Beaune- Bone/Boone/bowon/burn/bown?!

As you can tell from the title, I have absolutely no idea on the pronunciation of this one. Even French people would give me different answers, so just pick one and go for it I guess!

Beaune is a town in the Burgundy wine region, just south of Dijon.

The vineyards of Burgundy

The vineyards of Burgundy

Other than vineyards absolutely everywhere, the very first thing I noticed in Beaune were the foreign cars. Everywhere. It was clear from entering the area, and especially on checking-in at the hotel, that this was a very touristy place.

We arrived quite late on the first day, so only briefly headed into the town to get some dinner. On the way in we came across an art mural, with the recognisable tiles of the Hôtel Dieu.

Art mural film set

Art mural film set

Beaune lights up many of it’s buildings at night, often with videos projected onto the walls. It reminded me a little bit of Lyon’s Fête des Lumières (Festival of lights), only on a smaller scale and a daily basis!

Beaune's light show

Beaune’s light show

The town is very picturesque, with some very old buildings and beautiful architecture.

Picturesque Beaune

Picturesque Beaune

Old architecture

Old architecture

The main tourist attraction is Hôtel Dieu, an old hospital founded in the 1400’s for the poor.

Hôtel Dieu courtyard

Hôtel Dieu courtyard

The old hospice is now a museum, remembering the history of everything that happened in the hospice.

The old chapel

The old chapel

Hospital beds in the huge hall

Hospital beds in the huge hall

Having a look around the city, we found the main church, a grand building right in the centre of the town. Inside it held a small exhibition with tapis/rugs on display.

Collégiale Notre-Dame

Collégiale Notre-Dame

As we were in the heart of the wine region, we of course had to do some wine-tasting. We headed to the Marché au vins to try some wine which was grown in the local villages around Beaune.

Burgundy wines

Burgundy wines

There were lots of wines to try, with the option of buying at the end.

The caves

The caves

The touristy wine-tasting places like this often charge entrance and are very commercialised. The ‘caves’ that we preferred were out in the countryside, in the small villages. You will get a much more personal service and can try wines which are often right from that village.

That just about sums up Beaune. A small town but worth a visit, especially for the wine connoisseurs!

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Grenoble: Capital of the Alps

Home to the 1968 Winter Olympic Games, Grenoble is somewhere that must be visited in the winter, right? Wrong. We went to Grenoble on a very hot summers day, and it was fantastic! Just an hour and a half away from Lyon by train, Grenoble is referred to as the Capital of the Alps, and it is evident why from the photos below!

Capital of the Alps

Capital of the Alps

Arriving at midday, we headed straight to the centre to get lunch. The main square with restaurants and terraces is called Place Grenette. Restaurants were typically quite touristy, but we had a nice big lunch to give us plenty of energy for the exploring ahead.

Following lunch, we headed towards the main tourist site of Grenoble: Fort de la Bastille, up a mountain on top of the city.

Fort de la Bastille

Fort de la Bastille

To get up to the top, it is possible to walk. However with temperatures at mid-30s, we wisely decided to use the Worlds oldest cable car, known as ‘Les Bulles.’

Cable cars flying over the river

Cable cars flying over the river

Les Bulles

Les Bulles

Views at the top of the mountain were spectacular. There were several levels of viewing platforms offering panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

View over the city

View over the city

Made it to the top thanks to the cable cars!

Made it to the top thanks to the cable cars!

Even had the chance to get a bit creative with the camera!

The Alps

The Alps

We were lucky to be there on a very clear day. This allowed us to get a glimpse of Mont Blanc, western Europe’s tallest mountain, in the distance.

A snowy Mont Blanc in the background

A snowy Mont Blanc in the background

From here we followed signs for ‘the caves’ and were sceptical as to what we would find inside when we got to the entrance.

Entrance to the caves

Entrance to the caves

After a few minutes walk we reached some stairs and then eventually an opening.

Stairs leading higher up the mountain

Stairs leading higher up the mountain

The top of the caves

The top of the caves

We were met with more fantastic and unique views over the city.

Peeking through the cave at the view

Peeking through the cave at the view

A lot of people that went up to the Fort didn’t continue on to the caves. It was a bit of effort walking up those stairs, but it was well worth it! After this we headed back down to the main city.

As with a lot of French cities, there are many squares with fountains and gardens, alongside beautiful buildings.

Jardin de Ville

Jardin de Ville

Grenoble is quite a small city, and easily to see all in one day. We made the most of walking around the city, seeing the sights and admiring the beautiful French architecture.

