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 ‘Real’ Côte d’Azur

 

So having been to the touristy Côte d’Azur (St.Tropez, Cannes, Nice, Monaco etc. (blog post about these coming later)) we headed to the non-touristy part for a couple of days: Cassis.

We found a great little apartment to rent in Ensuès-la-Redonne via airbnb, which was just a 5 minute drive or 20 minute walk from the Calanques, which are coves or creeks specific to the Marseille area.

Our apartment

Our apartment

We were driving a little Renault Twingo, which was good for the roads. Anything bigger and we really would have struggled to fit down the tiny little lanes!

The hilly and windy roads of Cassis

The hilly and windy roads of Cassis

Cassis is very un-touristy. A great deal of effort has gone in to preserve the area for its natural beauty. It is very difficult for people access. There are a very limited amount of parking spaces, no bars or restaurants, and access to the Calanques by foot is very challenging!

Access to certain Calanques can be somewhat tricky

Access to certain Calanques can be somewhat tricky

The majority of the people that we came across were people from the South of France (recognisable from that strong accent!). We were one of the very few with a non-southern French accent, and I was certainly the only Foreigner!

The first day we went to Figuières. The beach we found was perfect: completely secluded, quiet, great views, and brilliant for snorkelling and seeing some big fish!

Beach in Figuières

Beach in Figuières

The water was so clear and calm. Though it was a bit difficult to get into the sea because of all the jagged rocks, once deep enough it was great for swimming and snorkelling.

Gallery from Figuières:

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The second day we went to Mejean. We were met by incredible views over the cliffs, which could have very easily been mistaken for a country like Croatia.

Views over the Calanques of Méjean

Views over the Calanques of Méjean

It was so quiet. Fantastic for relaxing and sunbathing, and again great for getting the snorkel out and going for a swim. However, as it is very rocky, you have to find the perfect position so you can be comfortable on the rocks!

Sunbathing on the rocks isn't always the most comfortable

Garance showing that sunbathing on the rocks isn’t always the most comfortable!

But it is worth it, it really did feel like we were in paradise!

Being on the South coast, we were lucky enough to have the sun from the moment we arrived, right up until the evening. Great for getting tanned enough for my return to England soon!

Gallery from Méjean:

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One word to summarise: Paradise. It was a great little break and so relaxing. Great to be on the South coast again but seeing something completely contrasting from the other very touristy areas!

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!