Today, our guest contributor, Leigh Anne, shares her experience learning to cook like Julia Child, at the legendary Cordon Bleu culinary school, in Paris, France.
Today, our guest contributor, Leigh Anne, explains why the Chateau de Versailles is worth more than a quick stop on your Paris itinerary. She and her family spent a weekend exploring Versailles, France, and offers her tips for your own visit.
What do you get when you have 14 travel and lifestyle bloggers from around Europe, one fantastic hotel chain, and 4 exciting events throughout the year? The #BluBloggers and I’m excited to be partnering with Radisson hotels as one of their ambassadors this year.
There’s no doubt, Paris is a beautiful city, filled with incredible photographic possibilities. I’ve taken photos on all of our trips to Paris. But it wasn’t until my last visit, that I actually had time to photograph the city and some of its landmarks in a way I felt captured the essence of Paris.
Below are some of our favourite photos of Paris, France.
Paris, France – It’s the city of lights, of poetry, of romance. It’s a city people fantasise about visiting and romantics fall in love with instantly. For me however, Paris wasn’t love at first sight. This is the story of my late blooming love affair with Paris.
July has been a whirlwind of planes, trains and automobiles with a few boats thrown in for good measure. Now I’m back at CheeseWeb HQ, in Brussels, with a mountain of photos to edit and stories to write, so I can share my European travel journeys with you.
Back in Paris… we recovered from our night on the town and started our day with coffee and croissants. We decided to split up again. Bill and Helen wanted to wander the streets and soak up the city. I wanted to do what all sane girls want to do in Paris – shop.
Andrew and I strolled leisurely back to the Seine. I can’t reiterate enough how nice the walk from the hotel to the river is. There are loads of tiny shops and cafes… To me, it’s the real Paris.
When we made it to Notre Dame, we decided to check out the view from the tower, only to be confronted with an hour an a half wait. It had gotten quite cold over the past few days so we decided to pass and save it for a warmer time. We did wander through the church again and marvelled at its incredible stained glass.
We then hit the shopping area. I would love to say that I found some delicious little boutiques and bought some one of a kind items… but let’s face it – I just don’t have that kind of money. Really, it was the same stores that we have here in Brussels, but somehow, just the act of shopping in Paris, whatever the store, seems so much more chic, than shopping anywhere else.Pictures from Los Pilones always turn out like this… could it be the Mojitos?
After all the shopping the boy could handle and a rather disappointing lunch we decided to go to the Pompidou. I was surprised – this is where Andrew decided he hated modern art after our first visit. However, he decided he was game for another try.
We relaxed with a cup of coffee in the beautiful little café on the top floor first. If nothing else, you should visit the Pompidou for this experience. On a clear day, you can see all over the city. There are great views of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Montmartre.
Once we were in an artsy frame of mind, we started through the exhibits. We lucked out and several of the exhibitions were really interesting (even to Andrew). We didn’t try to tackle the entire museum and we didn’t try to like everything. When we had enough culture, we grabbed our coats and bags, and headed back to the hotel.
Super that evening was another delicious recommendation by our hotel. Le Volcan was cozy and had a delicious fixed price menu. We had a chatty waiter with an interesting accent. We learned that he was French but had lived in California and he had travelled in Canada and actually knew where Nova Scotia is.Watergraftsmeer – our old stomping grounds
Our final day in Paris was another highlight. While we were visiting Giverny we visited a room in Monet’s house which contained reproductions of many of his most famous works. Under each was a plaque stating the name of the work and where the original was located. Many of my favourites were housed in a museum that I had never heard of – The Marmottan. In fact, Helen and I had a hard time even finding it in our guide books but eventually we found a small blurb.
Even though it wasn’t included in our museum passes and it was pretty far out of the city centre, we decided we would make the trek before we left the city. Thank God we did – it was stunning.
The Museé Marmottan is tricky to find. It is located in the 19th century mansion of the art historian, Paul Marmottan. When you first enter the museum you are in the original house and you can admire the art and furnishing that Marmottan collected. Downstairs however, you enter a gallery containing 65 of Monet’s paintings, which were donated by his son Michel. I am without words to describe how amazing they are in person.Amsterdam’s floating flower market
Monet’s later works took my by surprise the most. I guess I have been inundated by his water lilies, and although I love them, they were not my favourites. On one wall hung three very abstract pieces he completed late in his life. I could have stared at these for hours – particularly, my favourite, L’Allée des Rosiers. The painting took me right back to Giverny.
After a long and leisurely stay with Monet, we hopped in the car and headed home to Brussels for laundry and a quick visit with the cats. After one night in our own beds, we were on the road again, to Amsterdam.
We arrived in A’dam late in the day and checked in to our hotel. We decided to stay out near the airport since Andrew would be our chauffeur for the weekend.
Where would we possibly go to eat on a Friday night in Amsterdam – it had to be Los Pilones. Like everyone we take to our favourite place, I think Helen and Bill were a bit sceptical as we took our places at the crowed counter in the tiny bar. Once they had their first taste of the food and a Mojito or two, they came around.
The next day we drove into the city via our first neighbourhood in A’dam – Watergraftsmeer. We checked out our old apartment and Bill and Helen marvelled at all of the little canals. Then we did the best thing you can do in the city on a Saturday – we wandered.Hmmm… we’re still out of focus… what could the matter be?
We started off with breakfast at my favourite café. There’s nothing too particular about it – but they serve good food and in the summer you can sit beside a canal for as long as you like with nothing but a coffee or a glass of wine and no one will bother you for hours. Not being canal seating weather, we ate inside.
We strolled by Anne Frank house, and checked out Dam Square. We popped into some of the shops and wandered through the flower market. Eventually we ended up at La Place for a refresher coffee and a snack to hold us until supper.
Before supper however, we had one last stop – Wynand Fockink. While it may sound like a naughty pastime or maybe some sort of communicable disease, Wynand Fockink is really a tiny little Jenever bar tucked away in a back alley. People come from around the world to visit it and the Dutch stop in on their way home from work – we went for the pie.
While Wynand Fockink carries many different kinds of Jenever and brandewijn, our favourite so far is called Apple Tart, and it tastes like apple pie in a glass… with a kick. After tossing a few back we were sufficiently lubricated to go to supper.You’d think all we ever did was eat…
Supper was another Amsterdam tradition – Rijstafle at Kantjil and de Tijger. This is basically more Indonesian food than you could possibly eat. It is delish.
With very full bellies we had our final surprise waiting – Helen’s birthday trip (since we would miss her big day in December) was a night time canal cruise with a live jazz band.
Canal cruises are a great way to see the city, especially at night. This particular cruise was the best I’ve been on yet. The music set a nice backdrop to the lights as we cruised slowly by. There was no annoying spiel in 17 different languages and we had bottomless glasses of drink and loads of Dutch cheese. It was a relaxing ending to a busy day.
The final instalment of our adventures will be coming soon…