When people ask me where I come from, I always answer Le Mans. Because it is the closest city to my hometown. Because nobody would know what I talk about if I tell them about my hometown - a village of 2000 inhabitants. Because Le Mans is where I was born, 25 years, 11 months and a few days ago. So, stop asking me where it is, and look at the map at the top of this article! 😉 French people know about Le Mans, and most internationals have heard about it as well. Why? Because Le Mans has been hosting the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance sports car race since 1923. 😀 I went there once, in 2015. The atmosphere around the track is great; you can see people eating, drinking, shouting, singing...
There is even a 24 hours museum! You can learn everything about the race, see some old cars and more recent cars, take some pictures... I went there for my first time last year and really enjoyed it.
But the race is far from being the only nice thing about the city. My very favourite area is the well-preserved old town, called Cité Plantagenêt or Vieux Mans. As you may or may not know, I "lived" in Le Mans from 15 until 18 (I was actually in boarding school there). My school was very close to le vieux Mans, therefore I used to head there all the time. Between classes, during classes, after classes; for a walk, to listen to some music (French rap, at the time), to take some pictures, etc. I am sure I can find thousands of pictures of le vieux Mans in my archives, also because I kept on going there after! 😉 I showed the place to some French friends, Canadian, Mexican, Iranian... Here is a quick overview of the streets. Sorry in advance for the range of pictures; some are very old, some are recent, with different cameras! 😀
Not too bad, hey? 😀 I told you I was in boarding school in Le Mans, well, my high school looks quite nice as well. It is called Bellevue, which literally means Beautiful View. Let's have a look...
I did not tell you something - not yet. In le vieux Mans, there is also a big cathedral, called Cathédrale Saint-Julien. Its construction started back in the 11th century and ended in the 15th century.
Le Vieux Mans is also, for sure, the best place for restaurants. My favourite ones are: La Baraque à Boeuf, La Vieille Porte, et L'Auberge des 7 plats. Do not forget to book in before though, they are popular! 😉
A funny fact about Le Mans (or at least, some people think it is funny, I do like it! 😉): our tramway is orange!
Okay, what else can I tell you about Le Mans? 😀 We have a few parks and gardens. Nothing very fancy but they are always nice when it is sunny. I am afraid I do not have many pictures... The Jardin des Plantes is quite nice, not far from the city centre. The Parc Théodore Monod offers some water jets, always appreciated in hot days; however, it is a but far from the centre (but accessible by tram). The Parc de Tessé is very close to the city centre, and close to two of the main high schools as well. It is supposed to be romantic!
I guess that's it for Le Mans! I need to talk to you more about the surrounding countryside... 😀
Because way too many people only think about Paris when I tell them I come from France. This has to stop! There are so many other beautiful places in France! :O I now want to tell you more about my area! 😀 I live in a small village of 2000 inhabitants, 30 minutes drive from Le Mans. We have: one church, two boulangeries (French bakeries), three or four bars / cafés (French pubs), schools going up to 15 years old, and a few other things, such as two shops, one medical centre, two retirement homes, some hairdressers. The "highlight" of my village is probably its castle! 😉 Le château du Grand-Lucé was built in the 18th century and is a French national landmark. It has survived wars and revolutions, and hosted nobles, writers and philosophers. It is also where my brother and I learnt to cycle when I we were kids! 😀
Countryside does not only mean landscapes, but also... fauna! 😉 Did you know that, on top of our two cats, we also have two hens in our garden? Fresh eggs every day, this is quite nice! 😀
Five kilometres from my house can be found a nice garden called Fontaine Blineau. His owners are very creative and really nice. The garden is opened for visits. Some interviews and videos were made by French TV. I went to a few events there: an outdoor yoga session and a degustation, it was nice!
