Monthly Archives: April 2010
We are scheduled to fly out to Spain tomorrow for a well deserved rest.
Hopefully the ash clouds will stay away and we will enjoy a relaxing week in the sun.
See you on the down side!
I wrote this brief hints and tips mail for a friend of mine regarding things to do in Paris. It turned out not to be so brief and I could have written much more. Anyway it received great feedback from him (and the people I sent it to) so I thought I’d share it with you.
I cannot guarantee my information is 100% accurate but for a starting guide I think it could help the Parisian newbie.
Paris hints and tips
On arrival don’t buy a travel card for the metro – buy a carnet, which is a collection of 10 single journey tickets (each can be used once)
Carnet tickets are cheaper and you may find you spend more time walking around Paris rather than being underground
For an interesting view of Paris pop over to the Tour Montparnasse, which is in the Montparnasse, district. You cannot miss it as it’s the only high-rise – from the observation deck (or the heli pad if you’re feeling brave) you get fantastic views of Paris looking toward the city and higher than the Eiffel Tower http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_Montparnasse
A little clichéd but to get a great idea of the geography jump on the Batobus (http://www.batobus.com/) which takes you on a tour around the river
If you see one church it has to be Notre Dame!
If you want to see a great church with great views, wonderful restaurants and get a real Parisian vibe then visit the Sacré-Cœur http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilique_du_Sacré-Cœur,_Paris
If you go to the Lourve go early as you can spend weeks in here – it’s a mile long. Remember to check where the Mona Lisa is on the map and if you’re early proceed quickly – you’ll be amazed how small she is!
For an alternative museum experience check out the Musee d’Orsay http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html
It’s a converted railway station; a fantastic building housing famous French modern art including Monet, Manet, Toulouse Lautrec as well as rooms lifted from the most exquisite Art Nouveau homes
If people watching check out the Le Marais – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Marais Traditionally Jewish/Gay it’s a great place to watch the chic Parisian go about their business and there are lots of small boutiques selling gorgeous things as well as wonderful café’s and restaurants (which are of high quality and medium price range)
Tuileries Gardens make for a relaxing afternoon in Paris and are a hop and a skip away from the Lourve – they also have one of the original city big wheels
Jardin du Luxemborg is another great park and it’s very ornate – it’s great for chilling out as you can relax in the free deck chairs around the large central fountain (it’s really close to Montparnasse)
For an alternative park experience visit the Parc Andre Citroen which sits on the site of the old Citroen factory – completely contemporary and angular – it’s well situated for the Montparnasse and the Bois du Boulogne
Bois du Boulogne is a huge park akin to Central Park in NYC and just like NYC it has the original statue of liberty – be warned the park is massive and include it’s own racecourse!
Le Café du Commerce is one of our favourite restaurants in Paris and it’s a fantastic place to eat as well as soak up the real Paris. It’s an art nouveau building and if lucky on hot days, the roof opens up – bring a guide-book though as it’s off the beaten track and menu’s are usually only in French
Our favourite restaurant in le Maris is the Equinox – it looks like a wine cellar inside (street level) but the menu is French Canadian, which makes for some interesting contrasts
Hotel des Gobelins – Last year we stayed in the Latin Quarter and is close to the Parthenon and the Eiffel Tower. – I have not mentioned these above because although I enjoyed them I want you to discover some bits yourself ;0) Nice hotel – some shabby rooms some nice ones (typical Paris)
Hotel Costes – the ultimate in contemporary chic – defined the contemporary hotel
Hotel Costes is achingly cool – As well as being a wonderfully hip hotel it also boasts its own fragrance line and various commissioned French House albums that French DJ Stéphane Pompougnac has created – simply to play in the hotel lobby!
Guys as I write this I can come up with hundreds of things to do – honestly Paris has so much to offer. I highly recommend you explore (best on foot) to get the best feel of the city.
When it’s windy the wind is cold coming down the Sienne. When it’s hot it’s baking!
We like to spend an hour or so watching the world go by – you really can do this in Paris – a personal favourite of mine is to wander around the florists and pet stores neat the Lourve – it’s an experience!
Useful links (and some my reviews online)
I don’t understand how things can cost so differently in various parts of this country.
We spent last Sunday afternoon browsing in Cambridge and there were a couple of items that took my fancy that I decided to wait and purchase this weekend.
Why is everything so expensive in St Albans? One particular pair of sandals was £15 more expensive – £40 in Cambridge – £55 in St Albans.
It seems you cannot get a reasonable price on anything in the city.
Maybe if people weren’t so far up their own asses and took and interest, instead of mincing around in all the latest labels they would realise how much this city rips them off.
I guess that’s the price you pay for living in some eco-friendly, yummy mummy part of the country. I am sure the likes of Brighton, Bath and Cheltenham must be much the same.
I wish whoever gets in in the General Election really does create a fairer Britain and doesn’t just make things easy for those living in the North, Wales or Scotland.
Well it’s turned out to be a lovely Easter weekend – the weather was no where near as predicated or as expected for a UK bank holiday.
We made the most of it on Saturday and took a drive up to Northamptonshire – a part of the UK neither of us have been to before.
Our first stop was Canons Ashby House and thanks to our new combination of TomTom Cradle + iPhone + Navigon, we got there very easily and efficiently (in fact I would say the Navigon is leaps and bounds better than our old TomTom).
