A week in France

A week in France

I have just returned from a week long holiday, staying in wonderful France. I was staying with my boyfriend and his Grandparent’s at their home in the middle of the expansive French countryside. My home for the week was in Ternand, a small and very quaint village in eastern France. We had a fantastic time, providing us with the opportunities to relax by the pool, go for afternoon strolls and just to enjoy being at one with nature. It was super hot to begin with, but we were often confronted with storms and rain. It was really nice to be able to just sit back and relax. Whilst visiting busy cities can be really enjoyable, sometimes the peace and quiet are much needed.

Here are just a few photos from our holiday, and keep checking back on my blog as I am in the process of writing up some blog posts about the different things we got up to in France!

The old village of Ternand, France

Vineyards in France

View from Oingt, France - the countrysdie

Cat in Oingt, France

View from the tower in Oingt, France

Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Lyon France

Flowers, rose, in Ternand and the countryside

Exploring the hidden gems of Paris: 3 day itinerary

Exploring the hidden gems of Paris: 3 day itinerary

Having been here in Paris for 9 months – where does the time fly?! – I thought it would be appropriate to share some of my favourite places that I think everyone should visit when coming to this magical city. Off the beaten track, the places listed here will no doubt provide you with delightful experiences and fantastic memories.

This blog post is based on my entry on a new-and-upcoming website, called Marco, where travellers like myself write about particular trips we’ve been on. There are so many great things about this website. For starters, you can find real inspiration from reading other people’s entries, and be fixated on stunning photographs posted. Without doubt, another great factor of the website is that when you enter the weekly competitions, you have the chance of winning $1000! Think of new amazing places that could take you to!

You can check out my entry here. If you could vote for me, that would be great – just click here to vote, and don’t forget to choose ‘Explore the hidden gems of Paris‘.

DAY 1

Les Jardins du Palais Royale, Paris

WANDER THE BEAUTIFUL JARDIN DU PALAIS ROYALE

Located a stone’s throw away from the infamous Louvre, Le Jardin du Palais Royale is hidden within the busy rush of the city. Here you can stroll around the beautiful garden, appreciating the symmetrically lined trees and colourful flowers; or you can sit and enjoy people watching from many of the various reclining chairs around the central fountain.

L'Arc de Triomphe at night, Paris

ASCEND L’ARC DE TRIOMPHE FOR STUNNING VIEWS OF THE CITY

Whilst the majority of guides will point you in the direction of the Eiffel Tower, I believe that you can get even better views of the city from the Arc de Triomphe. There’s no better time to go than at sunset and into twilight. It is from the Arc de Triomphe that my breath has been taken away with these exquisite views.

DAY 2

Canal Saint-Martin, Paris

SIT BY THE CANAL SAINT-MARTIN

Many people have never heard of the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris, and it is indeed another hidden gem of the city. Situated in the 10th and 11th arrondissements, the area surrounding the canal is super cool and hip. Parallel to the canal are a plethora of cute cafes and shops, and also a ton of vibrant street art work. Exploring this area of Paris will make you feel as if you have been transported to Amsterdam.

The Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

VISIT THE UNSURPASSABLE ROYAL CHAPEL, THE SAINTE-CHAPELLE

The Sainte-Chapelle is often overlooked by those coming to visit Paris. Built to house the sacred relics of the Crown of Thorns in 1248 under the patronage of King Louis IX (aka Saint Louis), for me the Sainte-Chapelle is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The upper chapel is surrounded by the most exquisite stained-glass, which one can look at for hours. In addition to visiting the chapel during the day, you can also attend various classical concerts in the evening – another must do.

DAY 3

The Promenade Plantée, Paris

 ESCAPE THE RUSH, AND STROLL ALONG THE PROMENADE PLANTÉE

The Promenade Plantée offers walkers an unparalleled and unique experience. Often off the beaten-track for tourists, the promenade provides visitors with expansive views of the city – you become one with the various buildings and architecture, yet remain a flâneur simultaneously. It is a surreal experience – hardly do you find a place within a capital city wherein you feel totally separated from the buzz and rush; but whilst uniquely being right in the middle of it.

If you can think of any other hidden gems of Paris that you would like to share, just let me know!

Once again, here is the link for voting – don’t forget to choose ‘Explore the hidden gems of Paris‘.

