Getting into summer: the floral exhibition of Chantilly

Last week, I had some invitations to go into the park of the castle of Chantilly to see the floral exhibition that was taking place. In this rustic atmosphere, walking by the beautiful castle, you enter into the marvelous area of flowers (and its bees). From the peony to the rose you can really find any flower you want! Yes, this is an exhibition of flowers, but you can actually buy them which is the whole purpose of this place.

Because I’m not a big fan of buying flowers, by this sunny day I just decided to take some fresh air and take a walk in this park. Flowers aren’t everything you can find or buy, there is all the stuff you need for your garden like benches, sofas… From the most traditional atmosphere of plants/gardens to the Japanese ones, you’ll find your heart’s desire. This giant flower market is particularly enjoyable, on a lovely afternoon, because of the frame it’s taking place in. You are in the park of the beautiful castle of Chantilly, surrounded by its garden, water, sheep… You can only like this place!

Speaking of the castle, by buying the ticket to go to the floral exhibition you can visit the castle and its stables. Because I’m from this area, I’ve already seen the castle but never talk about it. So, now I think is the right timing. The castle of Chantilly is pretty nice, well maintained but I will not like is far from being the best in France. At some point into the castle you can find rooms looking like the castle of Versailles because of the golden walls. This is the rooms that I preferred, reminding me my history classes. Moreover, the library is impressive as a lover of books this room is nice to see. The rest of the Castle is made of a museum with a lot of paintings that you can admire. I know for facts that there are great paintings exposed, but because I don’t like that much this kind of art I cannot say more. The beauty of the castle, in my opinion, is its outside appearance. I like the fact that the castle is surrounded by water and made with an incredible architecture.

Just beside the castle, its stables are amazing. Chantilly is a city well known for its horse races, and this is why we call it the city of horses. However, the stables are reserved for dressage horses. In these stables, you’ll find the horses (obviously), the museum of the horse and the carousel where horses are performing. This day, we could watch a presentation made by the stables to explain how horses are functioning, the way they treat them and how they train them. Also, they are showing us some tricks but if you want to see a whole performance with music, lights and professionals you can go see the performances that are going on. I’ve actually seen few since I live nearby and wrote a post about one of them: Horse performance in a show!

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At the end of the day, this small package of things to do in the city of Chantilly is taking you back to an old time where can project yourself decades ago. A throw back in history that is available all year long (except for the floral exhibition open few times a year).

 

Useful information:

Paris>Chantilly:  25 minutes by train

Tickets for the floral exhibition+ castle+ stables : 20 euros for 1 adult, 12 euros for children

More info on : http://www.domainedechantilly.com/fr/journees-plantes/

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STOP 1: San Francisco

Here I am! Back with some of my new adventures. I’ve been doing a road trip around the West Coast of the US with my family. I saw so many beautiful landscapes, had so much fun so I decided to share it through my blog (again).

After a (very) long trip, we arrived in the Japan Town of San Francisco, where we stayed. San Francisco offered to us in three days a really great overview of what we expected. Downtown (called Union Square) was made of big buildings, the American flag waving in the sky, the stairs on the walls of buildings, the lighting, the fireman’s cars, the tramway crossing the street, the up and down streets… Basically, an animated city.

What I DIDN’T LIKE in San Francisco? I’m going to start by what I’ve been frustrated when I was in San Francisco. The first thing is the famous tramway. To take it you have to make hours of queue, which is not worth it. The second point when I was frustrated (but it was our fault) is that we missed the view of the Coit tower. It was actually closed so we couldn’t see SF from above (end at 5:30 pm). Finally, in SF you have drugged people and homeless people. It’s not something that is bad, it’s life but I just wanted to tell that the number is way more important than in France for example, so it’s kind of shocking.

What I LOVED in San Francisco? The main atmosphere given by SF is mainly due to its culture. You can see that it’s a city with history, full of art, music… At almost every corner streets you can see street art, but not like in the subway in Paris. It’s a real art ! It’s mostly represented in the area of Haight-Ashbury, which is the hippie corner. Besides, the street art there is guitar shops, book shop, bio shop, hippie shop, old costumes shop, every kind of shop.