Canons Ashby was first built by the Dryden family during the Elizabethan period, using stone from the Augustinian priory which previously occupied the site. The private church is all that remains of the priory and it does look odd as you really feel there is a huge part of the church which is missing. Of course we have Henry VIII to thank for this as it was ransacked during the dissolution of the monasteries.
After exploring the wonderful house we had a wonderful home made lunch before asking a volunteer what else she could recommend in the area. She kindly suggested Upton House so we made the 30 mile drive across to Warwickshire.
I don’t think we could have had such a big contrast in houses if we tried.
Uniquely among country houses owned by the National Trust it was acquired almost entirely for its art collection, and it is presented more as an art gallery than a private home. The collection was assembled by Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted, who owed his fortune to the fact that his father Marcus Samuel was the founder of the oil company Shell Transport & Trading. The collection includes paintings, porcelains and tapestry that you would normally find in a museum.
I was particularly taken with a Rembrandt hanging above the main stair case and a Venitian scene by Canaletto in the gallery.
Upton really was a 1920′s playground and this is captured wonderfully by the National Trust w ho make you feel very welcome here and invite you to take in the spirit of that time (but not in a corny reenactment way – we leave that for English Heritage!).
As you can see from the photo above, Richard took full advantage of the “Nook” – I must admit it was lovely to be able to sit back in front of the open fire and listen to the 1920′s tunes playing on the valve radio.
Yesterday we went into London where we met up with friends in Soho for drinks and then onto Cafe Emm for Sunday lunch. None of us were expecting much from the lunch but it was lovely.
I couldn’t believe how quiet it was in town yesterday. Of course most of the large shops were shut due to some bizarre law that the Catholics managed to get passed that means any shop over a certain size cannot open on Easter Sunday. This didn’t stop people trying though as smaller boutiques were open and there were plenty of people window shopping.
Apart from buying a birthday card in DV8 I don’t think we actually did any other shopping so the law works.
Yesterday was lots of fun and as always it’s great to catch up with good friends (even if they were checking out the “talent” in the Duke of Wellington!).
I did use Foursquare quite extensively yesterday so it you want to stalk me now you have an opportunity! (That’s my way of saying I am still not sure of the use of Foursquare but feel free to follow me if you want).
So the sun shone again and we left London bathed in spring sun and long shadows were falling across the ground. I guess it was the inspiration for me to take this shot of Richard. Just a simple snap on the train but I think it captured the mood perfectly:
So today is Easter Monday and this long weekend will soon be over. We’re not planning much today – I think we’ve achieved quite a bit this weekend and it’ll be nice to have a rest prior to heading back to work tomorrow.
What ever you do or did for Easter I hope you had fun.
Easter is always a busy time in the UK and is treated much the same as the Christmas break – this is due to a guaranteed 4 day weekend which in turn means you get 4 day weeks either side. A 4 day week is supposed to be easier but with lots of people off it still proved to be as busy as ever.
Cannot complain though as Richard and I kicked off out weekend with a trip to the Royal Albert Hall to see Tangerine Dream.
Now I cannot confess to being a fan or even being able to tell you a great deal about this ageing German sync outfit but what I can say is that you can never guarantee what they will do on stage and this show was no exception. The opening Cellists and Pianist were brilliant until the head of “TG” came on stage, kissed the pianists neck and proceeded to strike the innards of the grand piano with a bull whip! I kid you not.
Still Richard really enjoyed the show which was the main thing and we did manage to get 3 hours worth of music from them so we got our moneys worth.
It felt very civilised to spend our Thursday evening at the Royal Albert Hall sipping G&T’s.
It was actually a very welcome release especially after the stress of delivering my painting to the Royal Academy on Tuesday!
The drunkards train home was intersting and annoying – I was cruised by some camp guy who had a thing for sucking on his pen whilst texting. This was counter balanced with the annoying early 20 year old shouting down his phone about how fabulous his life was and how his friends needed to learn from him (I think his friends should leave well alone!)
Good Friday was very leisurely for us – we did only arrive home in the wee hours of the morning therefore we had a well deserved lay in. That said even though we didn’t do much yesterday the time flew by.
I played around with my Tumblr Blog yesterday, having really got into it. I love the theme I have on the site now and am constantly impressed as to how easy it is to post anything, and how great it looks on site.
Tumblr is much more than Twitter can offer and much more relaxed and flexible than Facebook (which I now hate more and more).
It’s great to find new people and content and share this quickly on Tumblr therefore I decided to put dedicated external links to it and to this blog via Trunk Guy
I had a chat with one of my friends in the USA yesterday and he’s coming over to the UK in June. We have booked a two day trip to Paris as he hasn’t been before. It’ll be great to take him as we know Paris quite well and it’ll be nice to get a fresh perspective on such a great city.
Paris is one of a couple trips we have booked this year. We’re off to the apartment in Spain for our annual week of shut down in April. We are also going in August but this will be less relaxing as it involves a great deal of Richards family being in attendance (have to be on our best behaviour!). September sees us take a weekend breaks with friends in Shrewsbury – it’s a part of the UK we know little about so we thought we’d pay a visit and have booked a period cottage to help us relax that weekend.
So it’s Saturday and the weather report has improved so we’re busy getting ready to go out (well I am laid on the bed in my undies typing this waiting for Richard to get out of the shower!). I think we’ll find a new National Trust property to browse today – maybe somewhere near Northamptonshire for a change (I think we have exhausted our favourites). I just hope the place we end up isn’t over run with families and Easter Egg Hunts!
Whatever you’re up to this weekend have a great time and don’t eat too much chocolate.