Europe, France, Travel, Western Europe

Strasbourg and Colmar

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to share my visit to Strasbourg, a city known for its Christmas market. Even though I visited here little bit before the Christmas season, the city seemed to be busy preparing Christmas, one of the biggest festivals in town of the year.

From Karlsruhe (German city) where I visited to meet my friend, it took me less than one hour to get to Strasbourg by train. I stayed in Strasbourg for one night since I also wanted to visit Colmar, which is a neighboring city of Strasbourg. Which means that I had one day in Strasbourg and one afternoon in Colmar. There are many things to see in the town, but only to see the highlights of the cities, two days seemed to be perfect. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t my side, it rained so it was colder than I thought and I couldn’t have enough time to stroll around the town. Still, the town was amazing and the scenery with rain was unforgettable.

Strasbourg

It was easy to find a big Christmas tree in the center of the town. During the christmas season, christmas market will be held here. I wish I could visit again in Christmas season to see the big tree.

Things to see

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg is a must see landmark in town. This gothic style architecture is outstanding. Today, this is the sixth-tallest church in the world It is said that it took more than 400 years to complete. It’s been 580 years since its construction (1439). The cathedral was incredible and inspiring even though I wasn’t a christian. Don’t miss out astronomical clock inside the church.

Place Kléber

This is the central square of the city. The square named after General Jean-Baptiste Kléber who was born in Strasbourg. As a center of the commercial area, this is where you should go to shop. This area is also classified a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. Here you can also find the Christmas Tree.

Palais Rohan

Located next to the Cathedral, Palais Rohan welcomes its visitors with its Baroque style architecture. It was a former residence of French noble family. Inside the palace, there are three museums; musée des beaux-arts, musée des arts décoratifs and musée archéologique. Most museums cost € 6.5, so if you think you would visit more than two museums daily pass would be more economic. (1 day-pass : € 12, 3 days-pass : € 18).

Petite-France

This is one of the most beautiful areas in Strasbourg. Thanks to its amazing view, this area is beloved by locals and tourists. It looks like a town in a fairy tale. Series of half-timbered homes are placed alongside the canal, the cobblestone streets, fine dinings will complete your trip. Everywhere is picturesque in this area, and you wouldn’t stop taking pictures.

Transportation

Strasbourg is easy to look around with its various transportation. Run by CTS, ticket valids inside Strasbourg and Kehl (a German city). Different types of tickets are available depending on your need. I bought 24H-TRIO for €6.90 which offers unlimited rides upto three people in the metropolitan area. I rode tram many times because it was a good way to look around the town. For more information about the ticket price, click here.

In Strasbourg, I stayed in Hôtel ibis Styles Strasbourg Centre Petite-France. The accommodation was near from the train station ( about 10 mins by foot), so we dropped by there before looking around the town. As you probably seen my previous hotel review Ibis Paris CDG, the facilities and breakfast were similar.

Colmar

Similar to Strasbourg, Colmar is also a touristic city in northeastern France . This town is also known for Bartholdi, a sculptor of the Statue of Liberty. Unique and colorful houses in Colmar also inspired Miyazaki, a Japanese animation director, who studied architecture and surroundings here. In his animation called Howl’s Moving Castle, he showed Colmar. You could recognize it if you see that.

Since I had only one afternoon here, I took a mini train to look around the town. The price of the ticket is € 7 and it it departs every 30 mins. It’s a good way to see the highlights of the town. But since the town is quite small, it’s not that worth to ride it.

Things to see

La Petite Venise

La Petite Venise is similar to Petite France in Strasbourg. Streets full of cobblestones and houses were gorgeous. Even though I was looking at it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t take my eyes off from this fantastic view.

Musée Bartholdi

This museum is dedicated to the sculptor Bartholdi, who was born in Colmar. The museum was built in his birthplace, and present the artist’s works. It opens at 10:00 – 12:00 and 14:00-18:00 and it costs € 7. Since he’s one of the important person from the town, in the center of the town you may find his statue.

In Colmar, there are two churches with unique feature :Dominican Church and St.Martin Church. They are close to each other, so don’t miss out to see them.

Things to eat

The two Alsatian cities are in France but their food is a bit away from French cuisine. Most of them include potatoes and the portion of the food was huge. I got the impression they were rather German food. I had potato gratin with duck, Pork leg with potatoes with crémant. The food was a bit greasy for me so it went really well with sparkling crémant. I also tried other Alsatian cuisine like tarte flambee (bacon and onion tarte) or sausages, but most food were too heavy for me. Probably to deal with cold weather in Alsace, heavy food should be a must not an option.

