A Day Trip to Britanny- An Unseen Beauty of France

Britanny is one of those unpopular attractions that treasure the unseen beauty of France. Britanny is the perfect off beat spot to explore its untamed wild beauty, thick forests, dramatic coastlines, some man-made wonders and medieval, picturesque towns. It is often chosen as a side trip from Paris, and is truly worth a visit.

 

How to reach Britanny:

 

The easiest route to reach Britanny is by opting a TGV (high speed trains of France) from Paris and reach Rennes, Britanny, where the journey lasts for 1hoursand30minutes approximately. Britanny has a wonderful transportation service either of trains or planes for people to visit from all around.

 

Places to explore:

 

  • Fort du Guesclin

 

Sitting on a tidal island, Fort du Guesclin is situated on a very unique location, as during the times of high tides it would seem that the island is seated offshore. However, this fort can be reached by walking when it’s a low tide, and it is indeed a place that you would admire.

                          

Fort du Guesclin

 

  • Saint-Malo

 

Saint Malo is an old port of France holding its history in every nook and corner. Stepping into the land of Saint Malo would feel like travelling back into the 18thcentury where every house bears the traces of their time in their patched glass windows and dusty gothic buildings.

                                       

Saint Malo

  

  • Mont Saint Michel

 

One of the major attractions of Britanny is Mont Saint Michel. However, there is a small controversy related to its exact location as some regard it as standing on the land of Normandy while others declare it as a part of Britanny. Mont Saint Michel is considered one of the jewels of France as it has been an ecclesiastical center and pilgrimage since the early 700’s. The outer structure of the church is as pleasing as its high-walled interiors that dates back to centuries.

  

The holy Mont Saint Michel

 

  • Exploring the popular Castles of Britanny

 

Britanny also has a number of majestic castles around its towns that are a paradigm of French history and power, and also their excellence in artistry. Among the castles of Britanny, Josselin Castle, Castle of Suscinio, Castle of Vitre, Chateaude Pontivy, Chateaudela Bourbansais, and Castle of Fougeres are popular among tourists.

                               

Chateau de Josselin

 

  • Dinan

 

Dinan is a picturesque town in Britanny that is embraced in scenic beauty and its streets are very photogenic. With bricked paths, gothic architectures and towers, bridges, and museums, Dinan is a perfect place to escape into.

Dinan, Britanny

 

For people who love hiking, Britanny has many spots for you to have a look  such as the Pointedu Raz that would give you the breathtaking view of powerful waves striking the sandy cliffs, the elegant lighthouse, a dreamy sunset amidst the rhythm of the sea.

 

Aurevoir!

 

—Sampurna Chakraborty

 

 

A Day Trip to Etretat- Normandy

If you are visiting France for a good number of days then there’s an opportunity for you to visit some of France’s less popular attractions that can be regarded as “hidden gems” of the country. There are a number of off-beat places you can visit from Paris that are unimaginably beautiful, and one among them is Etretat in Normandy.

Etretat is a town situated on the North coast of France, popular for its impressive rock formations and white cliffs, picturesque views, the old chapel and the dramatic views of the old town.

 

What to see in Etretat?

 

  • Watch the unique cliffs of Etretat

 

Etretat is widely famous for its white cliffs especially for the arches that have risen up from the sea. Some of its popular arches are Falaised’Etretat, Ported’Aval and Ported’Amont.

                

 

Cliffs of Etretat

 

  • The Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la Garde

 

A famous church of Etretat, the chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la Garde is situated on an isolated cliff with the most stunning view around. The building of the church itself is an unique one and so is its location. One would find utmost peace and pleasure in this place that feels like a paradise for the ones seeking tranquility.

 

The Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la Garde.

               

 

  • The Monument of Nungesser and Coli

 

Just behind the church of Notre-Dame at a walking distance you will come across the modern monument of Nungesser and Coli that was built as a memorial to pay tribute to the aviators Nungesser and Coli who attempted to cross the North Atlantic Ocean but unfortunately died.

 

The Monument of Nungesser and Coli

 

  • The Castle of les Aygues

 

Built in 1866, the castle of les Aygues is embraced in natural beauty, and serves as a popular tourist attraction of Etretat. The castle is rich in history and holds a prestigious place in the modern world. The road towards the castle is very enticing as it solitary and serene.

 

The Castle of les Aygues

 

  • Etretat Beach

 

The popular beach of Etretat with a view of its white cliffs and arches, and the church of Notre-Dame-de-la Garde. With a long sandy stretch and calm sea, this place would muse you to write poetry. As this place is not too crowded, you can enjoy the sunrise and sunset with your loved ones in solitude. Grab a notepad and a pen for sure!

 

The Etretat Beach

 

  • The Old Town

 

Wander among the streets of the Old Town to reveal its history, fascinating facts, the lifestyle of the people of Etretat and their rich culture.

