Browsing: French Summer

Our 2010 trip to France, with a sidetrip to London, U.K.

French Summer
By 25
Are French Rude?

I entered France with my Canadian passport and I decided to become a woman with a mission. I was going to find out if French were rude. About an hour after setting foot in my former country, I was ready to say yes. As soon as the plane landed, you could tell the French returning back home from the Canadians: the former loudly rushed out of the plane while the later politely let each other go first.

French Summer
By 9
London Shopping

In France, I bought a bunch of beauty products. In London, I found a t-shirt mecca at Camden Market. Originally a craft market, the Camden Lock Market is now a thriving shopping area and hundreds of retailers sell clothes and souvenirs. You can find pretty much anything, from your basic “I love London” t-shirt to trendier vintage clothes. I fell in love with the Funky Chameleon brand and bought a few embroidered tank tops.

French Summer
By 15
Beauty Comes From Within (And From Shopping In France)

I felt like one of those people who are offered drugs at a party, got hooked and ended up selling their car for a few grams of crack or whatever is trendy these days. The girl at the counter had me hooked on the best cream ever by giving me a free sample. I decided to do the sensible thing: I just said no. I’m not spending that much on a cream, this is ridiculous, no matter how good it is.

French Summer
By 10
The Walls Are Talking

Every time I go to France, I like to take the pulse of the population and to sound out current issues. Graffiti and stickers can be found everywhere, and these little words written or stuck on urban fragments tell a lot about how people feel.

French Summer
By 13
Europe in our Eyes

It started as a joke: Feng wanted to take a picture of the London Eye reflecting in my eyes. After a few trials (try opening your eyes as big as you can without blinking for several seconds!), we got hold of it. We then decided to do the “eye picture” for a few major landmarks during this trip.

French Summer
By 14
A Parisian Bug Story

I pushed the door open, slightly annoyed myself, and let him in. “Ah oui, ah oui!” he exclaimed in surprise, suddenly realizing I was not a drama-queen after all. We stared at each other, unsure of what to do. Fortunately, after 6 weeks in France, I had my Frenchness back and I could try to solve the problem as diplomatically as possible.

French Summer
By 17
French Bakeries

I love French bakeries. There is one at every corner and they all carry fresh bread, croissants, pains au chocolat and pains aux raisin. They also have their specialties, from elaborate cakes to simple fruit pies.

French Summer
By 10
St Nazaire

For our last week-end in France, Feng and I went back on the Atlantic coast. We spent a few days with my family and left to explore St Nazaire, a few kilometers away. The town isn’t pretty: it was heavily bombed during WWII and 80% of it was destroyed. It was rebuilt right after the war in a somewhat minimalist style — understand one main street and square buildings scattered around.

French Summer
By 10
Nantes By Night

I love cities by night. Most change a lot and reveal a totally different atmosphere — it’s like traveling. I’ve already shown you snapshots of Ottawa by night, Toronto, London, Paris… Here is Nantes, my hometown.

French Summer
By 8
Nantes’ Elephant

The 12 meters high mechanical elephant is made from 45 tons of wood and steel. Several times a day, it takes passengers for a walk around the Isle of Nantes, located in the middle of the Loire River. Riding it is quite expensive but it’s free to just see it move around, wink, trumpet, and spray nearby photographers with water (oh well, it was a hot day).

French Summer
By 7
The Isle of Nantes

Jules Verne, the famous French author, was born in Nantes. And today, in the warehouses of the former shipyards of Nantes, artists try to recreate a travel-through-time world which borrow from both Jules Verne’s imagination and Leonardo da Vinci’s passion for mechanic.
The site has two main attractions: the Great Elephant and the Marine Worlds Carrousel.

French Summer
By 16
Whoui Spik Inglish

The other day, we went to see Kiss & Kill, a U.S movie. You may have heard of it: the English title is “Killers”. Why did the French bother changing the original English title to another English title? No idea. Similarly, “The Spy Next Door” is “Kung Fu Nanny” here. Go figure!