Enjoy your trip with Marimonda! See you soon. 🙂

Practical Info.

Strasbourg

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg

Address : Place de la Cathédrale, 67000 Strasbourg, France

Place Kléber

Address : 67000 Strasbourg, France

Palais Rohan

Address : 2 Place du Château, 67000 Strasbourg, France

Colmar

Musée Bartholdi

Address : 30 Rue des Marchands, 68000 Colmar, France

St.Martin Church

Address : 18 Place de la Cathédrale, 68000 Colmar, France

Dominican Church

Address : Place des Dominicains, 68000 Colmar, France

Europe, Germany, Travel, Western Europe

The Black Forest and German Food

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to share my visit to The Black Forest (schwarzwälder), a forested mountain range in Germany. Also I’d like to introduce German food what I had. I only took a mini track nearby my friend’s house, still I was overwhelmed by the nature.

Walking up around 9 a.m. and we had German-style breakfast. We prepared the meal together based on what Rebecca normally has in the morning, from bread to tea, everything was perfect.

We originally planned to go to the Black Forest and take a day hike, but due to the weather circumstance we changed the plan. We decided to take a mini-track nearby her house.

When we left the house it started drizzling. It didn’t take that long the drizzle changed into snow. The weather in the forest is unexpectable and can change in a short moment, thus it would be better to be always prepared even if you’re going for a walk.

The snow turned into mild snow storm suddenly, so we had to come back after two hours. The visible distance wasn’t that long due to the weather, but the thick fog made the forest more mysterious and surreal. Even though it was a short walk, I could see many things that I haven’t seen before such as the giant ant house (left picture).

German Food

I didn’t worry what to eat in Germany because my friend knows well about the local food. All the restaurants I’ve tried, every dish had a big portion. I asked my german friend, and she told me it’s normal portion in Germany. Compared to French food, I would say it was almost double portion.

Käsespätzle

Based on German pasta (short and curly), stir fried with onions and cheese. The rich flavor of the cheese and onion was very impressive and hard to stop. The perfect mixture of each ingredient worked up my appetite and warmed me from the cold weather. I tried this again in another restaurant. At the second restaurant, the way they cook the same food was different. They cooked noodles and onions separately and put the caramelized onions on the top of the pasta. I preferred the first one since I liked the harmony of each ingredient.

Wiener Schnitzel

I love Vienna Schnitzel, and I visited Vienna again this year to visit figlmuller (To read my previous article on Figmuller, click here). When I saw this from the menu in a restaurant in Heidelberg, I couldn’t resist but order it. The meat was smaller than its original one in Vienna, but it accompanied with french fries which made the dish complete.

Schauerbraten mit Rotkraut und Knödel

This is a beef marinated in vinegar with red cabbage. I could taste very strong beef flavor. It seemed like well balanced dish with mashed potato, salad and meat. The portion was unbelievably big.

Schupfnudeln

This is one of the daily foods in Germany. You can buy this thick pasta at any supermarket in Germany. The preparation is very simple and easy. Just cook it in the pan using Olive Oil and put some apple purée or jam to give more flavor. We had this for dinner with a French wine we brought from Paris and all of us had an amazing catching up time together with good meal.

Overall, German food seems very filling and heavy. While having the dish, I wanted to grab a beer to refresh me up. The local food didn’t seem to be fancy nor luxury, but it was very yummy and filling.

Enjoy your trip with Marimonda! See you soon. 🙂

Europe, Germany, Travel, Western Europe

Heidelberg

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to share my visit to Heidelberg, a city in southwestern Germany. Amazing view from the castle, Neckar River, philosophers’ way, street with full of energy, it’s definitely worth to visit especially in fall. You can enjoy autumn colors these days.

I took a train at Paris East Station to Karlsruhe (German city) where one of my friends lives. One of the reasons I decided to visit Heidelberg is to visit her. It took about two and half hour. You can book a ticket via SNCF (which is French national railway system) or DB (german railway system). I recommend you double check the sites before you purchase the ticket because when I bought the ticket for the same train, DB had cheaper tickets. I guess since the train leaves from Paris, more people buy the ticket in SNCF rather than DB. Thus, the cheapest tickets in SNCF were sold faster than DB site. For the same ticket, I could save 15 euros. When I arrived at the station, my friend came to the station to pick me up and we went to Heidelberg by car and it took about one hour.

Heidelberg is very small, so a day will be enough to look around. Most tourists visit here for morning or afternoon and then leave to a bigger city to stay, but it is one of the most beautiful and classic german cities I’ve ever visited.

