The Historical Attractions of Brittany

The Historical Attractions of Brittany

The Historical Attractions of Brittany

Brittany is one of the most visited regions in France, and with delicious wine, glorious beaches and plenty of fantastic attractions on offer, this isn’t without good reason. It’s the region’s historic attractions which make it stand out though, and whether you’re interested in medieval towns, impressive forts or grandiose chateaux, we’ve compiled a list of some of Brittany’s top historical attractions.

Dinan

Perched on the River Rance, the walled town of Dinan is renowned for its stunning medieval features. From the picturesque old town, walk up the steep cobbled hill of the Rue Jeruzal and you’ll find the port, where you can join a boat cruise and even hire your own small motorboat for the day.

Every other year, the town also plays host to the Fete de Remparts – a medieval festival where the town is handed over to street entertainers, musicians, and knights on horseback. The residents really get into the festive spirit too, dressing up in traditional costume.

If you can’t make the festival, you can still step back in time every Thursday and visit the country market. Here you can buy anything from bread and organic vegetables all the way through to live pigs and chickens. Continuing on the historical theme, the town’s Railway Museum is also well worth a visit.

Saint-Malo’s National Fort

The walled port city of Saint-Malo is well worth a visit in itself, but it’s the fort that really draws in the tourists. This impressive structure is easily admired from afar, but it’s definitely worth getting up close and paying a visit to the museum. The incredible view will be enough to keep the adults entertained, but if you’ve got the kids in tow they’ll love the free educational booklet which will teach them all they need to know about this historic landmark.

Châteaux and Manors

Until 1532, Brittany was a separate country, and as well as a unique food and drink culture and fascinating architecture, the region also saw many feudal struggles during the Middle Ages and was the site of many bloody battles between French and English invaders. The region is still home to more than 4000 châteaux, manors and stately homes from the Medieval, Renaissance and later periods, and a great deal of them are open to the public. Find out more about them on the official site for Brittany Tourism.

Explore On Foot

Brittany is home to more walking trails than any other region in France, so what better excuse do you need to let your feet guide you and experience some of its best historic attractions both on and off the beaten track? From coastal paths showcasing some of the area’s incredible natural history to some of the most beautiful towns and cities, there’s no better way to explore Brittany. After a busy day of exploring, retire to your own luxurious villa with a bottle of French wine. You can see a list here and pick a property that’s perfect for you.

Fort La Latte

You might recognise Fort La Latte from a number of films over the years, and with such an impressive setting it’s not surprising it’s often chosen as a film location. Built in the 13th century, this historic site is perfect for exploring and snapping some great holiday shots, but it’s probably best known as the site of the famous battle between Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas in the 1958 film, The Vikings.

Museums of Ekaterinburg

Museums of Ekaterinburg

The Eclectic Museums of Yekaterinburg

Anyone interested in a healthy dose of Russian history or culture need look no further than the city of Yekaterinburg, once called Sverdlovski and often Romanized to Yekaterinburg. As the fourth largest city in Russia, Yekaterinburg boasts well over 30 museums along with a host of accommodation possibilities for tourists. Photography, fine arts, literary history, folk arts, science and engineering are just some of the genres available for the keen museum visitor.

Many of the larger and most well-known museums of Yekaterinburg charge to visit, but are well worth the entrance fee. The Museum of Fine Arts houses the not-to-be-missed Kasli mouldings along with many historic and some contemporary Russian artists. The Regional Natural History Museum and the Ekaterinburg History Museum offer a fascinating glimpse into the rich history of Russian culture and particularly the Ural. The Historic Exhibition houses the famed Shigar collection of wood sculptures along with permanent exhibitions from the Romanov family. To really get a sense of Russian history through photos the Museum of Photography The House of Mentenkov is a must see and is the only dedicated state museum of photography in Russia. Many free museums are also to be found including the popular Nevyansk Icon Museum which focuses on icon painting through the centuries.

For those wishing to tuck in close to the technological and craft sides of this beautiful country a wealth of both small and large museums can be found, and places such as the Gamayan Centre of Folk Arts and Artistic Handicrafts even offer classes on stone cutting, castings and engraving. The Ural Geological Museum and the Museum of History of Stone-Cutting and Jewellers Art give a great insight into the beauty and craftsmanship of the country while the Science and Engineering Museum of Sverdlovsk Railway will send railway lovers into seventh heaven. October 2013 also marks the 70th anniversary of the city’s tram system so the Museum of the History of EMUP will be a must visit during this time.

