5 x Alternative City Trips in France

When you think of a city trip in France, people often think of Paris. Yes, Paris is a wonderful city to explore, but there is so much more! Think of art and culture for example. We’ve lined up 5 French cities that are worth adding onto your city trip list.

1. Marseille

This French and sunny city belongs to the five largest cities in France. Subsequently, it’s also the oldest city in France and this is the charm of Marseille. Situated next to the Mediterranean Sea, the harbour plays an important part to the daily life of Marseille. Eating fresh fish is a must and the same goes for walking around at old Le Vieux-Port harbour and the historic Fort Saint-Jean. A footbridge high above the sea links the Fort Saint-Jean to the emblematic MuCEM, the first museum entirely dedicated to Mediterranean civilizations, directly located by the sea. Don’t miss out the panoramic rooftop terrace which offers an amazing view on Marseille and the sea! From here you can also walk to the MuCEM, which is also an  architectural highlight from the outside. Marseille is also known for its many artist and in the neighbourhood Le Panier you’ll find many ateliers where you can buy art. Talking about crafts, the relatively new Soap Museum shows visitors how it’s made with the traditional tools. Small streets and squares make Le Panier a great place for a coffee on one of the outside terraces. No visit to Marseille is complete without a visit to the beach though. You have a few options but the most popular is Plage des Catalans, a sandy beach close to the city.

Mucem Marseille
Saint Jean Castle and Cathedral de la Major and the Vieux port in Marseille, France Mucem©OTCM

2. Metz

We passed Metz on our way back to the Netherlands last year and it was a great stop if you have a day or two. Metz is a city full of culture, many restaurants and worth a visit to the epic Gothic Cathedral. Did you know that Pompidou-Metz, has become the most visited cultural venues in France outside Paris? This contemporary and modern art institution is a must see on a rainy day (or any day for that matter). Metz has a lot of options when it comes to food. Market stalls, food events and restaurants are reasons why people in transit stop over. Are you planning to go to Metz this summer? With the digital arts festival Constellations de Metz the whole town becomes an exhibition. With the three different routes through the city you get to discover the city, as well as various impressive artworks, like the 5 km ‘Street Art’ route, which takes you past impressive sculptures, murals, installations and expositions.

Metz, France
Metz

3. Montpellier

The medieval streets of Montpellier are perfect for those who love to shop, but the city also offers the sea at just 10km away. For those that have an active lifestyle, Montpellier offers lovely cycling routes that pass vineyards and lakes that will bring you to the Mediterranean Sea. Montpellier is also proven to be hip & happening with the Marché Du Lez, a creative hotspot area where artist, shops, food trucks, restaurants and startups come together. Each month you will find a new exhibition or art show here. Check their agenda for more info. Are you into art? Pay a visit to MoCo Montpellier Contemporain, a multi-site institution dedicated to contemporary art that has opened on the 29th of June! Check out iLa Panacée, one of the three sites where you can have a drink or brunch and see an exhibition.

Montpellier, France
Creative hub March du Lez. ®-du-Lez

4. Tours

Like most French cities, delicious food and wine is in overload in Tours. Modern French cuisines will make you eat until there is no tomorrow and if we need to believe critics, you must try restaurant QG that uses local and seasonal products, making the flavours out of this world. In the same vein, but less high end, you could have lunch and drinks at La Guinguette, located at the foot of Pont Wilson. They also offer workshops, DJ’s and are open every day from May to September! A must visit is the central Place Plumereau in the historic centre of Tours, a pretty square surrounded by 15th-century half-timbered houses which are all listed as historic monuments. Secondly, Tours is located in the Loire Valley, so you can easily reach the castles. Don’t forget to check out the CCCOD, a contemporary art center and exhibition space with various exhibitions every year!

Tours, France
Tours, France

5. Nîmes

Let’s go back to ancient Rome shall we? Nîmes used to be an important outpost for the Roman Empire and is well known for it’s well preserved Roman monuments such as the Arena of Nîmes. The impressive arena was built about 2000 years ago arena but is still used for festivals and events. It comes as no surprise that Nîmes has a museum full of Roman history, the Musée de la Romanité which faces the Arena. But there is more. The Temple de Diane and La Maison Carrée are also great examples that ancient and modern style go well together. Don’t be fooled by the modern/abstract building, inside you can admire Roman pieces that date back thousands of years. From the rooftop you have a wonderful view over the city. Tickets are only €8,-.