A walk to remember in Old Town.

 

If you have time, also visit the Protestant Temple, the Old Market and some famous museums around the town.

 

How to reach Etretat by public transports?

The easiest and the safest way to reach Etretat is to take a Train from Paris to La Havre station, and then take a bus to step into Etretat. However, it is important to note that the train tickets must be booked prior your arrival, otherwise you won’t be able to get there by train.

 

 

Sampurna Chakraborty

A Guide to Thermal Baths in Budapest

The capital city of Hungary, Budapest is a beautiful city in Europe bisected by the river Danube and connected with its Buda and Pest districts through the iconic Chain Bridge . With the most dramatic history, dreamy castles, majestic Hungarian National Parliament , historic squares with gothic architectures, Budapest also has enticing scenic beauty. Well, Budapest is not just limited to these things, it is also popular for its Baths and is often termed as the “City of Baths”. Including the historic thermal public baths, Turkish Baths and other pools and spas, Budapest has all the kinds of baths you need to relax and rejuvenate yourselves. The most amazing truth of these baths lies in the fact that  they are naturally fed by 120 hot springs around the city so there is no waste of electricity.

 

What to expect in these Baths?

 

The baths in Budapest are much different from hot Springs of India, as each of them have some different specifications. Some Baths are “male only” or “female only” or some have availability for both in different areas. Also some of these baths are  designed to relax solo while others have no bars and are available for everybody like a public pool. The baths in Budapest are found in two ways indoor and open-air like Szechenyi Baths are open-air and Rudas, Gellert Baths are indoor baths. More fun awaits for you in the Bath parties, passes for these parties are available online on the different websites so that you can grab the opportunity to have the best experience with your loved ones. However, It is important to know the specifications before you get there so as there are places where admission of children are, here’s a detailed information about the best baths around the city.

 

Historic Thermal Baths in Budapest:

 

Historic Thermal Baths were first set by Romans, and then they were re-opened at the time of Turkish invasions. These thermal baths were not only used for the purpose of relaxing and rejuvenating, and keeping them warm and hygenic, but also the public encouraged them for the medicinal uses of Hotsprings. These historic thermal baths are still found around the city of Budapest and the best ones among them are:

 

  • Szechenyi Baths

 

Considered as the largest medicinal bath in Europe, Szechenyi Baths were built in the early 20th century and consist of 18 pools, 10 steam cabins, and sections that offer several massage and therapies and so on. These baths among the richly decorated palace is a delight to visit.

 

Temperature of Pools: 20-40C.

 

Admission: Above 14 years of age.

                         

Szechenyi Baths.

 

 

  • Gellert Baths

 

 

Gellert Baths- a part of Gellert Hotel was opened in the year 1918 and is among the few Art Deco baths in the world whose interior was influenced by the French art movements. The interior of the baths were built in Art Nouveau style and is still evident to the Modern word for the last 100 years.

 

Temperature of Pool: 26 to 40⁰.

 

Admission: Above 14 years of age.

                      

Gellert Baths.

 

 

  • Veli Bej- Csaszar Baths

 

 

The Veli Bej Baths also known as Csaszar baths, are indoor Turkish baths and are among the few baths in Budapest that have no outdoor pools for the public. Veli Bej reflects its Ottoman time through its designed halls and pools and is truly a peaceful place with less crowd.

 

Temperature of Pool: 32– 34C.

 

Admission: Above 14 years of age.

                                

Veli Bej Baths.

 

 

  • Rudas Baths

 

Another famous bath of the city, Rudas baths have an impressive modern interior decoration, various spas and Turkish baths. However, the center of attraction here is the rooftoppool that provides a panaromic view of the city and the river Danube. Rudas Baths are also children- friendly and allow children’s admission in few of its pools with moderate temperatures.

 

Temperature of Pools: 16– 42C.

 

Admission: Everyone according to terms.

 

                                      

Rudas Baths

 

 

  • Kiraly Baths

 

Built in 1570, Kiraly Baths will give you the most authentic essence of Turkish bath in its indoor pools. The building of Kiraly Baths reflect their history associated with Ottoman invasion, and the domes represent their Turkish origins.

 

Temperature: 26– 40C.

 

Admission:  Everyone above 14 years of age.

 

 

                

Kiraly Baths

 

 

  • Lukacs Baths

 

Located on the Buda side of the city, Lukacs baths are situated inside the impressive 19th century building and its history dates back to the 12th century. These baths have both indoor and outdoor pools along with saunas and other spa treatments, and are very popular among tourists for its lively nights where people can drink, enjoy bath parties, pamper themselves in various massage treatments.

 

Temperature of Pools: 30– 40C.

 

Admission:  Above 14 years of age.

