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Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Quatre Billets aime Paris

25 Oct

Paris is an amazing and beautiful city.  Our five days in Paris was never going to be enough but we certainly covered a lot of the French Capital.  We did a lot of walking, and also caught a lot of Metro.  Unfortunately the Paris Patisserie Challenge fell short of our goalHugo & Victor was a highlight.  We will have to return!

Our small apartment was perfect, fifth floor corner apartment, one block from the Notre Dame is about as central as you can get in Paris. A boulangerie down the street, and easy walking distance to Latin Quarter, Louvre and Hotel de Ville.  Thank you Thierry!  Details on our apartment, highly recommend!

The climb up and down the five flights of spiral staircase helped burn off the baked goods, no wonder there arent many fat Parisians!

The Notre Dame, an iconic site at any time of the day, the 8am bells were our wake up call each morning.

The picturesque Jardin du Luxembourg in Autumn colors

A welcome rest for tired feet, taking a boat trip along the Seine

Had been threatening the kids that we would be eating frogs-legs and snails for months.  We did just that at a restaurant in the Latin Quarter.  The frogs legs were ‘like chicken’ however the escargots were ‘disgusting’!  Sams reaction to escargots was hilarious, the wee snail did not remain in his mouth for long!

We visited the Musee D’Orsay and the Louvre, the sheer scale and quality of both collections is amazing, the Louvre is massive.  We looked through the huge Louvre Egyptian collection, Greek sculptures and Italian masterpieces.  The Louvre gallery itself is a work of art. Of course, we saw Mona and Venus.

After a busy day walking the streets, gardens, shops, galleries, churches and patisseries of Paris, Nicki and I had earned a drink or two in a cafe to discuss the day and watch Paris pass by.

Rebecca’s photo of Paris  - A bike, the metro and the Louvre

 
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Patisseries in Paris

22 Oct

Whilst it doesnt look as though we will succeed in our quest to make it through the top 17 pastries in Paris according to parispatisseries.com we made it to Hugo & Victor today.  On Blvd Raspail amongst designer shops, H&Vdecor is more jeweller than patissiere, everything on display looked exquisite.   Finally decided on our choices, and headed to the banks of the Seine to indulge.

The kids chose caramel and mango macaroons, serious melt in your mouth, not that we got to taste much.   Then onto the serious stuff, I’ve chosen the ‘Hugo Chocolat’is as parispatisseries.com describes ‘a pastry connoisseur’s fantasy’. At about AUD$8.50 this is a premium pastry but your taste buds are high-fiving through the whole chocolat experience.

Nicki went for the ‘Victor Pomme’, there are millefeuilles and then there are millefeuilles. Layers of light delicate pastry with smooth cream and apples.  Another pastry Everest!

The search continues…..

Art meets pastry at Hugo & Victor

Macaroon happiness

About to taste the Hugo Chocolat, Bec’s eyes on the Chocolat!

Nicki very happy with her Victor Pomme

 
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Disneyland Paris – The Rides reviewed

22 Oct

Bec and Sam review the rides and attractions at Disneyland Paris….

Big Thunder Mountain
Bec: It was great fun, but it freaked me out,  thought it was going to be slow and boring but it was fast and dark.  8/10
Sam: It nearly gave me a heart attack, it went so fast but it was very good. 10/10

Mark Twain Riverboat
Bec: Really nice, could see fake people, then we saw real people but thought they were fake! 7/10
Sam: Peaceful ride, also a bit boring 5/10

Pirates of the Caribbean
Bec:  Really good actually, lots of cool pirate scences and skeletons at the end 9/10
Sam: Good ride, two small drops, got a bit wet!  7.5/10

Mad Hatters Tea Cups
Bec: Really fun, could spin the cups by yourself 8/10
Sam: Really enjoyed it, went on the cups ride four times 9/10

Its a small World
Bec: Very cute, little dolls singing from different countries and I saw Australia, kangaroo and a koala!  8/10
Sam:  Very peaceful, shows you the cultures of different countries 8/10