Alternative city trips France
Musée de la Romanité and Arena of Nîmes, ®-Stéphane-Ramillon

So next time you are thinking of France, skip the usual city trips and go for something a little different!

Au revoir!

Elke

 

5 parks in Paris that will look amazing during springtime

Walking around Paris now, you’ll find lots of beautiful cherry blossoms, filling the once empty branches and giving them a lovely pink makeover. Despite the currently cold and rainy weather still, there had been a few weeks of sun and warmth, fully convincing us that Winter has come and gone. Nonetheless, this week, it will officially be Spring and here is a list of the most beautiful parks and gardens in Paris for you to welcome it with open arms!

Jardin du Luxembourg
Located in the 6th arrondissement, Jardin du Luxembourg no doubt is the most beautiful garden in Paris. Surrounded by trees and beautiful plants, you will find the famous Fontaine Médicis, a 17th century fountain, as well as a miniature Statute of Liberty in the park. You cannot miss the beautiful Luxembourg Palace, at the northern end of the jardin. Pay a visit and learn about the interesting history surrounding this wonderful open space.


Jardin du Luxembourg

Bois de Boulogne
This is probably the largest leisure spot in Paris, stretching itself across the 16th arrondissement. Within Bois de Boulogne, you’ll find different sections, including Parc de Bagatelle, Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil (which has the most beautiful greenhouses) and Jardin d’Acclimatation. It will literally take you more than a day to enjoy the entire space, which was also formally a hunting ground for the French Kings. Nowadays, you can find a Michelin star restaurant on a tiny island in the middle of the lake, a museum, children’s playgrounds, as well as a theatre and boat and bicycle hires, just to name a few!

Jardin des Plantes
This beautiful place has 11 gardens, a zoo and several galleries. Jardin des Plantes is not your ordinary botanical garden. Having just hosted its first ever light festival last Christmas period, you can expect more amazing events to come. Whilst some of its exhibitions charge a small amount of entrance fee, the garden and its libraries are free all year round. Under 26 EU citizens can also enjoy the rest of the paying areas for free!

Parc de Buttes-Chaumont
This picturesque park is again, one of the biggest green space in Paris, sat nicely in the 19th arrondissement. Grab yourself a picnic blanket and some good walking shoes. You can find a beautiful waterfall inside the cave. Walk over a long suspended bridge to reach the top of the mountain, where you will come to a nice viewpoint overlooking the city. Although artificial, the lake is a nice area to chill and rest after those hikes.

Parc de Buttes-Chaumont
Parc de Buttes-Chaumont

Parc Monceau
This park is elegantly situated in the 8th arrondissement, with beautiful gardens, a clear pond, many sculptures and a gorgeous Renaissance archway. The park is in the heart of the more upscale neighbourhood, where you will find the Asian Art Museum, Musée Cernuschi. Top tip: walk along Allée de la Comtesse de Ségur towards the direction of Place du Général Brocard, you will see the Arc de Triomphe from there, framed nicely by the black and golden gate.

If you visit one or more of these parks, let us know! We always love seeing you visiting places on our recommendation.

Love,

Chantelle

*Chantelle is one of our guest editor from Hong Kong. She has lived in three different countries and have travelled across many continents. Having been in England for the past nine years and graduated with a Law degree, she is now taking a break in Paris for the year as she figures out her next step in life. Always passport ready, she is an expert at traveling light and on a budget, although she still enjoys the occasional indulgence in a luxurious holiday. You can follow her on Instagram.

11 Stunning Castles in Europe You Must Visit!

Castles. They are impressive, and have a historical story to tell. The castle popularity has risen over the years, since the start of social media, which is mainly because of their photogenic look. Time to check them out right? We’ve lined up 11 amazing castles in Europe that are worth your visit.

Neuschwanstein Castle
Probably the most famous castle in Europe, perhaps in the world. It looks like something out of a fairy-tail, and when you look at it, you might think that sleeping beauty is sleeping in one of it’s towers. It’s located near Füssen in southwest Bavaria in Germany, and it’s one of the most photographed castles around. It dates back from the 19th century, so it’s a wonderful historical building that looks amazing during all seasons.

