As We Travel » France http://www.aswetravel.com Traveling Tips, Destinations, Videos & Travel Blog Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:10:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Provincial and Exotic, it’s Brittany, France http://www.aswetravel.com/its-provincial-its-exotic-its-brittany-france/ http://www.aswetravel.com/its-provincial-its-exotic-its-brittany-france/#comments Mon, 30 Sep 2013 23:45:21 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=44942 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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If there’s one place in Europe that steals many hearts, that would be Brittany, France. Located in the north-west of France and referred to as “Little Brittain”, Brittany is a cultural region full of architecture, arts, music, great cuisine and festivals. Known as a “magical destination”, you will find scenery like no other in the […]

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If there’s one place in Europe that steals many hearts, that would be Brittany, France. Located in the north-west of France and referred to as “Little Brittain”, Brittany is a cultural region full of architecture, arts, music, great cuisine and festivals.

Known as a “magical destination”, you will find scenery like no other in the world including beaches full of hidden coves, golden sand and charming towns.

One of France’s most rugged regions, Brittany is more than just a spectacular coastline, history and architecture take center stage in this quaint town with is Celtic culture, museums, music and landmarks.

Brittany is France’s well-kept secret hideaway. There are a variety of choices when it comes to accommodations but holiday homes such as those provided by Casamundo will give you that local “home-away-from-home” feeling, giving you the opportunity to explore every detail of this culturally rich destination.

See Brittany as the French Do

Life among the residents of Brittany is tranquil and yet, purposeful.

The French always make their daily chores look like a scene from a graceful ballet. Brittany offers many little rural lanes full of restaurants, hotels and shops. No matter where you stay chances are you’ll find enough to explore just a short walk away. Find a quaint café, a bustling diner or just take part of the thriving cultural scene.

If you’re in the mood for a little exploring, make sure you visit one of Brittany’s islands, Île de Bréhat or Île de Sein are among the most popular ones. There’s also a vast amount of Cathedrals including Cathedrale St-Pierre-St-Paul, which is one of France’s last Gothic cathedrals.

You’ll need more than a week to really enjoy all the area has to offer.

The walled city of Saint Malo is one of the more popular among tourists holding within it’s walls all it’s pure medieval character and activities.

When in France, do as the French do!

Pick between a rural or seaside setting, wake up to ocean breezes or the sight of acres of colorful flowers. Take a dip in the outdoor pool or wander cobblestone streets in town. A holiday home can certainly offer all this and more, make you feel like a local and give you enough time to explore all the details of it’s ancient towns.

You’ll enjoy the shops and sights found only in Brittany.

(Photo 1, 2, 3, 4)

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Saint-Malo: Small Town, Big History http://www.aswetravel.com/saint-malo-small-town-big-history/ http://www.aswetravel.com/saint-malo-small-town-big-history/#comments Fri, 26 Jul 2013 13:17:59 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=44340 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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What is it about Saint-Malo that tempts tourists to board ferries to France?  What leads them to cross the English Channel in droves? Historically, this stretch of water was dangerous, as it was the turf of the infamous corsairs.” These privateers pillaged ships and guarded their loot behind the city’s heavily fortified walls.  Fortunately for visitors, […]

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What is it about Saint-Malo that tempts tourists to board ferries to France?  What leads them to cross the English Channel in droves?

Historically, this stretch of water was dangerous, as it was the turf of the infamous corsairs.”

These privateers pillaged ships and guarded their loot behind the city’s heavily fortified walls.  Fortunately for visitors, Saint-Malo is more welcoming these days, and it is more than willing to share its current bounty of seafood and crêpes.

Here are some great ways to explore Saint-Malo:

Explore the City

A walk along the city’s ancient walls or beach is the best way to start exploring the town.  Next, visitors can continue out to the Fort National or the Île du Grande Bé. These sites are only accessible at low tide, and a modern-day Malouin rescue flotilla descends on those who time their visit poorly.

The Cathédral St-Vincent is another stop on every walking tour, as is the impressive Chateau. The French government put it in place to help them keep tabs on the privateers, and visitors to La Maison de Corsaire can see firsthand how well all the 17th and 18th century plundering paid off.

A trip to the WWII memorial provides a sobering counterpoint – most of the city’s ramparts were completely destroyed during the war. Their careful reconstruction is a testament to both the city’s determination and pride in its past.