Dumbo the flying elephant
Bec: Fun, got to choose how high you got to fly, water surrounding you 9/10
Sam:  Pretty cool, could see lots of Disneyland, got to pull a lever to go up and down 9/10

Star Tours
Bec: Really fun, in a spaceship simulator going up, down, side to side, on the screen could see where we were flying, had a robot pilot and we got attacked and crashed into the Death Star! 10/10
Sam: I didnt do it, it looked to freaky for me

Captain EO (3D Michael Jackson film)
Bec: Michael Jackson at his best, little characters were cute, the whole theatre moved 9/10
Sam: felt like you were moving in the movie, very good 9/10

Disneyland Railroad
Bec: Just a normal railroad, not that exciting 2/10
Sam:  Boring, couldnt see much 2/10


 
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Bonjour Disneyland

21 Oct

From the moment you step off the Paris suburban train at Marne-la-vallee Chessy station, Disney has constructed, polished, moulded, manufactured and Mickeyed an entire French suburb to transform it into good ol’ US of A inspired Disneyland.  Its a surreal experience but also lots of fun with a young family.

Being late October, the weather is getting chilly (a high of 13)  we picked a sunny day and got going early to make the 10am opening. Access is easy, RER 1 (red line) goes straight there.  Anticipating a day of queues, we walked straight up to the ticket window, no queue and were suddenly engulfed in Main Street USA!!!

Becca and Sam will provide more details on the next 7 hours of Disneyland, but in summary:

- Kicked the rides off with Big Thunder Mountain, a fun little train coaster. Our other attractions were the riverboat, Pirates of the Caribbean, Dumbo, Mad Hatters Tea Cups, Its a small world, Star Tours, Captain EO,   Disney Railroad and the Grand Parade.
- Ate lunch at the Hakuna Mutata Restaurant, surprisingly no Tartare de Boeuf or Creme Brulee on the menu
- Fav quote overheard – “Mummy, I want Donald Ducks autograph and I want it now” by an English Violet Beauregarde, any Disney character that appears is mobbed, predominantly by the English who make up a high proportion of visitors.  Bizarrely, many are after autographs from these characters.
- Didnt do the Disney Studios next door and  one day was enough for Fourtickets! We are happy to be back exploring the Galleries and Patisseries tomorrow.

 
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This Little Piggy Went to Markets!

20 Oct

For the first time in living memory, Mike has been actually seeking out markets to go to in France! And there is a very good reason behind this…the markets in the towns and villages of Provence are fantastic for fresh local produce direct from the farm (and ok, a little bit of crap straight from China).  Each of the villages in the Luberon take turns at having a market – which means you can go to at least one every day.  In in the end, it seemed like we just had to turn up somewhere, and voila – there was a market.

These little piggies felt compelled to eat their way around each and every one (how else where we to compare the quality of produce in each location!).  Memorable highlights were the best rotisserie chicken I have ever eaten from in Lourmarin market, which came complete with gravy and baby potatoes, the cheese everywhere, pizza vans that rolled out the dough in front of you, the crunchy perfect little red apples that surely tempted  Snow White, the pattiseries, the vast array of olives,  spices…well you get the idea!

One word of advice in terms of buying stuff to eat on the spot…don’t assume that it is sold hot!!  We excitedly bought a very fancy looking potato cakes and zucchini beignets (fritters) to warm us up on a freezing day – only to discover it was cold…ditto with paella and noodles.  Basically, the French take food too seriously to eat on the run – you are supposed to take it home, heat it up and eat it accompanied with some vin & baguette!

Queen piggy and the piglets at Bonnieux markets.

Mmmmm….macaroons in every colour.

Olives beautifully presented in baskets (green ones voted way better than the black after exhaustive tastings).

Spices smelt fantastic!

Local veges from the Luberon.

 
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Climbing the top of Paris!!

20 Oct

To day was one of the best days in my life, because I went to the top of the Eiffel Tower!!

We went in the queue for about um…….well im not sure but it seemed like 7 HOURS! there were so many other tourists!

We eventually got to the lifts (we obviously chose the lift not the stairs)they were bright yellow and crowded!! first we stopped at level number 1,we didn’t get off.Then we went to the second level we got off there to have a look it was very cold but beautiful!!!