Castle germany
Neuschwanstein Castle

They say living in a castle is objectively romantic, and we’re totally fine with that!

Pena Palace, Portugal
One of the most colourful castles in Europe! Therefore, it’s extremely popular with tourist, so difficult to snap a picture without people on it. @BARNADRIFT was one of the lucky ones who managed. Would love to know his secret! The palace is located on a hill and rises above a Portuguese town named Sintra. On a clear day, you might even spot it from Lisbon.

Pena Palace, Portugal

Craigievar Castle, Scotland
A pink castle, hello! We think this is the cutest castle we have seen so far. And who knew, it’s located in Scotland! It’s at least 400 years old, and the Forbes family generation lived here for 350 years until it was given to the National Trust for Scotland by William Forbes-Sempill. Fellow travel girl @ANANEWYORK made this incredible picture that was shared around the world.

Craigievar Castle, Scotland
Pretty pink Cragievar

Schloss Drachenburg, Germany
Yes, another castle located in Germany. Officially, this is not a real castle, but a private villa that has been build in a palace/castle kind of architecture. But who cares, it looks awesome!

Schloss
Reminds us of Disneyland!

A man’s home is his wife’s castle

Corvin Castle, Romania
This spooky looking castle is located in Hunedoara, Romania. It is one of the largest castles in Europe and figures in a list of the seven wonders of Romania, so they are very proud of it!

Corvin Castle, Romania
The princess and her castle.. by @varwarock

Peles Castle, Romania
Another castle in the land of Romania, but this one has a completely different look & feel. Situated in the green mountains of the Prahova County, this castle was built between 1873 and 1914. It’s now being used for events and tours. If you ever get the chance, have a look inside, because it looks incredible!

Peles Castle Romania

Gripsholm Castle, Sweden
Yes we love pink, so we had to add Gripsholm Castle on the list. Again, this castle looks very different that what you perhaps would expect. It’s surrounded by water, and located about 60km from Stockholm.

Castle
Gripsholm Castle by @mrbaging

Chateau de Chambord
France has many beautiful castles, but this one is by far the most impressive we think.

Chateau de Chambord
Photo courtesy of @rita1889

Mont Saint-Michel, France
It’s an Instagram favourite, the Mont Saint-Michel in France! It’s so popular, because you can photograph this castle in various conditions. When the water around Mont Saint-Michel rises, it looks completely different. Back in prehistoric days, the castle wasn’t covered by water, so overtime erosion reshaped the coastal landscape.

Mont Saint-Michel, France
Photo by @Jack_Anstey

Predjama Castle, Slovenia
This castle reminds us of a scene out of Lord of the Rings. The Predjama Castle is build in between a cave mouth, and has something mysterious about it. It’s in fact the largest cave castle in the world! It’s said to be more than 800 years old, and has a network of secret tunnels. You can also visit the cave itself, which is home to a lot of bats!

Predjama Castle in Slovenia
Lord of the rings?

De Haar Castle, Holland
And because we are Dutch, we felt we needed to highlight one of Holland’s prettiest castles, De Haar, in Maarsen. It’s pretty huge and a very popular wedding location! If you have a drone, you can see the total beauty, as it’s so widely spread over the premises.

Castle De Haar, Holland
Photo courtesy of @Arden_nl.

There you have it, 11 amazing castles you should definitely add on your bucketlist.

Love,

Elke

*Header Photo courtesy of @ANANEWYORK

Luxury camping in Europe!

If you ever been out camping as a child, you know that it’s something special. The outdoor sounds of birds and crickets, and the cozy evening by the fire. However, the damp floor, cold nights and wet socks was perhaps something you would rather forget. As I got older, I realised that I was becoming a glampacker instead of a backpacker. And lucky for me..Luxury Camping (glamping) is hot, especially in Europe.

There are plenty of glamping options in Europe and sometimes it’s difficult to choose one. Yelloh! Village, is a network for different campsites-villages that has became THE luxury outdoor hotels reference in France, Spain and Portugal. Yelloh! Village is particularity good if you’re traveling with kids, because of the many options for children.

Yelloh! village

Whether you want to camp near the sea, rivers, mountains or stay in the countryside, it’s all possible. We’ve picked some of our favorite accommodations that Yelloh! Village has on offer.