The gallery below shows off some of Grenoble’s best parts:

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Grenoble was a beautiful city, and despite being very famous for it’s location in and around plenty of ski resorts, it is also great to visit during the summer!

The Palaces of Berlin

Packing Berlin into 4 days was a challenge, especially when we had planned a day trip out to a Schloss- which is a castle or a Palace. Perhaps it was just my ignorance, but I hadn’t expected quite so many beautiful and grand buildings when I first imagined Berlin. There are so many, in close proximity to the city centre, and further out.

As written about in a previous post- we visited the Presidents Palace.

Bellevue

Bellevue

The building was huge, set in some beautiful gardens where people could picnic and relax. Whilst it wasn’t possible to enter, it provided a great background for a little relaxation time. It is situated in the city centre, in Tiergarten park.

The next castle we visited was Charlottenburg. We had seen photos, and it has amazing gardens. It is also in the city centre, so easily accessible by public transport.

Charlottenburg

Charlottenburg

The downside of Charlottenburg was the cost. We had to weigh up whether it would be worth it to go in. We had planned other things to do on this day, so to pay 10€ entry and not make the most of it seemed pointless. It was still nice to see the exterior.

There was also an outdoor market with a live concert right next to it, which apparently goes on a lot. This provided a great atmosphere around the area!

The main palace we had planned to visit was called Schloss Sans Souci. It is in the South East of the city in a place called Potsdam, and took us around 1 hour to travel to from the centre of Berlin using public transport (metro then bus).

We were lucky enough to be there in a clear and very hot day, which I find always makes scenery look even more impressive. We were welcomed by a large windmill coming into the area.

Windmill

Windmill

Large columns arranged into a semi-circle welcomed us into the palace.

Entrance to the castle

Entrance to the castle

The palace was built in 1745 for Frederick The Great- King of Prussia.

First impressions on the building were fantastic. It was so clean and well-kept. The architecture was amazing, considering how old the building was!

First impressions

First impressions

The detailing on the palace was impeccable, the many sculptures were incredibly well done.

Detail on the palace

Detail on the palace

The gardens were really something special. There was a great view looking down from the palace over the fountain and the gardens beyond.

View over the gardens

View over the gardens

The steps up to the palace from the fountain added to the grandeur of the entire place.

View from the fountain

View from the fountain

We continued to explore the gardens, which many people seemed to miss out on. We are glad we did as we came across many smaller but still very grand buildings. Whilst we did, we took some photos for Garance’s fashion blog.

Hidden buildings

Hidden buildings

There was a possibility to visit inside, but we decided against it, and just to make the most of the beautiful weather outside.

So there we have it, the beautiful Palaces of Berlin. Do not miss out on them if you come to visit this magnificent city!

My first post- lyon

Things to do:

  • Visit the Basilique de Fourvière
  • Check out the views beside the basilica, and walk down to vieux Lyon through the gardens
  • Walk from Place Bellecour to Hôtel de Ville, seeing the various fountains and all the shops
  • Eat at a typical Lyonnais Restaurant- A Bouchon
  • Walk around Lyon at night and see how the beautiful buildings are all lit up

 

So I have to start at the beginning I suppose: Lyon. Having decided to embark on a year abroad for University, Lyon was instantly my first choice of destination. Why? I am still unsure myself. I am from the Berkshire countryside, and I go to University in Norwich, which is a rather small city. I wanted something different, something big and exciting. And Lyon seemed to fit these requirements.

Rather than talking about my year abroad, which is not the idea of this blog, I will try to stick specifically to travel blogging and talking about the city and its beautiful sights.

Lyon is situated in the Rhône-Alpes region, centre/south-east of France, in between Paris and Marseille. It is close to the alps, which means very cold winters, but very warm summers.

Map of France, Lyon indicated

Map of France, Lyon indicated

The main centre of Lyon is on the “Presqu’il” which means “Nearly Island” in English. There are two rivers that run through Lyon, and they meet at Confluence in the south of the city, which creates a “nearly island” in the city. The main centre on Presqu’il is Place Bellecour, which is one of the largest squares in Europe. It contains a statue of Louis XIV, and a beautiful view of the Basilica- Fourvière. Throughout the year there are many events that take place in Bellecour, with some highlights for me being a huge Ferris Wheel and an international festival. It is also where the tourism office is situated.

Image

Place Bellecour on the Presqu’il

The Basilique de Fourvière is the iconic site in Lyon. It was built by the people of Lyon, and is used for daily masses.

