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Spring in France

Brittany and Normandy

Away from opulent Paris and the allure of the Côte d’Azur, lay historic cities encompassed in incredible nature and breathtaking ocean views. Brittany (Bretagne) and Normandy (Normandie), the western and north western regions of France receive lots of visitors, mainly from Europe, but are hidden gems yet to be unravelled by the wider travel community. 

The summer season lasts from around June till September and outside this window, the weather is not very pleasant. We visited these two places in May and were blessed with cool evenings and warm days. 

We started our journey by arriving in Cancale, a small port town with charming French houses, great seafood restaurants and probably the best local oysters in the world.

Once you arrive, visit the oyster merchants near the Phare de la Fenêtre (lightHouse) and try some local oysters for 10€ per dozen. (There is also a small cart selling champagne nearby).

There are a lot of seafood restaurants to choose from along the Quai Gambetta street. We recommend staying at the Le Querrien Hôtel for its reasonable price and good service. 

 

On the second day of our journey it was time to leave Brittany and head off towards Normandy to see a UNESCO heritage site, the magnificent Mont-Saint-Michel.

The name translates to the mountain of Saint Michael and it was an important medieval stronghold and pilgrimage center. The Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey sits on top of the mountain and has numerous levels with a more modern (19th century) Abbey built on top of the original 10th century Romanesque church. Due to high tides in the area, it is in fact an island and this change happens several times a day.

Recommendation

We highly recommend getting a guide to explain the history of the place and to show you around. The island receives lots of tourists and it may be difficult to navigate around the island without someone who knows it well.  

At the end of the day we headed back to Brittany to visit the medieval town of Dinan. Dinan has many medieval buildings, some dated all the way back to the 13th century and also retains a large part of its original fortifications, visitors have the ability to wander around on these walls.

We recommend taking the Rue de Jerzual and walking around the town as much as possible. All the most interesting parts are accessible on foot and you are transported into the medieval age. For those interested in something tasty or a beautiful souvenir, there are lots of cafes and small shops that cater to any taste or interest.

Our last day in this magical part of France was spent visiting Saint-Malo and Dinard

Saint-Malo is a beautiful walled town that is a little bit similar to Edinburgh in how it looks from far away. It is nestled in a beautiful bay that also sees high tides and incredible views out on the ocean. It was a very rich city due to the piracy and extorcion that it inflicted on trading vessels in the 19th century. 

The town itself blends gorgeous cobbled streets and delightful restaurants with modern French and experimental cuisine. It is a destination that should be near the top of anyone’s travel list and it left a lasting impression on our hearts and taste buds. 

We recommend that you take a whole day out to visit Saint-Malo and Dinard.

For some casual fine dining we recommend Fidelis. Grab the menu Fidelis set for lunch at 30€.

Take the Compagnie Corsaire ferry from Saint-Malo to Dinard which takes around 10 minutes and costs 8€ (return). 

Dinard has a different atmosphere to Saint-Malo. On the other side of the bay from Saint-Malo sits a town that used to be the favoured resort of wealthy visitors from the UK and other European countries, until the growth in popularity of the Côte d’Azur. This only makes this place more special and pleasant.

Unfortunately we did not have enough time to visit it properly so we just walked around and absorbed the beautiful architecture and stunning views of the bay. We agreed that we will return to experience it properly so we will update this post as we visit this amazing place again. 

 

Impressionism

Welcome back to France our dear travelers, today we will talk a bit about art and specifically Impressionism. There had to be a painting style that represented and got inspiration from the beautiful nature in France and we got it in the 19th century. Depiction of light, new visual angles, movement, passage of time, where all experimented on through ordinary subject matter. Impressionism was met with stern resistance from an artistic community that had stagnated and breathed new life and vigour into art.  

If you want to get a quick idea of what Impressionist painting is, you can get a great summary from Tate below. 

https://www.tate.org.uk/kids/explore/what-is/impressionism 

On our way to the City of Light we visited a pleasant little village called Giverny. The wonderful scenery had once been the home of Claude Monet, the founder of Impressionist painting. 

