Aaaah, France in winter…. the snow, the cold, the icy wind, the trains blocked by frozen-up rails, running 1, 2, 3 hours late! The beautiful puddles of melted snow sludge mixed with dog sh.t… The constant sneezing, runny nose, everyone being sick around you, the daily trips to the chemist…. Nope, really I don’t think I’ll ever say I miss French winters again!
À nous la capitale!
Panorama Paris, view from Tour Montparnasse ©M.Venables
Following our little misfortunes in Lyon, we had almost a whole week in Paris to live the dream. We had rented a little studio in the 11th Arrondissement, with a “kitchenette”, which allowed us to cook a few meals, coffee and breakfast.
Our place was near the Goncourt metro station, which was ideally close to Canal St-Martin, République, as well as the cool Oberkampf area.
Lyon Panorama, view from Notre Dame de Fourvière
During our brief stop in Lyon, we first stayed at our friends’ house in the Croix Rousse, a hilly area in the old part of town, which used to be working class, home of Lyon’s silk workers, and is now quite trendy. Well my friends and I used to live there, so the hipsters followed… naturally Just joking!
They had organised a little crêpe party for us, thanks to their awesome mini-crêpe machine, which allows everyone at the table to make their own crêpes and the hosts to enjoy themselves, instead of being stuck in the kitchen.
Soooo…. bonjour guys!
It’s been a while indeed! Please forgive my snail pace with regards to writing this blog: this year has been a busy one. But hopefully it will be rewarding with exciting stuff, so stay tuned!
To resume on my French adventures a few months back, after a perfect few days in Marseille, we took the TGV back to my parents’, who live in a little town in the Drôme department. We were pampered and fed lots of good stuff, so much so that I couldn’t face any cheese for a while after that!
My first encounter with Marseille was in my teens, when I started reading Jean-Claude Izzo‘s crime novels: the Marseille Trilogy followed jaded cop Fabio Montale in his quest for justice, amidst deeply anchored corruption, crime, racism… However you could really feel the love of Izzo for his city and its inhabitants and it was contagious. If you like your crime genre, I really recommend you get hold of these books (thank god they were translated into English).
Ok guys, don’t take this the wrong way, but living in a big country like Australia has made me realize how good I had it in France! But before you suggest I go back to where I came from, let me explain: everything in France was within reach, and I didn’t even make the most of it! In 2 hours of train you can experience a completely different scenery, even be in another country. That is why nowadays, whenever I’m in France, I try to visit a new place to make up for it.
For instance, I had never set foot in Corsica, even though it is a hugely popular holiday destination for French people. It’s not for nothing that it’s called “L’Île de Beauté”: the Isle of Beauty. Indeed, despite a developed tourism, you can still find many unspoilt landscapes, be it pristine beaches, mountains, forests or the bush (“maquis”)… It was high time to fill that gap in my life!
Singapore by night
(Click on above picture for bigger panorama, wouhou!)
Last April my partner and I flew to Singapore to attend the Asian Pastry Cup, taking place during the Food & Hotel Asia exhibition. I wasn’t that excited by Singapore before getting there, as I had an image of the city being very modern, clean and westernized, but I ended up liking it a lot! Despite spending most of our time at the exhibition centre, we managed to get a hint of all the possibilities Singapore can offer, especially foodwise
Here we are, almost landing in Ho Chi Minh City (still widely called Saigon by most of the population). We have to go through a thick cloud of pollution to start seeing the city from above, it’s quite impressive!
We get a taxi to our hotel, the An An I Hotel, ideally located at the heart of the backpacking district on Bui Vien, and which was perfectly pleasant, with a huge air-conditioned room and an unbeatable view on the all the action down below. The staff were also very friendly and helpful.
Phu Quoc Island – Long Beach
After our very brief stay in Hanoi, we flew to Ho Chi Minh, then took another small plane to Phu Quoc Island for our much anticipated beach holiday…
It was funny to see the island from the sky and try to picture our plane landing on that tiny landing strip, but we did it! We were then driven to our resort which was on the West Coast (Long Beach / Duong Dong Town). The resort was pretty nice, the Vietnamese/French food was ok, but we tried to go to different places every day.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral
I know I know, it’s been almost a year since my trip to France and Vietnam, but I only just got around to start looking through and sorting out all my Vietnam pictures!
Every time I plan for a holiday, I am torn between visiting my family and friends in the homeland, and travelling to new exotic places, where I can just sit on my “derrière” and drink cocktails on the beach.
That is why last year I decided to do both! Two weeks in France and two weeks in Vietnam: perfect! Yeees, not that perfect in the end, both were too short! Tough life…