Long story short, we have some nice times when the sun is out! 😀 But I am not done yet with La Sarthe (Le Mans surroundings). We also are the lucky "owners" of La Forêt de la Bercé. In 2017, Bercé received the title of Exceptional Forest; only 5 forests in France have this label. It is mostly composed of very old but healthy and tall oaks. The area is perfect for cycling, hiking, having a picnic... I went there many times (and still go for walks), in every season: Autumn colours, sunny and green Spring, crispy snow... 😀
I definitely prefer my hometown than busy/smelly/dirty Paris!!! 😀 Open your mind people! 😉
For this article about my country, I decided to write my posts in some geographically "rational" way. I will therefore tell you about Tours now. To give you an idea (the best would be to look at the map though!), my hometown is located between Le Mans and Tours. By the way, for all the non-French speakers, we never pronounce the 's' at the end of words! Therefore, it is not "Le Mansss", nor "Toursss"!!! My ears!!! 😉 Tours stands on the lower reaches of the Loire river, between Orléans and the Atlantic Ocean. Funnily enough, I only visited Tours once (in March 2014) even though I went around there many times for shopping. I will thus not be able to tell you a lot about the city, but I really enjoyed its atmosphere.
According to TripAdvisor, the Cathédrale Saint-Gatien is the main highlight of the city. Similarly to the Cathédrale Saint-Julien of Le Mans, it was built between the 12th century and the 16th century.
The Hôtel de Ville (city hall) looks quite impressive as well. It was built in the 19th century, with a view to represent the French Republican values. Around this main square, one can find many restaurants, cafés and shops. Even though it was only March, we enjoyed a coffee in a terrace with sunglasses! 😀
What I probably liked the most was having a walk along and across the Loire river - the longest river in France (1012 km) - on the Passerelle Saint-Symphorien, a pedestrian suspension bridge. From it, we can see the Château de Tours. Built in the 11th century, it has then been almost entirely destroyed during the 18th century. It has been renovated during the 20th century and is now home to cultural activities.
Such a beautiful blue sky... 😀
I previously introduced the Loire river; it should make you think about the Loire Valley and the Loire Valley castles (les Châteaux de la Loire). If you - still! 😉 - do not know where is Loire Valley, check this:
No more excuse! 😀 The Loire Valley is also referred to as Garden of France due to its abundance of vineyards and fruit orchards. The area was added to the World Heritage Sites in 2000 by the UNESCO. Unfortunately, I used to be not as organised as I am today with my pictures, therefore it is now hard for me to find out when and where some of them were taken from, but I promise my best. 😉
Let's start with the Château de Villandry. Villandry is located near Tours - as you can see on the map. The château was built during the 14th century, but what is the most impressive are its Renaissance gardens, designed in the early 1900s. It is one of the most visited châteaux in France. Its interior reflects the French art de vivre in the 18th century. Historic break needed! 😉 "The Renaissance covers the span between the 14th and 17th century. The intellectual basis of the Renaissance was its own invented version of humanism. This new thinking became manifest in art, architecture, politics, science and literature."
Shame on me, I have probably lost some pictures: I only have an old and ugly one of the Château de Chambord! :O It is one of the most recognisable châteaux in the world because of its very distinctive French Renaissance architecture. It is also the largest château in the Loire Valley. Once again, make sure to have a look at the great map at the top of this post: main cities with a square and châteaux with a round! 😀
I have just noticed that Azay-le-Rideau is missing from the map... Too bad. The Château d'Azay-le-Rideau was (also) built during the 16th century. It is set on in the middle of a river, which makes it particularly picturesque. Sadly again, I only found an old and ugly picture in my archives... 😦
I recently went to Chaumont, and thus will do better in terms of photographs! 😀 The Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire was founded in the 10th century. It has however been destroyed under Louis XI, and rebuilt in the 15th century. The château offers a panoramic view on the Loire river as it is located on top of a hill. This château has, in my opinion, a lot to offer, as one can visit: the interior of the castle, its outdoors, its stables, and the beautiful gardens where a garden festival is being hold every summer.
Last year in June, I had the chance to discover the Festival des Jardins with my mum and my grandparents; it was amazing! We spent more than two hours wondering around the gardens created by local artists.
My posts ends here, but there are many more cities and châteaux to discover in the Loire Valley!
