Tag Archives: France

Mini Euro Trip

With winter finally over, I was getting anxious to get out of the house and off exploring more areas. So into the van I went and headed off for Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, basically a mini Euro trip. Sounds like a lot but very achievable as each location is reachable within a day’s drive.  The first stop was down south to the northeastern point of Spain in the Catalonian region. First stop was an old monastery called Sant Pere de Rodes, built in the 10th and 11th century by Benedictine monks. The monastery is still in great shape and well worth a visit for the building and views of the Mediterranean.

Monastery

The Sant Pere de Rodes monastery located above El Port De La Selva

 

Following that interesting stop, it was on down the road to the village of Cadaques, Spain. It was in this once small fishing village that Salvador Dali spent some childhood summers and perhaps drew inspiration for his wild art. It was definitely a place of scenic beauty with mountains coming down to the sea front.

Cadaques

The village of Cadaques, Spain

Neaby Cadaques in the village of Port Ligat is the home of Dali. He didn’t just have his artwork in museums as can seen by the interesting exterior of his home. Wouldn’t it have been fun to have him as a neighbor? I don’t imagine property values dropped when he decorated though.

Dali

Dali’s house with some interesting heads located in Port Lligat, Spain.

Next stop on this trip was to one of my favorite Pyrenees locations and that is the principality of Andorra, located high up in the mountains. I always enjoy going by there because of its natural beauty. Plus you can’t beat the tax free gasoline, alcohol and colognes, a must stop for bargain shoppers!

 

Andorra

The mountains with ski areas above Andorra.

Following Andorra and a quick pit stop at my house, it was onwards to northern France. First on that agenda was to visit the house and gardens of Claude Monet at Giverny. It was here that Monet spent his last half of his life painting and gardening creating several impressionistic masterpieces. Well worth a visit, especially in the springtime when in bloom!

Monet

Monet’s house and garden at Giverny, France.

Monet

The Japanese footbridge in his water garden that Monet made famous

With a bit of nature and artistic culture under the belt, it was time for some sporting action so further north I ventured. Next up was the kite festival in Berck Sur Mer located in the very north of France. There is a reason that they hold the kite festival there as there is a continuous wind and I have to say it was mighty cold the first day. Fortunately the sun came out strongly and so did the kites. I was amazed at the maneuverability that these kites had and really loved all the colors in the sky.

kite festival

The kite festival in Berck Sur Mer, France

kite fesetival

A car fashioned out of kites with wheels that turned at the kite festival in Berck Sur Mer.

kite festival

Random kites floating in the sky at the kite festival in Berck Sur Mer, France

kite festival

Horizontal kites seemingly slicing the sky into sections at the kite festival in Berck Sur Mer, France

 

Well, it was au revoir to France and on further north to a town that I have been trying to visit for a couple of years. Finally I made it a priority and got myself to Bruges, Belgium. I had heard many glowing reviews about this town and have to say that it lived up to its reputation. From the cobble stoned streets and towers to the ancient bars with hundreds of beers available, it is truly a great place to wander for a couple of days. I’ll definitely put it on my revisit list, especially since I found a great campsite not far from town.

Bruges

The Market Square in Bruges, Belgium.

I still had a couple of days before I needed to be in Antwerp so I did a quick trip to one of my favorite cities, Amsterdam. There is a great campground located on the edge of the city giving you quick access into the center. This was the first time I took my foot scooter in and it worked great but I think the bicyclists in the bike lane didn’t know what to do with me in their lane. It all worked out and I will continue using my foot scooter on future trips. While there, I did a walking tour that travel writer Rick Steves gives away for free. His walking tours are great as they point out hidden gems that you wouldn’t notice unless you knew where to look.  This one below really caught me by surprise. It says HOMO SAPIENS NON URINAT IN VENTUM which translates to A WISE MAN DOESN’T PISS INTO THE WIND. The structure isn’t that old and the constructors had a sense of humor.

roman

A columned structure with some advice in latin in Amsterdam

With all the waterways in Amsterdam, it is always fun to be looking at what is going on. I caught this swan creating beautiful ripples while cleaning himself.