Whatever time a visit is made to Yekaterinburg there is no shortage of accommodation for travellers on any budget. Backpacker hostels and motels are as abundant as expected in any major city and small apartments can be found to rent for reasonable prices. The city offers over 100 hotels with the Hyatt Regency Ekaterinburg currently being the only 5-star hotel available. A myriad of restaurants, cafes and bars can also be found throughout the city. Visitors can head for some traditional Russian cuisine or party the night away drinking Irish beer in one of the many popular Scottish themed pubs to be found. The Traveler’s Coffee cafe is reportedly one of the best places to go for both incredible traditional coffee and food The music played throughout Yekaterinburg is almost as eclectic as the museums; along with pop and classical there is a strong presence of rock, jazz and swing bands. A visit to the opera or ballet is also considered a must do for many visitors.

Yekaterinburg is a bustling major city packed full of both the usual aspects of modern life and a rich history ready for absorption. Anyone wanting to get a genuine feel for the Ural and Russian culture in general will find a genuine delight in this exciting city through both its daily bustle and the wonder of its eclectic museums.

The Best Place to Get Lunch During a Cruise Shore Excursion on Gibraltar

The Best Place to Get Lunch During a Cruise Shore Excursion on Gibraltar

The Best Place to Get Lunch During a Cruise Shore Excursion on Gibraltar

The best way to approach Gibraltar is from the sea. Select a cruise ship that will call in as part of one of the many different Mediterranean cruises that are available. As the rock looms up in the distance you will be in awe of the size and the way it rises steeply out of the water. Truly a vantage point that must be reached, even on a short visit. The question is how to see as much as possible while leaving ample time for lunch at one of the Rock’s many superb restaurants.

Arriving in Gibraltar

Gibraltar has a special harbour for cruise ships and as you pull up to the dock, you will again be stunned at the sheer size and closeness of the rock. Your cruise ship will have organised some excursions for you, which is by far the best way to make the most of what Gibraltar has to offer. Lunch, however will be a free time, giving you the choice of many delicious possibilities from the many diverse options available.

Where To Eat – Main Street

Main Street is just what it says. It is where you will find all of the shopping at great tax free prices. This includes Marks and Spencer plus many shops offering unique products, such as the glass for which Gibraltar is famous. It is very convenient as it is only a short walk from where Celebrity Cruises and other ships dock as part of their Mediterranean cruise routes and there are many bars and restaurants to choose from especially in Casemates Square, which is located at the lower end of Main Street. Sophisticated dining will not be found here however – as the choice ranges from Burgher King to Pizza Hut and Fish and Chips, but there is very good pub grub served at the Lord Nelson and Latino’s Diner is an actual restaurant with tables inside and out. It is an American style diner which serves excellent steak and many other delicious dishes.

Ocean Village For Lunch

If you prefer a more sophisticated style of dining in beautiful surroundings, then go to Ocean Village, which is just across the road from Main Street. The restaurant Ipanema offers wonderful views over the marina and serves traditional Brazilian food. The waiters come to your table with a choice of different cuts of meat, such as ham together with caramelised cinnamon pineapple and steak infused with garlic. There are also some wonderful pasta dishes and salads. Another option with great views over the marina is Taps Bar, which serves the most amazing selection of tapas, such as tortilla and patatas bravas – delicious.

Other Options

Gauchos, an Argentinian restaurant, is probably the most popular in Gibraltar and is well used by the locals, saying a lot for the food which is always good. The Landings, located at the Queensway Marina, is up-market and very chic. It serves food with a Jamaican twist and has an enchanting outside dining area. Finally Charlies must be mentioned. It is a great seafood restaurant in Marina Bay and you must try ‘Charlies Boast Trash.’ Indian food is also served.

One thing is for sure – no matter what your taste – you will be spoilt for choice in Gibraltar and will no doubt be looking forward to a return visit.