Taste the French Cuisine

Saint-Malo’s numerous cafés and crêperies are great places to grab a bite and wash it down with some local cider. La Maison du Beurre is a paradise for dairy lovers, as they have several artisan cheeses and butters to sample. Platters of oysters and mussels are served up pretty much everywhere, but connoisseurs should check out famed restaurant Le Chalut.

Those who prefer sea life that is alive and swimming should visit the Grand Aquarium instead. Throughout the old town, charming shops open onto cobblestone streets and provide a pleasant afternoon diversion. The Celtic Breton musicians about are yet another reminder of Saint-Malo’s unique heritage.

Although the passage of time has altered this port city, it has changed less than one might think. To stand on a pier, with salt on the air and boats creaking in their moorings, is to stand in the shoes of countless voyagers, past and present. Many who plan a day trip to France chose Saint-Malo for its convenience, but this proud little city is a destination in its own right.

Photos (1, 2, 3, 4)

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How To Be A Local In … Lyon, France http://www.aswetravel.com/local-guide-lyon-france/ http://www.aswetravel.com/local-guide-lyon-france/#comments Sun, 23 Jun 2013 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=40793 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Lyon is one of the most beautiful and atmospheric cities in France where past and present, old traditions and new trends live side by side and add a quirky touch to the city. We spent two weeks staying in an apartment in Vieux Lyon (old town), and had a chance to see the city from […]

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Lyon is one of the most beautiful and atmospheric cities in France where past and present, old traditions and new trends live side by side and add a quirky touch to the city.

We spent two weeks staying in an apartment in Vieux Lyon (old town), and had a chance to see the city from a local perspective and find out what it would take to become “one of them”.

To blend in with the locals in Lyon you simply have to do what they do and …

1. Get Yourself A “Kick Scooter”

A very peculiar detail we found in Lyon was that everyone, adults and children alike, loved to get around the city on kick scooters – you know the ones every kid on the block had in the late 90’s!

The trend quickly faded and became uncool in the rest of the world, but in Lyon the kick scooter business is thriving.

Fancy girls in high heels and businessmen in suits sweep past on their kick scooters every few minutes – so the first step to becoming a local in Lyon is to get yourself one of those.

2. Always Buy 2 Baguettes

Of all assumptions the French are associated with, their love for baguettes is indeed one that is true.

Every day, no matter what time it is, you will see people walking down the street on their way to work, lunch or home, carrying not one – but two, baguettes.

It was a rarity to see someone holding just one baguette, and we sometimes got a funny look from the baker when asking for one rather than two – judging by what we saw on the street, one baguette is for munching on while you’re on your way home, and the other one for lunch or dinner.

So next time you buy yourself a baguette, get two… ;)

3. Buy Your Food At The Right Places

Lyon is a foodie mecca, so don’t resort to buying all your food from the supermarket – in fact, good supermarkets are difficult to find in Lyon, perhaps because the locals prefer to shop elsewhere.

From Tuesday to Saturday there is a morning market (St Antoine Market) along the Saône River on Quai St-Antoine where locals go to buy food, flowers, wine and delicacies.

Stalls are lined up along the river offering a huge variety of local wines, meat, cheese straight from the farm, fresh vegetables and fruit, grilled chicken, bread, cakes and pastries.

Anything French you’re looking for, you will be sure to find on this market.

Behind one stall they serve massive oyster plates and a glass of white wine as though it was fast food. Can it get any more French than this?!

Once you zoom off on your adult kick scooter on your way to the local market to buy your daily dose of 2 baguettes – you know you’ve become a local in Lyon.

Have you been to Lyon? What did you think about the city?

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The Alsace Wine Route – Photo Essay http://www.aswetravel.com/the-alsace-wine-route-photo-essay/ http://www.aswetravel.com/the-alsace-wine-route-photo-essay/#comments Thu, 20 Jun 2013 06:00:22 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=41281 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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With vineyards on rolling hills that stretch into the horizon, small medieval villages scattered in the region and castles and forts perched on top of small mountains, the French Alsace is among the world’s most picturesque wine regions. When I first arrived in Alsace I couldn’t believe my eyes – the scenery and towns were […]

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With vineyards on rolling hills that stretch into the horizon, small medieval villages scattered in the region and castles and forts perched on top of small mountains, the French Alsace is among the world’s most picturesque wine regions.

When I first arrived in Alsace I couldn’t believe my eyes – the scenery and towns were the kind I didn’t think existed anymore; pastel colored half-timbered houses line the sides of cobblestone alleys with basement restaurants serving wine from the surrounding vineyards.