Monet’s house and gardens are open to visitors through the Fondation Monet and it really is an emotional experience. The incredible gardens and lilly pods are a true testament to the beauty of nature and you immediately understand what motivated Monet to draw such marvelous paintings. The house itself is a work of art and you are able to see Monet’s studio as it was during his time. 

It is a place for sitting down on one of the many benches, closing your eyes and submerging into the plethora of smells, sounds and the sun rays caressing your skin.  

The estate is also home to a collection of more than 200 Japanese ukiyo-e prints from the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Recommendation

We recommend getting to Giverny by car and there is a large free car park covered in trees. 

It is best to buy a ticket online before arriving as it will allow you to skip queues (https://fondation-monet.com/informations-pratiques/#billetterie). 

An adult ticket is 11€.

The foundation is open from April 1st to November 1st.

Once we arrived in Paris, we headed to the Musée de l’Orangerie. We highly recommend seeing Claude Monet’s house and gardens before visiting this museum as it allows you to see the process and inspiration for the masterpieces in the museum. 

The museum houses the most famous work of Claude Monet, the Water Lilies (Nymphéas). It is a series of eight huge paintings of water lilies. Walking among these paintings and architecture allows for self reflection or inspiration. 

Away from the Water Lilies on the top floor, the rest of the museum is a treasure trove of the most important Impressionist painters and their creations. The museum holds works from renowned artists such as Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and others. The museum is a must for any lovers of art and especially Impressionist art. 

Recommendation

There are time slot booking requirements for all admission so a ticket should be bought online and preferably before your trip. An adult ticket is 12€.

Thank you for joining us on this small journey through some Impressionist art, we hope you enjoyed it and we will see you soon.

We are able to prepare travel plans for art lovers and the team has knowledge in most art styles and timelines. We will also make sure that your tickets are booked well in advance to make sure that you can focus on the art and not the hassles. 

Paris

The City of Love, The City of Lights, does this city really need an introduction? Through its diplomacy, finance, fashion, gastronomy, art and architecture it is seen, by some, as the capital of the world. This city has attracted some of the brightest minds and characters throughout the years, making this city a multicultural and truly cosmopolitan place that opens its doors to all kinds of travellers. Visiting Paris should be at the top of your bucket list and we will explain why. 

There are few words to describe the architecture in this city. During Napoleon III’s reign, the city’s look changed drastically with new wide boulevards and parks created, giving Paris its current look.

Paris houses some of the most famous museums in the world. From the Louvre (the most visited museum in the world and home to the Mona Lisa) to the Pompidou Centre (with its head spinning futuristic design and modern art collections). Taking a walk through the city is an experience like no other. 

So you’ve walked around Paris and now you’re hungry? We recommend some authentic Italian food at the Big Mama restaurants. Italian food in Paris?! Profanity! Hear us out, this chain of restaurants creates food that is simply breathtaking, all wrapped in a stylish design and laid back demeanour.

Yes that’s truffle

If you want to dress up a little and have brunch with all the fancy locals, visit CoCo Paris. A terrace with brunch, fine dining and cocktails. Evening drink? Head to L’avant Comptoir du Marché, a lively wine bar with a fine selection of wines and charcuterie platters.

Recommendation 

We always recommend to book in advance but it is very important to do so with the places mentioned above. Paris is very popular and unless you want to spend your evening in a queue, we suggest you book before leaving for your holiday. 

Visit the Eiffel Tower, yes we have turned into your ordinary boring “what to do in Paris” post. You have to see it up close but the best way to do so is to grab a bottle of red wine and some snacks and have a picnic on the greens right below it. It’s the best view and you skip the stress of standing in a line for many hours. Join a game of Pétanque, which is often played in the park. 

Thank you for reading! We hope you enjoyed it. We have created many different tours to Paris and it is a very popular location with our travelers. Do not hesitate to drop us a message and we will make a completely individual plan for you which you won’t forget.

Shira
Shira
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