After exploring Belgium I continue my holiday Europe trip and head south towards France. It was really hard to make a choice with so many architectural and cultural attractions. Certainly I’m expected to have a look at the Eiffel Tower or the Notre Dame Cathedral. Well, I took just a quick photo of the Eiffel Tower to prove that I really went to Paris. But as a real Dutchman I prefer to do things a little different and decided to explore the big cities off the beaten track.
Secret places in Paris
Paris has a lot of beautiful street markets but Rue Mouffetard resembles the old, romantic Paris with cobbled streets where housewives and chefs shop for the day’s ingredients. Farmers come to the city from all over and sell their produce on different stalls. The delicious smell of roasted chicken makes me hungry. After lunch I decide to visit La Pagode, a historic movie house that is designed in the traditional Japanese style. A friendly employee shows me around and we enjoy a cup of tea in the beautiful garden. On my way back home I pass a Gallo-Roman amphitheatre in the Latin Quarter called Arènes de Lutèce. A friendly old lady told me that it once hosted gladiatorial combat, and used to seat 15,000 people. Together we stand in the centre and imagine the crowds cheering at us.
Relaxing in Nice
After leaving the impressive but crowded capital I’m in the mood for more peaceful surroundings. Nice, with all it’s cosy villages and cafés is perfect for this. There is plenty of inexpensive public transport but I prefer walking and cycling along the cobblestone roads and coastal path. One morning I find myself in the medieval village of Èze where I admire the beautiful church and the amazing view from the hilltops. From there, a zigzag rocky path leads me down to Eze-Bord-de-Mer where I take the train back to Nice. I spend the rest of the day in Parc Phoenix, a beautiful park full of wildlife, gardens and fountains.
Views of Marseille
Well, even if I wanted to stay away from popular tourist attractions, I could not resist this one. The chapel Notre Dame de la Garde is the highest point of Marseille and offers a most impressive view over the city. You go up there by bus but the walk on the green hill path definitely has its charme. The architecture of the Romanesque-Byzantine basilica from the 13th century is breath-taking. Marseille has the biggest port of France and therefore there is almost no restaurant where they don’t serve fresh fish. I’m going to enjoy a cup of the famous Bouillabaisse soup before I have to leave.
Plan my visit to your country
I had a nice time in France. Next station is Spain. Furthermore I will travel to Italy, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway and the UK. Can you recommend any great places in these countries I should definitely visit? Please share your secret tip with me!