It’s like a storybook, only difference is that it’s actually real, and authentic. Unlike many places in the world that have become open-air museums, the towns of Alsace are real and alive.

During WWII many towns and cities in Europe were burned to the ground, and historic beauty was rarely a good enough excuse for a town to be spared.

Colmar, however, was an exception, and the American and British military were careful not to bomb the quaint cobbled town – while other villages in the Alsace region were destroyed, many are still intact and lovingly cared for to continue preserving its medieval beauty.

Today, Colmar is thriving, and the surrounding villages continue with their wine business as they have for hundreds of years already. Time really does seem to stand still in this part of the world.

The quiet atmosphere and pastel colored houses with overflowing flower boxes by every window make these little villages the perfect places to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine, harvested literally from around the corner.

Two very picturesque villages that are located close to the larger Alsatian town Colmar are Eguisheim and Riquewihr, but there are dozens more to choose from.

I’ve always been a red wine kind of girl, but since I was in the white wine capital of France I knew I should at least try some, and turned out loving the Riesling and Gewürztraminer, they were spicy and refreshing.

They do make one red wine though, Pinot Noir, which I highly recommend tasting!

The easiest way to get around is by car, but there is a bus going from Colmar to Riquewihr a few times per day so it is possible if you do some planning in advance (the ride takes 30 min, €6 return).

Alsace’s unique culture mix is one you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world, and I highly recommend you take some time when traveling in France (or Germany for that matter!) to check out the quaint Alsace region.

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Colmar – The Best of France & Germany? http://www.aswetravel.com/colmar-france-impressions/ http://www.aswetravel.com/colmar-france-impressions/#comments Wed, 12 Jun 2013 06:00:53 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=41292 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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This year we have been traveling around Europe very slowly and even more randomly – we stay in a country for a month or more, and make up our next step on a whim, often just days before our rent runs out and we need to pack up and leave. The first week in a […]

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This year we have been traveling around Europe very slowly and even more randomly – we stay in a country for a month or more, and make up our next step on a whim, often just days before our rent runs out and we need to pack up and leave.

The first week in a new place always tends to go very slowly, and you feel like you have lots of time to plan your next step – but then time speeds up and one day you suddenly find yourself stressing about finding a new place to stay.

These late decisions have often resulted in us not getting to stay in the places we wanted the most, but they have also brought us to some very unexpected places: like Colmar - we didn’t even know that this place existed until about a week before we arrived …

A Peculiar & Cute Toy Town

Colmar is a small town in Alsace region in eastern France, close to the German border.

With wonky half-timbered houses in the colors of the rainbow lining the streets of the maze-like town, you feel like you’ve stepped into a storybook about Hansel and Gretel.

Pretzels hang from the window sills of sausage and jam shops next to French wine cellars with locally produced wine.

The Perfect Road Trip Destination

Colmar is one of the most popular towns along the Alsace Wine Route, which is a must for any wine connoisseur (or wannabes like myself), as Alsace has some of the best white wines in France.

The local wine is delicious, cheap and you can find it everywhere.

The Wine Route is a road trippers dream, simply because it has it all; spectacular landscape dotted with castles and forts perched on the hilltops in the region, small winding roads perfect for cruising, roadside wineries to stock up on local wine bottles and cozy little villages to explore and stop for lunch in.

Driving is the best way to really make the most of the wine route, as it isn’t possible to reach many of the villages by bus.

Don’t worry though, you can easily rent a car from Colmar, and look into getting car hire excess insurance instead of the insurance they offer at the desk as the car rental companies’ own insurances tend to be much more expensive.

Is This Really France?

My French is embarrassingly bad, but I try my best. It turned out that in Colmar, my French didn’t matter – because they always replied in German anyway.

A Swede and a French person in France talking to each other in German – now that’s a scenario I never would have imagined..!

In other words, it’s not at all what I had expected to find in France of all places!

You see an interesting German-French mix everywhere; from restaurants serving a blend of German and French cuisine, bi-lingual signs and the radio alternating between French ballads and Bavarian beer songs.

But these little culture mixes are not actually that surprising considering the fact that Colmar has belonged to Germany twice (1871 – 1918 and 1940-1945).

Historically, the Germans considered the mountains as the natural border between the countries, while the French thought the Rhine River was – the Alsace region was right in between, and who doesn’t want this breathtaking region with its fertile vineyards and adorable villages to belong to them?

