Archive for the ‘ France ’ Category

Paragliding in Annecy

I have 3 adventures on my bucket list that would take some courage to actually get done. Sky diving. Bungee jumping. And lastly, paragliding. This July, one of them finally got crossed off!!! :D

DSC_0207

Paragliding – check!!!

I paraglided in Annecy. The place is on many list of the 10 most beautiful places to paraglide. I wanted to do it a year or two ago – in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate so we had to cancel at the last minute. This time around, I couldn’t ask for a better weather!

Lac d'Annecy

Lac d’Annecy

I left it to my friend to make reservations for us. I’m normally OC about these things so wasn’t sure why I did that. Long story short, he actually didn’t book any despite me giving him links and reminders. He got around to doing so when I arrived in his hometown of Annecy. Turns out most of the companies are fully booked – summer is peak season. It just so happened that there was a cancellation the next day so they were able to squeeze all 3 of us in! Woohoo! Phew!

DSC_0184

That morning, I was excited! I was, really! But there was also that fear and panic starting to build up. I thought I was doing a great job of keeping it at bay. That is unless the guys would ask me if I’m scared. Who wouldn’t be – but I’m wayyy more excited! One of the guys drove us to the meeting point. We got registered. Waited a bit while watching the others land – they looked happy! Always a good sign. hehe Then we all got into the van that we would take us to the jump off location.  I was seated at the front. All was going really well. Until we were pretty high up the mountain and still no sign of stopping. The road was getting steeper and steeper. I tried to calm my tummy. Suddenly, it felt queasy. It was like a few butterflies were trying to find their way out. At least this time around, the boys were busy talking to our guides and weren’t asking me whether I’m scared so all was under control. Sorta. -_-

DSC_0190

DSC_0196

We made our way to the jump off point. It was a beautiful (albeit for me, scary too) sight to behold! A huge area was cleared for them thrill-seekers. Several were getting ready to take off – just awaiting for the go signal from a man who seems to be in charge so it’s not chaotic. One of our guides took a shot of the whole group. Suddenly, the boys are all strapped and walking to the edge – excited and keen to get going.

DSC_0194

DSC_0205

My guide, who thankfully speaks fluent English, was trying to crack jokes with me. He kept reassuring me too. He said there’s no need to panic, that there’s nothing to fear (nevermind the fact, that I’m floating high up in the air with nothing but a harness securing us to a fabric. hehe).  I will not panic. He then proceeded to put all the safety harnesses on on me along with the helmet. The instruction really was just that he’d catch the wind and when that happens, we’d have to walk fast towards the edge and keep doing so. He then got me settled on the seat and the next instruction was to enjoy the ride! What a view it was! The kind that I can only see from a plane but much closer this time around. There was really nothing else for me to do but to be amazed and try to take it all in – I was actually doing it!!! Yay!!!

DCIM100GOPRO

As we were starting our descent, I was asked if I wanted to pilot for a while. I answered, “I would love to but I just can’t let go!” I had a deathly tight grip on the lines. hehe And after a few minutes, I was asked another question. “Do I want some acrobatic moves?” he said. To which I honestly replied, that “as much as it looks amazing, my stomach wouldn’t be handle anything further” I then added to him to make it “as smooth as possible please.” :D I was ecstatic to have both feet touch the ground! I had to sit there for a while to calm my racing heart. My friend ran back to me – he looked flushed with excitement. And yes, they did pilot their gliders. And yes, they even had some acrobatics. We’re all happy!

Maybe I’ll paraglide again – maybe not. But I would definitely recommend you to go if you’ve ever had the desire to do so! Hmm.. bungee jumping next? :D

DSC_0202

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

*we booked with flyeo.com
tandem paragliding – €95 (€125 if with pictures)

Nice Eats: La Roustide

On my last night in Nice, my host arranged a fancy dinner for us all. A break from home cooked dining she reasoned. Having said that, we’ve eaten really good food while there. She made reservations for La Roustide – she had nothing but praise for the place so we were excited to try it for ourselves!

DSC_1144

This was one trip I had where nothing EVER went on time. Our reservation was for 7:30pm. We ended up seated almost 9pm since we had to wait for one more person. Once we were complete, my cousin and I started edging to the door – we were famished since we hiked that day! We were amazed at how the others were still taking their time chatting – we could do that with food in front of us! :D

DSC_1129

I love how the place seems cozy and beautiful in its simplicity. Seating capacity of the restaurant is at a minimum -maybe at 30 when full? It was just our party and one more small group. Service was amazing coz we didn’t need to contend with others. After some minutes of browsing through the menu, we ordered what we wanted. And food – thankfully – started arriving!

