Read more about the article Rennes – France
Rennes - France

Rennes – France

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Roman Civitas Redonum

Our first weekend trip to France so far in 2016. Still, one of the largest countries in Europe with the most places to see and cities to visit which we still missing greatly, specially central France. While we’ve been to the entire Mediterranean coast, southeast and northwest, getting to find a good flight to any other destination is what is pushing us back from coming more often to France. Either there are no daily flights, or no flights returning Sundays; flight times not working at all in order to be able to manage a nice weekend, or sky high air fares. Thankfully, slowly, there are more airlines seeking the potential of such destinations as is the case of Rennes.

Surprisingly this time, with FlyBe from Southend Airport was really a bargain (although let’s better say not so bargain when considering how expensive was the train from central London to the airport, and the time it all took having to change trains). Anyway, well worth it.

The main aim for this weekend trip was getting to Mont Saint-Michel which we did the day before. And while other airports “nearby” are either much farther than Rennes, or with poor flight connections as is the case of Dinard airport, all makes up the reason why we could not come here before, but with Rennes it worked perfectly! You kill two birds in a shot, or three if you have time (if including Saint Malo in your plan). A very beautiful and historical medium-size city, worth an entire day, and at barely 1 hours by bus/car, the Mont Saint-Michel. (more…)

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Read more about the article Saint Malo – France
Saint Malo - France

Saint Malo – France

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Not French, not Breton; but Malouin

Our next stop-over for today coming from Rennes and after the Mount Saint-Michel was the city of Saint Malo. Because of it being quite near Saint-Michel and because there is enough time to visit both cities on the same day, we could not leave the occasion pass and complete this area by coming here too. That was in fact a great decision! But I cannot imagine having to do the same we did if you are not having your own transportation (rental car) and depending instead on public buses or trains. Still feasible but stressful and way much shorter time to enjoy the places.

I could not imagine myself having to spend a full day in Saint Malo anyway, I would not know where else to go, unless heading across the Bassin de la Rance to Dinard which in any case, apart from luxurious mansions there’s no more. That’s why when you plan to come here, try to include either Saint-Michel if you’ve not been before, or other cities nearby to make the most out of the day, otherwise coming only just here is not that worth it. Yes it is a pretty city, but not one of the really must-dos if I am to be honest.

Saint Malo was in origin an island-city, but for many years not anymore although it is still surrounded by water at all sides, with a very strong tide, on the same way as it happens with Mont Saint-Michel, you can have 2 different views of this city either at high or at low tide, whichever is the case, the beauty of the city still there, and the number of tourists speak for themselves. It’s the most visited place in Brittany. (more…)

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Read more about the article Mont Saint Michel – France
Mont Saint Michel - France

Mont Saint Michel – France

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Saint Michael in peril of the sea

Directly after landing in Rennes we finally made it to Mont Saint Michel; the true reason for this weekend’s trip. Long time in the wish list, but for many reasons it has never worked out either because of flight routes and times or by high air fares. Surprisingly this time, with FlyBe from Southend Airport was really a “bargain” (although let’s better say not so bargain when considering how expensive the train from central London was to the airport, and the time it all took having to change trains). Anyway, it was well worth it.

From Rennes, our base, we rented a car. Not that you would need it since there are frequent buses and trains between both Rennes and Mont Saint Michel, but our plan was a bit wider for today in not just visiting the Mount, but also nearby Saint Malo. Also possible to do everything on public transportation, but way much more time consuming. Both places are very small, so you do not need to stress about in not being possible to visit everything, because there is plenty of time, even during winter months that the days are shorter, as our case was.

The iconic island-village with its monastery at the top is one of the most renown tourist attractions in France, and also one of the most visited. Its beauty and perfection coupled with the idyllic location by the bay is not only a major tourist draw, but an UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you are lucky enough to have the chance to see it at high tide, it is something truly memorable and impressive. We only saw it at very low tide, also quite unique image to see from the top of the Abbey with the emptiness of the tidal area. (more…)

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Read more about the article Carcassonne – France
Carcassonne - France

Carcassonne – France

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Roman: Colonia of Julia Carsaco

An incredible great surprise and totally unexpected and unplanned. We came this weekend to be only in Perpignan, but after seeing everything on Saturday and with not much more to be done for Sunday, was nice to find out that the impressive medieval city of Carcassonne was only 1 hour 15 minutes away by train from Perpignan. And what a city! It completely eclipsed our original plans and thoughts we got from Perpignan the day before.

The city after all, is not that big, and while we thought we would have plenty of spare time as we started visiting the area around the train station and the Cathedral that took us only 2 hours no more; once we reached the Cité, that feeling changed. Only with this city-fortress you could easily spend the entire day if you also visit the museums within. So plan ahead or schedule well your time, otherwise as in our case, simply enjoy the time as much as you can. We are quite a heavy travellers and we are used to run from a place to the other hence managed to see everything while having some time to rest, have a nice lunch and then enjoy a dessert with a coffee at a terrace.

