Collioure Dreaming

Another weekend, another European Jaunt. This trip I was off to Collioure to meet up with Mum and Dad, as well as my Uncle Peter and Aunty Brenda. 

After being picked up from the airport in Perpignan, we were off on a little road trip. First stop was Thuir for a quick stop into the local market and a wander. Next up we made our way to Castlenou to explore one of Frances prettiest villages, and climb up to the castle perched on the hill. After Castlenou we made our way to Canet in an attempt to find the memorial to the 2008 plane crash. We failed at that, but did wander along the beach in the 35 degree heat. 

Finally we made it to Collioure, a beautiful little town on the Mediterranean, complete with market, picturesque colorful houses populating winding streets and a few lovely little pebbly beaches. After a swim and some bathing we went out for dinner by the beach, looking out over the old walls, fort and beach. It was lovely and warm and just such a dreamy setting. 

Sunday we had breakfast at the villa and a walk around town and the markets, before an early lunch and then I was off back to the airport. It was lovely to get away for the weekend and get some sun and warm, and even better seeing my family.

Thuir streets 

The view to Castlenou

Delicious lunch and an incredible table

Castlenou

Castle views

The prettiest little village

Beach time in Collioure!

Swimming in the med. 

The Villa

Dinner spots 

Collioure Streets

Dreamy Collioure

The Harbour

The Castle

My personal photographer/dad of instagram!

Such a beautiful place 

Collioure 

Loire Valley

The Loire Valley in France is famous for it’s many Chateaus, supposedly built by wealthy families attempting to one up each other on the house stakes. This has resulted in hundreds of beautiful castles, the most spectacular of which are open to the public

We arrived one afternoon in Amboise, a beautiful little French village in the heart of the valley, where we stayed in an 18th century building, converted into modern apartments. Our first night was a slow one, with some sunbathing and bike riding followed b a relaxing ice cream and dinner in the main square looking up at the Amboise Chateau.

Our only full day we booked onto a wine and chateau tour, so we were up early and off to meet our guide. After picking up the rest of our group we were off to Château de Chenonceau. The Chateau and grounds were beautiful and it had an amazing history of kings and queens and war survival. After Chenonceau we were off wine and cheese tasting with the group, before lunch in a cave. Lunch was a lot more glamourous than it sounds, as we had a traditional Loire Valley lunch complete with wine. Only the French would eat in a cave when it was such a beautiful day outside. After lunch, all feeling quite merry, we made our way Chateau de Amboise, in the town of Amboise where we were staying. A lot of the original structure has been destroyed, however perched on a small hill the Chateau is still rather beautiful. After Amboise, we finished our tour at Chateau, a very modest Chateau, or otherwise known as the grand house where Leonardo di Vinci lived his final days. With that, we ended our tour, and our time in France. The next day we made our way home via Train, Eurostar and Tube.

Amboise with the Chateau on the hill

Amboise old street

Blogging in Amboise 

Sunset

Enroute to the Chateau

Château de Chenonceau

Leonardo di Vinci’s last house

Champagne!!

A 45 minute high speed train from Paris and we found ourselves in the heart of the Champagne region, in the small city of Reims. The town is very quaint and cute, and served as an excellent spot to explore the area and the famous Cathedral.

The day we arrived, we wandered through the small city centre, really enjoying the slower pace and relaxed vibe after vibrant and bustling Paris. For lunch, Tim braved some Steak Tartare, and I tried a very small a mouthful. Considering I like my steak medium well, it was actually pretty good! After a day of wandering and some chill out time at the hostel, we had an early night in preparation for our Champagne tour the next day.

By some stroke of luck, we were the only ones on our tour, and with a fantastic guide, Marie, who was the same age as us. We had a very enjoyable day, learning about the region and the history of Champagne, as well as general good yarns. We saw the Abbey of Dom Perignon. Turns out Dom is monk, so Champagne was actually invented by a Monk! We visited both Moet and Chandon and the Tattinger houses, where we did tours of the underground cellars and enjoyed tastings. The underground cellars are very impressive and old, and rather cold! At lunch I tried escargot. Not as bad as I thought it would be, pretty much tasted like garlic butter. A bit chewy for me though. Our tour finished with a walk around the famous Reims Notre Dame, famous for being the coronation place of all the kings of France. It is a very beautiful cathedral, more impressive than Notre Dame in Paris, and older! It was actually destroyed in WWI, however was completely rebuilt by private donations after the war, many of them American. I managed to sneak away and light a candle for Nannan in the cathedral, I know she would have loved hearing about all my travels. 

Champagne in champagne!

Mumm!

Norte Dame in Reims!

Looking out over the Champagne valley and Epernay

A we bit excited about being in the Cellars!

A bit of Moët 

So much Tattinger!


Inside Nore Dame

Paris and Versaille 

Monday in Paris dawned rainy and cold. Clearly Paris doesn’t like Monday any more than the rest of the world. No matter, we were off on a walking tour of the Latin Quarter. On this walking tour we wound through the oldest street in Paris, past houses on a lean and sights made famous as gathering points for academics and writers. Our tour also included the Sorbonne and the Parthenon, very well known sites in Paris.

After the Latin Quarter and a quick lunch, we were off to the Louvre. I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon, wandering through the collections and taking in the famous masterpieces. The Mona Lisa was crowded as ever, however my favourite part of the museum was the sculpture garden. I think if I were a Parisian, I would will away any spare hours sitting on a bench in the sculpture garden. It was just so peaceful and beautiful.Our third day in Paris we were up and out, as we headed off on a cycling tour of Versailles. It became clear very quickly that we had a great group for the trip, made up of Kiwi’s and Americans. Our tour started with a stop off at the Versailles markets to pick up our picnic lunch, assisted by our guide who recommended the best cheese, bread and meat stalls. After the market we picked up our bikes and headed off to cycle around the grounds of Versailles. The grounds were beautiful, well kept without being artificial or overdone. After some history lessons by the Grand Canal and more cycling, we enjoyed our picnic lunch at the end of the Canal, gazing down to the Chateau in the summer haze.

Next we were up and off to explore some of the smaller houses in the grounds. First was the Grand Trianon, a house built for the King to withdraw from court, made of yellow stone and red marble which had turned pink. The house was truly stunning! Following that we visited the Petit Trianon which was built for Louis XV’s mistress, but ended up being gifted to Marie Antoinette, Louis XVII’s famous wife. This is also where her Hameau de la Reine is. This was her own personal rural village, made for her to enjoy ‘rural life’. The problem is, nobody told the poor girl what life was actually like for peasants’, however it was still very cute and quaint.

After a ride back to deliver our bikes, it was time to enter the beautiful palace of Versailles. Again it was wonderful wandering through the famous Chateau, if a little crowded, and taking in the famous rooms. My favourite was probably the Hall of Mirrors, or perhaps Madame’s Apartments, which belonged to the unmarried French princesses. Exploring the Palace gardens in the evening light with our new American friends was truly spectacular. They are immaculately kept you can just imagine royalty and members of court taking turns about the magnificent gardens. 

The oldest street in Paris

The Louvre

Flighting the hoards for a photo with Mona.

Versaille Markets

Versaille grounds

History lesson in the sun

The grand canal

The Grand Trianon and gardens

Marie Antoinettes village

“Hall of mirrors

Looking out across the grounds in the evening light


New friends at Versailles! I will forever look ridiculous in jump photos.