Near this beautiful place, the other thing to see are the painted ladies which are _dsc8018beautiful,big and colorful houses. The typical architecture, called Victorian style, is a characteristic of San Francisco. To end this day, we decided to rent a bicycle in the Golden Gate park, enjoying the nature to go to the beach (which was extremely cold).

The next day, we explored more San Francisco by seeing the Lombard street which is the most crooked street in the world. It was cool to see it once in our life, but not as spectacular as we imagined. (Plus there is a lot of tourists). We continued our trip in SF with Chinatown that I particularly liked (not like my parents). I found the Chinese lanterns above the streets really pretty and the Chinese street art gave an amazing atmosphere to the place. We were not courageous enough to try one of the many restaurants there but we did buy some useless stuff.

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Then we did THE thing to do in San Francisco: go on the Golden bridge. I was so excited to see it for real during a bus tour. Because SF is most of the time in the fog we were lucky enough to see the_dsc8220 entire  bridge! If you go on the bridge you should know that it’s extremely windy and cold. We enjoyed the rest of our day on the Pier 39, the most famous of SF, eating strawberry dipped in chocolate and tacos, watching the sea lions and enjoying the place.

For our last day in the foggy city of San Francisco, we decided to do something more cultural so we went on Alcatraz island where one of the most famous prisons was. I wasn’t expected a lot from this visit (that you have to book a long time before) but I was really surprised. Being in a prison for real is a particular feeling that it’s weird but an incredible experience. The thing that did make the visit really good was the free audio guide. The story of Alcatraz was explained by ex-prisoners and ex-prison guards. They told us the story of Alcatraz through their experience. A more personal approach which gave a unique and timeless moment.

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After the visit of the prison, we took the car and drove to go to our next destination: STOP 2: Yosemite

Don’t hesitate to follow me to know what’s going to be the next step of our road trip!

Lovely areas of Seoul: Hongdae, Insa dong & Buckchon

When I first discovered Seoul, capital of South Korea, I was shocked by its modernity, technology but at the same time, I found a soul to the city. It’s kind of unexplainable but Seoul is one of the big cities where despite the new buildings you will find some areas full of charm. I would say that there is a lot of places in Seoul with this soul but the one I really liked were Hongdae, Insa Dong and Buckeon …

1-  So, the first place I want to talk about is the area of Hondgae. This place is very well known at night because of its many bars and night clubs. However, I also liked this place during the day which is really rare for a place where night life is present(not the morning though because everything is close) . What I  particularly liked I think was that this area was much more “alive” than what I could see in some parts of Seoul. There are a lot of restaurants, street food sellers, clothe shops … If you are going there be aware that there is nothing to visit there,  you just have to  enjoy the atmosphere of Hongdae. At night, the place is becoming more than alive, all the bars are full, there are some musicians in the street playing performances, crowded streets…

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2-  Another place that I loved in Seoul was Buckeon village. Buckeon is surprisingly next to big buildings, famous palaces. After crossing one street you’re in the middle of a new Seoul. This area is full of little streets typical of the old Korea. The rooftops are nicely curved, the walls of the houses are white and brown. I can’t really explain the architecture of the houses but you can see on the bellow pictures that they are really typical of Korea.

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In this area you shouldn’t be afraid of going into the small streets, most of the time this is where the most beautiful houses are. Moreover, you can go in some of these traditional houses and visit them.

One of the most beautiful parts of these houses are in my opinion the doors. All the doors are really different and really stunning. They can be golden, with drawings, silver… Whatever, they all look beautiful and match into the spirit of Buckeon.

Walking into the streets of Buckeon also means seeing a lot of Koreans dressed with traditional clothes, signal saying “be quiet please, people are living here” and also a lot of art on the wall of some houses. I was really surprised to see some street art in this traditional area. However, this street art is soft, sensible, beautiful. The drawings are really matching with the atmosphere of the place and it gives more charisma.

Buckeon is a small part of Seoul that should be seen by people who want to see more than the modernity of the capital.

