A weekend in France

DSC_1003I took a quick flight last weekend to see Alison and Damien before they head to Australia for a month.  Such a beautiful day to fly….

DSC_0002-001We spent the weekend eating amazing local produce, drinking wine, and talking non-stop (as old school friends do….).

DSC_1005We wandered around their village (Blagnac).  I absolutely love the colour of the bricks and the architectural detail of framing the windows with them.


The village is fairly quiet at the moment because August is typically the month when the French go on holiday.  Some of the local businesses just shut their doors for the summer.  This happens in Switzerland too.  One day there is just a sign on the door:  “closed for holidays.

DSC_1008I love wandering around new places and just getting a feel for the life of the people that live there.


We went into Toulouse one day to try out a new restaurant and look around the town.


Toulouse is famous for its pink bricks.  There is a really great pedestrian shopping area that seems to go for kilometres.


Lots of people were out enjoying the glorious weather.  This is the town square and it was pretty crowded.


I’m sure we took a photo of us but I can’t find it.  This is Alison and Damien taking photos of ‘Flat Angus’ (a school project for a friend).  Flat Angus is a well travelled boy…..


I had a great weekend.  It was nice to get away and just potter around…. and eat…. and drink wine.  And talk non-stop with someone who gets my jokes!!


DSC_0317We tried Pastis when we were in France.  It is an aperitif the French drink to stimulate the appetite before a meal.  It is clear when served and then you add water to it and it becomes cloudy and has a smooth aniseed flavour.  Delicious.

Notre Dame, Pont Neuf, Lover’s Bridge & Bastille Market

DSC_0267On our last day in Paris we again braved the awful weather to see a few more things before we had to head home.  Notre Dame is an incredible piece of architecture.  It was hard to get good photos in the pouring rain but a lot of people were trying!

DSC_0282The famous Pont Neuf – the oldest bridge in Paris.

DSC_0285People have started attaching love-locks here as well.

DSC_0295We went to the Lover’s Bridge to add our piece of history to Paris.

DSC_0296There are millions of locks attached to the railing.  So we picked a spot in the middle of the bridge that we could hopefully remember if we ever get back here….

DSC_0291And squeezed our lock next to a couple of locks that were fairly easy to identify.

DSC_0293Then we all threw a key into the River Seine.  We dedicated our lock to lifelong love, happiness and good health.

DSC_0305With a very short amount of time left we quickly jumped on the Metro and headed to Bastille where a market was in progress.  It was love at first sight for me when I saw this brass bar/dessert cart.  It was in fantastic condition (although was missing a piece of glass) and we spent a few frantic minutes trying to work out if we could dismantle it to take it with us on the train.  Unfortunately I had to leave it for someone else… I am still lamenting the loss of my great find.  It was only 30 euros and I’m pretty sure we could have talked the price down.  Ok, sob sob, moving on……

DSC_0306As we left the Metro we discovered busking, Paris style.  A string section playing Pachelbel’s canon in D.  It was wonderful and echoed all through the many tunnels of the Metro.  A memorable finish to our stay in Paris.


Arc de Triomphe & Sacre Coeur

DSC_0225We headed to the Arc de Triomphe in the afternoon to see Paris from a different perspective.  If you have never been to Paris you might not know that it sits in the middle of an extremely busy roundabout.  It is mayhem.  I tell you this so you can really appreciate the madness of the next couple of photos.

DSC_0229-001These two decided to link arms and set off across the roundabout… that they made it alive is a miracle!  They almost got hit more than a few times.  (There is an underground tunnel that takes you to and from the Arc de Triomphe).

DSC_0233And the number of people who just waltzed out into the middle of the Champs-Elysees to take a photo was unbelievable.  They are literally standing in the middle of the road.  One nutcase even set up a tripod.

DSC_0185So, we climbed more steps to get to the top.  It is really worth it for the view.  Looking towards the Eiffel Tower…

DSC_0190And along the Champs-Elysees….

