From Paris

Weekend Trip: Lyon

Posted by Strainu on August 21, 2008
From Paris / No Comments

Versiunea română aici.

Transport
Map

There are TGV trains from Paris to Lyon every hour or so. You also have planes and a highway between the two cities.

Rating: ★★★★½

Accommodation

There are many low-cost hotels in the city, including in the city center. Because we were three, we chose one of the low cost hotels (Premiere Classe or Etap). With the city tourism fee, this got as to 22 euros/person for a modern, air-conditioned room in downtown Lyon. This solution has only one disadvantage: one of the three beds is above the other two.

Rating: ★★★½☆

What to see

The first thing to see is the Fourvière hill, part of Unesco’s World Heritage Sites. You can take the funicular to the Roman amphitheater or to the XIXth century cathedral. At the bottom of the hill you have the Old Lyon (Vieux Lyon) – famous for its traboules (small passageways between buildings). A guided tour could be useful here, because you can easily get lost or miss some cool traboules.

Near the old city there is the Presqu’île, home to the shopping quarter, the city hall, opera and some museums.

Another hill worth seeing is the Croix Rousse, home to the world famous painted walls. If you are at the right distance, you might even mistake them for a real street. There is an interesting story about respect between taggers and the painters who made the walls. In one of the walls there was a real postal box that integrated in the painting. After a month from the inauguration, the box was full of graffiti, but the wall was clean – and it still is. It’s a good example of how modern art can prevent degradations in the modern cities.

If you have time, don’t miss the Film Museum – Lyon is the city were the Lumière brothers projected the first movie over 110 years ago.

If you want more info on what to see and where you can find good food, check out the second link below.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Alternatives

Think Bruxelles, Toulouse, Marseille or Strasbourg.

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Links

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Extended Weekend: Côte d’Azur

Posted by Strainu on August 14, 2008
From Paris / 3 Comments

Versiunea română aici.

Transport

Map

The Côte d’Azur is far from Paris (about 1000 km), so if you leave by car, make sure you have 2 drivers. A much easier way is to go by train – 6 hours by TGV or 10 hours by night train. I chose the latter solution as it allowed my to save a day.

Between the resorts you have bus services (slow but cheap – 1 euro) or local trains (more expensive but much quicker). For instance, between Cannes and Antibes you make almost 1h by bus and 12 minutes by train.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Accommodation

You can find accommodation for all budgets on the Côte d’Azur. However, you should consider booking at least 2 to 4 weeks in advance during the summer, as there are many tourists in the area.

If you’re looking for a low budget restaurant, don’t bother looking near the beach. Instead, try near the fishing ports – you might have pleasant surprises. 🙂

Rating: ★★★★☆

What to see

Cannes, Antibes and Nice are all alike, except for the “Croisette”. The “Croisette” is almost the ultimate in showing off. In one end you can also see the famous “Palais des Congres” where the film festival is held. Further down the street, you have the 4* and 5* hotels on one side, the private beaches of those hotels on the other side, and in the middle, 100k+ euro cars. 🙂 However, you can also find some lower-budget restaurants on the beach, but their prices are still above average. The beach is from sand, which is very unusual in France. This is not the case in Nice and Antibes, where you have to stay on rocks.

The rest of Cannes is just an ordinary resort, with shops, hotels and all the rest. There are some museums, like the Musée de la Castre, sitting in the former Castle of Cannes (photo 1) or the Musée de la Mer (Sea Museum). From the tourist port of Cannes you can visit the Lérin Islands, that were protecting the port in the Middle Ages – Saint Marguerite and Saint Honorat. I went to the larger one, Saint Marguerite (photo 3 and 4). It’s covered with a pine forest and hosts a village and the Fort Royal, home to the Sea Museum and a youth hostel. The museum is not very large nor very interesting. The good part is that it’s free for students. If you missed the last morning boat and need to spend some time on the island, you can visit the natural reservation on the eastern side of the island or the WWII bunkers.
Chateau de CannesDSC04613DSC04662DSC04654

Nice is known for the half-moon shape of it’s beach. I can’t really understand the fun in spending the day laying on rocks, but hey…France is a free country 🙂 The main attraction except the beach is the Colline du Château, a mountain top at the end of the Angel’s Bay where the town’s castle and cathedral once stood. From the top, you can see the port, with the ferries to Corsica (photo 5) as well as the whole bay, as far as the airport (photo 6).

The pedestrian district, comprising the Promenade and several inland streets is home to some interesting buildings like the enormous Acropolis convention center/multipurpose hall and the very odd Louis Nucéra Library (photo 8). Another place to visit in Nice is the Garibaldi Place.
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Antibes was once as important as Cannes or Nice. Nowadays it seems a little “sleepy”, the main interest spot being the port.

Even if Monaco is generally considered as a single city, that’s not true – the northern part is called Monte Carlo, while to the south there are other cities. Due to the lack of time, we only made a half-day walk in the country, looked at the Prince’s Palace then left back for Antibes.
Rating: ★★½☆☆

Alternatives

If you don’t have 3 days, you might consider going from Paris to the Atlantic Ocean. Another destination could be the Northern Sea or even the African seaside if you go by plane.

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Links

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