Firstly, we were given 2 kind of amuse bouche. One was creamed asparagus served with la roustide (the bread) with truffles while the other was foie gras. I gotta say, the creamed asparagus was gone so quick – it was such a treat! It had a certain kind of taste to it… some fish, crayfish according to my dining companion, was added that’s why.

DSC_1089

DSC_1096

Starter was up next. I got carpaccio of veal, tomato sauce, candied tomatoes with oregano and arugula salad. I shared it with my cousin and another since it was too much – we have 3 more course coming up!

DSC_1108

Entre-deux is vegetable puree of the day with truffle. It was sweet potato for the day we ate there.

DSC_1109

 It seemed our party ordered either of these two as their main course: beef fillet marinated with honey and paprika, panisse fries cooked with marjoram, snow peas, and pink garlic pan fried; or a fish of the day cooked in a thyme stock, caramelized palm heart, mushroom duxelle cooked in wine, sorrel white butter dressing. I opted for the fish since seafood in Southern France is the way to go but still, I enjoyed the beef more! Yum!

DSC_1110

DSC_1111

Last but not least are our pretty desserts. The others didn’t get any as they were already full. But whether full or not, we thought it a crime to not finish our beautiful meal with them! I got nectarines poached in port and provence herbs, strawberry and mint grout. Our companion ordered tiramisu with manzana and caramelized green apples. Both were oh-so-good!

DSC_1132

DSC_1135

Food was washed down with a glass (or two) of white wine for me, red for the others. I thought that was that but our charming attendant brought out a bottle of limoncello – compliments of the place. A nice touch since they’ve already been very accommodating – we had our dog, Prince, join us in the city. We made him wait outside and he was given a large bowl of water by our attendant. When we were the only diners left, they let him in and was even given a treat!

DSC_1117

It was indeed a lovely evening! I’d happily eat here again the next time I’m in Nice!

P1290261

P1290266

P1290265

DSC_1139

With the 2 ladies who made this trip amazing!

Le French Riviera

Somehow, thinking of the French Riviera brings to (my) mind luxury chalets and villas, famous celebrities  and a glamorous lifestyle. Well, it is that but it is also possible to go there and not burn a hole in your wallet. :)

Nice – Monacco – Cannes

That was where my friend and I spent our quick getaway trip to this popular French Coast. It was just unfortunate that I was sick during the trip. At least that gives me another reason to go back, right? ;)

Here are some pictures from this trip. Enjoy!

NICE:

Nice International Airport

Bright and sunny Nice International Airport :D

At the train station

At the train station

Pictures taken in MONACO:

Luxury cars abound!

High end stores are everywhere too!

High end stores are everywhere too!

Yes. It is really a Billionaire's lounge!

Yes. It is really a billionaire’s lounge! But ladies, they’re mostly married. This last bit coming from a  millionaire we talked with. haha

IMG_0307

Monaco’s famous casino. Entrance fee is 20euros.

Few pictures from CANNES:

Walking along Cannes' promenade :)

Walking along Cannes’ promenade :)

IMG_0420

IMG_0437

IMG_0386

Amongst the 3 places we’ve been to, Cannes has the nicest sands. Time to hit the beach! :D

Enjoying a sunny day! :D

Enjoying a sunny day! :D

Related Posts:

DIY: Schengen Visa Application
Getting around in Europe
Practical Tips for Paris
Paris: Must See(s)
Inside: Louvre Museum

Inside: Louvre Museum

One of the world’s biggest museum, Musée du Louvre (The Louvre Museum a.k.a. The Louvre) is also a historic monument. The museum is found inside the Louvre Palace which was built in the 12th century by Philip II as a fortress. It was then transformed into royal residence by the subsequent rulers of France until Henry XIV made a decision to have a palace built in Versailles. It was then converted into a museum on 1793. Currently, the Louvre contains 380,000 objects and is home to 35,000 works of art. With 15,000 visitors per day, it is considered as the most visited museum in the world.