Update! I visited Chenonceaux on December 25. My coup de coeur - so far. Need to upload the pictures.
Do not hate me, I actually lied to you! I will talk about another place in the Loire Valley! 😀 Angers is located about one hour drive from Le Mans, towards the West. It is actually visible on the map of the previous post. Do not forget to check the map at the top of the article, also. I visited the city of Angers for the first time in 2012 when visiting one of my best friends who used to live there. I myself lived in Angers twice; 4 months in Summer 2014 and 6 months in Spring and Summer 2015 - for internships at the hospital. I really loved my times in this cute city, going around with my bicycle, enjoying the sunny and warm weather!
Angers is also home of a castle, the Château d'Angers; also called Château des Ducs d'Anjou. It was indeed founded during the 9th century by the Counts of Anjou, and expanded in the 13th century. The château offers a nice view on the Maine river, which will then merge into the Loire river.
By the way! Angers is not at all pronounced like the plural of "anger"!!! It starts more like... "angels" and ends with the sound "é". Not the 'r' nor the 's' are pronounced. I need to create some audio files... 😉 Oh, a random but funny fact. When was living in Angers, I used to be a fan of frogs, and therefore was chasing every single frog there. I found hundreds of pictures of frogs in my archives... 😀
Let's be serious - for once! 😉 The city centre of Angers is composed of many pedestrians streets. We can find lots of shops, restaurants and cafés. During the weekends or sunny days, many people like to wander there and enjoy a coffee - or a glass of wine - outside. The next pictures show an example of the architecture of the city, as well as the main square (Place du Ralliement) and the cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d'Angers). Every summer, the Place du Ralliement is decorated following a theme - these pictures were taken in 2015. The city offers free loungers, sunshades, and books for both locals and tourists.
The main city centre is located on the same side of the river than the château. On the other side of the Maine, one can find a small harbour with a nice view on the city as well as some nice relaxing spots...
If you follow the Maine river towards South West, you will soon meet the Lac de Maine and its park. It is a perfect area for going for a walk, cycling, having a drink or a picnic, but also for nautical activities. I used to go there all the time with my bike, my book, and my camera! 😀 It is very appreciated by locals. In summer, this is where you can find the best bar of Angers: Le Héron Carré. It is an outdoor guinguette with local wines and food, and with many activities such as concerts and improvisation shows.
But the Lac de Maine is far from being the only green area of Angers! The city is home to at least 6 parks and gardens. My favourite ones are the Jardin des Plantes, the Jardin du Mail, and the Parc de Balzac. They are all located in the city centre. Have a look at my random pictures from the diverse parcs and gardens! 😀
Angers is also home of Terra Botanica, an amusement and botanical park. I went there with some friends; we had a good day because we were together and the weather was awesome, but we were very disappointed by our experience haha! Terra Botanica might be great with small children though.
To make a long story short, Angers is a very nice student city with many outdoor activities. However, I only lived there during Spring and Summer and therefore did not face any bad days.
When talking about Angers, another city usually comes to mind: her neighbour Nantes (once again, we do not pronounce the 's' at the end). Nantes is located 90 km from Angers towards the West, i.e., towards the Atlantic Ocean. It is the 6th largest city in France (after Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse and Nice). To give you an idea with the city I previously told you about, Angers is ranked 17th, Le Mans 21st and Tours 25th. I went to Nantes 2 or 3 times. Unfortunately, once again, I did not manage to find all my photographs in my archives... 😦 It will be a short overview of the city then! 😉 The good thing is that I am definitely a lot more organised with my documents nowadays, and I know where to find my pictures! lol 😀
Nantes is home to a castle, called the Château des Ducs de Bretagne. Located on the right bank of the Loire river, it used to serve as the centre of the historical province of Brittany until its separation in 1941. It was the residence of the dukes of Brittany between the 13th and 16th centuries. Today, the castle houses the Nantes History Museum. I saw the castle from the outside but never went to the museum. From its towers, we can observe the tramway and the Tour LU (Lefèvre-Utile). LU is a manufacturer brand of French biscuits, founded in Nantes in 1846. For the record, French people have a funny way to eat these biscuits: we start by the corners, then eat the edges, and finally finish by the middle part of the biscuit! 😀
My favourite place in Nantes - or maybe one of my favourite) is the Jardin des Plantes. The garden was established back to 1806. Nowadays, it contains 11000 different species, as well as some ponds, statues, pavilions, and fountains. Its palm house and greenhouse are also notable, with exceptional collections. I am totally positive that I took some pictures in the garden, but were not able to find them! Sorry! 😉
Before talking about l'île de Nantes, I will quickly talk to you about a beautiful arcade called Passage Pommeraye. The passage was built in 1840. It is nowadays a small shopping mall between two streets. It attracts many tourists due to its particularity: it was indeed built on three levels with central stairs.
