in this list that takes your fancy. 1 – Ski/Snowboard This one is a bit of a no-brainer really. It needs to be on the list because leaving it off would be even sillier. Chances are, if you’re in Les Arcs, you’re here to strap on your skis or buckle into your snowboard and hit the slopes. The 264 miles of runs that surround the four resorts are famous as being some of the best in Europe, especially for snowboarding. You’ll find runs of varying ‘colours’ which correlate to skill level, so however much time you’ve spend on the slopes, there’ll always be something to challenge you. 2 – Check Out Mille8 After the last entry’s obvious place on the list, this one is a little more surprising. The Mille8 leisure facility is slap-bang in the middle of Les Arcs 1800, stretching up past some of the lower pistes. The main centre is an easy way from the resort, but to get to some of the outdoor activities you’d be as well getting one of the nearby ski lifts to take you up. Inside the facility is a lovely leisure pool, complete with waterfalls and bubble areas. This is definitely a leisure pool, and you’ll usually find families relaxing in there after a long day of being outside. You’ll also find the opulently-named ‘Wellness Area’ nestled onto the pool. It’s a fancy name that simply means ‘two saunas, two hamams, a tea room and one of the most idyllic relaxation rooms you’ll ever find’. It’s also worth mentioning there’s a gym attached to the swimming pool; it’s small but pretty functional. I’ve rarely seen anyone but locals in there; who wants to go to the gym on holiday? 3 – Try The Local Cuisine This one will happen pretty definitely; unless you bring a car-load of food with you, you’ll need to check out some of the restaurants in the resort at some point. This can be, I promise, a truly delightful experience. Les Arcs 1800’s dining options are varied, if not particularly international. You’ll find a lot of places offering raclette, a traditional […]

Paris – For the first time traveller!

Hello! Let’s start this off with a quick question, What does the word ‘travel’ mean to you? No, and I don’t mean the definition in the Oxford dictionary. Everyone has a different understanding of what travelling is to them, and that’s why everyone has a different way to travel. So while you think about what I’ve asked you, let me tell you what ‘travelling’ is to me. Travelling or to travel is freedom, it’s an opportunity for one to get lost, get scared and maybe even find themselves in a new city, at the top of a mountain or while sitting in a crowded train. But the one thing all of us travellers have in common is the constant urge to experience something new! Talking about new experiences, let me tell you about my first travel, in my favourite city in the world, PARIS. Just a heads-up I will keep breaking into bouts of quick and easy travel tips, so hopefully, it will be of some help to all you first-time travellers out there! Don’t get me wrong, fortunately, I was blessed to grow up in a family where we used to travel around the world quite often. But this was our first time in France, without any travel guides or tour packages. Just us and the city, on our first date with so much to explore. It was late April, and there was still a slight nip in the air, also travelling from India we were just not prepared for the cold. Landing into Paris, the city already had very high expectations to live up to. We reached in the night and my first glimpses of the city were the street lights, the traffic and the wet roads. Eiffel Tower Flights: Rates to fly into Europe change drastically depending on the season. Expect higher flight rates from Mid June – September (Summer) and the Festive season (November to January) Make sure you book flights in advance to get the best deals! Track flights on Google flights to make sure you are notified for the best deals. It is always cheaper to book tickets to fly in and out of a city during the weekdays, as compared to the weekends. Stay – Hostels and Hotels : We were put up in a slightly upscale hostel called the Generator (linked below) located in Colonel Fabien. (Not recommended for budget stay) The hostel was ideally located in a safe and quaint neighbourhood, close to bus stops, underground metro, cafes and grocery stores. As there are a few parts in Paris that aren’t as safe as the rest. Areas like Montmartre are popularly known to be notorious, so heads up before you make any reservations. Looking for budget-friendly Hostels? Try, Hostelworld, their website has a wide variety of hostels for different users! Airbnb is a great option if you are staying in the city for a couple of days. Book a private room or the entire home and you can cook your own […]