Have you been to any towns in the Alsace region?

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Capturing The Essence of Lyon, France http://www.aswetravel.com/lyon-france-travel-guide/ http://www.aswetravel.com/lyon-france-travel-guide/#comments Tue, 11 Jun 2013 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=40802 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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So far, Lyon is my favorite city in France. It has all the benefits of a cosmopolitan city but it feels more like a small town and has a  great laid-back atmosphere. Although there aren’t many attractions per se, it’s a wonderful city to just wander around in soaking up the atmosphere and all the […]

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So far, Lyon is my favorite city in France. It has all the benefits of a cosmopolitan city but it feels more like a small town and has a  great laid-back atmosphere.

Although there aren’t many attractions per se, it’s a wonderful city to just wander around in soaking up the atmosphere and all the “Frenchness” surrounding you.

Getting There:

Lyon–Saint Exupéry Airport makes it easy to reach the city from all over Europe with several great flights going between UK (Birmingham, London-Luton and Dublin are just a few).

You can use websites like StressFreeAirportParking.com for parking your car at the airport in Birmingham and Luton, and can book your parking there and at other airport locations on their website: www.stressfreeairportparking.com.

From the airport you can take the tram-train Rhônexpress to the city for €13 one-way (30 min) – the train is a more convenient way of reaching Lyon with three stations to arrive at, Part-Dieu station being the most central one.

These three things are what for me really capture the essence of Lyon…

City Of Food

Lyon prides itself to be France’s best food capital, and it truly is – that is, if you’re a fan of pig cooked in a hundred different ways..!

One of the main things to do in Lyon is to dine at the many Bouchons (traditional Lyonnaise restaurants), but the menus are excessively meat heavy so there wasn’t much to choose from for vegetarians like us.

Instead, we decided to explore Lyon’s sweets and snacks, which fortunately there was plenty of!

What to eat: Make sure you try the Praline tart and St Martin cheese – two local specialties that are really tasty.

Also make sure to check out the St-Antoine market where stalls sell plenty of local specialities and delicacies – especially during weekends!

Hidden Treasures

There is more to Lyon than what meets the eye – literally. On the historical cobblestoned streets of Lyon are doors leading to old traboules, a type of traditional passageways that are used as a way of moving between buildings hidden from the outside.

It was primarily used by silk manufacturers to quickly transport their silk to the merchants by the river. Textiles were also transported in the traboules as they were sheltered from bad weather.

Some of the traboules are said to date back to roman times, and many of them are from the medieval century.

The traboules are open to the public, and residents live in the buildings and use the traboules every day, but since people live there you should respect their privacy while you’re there.

Where: Finding the traboules can be difficult without a map, but fortunately all the traboules in Vieux Lyon and Croix-Rousse are marked in red on the city map that you can get for free at the tourist office (with a numbered list above the fold). There is also an app you can use to find your way.

Views And Gardens

When exploring the traboules you will be walking through some of Lyon’s cutest neighborhoods and oldest areas, but after some time wandering the streets of Vieux Lyon and Roisse croux you may want to find a place to relax and enjoy some nature or views.

The most famous viewing point in Lyon has to be the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, overlooking the whole city and its rivers.

The cathedral is truly beautiful, and the views are nice as well, but just like with the views from the eiffel tower it’s missing one important thing – the cathedral itself.

The best view in Lyon is the one overlooking the old town with the cathedral in the background, perched on top of the green hill – and you get it from the riverside walk along Quai des Célestins and Quai St-Antoine.

But the walk up to (or down from) the cathedral is worth the visit alone, as you walk through beautiful lush gardens and flower plantations. It’s an oasis in the middle of the city.

Another lovely green area in Lyon is the Parc de la Tête d’Or, a huge park expanding 290 acres and a favorite picnic hangout among locals. There is a lake, gardens, ponds with exotic birds and small open-air zoo that is free to visit.

These are just a few things that make Lyon so special, what are your favorite things about Lyon?

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5 Best Movie Locations in Paris. http://www.aswetravel.com/best-movie-locations-in-paris/ http://www.aswetravel.com/best-movie-locations-in-paris/#comments Wed, 29 May 2013 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=40698 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Paris has the historical streets, the romantic cafes, the decorative cathedrals and the picturesque cafes that make for the perfect movie scenes. You know the scenes that make you want nothing else than to be right where they are, being served a cup of coffee at that beautiful square, or taking a stroll along that […]

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Paris has the historical streets, the romantic cafes, the decorative cathedrals and the picturesque cafes that make for the perfect movie scenes.

