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!

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 Berlin Wall

So the 3rd part of my Berlin trip: The Wall.

As most people know, Berlin was divided into two parts- East Berlin and West Berlin. A wall separated the two parts of the cities between 1961 up until its fall in 1989.

To find out more information and learn about the history of the wall, go to Potsdamer Platz where there are information boards, as well as old parts of the wall on display.

Information boards giving a brief history lesson

Information boards giving a brief history lesson

Potsdamer Platz is just a small walk from the Brandenburg gate, so it is worth it!

Interestingly, all of the parts of the wall displayed here are covered from head to toe in chewing gum. I didn’t understand the significance and never found out why!

Berlin is well known for its graffiti and street art. I think it gives real character to the wall, and makes it more interesting for visitors!

Graffiti on the wall

Graffiti on the wall

An absolute must: visit the East Side Gallery. It is over a kilometre long, and has paintings on from many artists. Having started in 1990, there are now over 100 paintings on it.

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

There is a lot of graffiti on the wall, often covering up the paintings. It has ruined many paintings, but, as I mentioned before, does add to the character of the wall.

Take a look through the slideshow at some of the many paintings from the wall:

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The East side gallery is situated in the East of Berlin, on the Warshauer Straße metro stop (u-bahn and s-bahn). It is situated along the river, with lots of cool bars. So make the most of it if you head over there! The Oberbaum bridge is also right next to it, to conveniently fit in another Berlin landmark!

Oberbaum Bridge

Oberbaum Bridge

Oberbaum Bridge

Oberbaum Bridge River View

And if you can spare a little bit more time, particularly in the summer, Badeschiff Arena is a great concept- incorporating a beach, bar, pool and club all in one place. It is a short walk from the East Side Gallery, and well worth it!

Badeschiff Arena

Badeschiff Arena

That just about caps off Berlin- a truly magnificent city!

Avignon

Things to do: 

  • Walk around and on the old city walls
  • Visit the Palais des Papes
  • Have a coffee on one of the terraces 
  • Walk on the Pont Avignon
  • Visit the many beautiful parks and gardens

 

Avignon is situated in the Provence region in the south of France. It is easily accessible from Southern cities like Marseille and Montpellier, and via the North by TGV.

Map of France

Map of France

Avignon is genuinely one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. As soon as you leave the train station, you are confronted by the old city walls, which are not ruins, but have been magnificently restored. Entering the city, you are given the impression of a very small typical French town. There was the sweet smell of the freshly baked baguettes from the boulangeries, as well as an old man playing his accordion under the burning sun. It was a hot August day and the temperature reached 36c!

The office de tourisme is conveniently located in between the train station (that is Avignon centre, Avignon TGV is situated about 6km away) and the main city centre. Staff were friendly, providing maps and offering advice. It also gave us the opportunity to eat lunch in what was one of many beautiful gardens.

Place Agricol Perdiguier

Place Agricol Perdiguier

After this, to head to the main town centre, continue up Rue de la République until you reach Place d’Horloge, a large square with many restaurants and bars. Although many can be very expensive, no doubt aimed at tourists, there are many other streets off of here that are cheaper and offer more traditional French food. The square also contains the city hall, and like most city halls in France, it lived up to the grandeur that I have begun to expect!

Hôtel de Ville

Hôtel de Ville

Continuing down the road, and you soon reach the Place du Palais, featuring the incredible Palais des Papes. Before going to Avignon, it is important to know a little history about the city itself. In the 14th century, it was home to several popes, having moved the Papacy from Rome to Avignon. The Palais des Papes was built during this time, and is now a museum.

Palais des Papes

Palais des Papes

Reduced price for entry to the museum plus the Pont d’Avignon was 11€ and is available for students, children and people aged 65+. Normal entry is just a couple of euros extra. It is well worth it, as the museum is huge. There is also the option of getting an audio guide, and there is a place to leave luggage.

The museum is massive, and it took us about an hour and a half to walk around the entire thing.

A courtyard inside the Palais des Papes

A courtyard inside the Palais des Papes

There are various things to see, including the old Pope’s bedroom, with some incredibly old art murals.

Sculptures of the former Popes

Sculptures of the former Popes

There is also lots of modern day art, situated throughout the museum.

Modern Art

Modern Art

One of the things that I personally enjoyed most about the Palais des Papes were the views that it offered over the city of Avignon and beyond. Get up there and have a look. There is a café at the top to reward you for all those stairs that you have climbed!

Tip: Make sure you visit all of the rooms in the museum, there are many hidden away and you may easily miss something!

Just next to the Palais des Papes is a beautiful church- Notre Dame des Doms. Whilst rather small inside, it is well worth a look to see the mosaics and the small chapels.

Notre Dame des Doms

Notre Dame des Doms

Leaving the church, we passed by the gardens just to the right of it. They really were beautiful, and provided the perfect scenery for the summers day.

Les Jardins

Les Jardins

It is well worth going into the gardens to have a look, or even better, for a little picnic in the shade. The views of the Provence region are incredible. Beyond the river Rhône, you will see vineyards, castles, and the mountains. It is a very picturesque view. You will also see an overview of Pont d’Avignon from there.

The views from the gardens

The views from the gardens

Of course, you cannot come to Avignon without walking on the Pont d’Avignon. There is a small room that tells you a little bit about the history of the bridge, and of course a history of the song.

Pont d'Avignon

Pont d’Avignon

I only had a short time to spend in Avignon, but the city was very easy to view in 5 hours, without being too time-pressured. Although we saw the main things, there are also many other museums to see, and no doubt more beautiful scenery to explore!