Geneva: Photo Diary

Geneva: Photo Diary

This is a very belated account of my mini-adventure to Geneva in February. So with out delay, here it is:

The day after my return from the Alps to Paris, an early 4am start took me onto my next adventure: less than two days in the city of Geneva with one of my best friends, Kate (don’t forget to check out her blog! https://wherekateresides.wordpress.com) Unfortunately for us, Geneva welcomed us with grey skies and light rain. Despite this, we were determined to make the most of the hours that we had in this fascinating city.

Our first day consisted of wandering around the streets, taking in all the different architecture. Whilst also looking in the windows in a few of the designer shops. Our first ‘tourist attraction’ was Saint Pierre Cathedral, situated in the old part of the city. I was surprised that the Cathedral was begun in the 12th century, and was therefore immediately captivated. In addition, we decided to head on down into the Archaeological site directly underneath the cathedral, wherein we explored the vast history of this beautiful building. Originally there had been a 6th century basilica, to which over the centuries had been developed and built upon. I’m really glad that we decided to go to the cathedral and down into the archaeological site. It was incredibly fascinating to learn all about the cathedral’s rich history, and it has definitely sparked some ideas and further questions that could possibly be explored in the future. After being taken back in time, as well as seeing one or two skeletons down below the cathedral, we decided to venture upwards and began are ascent up to the cathedral towers. From here we had great views of the city. Unfortunately, the sky was still gray, so we couldn’t see as far as we had hoped – it would have been amazing to have had clear blue skies to see the beautiful mountains in the distance. But alas.

After all of this, we continued to wander around the city. Geneva is quite small, so you can easily walk from one end to the other, which I’m sure we did! During our walking, we stopped of at the Grand Théâtre de Geneva, which is the home of the Opera. The building is stunning, although it must be noted that we went inside as one of the main reasons was to attempt to get some warmth! Whilst there we noted that there was a production of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, performed by a company from New York, and spontaneously decided to go! After a slight mix-up with our seats (it turns out that we had been sold tickets for the following night – which was when we’d be back in Paris!), we enjoyed a much better view of the performance. It was Kate’s first time seeing an Opera and so I hope she enjoyed it, I just thank my stars it was in English.

With limited time on our second day, we started the morning with a trip to CERN, aka, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. Although I know little about Physics, I do recall the splitting of the atom taking place here in 2010. Unfortunately we were unable to take a tour of the full facilities, but we had the chance to explore the visitor section of the organisation. Entering into a dark and mysterious space, titled: ‘Universe of Particles’, we floated around absorbing all the information that we could, and then headed back to the city centre.

Luckily, our second day provided us with somewhat nicer weather, and so we took this opportunity to venture to the Conservatoire et Jardin botanics de la Ville de Geneve. Although still in the middle of winter, it was lovely to be able to wander around the various parts of the park. Although a highlight for us was probably watching all the people running and commentating on their weird running techniques! Sorry to any runners out there, and now I am afraid to run, knowing what we thought of others haha!

So there you have it. This pretty much sums up our mini-adventure to Geneva. Although we had two days to absorb all that the city has to offer, both Kate and I later agreed that you do not need any more additional days to see all the sites and things in the city. Due to the dull and miserable weather, I think a visit to Geneva in the Summer months would be much better, if anyone is thinking of going. If you’ve been to Geneva, I would love to hear about your travels and the things that you got up to!

You can see the rest of the photos that I took on my Flickr account here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/roisingrace/sets/72157650759707678/

 

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Skiing in the Alps, 2015

Skiing in the Alps, 2015

Recently I was lucky enough to go away on holiday with my Au Pair family for the week to their house in the Alps. Getting there required an 8 hour car journey from Paris, with an overnight stay near Lyon. After spending the majority of the journey sleeping or reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, one can only imagine the sheer excitement that I experienced once we turned a corner and the beautiful snow-covered mountains welcomed us. My Au Pair family’s house is located in a small city in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, called Barcelonnette. Here, you are surrounded by mountains, of which the peak of the highest is around 3412m – very high indeed!

Once we arrived at the house, it was clear that it had snowed for a long time before our arrival. Therefore, we had to make the most of it! After loading everything into the house, the kids and I put on our snow gear, grabbed a sledge each, and headed to the nearest hill for some sledging! (Which in French is: faire de la luge) That evening, the eldest son of the family arrived with his friends. This meant that tomorrow (Monday) would be the first day of skiing!

