Elizabeth is flying high and experiencing everything France has to offer!
Elizabeth is flying high and experiencing everything France has to offer!
Have you ever wanted to explore France and experience everything it has to offer?
Well, Elizabeth has jetted off to France and she's having the time of her life. Paris and Biarritz are two cities she will be exploring and by the looks of it, she's having a ball.
We asked Elizabeth to share with us her daily activities and we're super jealous!
Good morning everyone!
Just arrived in Paris after a lovely flight. please see below for the first blog of the trip from yesterday. Will update again this evening.
The adventure begins...
Our trip to France courtesy of Atout France South Africa, Air France and the French Embassy of South Africa has a bit of back story beyond the fortuitous day of winning the Jacaranda FM competition in July. Back in 2014, on Kaity's 21st birthday I wrote her a letter promising that one day we would travel to her dream destination; Paris, France. This is why, exactly 3 years later, driven by a sense of nostalgia, I decided to enter the #loveFrance competition on Jacaranda FM. Never in a million years did I anticipate getting through to the first round, let alone being the overall prize winner of the #loveFrance competition. However, life had a different plan and that is why merely two months later Kaity and I are about to board a plane after a super simple and friendly check in at the Air France counter for a once in a lifetime trip to Biarritz and Paris. Words do not even begin to describe our gratitude to the wonderful people at Air France and Atout France South Africa, and of course to Jacaranda FM. We will be blogging daily and updating everyone on our adventures.
Nothing could have prepared us for arriving in Biarritz this morning, after the long flight from OR Tambo on Airfrance, we had a short stop over in Paris, then straight on to Local Air France's Hop, where we arrived in paradise. A shuttle took us to our beautiful hotel, the Raddison Blu Biarritz where a gorgeous information and welcome package from Biarritz Tourisme office awaited our arrival. Starving for food and adventure we wondered out in search of sustenance, and ended up eating at a road side cafe with the best sandwiches ever. The entire city is alive and friendly, with amazing architecture and a rich and vibrant history.
We spent the afternoon wondering the coast along the spectacular beaches, visiting the chocolate museum and having sundowners with an picturesque view of the sunset, while the locals surfed into the evening. We then went back to the hotel to explore the views from their 5th floor pool and restaurant, then back out to dinner just down the road at a fantastic local eatery. Biarritz is a small city with a huge heart, which is reflected in the amazing surfing culture and friendly citizens.
Two days here hardly seems enough to even scratch the surface. Tomorrow we plan on visiting the Aquarium de Biarritz and the City of the Ocean so kindly organised by Biarritz Tourisme and then a walk along the promenade to see the famous Rock of the Virgin and the Lighthouse. Thank you once again to Atout France South Africa and the embassy of France in South Africa.
20,000 steps through Biarritz
This morning started with a decadent breakfast at the Raddison Blu hotel, much needed fuel for what turned out to be a day of walking. We started at the incredible local market, that had an array of fresh produce, cheese, bread and deli meats- perfect for a picnic. After filling our backpack with supplies, we trekked through the beautiful city, past the famous Hotel du Palais and the beautiful Orthodox Church, all the way to the lighthouse.
We then wound our way on the magical walkways along the coast and found a secluded cove with a view for our picnic lunch. After that we continued on our way to the Biarritz aquarium, which was unfortunately closed today due to water damage, never disheartened however we simply walked across the road to the beautiful Rock of the Virgin, which boasts some of the best views of Biarritz.
We then walked to the other side of town to the Cite de L'ocean, an oceanic museum with the most incredible and modern displays and activities, including but not limited to a virtual surfing and scuba diving experience. Our entrance was so kindly paid for by Tourisme Biarritz. Finally, after more than 20,000 steps we made our way to dinner at the local burger bar Le Cab and had a much deserved and needed burger, fries and drinks. Our final day in paradise was nothing short of perfect.
We left beautiful Biarritz early this morning, to make our journey to Paris. We hopped on a Hop plane, and within less than 2 hours had arrived in the capital. We shuttled through to our hotel, the best western prince Montmarte, in the arty Montmarte area of Paris. The city certainly has a distinct feeling; a bustle and a pulse.
We checked into the hotel and made our way to a local eatery, a busy little shop full of Parisians- we took this as a sign that the food was good and reasonably priced. How right we were, a delicious roast and a coffee later we were ready to explore. We caught a bus to the Arc de Triomphe, where we stood in awe of the historical significance of the monument at the center of Paris. We had an hour to spare before our evening event, so we wondered down the Champs Elysees taking in the famous fashion avenue.
At 7pm we went to the Lido de Paris, the world renowned Cabaret and burlesque, for dinner and the show. Very few things in this world are truly indescribable, but the Lido experience is beyond explanation. From the scrumptious 3 course meal, with in house Lido Champaigne, to the one and a half hour extravaganza of Parisian glamour, it was a remarkable and dazzling evening of indulgence and charm. Lido de Paris was the crowning glory of a first day in Paris.