The Louvre Palace grounds

Practical informations:

The Louvre is open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Night opening until 9:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Closed on the following holidays: January 1, May 1, December 25

Ticket Prices:

€10 – Tickets for Permanent Collection
€11 –  Tickets for Exhibitions in the Hall Napoléon
€14 – Access to the permanent collections and temporary exhibitions in both the Louvré and the Musée Eugène Delacroix
Free admission – first Sunday of each month; disabled visitors and their guest/ helper; visitors under the age of 18

Apart from the Notre Dame Cathedral, this was where I spent the most of my time while I was on a trip in Paris. Whether I was inside the galleries or just chilling by the gardens outside the museum, I enjoyed them all the same. Although I couldn’t take the time to look at every piece of art there (I might get a headache), I still loved it! :D

Here are pictures in and around the museum to satisfy those curious minds of what’s it like there! ;)

From sculptures…

“Winged Victory of Samothrace”
The Nike of Samothrace. c. 190 BC

“Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss”
Antonio Canova c. 1787

“Horse Restrained by a Groom” aka “The Horses of Marly”
Guillaume ler Coustou 1739-1745

“Venus de Milo”
Alexandros of Antioch c. 130-100 BC

To paintings…

“La Belle Ferronnière” aka “Portrait of an Unknown Woman”
Leonardo da Vinci 1490-1496

“Portrait de jeune homme”
Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi aka Sandro Botticelli 1475-1480

“Portrait présumé de Gabrielle d’Estrées et de sa soeur la duchesse de Villars”
École de Fontainebleau c. 16th century

“Le Sacre de Napoléon” aka “The Coronation of Napoleon”
Jacques-Louis David 1805-1807

And not to forget the most popular room in the whole palace…

“La Joconde” aka “Mona Lisa”
Leonardo da Vinci c. 1503–1519

There are some touristy stuff that one just had to do! :))

There’s just this wonderful atmosphere of creativeness and an appreciation of art that’s very palpable inside the museum. I enjoyed seeing small groups learning about art together from little kids to those who are of more advance in age. hehe

The Louvre is this beautiful place that I kept going back to in Paris. :)

Related Posts:

DIY: Schengen Visa Application
Getting around in Europe
Practical Tips for Paris
Paris: Must See(s)
Le French Riviera

Paris: Must See(s)

Paris has so many popular spots! Here are some places that you shouldn’t miss there, definitely must sees! :D Coz lately, I’ve been getting messages from friends who will be going to Paris and who wants to know what sights they should visit and what to do as well. They want me to share an itinerary for them but I haven’t really been able to do so since I’m away on trips. hehe

Notre Dame Cathedral

I always think of the Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which was based on a novel by Victor Hugo) when I think of this famous place. hehe They say it’s the most beautiful and popular Gothic church in the world. I found myself always walking towards the direction of the cathedral every afternoon coz I like the atmosphere here. I just love the Parisian sunset by the Seine River while eating crepes or eclairs at one of the benches lining this beautiful building.♥

The buttresses of the Cathedral

St. Joan of Arc

The beautiful ceiling of Notre Dame

Musee d’Orsay

A former train station, this museum is now home to many masterpiece of Impressionist and Post Impressionist painters the most popular of which includes Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh. Free entrance every first Sunday of the month! Otherwise, you’ll have to pay the 9euro entrance fee. I don’t think of myself as an “artsy” person but on trips, I tend to go to lots of them! :D

The museum that was formerly a train station :)

Pantheon

King Louis XV ordered the reconstruction of the ruined church of Sainte-Geneviève, patron saint of Paris, after he had recovered from an illness. The church later on became a mausoleum for notable, distinguished French citizens. Amongst the remains buried here are Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie (yes, she’s Polish but is married to a Frenchman and lived in France most of her life) and Alexandre Dumas.

Arc de Triomphe

To celebrate his military victories, Napoleon commissioned the building of this popular French monument. However, it was completed 30years after it was begun and the Emperor Napoleon was already ousted. It honours the soldiers who fought and died for France during the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars. Beneath it, lit by an eternal flame, lies the remain of The Unknown Soldier who came to symbolize the rest of the people who died and were never identified in World War I & II.

Avenue des Champs-Elysees

Probably one of the most famous street all over the world, this street is lined with luxurious shop, cafes and other stores. I wasn’t really into this place as I’m not into shopping. Anyways, due to its proximity to popular landmarks, most notably the Arc de Triomphe, parades were usually held along its streets.

The Arc de Triomphe as viewed from the famous avenue :)

Louvre Museum

One of the largest mueseum in the world, this along with the Notre Dame are my two favorite place in Paris! This is a fortress turned palace until Louis XIV vacated it for Versailles. The musueum is so huge and contains around 35,000 pieces that they say 3 whole days are not enough to give it justice. I think it’s too much so I just enjoyed myself at the Italian paintings section and some and skipped the others and passed by the rest. That way, I wasn’t overwhelmed. ;) Since I love to read, I can’t help but remember Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code while I was there. Imagining where the scenes took place. It’s not just me though coz as the book (and later, the movie) gained popularity, walking tours of the Da Vinci Code became popular! :D

Inside the musee looking out :)