Heidelberg is known for its university and the castle. Here, we can find the oldest German University <Heidelberg University> , which is one of the reputable unis in Europe. Many scholars studied and researched here such as Friedrich Hegel, Max Weber, and Erich Fromm. Still many researchers in the world come to this city to do their research.

Heidelberg Castle is located on the hill, so you can enjoy the view of the city. The hill is not stiff, but most roads are full of pebbles. Thus, it is recommendable to wear comfortable shoes to go to the castle. The castle is one of the grandest palaces of the Renaissance. I was overwhelmed to see this giant brown powerful masterpiece. It’s absolutely stunning and different from that of France or Italy. The façade is very unique even compared to other parts of the Germany and impressive. You can see the amazing view of the town from the courtyard (above), and philosophers’ way across the river. The ticket costs € 8, and € 4 for students.It’s a must-see place! The ticket also includes the entrance of the German Museum of Pharmacy inside the castle.

Coming down from the castle, I explored the city. Wandering around the downtown, I saw the Church of the Holy Spirit. It’s a massive church with unique architect style.

The city is vivid thanks to international tourists. But if you walk a bit away from the center, you can also enjoy a very quiet peaceful town.

I had a coffee break at Cafe Schafheutle. The black forest cake was really good and the atmosphere of the cafe is very cozy. Due to the many customers, the service was a bit slow though. The price was also reasonable a filter coffee cost less than € 3, and other coffees were usually less than € 5. The price of the cakes depends on the menu, but most of them were less than € 5. So, €7~10 would be enough budget for one person.

The pinky sky at the Sunset was unbelievable. The surreal sky and its reflection on the river made me feel if I were in heaven. It was very sweet like the black forest cake I had in the afternoon.

Enjoy your trip with Marimonda! See you soon. 🙂

Practical Info.

Heidelberg Castle

Address : Schlosshof 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany

website

Cafe Schafheutle

Address : Hauptstraße 94, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany

website

Europe, France, Travel, Western Europe

Bordeaux

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to share my visit to Bordeaux, a capital of Wine in the world.

France is very well known for its gastronomy, especially its wine. Most of French wines are produced in Bordeaux (sure, there are other popular winery regions such as bourgogne or alsace. I am not a big fan of alcohol, but I wanted to try out some authentic wine while I’m here in France. So I took a ouigo (it’s superfast and very cheap!! There are so many things I complain of and I compliment on in France, but French railway system is one of the best things that I can experience here) and visited Bordeaux. Since it was a spontaneous decision, I didn’t have enough time to find a good deal for accomodation nor plan the trip, but luckily everything went very smoothly.

The First Impression

The first impression I got when I arrived in Bordeaux, it exactly matched to the image I had on France. The harmony of antique and modern architectures surrounded by nature, a bit slow-paced city (compared to Paris) amazed me and made me wow constantly. It seemed like Bordelais were still enjoying their vacation before the Rentrée, the city looked so empty with locals but full of tourists who are enjoying their last summer holidays including me.

Things to do

The first thing I did, after checking-in to hotel, was visiting the tourist center to book winery tours. It was my first time to Bordeaux and since I didn’t plan any, thus I needed information to choose the right trip. The tourist center is located in the center of the city, next to Opera House. There you can get a winery tour brochure which have you help to choose from half-day to full day winery tour in different areas according to your schedule. You can also find tours via online.

In Bordeaux, there are five well-known winery regions : Médoc, Blaye, St-émilion, Entre-deux-mers, and Graves. Pomerol and Pessac areas also produce high-quality wines. It seemed almost impossible to visit all of these areas at once.

I didn’t want to wake up early, thus I chose half-day tours for Medoc area and Saint-Émilion for two days. For Medoc, I reserved a big group tour ( about 28 people) for Medoc and small group tour( 6 people) for Saint-Émilion and the price was double. The tour cost about than €42 for the big group, and €88 for the small group. I went wineries in Margaux(Médoc region), Pessac, Pomerol, and St-émilion.

The meeting point is in front of the tourist center, 15 mins before the departure time. Usually afternoon tours depart at 1:30 p.m. and come back to the city around 6:30 p.m. I visited three different chateaux in each tour, thus six chateaux for two days in total. During the tour, I learned the procedure of bordeaux wine and could taste different wines.

