After a week in Paris, we headed south to visit an old friend of mine who I met in Derby – of all places – via Couchsurfing. We skipped along from Bordeaux to Montepellier, with a day in Avignon.

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For me, I can’t visit Paris without heading south for a few days. Yes, there is less to do in Bordeaux and Montpellier compared to the long list of Parisian sites, but while in Paris is rained – at times – the sun seems to be perpetually shining on the south. Paris is great for using all of your energy on trundling around museums, exploring streets full of antique shops, and strutting around in your best Parisian wardrobe, and then once you can’t possibly bring yourself to look at another painting or teeter down another piss-puddle and dog-poo riddled Parisian pavement (yes, it’s a gross reality rather than just a stereotype… why do I still love Paris?), grab your bikini, hop on a train and within a few hours, you’re sunbathing on a beach or a park.

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I love the Mediterranean influences in the south of France, from the style of architecture to the colour of stone used to pave their streets and build their walls.. Everything is more colourful in Bordeaux and Montpellier, the people are friendlier… sometimes a little too friendly. A homeless guy tried to kiss me… which was quite unpleasant. On the lips – not a typical french cheek-to-cheek greeting. Though from the smell of him I wouldn’t really have appreciated that ether, in all honestly. Is that mean to say? But generally, people know boundaries.

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And of course, we had to take advantage of my friend’s balcony for a few spontaneous, au naturel photo shoots.

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Can I go back yet, please?

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French Adventures: South

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France!

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Me and my lovely friend Jessica spent the first two weeks of this month in France, travelling by train from Paris to Bordeaux, Montpellier and Avignon. Quite frankly I wish I was still there, not only because of the better weather, food, and because back here my uni deadlines and the realities of being a grown up are slapping me in the face again, but also because, while we arrived back in Derby at 4am last Saturday (20th), by midday on Sunday, I found myself sitting in A&E with a broken foot…..

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Of all the times to break my foot, now is not a good one! I have my two final uni deadlines, arrangements for our two uni exhibitions, the end of my TEFL course and figuring out my post-uni plans (as in, my move out date is 30th June… possessions need to be sold/stored… flight ticket needs to be bought for 1st July), all on crutches… fun.

Still, the cast is off on 30th May, just in time for the Derby exhibition! Timing!

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As for France… what is there to say, besides that as ever, it was beautiful, and I miss it already. I have come back with a really dark tan, and therefore England seems more dull and grey than ever before. While I am glad to finally give my feet a rest (I couldn’t begin to guess how many miles me and Jess walked in terrible, blister-inducing shoes over those two weeks), I especially miss walking around Paris, bra-less and shoe-less, with tourists trying to be helpful by pointing out that we were not wearing our shoes but in fact, have you noticed… you’re carrying them…….? Oh really?!

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For anyone visiting Paris, I strongly recommend Oops Hostel by Les Gobelins metro stop, and La Manufacture Restaurant, which is just a few doors away. Amazing food.. and amazing chocolat chaud!

Jess being a beautiful model, we of course had a few personal shoots while we were travelling, and I am currently editing those… I may post a preview soon.

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For now.. a few travel snaps.

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French Adventures: Paris

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Joie de Vivre.. Part Four….

Zurich
 
I didn’t plan to go to Zurich. It just sort of happened. There I was, admiring the beautiful views from the window of the Milan-Paris train (seriously I recommend that everyone travel by train from Milan to Paris at some point in their lives, it’s amazingly, spectacularly, jaw-droppingly beautiful!) and we were passing through Zurich, and I just thought.. I’ll get off here, just for a few hours.
So glad that I did!
One of the first things that I saw was hundreds and hundreds of people just floating – not even swimming – floating down the river on inflatable green and yellow butterflies. I don’t know why, or what it was about, but I did gather that it’s an annual thing so I have decided, that is how I want to celebrate when I leave university next summer! With all of my friends of course! I saw two genius girls using orange armbands to hold a bottle of wine – definitely a plan for next year!
I only had time to spend about four hours in Zurich, and for most of that time I was either exploring the biggest, most amazing antique fair I have ever seen, (if only I was a millionaire, I’d have bought everything in sight), or just sitting on the jetty, dangling my feet into the lake, as it was ridiculously hot).
I need to get my bum back to Zurich and explore it properly. ASAP.
Paris
 
J’adore Paris ♥
As long as I don’t look too closely (and spend as little time in Gare de Lyon station as possible, as it’s filthy and has a serious cockroach problem) I love Paris. I have always loved Paris and so as much as I had to drag my bum out of Italy, I think Paris is about the only place that for me could come close in winning my heart.
I love that everyone kept mistaking me for being ‘a true Parisian’. I love the French language, I love the art, the culture, the history…. I love how friendly everyone is, despite their reputation for being rude and.. Parisian…
Or at least I loved how friendly everyone was, until I realised rather late in the day that it might have had something to do with my black top being very see through, and I had decided to go bra-less… oops.
So, I crossed many ‘must see’s from my Bucket List while in Paris: Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Moulin Rouge, the Louve (more specifically the Mona Lisa), etc etc… but I also went here:
My inner child is still buzzing – I’ve only waited twenty years and I’ll admit, mock me all you like, I was the biggest kid there! Though I only met Mickey Mouse and Jack Sparrow. Oh and of course I saw the parades. Still… not a fan of this whole ‘character meeting points’ system – I was looking forward to seeing all of the characters just casually strolling around.. my inner child was a little disappointed. That’s the best part after all, right?
 Anyway…….
Montpellier (and various little surrounding lakes and villages)
 
I have fallen in love with Montpellier. As well as Rome, Venice, Florence, Paris, Bordeaux, Porto… the list goes on and on… but seriously, I love Montpellier. Unfortunately I’ll have to wait to develop my many many rolls of film before I can see any of my photographs from Montpellier itself.. I have just one for now:
My first evening there, after a lovely long walk around the city with my lovely host Mallory, just as we were walking back to his apartment, we happened to walk past this lovely group of people: (I’ve just realised that I use the word lovely far too often, but there’s really no other word to describe the lovely people I have crossed paths with and places that I have stumbled across). We perched ourselves on a ledge for a while and listened to them sing about coffee and life. There was an old woman listening from her balcony a few floors above us and a couple sitting in the doorway across the street from us. I love that about Europe – in England, people hang around the streets, and everyone else peers suspiciously at them from their windows, wondering if they’re out to cause trouble, but in so many of the countries I visited, neighbours chat to each other while sitting in their doorways or on their tiny balconys. It’s so similar but so different.
The next morning, Mallory showed me around the area surrounding Montpellier. He took me to a tiny village full of winding streets where people hang clay sunflowers on their doors to ward off evil spirits. It was exactly how I picture ‘Southern France’, it felt familiar almost to the point of deja vu.
We picnicked by the river and went for a swim, and we laughed at everything; the teenage boys posing and wading through the water like they were male models staring in a perfume ad, my tan-lines, which were pretty horrendous at the time, my failed attempts to swim against the current, the man who hesitated for ages on top of the largest rock trying to decide whether or not to jump as all of his friends had, only to finally do so while cupping his ‘special pebbles’. I spent what felt like hours just perched on the same slippery rock watching fish swim around my feet.
By the time we had reached this lake, I was exhausted. I had already been struggling to keep my eyes open in the car as we drove from river to lake. I dozed on the damp towels while Mallory went for another swim, only to return two minutes later complaining that there was ‘water plants’.
Eventually, the mosquitoes drove us away, and so we went back to Mallory’s apartment and gorged ourselves on crab, salad and blackberries.
I miss it.
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