 

 

                             

Lukacs Baths

If you want some more of this pampering and refreshment, you can also visit the other attractive spas around the city such as, the Spa at the Four Seasons,  Danubius Health Spa Margitsziget and Thermal Beer Spa– that lets you enjoy your baths and treatments with mugs of beer! Sounds great right? Nothing is impossible in Budapest when it comes to Baths.

 

 

 

 

—Sampurna Chakraborty

An avid traveller, a voracious reader and a passionate writer!

 

 

Loire Valley- The Valley of Castles

Loire Valley is a mesmerizingly beautiful destination often called the jewel of France for  its  dreamy castles, scenic beauty, peaceful ambience and photogenic sites. For people who are fascinated by fairytales, castles and its everlasting tales of Kings and Queens, Loire Valley is exactly the destination you have been searching for. As the region of Loire Valley is quite big, it is not possible to cover every spot in just a few days, hence it is suggested to spend at least 34 days to discover this dreamland.

 

How to reach Loire Valley?

 

When it comes to visiting Loire Valley, there are many options available for reaching here. One can rent a car from Paris which would take 2-3 hours drive, or take TGV (super-fast trains of France) from Montparnesse station to reach the heart of this valley. One can also fly and directly land in ToursValdeLoire airport from London or Dublin.

 

What to see in Loire Valley?

 

Explore the best castles of this region and taste the original and authentic French Cuisines in a royal style.

 

  • Chateau de Chenonceau

 

Situated near the small village of Chenonceaux, Chateau de Chenonceau is one of the best- known castle of Loire Valley and was built on  CherRiver in the early 16th century in a gothic, renaissance architectural style.  This stunning castle is a treasure trove of French history and has many fascinating gossips of Kings and Queens to tell to the Modern World. Chenonceau is also among the most visited and photographed castles in the valley and has both architectural and scenic beauty encompassing it.

                       

Chateau de Chenonceau on Cher River.

 

  • Chateau de Chambord

 

The largest and the most recognisible castle of Loire Valley, the castle of Chambord serves as an important symbol of French Renaissance and reflects its history related to the powerful king Francis. This majestic castle has an enticing structure and its interior is lavishly decorated with a touch of Renaissance. The Chateaude Chambord Park is the largest enclosed park in Europe, its well-maintained French-Style gardens are magnificent.

Chateau de Chambord.

 

  • Azay-le-Rideau

 

Built during the beginning of 16th century, Chateau Azay-le-Rideau is another popular castle of Loire Valley situated on the shore of Indre river in the Touraine region. Much smaller as compared to Chambord, Azay-le-Rideau has an impressive renaissance structure encompassed in natural beauty.

                 

Azay-le Rideau.

 

  • Villandry Castle and Gardens

 

Situated in the region of Villandry, Villandry Castle is a grand country residense of Loire Valley. The castle’s speciality lies within its exquisite French-style gardens full of vibrant flowers that are very pleasant to watch. Villandry Castle is considered to be the last Renaissance residense built on the banks of the river Loire.

Chateau Villandry and Gardens.

 

  • Chateau d’ Usse

 

Chateau d’ Usse often called the “SleepingBeauty castle” is exactly what you see in Fairytales. The castle of Usse is built on the edges of Chinon Forest and is the best spot to enjoy the panoramic view of Indre Valley.

The castle of Usse originally provided an inspiration to the writer Charles Perrault for his celebrated classic fairy tale The Sleeping Beauty

Chateau d’ Usse.

 

 

  • Chateau de Saumur

 

Chateau de Saumur is located in the French town of Saumur in the Loire Valley. The castle was once a fortress, and later was converted to a chateau, now this castle stands as a renouned castle of Loire Valley with an amazing gothic structure. Built during the 10thcentury, the castle of Saumur has lots of tales to tell to the modern world.

 

Chateau de Saumur. 

 

There are 42  Chateauxregistered under UNESCOin Loire Valley, and it isimpossible to visit all of them in a single trip. Head towards the most popular Chateaus and some off beat populars for the best experience. 

 

Wine Tasting in Loire Valley:

 

  

Wine Grapes.

Your trip to Loire Valley is incomplete without visiting the vineyards and tasting the purest wine and also hearing the tales of wine-making from the local Winemakers. Loire Valley has more than thousand world-famous vineyards for you to explore, breath the sweet scent of ripening grapes, and taste wines from the best cellars. Visit Vouvray, Henry Bourgeoi’s wine tasting, Chinon for the best wine.

 

Loire Valley is not just a perfect destination for adults but also for kids. You have been reading bed-time fairy tales for them explaining how big and majestic castles are, or they have been watching these classics in movies fantasizing themselves, imagine the happiness on their face when they see these castles in real life, precious isn’t it? Don’t think twice, just plan your next  trip to Loire Valley of France for an unforgettable experience.

 

—Sampurna Chakraborty

An avid Traveller and a passionate writer.