To check the fertility of the land, traditionally, people planted flowers (rose). If the flower blossom beautifully with vivid colors, the land is full of energy and ready to produce yummy grapes. Thanks to the development of technology, these days they don’t rely on roses only, but still it’s a symbol of a winery. Each winery will let you know their specialty and how to produce their wine. It was also interesting to see and compare the traditional way and modern way to produce wine in different chateaux. At the end of the tour, wine tasting is ready to attract you and open to your wallet. Each chateaux offer two glasses of wine in general, if you’d like more you can ask more.

After experiencing the two different tours, if I go back to Bordeaux, I would take big group tour again since I don’t see the big difference between the big and the small group tour. I’d rather get a bottle of decent wine for the difference of the price. Though, it might worth to go with private tour (which was out of my budget so it wasn’t my option this time), because I can spend time with my friends or family privately. But among group tours, I will definitely choose the big group next time because I felt less pressure to purchase wine and the tour itself seemed quite similar. Plus, some exclusive wineries are usually not open to the public or group tour, thus you may contact them personally or look for a specialist who can book your spot.

Saint-Émilion is an Unesco World Heritage Site village. It’s a small but picturesque city. I loved the view from the top of the town and it was also full of tourists rather than locals.

I bought two bottles of wine(one from each region) to drink at the end of the year and to celebrate special occasions. So, it is recommendable to buy a bottle of wine you tasted if you liked, because you buy it directly from the producer and it’s cheaper than market price.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t visit Cité du Vin. There you can see the ehbitibions and book winery tours, all the activities you can do with wine. The entrance ticket costs from €20. It’s little bit far away from the center of the town.

I also took the mini-train to explore the city.The ticket costs €8 and the train departs near the tourist center. The route covers all the important areas of the town, thus it’s easy to look around the village.

Gastronomy

Due to its geographical characteristic, Bordeaux is known for seafood, too. You can find many delicious seafood places and I tried one of them, Le Petit Commerce. Most of all, the ingredients were super fresh and the servers were nice. It was a bit out of the peak time, thus I could enjoy my meal without any pressure to leave. Oysters seemed one of their signatures, but we ordered shrimps and fried fish. Even though unpeeling the shrimps was an hassle, but the food was delicious. I ordered two glasses of wine, two main dishes, and a rice pudding (see the picture below) for two people and it was about €70.

I also went to an Italian restaurant. I found this restaurant in a small alley by accident. And it was a great success. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the name, but it was a bit away from tourist destination. Next to the restaurant, there was a BIO store, and the alley was full of restaurants.

Bordeaux is also a home of Canelé. This one bite pleasure would make you happy with its unique texture – inside is very soft with custard, vanilla and rum flavor bread and the outside is caramelized crust. La Toque Cuivrée and Canelés Baillardran are famous for canelé.

Another dessert I tried in Bordeaux was Rice Pudding. It wasn’t that impressive to be honest.

Happy travel with Marimonda. Follow me and see you again 🙂

Practical Info.

Bordeaux Tourism

Address : 12 Cours du 30 Juillet, 33000 Bordeaux, France

Hours :

Website

Cité du Vin

Address : Esplanade de Pontac, 134 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux, France

Hours : 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Mon. -Fri.) / 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. (Weekend)

Website

Europe, France, Travel, Western Europe

Rouen

Hello, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to share my day trip to Rouen from Paris. Located in Normandy region, Rouen was one of the most important cities in the medieval time. This city is now known for a place where Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) was executed and a hometown for the impressionists with its incredible cathedral and the scenery of the Seine. The peaceful and calm atmosphere of Rouen will welcome you.

How to get there

This is a great city for a day trip from Paris. I took a train to go there, and the train departs at Saint-Lazare station in Paris. The price of the ticket varies depending on the time you want to depart (from €11 ), but the morning one I took cost €11.50 (8:19-9:50). I think it’s the cheapest but the best schedule to visit Rouen for a day. It takes about 1 hour and half by train.

You can also go there by taking a bus such as Flixbus or Ouibus which offer cheaper price ( from €4.99) and it takes about 2 hours (on average). I like travelling bus, but considering the fact that I was travelling for a day, I would pay few more euros to save time. Most bus stops are outside of the city, thus you should consider the time to get into the center of the city.

Things to do in Rouen

The first place I visited in Rouen was the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen. In this museum, you would find paintings, sculptures, drawing and art collections. It’s only 10 mins away from the train station by foot. In front of the station, you would see a main street. Following that street toward Subway (sandwich shop), you would see a park. The museum is next to the park. It is free of charge for permanent collections. The museum opens at 10 a.m., thus arriving at the station at 9:50 was an excellent choice.