Entrance to Fourvière

Entrance to Fourvière

The inside of the building is truly magnificent, with mosaics from floor to ceiling in the upper church, with the lower church being more simplistic. It also contains several small chapels.

Inside of Fourvière

Inside of Fourvière

The view from the top of Fourvière is incredible, and if you’re very lucky, you will get a great view of the Alps and Mont Blanc. It provides a beautiful view over Lyon, and gives you a good idea of how the city is laid out.

Overlooking Lyon, Mont Blanc in the background

Overlooking Lyon, Mont Blanc in the background

Further north of Bellecour, but still on the Presqu’il, you will find the Opéra and the Hôtel de Ville. They are both beautiful buildings situated right next to each other, and provide a focal point for the fête des lumières, or festival of lights, which is a famous festival in Lyon around the 8th of December every year.

Opéra de Lyon

Opéra de Lyon

Every year, the Opera has an ‘Open Doors’ day, where you can look around inside. It is really fantastic, and gave me the opportunity to take this unique shot of Hôtel de Ville with Fourvière in the background.

View from the top of the Opera

View from the top of the Opera

And this is Hôtel de Ville during Fête des Lumières. This photo does not give the Festival of Lights the credit it deserves, and I would fully encourage people to watch Youtube videos, and then to travel to Lyon itself to see the spectacles!

Hôtel de Ville during Fête des Lumières

Hôtel de Ville during Fête des Lumières

The above sights in Lyon are the main touristic sights. However there are also plenty of other beautiful buildings situated throughout Lyon. I have been visited by friends and family to Lyon, and most have remarked that there are a lot of fountains in this city, each very different and unique, but all very grand and striking. I would definitely recommend just wandering around Presqu’il and admire the French architecture. Visiting Vieux Lyon is a must- the building are incredibly old, and it has a fantastic atmosphere, with many bars, pubs and restaurants. As Lyon is the food capital of the world, it is imperative to eat in one of the many bouchons situated in Vieux Lyon.

Perhaps the most striking building after Fourvière, is Lyon’s tallest building, in the shape of a pencil, called Tour Part Dieu, although more commonly known as Le Crayon (see the above photo of the view from the top of Fourvière). It is an office building with a hotel at the top. The bar at the top is open to the public, and it gives views of the East of the city and it’s suburbs. Close to Part Dieu is Les Halles, a huge indoor market. There are many markets in Lyon, and this one stands out with it’s incredible food on offer.

Parc de la tête d’or (park of the golden head) is a huge park situated very close to the city centre. It features a large lake, where people can hire various boats out. It also has a large zoo, and a botanical gardens- which are both free to visit. It also has seemingly endless grassed areas, both in the sun and the shade provided by trees. It is the perfect place to relax in the sun, to go for a run, or to take the kids to the zoo- it really does have everything, and is a must-visit place in Lyon.

Parc de la tête d'or

Parc de la tête d’or

One thing that almost immediately struck me when I came to Lyon was it’s incredible transport network. It is very efficient, reasonably priced and covers a very wide area. For a single ticket- 1,70€. The downside- it is so good that I have become so lazy, taking the metro just 1 or 2 stops which would normally be just a 10 minute walk. There is also a bike system where you can hire bikes for an hour from a station in one part of the city, and leave it at another station anywhere else. There are direct high speed train services (TGV) to Paris and the south several times a day, as well as many smaller lines to regional parts of France. The airport has many flights to many different countries, including places as far away as Dubai. The Rhône Express is a tram service that takes you from the centre of the city to the airport in under 30 minutes, although it is quite costly at over 10€ for a single ticket.

TCL Map

TCL Map

Lyon nightlife has been fantastic but very costly. Drinking in pubs and bars is very expensive, with the average pint costing you 6€. Being in France, and so close to the Beaujolais region, wine is of course very cheap in Supermarkets. The main area to find bars is around Hôtel de Ville, or along the river Rhône where there are bars on boats, and even huge nightclubs, most notably Ayers Rock Boat and La Platforme.

I have immensely enjoyed living in this city, and all of my friends and family that have visited have loved it. Before coming here, I certainly did not expect the beauty and grandeur that Lyon has. It is perfect for a short get away, and I would thoroughly recommend it to all ages. I will leave you with this photo taken on Bastille day, July 14th, with a view over the river Rhône and the building Hôtel Dieu.

Hôtel Dieu during 14 juillet

Hôtel Dieu during 14 juillet