Posts Tagged 'Paris'

Exploring Paris Through its Parks

When you think of Paris, France, things like baguettes, pastries, and the Eiffel Tower come to mind. On a recent trip I chose to experience less touristy parts of the iconic city. I soon discovered some of the city’s best-kept secrets actually lie hidden in its parks. If you want to go where the locals go or spend a little time in nature, then visit one of the many parks and gardens. Not unlike a Parisian café, parks offer a place to relax, have a drink, meet people, take in a beautiful view, and find some free WiFi. With 19 arrondissements, there are countless parks throughout the city. Here are a few to consider.

Buttes-Chaumont

A Waterfall in Paris?

A Waterfall in Paris?

Take a road less traveled in Paris and venture into the 19th arrondissement. Upon entering Buttes-Chaumont you’ll discover something special. After climbing a steep hill you’ll soon see man-made bluffs, bridges, a lake, and a 30-foot waterfall. Don’t expect to run into many tourists, it’s generally locals who frequent this park. You will find plenty of young kids running around as well as families out for their evening stroll. If you wander far enough, you’ll also discover a Roman-style temple offering beautiful panoramic views of the Paris skyline and the Sacre Coeur.

Parc Monceau

Parc Monceau borders the chic 8th and 17th arrondissements of Paris. The park was built by Phillippe d’Orléans, Duke of Chartres, in the 18th century. During the spring and summer, the park is full of color as flowers and trees are in bloom. Monceau is a perfect place for a picnic and is considered city’s most romantic park.

Jardin du Luxembourg

Don't Miss an Unforgettable View of Paris

Don't Miss an Unforgettable View of Paris

It’s impossible to discuss Paris without mentioning its most famous park. Perfectly situated between the 5th and 6th addrrondissements, le Jardin du Luxembourg attracts every type of visitor. Whether you just grabbed a croissant from the local boulangerie, are taking a break from studies at la Sorbonne, or going for a brisk morning run, the park is always brimming with guests. Established by Italian monarch Marie de Medicis in the mid-17th century, the garden and its Florentine-style palace provide a perfect atmosphere to escape the city. Ponies and puppet shows entertain children while parents relax in the iron chairs.

There are plenty of parks to discover. Check out this site for a more exhaustive list.

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Deck the Halls with International Christmas Markets!

Now that Halloween is over it’s time to look forward to the next celebration.  Although Thanksgiving is a couple weeks away, most people already have Christmas on their minds. In Europe, instead of a turkey feast at the end of November, cities transform into Christmas Markets. This festive tradition originated in Austria and Germany and now takes place all over the world. What better way to enjoy the holiday spirit than seeing a city decorated with Christmas lights, warm cider, and other fun treats! Here are a few of the best.

Austria

Vienna has dazzled visitors with its holiday markets since 1294. From Schönbrunn Palace to City Hall, the city hosts more than 25 markets. Lose yourself to the aromas of candied fruits, cotton candy and other delicacies like Christmas punch and roasted chestnuts.  Also special to Vienna, pony rides, express Christmas trains, and fairytale displays.  The best part is that this wonderland is free to explore – unless of course you indulge in some holiday treats.  Vienna’s not the only Christmas market around, you can also check out Innsbruck, Graz, and Salzburg.

Brussels Winter Wonderland

Brussels Winter Wonderland

Belgium

How do warm cider, Belgian waffles, and ice-skating sound? Not too bad, huh? Belgium’s capital city has got you covered. Each winter Brussel’s Place Sainte Catherine transforms into a winter wonderland. Vendors set up dozens of stalls offering holiday toys, clothing, trains, and of course Belgian waffles and fries. The ice-skating rink brings out the child in everyone! From November 27th until early January, Brussels will display a dazzling array of festive lights and one of the biggest Christmas trees you’ll ever see. Live music keeps you entertained for hours as you wait for Pere Noel to stop by. A small word of caution- bundle up or you’ll freeze! Traveling around Belgium? You’ll find other great Christmas Markets in Antwerp, Brugge, and Ghent.