The Yurt in France
Feel like a nomad is this traditional Mongolian stay. This yurt sleeps 4 people (one double bed and 2 single beds), and is located in France. Outside the yurt is a shower and toilet, plus you can relax in the lounge chairs on the terrace. And it’s not expensive at all! You can book this yurt from 156 Euro for 4 nights!

Yurt
Magical and unique!

Yurt

Experience the traveling nomadic lifestyle, with all the luxury you want


Cabane sur la plage, in Spain
This cabin on the beach is a dream! It’s not the largest stay that Yelloh! Villages has on offer, but the location totally makes up for it. The 15²m cabin/tent has 2 bedrooms and a small terrace overlooking the beach. Waking up here, is the best part! The camping itself offers a swimmingpool, bar, minimarket, restaurant, children activities and sports. Nearby towns are Creixell, Barcelona, Calafell, El Vendrell, Reus, Salou, Tarragona, and Torredembarra. Book it here from just 560 euro for 7 nights!

Cabin on the beach Yelloh! Village
Cabin on the beach!

Beach view


Chalet s’Agaró in Costa Brava
If you are looking for more facilities, like the luxury camping of having your own kitchen and living room, you should check out this chalet in the Costa Brava. There are 3 bedrooms and fits 5 people easily. You have a lot of space, in and outside (and a BBQ!). Wifi, breakfast and sheets/towels are included within the price. You can book this chalet here.

Chalet

Luxury chalet


All campsites have restaurants, swimming pools and things to do.

Yelloh! Village glamping
Luxury Breakfast instead of a burned sausage 

River
Adventurous?

Are you ready for your camping 3.0 experience?

Yelloh! Village
Facebook / Instagram
Website

Love,

Elke

Planning a Winterbreak? These Are Some of the Best Ski Regions in Europe.

Winter is coming. Once the leaves begin to color and fall to the ground and my summer tan is definitely gone (as far as I had one to begin with), so are my desires for crystal clear oceans and coconuts. The winter child in me has awoken. Bring me the snow, the freezing cold and the mountains. But most of all, give me a snowboard to ride them. That’s right, nothing beats that feeling when you breathe in the fresh alpine oxygen, speeding down a perfectly prepped slope surrounded by white mountain peaks as far as your eyesight can reach. I don’t know about you, but those little moments of happiness happen everyday when I find myself in one of the many awesome (and some of the best) ski regions in Europe. And with the snowflakes coming down earlier and thicker than ever, it’s time to book your next ski trip (trust me)! Now, if you’re like me you know picking the right destination is a struggle every year. Which area has the right slopes, has snow certainty and will make you holiday awesome? To make this struggle a little easier on you this time, I’ve listed my five faves for you.

checking-out-the-best-ski-resorts-in-europe
Ready to rumble!

Avoriaz – Portes du Soleil, France
Now don’t go cold on me, but I’m not really the heavy après-ski kinda girl. Every day I get up early as F to try to make it in time for the first lift going up, to snowboard all day and go to bed at 10 PM because I’m to exhausted to function. Doesn’t mean I don’t sip on a few beers or a glühwein whenever the lifts close down, but no radical parties for me. Recognize yourself? Then you MUST go to Avoriaz, a little car-free village which is part of the Portes du Soleil ski area. You can’t really go wrong with a ski area that translates into ‘doors to the sun’, right? With 650 km of slopes, touching the French and Swiss border the true ski/board lover will have a non-stop grin on his or her face. The lifts are modern and very well connected. Avoriaz is quite cute compared to the French ski-village standard. There are some bars, shops and restaurants so you won’t starve. The fact that there are no cars allowed makes it the perfect place to stroll around at night and look up at the amazing sky full of stars above you. Don’t like walking? Well, you can get transported by enormous sledges, powered by actual horses. Oh the pure bliss. Oh and did I mention you can get on the slopes straight from any apartment?

