All posts tagged: France

Two days In Bruge

Our time in Paris is up, on to Bruges…but not before one last look out the window, then down 4 flights of stairs for the last time! Metro to Gare du Nord and off via Arras & Brussels to Bruges, a trip of about 3 hours. Bruges is a beautiful medieval town, some may say a reproduction as most of it was flattened during WW2, but hey, it’s still very lovely. We are staying in an outstanding B&B about 10 minutes from the centre of town, and it’s there we set off from after downing suitcases. Surprisingly, we found a brewhouse, and partook of said products! The belfry is the most obvious landmark, and site of the most memorable scene in the movie, In Bruges. Dinner at a hamburger joint, then maybe a G&T or two in a fantastic gin & whiskey bar. They have over 230 gins to choose from, and when you do, they are presented in the most unique way. Rachael loved the glasses so much we bought two for home, plus …

Light and Colour in Paris

Some months ago I read, in a French blog I follow, about an impressive new visual arts show and subsequently saw some initial, glowing, reviews for it…so today we get to judge it for ourselves. Atelier des Lumières is an immersive exhibition of the works of Gustav Klimt plus a shorter exhibition by an artist working under the pseudonym, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and an even shorter contemporary work called Poetic_AI. Images are splashed onto the walls and floors of a huge old warehouse, with a soundtrack mix of classic and contemporary music thundering in the background. The whole experience is mesmerising, images flashing before you, changing shape and form, swirling to the music. Light and shade. Washing over and around you. The room is so large the crowds seem to just blend in, people standing, leaning on walls, or just sitting on the floor letting the scenes before you play out. It really was incredible, lasting about 45 minutes, on a continual loop. Stunning Back in the light we caught the train back into the centre …

Street art and The Panthéon

It’s another beautiful day in Paris, perfect to finally visit one of Frances most revered sites, Temple of the Nation, the Pantheon. Once a Christian basilica, Napoleon 1 decided to honour the great servants of the state in the crypt, while the nave was reserved for worship. Victor Hugo was the first interned upon his death in 1885, the huge basilica seeming to be the only place worthy of holding his remains. Honours were thus granted according to criteria that has evolved with changes in the regimes. Nowadays, French men and women are honoured here depending on the desires of the President of the French Republic: politicians, authors, scientists, Resistance fighters, etc. With many having been moved here from their original place of burial. Its quite humbling to be walking amongst some of the most important members of France’s history; Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Alexandre Dumas, Louis Braille, and Emile Zola amongst the many. Even the heart of Leon Cambetta gets a special mention! A local street artist, Christian Guemy, who goes by the …

Downtown Paris by day, Montmartre by night.

I’d like to say we were up and at it today, making the most of the beautiful weather, but, non…we slept in. Oh, and Rachael was very keen on checking out the washing machine. So, a bit slow out of the blocks, but finally after croissants we headed towards the river Seine. We wandered past a flea market then on to Jardin du Palais Royal, a typically structured park lined with elegant trees, brushed stone paths and a lovely central pond with water feature, surrounded by Parisians reading and relaxing. Rachael does Parisian quite well! On to the Palais Royal with confusing queues, and a fancy metro entrance, Past the Louvre, with spectacular dressage posing, …and ridiculous(ness) from those that should know better! Past the little Arc de Triomphe thingy, with the quick entry to the Louvre on each side which no one uses… …past a naked women or two! …and first port of call, on Cards recommendation, is Musée de l’Orangerie which houses works of art from Monet with his water lilies, thru to …

Chamonix, rest and reflection…and dinner!

We’ll, we’ve finished our circumnavigation of the Mont Blanc massif, the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) and what a wonderful time we have all had, scrambling up hill then back down dale, all the while following that gliding, cat like navigator, Ismael. As a group we were very well prepared, having trained hard on the massive mountain ranges around the Mornington Peninsula(!), but it was still a tough challenge, abate with a stunning backdrop to gaze at while regaining breath and equilibrium. Here are a few reflections on the walk, and what may be required to do it in comfort, and fewer blisters! # You can’t train too much. No one ever failed from training hard, and you won’t have to worry about recovery each day. Also, train as much for going down hill as up. Down hills can be a killer on the knees, quads and hips. # Wear good comfortable boots. We saw folks wearing sneakers, and when it rains (and it will) sneakers get wet…and when they are wet guess what happens? …

Day 10 – Argentiere to Chamonix

(6 hours) Our last day, and a solid one to complete the TMB, with a climb of about 1100 metres up to Lac Blanc, then down to the chairlift and back to Chamonix. It was extremely humid, with thunderstorms predicted, making the climb all the more difficult with plenty of breaks to mop the brow! Once again the views prevailed the pain. On top of the world, sort of! The first lake was an oasis of calm, with wonderful reflections. And a photo opportunity or two… Then some iron ladders and wooden steps up to the refuge and Lac Blanc. No more climbing, it’s all downhill from here. Maddy, the inspiration for this trip, and an inspiration herself, looks very happy to be here. Tony got a new phone before this trip and has almost blown it up taking photos. Down we go towards the gondola ride to the valley. We were lucky, the predicted thunderstorms didn’t eventuate. After the gondola, a lovely, lazy 20 minute stroll along the river back to Chamonix. …then, a …

Day Nine – Triente – Argentiere

( 6 hours – 18kms) Once again our group promptly hit breakfast at 7.30 sharp, followed by the 8.30 bus to our starting point of Triente, snuggled down in the valley with ominous mountain ranges surrounding us on three sides. The weather in the valley was cool but we are expecting hot and humid conditions all day with the threat of thunderstorms and foul weather forecast for tomorrow. With this in mind there is a real chance that we may have to abandon our walk a day early, so all were very keen and excited to be hitting the track. Said track went straight up, switchback after switchback, cool breeze turning into a humid swamp, turning a rough enough climb into a sweat box challenge. Regular short breaks to mop down, before finally reaching the Col de Balme at 2191 metres, and the border between Switzerland and France. More Aussie border excitement, lots of photos, spectacular views and a lovely cooling breeze. Maybe a selfie? A leap of faith… Finally, a leisurely walk to our …