In the museum, you may find collections from the 15th century to the 21th century. This museum has a special salon called <Rouen> where exhibits art collections of the city.

Leaving behind the museum,I headed to the Cathedral, which is the main object in the Claude Monet’s painting series <Rouen Cathedral>. He drew 30 paintings of this building at different time and different season.

Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the most important architectures in Rouen. This giant Gothic style cathedral fascinates its visitors. Many people sit down and enjoy this gorgeous structure including me. Don’t forget to get in. Inside of the building is also impressive.

Rouen is also known as the city of Joan of Arc. Napoleon Bonaparte declared her as a French national symbol considering her significant role in the Hundred Years’ War. She was executed by fire here in Rouen, thus there are some monuments to commemorate her. You can see some paintings about this little but strong girl in the musée des beaux-arts. On the way to the center of the town, you could see Donjon of Rouen where Joan of Arc was imprisoned. Now, this place hosts the escape game using VR glasses.

The Church of Joan of Arc is also an important church in Rouen. This modern building commemorates the national heroin Joan of Arc. To me, it seemed a bit odd since it doesn’t get along with neighboring buildings. In front of the church, you can see a big cross. This is the place where she was executed. The church is small but has a very abstract and unique structure. Inside of the church is very bright thanks to wide windows which allow to pass the light.

The Great Clock is also a must see thing in Rouen. It’s in the downtown from the Renaissance era. You can get into the building and see the clock from inside and enjoy the cityview. Since there was a long queue and I had only one day there, I didn’t enter the monument. There’s also a lunch break, so you should plan your visit well. The ticket costs €7 (adult).

Overall, the city is full of history and you could imagine how important the city was in the past by looking at historical buildings. It’s a perfect day trip destination from Paris in Summer.

Enjoy your trip with Marimonda! See you soon. 🙂

Practical Info.

Musée des Beaux-Arts

Address : Esplanade Marcel Duchamp 76000 Rouen

Hours : 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Closed on Tuesday.

website

Notre-Dame Cathedral de Rouen

Address : Place de la Cathédrale, 76000 Rouen

Hours : 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Tue.-Sat.) / 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (Sun.)/ 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Mon.)

website

Donjon de Rouen

Address : Rue Bouvreuil, 76000 Rouen

website

Church of Joan of Arc

Address : Place du Vieux Marché, 76000 Rouen

Hours : 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. – 6 : 00 p.m. (Mon.-Thu. , Sat.)

2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. (Fri. and Sun.)

website

The Great Clock

Address :Rue du Gros Horloge, 76000 Rouen

Hours : 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. – 7 : 00 p.m. (Tue.-Sun.) Closed on Mondays

website

Luxembourg, Travel, Western Europe

Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grand Ducal

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to review Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grand Ducal, where I stayed in Luxembourg in August.

Located in hilly area outside of the old town, the hotel has an astonishing view of the city. It’s one of the luxurious hotels here, belong to Accor chain.

Room Type

I booked a standard room during Accor Super Sale promotion period with 30% off and breakfast included. The price can be different depending on the time or the platform that you use to make a reservation. It was an extraordinary experience. The room was spacious, and has a big window toward the city. I could enjoy the view day and night.

What I liked the most was the complimentary minibar. Including two evians on the nightstands, there are four evians, two badoit(sparkling water), two coca-cola, one minute maid and one seven up, thus ten drinks are free. Hermès amenities are provided.

Room Service

You can order your room service from a French restaurant called <Mu> in hotel. Some menus are available for 24 hours. I ordered Pad Thai for dinner. Since the dining price in Luxembourg is high, the price of the room service seems competitive. I was curious how they cook Pad Thai, so I ordered it (also it was one of the cheapest menus, cost about €20 ). Pad Thai has quite an interesting sweet and sour flavor. It was a bit far away from the taste what I expected from Pad Thai, but it was good. Thanks to the free minibar, I didn’t have to order drinks which saved me extra euros.

Breakfast Buffet

The breakfast buffet was also excellent. It seems a bit pricey (€ 31 per person). As I mentioned above, however, my reservation included free breakfast buffet. There were various options from appetizer to dessert. For drinks, you can order at your table and the staffs bring them to your table. Detox juices are also available for free. The view from the restaurant is also breathtaking.

Service

The quality of the service was incredibly high. Even though they work in different sector such as a reception, concierge, etc, all staffs were ready to help. At the lobby, a mini snack bar is prepared.

Other Facilities

Like other hotels, a gym, meeting rooms, or a bar are available.