3- The last place that I find charming in Seoul was the area of Insa Dong. The place is really near Buckeon so you can see both areas in the same time. What I particularly loved there was the little streets full of shops, cool restaurants, weird food, street art…

So let’s take that in order: Insa Dong had so many small restaurants and shops. In the smallest streets, you’ll find the cutest places.

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The other thing to know is that in the biggest streets the area is more for tourists, so you’ll find souvenirs and more expensive restaurants.

In Insa Dong, some buildings are open, full of wonderful things inside, art, love locker, shops, or just a place to walk in and enjoy.

 

Lastly, Insa Dong has some weird but good food. I tried two snacks that I liked and found really  pretty (or just funny). So the first one was an amazing fairy floss, it was so beautiful that I couldn’t resist to buy one.

The other thing was a Korean pancake filled with either chocolate or red bean paste. The thing is that this pancake was shaped like a poo. It was really funny and pretty good.

Insa Dong is a good place to spend time in you want to have fun in a cool area of Seoul.

So here are my three areas of Seoul that I really found charming and where I could spend more time if I get bored during an afternoon.

Out of Tokyo : Kamakura and Nikko

Near Tokyo, some cities worth to spend the day there. I have been to Kamakura and Nikko which are two different ambiances. I personally preferred Kamakura because of its beach mood but Nikko is a real cultural place speaking of temples.

 

So, as I said the first place I have been to was Kamakura which is around 45 minutes away from Tokyo by train. The part of the city near the train station is not the most interesting one. Temples near it have nothing really special in comparison of what we can find in Japan. However, there is a cute little street full of souvenirs and food which can be enjoyable if you have some time to spend. Moreover, if you decide to go and visit the temples (especially the Kencho-Ji) go to the upper part and if it’s not cloudy you can a view of Fuji Mont. (I was not lucky enough to see it).

 

I found the other part of the city way more interesting and beautiful. To go to the western/southern part I decided to walk and not take the bus or train. I think it was really worthy because I appreciated the atmosphere of this small city. The place is full of cool cafe, restaurant or street art which is really charming. Moreover, the streets are colorful or white and you feel like you’re not in Japan anymore.

 

Once you crossed the city you can join the famous Hase Dera. I really loved this place which is representative of the zen Japanese garden with its flowers, red fishes, small bouddhas and beautiful temples. This temple also have its own small cavern which is surprising but at the same time give a certain mystery to the place. At the upper part of the place, you can admire the view of the city and its ocean.

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This city is almost known for its Daibutsu which is a huge statue of Buddha. Unfortunately, the place was closed because of renovation until 2017.

 

Kamakura, as I mentioned before strongly represent the sea shore mood. The closest you get to the beach the most you find small little shops, cafe representing this spirit. Because when I went there it was winter almost nobody was on the beach expect few surfers. Seeing the beach was an enjoyable time and real fresh air from Tokyo even if the beach in itself is not spectacular.

 

 

Completely changing the atmosphere with the discovering of Nikko. This place from about 1 hour by train from Tokyo is located in the mountain and colder than the capital. I didn’t really love the place because of the city. Nikko is famous for its gorgeous temples and I agree with that. However, except these few temples the city is empty and doesn’t have any soul.

This is why I really appreciated the colorful and spectacular temples (as you can see on pictures). If you have some time and want to go out Tokyo this is a great option but if you are out of time you can find others gorgeous temples in Japan outside Nikko.

 

 

Here are two options out of Tokyo which can be a one day trip outside of the capital and enjoy your free time.

Busan: Gamchon village

Busan: second biggest city of South Korea is hiding a small treasure. 30 minutes away from the city center by taking a small bus through the mountains you are not in Busan anymore but in a small and colorful village. Basically, this is a place where all the houses are colorful, there is a lot of street art and you just feel good spending time there. When I went there it was raining and even though the show of all the colors was magical. I guess that going there on a sunny is ideal to appreciate the true beauty of the place.

 

In this village, there is a big road which is really easy to find from the bus station. From this point, you can observe all the colorful houses. In addition, some of the houses (a lot) are painted like real pieces of art. The walls are not forgotten as well, they are full of small decorations or full of painted wood which is giving a joyful atmosphere to the place. Because of this huge amount of things to look you can feel dizzy … but don’t worry that’s a good thing, it means there is a lot of beautiful things to see.