I previously mentioned l'Ile de Nantes (Nantes island). It is a small island located in the centre of Nantes, surrounded by two branches of the Loire river. You might think that I talk a lot about the Loire but, do not worry, we are almost down! 😉 Indeed, the Loire will throw itself in the Atlantic Ocean after Nantes.
The main point of interest of the island is the Machines de Nantes; an artistic, touristic and cultural project based in old covered buildings that used to be used for ship construction. The most famous machine is the Great Elephant: it is a mechanical elephant made from 45 tons of wood and steel. It is 12 meters high and 8 meters wide, quite impressive! It can take up to 50 passengers for a walk. The Machine Gallery is an exhibition place to illustrate the background story of the machines. Definitely worth visiting! 😀
Not so many pictures, but already a cool overview of the city, I believe! 😀 What else could I tell you? Nantes is home to many students and is thus a quite lively city. It has an airport with some cheap national and international flights. And, probably the best of all, it takes only 30-45 minutes to drive to the Atlantic coast.
I gave you a hint in my previous post: I mentioned (a few times) the Atlantic Coast. This is what we will talk about in this new post, or at least a part of it, called the Côte d'Amour. Until the 19th century, what is nowadays called the Côte d'Amour was only composed of two little fishing ports, Pornichet (in the East) and Le Pouliguen (in the West). Both cities are separated by a large sand stretch: La Baule.
You can see on the map (at the top of this article) where is located the Côte d'Amour (7) compared to Nantes (6), i.e., towards the West of the city. I also found two nice maps on Google images to show you which towns are part of this area, as well as their specialities, which I will detail more further! 😀
There are two main activities in this area: fishing and extraction of salt. The salt evaporation ponds are called marais salants in French. The most famous ones are around Guérande which is, as you can see on the map, the only city with no direct access to the Ocean. This is why the salt is called: sel de Guérande! 😀
Guérande itself is a very pretty medieval town. Its fortified wall, built in the 15th century, is one of the best preserved and complete in France. The streets are paved and home to many delicious restaurants and crêperies (restaurants of crêpes and galettes), as well as some boulangeries and souvenir shops. I remember taking dozens of pictures of the city and its walls but have no idea where to find them... 😦
My mum and I love the so-called Côte d'Amour. We used to go there quite often when I was younger. Our favourite town (?) might be Batz-sur-Mer. The territory of Batz is part of the wild coast of Guérande peninsula, with is rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, and salt marshes. Something funny can be found in the village: a church with no roof! 😉 It is the Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Mûrier. Its roof was destroyed in 1819 due to an hurricane. I should admit I have no idea why they did not build another one... 😀
The coastline going from Le Croisic up to La Turballe and Piriac-sur-Mer (see on the small map in this post) is beautiful. It is called Côte Sauvage (wild coast), due to its high waves and rocks. At low tide, many fish, shells and crabs are stuck in the rocks; fishermen and tourists love walking there. I have loads of pictures from this area, here is a small sample - just for the eyes! 😀
I will finish this post talking about the Pointe de Pen Bron, a place that my mum and I only discovered a few years ago, as it is slightly further and more complicated to reach. One could notice Pen Bron on the small map but only with a sharp eye; it is question of the narrow peninsula between Le Croisic and la Turballe. It is a beautiful sandbank going on for 1.2 km, offering some amazing views on the Ocean on one side and on the marais salants on the other side, with many trees and grass on the way.
