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Paris scams

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Paris. One of the most charming cities in the world. It would be even more charming if tourist scammers weren’t out and about at every major site trying to get you to hand over money. The Eiffel Tour, Montmarte and even Gare du Nord are swarming with these scammers on unsuspecting visitors so without further ado, let us go throw the ones I have encountered or been told about.

1. Gypsies asking you if you speak english and whether you can sign a petition.

This is a petition you sign to say that you will hand them money and once it seems like you won’t be paying up, more gypsies appear around you so there is no escape.

2. The bracelet test.

These scammers will appear lovingly to you and will try to tie a bracelet around your wrist. They will tie it so tie, oops will you look at that, it’s stuck on your wrist so you’ve technically bought it, so please, pay up now. They don’t tell you any of that by the way.

3. Let me show you how you can win money by guessing where my ball is.

You will see a group of men standing around a towel on the floor and metal cups trying to guess which cup the ball is under. If you think this is what the elderly play in France, i am afraid you are wrong. These men are working together and once you hand over your minimum bet, it will be IMPOSSIBLE for you to win. Magicians or not, the game is most likely rigged and not in your favour.

4. Crowds around an entertainer

I think this is standard in major cities. Just watch out for your pockets and bags because who knows what group of thieves are working together.

Like any major city, if you do your research and know what to avoid, you can avoid it. A simple no, thank you or non merci and walking away will usually do the trick. Paris is an amazing city so don’t let the scammers put you off! I hope this has been useful information!

A Paris lover,
-S.

A letter from Sophie

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Hey guys,

I hope you’re well. It is coming up to my favourite time of the year, Christmas! The picture above is currently what the interiors of the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney currently looks like. The more lights the better!

The past 3 months of posts have been my European holiday and the posts and stories are now over, although I still have blog posts related to these to come. I’m missing the adventure and new surroundings alot and am even moreso jealous of everyone who is having a white Christmas! Oh how I would love to be drinking mulled wine or spiced tea with a book in fluffy blankets! Maybe next year!

As we head towards the end of the year, it is that reflection time before we make our New Year Resolutions. My question is, what are some stand-out moments from 2015 for you?

Mine would be:
– Moving laboratories
– Finishing my PhD (woo!)
– Being back in my favorite city (Paris!)
– Having the opportunities to meet with friends (and meeting their friends) again who live overseas.

I would love to hear yours!

-S.

Paris

 

 

 

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Paris. Swoon. Paris is one of my favourite cities and how can it not be, just LOOK at the buildings! This was my third time in Paris and I still had things to see. On the list this time were Musee D’Orsay, Musee d’Orangerie, Versaille and to go into Printemps and Galeries Lafayette.

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My favourite of my main attractions list was Musee D’Orsay which is housed in an old train station. The museum has some great paintings as well as other things such as sculptures and furniture but the paintings were my favourite. The line is long so you should think about pre-purchasing tickets online OR go to Musee d’Orangerie first and buy a combo ticket (and can be used on 2 consecutive days).

The attraction that I found the most frustrating was Versaille! My tip is to go early. And then go earlier. By the time I arrived at 10:30am, there was already a gigantic entry line to pass security. By gigantic, I mean it took me 1.5 hours to make it inside which put me in a bad place to really get to enjoy the palace. The trip to Versaille is a whole day out. The gardens are magnificent but be warned, it is really big so bring some good comfortable shoes.

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This picture above is from the Palais de Justice (where you can also buy a combined ticket for Saint Chapelle located next door). I found this pretty meh. It was where Marie Antoinette was held in her last days but the original prison cell no longer exists. It give you a peep into a handful of cells for the different types of socio-classes. I would say to save this for the bottom of the Paris list. Saint Chapelle however, is gorgeous. I imagine it would be spectacular on a sunny day with light pouring inside across the mosaic windows which are ceiling to floor high.

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This last picture is the interiors of Galeries Lafayette which is in great contrast to the seemingly ordinary exterior. I just went in for a wonder and to shelter from the rain.

Have you been to any of these places and what are your thoughts about them? I’d love to hear about them.