Take a trip to Northern Cornwall, England

Take a trip to Northern Cornwall, England

Take a trip to Northern Cornwall, England

Motorway access along the M5 ensures swift and straightforward progress to the West Country. A holiday down in North Cornwall promises lots of beach fun, history, great food and drink, unique customs and a way of life found nowhere else in the UK. Arranging coach travel or mini bus hire to North Cornwall is a great idea if you fancy a few days away in spectacular surroundings with a few friends.

Any trip to North Cornwall can be as action packed or relaxed as you’d like. The variety of things to do means there is something for all tastes.

Water based activities

Beach lovers marvel at the many sandy beaches on offer for swimming, surfing or just paddling with your trousers rolled up.  Fans of kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and other water sports appreciate the scenic locations and great conditions. On the north coast there are some great surfing beaches including Summerleaze at Bude and Fistral at Newquay.

Padstow is a fantastic seaside town to go and visit.

Other activities

Other popular activities available include horse riding, Go Karting, golf, coasteering and fishing. Well known places such as the harbour town of Padstow are ideal bases to stay as there is so much to do. Why not go out mackerel fishing on a boat from the harbour? You can take your catch home with you and cook it for lunch. Or cross the Camel Estuary on the small but perfectly formed Padstow ferry which carries people over to the village of Rock, famous playground of young royals in its time.

Local dining

Padstow is also famous for its many impressive eateries. Celebrity chef Rick Stein was the pioneer in this part of the country, setting up a restaurant on the harbour’s edge specialising in the freshest fish and seafood. That was around thirty years ago, today visitors can still dine at Steins Restaurant, although booking early is the only way to secure a table these days. Other foodie delights to sample during a Padstow  sojourn include traditional Cornish Pasties, Cornish Fairing biscuits and old fashioned clotted cream fudge – all certain to hit the spot for hungry day trippers.

If you want to work off some calories after indulging in the local fare, you can arrange bike hire from Padstow and cycle along the Camel Trail. This is a disused railway line just over seventeen miles in length which stretches between Padstow, Wadebridge and Bodmin. Cyclists, walkers and horse riders use the trail which threads its way through beautiful countryside. It is nice and flat so all the family, young and old are able to have a go.

The Eden Project

Lovers of all things botanic will enjoy a visit to the famous domes of The Eden Project. Situated near St Austell in mid Cornwall, this place showcases the incredible diversity of plant life we have on earth. In several bio-spheres with varying micro-climates, we are able to see different species up close from all over the globe. A wonderful place to spend a day with lots to see and learn, good wholesome food, plenty of parking and excellent facilities.

Newquay and Fistral Beach

Newquay is the surf capital of North Cornwall and caters to the young crowds. If you are looking for buzzing night life, then Newquay is the place to be. The waves are very good and Fistral Beach regularly plays host to world renowned Surf Competitions. Add to that the amazing Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay and it is certainly a place with a lot to recommend it.

Hiking and rambling

Hikers and ramblers who like nothing better than to get out in the fresh air should take a walk along the spectacular coastal paths in the area. Or venture inland to Bodmin Moor, where the romantics seek outJamaica Inn (famous setting for Daphne Du Maurier’s novel) and the more adventurous keep their eyes peeled for the infamous beast of Bodmin, fabled wildcat of the moor.

Cornwall is one of the most visited tourist areas in England.

Cornish history pursuits

History buffs who enjoy exploring old stately homes and gardens should head for Prideaux Place near Padstow or the National Trust beauties of Lanhydrock and Cotehele – all fabulous places for an expedition with like-minded friends.

North Cornwall is the perfect destination for a few days away with friends. With the convenience of coach hire or mini bus hire, your visit is made simple and North Cornwall is suddenly much closer than you once thought…

Planning a Romantic Trip to Paris: Impress Your Partner with These Ideas

Planning a Romantic Trip to Paris: Impress Your Partner with These Ideas

Planning a Romantic Trip to Paris:Impress Your Partner with These Ideas

They call Paris is the “city of love”, and couples from around the globe visit the area to celebrate anniversaries and organise engagements. That said, you probably want to know exactly what makes this city so romantic, right? Well luckily for you I’ve been doing some research and now I’ve got a pretty good idea.

So, if you’re considering taking your loved one to Paris for a short break, have a quick read through the rest of this article first, and i’ll do my best to let you know about some of the most popular locations and pastimes frequented by foreign couples.