France

A Christmas in France is like no other. Christmas markets, known as marché de noel, highlight most French cities during late November and December. In addition to festive lights and holiday treats, you’ll find great deals on delicious wine, liquor, and the traditional Stollen holiday bread. Easily take the Eurostar to Paris or Lille for a day trip or a weekend getaway. Other popular Christmas markets around France include Lyon, Strasbourg, Tours, and Mulhouse.

Bavarian Christmas Markets are Priceless

Bavarian Christmas Markets are Priceless

Germany

Forget about the cold and explore the Rhine and Moselle valleys, which provide an idyllic setting for a romantic Christmas Market break. At these trendy Christmas Markets, the aromas of cinnamon, gingerbread will grab your senses, while locally produced wine and beer will capture your taste buds. You’re in for a treat no matter where you go. Berlin alone boasts more than 50 grand markets. The Christmas markets in Trier, Koblenz and Mainz are notably famous and quite large. If you’re looking for a small town atmosphere check out Bernkastel-Kues, Cochem, Rüdesheim, Worms, Speyer and Ahrweiler.

Travelers Flock to Unusual Attractions While Abroad

What are your summer plans? Here at GulliverGo, we encourage people to study or travel abroad. But we’re also interested in those day trips, secret getaways, and places you visit when you’re on break. For some, the Palace of Versailles, wine tasting in Tuscany, or hiking in the Alps, spark interest. Apparently, for others, torture museums, cemeteries, and suicide forests rank high on the list. Whether you’re visiting Italy, France, or Japan, you’re bound to discover a few morbid tourist attractions.

Don't Get Stuck in San Gimignano's Torture Museum

Don't Get Stuck in San Gimignano's Torture Museum

If you study abroad in Italy, you’re bound to end up in Tuscany. Check out the historic Duomo and Campanile in Florence and of course, watch the sunset on the fleuve (river) Arno. Take a bus and go wine tasting in nearby Fiesole- and see the house that served as the setting for the 1985 film, “A Room with a View.” I did all this during my time in Tuscany, but one of the more memorable day trips was a bus ride to the walled, medieval town of San Gimignano. Surrounded by century’s old towers, the town’s most fascinating attraction is its Museo della Tortura e di Criminologia Medievale (Museum of Torture and Medieval Crime). Ok, the historic architecture, Wine museum, and 9th century Fonti Medievali (Medieval Fountains) are pretty neat, but how often do you get to see the inside of a torture chamber? Located within a real dungeon, the Torture Museum showcases more than 100 grisly and gory ways to die, including thumbscrews, chastity belts and lots of creepy masks. You can even pick up your own set of brass knuckles at the gift shop on your way out… I did.

If you find yourself in say, Paris, France on October 31st, you won’t be dressing up as your favorite monster – they don’t celebrate Halloween. Instead, the first day of November, the “Day of the Dead,” is a national holiday. What better place to honor the dead, than visiting a cemetery. Paris doesn’t offer just any run-of-the-mill cemetery- this one attracts all the famous people. A recent article by the Vancouver Sun, recommends a day trip to Père-Lachaise cemetery as a highlight of Paris. You’ll easily spend hours visiting the graves of Edith Piaf and Gertrude Stein, Frederik Chopin, Balzac and Oscar Wilde. It’s hard to miss the most popular grave site, that of singer Jim Morrison. In contrast to most of Paris, cemeteries are perfect for the low budget traveler… they’re usually free!

Leave Oscar Wilde a Message from Beyond the Grave

Leave Oscar Wilde a Message from Beyond the Grave

Asia also has its fair share of creepy places to visit. While Germany boasts its Black Forest, Japan is known for its “Haunted Forest” (Aokigahara Forest) at the base of Mt. Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain. The forest, commonly referred to as the Sea of Trees, sits on volcanic rock and has several rocky caverns, which get covered in ice during the winter. Two of the caves within the forest are popular tourist attractions known as the Wind Cave and Ice Cave. Why is the forest “haunted?” Well, it’s infamous for its famed suicides and “ghosts” that apparently roam the woods. It may be haunted, but Aokigahara offers some of the most beautiful scenic views and its dense forest and rugged inaccessibility attract plenty of adventure seekers.

These are just some of the unusual places that attract droves of visitors. There are plenty more popular places to visit and oftentimes the adventure is finding them.


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