The Louvre with its Pyramid

La Tour Eiffel

The iconic landmark that came to symbolize both Paris and France was once described as useless and monstrous when it was being built for the 1889 World Fair that was held in Paris. It was named after Gustave Eiffel, the engineer whose company designed and built the tower. When I first saw it, I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of it! Every few steps, stop, take a picture. If I was in a different angle, I’ll stop again and take still another picture! But it feels like I couldn’t get enough! :)) Of course I wanted to get to the top pf the tower but then you’ll either have to fall in line for quite a while (maybe at LEAST an hour) OR you can buy your tickets online. You can choose to go up via lift or by stairs (ack!), Obviously I chose the former. However, the topmost part could only be accessed with a lift. What I found awesome was that I was able to make friends with random people at the top of the tower and I am planning to visit them in Stockholm and Barcelona! :D On the way down, we (my Paris travel buddy and I)decided to (ah.. uhmm..) walk the rest of the way down (waah!) just to say we’ve done it! My knees were shaking afterwards coz we were in a hurry to get down! lol

One cloudy day in Paris. hehe

View from the top :)

La Tour Eiffel on a sunny day! :D

There are definitely more places to go and buildings/monuments to see there but these are those that I think you should definitely visit (amongst others) in your Parisian trip!

Have fun! :D

Related Posts:

DIY: Schengen Visa Application
Getting around in Europe
Practical Tips for Paris
Inside: Louvre Museum
Le French Riviera

Practical Tips for Paris

I found the people in Paris to be kind and helpful. Though when I got back to London and told friends about my positive experience, some replied back to me, “Are you sure you went to France?!” lol Maybe it helps to look friendly and to actually make an effort to say some words in French eventhough you’re no good at it. I know I’m terrible T_T Locals still appreciated it!

Champs-Elysses Boulevard

For starters, a few French words:

Bonjour= good day
Bon soir= good afternoon/evening
Bonne nuit= good night
Au revoir = good bye
Merci= thanks
Oui = yes
Non = no
Sortie = exit (the most common sign you’ll see)
Poulet=chicken
Jambon=ham (gotta have something food related! :D)

Playing with Le Tour Eiffel ;)

The cheapest key chains, 3pieces for 1euro, can be bought from the guys selling them at the metro station when you get off at ‘Tour Eiffel.’

For a taste of good French food! :D

=)

A nice place to dine at is Bergamote. I told a friend I wanted to eat good French food within a reasonable budget so he searched for one and came up with this. It’s off the main road and the place is packed during meal times. A meal (starter+main OR main+dessert) costs around 15euros. The first time I dined there, I ordered some chicken and it was soooo good! The second time, I ordered beef. I guess for a change, mine was medium rare. When it came back to me, it was cooked on the outside but raw on the inside (as I should have expected) but I found out then that I’m really not a fan of raw foods! lol So we asked them if it’s possible to recook it (well done this time around) to which they agreed. hehe Whew!

When at St. Michel, try not to eat at the ‘main street’ where there are rows upon rows of Greek food/ cafes/ etc. according to friends, food there sucks. Disclaimer: I was just repeating what I was told by several French friends! haha

10 days passed by with me not eating any rice, amazing! I was munching on these French breads! :D

For bread (croissants, pan au chocolat, eclairs etc) buy in a boulangerie (bakery) coz that’s what they’re best at, delicious and cheap! Buy cheese in a fromagerie and meat in a boucherie.

With my Paris travel buddy, Kris :)

For travels within the city, it’s mostly done either by taking the bus or the train.  It’s cheaper to buy the 10ticket pass than to get an all day pass nor when buying them one at a time. 1train tix=1.7 euro; 10tix=12+ish. Unfortunately, they don’t have a pamphlet of their train system but signs abound so just check every now and then. Also, there is a downloadable mobile app of the map but I found that I could only use it if I have wifi/3G which wasn’t often as data roaming is expensive for me. :(

Probably what I wasn’t expecting was that since in London, it’s normal to let passengers out of the train before going inside, I found it disappointing that you’re on way out and people would push you back in in their hurry to get in. -_- Also, some trains won’t automatically open their doors. There is a knob there that you have to push upward so that the doors would open up.

Inside the Louvre one busy, sunny morning :)

Entrance to Musee de Louvre is free every first Sunday of the month! Same goes for the Palace of Versailles (November-March)! Entrance to its garden is always free though opening hours may vary according to the season. :)

Have fun!!!!

Related posts:

DIY: Schengen Visa Application

Getting around in Europe
Paris Must See(s)
Inside: Louvre Museum
Le French Riviera