I will stop this post on such a beautiful water, hoping that you are now wanting to visit the area! 😀
I was supposed to head back to Cardiff yesterday but my flight got cancelled due to snow storm! 😉 Thus I am still at home for some time and can keep in with writing... I quickly introduced Brittany in my previous posts (on Nantes and the Côte d'Amour) or, more specifically, what used to be Brittany some time ago. Now, I will talk about "real" Brittany, starting by its capital: Rennes. Its history goes back to more than 2000 years. From the 16th century until the French Revolution (1789), it was a parliamentary, administrative and garrison city of the historic province of Brittany. Nowadays, it is the 10th largest city in France.
I spent two years in Rennes, from 2010 to 2012, i.e., right after my time in Le Mans. I was in boarding school there as well, and supposedly did not have much time to visit the city as I was in Classes Prépa Maths et Physique (intensive Maths and Physics "undergrad"). But, of course, I visited every single area haha. However, I did not find many pictures in my folders again! This is weird. Anyway, I can show you an overview.
The city centre is said "historic" thanks to its old but very well-conserved buildings. It is always lovely to go for a walk around, particularly when the sun is out, and enjoy the view. Many restaurants and crêperies can be found there. Indeed, crêpes and galettes are a specialty from Brittany and are usually (always! 😉) eaten with a bolée de cidre (a "bowl" of cider), another specialty of this region.
Rennes is a very green city, with many parks and gardens. There were two next to my boarding school, therefore I used to go there quite often: the Parc des Gayeulles and the Parc de Maurepas. The Parc des Gayeulles is the largest park in Rennes, with 5 small lakes, a forest, and a leisure centre. Its activities include: football and rugby fields, a swimming-pool, a skating rink, camping and barbecue areas. There were always hundreds of rabbits on the grass, more or less shy, more or less fat. And some squirrels as well.
The Parc de Maurepas is a municipal garden; a lot smaller than the Gayeulles but still nice for reading a book, for a walk or even for a card game! The park even has a "magic tree" (it was written magic tree on it lol).
Finally, the Parc du Thabor is located in the city centre and was therefore further away from my room. It remains my favourite one, mixing jardins à la française and à l'anglaise, a botanical garden and some fountains.
As I did not find many pictures of the city centre for my archives, and so that you are not too mad at me... 😉 I will also tell you about Fougères, a city located 50 km from Rennes. The city is composed of a few notable locations such as its medieval castle and its belfry. Have a look at my pictures... 😀
I started to mention La Bretagne (Brittany) in my previous posts. But, what do you know about Brittany? It is a cultural region in the northwest of France. In Breton, Britanny is called Breizh. It has been inhabited by humans since the Lower Paleolithic (Early Stone Age); this is why many big stones can be found there.
Brittany is the largest French peninsula: 2800 kilometers of coastline. The Breton coast is very indented, with many cliffs. This is why we love Brittany! 😀 However, the weather is usually not very good there - quite similar to British weather actually... Even though Bretons totally refuse to admit this fact! 😉
Brittany is also very well known for its cuisine. It is indeed where we can find the crêpes (sweet) and galettes (savoury), the cider, the salted caramel, the kouign-amann, and other delicacies. 😀
I went to Brittany quite many times, particularly when I was a child, for holidays with my parents. I probably do not have many digital pictures to show you then, but it can give you an idea... So. I will limit my post to a very tiny part of Brittany. I will talk to you about a few cities located in the North East part of the region: more especially about Saint-Malo and Dinard. Why? Because I went to these cities many times and because I have some pictures on my laptop, as I went there between 2010 and 2012 (when I was in Rennes).
In modern history, Dinard was first settled by Saint-Malo's shipping merchants who built some of the town's magnificent houses. In the late 19th century, American and British aristocrats made Dinard popular as a fashionable summer resort, and they built stunning villas on the cliff tops and exclusive hotels.