You know the scenes that make you want nothing else than to be right where they are, being served a cup of coffee at that beautiful square, or taking a stroll along that romantic street.

Paris is the perfect city for epic movie locations, and there are plenty of memorable scenes from blockbuster movies that have been filmed in the streets and corners of Paris…

Midnight In Paris

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris has more than a handful of memorable scenes, all shot in Paris, and you could probably spend a whole day just going between filming locations from this movie alone.

One of the top ones, however, would be “Restaurant Polidor” where Gil meets Ernest Hemingway.

Where: 41 Rue Monsieur le Prince

The scene where Paris is portrayed as the most romantic, however, is when Gil and Adriana share a romantic walk in Paris one evening alongside Sacré Coeur.

Where: Rue du Chevalier de la barre.

Amélie

Watching Amélie would make anyone want to pack their bags, move to Paris and see the city through her eyes. I remember how inspiring it was to see the scene where Amélie leads a blind man through a market sparking his imagination and our own with her words.

The most classic filming location in this movie has to be the Café where Amélie works – it’s a very charming café and looks just like in the movie!

Where: Cafe des deux Moulins, 15 Rue Lepic

Da Vinci Code

Believe it or not, but even before the movies came out, there was already a Da Vinci Code trail map based on Dan Brown’s blockbuster book, and many of the book’s locations are the same as in the movie.

One of the more obvious locations is of course the Louvre, where Robert Langdon was summoned to the murder scene – but anyone can find that out by the huge glass pyramid in the back ground.

A more interesting location is when Silas investigates the ‘Rose Line’ in the church in which he searches for the ‘keystone’.

The exterior in the movie is real, and although the interior was digitally recreated, many of the “mysterious codes” or symbols they find are actually real, such as the letters P and S in the small round windows at both ends of the transept which in the movie refer to the dubious ‘Priory of Sion’.

Where: Church of St Sulpice

Another location worth mentioning, especially if you’re looking to find accommodation in Paris based on movie locations is Chateau Villette where the eccentric English Grail-obsessive Leigh Teabing lives.

The 17th century estate is actually a luxurious bed and breakfast, located about 27 miles (40 min) northwest of Paris.

Inglorious Basterds

There is no wonder why Christoph Waltz won an Oscar for his role as the cunning SS officer Hans Landa in the movie Inglourious Basterds – his performance made the whole film go from average to awesome.

But of course the other actors also contributed to some memorable scenes, such a when Shosanna and the German soldier Fredrick Zoller sit in the charming little bistro and Shosanna realizes that he his a national hero.

Where: Bistrot La Renaissance, 112 Rue Championnet.

The Tourist

Although the movie itself wasn’t all that memorable, the only scene that I actually remember was when Angelina Jolie is reading a newspaper in a parisian café.

I thought it was such an epic shot, it’s one of those scenes you wish you lived yourself every day, and as parisian as it gets.

Where: Le Nemours, Plaza de la Collette

Have you been to any of these film locations in Paris?

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A Quick Guide To Normandy, France http://www.aswetravel.com/a-guide-to-normandy-france/ http://www.aswetravel.com/a-guide-to-normandy-france/#comments Fri, 26 Apr 2013 12:00:30 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=40377 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Spanning 674, 843 km², France is one of the largest countries in Europe, divided into 26 different regions. Each one of these regions are unique and offer something unique and distinctive to that area. This diversity is what makes France such a great destination to travel to. One of the most popular areas is Normandy, […]

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Spanning 674, 843 km², France is one of the largest countries in Europe, divided into 26 different regions.

Each one of these regions are unique and offer something unique and distinctive to that area. This diversity is what makes France such a great destination to travel to.

One of the most popular areas is Normandy, a region located in Nortwestern France, famed for the D-Day Allied invasion on June 6, 1944, but also known for so much more.

From the rocky cliffs in the Cotentin peninsula and the famous white cliffs of Etretat, to wonderful small towns and villages with half-timbered houses in the inland area, there are many things to see in Normandy.

Here’s a quick guide to the top sights and attractions in Normandy …

White Cliffs of Etretat

Famous for its beaches and chalky white cliffs, these 70meter high cliffs are a beauty to behold and one of the most beautiful features of Normandy – its three rock formations are known as Potre d’Amont or the Upstream Cliff, Porte d’Aval or the downstream cliff and Manneporte.