DSC_0219This is the memorial flame dedicated to the unknown French soldier who gave his life during World War I.  His tomb is here.

DSC_0235Next we headed to Montmarte and Sacre Coeur.  The hawkers here are a little more in your face than in other parts of Paris.

DSC_0237The carousels in this city are really beautiful.  They are everywhere.

DSC_0241Paris, the city of many many steps 🙂

DSC_0262This guy was showing off some pretty amazing ball skills while balancing on top of a post.


Musee de Louvre

Indulge me…. I can’t stop at just a few photos 🙂


The Louvre is 14km of art gallery.  It is bigger than you can imagine.  You can’t see it all so you have to decide on a couple of exhibits and enjoy them.  We decided to see the Mona Lisa (of course), some of the Renaissance art, and the ancient Roman and Greek sculptures.


I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the very modern glass pyramid that is the entrance to this very historic museum.  But I loved it.  I loved everything about this place.


The inner courtyard….


The glass pyramid – so so beautiful inside and out.


Everyone wants to see this lady.


She is protected behind bullet-proof glass.


When I was at High School I loved art history.  I also had a fantastic Ancient History teacher who made the subject come alive and gave me a lifelong love of all things Greek and Roman.  Because of Mr Bishop and because Claudia loves the Percy Jackson books we spent a very long time marvelling at the ancient sculptures.  Not to mention the floors, the ceilings, the walls.  Urs was also pretty impressed.


The Venus de Milo…..


The Three Graces……


I could have stayed in there all day.  The artwork was incredible.

DSC_0171-001When we could finally drag ourselves out of there we wandered around a market outside and then headed to a local bistro for a late lunch.

DSC_0175-001French bistro food is simple and delicious.  Savoury crepes, omelettes, Croque Monsieur…… yum.

Happy birthday Mum, love you xxxxxxxx

Paris in the Springtime

Warning:  long, waffling post 🙂

DSC_0003We took the fast train to Paris on the weekend.  Zurich to Paris in four hours.  Incredible.  This board on the train kept us up to date about how fast we were travelling.  320km/hr at one stage.  Again, incredible.  We were in 2nd class and it was really comfortable.  I am a fan.


We arrived just after lunchtime, checked into our hotel, and headed straight to the Eiffel Tower.  I have to say the weather made hard work of it.  Rain, wind and cold.  And a lot of people….

DSC_0007But none of that can take away the beauty of the Eiffel Tower.  It is really breath-taking.  It is so much bigger than you imagine.  It makes your heart skip a beat.  I have seen it before but still felt the excitement of watching it come into view.  Claudia was beside herself.

DSC_0020We decided to climb the stairs to the second level (the lines were shorter than for the lift but still took us over an hour).  We climbed 300 steps to the first level.  And then 760 to the second level.  In the rain, wind and cold.  Despite the weather, most people were in a pretty good mood.  Except the women who wanted to look cute in their high heels….. Really.  Wear joggers.

DSC_0032This picture shows the old and the new.  The newer parts of the city are in the background and in person are a stark contrast to the beautiful old buildings.

DSC_0033Paris is massive.  From up high you start to get a sense of just how big it is.  Over nine million people.  Surprisingly it is really easy to get around and feels much smaller because of the super-efficient Metro.

DSC_0056We took the elevator from the second floor to the top.  There was over an hour wait to get in.  We were cold, exhausted and wind blown by the time we got out at the top.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.

DSC_0065So beautiful.  Apparently there were a group of artists at the time this was built who wanted it torn down because they thought it was hideous.

DSC_0068It was about 8pm when we headed to the River Seine for a boat cruise.

DSC_0072This represents our boat ride perfectly.  Rain streaming down the windows.  It was still lovely.

DSC_0076The Louvre….

DSC_0083The Lover’s Bridge….

DSC_0090The Statue of Liberty…..