I said I would talk to you about Saint-Malo as well, but I somehow do not have many pics on my laptop... Weird... Saint-Malo is a historic walled port city. Traditionally known for its independent streak, Saint-Malo was in the past notorious for privateering (the "cité corsaire"). Today the city is a major tourist destination, with many ancient structures. A few pictures I took when coming back from England in 2010.
Saint-Malo and Dinard are both part of the beautiful Côte d'Emeraude, as well some other cities, such as Cancale. I have quite many pictures of this beautiful coast, thus I will share them with you! 😀
PS: you can notice that I never say no to a swim in the sea! 😉
Next to Brittany can be found the famous Normandie (Normandy). Both regions are only separated by a small river, Le Couesnon, forming an estuary at Mont Saint-Michel, one of France's most recognisable landmarks (right after the Eiffel tower, of course!). The Mont Saint-Michel island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times. Since the 8th century AD, it has been seat of the monastery. I used to go to the Mont almost once a year when I was a kid, as all my dad's family lives in this area. I found a few pics on my laptop - which were taken in 2011 and 2012, probably the last times I went there...
Normandy is divided into 5 départements. Le Mont Saint-Michel is located in La Manche, where my dad is from; it is thus the département I know the best. One of its main cities is called Avranches and has a beautiful garden - as well as an old centre with some good restaurants! 😉
Most of the département is surrounded by the English Channel, and thus by sand beaches. The British islands Jersey and Guernesey are very close to the département La Manche.
I also had the opportunity to go to another département in Normandy: Le Calvados. It is very famous as it his the main "host" of the Normandy landings on D-Day (6th June 1944). It is thus a very historical place, with a lot of museums... and cemeteries.
But Le Calvados is also home to more joyful events, such as the international film festival held in Deauville.
I visited Deauville in 2011, as well as two of its neighbours: Cabourg and Honfleur, parts of the flowery coast. Honfleur is a real beauty, with a cute harbour and many cafés and restaurants.
PS: this is only a tiny part of Normandy. Les falaises d'Étretat (Etretat cliffs) also are very impressive.
Do you still wanna go to Paris only? 😉
Before talking about Paris, I will keep on going South on the Atlantic coast... 😀 First stop? La Rochelle. It takes less than two hours to drive from Nantes (we talked about Nantes before!) and La Rochelle. La Rochelle is also known as la Ville Blanche (the White City), due to its limestone facades. It is famous for its ports, for its arcades, and for its lighthouses. I went to La Rochelle when I was a kid, but also for a weekend in April 2014. Have a look at my pictures (sadly not many) to discover this city... 😀
La Rochelle is connected to l'île de Ré (Isle of Rhé) by a bridge, which was built 30 years ago. The island is a popular tourist destination, as it has approximately the same number of hours of sunshine as the southern coast of France! It is covered with bicycles, as locals barely use their cars.
But the next big city on that side of France is of course... Bordeaux. I had the chance to live in Bordeaux for a couple of years, and I really loved that city, even though it is the 6th largest city in France - and God knows that I do not really like big cities! 😉 Bordeaux has a totally different feeling. The historic part of the city is on the UNESCO list as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble" of the 18th century. After Paris, Bordeaux has the highest number of preserved historical buildings of any city in France. By the way, Bordeaux is also the world's major wine industry capital! 😀 Bordeaux wine has been produced in this region since the 8th century. No reason not to love this city then!
I usually do not know where to start when talking about this city, so I think I will start with (one of) my favourite spot(s): le Miroir d'Eau (Water Mirror)! It is the world's largest reflecting pool. It was built in 2006 in front of the Place de la Bourse - I had the chance to see it for the first time in 2007. It is actually one of the reasons why I fell in love with this city. I then went back sooo many times to this Miroir d'Eau! 😀
But one cannot talk about the Miroir d'Eau without talking about the Quais, where this latter is located. The docks of Bordeaux have been developed on 4.5 km along the Garonne river with restaurants, shops, and other monuments. There are always many people walking, running, or cycling on the Quais.