Now, the last time I went skiing must have been when I was 13 years old (feel free to correct me Mum!), and so, now being 21 you might think I was a little bit rusty. I must admit that my very first attempt to get on the ski lift failed, with me dragging along behind for a while… But nevertheless, I seemed to remember more than I thought! After having an hour-long private lesson, the ski instructor informed me that he had never seen someone progress as quickly as I had! Queue ego boost… So after another successful lesson the following day, this time with a group for two hours; my family decided to take me on one of their ski runs. This doesn’t sound too bad, or out of the ordinary, but wait. You see, my Au Pair family are amazing at skiing – they have all been doing it since they came straight out of the womb, and as for me, I’m not quite at their level (that’s putting it mildly) So this particular run that we did turned out to be the hardest one of the resort. After managing to ski off-piste, falling over several times, and attempting to ski down one slope with a gradient that felt somewhat like a straight vertical line down, I eventually finished. Despite sweating my entire body-weight, wanting to cry and praying to God to make sure that I survived, it was a very good feeling knowing that I had managed to make it to the bottom. However, I quickly declined the invite to go again, and decided to take a more leisurely blue run for my second day.

The next few days involved around 6 hours worth of time spent on the mountains, with lovely nights in by the fire. Although one evening, I joined the youngest child in my Au Pair family for a spot of Go-Karting. As everyone had turned down the invite to go with him, I thought why not? I was, however, quite apprehensive that it was going to be full of tiny kids, but boy was I surprised. Racing along us were grown men! They were indeed the fathers of some of the children racing. So whilst the youngsters were leisurely taking their time around the course, the men were absolutely going for it! I remained semi-relaxed, whilst not wanting to be overtaken by a child, and ended up coming fifth. Sadly, I think my career as a Go-Karter has come to an end, and I will bid adieu to this.

Ah yes, back to the skiing. One of the Ski resorts that we spent a lot of time at is called Pra-Loup. There are a couple of snow parks that I went to with my Au Pair kids, and it was such fun to be able to see them do jumps. Alas, I did not have a go. At the time I felt too scared, but now looking back, I wish just done it. Next time eh?

On the Saturday, the day before we were due to leave, we decided to have a day off from skiing. In the afternoon we just about to set off to take the kids sledging one last time, when all of a sudden the clouds burst open and it absolutely poured down with snow! It was amazing. I have never seen snow so thick. We spent that afternoon playing in the snow and sledging. I have so many funny videos of the children sledging, and falling off their sledges. I will wait till their 18th birthdays to embarrass them! That evening, we went for a lovely walk. There is something magical about the freshly fallen snow, especially as the sunlight glistens off the surface making it look almost like glitter or a precious diamond. It was what I imagine a winter wonderland to be like.

The next day we were supposed to leave apres-midi, in the afternoon in order to get back to Paris at a semi-resonable time. I had decided a few days earlier that I wasn’t going to ski that morning. The whole inconvenience of being all sweaty and smelling on the 8/9 hour car journey did not appeal to me. However, when I awoke that Sunday morning and saw the beautiful scenery, it was hard not to be tempted. So, indeed I went skiing for the last time this holiday. The snow was in perfect condition as well – where there was once ice, it was now fresh thick snow. Whilst the family went off-piste, I decided to venture on my own and went down a few of my favourite runs. By now, the hardest red runs were actually not too bad! So after a quite a few goes down the mountain, and without any falls (yay!), we bid farewell to the slopes and began our journey back home.

Overall, I had the most amazing experience. As you can tell by the photos, the landscape was stunning. I am extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to go with my Au Pair. I just hope that the next time I go skiing will be sooner rather than later!

Be sure to check out all the photos that I took during my time in the Alps on my flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/roisingrace/sets/72157648721661464/

 

Two weeks and three (technically four) cities later

Two weeks and three (technically four) cities later

It feels like such a long time since I sat down and wrote a blog post, and oh how I have missed it! My blog, I guess, has become somewhat of a diary almost, except a very public one which friends and family (and others obviously!) can come along with me on my journey. The last two weeks has definitely included many a journey. As you may already know, I have been on holiday for the last two weeks, and I really tried to make the most of my time off.

For the first week of my vacation, I was lucky enough to be invited by my French family to go with them skiing! They own a property in a small town called Jausiers, which is located in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence of France. I had an amazing time, and cannot thank them enough for taking me away on one of the best holidays of my life! Whilst there, I fell in love all over again with skiing (having been many years ago), and hope that I get the chance to do it more often in the future.