Enjoy your trip with Marimonda! See you soon 🙂

Practical Info.

address : 40 Boulevard d’Avranches, 1160 Luxembourg

24 hours reception

website

Europe, France, Travel, Western Europe

Mont Saint-Michel

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to introduce you one of the most touristic areas in France, the Mont Saint-Michel! Located in Normandy, this place is loved by people from all around the world unique geographical characteristic. I’ve been there three times already, but I can’t stop wowing whenever I see it.

Brief History

Mont Saint-Michel used to be a fortification due to its location. It is said that the archangel Michael instructed Aubert of Avranches who was the bishop of that region in 708 to build a church there. You may probably notice many sculptures inside Mont Saint-Michel describing this legend.

Later, the cathedral and abbey were added to the original church and the island has modified according to the architect style as time flows. It took 800 years to have today’s feature. During the French Revolution, it was served as a prison. Mont Saint-Michel and its bay were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1979.

I’ve been to Mont Saint Michel three times so far, and I always find new things to appreciate inside. I went there by myself(self-guided tour), with a group tour, and with an official tour provided by the monument. Each visit was unforgettable since all of them were so different.

When I went there by myself, I was surprised to see the town. Seeing all that medieval structures, I felt as if I were a character in Game of Thrones. Since I didn’t get any tour, I couldn’t have any opportunities to understand better on this.

For the second visit, I took a day trip from Paris. It was easy since I didn’t have to calculate time for the transport nor line up to enter. Plus, the tour was included visiting other places Honfleur, a harbour city in France. It cost about €100 (only for the transport and the guide), including the entrance fee and the lunch, I spent around €130 excluding souvenirs. Plus, the guide explained the stories about Mont Saint-Michel, thus it helped me to get to know more about this place.

The last time I visited there, which was 1 week ago, I went there by train and participated une visite conference, an official guided tour provided by Mont Saint-Michel. I am not sure about English tour (there are visite conferences in different languages ) since I took a French one. I guess that it would be the same or similar. It cost me 13 and if you can I really recommend this. Since the tour guides are approved by the French government, I could access to hidden parts where is not open to public. The tour takes about 1 hour ~1 hour and half depending on the circulation inside of the Abbey.

How to get there?

Since Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most popular places in France, there are many ways that you can visit there.

Joining a day group tour would be the easiest way to get there. The tour usually takes a whole day ( about 14 hours on average) and it costs around €120~180. The price varies depending on the conditions such as admission or lunch.

If you go there by yourself, you can drive and it takes about 4 hours from Paris (one way).

You can also go there by bus such as flixbus it takes about 5 hours or a bit more (one way) and it costs around €50 for a round trip.

Travelling by train and then taking a bus can be an option. The combo ticket costs from €54 (the cheapest but the best time slot if you go there for a day trip) from Paris. The train leaves at Montparnasse 3 Vaugirard early in the morning everyday( 7 : 38 a.m.). Then you transfer to a bus offered by SNCF at Villedieu les Poêles. When you take off the bus, you can ride a shuttle (free) to get to Mont Saint-Michel, walk (about 40 mins), or by a horse-carriage ride.

What to eat?

Since it’s a touristic place, most restaurants in Mont Saint-Michel are busy and expensive. There, I found a creperie <La Sirène Lochet> and it was one of the best crepes I’ve ever tried in France with reasonable price. The restaurant is on the second floor (1er étage in French style), you should use stairs in a souvenir shop on the first floor. The service is a bit slow but the staffs are friendly and most of all, the crepes are delicious. You can customize your dish with the ingredients you want. Each crepe costs about €7~9, thus including the drink €12~15 would be enough per person. We ordered four crepes, one bottle of cider, and four coffees, and we paid less than €50 in total.

Salt lamb is the local specialty. You can try them out at <Le Pré Salé> or <La Rôtisserie>. Those are well-known restaurant for salt lamb (€30~). You can also try <La Mère Poulard>, it cost 40~ for one main dish which seems quite high to me. You can also find cookies from <La Mère Poulard>, but since you can get them from almost everywhere in France, I don’t think it’s necessary to buy them there.

Hope you enjoyed the visit to Mont Saint-Michel with Marimonda. See you soon 🙂

Practical Info. (websites)

Mont Saint-Michel

Le Pré Salé

La Rôtisserie

La Mère Poulard

Luxembourg, Travel, Western Europe

Luxembourg_1

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today, I’d like to share my visit to Luxembourg, a small but strong country. Luxembourg is probably known for its high GDP in the world. It’s an impressively clean state compared to other European countries. It’s on the border of France, Germany and Belgium. I visited Luxembourg for two days to relax. Thus, I didn’t do many things in the city this time, except wandering around the city and visiting the chocolate house to chill out.