 

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As I mentioned just before there is a lot of street art in these small streets. The only thing you have to do is to find them and admire (or trying to understand). There is also a lot of good photo spots, in front of all the houses, with your lover and way more…

 

 

In the Gamchon village even if the big road is the most interesting one following small streets can be a great idea. You’ll go away from the crowd and discover some cute places that you didn’t expect to see.

 

 

In the main street, there is a lot of shops and restaurants. You can stop there to eat typical Korean food or buy souvenirs if you have the time. If you just want to walk around you can grab some Korean street snack (which is really various). This time, I tried the Korean pancake filled with cheese which was really good. However, I also tried the fried ice cream which was really strange and not that good… Korean pancakes are all over Korea but you can find different tastes from one part to another of Korea. Generally, the Korean pancakes are filled with red bean paste but in Busan you’ll find ice cream, cheese, sesame, meat or other things inside.

 

Gamcheon village:  a fresh air outside Busan to enjoy the beauty of colorful houses and discover another Korea.

 

What it’s like to live in Lille

It’s been almost 2 years that I’m living in Lille, North of France. I really do like this city because of its many opportunities. Lille in France is one of the biggest city but this is nothing in comparison with Paris for example.

20151025_104628.jpgThe city center is quite small but lovely and charming. You can go from one point to another by walking or using subways/bus. One of the main symbols of this city is the belfry near the opera. When it’s sunny a lot of people are chilling on the stairs of the Opera. Otherwise, people are relaxing in “Jardin Vauban”, a beautiful garden near the free zoo.

 

 

 

Still in the city center, the main place20141130_171827.jpg called place du général de Gaulle is the famousest one. A big fountain is in the middle of the place during summer and during Christmas, there is a big wheel and a giant Christmas tree. Few blocks after, you are at the “Place Rihour” where a lovely Christmas market is opened during from late November to early January.

 
IMG_0181.jpgLille is one of the biggest city in the North, so you can discover the North food mainly made of cheese. The most well known is the “Maroilles”. Some people eat some Maroilles on a toast with their coffee for breakfast ( Impossible for me because of the strong smell and taste). For the dessert, you can eat Vanilla”gauffrette” that are small waffles stuffed with Vanilla. This is so delicious !! You can find them everywhere in the city but at the bakery “Aux Merveilleux” they are even better.

 

 

Speaking of food, Lille has a lot of different markets where you can buy fresh food. There is one that I particularly love at the “Place du concert”. Another place where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables (and cheap !!)  is in the area of “Wazemmes”. You can find the opening timetable on the website : http://www.lille.fr/cms/halle-et-marches-de-lille

In a more ar20151018_154906.jpgtistic approach, at the tourism office, you can take the street art map, rent a bike and see all the street art of Lille. I did it with some of my friends and we spent an amazing afternoon. For me, it was a surprise to see as much art as I couldn’t imagine. Most of the time you are focused on one part of the city and you don’t see the other areas which are also interesting.

IMG_20150517_013116.jpgThere is also several museums in the city. I particularly love two of them: the “Tripostal” welcomes medium and short exhibitions which are mainly made of contemporary art. It is located near the train station.  The last exhibition named “Vite, vite Séoul” is really interesting showing the two parts of South Korea. From one side this country is really traditional and have its own customs but from another side, the country is evolving faster and faster with its modernity. The other museum called “Les beaux arts “is located at the “Place de la république”. This museum is more classical. You can find there some exhibitions in addition with the permanent exposition. Once a year you have the “night of  museums” where every museum is open at night for free. Some of them are even doing some special exhibitions.

The city of Lille is mIMG_0246.jpgade with different universities and a lot of schools. This is a student city; a large part of the population is under 25 years old. It provides a lot of offers and discount for students. Because there is a lot of students, there is also a lot of different bars and night clubs. Most of them is “Rue Massena” and “Rue Solferino”. Moreover, stay tuned with the events that are going on. A lot of student events are taking place in the city or just outside the city. For example, every year there is the student night where in a museum outside of Lille you can admire the art and party with a DJ inside the museum for free.