Hiking from Le Claux to Puy Mary

„Don`t you get bored here?” asked Lize trough Google translate. After two months of learning French, my rough Estonian mind can understand what is written , processing text word by word, but not really the speech. Lize is the one who trusted me to house-sit their home while she and Jean-Michel are traveling. I have wanted to house-sit when it is the darkest time in my home country for a while. I just took advantage of the opportunity and had finally the courage to jump. The more I experience different places in the world, the more every place feels like home. I would say that wherever you go, there you are. Here I am in the tiny mountain village in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes called Le Claux with about 10 (!) cats and exactly 3 chicken. The crazy cat lady would be really a thing here if I would stay here longer than 3 weeks. Bored or not in Le Claux Answer to the question whether I could experience boredom here, then no, I cannot. How can one be possibly bored when there are so many hiking trails to discover, so much self-development to do, so much to learn and write with a writer soul inside me! If you are a little adventurous nature lover like I am, then you would understand how much joy this place offers. My tasks are very easy which allows me to do whatever I want, because I will wake up anyway in the morning and feed cats and myself as well as I would be back before dark which is around 6 pm. All that daylight time I have for myself without needing to go or do something. Which could be tricky because without big „why” it is easy to waste time for YouTube or reading all day long travel stories and sorting the many pictures of all the hiking I have done. Every day I go out I try not to photograph so often but the views always get me. I kind of wasted my time the day after climbing up to the highest and most magnificent mountain peak here, called Puy Mary. Hiking up to the Puy Mary Since the first day I arrived here, Jean-Michel introduced me the mountain peaks which are visible from their courtyard. I did not really get why I hear about Puy Mary so often until I happened to conquer that peak. I went out for a little hike, at least this is what I expected. It was sunny after 3 days of raining and I just enjoyed nature surrounding and decided to do a little off-road until I found myself in a place where I could only go back or start climbing up on the hillside completely covered by brown leaves. At the same time, I listened to podcast about how small pain leads to the greatest joy and hard choices for an easy life. I realized that now I have the best opportunity to prove it. So after half an hour pure ascending I finally reached the top with a red sweaty satisfied face. I proved […]

Weekend in Paris- 6 top places worth to see

Surely, most of you had a list of places you planned to see in your life and at least one place you had dreamed to go. Definitely, such a place for me was Paris. Watching fashion magazines or movies I admired the style and architecture of this city. It was something that impressed me every time I see it. A visit to Paris did not let down my expectations and this is something I will always come back to in my mind. I want to share with you my point of view, give you some advice, help you better organize and maybe encourage some of you. So, let’s bump into Paris! Short trips have it to itself that you need to carefully plan what you want to see the most. You must see as much as possible, having not much time. How to do this? Just follow a few rules. Good location of accommodation: If you decide to spend the night in Paris it is important to choose a place near the center. Having little time, it’s a pity to waste it on getting into your own room. Metro ticket: Metro is a great opportunity to move quickly from one place to another. Metro maps can be purchased at any kiosk or at the train station. If you do not want to waste too much time, the metro will be the perfect solution for you. Attractions: Having shortened time, you should think about which places you want to visit first of all. A good solution is to mark all the places that you want to visit on the map, then check which famous and interesting places are on your way to this marked places. Tickets: You can buy tickets for the majority of attractions but you should calculate if you have time and money to enter each of them. It’s time to present to you top places worth to see being in Paris: Montparnasse Tower It was my starting point for visiting Paris. I won’t forget the view in the morning. I recommend it to everyone. The trip itself by the lift is impressive. The tower has 59 floors, including 54 for offices, and 59th floor is available to visitors. It is one of the favorite viewing points of many tourists. The panorama from the Montparnasse Tower impresses even more than from the Eiffel Tower –  being on Eiffel Tower we cannot see it. Ticket price: Adults- 22€ Youth (16-20 y.o) and students- 20€ Children (4-11 y.o)- 14,50€, under 4 y.o – free admission Notre Dame Cathedral The cathedral is one of the most popular attractions of the city, thanks to the book The Hunchback from Notre Dame written by Victor Hugo. Admission to the Cathedral is free but the queue is usually very long. You can not enter the temple with luggage. People with a small backpack or purse should be able to enter the church, but it is worth remembering to check the contents of your bags. The entrance to […]