I visited the Cathedral Notre Dame which is the only cathedral in Luxembourg. Since I’ve visited so many cathedrals in France, the cathedral wasn’t a big wow to me. But it has a unique features such as windows on the roof as a result of the mixture of different architect style.

You can also visit the Grand Ducal Palace, which is located in the center of Luxembourg. The palace can be visited exclusively during the summer between July to August through a guided tour. The price for an adult is €14 and you can find websites where you can make a reservation. I didn’t enter into the palace, but I enjoyed the façade of the building.

I went to the Chocolate house in front of the palace, and got a seat on the second floor near the window toward the palace. In this way, I can have a cup of coffee with cakes with an extraordinary view. Honestly, the coffee wasn’t that impressive, but their cake is a must try in Luxembourg. I tried the black forest cake and lemon flavored one. Both of them were great. If you have a sweet tongue, this place will be a heaven for you. If you’re on special occasion in Luxembourg, you may consider ordering a custom-made cake.

On the street, there were fountains which cooled me down on a hot day. Seeing trash cans designed in a witty way, it seemed to be obvious that the city pay attention to its look. The city was extremely clean compared to other European cities.

You can also see Gelle Fra near Notre Dame. The golden lady is a commemorate souvenir for Luxembourgers who volunteered at World Wars and the Korean War. Next to the Gelle Fra, you can find the city skyliner ( €7) ,which provides 360° panoramic views of the city. The ride goes up and down spinning slowly, so you can see the view of the city in 360°. It was a temporal ride from 29 June to 18 August 2019, thus it may not be available at this moment.

Even if the City Skyliner is not available now, you can ride the Pfaffenthal Lift (scenic lift) and enjoy the view of the old town in Luxembourg. Plus, it’s free! It’s an elevator connecting lower part and the upper part of Luxembourg. You can enjoy the stunning view of the city in this glass-made elevator.

Enjoy your trip to Luxembourg with Marimonda! See you soon. 🙂

Practical Info.

Notre Dame de Luxembourg

Address : Rue Notre Dame, 2240 Luxembourg

Grand Ducal Palace

Address : 17, rue du Marché-aux-Herbes L-1728 Luxembourg City

Guided Tour: 14 euros

Chocolate House Nathalie Bonn

Address : 20 Rue du Marché-aux-Herbes, 1728 Luxembourg

Hours : 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Mon-Fri) / 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Sat) / 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Sun)

Gelle Fra

Address : 2449 Luxembourg

Pfaffenthal Lift

Address : 2 Rue du Pont, 2344 Luxembourg

Hours : 6 a.m. – 1 a.m.

Europe, France, Travel, Western Europe

Metz

Hi, it’s me Marimonda!

Today I’d like to share my visit to Metz, a city in the Grand Est region near the border of France, Luxembourg, and Germany.

Brief History

With its long and rich history, Metz has been submitted its name on France’s UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List (2014). You can feel its history once you arrive at Metz. Used to be a palace, the train station welcomes you with its antique and unique feature. The windows and the doors are preserved very well, thus you can see how the architect style was in the past. Metz used to be German territory and and reverted to France. The city went through this process repeatedly, and this complex history made Metz be more culturally rich.

Where to visit?

There are many places to visit in Metz such as the Metz Cathedral (Gothic Saint-Stephen Cathedral), Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains, Centre Pompidou, Opera House, etc. Also during the summer, Metz Plage is going on (which is an equivalent of Paris Plages), so you can enjoy the summer with more activities near the river. This time, I visited Pompidou center and Metz Cathedral including old city. The city seemed to have a good public transport system, but since most tourist attractions are accessible by foot, I didn’t use any transport.

Pompidou Center

Like Paris’ Pompidou center, the center has very outstanding architect. Located next to the train station, this white mushroom-like building holds many cultural events of the town. The entrance fee is based on the number of the exhibition spaces open on the day of your visit (very unique but reasonable), so I paid €10 for three exhibitions.

It took me about three hours to look around the exhibitions, on average one hour per space. Depending on your speed, you can spend less or more time here. The receptionists said, it usually takes 2-3 hours to look around the center. Even if you don’t have a map, you can see the sign on the street telling you the direction to the Pompidou center and the Cathedral. Or since it’s one of the landmarks of the city, anyone in the street would know how to get there unless they’re tourists.