Carved by nature and adorned by mysterious names there are images of a hollow eye needle and an elephant dipping its trunk in the ocean.

A walk along the Pebble beach, climbing up the steep stairs to the top of the cliffs for a view, and discovering a 17th Century oyster bed are just some of the things you can do in Etreat.

An easy way to get to Normandy is to take the ferry from UK to Calais and continue down the coast from there – click here for information about ferries to Calais.

Mont St. Michel

This tiny tidal rocky island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited places in all of France.

This remarkable medieval walled city, crowned by its great gothic abbey, is built on a small granite outcrop standing all by itself in Mont Saint Michel bay.

At the peak is the spectacular and well-preserved Norman Benedictine Abbey of St Michel.

During the French Revolution, the abbey was used a prison, and today a few prison-era showpieces, like the human hamster wheel used to lift supplies in and out of the complex, have been kept.

Still to this day, people actually live in this village, and there are even a few places where you can eat on the island, such as La Mere Poulard, which is world-famous for its omelets (a specialty on the island).

The D-Day Landing Beaches

On June 6, 1944 – today known as D-Day, Operation Overlord, a long-awaited invasion of Northwest Europe, began with Allied landings along the coast of Normandy where the Germans had turned the coastline into an interlinked series of strongpoints.

The Allies launched a simultaneous landing of British, Canadian, U.S., and French forces on five separate beaches with the code names Sword Beach (British), Juno Beach (Canadian), Gold Beach (British), Omaha Beach (American) Utah Beach (American).

When they landed they stormed the mined beaches and stormed the gun positions, and continued fighting their way into the towns and hills advancing inland.

The victory was a turning point in World War II and led to the liberation of Europe and the defeat of Nazi Germany.

While today the coast is dotted with lovely peaceful seaside towns, there are still many remains from German gun emplacements and bunkers, and war memorials and monuments marks where the allied forces landed on the beaches.

Since there is barely a square yard that wasn’t fought over, there are also monuments in almost every village and at every bend in the road.

These beaches can be reached from UK by taking a ferry from Dover to Calais and then continue by car for about 1.5 hours – you can simply drive your car on the ferry at Dover Port and drive down along Normandy when you land in Calais.

Have you been to Normandy? Share your experiences below!

(photo credit:  1 – 2 – 3)

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Top Spots To Visit In Northern France http://www.aswetravel.com/top-spots-to-visit-in-northern-france/ http://www.aswetravel.com/top-spots-to-visit-in-northern-france/#comments Sun, 26 Feb 2012 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=27325 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Guest Post By Jeremy Head. As a child I spent many happy family holidays in France – living close to the south coast of the UK as we did, it was really easy to stick us kids in the car and catch a ferry from Dover to Calais, arriving on foreign soil ready to explore within a […]

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Guest Post By Jeremy Head.

As a child I spent many happy family holidays in France – living close to the south coast of the UK as we did, it was really easy to stick us kids in the car and catch a ferry from Dover to Calais, arriving on foreign soil ready to explore within a few hours.

I go back there still – here are three of my favourite spots, all are only an hour or two’s drive from Calais.

Le Touquet – Ideal For Beach People

The quirky coastal town of Le Touquet around an hour west along the coast road from Calais used to be a hangout for filmstars and a playground for politicians back in the 1920s and 30s.

Rich and powerful Parisians built exuberant villas here, a casino opened and the airport ferried in moneyed Brits from across the channel – today, the place has a bit of an air of faded grandeur about it which I really love.

You can hop on a bicycle and pedal your way around those grand villas – many of them with interesting Art Deco architectural flourishes, some now housing interesting art exhibitions.

The local produce market in the centre of the town buzzes with life, bursting with all manner of fruits, vegetable, fish and fowl – and then there’s the beach, which of course was what attracted the rich and famous in the first place.

Giverny – Lovely For Art Lovers

France has given the world its fair share of genuinely great artists and few come much more impactful than Monet.

At the forefront of the Impressionist movement which sought to depict hyper realistic scenes using tiny dabs of bright paint – Monet painted many of his most famous canvases at his house and gardens in Giverny which lies around 3 hours inland from Calais on the banks of the River Seine.