Day trip around the French Riviera

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Our first town on this trip was Cannes, famously known for the annual Cannes Film Festival. We made the obligatory stop outside the Cannes Theatre and unfortunately, the red carpet was not rolled out on this morning. Right next to it are some bars/restaurants with their own little section of beach (with sand!) and across the road, every designer brand you could ever want. For me, I don’t think I would personally base myself in this town as compared to Nice, Cannes is tiny.

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Our next town was Antibes. Again, another tiny town but morning food markets, Picasso museum and some streets of the old town could easily consume you for half a day. A lovely walled old city, you can also marvel at the million dollar boats in the marina.

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Next stop and the one i was MOST looking forward to, was Monaco.

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This is where you can get a glimpse into the lifestyle of the rich and the famous. The country of no tax for it’s residence, to move here you will need a bank deposit of a few hundred thousand to begin with. The city centre has a complete driving speed of 50km/hr and has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Bordering on non-existent.

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We also stopped briefly at Monte Carlo to have a look at the casino and as many lambourgini’s in a day than you would see over a 2 year period.

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Our final town was Eze. Like most small towns perched ontop of a hill, you can climb and climb to reach a garden at the top which will give you amazing views however, this is an entry free (I thought quite expensive!) and still a nice viewing area outside the church in town. Eze was very touristy and much like every other small town in the south of France, housed much of the same stores. The windy rocky streets however are such a charm and something I will never get sick of!

I really would have loved to have spent more time in Monaco but due to time constaints, I couldn’t go myself for the day. There’s an aquarium on the cliff edge as well as the royal palace to check out which I really would’ve liked to see!

Have you been to any of these towns and if so, which one did you like and why?

-S.

Provence in one day

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Travelling in the south of France is easier if you hire a car but for those who prefer not to, a tour will get you around.  I decided to join Provence Reservation for their All Provence in one day tour to get a snapshot of the area and because of my time limit. I was promptly picked up in the morning and then whisked away to our first stop: The Lavender Museum. The museum is run by the Lincele family who have a ‘real’ lavender farm in Vaucluse high up in the mountains. This museum is geared towards visitors and included a short film about how lavender oils are extracted, museum featuring antique distilling equipment and a store selling their products. I thought it was a great museum that was easy to navigate and was informative.

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Our first town was Gordes for their Tuesday markets. As you may have already guessed, these small towns thrive on tourism (as well as farming) but are not packed with tourists. There were cheese stalls, clothes stalls, nougat stores and of course soap. This market was excellent for those looking for gifts or some nibbles. Go behind the buildings following down-hill paths to get views of the surrounding area.

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Next stop, the town of Roussillion perched on a red rock. The redness comes about due to the presence of ocre in the surrounding lands is quite a contrast from Gordes which is approximately a 15 minute drive away. One major street in the city will take you up to the church and sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding area.

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Our last town was Les Baux de Provence which was my favourite town. This town felt bigger than Gordes and Roussillon and is perched on a white rock. There is a castle remain at the very top however, due to time constraints, I didn’t get to visit it. There were many stores and cafes around on every winding street and only one entrance and exit to the town so, impossible to get lost. There were more options here in terms of gifts as well (soap, Provence specialty foods, jewellery and ceramics).

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Our last stop of the day was the old roman aqueduct Pont du Gard. This three tier bridge was beautiful and paths on either side allow every angle of this bridge imaginable. Level 1 is a pedestrian bridge and allows you to cross to the other side. There are parking lots on both sides of the bridge. Can you believe this bridge use to be open to cars?!

This 10-hour day trip was worth the money as it included entry into the Lavender Museum plus audio guides and into the Pont du Gard site. You need some sturdy shoes as these towns existing ontop of rock formations are of course, rocky and include a lot of uphill and downhill walking. These towns are gems in the Provence region and I would highly recommend a tour if you’re not driving. Time wise, we spent about 1 hour in each town, it’s enough to see everything but not loiter and I would have really liked to have seen the castle ruins in Les Baux. There is always next time!

Do you have any recommendations for other towns in Provence? What did you like about them?

A bientot,

-S.

Toulouse in pictures

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The best pistachio and raspberry tart probably in the world. Find it at the cafe O The Divin.

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I like these blue shutters!

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The interiors of the convent

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