Normandie <3

Dieppe Normandie

A long weekend in Normandie is enough to restore your faith in the humanity (or at least in French people). Therefore we end up going there time and time again. There is also something quite nordic about Normandie, rough wind, unruly sea… not to mention the red nosed wannabe sailors. Maybe that’s why I always feel like home there.

Distance by train from Paris is reasonable, most destinations are not more than 2-3 hours train ride away from the center of Paris. But be aware, we are not talking about comfortable TGV high speed trains but the infamous Intercité or TER connections… This means no marked seats, no extra place for luggage.. so avoid going back to Paris when everyone else does if you can. Yesterday afternoon our train Rouen – Paris was so full that one grandma actually fainted.

Dieppe Normandie

This Easter we discovered Dieppe, a recommendation from a friend who used to live in Rouen. The city didn’t instantly charm us, but the people did. The first time we stopped and hesitated which way to go to our Airbnb, a lady approached us asking if we need help, and proposed to give us a ride our accommodation as she lived close by. When we ventured out from our place to lovely Esplanade du Château, people greeted us with “Bonjour” whenever we passed them. Also our B&B hosts were just lovely. After Paris, such kindness almost brings tears to my eyes. While in Paris people try so hard to not to see other people that they almost walk over them and often lack the most basic manners, it feels good that people acknowledge your existance. We had a smile on our faces for three days in a row and again sweared that we will move outside of Paris or at least get a summer house in Normandy (we say this everytime and everywhere when we go outside of Paris).

Dieppe Normandie

If you are after the sea, delicious sea food, relaxing walks and avoiding Parisians as we did, Dieppe is a perfect destination for you. The falaises surrounding the city are grand and the beach is quite impressive. In cute port de plaisance, the harbour area, you will find plenty of relaxed restaurants serving fresh fish. But don’t expect anything lively, we were the last couple in a restaurant when it was closing, around 10 pm… I can recommend “Les bains de Dieppe”, they have heated outdoor pools and spa sections with a few different pools, sauna and hammam. They propose different treatments too, but you better book well in advance. With unexpected sunshine on Sunday, Dieppe was for us exactly what doctor ordered, a very positive experience. The city may not be the most pittoresque destination in Normandy region, but it is a sympathetic one.

Dieppe Normandie

Dieppe Château Musée

If you are looking for a more animated destinations you better choose something like the twin cities Trouville and Deauville. If you are after great views over the falaises, try hiking around 20 km over the cliffs between Fécamp – Etretat. And a wild card, that is technically not even in Normandie but in Picardie (who knows the difference) is lovely Somme region, last year we spent Vappu (1st of May) weekend in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, it was just perfect. So cute village and you might see some seals if you are lucky! We have tested and highly approved all the mentioned destinations and would be glad to go back anytime.

Dieppe beach

Next up in my plans is Bretagne, we never set a foot in there yet…

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Getting into Christmas mood (à l’alsacien)

Strasbourg

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s time to relax, look back on the past year and anticipate what the next year might bring. I’m not a total Christmas nut, for me Christmas spirit comes from putting on the Christmas lights in the window and burning a lot of candles and listening to Christmas music – preferably Sinatra. I’ve been sick with a flu lately so I had a good reason to be buried on my couch with a hot drink in one hand and a remote control in the other, watching the 6th season of Downton Abbey. This must be one of the best Christmas series ever. I have to also confess that we started watching the new Netflix series The Crown, and it is as good as I was expecting, I strongly recommend.

Luckily last weekend I was still up on my two feet as we headed to Strasbourg, the ultimate Christmas capital, for a weekend. The city was crowded as you can imagine, but it is definitely worth going to see the charming old city  and the amazing Christmas decorations. The Christmas market itself was a little bit of a disappointment or maybe I just had bad luck, but after waiting for my galettes de pomme de terre for more than 20 minutes, having them served cold, then asking to reheat them just to find out that they are not fresh at all, I was pretty bummed. Luckily vin chaud can never disappoint you, so stick to that! More positive experience was the Portuguese market and the OFF market, they seemed to have more fresh stuff. If you decide to go, do make a reservation for a restaurant in the evening, especially if you want to eat something local around 7 – 9 pm all the places are full. We ended up eating pizza in an Italian restaurant, luckily it was delicious, but not very alsacien… In the evening we also did a little cruise on the river, it was very nice actually as you get to hear about the history of the city and see the main places along the river.

You can pretty much see Strasbourg in one day, so on Sunday we continued our road trip to Baden Baden in Germany to visit the Caracalla baths and spent 3 hours in different pools and saunas. Wonderful experience with both outdoor and indoor pools and saunas, all this for 19 euros, totally worth a little detour on the way back to city. Driving back to Paris is a bit long (big thanks to our chauffeur!) but it is worth it.

Strasbourg, I will definitely come back. Maybe in the summer for some wine tasting… But next destination will be Finland, Yay! Can’t wait to breath some fresh air after all the pollution in Paris in the past days and weeks. I keep my fingers crossed to see some snow up North.

Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Strasbourg

In the South

Cannes la Croisette

I spent the last week in Cannes for work. I was lucky to have a little time to discover the beautiful coast and managed to have a few previous hours of sunshine on the very first and last day of the trip. Well deserved after spending four full days stuck in -1 level at the exhibition center and only catching the sunset, I’d say. I know Cannes quite well since I spent there one month on a legendary EF language course back in 2001 (god I’m getting old!).I’ve been back to Côte d’Azur a few times ever since, I just love the palm trees, fresh sea breeze, turquoise water, sea food, expensive drinks and,of cours, the soleil. Also the fact that I used to watch Sous le Soleil or Saint Tropez, as Finns know it, often after school might have caused this affection with the Sud.

People often have this image that Côte d’Azur is for jet set, and it is true to some extend, where else you can get a cabriolet ride to work and you get invited to a yacht? But I’m sure everyone finds their favorite spot there, either in a small village or in one of the fancy beach destinations.

Cannes Ile Sainte Marguerite
Harbour of Ile Sainte Marguerite

Cannes is not my favorite spot at the coast, if you want to go discover the region you’ll do better by staying in Nice, which is very central and has better connections to visit nearby villages (Strong recommendation to beautiful Eze). Yet you can discover beautiful things in Cannes too, my colleague had a great idea to visit the Îles de Lérins just outside Cannes. We visited the bigger one of the islands, Île Sainte Marguerite. It is only 15 minutes ferry ride away from Cannes and it is definitely worth visiting. The smell of pine trees and crystal clear water is just amazing. I even took a dip in the sea, for a Finn the temperature was just fine in early October, a french colleague struggled a bit but eventually made it 😉 You will find a few nice restaurants on the island so you won’t go hungry or you can take picnic with you.

Cannes Ile Sainte MargueriteCannes Ile Sainte MargueriteCannes Ile Sainte Marguerite

All pics are from the island, taken by my Samsung, so quality is not the best. These picture make me dream, I already told everyone I’ll be moving to South soon, haha. Next weekend we’re actually heading to Marseille with my hubby, new city to check out! I hope the weather will be treating us as nicely as in Cannes..

Have a great week everyone! x