Metz Cathedral

The Metz Cathedral is a must visit place in Metz. Well-known for its architect, the cathedral has larger stained glass than any other cathedrals in the world. Three of them are designed by Marc Chagall, a famous painter with his genius understanding to colors. Those three are distinguished from other stained glass, so you won’t have difficulties to find them.

Metz City Pass

The city also has a city pass for €13,50. With the pass, you can access to Pompidou Center, Cour d’Or Museum, and one audio tour within a day. For €16, you can also unlimited access to the public transport. I didn’t have enough time in Metz, thus I didn’t purchase the pass, but it’s a good option if you’re thinking of visiting Pompidou and Cour d’Or Museum. The official website of the city pass is as following : Metz City Pass

I visited Metz because it was on the way to my trip to Luxembourg. I spent only one whole afternoon (about 7 hours) there, but I feel like I should’ve spent more time in Metz. The city has more things to do and enjoy. I loved the the peaceful atmosphere of the city with classy architects. They’re very distinct from those of Paris. I am pretty sure you would love this city. One thing I regret is that I couldn’t try local food since most of the local restaurants were closed due to the summer vacation and Assumption day. I’d like to go back and check out other places that I missed this time in the near future.

Hope you enjoy the Metz with Marimonda! See you soon 🙂

Practical Info.

Pompidou Centre Metz website

Address : 1 Parvis des Droits de l’Homme, 57020 Metz

Hours : 10a.m. – 6p.m. (Mon/Wed), -7p.m. (Thu.-Sun.) , Closed on Tuesday

Metz Cathedral website

Address : Place d’Armes, 57000 Metz

Hours : 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. everyday

Italy, Travel, Western Europe

Naranzaria

Hi, it’s me Marimonda.

Today I’d like to review of a restaurant in Italy. Naranzaria is a restaurant in Venice next to the Grand Canal in the center of Venice. I feel bad to post on an Italian restaurant following another Italian restaurant in Paris (Al Caratello), but in Italy I only had the local food.. So probably I will update few more italian restaurants later.

Coperto (table cover fee)

In Italy, it’s a common practice to charge a coperto (table cover fee) per person in a restaurant. Usually it costs €2 and it is said that it’s for serving bread and tap water. But most of the restaurants don’t offer water(especially when you’re a tourist). You should order it. In this sense, the Coperto is kinda forced tip. It will be automatically charged in your bill. Don’t be surprised if you’re charged extra few euros under the name of coperto. Even though it’s cover the bread and water(supposedly), most water is also for pay. Some mean servers brought the water and opened it without asking. You can stop them and argue about it. As a tourist, however, it’s not that easy to argue with natives. One of the things that I liked this place was at least tap water is already included and you can choose between still water and sparkling one in this restaurant.

Atmosphere

Next to the Grand Canal, Naranzaria is less than 2-3 mins away from the Rialto Bridge. However, it’s very quiet and less touristic compared the other places near the Rialto Bridge. Terrace seats are great to chill out and enjoy the view. They fill up very quickly. Seeing gondolas passing by, it is very exotic and this might be the only experience you can do in Venice.

Menu and Price

The restaurant offers various options from pasta to risotto. Considering Venice is an island, we ordered seafood plates (european bass) and octopus. We were expecting them to be fresher and cheaper than Paris. The answer is yes and no. The fish and the octopus were very fresh and delicious, but quite expensive (€21 for each plate). We paid €57 for two glasses of wine, two main dishes and the table cover. It was expensive for me, but the price seemed quite on average in Venice, though. If you order pasta, it’s much less expensive (€5-6 less per dish). No wonder why there’s not many residents in the main island. If I live in Venice, it will be my place only for special occasions such as birthday. The rest of the meals in Venice I had take out pizzas or sandwiches. Otherwise it’s just too expensive in Venice. The food was delicious and the servers were very friendly. I would go back if I ever visit Venice again.

Recommendation

Before writing this post, I googled the restaurant to see what others think of it. Well.. I was surprised that there were so many people unsatisfied with the service and food. When I went there, everyone was friendly and the food was good. So I can’t recommend this place to you. However, the reviews are based on very personal experiences including mine. Thus, you may have a pleasant moment like me or you may not like it. What I liked the restaurant was the atmosphere and delicious food. Servers were ok and I would be happier if the price were a bit down to be honest. Overall, I liked this place.

Hope this review help you to choose a restaurant in Venice. See you soon 🙂

Practical Info.

Address : Sotoportego del Bancogiro, 130, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy

Hours : 12:30 – 3:00 p.m. / 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. (Tue.-Sun.) Closed on Monday.

website It says the webpage is in English, but it seems like there’s no English website.