Monet lived here from 1883 to his death in 1926 and devoted much of his time to creating the most amazingly vibrant gardens – wonderfully laid-out expanses of brilliant blooms interspersed with placid lakes, shady bowers and delicate footbridges.

From these views were born some of his most famous works of art – in particular the vast canvases of waterlillies, many with a slender Japanese footbridge in the background.

Laon: Wonderful For Romance

The medieval town of Laon sits atop an escarpment on the wide plains east of Paris – it’s also around a 3 hour drive from Calais – down the A26 autoroute – but well worth the traveling time, particularly if you’re looking for a cosy weekend break á deux without many other tourists around.

The big autoroute going right past the door means many visitors to this part of France cruise right on by and that’s why I particularly like it – it’s surprisingly unvisited.

The tightly contoured hillside it sits on means that the old town is a delightful labyrinth of narrow old cobbled streets and wooden beamed houses.

It’s ideal for just strolling – sudden abrupt views of unexpected vastness arrive around corners as you reach stretches of the old ramparts.

And then, sat right in the midst of it all, is the massive cathedral – a Gothic fortress of the most incredible proportions adorned with all manner of carvings and statues.

In the evenings the town is quiet and cosy, ideal for a meander and a spot of food at one of the handful of local bars and creperies.

Getting there: P&O Ferries has regular sailings every day from Dover to Calais – the crossing takes just 90 minutes and if you’re lucky you’ll get to travel aboard their smart new super ferry the Spirit of France.

Have you been to northern France? Would you recommend any other places to visit?

(photo credits: 1 – 2)

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Visiting The Eiffel Tower In Paris http://www.aswetravel.com/visiting-the-eiffel-tower-in-paris/ http://www.aswetravel.com/visiting-the-eiffel-tower-in-paris/#comments Mon, 02 Jan 2012 20:00:30 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=26384 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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The Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in Paris (standing at 324 metres, roughly about the same height as an 81-storey building) and the most-visited paid monument in the world; with millions of visitors year round. Nicknamed La dame de fer or “the iron lady”, the tower is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the […]

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The Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in Paris (standing at 324 metres, roughly about the same height as an 81-storey building) and the most-visited paid monument in the world; with millions of visitors year round.

Nicknamed La dame de fer or “the iron lady”, the tower is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris.

Not only has it become an icon for Paris, but for the whole of France – and a visit to Paris without seeing the Eiffel tower just doesn’t seem right.

From being a structure that was planned to be torn down, to having become one of the most recognizable structures in the world, this historical structure has a fascinating history.

The Eiffel tower scam with Victor Lustig is my favorite story, where he actually managed to “sell” the Eiffel tower for scrap metal – twice!

Some are happy just to see it from underneath, take a photo of it and one with yourself jumping in front of it (you will see everyone doing it when you get there..!), others climb the tower to see the views, and a few go all the way out and dine inside the tower.

Yes, the Eiffel tower actually has two restaurants.

Eiffel Tower Restaurants: At the first floor is the Le 58 tour Eiffel, a restaurant seating as many as 200 people and offers traditional French cuisine – it is not easy to get a table there, so we suggest you book at least two weeks early.

Le Jules Vernes  is the second restaurant and is located on the second floor, with its very own private lift.

The restaurant is run by the world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse who is the only chef to hold 19 Michelin stars throughout his career.

The restaurant has a view of the city to die for, and funny enough it was featured in the movie “A View to a Kill” with Roger Moore.

Eiffel Tower Tickets: With the tower having three levels for visitors, tickets can be purchased to ascend, by stairs or lift, to the first and second levels – to skip the long lines at the gate, you can buy tickets online from the official web site.

Stairs Entrance Eiffel Tower Tickets: This is the cheapest type of ticket available (4.70 Euro) and will give you the opportunity to explore the Tower on foot.

However, it gives you an access only up to the second floor – you can’t get on the top level with this type of ticket.

Lift Entrance Eiffel Tower Tickets (2nd floor): A bit more expensive than the Stairs Entrance (8.20), this type of ticket will also take you only up to the second floor – however, you are allowed to use the elevator instead of the stairs.

Lift Entrance Eiffel Tower Tickets (to the top): The most expensive of all tickets (13.40), this is the only ticket that gives access to the top of the tower.

A little warning though; since it’s so high up top, landmarks or monuments are hardly seen, but definitely worth it if you like heights.

So now you know everything you need to know about a visit to the Eiffel Tower - have you ever been? if so, what did you think?

(photo credit: 1 – 2)

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