5 reasons to visit Mont Saint Michel

Today, I would like to write an article why you must include Mont Saint Michel in your travel bucket-list. This majestic abbey is located in northwestern France, Normandy and welcomes more than 2.5 million tourists per year (source: click here). I had a chance to have a quick visit last summer. And I wish that I could go back there again this year. Here is 5 reasons why you should visit Mont Saint Michel.

First.

One of world heritage classed by UNESCO.
A little bit of history, the church was first built before the year of one thousand, and continued to extend their buildings for centuries. During French revolution and empire, the Abbey was turned into a prison. Since 2001, a community of monks and nuns of the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem have been living as a community on Mont Saint Michel. They are tenants of the center of national monuments and are not involved in the management of the Abbey.

Second.

The medieval village.
Not only the monastery, you can also visit the surrounded village that was built during the Middle Ages. The village consists shops, restaurants and lodgings.

Third.

The bay.
When Mont Saint Michel is bathed with water, it becomes an island, yet this only take place only 6 to 7 times each year. So, when it’s at lowest tides, you can experience one of the most popular activity, crossing the bay and explore its history and biodiversity. You can cross by foot, bike, horse, kayak or even gyrocopter. As it is extremely dangerous to cross the bay by yourself, this activity only allows with company of certified guides.

Fourth.

Home to Mère Poulard biscuits and omelet. 
I haven’t even got chance to taste it, but Mont Saint Michel is home to the popular omelet made by a French cooker, Annette Poulard. She and her husband, Victor Poulard, owned a hostelries la tête d’Or in Mont Saint Michel. Her original recipe made since 1888, and became popular ever since. It was actually her idea to make their visitors waited with patient by offering them an omelette souflée before the main course, le gigot prés-salés (read: lamb leg), a specialty of the region.

Five.

Magnifique sightseeing of medieval architecture.
There are too many things to see in Mont Saint Michel. You will capture different pictures from different angles, and it’s all beautiful. The fortress, the abbey, the shops, the restaurants, the view of the bay, the stairs, the streets, also the nature. One day is definitely not enough to visit the whole island.

Quick tips: Wear sneakers!

To prepare your visit, click on this website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One day visit in Ghent

If you are planning a day trip to Belgium this weekend, Ghent is a must-visit port city located in Northwest Belgium. First time I visited this town when I was pursued my post-grad studies in Lille, France. My friend used to drive me here for a day out as it was only 1 hour drive from where I used to live.

Ghent or Gent, is known for medieval architecture with its pedestrianized center built during 12th century. Today, Ghent is popular as university town and cultural hub.

Ghent is well worth for a last-minute city trip as its offers fascinating cultural cocktail, or drink-out with trendy urban ambiance, strolling around and discover its medieval architecture while doing a little shopping.

Here’s some glimpse of splendid architecture that remains remarkably well-preserved in Ghent:

Graventeen Castle

The castle dates to 1180 and was the residence of Count of Flanders until 1353. It was used as a court, prison, mint and cotton factory. It was restored over 1893 until 1903. Today, the castle is a museum and a major landmark for the city.

Photo courtesy from www.viator.com

The old Graslei Harbor

This place is quite trendy with the bars and pubs around the riverside. When the sun is out, this place will definitely pack with people enjoying their drinks with a magnificent view of the colorful buildings.

St-Nicolas Church and Saint Bavo’s Cathedral

One is a gothic church and the other is 10th-century romanesque cathedral – these landmarks mark the skyline Ghent’s old town.

 

 

Sunny winter in Deauville

Sun was finally up in Normandy last Saturday. I think almost every one in Normandy or we call them les normands went out that day. Well, that’s what we do when the sun comes out. It has been cloudy, cold and sometimes rainy since the beginning of 2019 until last Monday. The weather started to warm up from 4 degrees Celsius in the morning until 14-17 degrees Celsius in the afternoon. It is indeed very warm weather for February.

So like everyone, I went out to the coast, Deauville, located in the northwestern France, or about 1 hour driving from where I live, Rouen.

I think this was my third times coming there. Learnt from my previous visits, you must arrive before 11 am or otherwise it will be very difficult to get the parking. You also can reach this city by train directly from Paris for nearly 3 hours. The price for return ticket during the weekend will be around 40 to 60€.

Click here to reserve your train.

Deauville is quite popular with its horse race, harbor, beautiful villas, the Grand Casino, marinas and international film festival. This town is considered as the “queen of the Norman beaches”. Since the 19th century, it has been popular destination for the Parisian and seaside homes for French high society’s. Les Normands call it as the Parisian Riviera.

What to visit in Deauville, here’s some of my recommendations:

Promenade des planches

Where beach closets are dedicated to famous actors and moviemakers that have come to Deauville.

The seaside 5 stars Hotel Normandy and its garden

You do not have to sleep in there, you can enjoy the magnificent hotel architecture and its garden by the street.

The Horse racecourse at The Touques Hippodrome

Deauville is internationally known for its horse culture, famous tracks, yearling sales and multiple group on annual horse races. This racecourse hosts most horse races during the year, thus gaining the “four season hippodrome” nickname. When there is no horse race even occurred, you can actually visit this place with your kids to get to the pony club.

