Bonjour La Tristesse of the Parisian Banlieue

"Grand Morin river in Crecy la Chapelle near Paris"

Hiking near Paris The Parisian Banlieue – a term covering anything from just outside of the city limits to villages and small towns a one-hour railway journey away – has a bad reputation, not all of it undeserved.

But for every town over which a pallor of tristesse – actually, the bitterness of exile – seems to hang, there is also at least one charming little place, particularly if you leave the immediate

Bonjour La Tristesse of the Parisian Banlieue

The Auvers-Sur-Oise Van Gogh Knew

Day Trip from Paris

Remember when I took you on an unexpectedly adventurous journey from Pontoise to the outskirts of Auvers sur Oise? And I promised you: no more bad surprises?

Today, I am going to keep that promise.

The Auvers-sur-Oise Van Gogh knew

The first thing you will notice when crossing the bridge into Auvers sur Oise is that it looks like the kind

The Auvers-Sur-Oise Van Gogh Knew

Hiking the Road Less Travelled for an Adventure

"The town of Pontoise in France"

Hiking trails near Paris The Road Less Travelled Pontoise and Auvers-sur-Oise are two of the prettiest and most visited small towns in the Ile de France, the area around Paris.

As it happens, they are are also fairly close to one another, virtual neighbours as it were, connected by a short (less than 10 km long) stretch of the river Oise. Our idea was to visit both in a single

Hiking the Road Less Travelled for an Adventure

The Rant Or The Sentier Littoral Revisited

"Padlocked gate preventing continuation to the hiking trail in the Sentier Littoral"

Hiking in France We headed back to the Mediterranean for some unfinished business. The Sentier Littoral Revisited

Last year, my son and I visited the southern French town of Toulon to hike along the Sentier Littoral, the footpath that stretches along the entire length of the country’s coastline.

When we inquired at the local tourism office for some tips on accommodation, they tried to dissuade us from hiking

The Rant Or The Sentier Littoral Revisited

Menton Is The Prettiest Town In France

French Riviera Walks How about this…

… a short walk through the prettiest town in France, topped off by a visit to one of the world’s most famous gardens, with splendid views over the Mediterranean Sea throughout?

Menton, in the extreme southeastern corner of France, combines the best of France – a downtown area of tastefully proportioned apartment buildings, Deuxième Empire street statues and well-behaved

Menton Is The Prettiest Town In France

The Little Fishing Village Of St Mandrier

"Two row boats at the quay of Presqu'Ile St Mandrier"

The Fishing Village of St Mandrier

Our recent trip to the South of France was meant to revisit a possible hideaway as close to the the French Riviera as possible.

During a hike we did last year in Toulon, we discovered this fishing village of St Mandrier on a little island 10 minutes away by ferry from the harbour town of Toulon.

Leaving Toulon to go to Presqu’Ile and

The Little Fishing Village Of St Mandrier

Beaches in the South of France

"beach in Toulon France"

The South of France

I have a vivid recollection of our last beach holiday, not least because on the first day, I shaved off the full beard that I had sported for more than a decade.

Memories are made of this!

And then there was the “family tragedy”: our son (then barely two years old) lost his beloved, if unimaginatively named, “Unicorn”, a helium-filled balloon to which he

Beaches in the South of France

Culture, Architecture and Hiking Adventure Near Paris

"Clos de l'Abbaye in Poissy near Paris"

Hiking trails near Paris The Parisian banlieue has a bad reputation, not all of it undeserved. At its worst, the urban sprawl beyond the Parisian city limits is an uncomfortable and possibly even dangerous place (for those of you who haven’t seen the movie La Haine, think of the South Bronx or Tower Hamlets), while most of the rest is unexciting and dull (think Staten Island or Neasden).

Some of the places in

Culture, Architecture and Hiking Adventure Near Paris

The White House Le Corbusier Built

"Le Corbusier built Villa Savoye in Poissy near Paris"

Day Trip from Paris The White House Le Corbusier Built I am not a great fan of art museums – mainly because I have hardly ever learned anything from looking at a picture on a museum wall that I had not already learned from looking at a good reproduction in a book.

Architecture, however, is a totally different story.

Before my first visit to Barcelona, I was totally unaware that the

The White House Le Corbusier Built

Sad Memories and Relics Of Two World Wars

"Marechal Foch's tent at the Musee de l'Armistice in Compienge near Paris"

Day Trip from Paris Memories of Two World Wars

The highlight of our day hike in Compiegne was the visit to the Musee de l’Armistice to view some of the relics of two world wars.

Aside from the monument erected to honour the war dead, we saw relics of two world wars that were on display too.

Marechal Foch’s Tent

Replica of an armoured vehicle used in WWI,

Sad Memories and Relics Of Two World Wars