Palace ideal – the main sight in Hauterives – France

      France is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with a rich cultural tradition and sights. Palaces and castles built by renowned architects for no less famous persons are the hallmarks of this hospitable country. But there are masterpieces unknown to the general public, I will tell you about one of them today.  You will be impressed by Palace IdealAt 70 km from the city of Lyon, the second largest city in France is a small settlement of Hauterives which became famous for the simple postman Ferdinand Cheval.For the construction of the Perfect Castle for compatibility, Monsieur Cheval stumbled on a stone. Having picked it up and examined it, Monsieur Cheval admires the natural beauty of the cobblestone. Taking it as a godsend, he realized that he must leave this world to something beautiful. And so began the construction of buildings, which absorbed all the architectural styles and trends, closely intertwined with biblical and mythical subjects.The construction of the ideal castle lasted 33 years from 1879 to 1912. The poor man collects stones daily and carried them into his garden in the pockets of his clothes. Only 8 years after the start of construction, he was able to purchase a cart, which made his work much easier.The result of his work surpassed all expectations — biblical scenes, Egyptian pyramids, Hindu temples, Swiss chalets, Arabic mosaics, statues, towers, fortress elements, flirty balconies, and balustrades — all merged into an intricate and intricate stone dance.     The size of the castle is amazing – 26 meters long, 14 meters wide and up to 10 meters high. On the construction of only the outer walls of the castle, Monsieur Cheval, took two decades. The walls of the palace, both outside and inside, are decorated with inscriptions, the most important of which is the message of the little man of the world: “33 years of struggle, 10 thousand days, 93 thousand hours, if someone thinks he can do better, then let him try” As far as I know, nobody accepted this challenge.The glory of an unusual creation flew in front of its creator and outstanding figures of world art, such as Pablo Picasso and Andre Breton, expressed their respect and recognition of the work of Ferdinand Cheval.Ferdinand Cheval died at the age of 88 in 1924, but the creation of his life is still alive. And thousands of people from all over the world come to Hauterives to see for themselves that the impossible is possible to express their admiration and respect for the perseverance, work, and strength of mind of a simple little person.In 1969, the palace, and later the tomb, where Monsieur Cheval was buried, were recognized as historical and cultural monuments at the official level.Finish the story Ideally, the castle would like from the book of American writer Jacqueline Syssan, author of the best-selling book “Valley of Dolls”: “You can not give up a dream without trying it.”  Where to spend the night in Hauterives The city is small, so […]

8 Restaurants you must try in Lille – France

Lille is a really nice city in the north of France, close to Belgium. That’s why it has the best beers in town! I lived there during my year abroad and I loved it. So I want to share with you some of the food places I really liked and that you must try! This will help you if you are visiting or passing by this amazing city or you live in it and ran out of ideas. As I said it is a small city so it is quite easy to get around and most of the places I mention are in Centre Ville (downtown) or Vieux Lille (old town) For the new visitors, you need to have in mind that La Cuisine Française can be particular and may vary between regions. So if you are expecting to try escargots, well I’m sorry to tell you, this is not the place for that. But if you love the cheese then you are definitely in the right one. Don’t worry, I’m giving you a list of places with different culinary specialties for every kind of taste too! 1) L’îlot This is a bar that offers really good beer and wine in a casual atmosphere. It is a great place to hang out with your Friends. But it is also a great place to try one of the most traditional dishes in the city: Le Welsh. This is a special dish made with cheddar cheese and beer. On the bottom, it has a slide of bread (obviously French bread) and ham, all covered by cheese. If you are a cheese lover, you’ll love it! Additionally, it comes with bread and French fries as a side to eat all the melting cheese ¡Yummi!  You also have burgers and some salads but the menu is limited. Prices vary between 12-15 euros. Lunchtime is from 12h to 14h but it opens till 12 am. After lunchtime you will only have drinks and Les planches apéritives (appetizer boards) that are pretty good too. It is recommended to make a reservation for lunch. 2) Le Broc This is one of my favorite restaurants. If you’re looking for a more elegant place but at a reasonable price, then this is it! Here, you can also try Le Welsh (the dish described earlier) but instead of fries, it comes with sautéed potatoes that makes it more special and really good too! There are more options on the menu with other French specialties like Omelettes, Crepes, Salads, and desserts. Here you have the option to chose a Menu that includes an entrée, main dish, dessert and a drink (something I love about French restaurants!) One thing I recommend you to try as a cocktail is the Piña Colada (believe me is amazing!) Prices, in general, goes from 10 EUR to 30 EUR (menus are more expensive) and there are two restaurants, one at Vieux Lille and one at Centre Ville. It is better to make a reservation Opening hours […]
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