Söll – SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental, Austria
Up for a bit more true hospitality on your holiday? Head over to Austria for some alpine coziness in Söll. This is where you find the typical chalets and hotels and a hell of a lot more Schlager music when you enter the bar for that well deserved after-ski beer. With 284 km of slopes you won’t be bored easily. If you want to you can ski to a different village every day while passing numerous huts to indulge in some kaiserschmarrn (who doesn’t love scrambled pancakes) and coffees with cream. The latter is a bit more affordable in Austria then when going to France. Slopes here are wide, well prepped and fit for every kind of experience level. You do get lost quite easily here, but that’s part of the charm.

soll-one-of-the-best-ski-resorts-in-europe
Relaxing in Soll

Valfrejus – Valfrejus, France
With 61 Km of slopes, not a biggie but the area is only 4 hours away from Paris! But it is the perfect place for beginners on a budget. There aren’t that many lifts and the area is super compact, so the issue of losing your friends is non-existent in Valfrejus. The village is small and friendly with some nice little bars, and no cars (always a plus). You easily go up to the top of the mountain, eat a crepe in the sun and then take one of the wide slopes (or forest paths) down to the middle station to meet up with the rest of your friends. Perfect if you have some beginners, taking lessons, with you and want to meet up for lunch or a drink. To rent an apartment here is pretty cheap, same goes for your ski-pass. So don’t let a tight budget hold you down from booking a trip. But I must admit, this area does have some not so snowboard-friendly paths, if that cranks you up: make sure to pick the right tracks (the green slopes here are horrible ;-).

valfrejus of of the best ski resorts in Europe
Only 4 hours away from Paris!

Zell am Zee – Zell am Zee Kaprun, Austria
The Kaprun Glacier ensures white mountains, Zell am Zee village ensures a good time. The perfect place to go if you want to do some other stuff when your done skiing (ice hockey, sledging!). Where the glacier offers you pure white plains, the Zell am Zee area is more ‘ gemütlicher’ with lots of slopes between the threes and mountain cabins to drink hot cocoa. The lifts are modern, big and fast so you never have to spend a lot of time hanging and waiting in the air. With 138 km of slopes and most of them blue (easy), this is the place where you want to learn (it’s what I did) those perfect turns and brakes. Also, après-ski, much much better then in France. This place is full of lights and fun.

Les Arcs – Paradiski, French Alps
Paradiski, the word already says it: paradise. This place is gorgeous and not a surprise that it’s listed as one of the best ski regions in Europe. Well connected lifts, long rides, different scenery, awesome slopes. If it’s busy, you hardly notice it. I don’t think I ever waited longer than 2 minutes to get in the lift (apart from waiting for the big ass gondola’s that take 200 people at once) and there where so many options for day trips (if you have the extended ski-pass you can even head over to the La Plagne area). The total ski area of Paradiski offers 425 KM of slopes, never a dull moment. There are several villages in Les Arcs, of which I think Arc 1800 and Arc 1950 are the nicest with most restaurants and little shops. There are a number of bars, but don’t expect any of them to be really good. But buying some beers in the supermarket and just having fun with you friends in your accommodation is just as good right? Also, most apartments in Les Arcs are next to the slopes or just a couple minutes of walking!

lesarcs, one of the best ski regions in Europe
On top of the world!

lesarcs-at-night
Les Arcs at night

What’s your favorite place to enjoy wintersport? Of course there are so many great options to choose from when you are booking your ski trip. But I hope these little insights from a hardcore snowboard fan just gave you a bit more knowledge. My next trip is booked, how about yours?

Love,

Jill

*Jill is one of our guest bloggers living in Amsterdam (@jillgwendolyn) where she works as a content manager for a digital agency. She’s Crazy about traveling and has spend her studies in New Zealand . You can read a new article from Jill in every 3rd week of the month

Also read; A Winter Secret in Greece:

Vasilitsa

The perfect surftrip if you’re on a budget

Salty hair, sun-kissed skin and a killer body. Gosh, how we envy those amazing surfer girls. So when O’Neill Europe invited us to go on a 3 day surftrip in the South of France, you can imagine the smiles on our faces. With little time to prepare ourselves for a bikini fit body, we jumped on an airplane to Bordeaux. From there we drove about 2 hours south before arriving in a surfer town called Labenne.

