This year's adventures took the form of a 'dual-centre' trip to both Paris and Madrid with some dear friends. As you can imagine there are waaaaay too many photos to share all in one go, so let's start in Paris shall we?
This is our happy band just after touch down at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris. We're lucky enough to live in a part of the world that is a mere 1.5hr flight away from the French capital, so we arrived relatively bright eyed and bushy tailed. (It might be a little small to see in this pic, but I'm wearing an Eiffel Tower necklace! If at all possible, I do like my outfits to be themed...).
After a good night's sleep, what better way to start the day than with a large cup of 'café au lait' and a large cake from the local patisserie. We were staying in the Bastille area of Paris and this little wonder was a mere hop, skip and a jump from our hotel. J went for a deliciously tangy apricot confection, whilst I opted for 'un escargot cannelle' - literally a cinnamon snail!
In August this year, Paris held an event along the banks of the river Seine - ' Les Paris Plages'. For one month, the inner city was transformed into a seaside escape. Along with typical French activities such as 'petanque', you name a beach activity they had it. Beach huts, sun loungers - even sand castles! This masterpiece was a replica of the Sleeping Beauty 'chateau' at Disneyland Paris. Due to its fragile nature, it was only in situ for a week - we were very lucky to catch it!
Of course, when in Paris as a tourist, you have certain obligations. Notre Dame Cathedral, Sacre Coeur, Eiffel Tower - these are all must see sights - even if you have visited them many times before!
In my humble opinion, 'le Tour Eiffel' is definitely viewed best by night. Even if you have seen it a hundred times, there's something so magical about watching it light up and twinkle against the night sky. Trés romantique, n'est pas?
Whilst visiting Sacre Coeur, in the Montmartre district, I discovered my future home. Check out this beautiful flower adorned apartment, above a yarn shop, right by some of Paris' best fabric stores. Sold! (As a side note, if you get the opportunity to walk up the hill to Sacre Coeur, please do. After the steepness of the steps, you will be rewarded with an amazing panorama of the city below you).
As we were a party of art lovers, a must-see item on our itinerary was the Louvre. I'm almost ashamed to admit that, despite my many previous trips to Paris, I've never been before! The experience itself was surreal. Somehow, the gallery seems more theme park than art establishment. Hoards of tourists swarmed every inch of the space, taking close up flash photography of the works (despite the omnipresent signs instructing us against it) without seeming to really look at them with their own eyes. The photo above shows the scrum to see the Mona Lisa. No word of a lie, I've been able to get closer to rock stars than I did to this painting!
Fortunately, not everywhere was as rib-crushingly packed and the Venus de Milo allowed us a little more breathing room!
Naturally, we had to sample the local delicacies! Nothing better after a long day's sight seeing than a hot fresh waffle, with more melted chocolate poured on it than is decent. You have to love the decadent French attitude to cuisine!
Regular readers will know that, for me, no trip to Paris is complete without a trip to Disneyland. Once again, it did not disappoint. The park itself, having recently undergone a fresh lick of paint looked absolutely stunning - back to how I remember it from my first visits as a child. As J was a first-time visitor (how we let that go un-remedied for so long I still don't know!), it was fantastic fun seeing the whole thing anew through his eyes.
New to us all was Toy Story Playland, an entirely new themed area at the back of the Disney Studios Park. Shrinking the visitor down to the size of a tiny toy, the whole area has been lovingly themed - lighting takes the form of oversized fairy lights, fences are made from giant K'nex. By far the best ride in the zone is the RC Racer, simple in its 'shuggy boat' premise, but unexpectedly exhilarating - and very high up!
As night fell, we soothed our aching feet by stopping to watch the Fantillusion light parade and subsequent fireworks. If there's one thing Disney know how to nail it's a night time spectacle like this. A magical finale to our Parisian adventure.
So, with that, it's adieu to Paris and very soon, buenos dias Madrid! Au revoir!