Wine and Oysters at Le Baron Rouge

If your partner is the type of person who likes nothing more than sitting in a cozy, comfortable room listening to soft music by candlelight, you really should take the time to visit Le Baron Rouge. This popular wine bar is always filled with happy locals, yet it never gets too busy to enjoy a peaceful, undisturbed evening. With some of the tastiest oysters in the whole of France, this is an essential stop for couples on a romantic break.

Visit The Dame du Canton For Dinner

This vintage barge that sits on the Left Bank of the Seine River is always a huge hit with foreign travelers. The gypsy-jazz music that plays every night is truly unique to the area and the lantern-lit restaurant that features authentic French dishes is guaranteed to satisfy – unless you suffer from sea sickness of course, as this boat tends to rock when it’s filled with happy patrons.

Head To The Four Seasons For A Chocolate Massage

I know what you’re thinking; “he’s made this up”, But you’d be wrong. If you take your partner down to the Four Seasons, they now run “all about chocolate” spa treatments that include mint chocolate body scrubs followed by toffee and swiss chocolate body wraps and deep tissue massages in cocoa oil. This is something I absolutely promise your partner will love.

Stay At The One by The Five

Though you’ll have no trouble finding luxury hotels in Paris, no matter where you stay you must book at least one night at The One by The Five. Located near to Port Royal, this private five-room apartment complex has been specially designed to blow your partner’s mind. With floating beds and black leather walls, this place is certain to make a big impression – just don’t plan on doing any sightseeing on that day, as you seriously won’t want to leave.

So there you have it my garlic-loving friends. Those are some of the main reasons why British couples travel to Paris – especially at this time of year when the nights are getting colder. Though I haven’t mentioned it yet, make sure you also spend an hour or two visiting the Eiffel Tower, as this always seems to draw a crowd. Also, make sure you take some time out to visit one of the many art galleries in this city, as some are truly awe-inspiring.

Have a great time!

Off the Beaten Barcelona Track

Off the Beaten Barcelona Track

Off the beaten Barcelona track

Barcelona is known for being a compact city, but that doesn’t mean there’s not much to do here. Indeed, there’s plenty to do other than the famous sights. So forsake the beach for a day and get your day trip hat on as we introduce you to Barcelona’s best-kept secrets. Once you’ve read up on these, you won’t be able to resist jumping on the first flight to Barcelona.

Placa del Pi

Barcelona’s gothic quarter is one of the most intricate places to get lost in, with dozens of special little spots that feel far from the madding crowd. This square is one of the most bohemian locations in the city – an old meeting place for local artists and musicians. As well as the decorated facades and antique shops full of trinkets, there are a number of restaurants serving interesting cuisines. Definitely worth a visit.

Montserrat

All right, it’s a bit of a cheat to put Montserrat on the list seeing as it’s not actually in Barcelona. But as it’s just an hour out of town by train, there really is no excuse not to visit this picturesque location. Forests grow in between the gigantic dolomite rocks that make this such a unique location. Wander along to the Benedictine monastery for superb views and a close look at an old religious building that has plenty of character and a number of fascinating artefacts.

Igualada Cemetery

Not many people can say they know where they’re going to be buried. However, world-famous architect Enric Miralles must have had an inkling that he wanted to be laid to rest here as he was designing it, because this is where he ended up. Containing thousands of ‘residents’ including the man himself, the cemetery is laid out quite unlike any other of its kind. It’s not easy to reach by public transport, but this works out in favour of those seeking to get away from the tourists.

El Jardi cafe

Venture away from the obvious terrace cafes that line Las Ramblas and instead transport yourself to the luscious gardens of this eatery. Situated in an old hospital in the red-light district of El Raval, you’ll find an orange tree-filled courtyard and elegant fountains that could convince you that you’ve taken a step back in time. If you fancy staying for dinner (entirely understandable), there is an excellent bar and restaurant. And the best part is that the tourists don’t know about it.

El Mariachi

Once you’ve had dinner, the next logical step is to find a secret bar. El Mariachi is a favourite hangout for musicians. Decked out with mismatched chairs – and an even more bizarre selection of drinks – it’s easy to see why. The venue’s specialities include its murky cocktails that prove wrong the old sentiment: – “Never trust a cocktail that remains clear until the last ingredient and then immediately clouds”. These taste wonderful.