No time to sleep in Paris
Saturday started off with a quick breakfast at the hotel, way too many croissants have been had this holiday and Saturday was no exception. At 10am we were picked up for our La Vallee Village shopping experience, and that's precisely what it was from start to finish. Our chariot to the shopping experience was nothing other than a Porsche Panamera, driven by an incredibly chivalrous and stylish driver, the 40 minute drive outside of the city simply flew by. We arrived to be welcomed to La Valllee Village by a hostess, who took us through to the VIP lounge while pointing out the numerous luxury brands available at the village. From Long Champs to Versace, and Armani to Michael Kors, all top couture brands were well represented. We were given a lovely welcome in the VIP section, which included and explanation of our 'hands free' shopping as well as a 10% reduction on the already extremely reasonable prices at the village. The whole experience was effortless, as we shopped up an absolute storm.
We returned to Paris, exhausted but satisfied, and prepared for our evening in the city center. Catching the local bus, we made our way across to the city center. After a luxurious dinner at a road side cafe, we finally got to the Seine, and saw the magnificent Eiffel Tower in all its glory in the middle of the night. It was an earth moving experience to see the iconic monument from all angles at night, but eventually we decided to sit a while and just bask in its lights on the lawns in front of the Tower. Having thoroughly experienced the Eiffel tower we went in search of other iconic areas, including the Louve, the Tuileries national garden and the Luxor Obelisk however after not getting off at the right stop we ended up at in the heart of the all annual all night art festival; Nuit Blanche. Describing the art exhibitions we saw as breathtaking barely scratches the surface.
The first public display was a time warp through the revolutions of the world, from the French Revolution to the Cuban Revolution, including a beautiful reference to our own figure of national liberation, Nelson Mandela. To get from one exhibition to the next, one had to simply follow the throngs of people moving around the streets; the next exhibition was the 'Children of the Light', a magical light show inside a ancient Church accompanied by hauntingly beautiful music.
The music literally reverberated through your bones as you made your way through the church display. Absolutely surreal. Finally at the Les Halles shopping center we saw a dance display done in huge amounts of silver glitter to various music including the phantom of the opera. It was now around 2AM but the whole city was still wide awake, with literally thousands of people in the streets. There were several other places and museums to see during Nuit Blanche, but unfortunately we weren't able to get to them all. We did eventually find the Louvre and walk past the gardens, but the evening was coming to an end as we made our way back to the hotel at around 3:30AM, exhilarated by the sleepless city.
Meet me in Paris
Our final day began barely four hours after our Nuit Blanche adventure ended, we were up with the sun to make the most of our last hours in the beautiful city. In honesty we barely even began to scratch the surface of the diverse, globalised yet somehow still authentic capital city. Once dressed we decided to venture out to find the Sacre Ceour, a mere 1.1 kilometers from our hotel door, we decided the walk and fish air would do is good.
This I fear was a bit of a mistake. Although so close in theory, the ancient church at the top of a very big hill, whilst our hotel was nestled at the bottom. After many many stairs, exhausted and slightly sweaty we got to the monument. It was beautiful certainly, but just across from it were the most spectacular views of the expansive city. We decided that today was the day to attempt Paris's famous RATP underground metro, nervous about getting lost we made our way to the metropolitan station, getting tickets to Notre Dame, and after a few hiccoughs we got three extremely chuffed with ourselves. Notre Dame in an intimidating church, that simultaneously leaves you awe struck and humbled.
The sanctity of the church requires modesty, so no caps or bare legs or arms, and silence and respect for those praying within its holy walls. Once outside the walls of Notre Dame, and with the chorus of the bells still in our ears, we walked across the street to Shakespeare and Company, an English language book store with a history at the heart of Paris. Beautiful new and second hand books adorn the shelves, and provides a nook for dreamers to curl up and enjoy a read in the open library. Between us we bought 5 books, but could easily have left with more if packing space WA son our side. We decided to sake a stroll along the Seine, to enjoy the views and atmospheres of the city, and came across several open air books stores that sold an assortment of French and English literature, as well as paintings and maps, it was truly the most remarkable experience. We walked for kilometers trying to just take in the city. Finally, exhausted but with full, hearts we took the metro back to the Hotel, collected our baggage, and bid a reluctant farewell to a city we had fallen in love with in less than 72 hours. We will need to revisit France again and again to return to now old favourite spots and continue finding new spaces to explore. The people were generous, the history was thought provoking and complex, and the city was wondrous.
Thank you Atout France South Africa, Embassy of France in South Africa, Air France, Biarritz Toursime, Lido Paris, La Valllee Village and of course Jacaranda FM for an unforgettable holiday filled to the brim with adventure.
Paris, we will meet again.
You can follow their journey on Instagram at: @elizabethmay_ferguson and @Kaitysp or @ZA_FranceFR @AirFranceZA @FrenchEmbassyZA.
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