A Travellerspoint blog

France

Photoblog: Bordeaux wine country

Bordeaux city, Saint-Émilion and the Haut-Médoc vineyards

sunny 12 °C
View bordeaux on BillLehane's travel map.

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Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux

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Pont de pierre, Bordeaux

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Porte Cailhau, Bordeaux

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Clock Tower, Monolithic Church (Clocher de l'eglise Monolithe)

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Saint-Émilion shopping

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The Cloister at the Collegiate Church (église collégiale)

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Posted by BillLehane 10:46 Archived in France Tagged france travel wine trip southwest bordeaux citybreak saintemilion hautmedoc winetour Comments (0)

Bill's European Adventure, 2001. Part 3: Nice, Monaco & Pisa

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Julie and Ollie try to look like they belong in Monaco

Aug 20

Staggered into Nice at 8 am, finding all the hostels full, so we stayed in yet another one-star, this one the mankiest yet, with skanky wallpaper and a bidet in the corner of the room.

In no mood for sightseeing after the hell night train, so we lazed about. Had dinner at Farouche Montmartre - the waitress was from Tramore. The cheese pasta was nice but the condiment platter was manky. Wandered down to the beach for an after-dinner stroll - got offered hash in a park nearby!

Returned to the manky hotel to have gin and tonic - fell asleep rapidly after the sleepless night before.

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Myself and Julie in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Aug 21

Rolled out of bed in our one-star craphole in Nice around 11, leaving our backpacks there despite the hope of staying somewhere else for the night. Took a gratis 20 min train to Monaco - wowed at the wooden-panelled train station platform walls and marble walls in the tunnel to the exit!

Monaco is more touristy than we expected with more tacky-coloured buildings, but the yachts in the harbour and the cars parked beside the mall said it best - rich town.

Saw all things fishy in the Musée Océanographique, and noticed red-and-white F1-style kerbs on the roadside.

Had lunch beside the station - nice pizza, but the nice coffee was IR£3.50 for a cup. Ouch!

Back in Nice, and had a great swim in the sea; the sound of the water cracking over the pebbles as it rolls back into sea is oddly captivating.

Had several 'pichets' (1.2l jugs of beer) in Jonathan's in beautiful Viel ville (Nice's Old Town). We even played bingo! It's a strange story...

Stayed in our first hostel, Backpacker Chez Patrick, in a 6-bed dorm. Met an Australian who was waiting two days for the next bus on his ticket to Venice - maybe we are lucky!

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My water bottle got dinged in such a way as to make it lean like the tower in Pisa. I remember this amazed me at the time!

Aug 22

Left Nice on the 9.40 train to border town Ventimiglia - brief scare sated when we realised Vintimille on the timetable was the same place 'en francais'! Discovered a IR£3-ish supplement is payable on high-speed Inter-City trains in Italy - must try avoiding them. Had lunch in Genoa - a ham and cheese panini with a black espresso (I asked for white coffee) for IR£2.80 - happy surprise!

On to Pisa, and a one-star hotel with a religious vibe was found after a half-hour search - we're around the corner from the mind-boggling Leaning Tower. The Cathedral beside it is almost as impressive too. Had a three-course meal, including a gorgeous bacon and egg flavoured starter spaghetti, for IR£11! Julie haggled almost a third off the price of a Senegalese bongo drum at a market - IR£20 down to IR£14. In my convent cell (hotel room) sweating in the 31-degree heat listening to Texas on Italian radio!

Posted by BillLehane 10:12 Archived in France Tagged travel pisa nice student monaco interrail Comments (0)

Bill's European Adventure, 2001. Part 1: Paris

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Introduction

What follows is the travel journal I wrote during an Inter-railing trip around Europe I took with my friends Ollie and Julie back in 2001. Every detail whether insightful, embarrassing, naive or otherwise has been left in to add to the fun! Some notes will refer to receipts and other little things I attached to the physical copy, and watch out for references to about a dozen currencies that no longer exist :-) Bill, 2012.

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Aug 13

By chance, Ollie got the same Aircoach as me. The flight seemed quick, with the lack of any U2-style airport terminals in the part of Charles De Gaulles that we passed through being the only disappointment, and a momentary hitch of almost leaving the airport without or bags was quickly followed by a near miss with some scalper taxi man offering us a ride to the city centre; just got a shuttle bus to the train station and then walked from Gare du Nord to Woodstock Hostel, which was booked out so we stayed in the quite reasonable one-star hotel opposite*.

Wandered the streets later on drinking Stella Artois and Kronenbourg ‘demis’ (500ml), which cost a pricey £3-plus in L’Ecran, Le Commerce and Bar de l’Atelier. Sat on windowsill in hotel smoking and listening to ‘Radio Classique’ before bed.

P.S. On our walk around, we stumbled upon the hugely impressive Sacre Coeur, a massive church on the top of a hill, the highest point in Paris. Three French guys sang ‘You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling’ to the hippie kids sitting on the steps below staring at the Paris skyline.

*The Perfect Hotel, rue Rodie where the attached bill shows a three-person room cost 375 francs a night

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Myself and Ollie at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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Julie and Ollie outside the Louvre

Aug 14

Ordered black coffee by accident with our free breakfast, which consisted of a baguette and apricot jam but it turned out to be gorgeous.

Went on a mad sight-seeing binge, taking advantage of Paris’s amazing metro system and our appetite for long walks in the sun, seeing Notre Dame (the flying buttresses reminded me of Junior Cert history!), Palais de Justice, Musee d’Orsay, l’Arc de Triomphe (with the flame for the unknown soldier), the Louvre (closed, but the building outside was the most impressive thing anyway) and the Eiffel Tower, which we were too knackered to climb.

Had lunch on a boat on the Seine overlooking the Tour d’Eiffel. Complications with Julie’s friend meant a second night in the hotel split into two rooms this time. Drank cheap Kronenbourg and Konigsbacker out of the bidet in the room!

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Ollie admires the Hall of Mirrors

Aug 15

Devoted the entire day to Versailles – a slight mishap getting the wrong metro was an annoying but not too costly mistake (61f or 75-ishp for 10 journeys, and if you switch metros without leaving the station you only need one ticket!)

A 90-minute queue in the sun was worth it to see the amazing Hall of Mirrors where Louis XIV hosted festivities and where the treaty ending World War I was signed. Saw Louis XVI’s bed chamber – Marie Antoinette’s looked more comfortable! The sheer amount of gold and expensive paintings was amazing. Only had time to gander at the gardens, which are more gigantic than we thought.

After getting to Julie’s friend Elise’s granny’s apartment in Montmartre (‘bohemian quarter’, as she put it) we ventured to the African ghetto of Barbes, where after manky streets and drug dealers on every corner we reached ‘A la Goute d’Or’ where we had a tasty meal followed by the break in the heat wave of the last week that left us dashing inside the restaurant and watching the lashing rain for an hour. The waitress even gave us free hot milk tea to warm up!

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Julie finds a picturesque place for a photo

Posted by BillLehane 04:21 Archived in France Tagged paris france travel french youth student interrail Comments (0)

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