It was a long wait to get on the lift to the very very top.I was scared that I was going to freeze to death,but luckily it was…INSIDE and there were heaters!:)

I loved it sooo much.

P.S if you ever go to the Eiffel Tower  do not buy any souvenirs from random people coming to you

By Becca

Me with my little Eiffel Tower keyrings, i got a bargain!

Leaning on the Eiffel Tower(not really:) )

This is one of the lifts

 
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300kmh on a train

19 Oct

Today we got the train to Paris from Avignon. it was a TGV which went 300 km per hour. we were in first class, the seats were very comfy. (we even didnt pay for first class  =) ) . when the train went around corners it leaned over, the scenery went past really quick.

we had to catch two trains because of a strike, and we only just got seats some people had to sit in the luggage rack!  From Sam

The TGV, France’s version of the Bullet train

Not letting the strikes stop us from getting to Paris!  TGV to Lyon then another to Paris!

Checking the speed on the phone, 294kmh.. we made it to 300!

 
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Arles – A lesson in Roman history

17 Oct

Arles is a large town South of Avignon and has a long history dating back to Roman times.  Located on the Rhone River, not far from the Mediterranean, Arles is in a strategic location for trading and industry.  Another town with winding laneways and a large central square housing the Hotel d’Ville and L’Eglise.  Having found the information centre and a town map, we walked through to the Roman Amphitheatre, a 1,900 year old stadium that could hold 20,000 Romans watching Gladiators, animal fighting and contact sports.  Essentially, the Roman equivalent of Etihad Stadium, complete with a canvas roof and food stalls . Whilst not as big as the Colliseum in Rome, the Arles stadium is still impressive.  It became a fortress in the Middle Ages with a small town inhabiting the inner stadium.   The stadium is now used for bullfighting, Ole! The Roman Theatre nearby is also worth a wander through the broken pieces of pillars and decorative stonework.

A short walk away is the Musee Departemental De L’Arles Antique.  A Museum housing a large collection of Roman antiquities recovered from in and around Arles.  Most of the collection is in excellent condition with statues, frescos, pillars, well preserved mosaic flooring and cast water pipes showing how advanced the Roman civilisation was.  We walked through the current exhibition – Cesar Le Rhone Pour Memoire, which featured Roman relics recovered from the sludge in the Rhone river during Cesar’s reign.  Statues, anchors, pottery, trading implements etc paint a picture of life in Arles and the trading with Africa and other European ports almost 2,000 years ago.  The museum is a must see when in Arles.

Grab a Liberte Pass for 9 Euro’s (Free for kids), it provides access to one museum and four monuments throughout Arles.  

Given a choice between living in Roman times or during the Middle Ages which we caught a glimpse of later in the day with a trip to the Castle at Le Baux, Id prefer donning a toga and hanging with the Romans, food, wine, plumbing, water, sanitation, heating, roads etc plus Gladiator fights! (Im assuming Im a prominent noble, not a humble servant!)

 
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Castles in Provence

17 Oct

In the past couple of days we have been to a couple of castles (A Chateau in French) the most recent castle was the best it had catapaults, stocks, battering rams and some places in the castle with some information and you could go in the stocks! The castle was in Les Baux. By Sam

Les Baux Chateau, cut into the side of the hill

Catapults – used to throw rocks and naughty children (OK, the children bit isnt factually correct)

Sam in the stocks, we eventually let him out

 
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Mmmmm…Crepes in France

17 Oct

Down the road from out house is a Crepery You might not know what crapes are and how they make them but now you will!

When they make crapes they have kind of a flat pan but it doesn’t have a handle,and they pour their mixture onto it.(crapes are about as big as a platter!!)once they have the mixture on the pan they spread it out on the full area. after that they flip the crepe and then cook it on the other side and finally they put your topping on(I recommend the chocolate one :) ) A crepe is kind of like a pancake but much much thinner! By Becca

Becca eats yet another Chocolat Crepe (Nutella!)

Sam eagerly waits for his Crepe

 
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