Month: July 2015

Two Days in Paris

We are staying in the Marais, the 3rd arrondissement, and our plans for the next two days are minimal…just wander around, soak it in, maybe a wine or two? What the hell is this stuff? The metro system is wonderful in Paris so we plan to avail ourselves of its charms, and save our legs another pounding. You can crisscross all over town on the various lines, all colour coded, and a breeze to use. Last time we were here we did the highlights tour, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, D’Orsay, Napoleon’s tomb, etc etc, so this time just leisurely enjoyment of the sights and sounds of this great city. The streets are packed with interest, shopfronts interspersed with wooden doors hiding the entrance to apartments above, small gardens dotted around, restaurants, bars, more shops. People of all shapes, colours and fashion sense, whatever goes, goes….want to wear green paisley socks with orange shoes and rolled up cuffs of a bright blue skinny pant, go for it! Confidence is all you need and you can wear …

Finally on to our final destination, Paris

Up early for a run around Parc Saint Jean, the nicest part of Amiens, before finally visiting the cathedral, the 19th largest in the world, that sits on the doorstep of our accommodation. A few photos later we packed the car for our last drive to the drop off before catching the train to Paris. It must be said, that whilst Hugh has certainly mastered the art of driving in Europe and done an exceptional job at that, there is no way any sane person outside of Paris would ever drive in Paris. Hence, au voir to our Renault which served us well for the past 12 days. We were advised that there was no need to book our train tickets to Paris, but being the ultra organised people that we are, Hugh duly went on line and purchased 2 first class tickets, the only class available to book online, to ensure we had no mishaps. Well, no need to have been concerned, the train we near empty and bar one person we had the …

The Somme….lest we forget.

Our time in Amiens was based around visiting the battlefields of The Somme, especially those involving the Anzacs. Fittingly, the day opened up gloomy and gray, and would remain that way all day. Amiens on a Sunday is a ghost town, tumble weeds drifting down the road, not an open cafe in sight, except one sad looking offering which became our breakfast date! Croissant and terrible coffee later we headed north to begin our day in the town of Villers-Bretonneux, home of the Australian National Memorial on the outskirts of town. The Australian troops are revered in Villers-Bretonneux, halting the Germans advance on 25th April 1918, thus repatriating the village and stopping Germany’s March to Amiens. So much are they held to the bosom of the town, the local primary school has a sign over the building “do not forget Australia”. The sacrifices of the Anzacs between 1916-1918 on the Western front is commemorated at the memorial and cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux, and is a moving experience and an honour to visit. 11,000 Australians who died …

Follow the Cliffs.

The thunderclaps of duel storms put paid to any sleep in this morning, peels of thunder chasing lightning right on top of us from about 8am. It was almost as impressive as the gourmet breakfast served up again by our hosts, Annick and Paul. You sit down in a beautiful dining room with fabulous cutlery and crockery, being served pastries, crepes, savoury quiches, pastry parcels, shot glasses of palate cleanser fruit purees, coffee……the works. Conversation with the other guests is lively, plenty of travel talk and cricket discussion with the poms! Can’t speak highly enough of our pad for the last two nights, exceptional hosts who go the extra mile to make sure everyone feels special, from the home made cakes in the afternoon, to the cider on arrival, the unbelievable breakfasts, the little finishing touches and attention to detail that stand it apart. This place would be the best we have stayed at in both our trips to Europe, and most highly recommended. We waddle out the gate at about 11.30 and head off …

Rancho Relaxo Part Two

Up early for a run around the beautiful harbour of Honfleur before tucking in to the most anticipated breakfast of our five weeks in Europe. The great thing about running, besides the fitness benefit, is the places you end up in that you may not have seen because you would never have walked that far. We came across a beautiful park early in the morning that was full of Lilly pads with just as many frogs all enjoying the wonderment of the pond. The attention to detail that the French give their gardens is something to behold and we have been fortunate to see many such examples of fine horticultural displays on our travels. Back for breakfast, which is something to be seen to be believed. We had read about this on trip advisor before booking our accommodation and it did not fail to disappoint. Fresh produce, homemade pastries and freshly brewed coffee, we were in heaven. The hosts make everything on site, including the jams, juices and pastries, and it was a delight to …

Along the coast to Honfleur

The day started hot and humid and the moment Rachael headed out for a run it became very humid indeed, thunderstorm wet! Me being sensible (read lazy) protected our bags from the safety of bed! After all that excitement it was time for breakfast at the communal table, which we shared with a Dutch fellow, who filled us in on lots of political talk about the Greeks, plus shared travel tales and adventure. We battled through the rain to the MAHB, the Museum of Bayeux art history, mainly because it was part of a museum pass we had than any great desire to be in another art gallery, but it was pretty interesting, and kept us dry while it bucketed down outside. Enough culture, time to have a last look through the Cathedral before heading off toward our next pitstop. The beauty of today is our next stop is only 90kms away so we were in no hurry to get anywhere, plenty of time for our friendly GPS to lead us on a merry goose …

Mont St. Michel and the D-Day beaches

Today is a very exciting day as we finally get to see one of the most iconic places in France if not Europe, Mont St. Michel. When we were planning our last trip two years ago this was high on the ‘must do’ list along with D-Day but logistics got in the way and we had to bypass Normandy, but not today! It’s going to be a long day and the weather is stinking hot, so travel light and hydrate. Speaking of the weather (sorry Mornington Peninsula!), Europe has been in the grip of a monster heatwave, the hottest in a century, and temperatures have been up 15C above average. So, up and at ’em early! 7am early, with pastries from the lovely patisserie next door then follow the GPS to the island 75km away. Our friendly guide sends us down country lanes dotted with tiny hamlets, stone walls leaking onto the road, rambling two storey cottages lurking down at us,and many a surprised cow wondering what the hell these dumb Aussies are doing on …