All posts filed under: Weekend Getaways from Paris

From Paris to Rabat

I had my first tantalising taste of Morocco when I visited its capital, Rabat, a few weeks ago. I ate more food than I believed possible, bargained for gifts to bring back to Paris, took long early evening walks and drank several cups of ‘nous nous’ (a special version of Moroccan Cappuccino). Traces of the influence of Paris are difficult to miss – the city’s café’s, artisan-run shops and the indelible mark of French bureaucracy. A follow up trip to see what the rest of the country has to offer is officially pencilled in – can’t wait!

Diary of a Trip to Tours #5: The River Loire

During the trip to Tours, I managed to experience a small but terrifying part of the Loire – France’s longest river. Words escape me in attempting to describe it: It is a wild, wide force of nature with a long and interesting history. It is a fascinating basin of currents aggressively flowing in different directions. An attraction for adventurers ducks that let the river carry them before they make u-turns and fly back up the river for yet another ride down. At the same time it is the perfect mise-en-scene for a jog or a romantic stroll along its banks. Apparently the Loire is also one of the few European rivers that have proven to be particularly difficult to ‘tame’. So, unlike the yielding Seine that serenely runs around and through Paris, La Loire is the more ferocious sister to the docile Seine. Even the experience of walking on the “Pont Wilson” , one of the bridges over the Loire is nothing like taking a calm walk over one of the bridges over the Seine: …

Diary of a Trip to Tours #4: Cathédrale Saint-Gatien

I can still vividly see the stained glassed of the Cathedral of Tours if I close my eyes. This is what you get for spending hours in the impressive confluence of Romanesque and Gothic architecture that is the Cathedral dedicated to Saint Gatien. Apart from the windows that illustrate religious accounts, the Cathedral’s windows offer an interesting insight into political power from ages past. There are the windows that contain symbols and crests of families whose descendants are still part of Tours history from the middle ages. Then there are the depictions of those rare figures in French religious and political history whose names have managed to reappear at different times in French political and other debates. Saint Martin is one such figure. To my understanding, he is the patron saint of France (along with Jean d’Arc and Saint Thérese? – I stand to be corrected on this). A stunning set of stained glasses retell the acts of charity and supernatural prowess performed by this local of Tours who became nothing less than the patron …

Diary of a Trip To Tours #3: Gare de Tours

The Station of Tours is – in and of itself – a historic monument, an architectural feat and a vision. There are four statue that crown the station’s façade – each a representation of four French cities : Bordeaux, Toulouse, Nantes and Limoges. These are of course automatically now on the travel itinerary. Supported by impressive columns, and a network of cast iron frames, the “Gare de Tours” is an interesting and intricate homage to both remarkable sculptural work but also remarkable architectural skill. And to think that this dates back to the late 19th/early 20th century makes it more fascinating. (How was this achieved without software? Incredible!) The station is also proudly French. Oh, apart from the clear influence of a broader neo-cassical tradition that has a shared European heritage. Indeed, a large part of the architectural direction was provided by a famous “Tourangeau” (i.e. the French word for a native of Tours), Victor Laloux. He is also responsible for having built a famous station, now turned museum, in Paris: the Musée d’Orsay. He …

Diary of a Trip to Tours #1: Walks through old alleys

Visited Tours a weekend but one ago; and fell in love with the place. Walking through the old city was particularly invigorating. Thanks to a decision to protect its cultural heritage through a conservative urban policy, it is still possible to enjoy a well-preserved ‘old city’. The next chapter will definitely involve visiting the several castles in the region of Tours.

Brussels Break: Art Nouveau Dining

Also not too far from Paris – the heart of Europe, Brussels. Can be done in a weekend (and was done by this Blogger). Though I am back in Paris my taste buds and other senses are still very much in the restaurant, Le Perroqeut (the Parrot), Rue Watteeu 31, Brussels 1000. Not only is the decor in the style of Horta (who was a native of Brussels to my knowledge) but the food is great, the ambience warm and inviting and above all, the food is amazing. The Break in Brussels is over but the taste of food from Le Perroquet is still very much still with me!