Walking along the city and specially on a Sunday morning (and afternoon) was all for ourselves! All the shops were closed, no one in the streets and even was hard to find an opened coffee place. Oddly, tourists seem not to come to this area of the city but head straight away to the Cité instead, where it was thriving and full all people. In the other hand we managed to get pictures everywhere without anyone in the streets. (more…)

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Read more about the article Perpignan – France
Perpignan - France

Perpignan – France

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Villa Perpiniano

Losing the track on how many trips we’ve done so far since January, not to mention absolutely nonstop week after week with some longer than just a weekend here and there. The “scary but exciting” side of this is to think ahead on the ones yet to come! This year has gone absolutely crazy, but on track to beat all records. I cannot even cope in creating these travel guides more or less at good time, not even on the smaller word doc “use-and-throw” guides I create to keep me in line knowing where to go and what to see to the places I travel, which I create prior of writing a final travel guide after the trip in my blog.

So here is for the first trip to France this year. A new destination that was in our viewpoint for a while and now finally we found a great deal with Ryanair; Perpignan. But as usual, the rule of thumbs works in here too, whenever is low season, get your hands quickly to grab some bargains in flights, those tend to go too quickly making no sense anymore to book such destinations for double and triple the price. Probably that’s why we kept postponing Perpignan until we found the right fare we would pay to come here.

The city is not “truly” French, in the sense of the word. In fact, it feels one of the less French cities in the whole of France. The reason for this is for Perpignan having acted as the capital of the newly formed Kingdom of Majorca by James I from 1276, back in the times when this region formed part of the Spanish Empire. It lasted until 1642 with the Treaty of the Pyrenees, and 17 years later in 1659, Spain ceded it to France.

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Read more about the article Lyon – France
Lyon - France

Lyon – France

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Capitale des Gaules

As if we were planning this on purpose but it’s just a matter of coincidence, it’s been a year since our last visit to France. Past year February and March were our French visits, and this year it happens to be the same. Probably because it is when the air fares to certain parts of France are the most economical, even though we did not fly directly to Lyon but to Geneva instead, some 150 kilometers away. In any case, while most of the people is flying to the region for sky during the winter months, we took the advantage of having our usual city break in low season, with very few other tourists hence enjoying the most out of it.

Lyon is the second largest city after Paris, city proper-wise speaking. If including the metropolitan area, then the second would be Marseilles after Paris, with Lyon in 3rd position. Bearing this in mind, the city is quite large with plenty to see and do. A weekend is not enough to fully explore it, and if you have only a bit less than a day and a half as we did, you will need to prioritize and it is impossible physically to get everywhere. In our case, we had to scrap everything from the Roman era in the Fourvière Hill (as the theater, the odeon), and other points elsewhere in the city as the remains of the amphitheater. After all, Lyon’s old town is one of the largest urban areas inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List, so prepare to see a lot.

An unique architectural feature in Lyon are the so called Traboules. You will find many around the Vieux Lyon, not to mention is most of the postcards you will see at least one. These are narrow corridors connecting two streets through a building. Very easy to spot as are the ones having the tower containing snail staircases. Pay attention at the plaques indicating the historical buildings, some of them will have the door open where you can enter and see. (more…)

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Read more about the article Toulouse – France
Toulouse - France

Toulouse – France

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Roman Tolosa

For a long time in the agenda, it’s finally the time to land in Toulouse, although for now, it would only be for few moments. Just to collect the rental car and directly drive towards Andorra, the final destination for today and returning back later at night in Toulouse, giving us a whole day for visiting this beautiful city. The fourth largest metropolitan area in France, Quite a big city itself but perfect for a one day visit as the historical city centre is not too big. The very compact medieval core is mostly pedestrian and majority of the sights are located within short reach from each others.

The city has become the most important centre of the European aerospace industry where many of the global headquarters are based, including those of Galileo, EADS and of course, Airbus, which is the main assembly point of airplanes. All nations involved at any point in the construction of any part will finally meet at Toulouse’s Airbus factory where they are assembled and make ready for delivery.

There are many historical buildings, and opposed as to what you can see in Bordeaux for example where most of the buildings date from the 18th century after the urbanism plan and look so similar one to another; in here this is the opposite. Buildings from all eras blend together where colours are an important fact. French cities tend to be monochromatic, with pastels are the main colour. Here in Toulouse you won’t be disappointed not bored; this is not the typical copy and paste of the “same” building.


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Read more about the article Bordeaux – France
Bordeaux - France

Bordeaux – France

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The Port of the Moon

It is the turn for a weekend in France again, being the most recent before that one to Cannes; and from taking a look at the current flights booked so far in the coming months, it won’t be the last trip to France this year for sure. Stay tuned. The problem I am currently encountering more often is that I am running out of weekends to go anywhere! Just a quick fact on how things are, with 74 flights booked this years alone so far and counting, that’s serious business and time management. Every year the number of flights and trips keep going up exponentially.

Bordeaux is the second city after Paris with the largest amount of listed historical buildings. The entire old town is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s impossible to question about such status. Once you see for your own eyes then you will know; although it’s difficult to find any historical city in France without any sort of UNESCO sites, either specific constructions or entire towns; same happening in Spain and Italy, where the three countries top the world’s list for the amount of such status granted.

Who have never heard of Bordeaux before? Surely you have taste one of the most precious drinks this region is world famous for. Wine. France is world’s number one wine producer in the world, and Bordeaux region the largest producer of wine within France. Now, you might believe from those numbers that you would find plenty of wine shops and plenty of choice in the supermarkets, well you are wrong and so I was. Shockingly to say, any medium to large Tesco supermarket in the UK have by far a larger selection of wines with a great number on Bordeaux itself! (more…)

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