Medieval Houses in Paris

If you head into the lively Le Marais area of Paris, near Saint-Paul, around the corner from the main street, you’ll find Rue François-Miron. It’s a quiet little street but there is something special there – some of the oldest medieval style houses of Paris! The medieval houses stand out among the Parisian style architecture that one is used to seeing all over Paris.

As per the little history signboard near the houses, medieval houses are very rare in Paris. These houses are apparently as old as the 14th century. It is amazing to see such rare architecture in Paris. Le Marais is already such a gorgeous part of Paris and the houses on Rue François-Miron make it even more special.




Inside a Concorde: A Supersonic Visit at Le Bourget

In February, I visited the Air & Space Museum at Le Bourget just outside Paris. I was in aviation heaven! I bought the “forfait avions” ticket to visit the inside of not one but two Concordes, a Boeing 747, a Dakota & a Super Frelon. If you’re just interesting in browsing the permanent collections, it is free to do so. To get there, I took the metro to Porte de la Chapelle & then caught the bus 350 which stops right in front of the museum!

There are so many early planes, military and emergency helicopters, jets, miniature models, uniforms, satellites and life size planes to see that you could spend hours in there. But the highlight for me was visiting the Concorde.

The Concorde was a joint British-French developed and manufactured plane capable of reaching supersonic speeds. Its first commercial flight was in  January 1976 and it was retired in November 2003. The Concorde was an aircraft way ahead of it’s time and so it’s no surprise that aviation enthusiasts like me are still fascinated by it. For me it was dream come true to see a Concorde. They had the sound effects that made you feel like you were on a supersonic flight to New York JFK.

Overall, this place is a dream for aviation enthusiasts. I would highly recommend it. Some parts of the museum could definitely use a renovation because it is stuck in the 80’s but that didn’t stop me from enjoying my time there.



The Basilica of Saint-Denis & its Royal Necropolis

On a free museum Sunday, I decided to visit the Basilica of Saint-Denis. Saint-Denis is an infamous northern suburb of Paris. It was recently in the news due to the raid in apartments there after the Paris attacks and hence I was a bit reluctant to visit it last year. But I lived on metro line 13 and it was only about 6 stops for me to get there so I decided to give it a go and I was not disappointed. This Basilica is special because it is the burial site of the kings of France including Louis XVI & his wife Marie Antoinette.

At the time I visited, there was also an exhibition of Grand Royal Gowns by Lamyne M. It was incredible so see such a display of gorgeous dresses. The cathedral itself is stunning with early Gothic architecture and beautiful stained glass windows. All in all, the Basilica of Saint-Denis is worth a trip outside of Paris as one can have an amazing  historical experience with a royal touch.



Château des ducs de Bretagne

One of the most important monuments that one must visit, when in Nantes, is the Château des ducs de Bretagne or the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany. This 15th century castle was something out of a fairytale. The stunning architecture was inspiring and I was awestruck by it’s magnificence. You have an amazing view of the city from the top and it was definitely the highlight of my visit.



A Trip to Nantes

In January, I decided to take a trip to Nantes to visit my friend Elodie. It was an easy train trip from Paris and she met me at the train station. At first glance, I felt like it was a very peaceful place and I knew I was going to feel instantly at home.

We caught a tram to her place and I was amazed to see this mansion of an apartment. In Paris, I live in a shoebox apartment so her spacious, light-filled apartment in the centre of Nantes was a dream. Over the two days, she made some amazing home-cooked meals for us including quiche lorraine, home-made flavoursome soups, lovely honey & goat’s cheese snacks and a first for me, Raclette.

Raclette is the name of a cheese which is heated up and when melted poured on top of cooked potatoes. A couple of these with red wine and salad and my stomach was exploding. It was the most delicious and satisfying traditional French meal for the winter time.

We did a lot of walking and did a bike tour of city and explored many gems of the city. I was looking forward to seeing the famous Les Machines de l’île and the mechanical elephants but unfortunately, they were not running at the time. I guess I will have to come back one day to see this in summer. There was also the building “Air” which is living as it makes bird chirping and industrial chinking noises when you stand close to it.

The first night we went to a bar at the top of the Tour de Bretagne, called Le Nid, designed like the nest of a bird. There is a big half-stork, half-heron who’s head and body are at different ends of the bar. Overall, it’s a cool concept – you can enjoy the views of Nantes from up high and try a nice beer from the region too.

On the bike tour, we stopped at the Jardin des Plantes to check out the natural green beauty in central Nantes. We rode many hours and saw so much of Nantes, it was an incredible experience. Instead of hiring the bikes and having to park them every half an hour, we opted to hire bikes with locks so we were free to move anywhere. We also stopped at La Cigale, a cafe not to be missed. This cafe right in the centre opposite the Opera is a beautiful old historical cafe with amazing interiors and great coffee.

Before I visited Nantes, I also had no idea that the biscuits LU were from there. They are the simplest yet tastiest traditional French biscuits pretty much found in all supermarkets.

Overall, Nantes is a beautiful, calm and friendly city. It is full of street art and eco-friendly buildings. The only distraction are the low flying planes just a minute or so from landing flying over your head which for an aviation lover, is awesome. Honestly, it was a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of Paris and sometimes reminded me of Melbourne with the trams and the open space.

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The Bell Tower of Saint-Émilion

On the second day, early in the morning, Sheena & I rushed to the Visitor Centre at Saint-Émilion to be the first ones to collect the keys to the Bell Tower as we had a train to catch at 11.30 am. The Monolithic Church and the Bell Tower are all privately owned so the key was to be collected at the Visitor Centre and an ID had to be left in its place.

We walked to the Bell Tower which is just across the Visitor Centre, opened the gates and locked it from the inside. We had the whole place to ourselves! We walked up a seemingly endless staircase to the first level where some work was being done. Then, continued on to the second level which we thought was the top the entire time until we actually went to the top which was outside with a gorgeous 360 degree view of the historic town. You could see all the buildings, houses, restaurants and vineyards from the top. It was a freezing morning and on the top it was windy as hell but it didn’t stop us from taking a million photos. It was so beautiful and we didn’t want to leave!




Montaigne’s Foot

I was walking by Square Paul-Painlevé in the Latin Quarter one day when this old French man started talking to my land-lady & I. We had started talking about the new bio-gardens where the plants were left to grow naturally and not maintained. In France, most gardens are maintained to perfection and this new sight was simply odd.

He told us about how he lived during WWII and all the things he witnessed. He then randomly asked us if we have touched Montaigne’s foot. We asked what for?

He went on to explain that the student’s at Sorbonne University, which is right opposite Montaigne’s statue, would touch Montaigne’s foot for good luck before exams. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance.

Montaigne’s statue was first created in 1933 by Paul Landowski in marble but it suffered from too much hands-on admiration and thus in 1989, had to be replaced with a bronze statue replica that we see today.

As you can see in the photo, people really believe that Montaigne’s foot brings good luck as his right foot is rubbed and the colouring has changed.

Even I touched Montaigne’s foot for good luck and then that week I managed to get a job. But then the week later, my wallet was stolen, so I don’t really know how much I believe in it. I still love the story though.