Board ‘n Breakfast

We stayed in a bed & breakfast called Board ‘n Breakfast (hence the name). If you’re planning a surftrip of your own, this might be the perfect place for you to stay.
Board ‘n Breakfast started 6 years ago and is run by a Belgium couple, Anton and Ine. They discovered Labenne in their quest for the best surf spots around the world and decided this would be the best place to settle down. You can book a room for as little as 27 euro’s per night including breakfast with croissants, baguettes and homemade jam. During high season you can only book a minimum stay of 7 days but trust us, you will like it. There are several houses you can choose from depending on how many people.

All the houses include a kitchen and bathroom. The super friendly Anton and Ine cook dinner twice a week that includes an amazing BBQ with various salads, homemade veggie burgers, marinated beef and an Indonesian meal with an impressive story. For the Indonesian dinner you pay €2,50 extra per person and this goes to a good cause which stimulates education in India. The B&B includes a swimming pool, tiki bar, garden and plenty of stuff to play with (which includes their friendly dog mawi). But it’s the personal touch of Anton and Ine that really made us fall in love with this place. 

Board n Breakfast
Enjoying BBQ’s and Yoga at Board ‘n Breakfast. 

Surfing
O’Neill had something good in store for us, they got 2 of the best Dutch female surfers to teach us how to surf! Dominga Valdes (3 times national champion) and Julia van Rooij (Pro Surfer) had 3 days to make us look good at sea which wasn’t an easy task! On day 1 we drove to the nearest beach with our boards and wetsuits which you can rent at BnB. (Labenne Océan is only a 2 min drive) After a short introduction and the history of O’Neill, we walked towards the waves.
Ok, we’ve both surfed once or twice before but this looked anything but charming. (The salty hair-do looked a bit different than we expected!) After drinking about 3 liters of seawater we finally managed to stand on our boards for more than 5 seconds. Surfing is exhausting but once you manage to stand up, you get a feeling of satisfaction we can only recommend. Yes, a new addiction was born that day.

surf trip Labenne
Dominga and Julia teaching us the basics Photo by Jelle Mul

Surf Trip with O'Neill
Low tide. Photo by @JelleMul

actioncam shot surf trip
Cycling to the beach

ONeill surftrip
Wearing O’Neill Active Wear and Sweaters

ONeill surftrip wander-lust
Double exposure by @jellemul

Things to do
Not far from Labenne there are other nearby beaches where you can surf. You have Capbreton, Seignosse, and surfers town Hossegor is only 30 minutes away. Labenne is easy accessible and a nice drive if you’re heading over by car. No matter if you are a beginner, pro or just want some fun on a board, this surftrip is perfect for everyone.

Other nearby attractions are:

  • A large water park (only open during summer)
  • A cosy, pretty zoo / farmhouse
  • Wine tastings
  • A monkey park
  • Tree top adventure courses
  • Horseback riding through the woods and on the beaches
  • Biking and mountainbiking
  • Relaxing (we also count this as an extremely important activity!)

Plenty of stuff to do but let’s be honest, once go surfing you probably won’t do anything else! 😉

Sarah on the ONeil Surftrip
Sarah getting her surf on

Check out our aftermovie and subscribe to our travel channel on YOUTUBE!

Love,

Wander-Lust

European Hidden Gems | Spain, France and the Netherlands

Whilst it can be all too easy for us to focus on the attractions of our capital cities, there’s plenty of lesser-known European travel destinations out there to satisfy your wanderlust. 

So here’s some European hidden gems in Spain, France and the Netherlands along with some tips!

Spain’s secrets

Ronda_La_Ciudad2004
Source

Most Dutch travelers to Spain have a tendency to hit the south coast. But the northern coast of Spain also hosts many wonderful locations with the port city of Santander offering a tantalising blend of Gothic cathedrals and windswept beaches like the Playa de la Magdalena that even features a small zoo and locomotive train.

If you find yourself on the Costa del Sol, then book a hire car and head up into the mountains to discover the wonderfully atmospheric mountain towns of Jimena de la Frontera and Ubrique that offer a wonderful taste of Andalucian life. Plus the amazing gorge and bull rings at Ronda complete the picture for a charming glimpse of old-school Spain.

French gems

Vence, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Source

The French Riviera is also something of a tourist magnet with many visitors showing themselves to be endlessly in thrall to the casinos of Monte Carlo. But a short drive into the hills reveals a succession of quaint towns like Vence that offer commanding views of the Bay of Angels, and some fantastic boutique shopping opportunities too. Also, check out some alternative city trips in France.