After a nine-hour car journey all the way back to Paris, an early 4.30am wake up call brought me onto my next mini adventure – around 33 hours to be precise – to Geneva with one of my best au pair friends. And what a whirlwind experience that was. Despite only being there for just two days, we managed to see and experience a lot, even making time for an Opera on the Monday night (more about that in an up-coming blog post about this particular trip!).

Following this, my final trip of the holidays was to Madrid to see Malek before he departs for his South American adventure this March. It was lovely to be back in Madrid with more days to explore the beautiful city and just to relax after my busy adventures. We also headed to Segovia, just north of Madrid. I had never been there before, but couldn’t wait, especially when Malek told me that Segovia has the highest concentration of Romanesque churches in its city. It was like being at Disneyland for me!

So there you have it. A very, very brief outline of all my adventures during my two-week holidays. I apologise for the shortness of this blog post, but I really just wanted to update all my wonderful readers, and am in the process of writing up my experiences along with the photographs I have taken on each trip to upload onto here. So watch out this space!

The beautiful Cathedral of Segovia
The beautiful Cathedral of Segovia

Our New York Trip

Our New York Trip

What a week. Our time in New York has come and gone, but boy was it amazing. It seems just like yesterday we were stepping of the plane and heading into the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. For anyone reading who knows my family personally, you will all acknowledge that my parents are extremely organised and like to have the holiday planned to the tee. Although being in New York for just under a week, we managed to cram so much into these few days. Unfortunately, this meant that whilst there I didn’t have the time to write up any blog posts to update everyone on what we were up to, as whatever spare time we had was taken up my sleeping (!) Therefore, I have decided to just do a quick summary and include some of the photos that I took whilst out and about. There are a few things that I want to blog in detail, such as our visit to the beautiful Cloisters Museum (which was so tranquil, you would not think that you were still in New York), and I was lucky enough to go and see the Crusader Bible of King Louis IX that is currently on exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum. So keep checking out my blog for updates on those.

It was three years ago this summer that I was lucky enough to go to New York with my Auntie, and whilst there we managed to also see most of the sights. However, we went during the height of a summer heat wave, and it was incredibly hot – not very nice when you want to walk around and see the city. Plus, due to the nature of it being the summer season, this meant that we were not the only tourists in town, making it slightly more uncomfortable as you waded your way through the crowds of people. However, this time around was perfect. Overall the weather was brilliant, except for our first day when we were greeted by rain and wind. The following days gave us sunshine and heavenly blue skies. We spent the first three days completing my Mum’s intensive itinerary, which included going to Ellis Island to see if we could ‘feel’ the spirit of my great-great-grandfather there (turns out he didn’t come to Ellis Island as it wasn’t open when he came, oh dear!), paying our respects at the World Trade memorials, climbing (not literally thank goodness) to the top of Rockefeller Centre, exploring the exquisite Central Park, walking across the High Line, took a water taxi from Brooklyn to Manhattan which revealed to us the breathtaking views of the city at sunset, taking a ghost tour around Wall Street and so much more! We also enjoyed leisurely strolls through West and East Villages, NYU campus and checking out various places in Brooklyn and Williamsburg … plus so much more. Even though we managed to see and do a lot, there is still a considerable amount that we sadly didn’t manage to experience. What can we say? We must leave some things for the next time we come back to New York.

I had an absolutely unbelievable time, and cannot thank my family enough for taking me as my 21st birthday present. It’s safe to say that we all had an incredible time, and still can’t believe we were just there! Here are just a few of the photos taken during our vacation.

The One World Trade Center hiding in the clouds
The One World Trade Center hiding in the clouds
The Registry Hall in Ellis Island
The Registry Hall in Ellis Island
View of the new One World Trade Center
View of the new One World Trade Center
Names of those whose lives were taken in 9/11
Names of those whose lives were taken in 9/11
A view of the city from the High Line
A view of the city from the High Line
Amazing artwork on the side of a building seen on our walk on the High Line
Amazing artwork on the side of a building seen on our walk on the High Line
The Naked Cowboy entertaining the crowds...
The Naked Cowboy entertaining the crowds…
Exploring Brooklyn
Exploring Brooklyn
Washington Square Park Arch
Washington Square Park Arch
Dinner time!
Dinner time!
Cake for everyone
Cake for everyone
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Brooklyn Graffiti
Sundaes, shakes and cones
Sundaes, shakes and cones
Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station
West Village
West Village
'Friends' anyone?
‘Friends’ anyone?
A rainy night in Times Square
A rainy night in Times Square
Watching the sun set on New York
Watching the sun set on New York