French Summer
By 10
Bastille Day in France

This is a sleepy village 45 minutes from Nantes. Its claim to fame is the cookie factory. Other than that, there isn’t much: a roundabout (French love roundabouts and even the smallest village has one), a church, a bar-tabac (a small corner store) and a news agent.

French Summer
By 11
Paris By Night

Sunset is around 10:30 pm in France right now and with the summer heat, we had plenty of time and motivation to roam around Paris at night. I have my favorite spots, they are not so original but they are lovely: le Louvre, along the Seine, the Trocadéro, the Eiffel Tower…

French Summer
By 12
Gardens of Versailles

Once we reached the doors of Versailles, we realized we were in trouble. The lineup was so long I couldn’t even find where it started. I asked how long it would take us to get tickets: at least 90 minutes. And to actually get into the Palace, we had to queue another 90 minutes. Feng walked around a bit as we tried to assess how to make the best out of the situation. I looked up at the Palace and I saw people on top of each other by the open windows. No way I’m queuing at least 3 hours for a rush visit.

French Summer
By 8
Sights of Paris (Part II)

We got extremely lucky with the hotel the first couple of days: we had booked online again from London with Expedia (which really should be paying me for all the times I mentioned them!). The hotel turned out to be a three stars renovated building in a quiet street, and we had the biggest bathroom I had never seen.

French Summer
By 16
Sights of Paris (Part I)

After London, Paris. Don’t hate me for saying it, but at first sight, it felt like going from Peru to Bolivia.
I have never liked Paris. Go ahead, call me a little spoiled French girl, I’m used to it. Saying you don’t like Paris usually gets hate look from people who are dreaming to visit the city of lights, and brings contempt from other French people. They shrug at me, saying: « oui mais bon… c’est Paris quand même ! ».

French Summer
By 10
London By Night

Aren’t cities at night truly beautiful?
London didn’t disappoint. Lots of lights, lots of sights, lots of amazing skylines coming alive before our eyes after sunset. Next, Paris and Nantes again…

French Summer
By 11
Buckingham Palace

Coming from a country which executed Louis XVI, the last king, by guillotine, I tend to consider monarchy a custom somewhat obsolete and old-fashioned although harmless if a Parliament is in place. We don’t hear that much about the Queen in Canada and I’ve never been very interested in gossip about the Royal Family.

French Summer
By 9
Along the River Thames

The many bridges crossing the River Thames are all different. The Millennium Bridge is a modern footbridge steel suspension bridge leading to the Tate Modern, while the Tower Bridge, with its two massive towers, leads to the Tower of London. The architecture of the London Bridge is more straightforward but it is interesting to watch all the throng of office workers making their way from The City to London Bridge Station at the end of the day.

French Summer
By 8
The Tower of London

Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, the Tower of London, is actually more a castle than a tower. It is among all famous for being the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
The castle is made of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls, and a moat, which is now dry. Currently stored in the Waterloo Barracks, the Crown Jewels are one of the main attractions.

French Summer
By 13
Oh-So-British

London was a great surprise to me. I had been to England many times as a teen, first by taking the ferry across the channel and later by the Eurostar train. England to me was buying “crips” with vinegar at Woolworth, taking double-decker buses across small cities, listening to Oasis (I liked them better than Blur) and bitching about the overall gloomy weather.

French Summer
By 13
Art and Culture in the U.K

While the Louvre in Paris may be more famous, London also has awesome museums. We took the opportunity to visit the British Museum and the Tate Modern and I must said I was amazed by both.
One really cool fact: these national museums were both free, although small donations were encouraged. How cool! In Paris, museums are quite expensive and it adds up pretty fast.

French Summer
By 15
The Tube

The tube, the subway, the underground… London wouldn’t be London without it, no matter how you call it.
I usually have a love/ hate relationship with subways: while they are often the most efficient way to get around in large cities, they also receive their fair share of bad press. Dangerous, crowded, dirty, expensive, claustrophobic… not all subways are nice to ride.

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