Posted in Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

Photography project – #vantagepoint

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There is something quite magical about the fairground carousel, the old Victorian style gives them an eloquence that other rides just don’t have.

I wouldn’t really associate Paris with the carousel but while I was there recently I saw loads of them and they are so pretty that you just cant help taking photos of them. When I was asked recently to share one of my favourite travel photos for the #vantagepoint project I chose this one because I love the detail and the colours against the blue sky.

I took the photo on my newest camera which is the Canon 5d mark iii. I absolutely love the camera and just want to bring it everywhere with me to take photos. The only problem is the size of it, I cant just whip it out every time something catches my eye and carrying it around my neck can be a strain. What would be the perfect travel companion is the Light L16 which is described as the worlds most advanced mobile camera and is made by the Light company who are running the #vantagepoint project.

What camera do you use to capture your favourite moments?

 

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

Paris – exploring La Defense

I imagine Paris is a city similar to London in the sense that it has well known sights and attractions, particularly in the centre, but also has lesser known areas that are also filled with interesting things to see.

As soon as we stepped off the metro at La Defense our first thought was that it must be the Canary wharf of Paris. After a bit of research we found out that it was in fact the biggest business district in the whole of Europe with 3.5 million square metres of office space!

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Situated west of the city, La Defense is part of the Paris metropolitan area and has so much more to see than just skyscrapers.

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The district is named after the statue La Defense de Paris which commemorates the Parisian resistance during the Franco-Prussian war. It stands pride of place in the middle of the area and it is not the only artistic structure you will see. Dotted around are a total of 60 modern art structures and monuments.

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I really liked the contrast of the colourful, fun looking artistic structures with the backdrop of the rigid office blocks. One of the newest buildings in the area is the Grande arch which was a project that was supported by the French president Mitterrand who wanted a twentieth century version of the Arch de Triomphe. The nice thing about it is if you face directly opposite the Grande arch you can see the Arch de Triomphe directly in front of you, albeit quite far in the distance.

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Either side of the Grande arch are two large shopping malls which house every shop you could think of which probably helps to bring a lot of Parisians as well as tourists to the area.

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I was quite surprised that although it is a business district there is still lots of greenery around the area. As we were there at the weekend it was fairly empty but I can imagine it thriving with people during the working week.

If I had known it was the business district before travelling to La Defense I probably would have been put off staying in the area but there was so much to see that I’m glad I didn’t look it up before our trip.

I am not really familiar with the different districts of Paris but would love to visit and explore other areas. Have you visited Paris? Where did you stay?

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

Le Grand Bistro – Paris

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Before arriving in Paris we decided to book a table at a restaurant that we had already looked up so we wouldn’t waste time searching for one while there. Le grand bistro is situated in Maillot – St Ferdinand, a short distance from the Arc de triomphe and runs a set menu. The menu includes an aperitif of a cocktail and olives, followed by a starter, main course, dessert and coffee to finish. Each meal had a selection of around ten dishes to choose from and included a bottle of wine.

Décor/service

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We arrived early as is typical for me because I hate the thought of getting anywhere late. We were warmly welcomed and charmed by the swanky décor and comfortable seating, it was like having our own little corner sofa. The tables were all finely laid out and the waiter promptly took our order. I was quite impressed that he was able to remember everything we wanted without having to write it down! The restaurant seemed spacious while empty but as it was filling up it started to feel a tad cramped. We had two different waiters for the evening and they were both friendly although not overly chatty.

Food

We had already looked at the menu online before arriving so we knew what we wanted to eat. For starter we had a pate with bread and snails in a garlic butter. I have had snails before and wasn’t very keen but the OH seems to enjoy them.

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For the main course I chose the lamb served with dauphinoise potatoes and a little pot of gravy. I sometimes find lamb a bit fatty and chewy but this was tender and tasty and the potatoes were a perfect creamy accompaniment. The OH had steak that looked delicious and good quality, it was served with chips and a mayo sauce.

344A4051344A4054For dessert we had crepes and crème Brulee that were both lit at the table which I wasn’t expecting and nearly set myself on fire! They were a great end to a lovely meal, we gave the coffee a miss because we seemed to be sitting for so long and was eager to stretch our legs.