(Source: wikipedia)

The address:
45 Avenue Hocquart de Turtor 14800 Deauville

Place Morny and Place du Marché

The Morny square situated at the crossroads between Le Hoc road links the train station to the casino, the Gambeta road leads to the racecourse to one side and to the quay to the other, and the Oliffe road, leading to the beach. This square is located at the heart of the city, surrounded by shops, cafe and Deauville market’s area. The market is already operated since 1881.

(Source: click here)

Things to do in Bordeaux

For my last New Years Eve holiday, I decided to go to Bordeaux. It wasn’t my first time coming to this city. But, my first visit was too short and it wasn’t enough. So, I made myself promise that one day, I would coming back there. I believe that many people know about Bordeaux as the center of a major wine-growing and wine-producing region. It makes the city as a prominent and significant influence on the world of wine industry. Although, no wine production is conducted within the city limits.

Despite the wine industry, Bordeaux has also magnificent buildings and quays. It is classified as the city of art and history. Also, it is home to 362 historical monuments with some building dating back to Roman times.

I actually don’t have proper travel plan when I was in Bordeaux, what I did is buying one day ticket tram and asking the receptionist to give me a city map of main tourists attractions. Don’t worry to get lost, most of main attractions in Bordeaux are accessible to get into by the public transportation (the tram).

First thing to visit and even you’re not planning it, you must pass by this main square if you visit Bordeaux.

Place de la Bourse

This square is one of recognisable sights in France located in front of Garonne river.

 

 

 

It was cold in December, so the sky was pretty cloudy. Yet that stunning view of Pont de Pierre in front of Place de Bourse is mesmerizing. Second place to visit located just behind the Place de la Bourse.

Promenade de Sainte-Catherine

If you like to shop, drink and snacking in Bordeaux, this place is the right place. Unfortunately I did not have time to snap any picture as it was too crowded. Next to visit is another beautiful square in Bordeaux. 

Place de la Comédie

If you want to taste one of Michelin restaurant and bistro of Chef Gordon Ramsay, you can find it inside the Intercontinental Grand Hotel de Bordeaux. I recommend you to make a reservation in advance, otherwise you will not get a table. I actually made that mistake, I could not get a table as it was already fully booked. 

 

Up next, you can jump back into the Tram at place de Quinconces or if you like to walk, the next destination will be the Cathedral of Bordeaux.

Cathédrale Sain-André de Bordeaux

This Cathedral is built with gothic style around 14th-15th century.

 

Place Gambetta and surrounded area

After Place the la Bourse, square Gambetta is also one of important area in Bordeaux. It is surrounded by remarkable urban architecture built during the 18th century.

 

A very short trip to Vienna

Last October, I finally had a chance to visit Vienna for a business trip. As it was a Monday morning meeting, I flew to Vienna on Sunday morning from Paris. I arrived at Vienna international airport and took a taxi to get to the hotel. It costs around 50€. The hotel is located pretty close to the River Danube and 2 km away from the city center. The hotel itself was pretty vintage, I had single bedroom with a small shower and toilet.

Here’s the address:
Hotel Urania
Obere Weißgerberstraße 7, 1030 Wien, Austria
website: https://www.hotelurania.at/

After checked-in and put the luggage, I decided to walk to the town to get some lunch, and find this very nice Korean restaurant on my way to the town center.

It was surprisingly good and it wasn’t expensive at all if I compare it to a Korean restaurant in Paris.

Here’s the good address:
Yori Korean Dining
Wiesingerstraße 8
A-1010 Wien, Österreich
Website: http://www.yori.at/

I had their homemade limonade for 4.9€ and a bulgogi set for 13.90€ .

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I was actually glad that they forgot to bring me the dessert , otherwise I wouldn’t be able to taste this popular cake shop in Vienna, ” DEMEL ” a salon serving specialties such as cream cakes, scones & strudels, with shady terrace since 1888. You need to queue at least for 15 to 20 minutes before getting your table.

demel-vitrine-header-home
Photo courtesy by Demel

Here’s the address:
Demel

Kohlmarkt 14, 1010 Wien, Austria
Open from Monday – Sunday from 8 am to 7 pm
Phone: +43 1 5351717 Website : https://www.demel.com/de

I actually went there, because my colleague said that I should definitely come here, and he recommended me to taste their Apfelstrudel or Chocolate cake. As I didn’t want to regret not choosing the right thing, I ended up buying both of them.

After having tea-cake stop, I continued walking and strolling around the town center. It was quite busy Sunday, eventhough most of the stores were closed. I didn’t stay up late, as I didn’t want to get tired for the meetings, so I went back to the hotel before sunsets.

I woke up the next morning pretty early as I wanted to buy some souvenirs just in case I wouldn’t have time before I flew back to Paris. I decided to google the nearest souvenirs shops, and suprisingly found another tourist area, which actually located just 5 minutes away from the hotel. The place called Hundertwasser Village. It was built both on the inside and the exterior by concepts of artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser during the years 1990 and 1991. The building was used as car tyre factory before that time. Since then, this building is flooding by visitors as one of popular tourist attraction in Vienna. (Source: click here)