Amsterdam

A swan creates beautiful ripples while gently cleaning himself under a bridge in Amsterdam.

Following Amsterdam, I started heading towards Antwerp but made a stop at the Keukenhof gardens located in Lisse, Netherlands. I had heard stories about the 80 acres with 7 million flower bulbs and thought springtime would be the perfect time to visit. Unfortunately, so did a million other people and I have to say I didn’t stay long as the crowds were just a bit too overwhelming for me and it just wasn’t enjoyable. It was a beautiful place but maybe there is a better time to visit, who knows.

Keukenhof

Tulips glowing in the sunlight at Keukenhof gardens

Keukenhof

A wide range of flowering bulbs at the Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, Netherlands

I wrapped up my tour in Antwerp where I spent the weekend running and socializing with a large group of friends. It was then back down to my house to host some guests and do a little more garden renovation. Next trip coming up soon will be a journey to Madrid for a weekend followed by some time in the Spanish Pyrenees hiking and enjoying the old villages. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Posted in Amsterdam, Belgium, France, Holland, Netherlands, Pyrenees, Spain Also tagged , |

Les Alpes and more!

Well, it’s been a busy Spring…as many of you know, finally graduated from Academy of Art University in May. Took 5 years chipping away at it but was well worth the effort and a great school. Glad I had the opportunity to this with the GI Bill. Following that, I took off to the Alps (about 5 hours away) to shoot my friend Bob Thompson’s bike company Far and Away Cycling (http://www.farandawaycycling.com/) tour of the French Alps. Great fun and great people, hats off to these hard core riders, day after day on those hills

 

 

 

After we finished up Bob, Chantal and I went up for a couple of days in Chamonix, at the base of Mont Blanc. Gorgeous area. We had to wait a day for the weather to clear but when it did, we took the cable car up to Aiguille Du Midi and saw some incredible mountain scenery. Really was worth the visit up.

 

Aiguille Du Midi above Chamonix France with sun ring caused by ice crystals

 

High icicles

Icicles on the side of the Aiguille Du Midi station above the clouds near Chamonix France

Panorama

A panorama view of the French Alps from the Aiguille Du Midi station near Chamonix France

Chamonix mountains

Cloud cover on the mountains above Chamonix France.

 

 

After that, I had a couple of separate visitors for a total 2 weeks and now I’ve started the planning for my big Scandinavia trip. I’ll be taking off this Friday for a little over 2 months visiting Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland with an on the way stop in Amsterdam to have some parking sensors put in the rear bumper of the VW. Really looking forward to taking off and seeing this part of the world I have yet to visit. More frequent blog updates will be happening from the trip. Cheers! Laurent

 

 

 

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Euro Update

Greetings all, well much has happened since the last blog post as most of you know. The biggest thing was my move to southern France. It has been almost one year (minus 2 days) since I decided I would move after reading a great book called Wide Eyed Wanderers. The book is about a couple that quits their jobs and travels for two years in a VW campervan. So, very much like my adventure however I decided to also buy a house and live here in between travelling. There have been some busy times in making this happen but it all seems to be getting easier as each day goes by and I get more settled. Do I regret it? I miss my friends and family in America however I feel so different, very alive, like a kid experiencing new things daily. I just started my final online semester today in Fine Art photography and will finish up in May and that is when the travelling and shooting happen. Excited about that and all the future holds. Don’t want to keep bloggin on but do want to thank everyone who helped get me here, from crash space to car rides to encouragement. Thanks all!

Click the picture below for larger view!

 

Saint Martin De L'Arcon, France, Orb river, Mt Caroux

This is a picture up the valley of my village, Saint Martin De L’Arcon in the background, on the side of Mt Caroux. There are great hiking trails all through the hills of that mountain.

Kitchen

This is where I am working from because it is next to the wood burning stove. I’ll move to downstairs when it warms up.

Van

This is my Campervan that will be my home/office/kitchen when on the road. It really is comfortable and much more roomy than living/travelling in my 4runner as I did.

Rainbow

Here is a rainbow shot from my bedroom window here. They seem to be common which is due to our micro-climate that we get on the side of this mountain.

Posted in France, Saint Martin De L'Arcon Also tagged |