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Our food at Le Grand Bistro felt like a perfect Parisian meal out and at 44 euro a head we felt it was very reasonable for a fine dining experience.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

Sofitel hotel Paris

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During our recent trip to Paris we stayed at the luxury Sofitel Hotel which is part of the Accor hotel group and has more than 120 hotels worldwide.

When visiting a city for a short space of time I don’t think the hotel is much of an importance because most of the time is spent outside exploring but as it was my birthday the OH decided that I deserved a treat. (It’s true, I did!)

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The hotel is situated in the La defense area of Paris and although it wasn’t too far from the metro station it was quite difficult to find and we had to ask a local to guide us.

On entering the hotel we were faced with a very distinctive smell, it wasn’t unpleasant but was quite overpowering, probably came from a plant. The reception area looked really cosy and colourful but there didn’t seem to be many people around. As the receptionist went over all the details I was preoccupied with taking photos, well you know, priorities! We were given a card to use in the lifts and for our room but on first use it didn’t work so we had to go back and change it.

When we finally got in there, we were really impressed with the comfort and style of the room. I did have to question whether I really wanted to see the sights of Paris after all when I could just put my feet up and have a relaxing break… no such luck!

The room had a large TV, music system and a fully stocked fridge which we steered clear of! We were told we could have coffee and tea but unfortunately we couldn’t  get the coffee machine to work.

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344A4016The bed was one of the comfiest I have ever slept in and I didn’t want to get out of it but with the sun shining through the window (we were expecting rain) we were eager to get out and see the sights and to buy some coffee.

The bathroom was lovely and I liked that it had a speaker in the ceiling so you could listen to music while in the bath, although it scared the life out of me when I went to the toilet and the OH put the TV on, all of a sudden there was a mans voice in the toilet with me!

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344A4019No hotel room is complete without a giant mirror to take selfies into!

344A4023We were up on the sixth floor and had a nice view of the business district, La Defense is full of interesting architecture and artwork so has become a popular part of Paris for tourist to visit, there are also lots of other hotels around the area.

344A4015As it was a quick visit we didn’t have a chance to check out any other facilities in the hotel. There was a bar and restaurant right next to the reception but on the first night we had already booked a table at La Grand Bistro which was a few stops away on the metro and the second day we were out visiting the town for the whole day so we didn’t use it.

Overall we had a pretty positive experience at Hotel Sofitel and would consider visiting another of their hotels in the future…Dubai would be nice 😉

 

 

 

 

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

Navigating the metro

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As the saying goes… ‘When in Rome do as the Romans do’ so as we arrived at Gare du nord on the Eurostar we thought we would do as the Parisians do and find our way to the hotel using the metro.

As Londoners who use the tube frequently we thought it would be a pretty easy journey but our first hurdle came when we used the self service ticket machine, even with the option to use it in English we couldn’t understand how to purchase the ticket required and had to queue up to buy it from the ticket office. I suddenly felt empathy for all the people that use the tube and don’t speak English.

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Although there are really confusing maps everywhere that we didn’t understand (must attempt to learn French) the metro system is pretty easy to navigate. Each line has a colour and a number which makes it easier than having to remember the name of the line like the London underground. We started on line four and had to change over to line one, the whole journey was around 25 minutes and cost around 7 euros for a travel card in zones 1 and 2 which was much cheaper than it would have been if we took a taxi.

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I was really impressed with the screens on the carriage that tell you how many minutes until the next stop and how many minutes until the end of the line. Each stop is around two minutes so I think the stations are slightly closer together than they are in London. The trains themselves were a little worse for wear and as you can see from the picture many of the stations such as Gare du nord could do with a lick of paint, unlike the station at the louvre which looked like a museum itself!

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What was strange was when we were trying to find a hole to put our ticket through on the way out but there didn’t seem to be any, then we noticed that people were just pushing their way through the barriers that make you feel like you’re taking part in some sort of assault course.

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Seeing all the vending machines at the stations brought back some memories. Who remembers the old Cadbury machines with the square shaped chocolate bars that were on all the platforms in London? I wonder what happened to those!

If you are planning a trip to Paris and want to explore different areas I would definitely recommend the metro, for time and value its a good option.