By the way, it is possible to do kayaking on the river! 😉
Behind the Place de la Bourse (the beautiful buildings) are located more beautiful buildings, including the Grand Théâtre. It was first inaugurated in 1780, and was conceived as a temple of the Arts and Light.
Close to the theatre is la Place des Quinconces, one of the largest city squares in Europe. The monument in the centre was erected around 1900, in memory of the Girondins, victims of the Terror during the Revolution.
Another famous square in Bordeaux is the one containing the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), the Cathédrale Saint-André (Cathedral) and the Tour Pey-Berland (Tower).
The Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church. It is a national monument of France, built in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is located next to the Pey-Berland tower (see picture bottom right).
The Pey-Berland tower was built a few decades after the cathedral. It is possible to climb its 230 steps to discover a beautiful view on the city. I did it many times, as it is free for students! 😀
Are you excited about Bordeaux now? Not yet? Wait for it! 😀 A few random pictures of the city...
But I have not finished yet! I know want to talk to you about a quartier populaire (a popular district): Saint-Michel et les Capucins. Le marché des Capucins (Capucins market) is the place to be on a Sunday morning - or pretty much any morning. Many people go there to buy some food or even to have lunch.
Not green enough for you? No worries! I have not mentioned the Jardin Public (Public Garden) yet! 😀
To finish this post, I want to introduce the Parc de l'Ermitage that not many students know - even though it is a little paradise very close to the city centre. To head there, you will first meet the Pont Chaban-Delmas, that "new" bridge (open in 2013) to help with traffic between the two shores.
The parc de l'Ermitage would be particularly beautiful in the sun; I sadly did not choose the best day! 😉
So, Paris or Bordeaux? :P
My previous post being about Bordeaux, I think it is legitimate to now talk about Arcachon Bay (or, le Bassin d'Arcachon in French). Arcachon Bay is located on the Atlantic coast, i.e., on the South West of Bordeaux (make sure to check the map at the top of this article: Bordeaux is number 12, whereas Arcachon is number 13). The bay covers an area of 150 km² at high tide and 40 km² at low tide.
For you to better picture the bay and my future stories, I found the following map on a French hiking website! 😀 No need to pay attention to the hiking levels, but make sure to check 1) the shape of the bay and 2) the main cities and highlights, such as the Pointe du Cap Ferret or the Dune du Pilat.
As I told you before, I used to live in Bordeaux from September 2012 until around end of 2014. Arcachon Bay, located less than one hour drive from Bordeaux, was - of course - one of my favourite destinations. The first time I went there was in September 2012. I took the train from Bordeaux to Arcachon, city located at the bottom of the bay - as you can see in bold on the above map. It is a popular swimming destination thanks to its sandy beach and mild climate! 😀 In pictures...
The second time I went to the bay was a few months later: in December 2012. That time, I went with my parents. As we had the car, we took the opportunity to not only go to the city of Arcachon, but also to the famous Dune du Pilat. As you can notice on the map, the Dune is located at the bottom left part of the bay. It is the tallest sand dune in Europe, with a volume of about 60 000 000 m³, measuring around 500m wide and 2.7km in length! Big sand castle! 😉 It receives more than one million visitors per year.
In 2013, I took a "break" from the bay, as I spent the second semester in Canada - and the first one in depression. But, in 2014, I spent almost all my weekends there! 😉 My housemate had a car, and knew the whole area. This is when I discovered the "other side" of the bay: le Cap-Ferret (West on the map, other side of the water, next to the Ocean). I first discovered the villages (le Piquey, le Canon, l'Herbe, and le Cap-Ferret) along the bay, famous for their oysters (eaten with dry white wine, of course).
In a second time, I discovered la Pointe du Cap-Ferret, that is to say, the Ocean side. Both sides have their charms: quiet versus lively, man-made versus wild... 😀 I swam a lot at the Pointe, both in Summer and Winter, both in mornings and evenings. We can notice the Dune du Pilat on some pictures; both sites are indeed very close on the map (but very far away by car - about 70 kilometres).
Come back here for more adventures in the South West of France! 😀
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