Heading up into the mountains means that you can also take advantage of the many vineyards in the area with the likes of Vins De Bandol hosting regular wine festivals that provide the perfect excuse to fire up on your smartphone and pretend you’re in Monte Carlo with the site’s great access to a range of authentic casino games of roulette, poker and blackjack.

Dutch charms

1280px-Oudemannenhuis_toegangspoort_(Haarlem)
Source

Less than half an hour away from the tourist trap of Amsterdam, lies the pretty town of Haarlem. This town offers many charming cobbled streets and gabled houses to serve the more discerning tourist. Of particular note is the Franz Hals Museum that’s delivers the perfect introduction to the Golden Age of Dutch painting.

And to the south-east, the city of Nijmegen has recently blossomed thanks to a laid-back fun-loving atmosphere that led to the institution of many great pop-up concert events. Also the acclaimed Volkhof art museum and the Velorama – unbelievably the only bicycle museum in the whole of the Netherlands!

So when you visit these countries, be sure to check out these European hidden gems!

Love,

Wander-Lust

Risoul, France » Skiing on a budget

Wintersport is no ordinary holiday where you relax all day. Nope. You get up at 7am, have breakfast, take the bus to the slopes and you basically work your muscles the entire day. During lunch you stop for a schnitzel (or two), drink hot chocolate and you repeat this until about 5pm when you meet at a nice après ski bar where the hot chocolate makes place for a hot wine or Jägermeister. Awesome! But, I didn’t go for about 10 years. Until 2 years ago. Yes, it was time to rejoin the snow fun and see if I still had what it takes. But now, how could I make this winter wonderful holiday affordable? This was something I wanted to discover.
Austria and Switzerland and well known for their breathtaking views and slopes but it comes with a price.
But after searching around a bit I came across a town called Risoul in France. The town is sometimes called Risoul 1850 because it is 1850m above sea level.

62243
Source: en.ski-france.com

How did I get there?
It takes about 12 hours to drive there (from Amsterdam) and I was with 5 other friends and we had a nice van so splitting the gas was good option.
You can take a plane to Lyon but you will need to continue your journey by train or bus and you will spend double the money.
My friends and I decided to start driving around 9pm so we would arrive in the early morning.
Why? This way you don’t lose a day of skiing/snowboarding!

Where did I sleep?
There are many hotels to choose from but we decided to rent a fully equipped apartment where we could cook and prepare our own food.

This is also a good money saving option. We stayed at Résidence MMV Antares. Our apartment had en-suite bedrooms, a small living room and a simple but good enough kitchen where we had breakfast and dinner every day.

residence-club-mmv-antares_risoul_salon_hiver5
Résidence MMV Antares in Risoul

Where and what did I eat?
When we almost entered Risoul, we stopped at the nearest Lidl supermarket, which we found on Google maps.

We bought everything from bread, eggs, and vegetables to sweets, soft drinks and alcohol. We split the bill and it had cost me 50 euro’s for at least 3 days worth of food and drinks including alcohol.
We prepared a nice breakfast every morning and we got fresh baguettes from the bakery across our apartment.

A good breakfast will save you money because we didn’t eat lunch until about 1pm.
Food on the mountain is expensive so when you’re on a budget, the best option is to prepare your lunch in the morning so you can take this on the slopes.
I’m not a big fan of bread so I prepared some nice salads and I always brought a banana for energy.
Of course there is always the temptation of ordering some delicious French fries so I must admit doing exactly that for at least 3 times. Yummie!

Risoul, France
Beautiful pistes to ski!

So, what did it cost me?
» Travel cost by car/van: 120 euro’s pp
» Food/drinks including alcohol for 5 days: 100 euro’s pp
» Lodging including a ski pass for the entire area: 315 euro’s
» Ski hire: It’s cheaper to bring your own but I decided to rent them on the spot so it cost me 70 euro’s for ski’s, boots and sticks.
» Extra’s: Après ski and happy hour (Jägermeister) nights cost me about 50 euro’s.. (yes, this is all part of the fun)

Verdict: Skiing on a budget, it can be done! It normally cost about a 1000 euro’s and I did it for 655 euro’s!

Love,

Elke