May 28, 2015

Taking the Road Less Traveled in Paris with Belle Brita [& a Giveaway!]

Bonjour, y'all! My name is Brita, and I blog at the Christian feminist lifestyle blog Belle Brita. Once upon a time, I lived in France, but I fell in love with an American. We recently moved from Ohio to Georgia, so now I'm exploring a whole new state! At Belle Brita, I blog about a little bit of everything, but mostly relationship advice and feminism. Oh, and you might have seen me on The Huffington Post! In my pre-blogging life, I lived and worked in France for the better part of two years, first as a live-in au pair and then as an English Teaching Assistant. These jobs gave me plenty of time to explore Paris and to discover some of the lesser-known highlights of the most beautiful city in the world. Are you planning a trip to Paris? Do you want to see more than the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa? Consider visiting the following lesser-known Parisian attractions!

Want to do something different in Paris? Visit these 5 attractions!

Musée Marmottan Monet

See the painting that launched Impressionism

If visiting l'Orangerie and the Musée d'Orsay doesn't quench your thirst for Monet and other Impressionist artists, then you must visit the Musée Marmottan Monet. This museum owns the largest collection of Monet paintings in the world. As a huge fan of Impressionism, I particularly enjoyed finally seeing the Monet work that gave name to the movement. Early Impressionists weren't exactly appreciated during their time. One art critic reviewed a show that included Impression, Soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise) and works by Degas and Renoir, among others. In his mocking review, he called the show Exposition des Impressionnistes (The Exhibition of the Impressionists). The name stuck!

The beautiful Impressionist Monet painting at the Musée Marmottan-Monet.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Discover a natural oasis amidst the city of Paris

I spent countless Saturdays exploring the lush green landscape of Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Other lazy Saturdays involved a picnic, a book, and a best friend by my side. Features include the Temple de la Sibylle, a grotto and waterfall, and beautiful bridges. Views from the temple are incredible! You could easily spend an entire day here and not get bored. If you're in a hurry to see everything in Paris, this is a great place to stop for a picnic lunch for just an hour or two.

Visiting Parc Buttes Chaumont with my best friendViews from Parc Buttes Chaumont

Canal Saint-Martin

Enjoy a romantic stroll

I didn't actually have a romantic stroll along Canal Saint-Martin when I lived in France. I was very much single during those two years, so all strolls were just with good friends. Still, visiting Canal Saint-Martin is a great alternative to walking along the Seine with all the other tourists. Canal Saint-Martin is home to quirky boutiques, fun bars and restaurants, public gardens, and charming bridges. It's also another great location for picnics.

Canal Saint Martin is a beautiful spot in Paris off the beaten path Enjoying a public garden near Canal Saint MartinGetting drinks with the girls in Paris!

Rue Mouffetard

Shop at one of France's famous outdoor markets

Rue Mouffetard is a charming French street in the Latin Quarter. Many of the shops are basically expanded market stalls. The fresh market is open six days a week, closed Sunday afternoon and all day Monday. If you've never visited a French market, you're in for a treat! An amazing selection of cheeses, a huge variety of produce, both raw and salted meats, roasted chickens--any fresh food item your heart desires. Rue Mouffetard also features a variety of bars, cafés, and restaurants. My friends and I spent many a cold winter afternoon nursing drinks at Student Bar, which boasts a generous happy hour.

Getting drinks at Student Bar on Rue Mouffetard Enjoying drinks with the au pairs in Paris

Musée de Cluny

Admire the famous unicorn tapestries

I couldn't resist including just one more museum. Museums are among my favorite Parisian attractions, but most of them are too famous for this list. La Dame à la licorne (The Lady and the Unicorn) is a series of six tapestries on display at the Musée de Cluny in Paris. Sure, the museum displays all sorts of other cool medieval art, but the tapestries are my favorite.


  
 Have you ever been to Paris? What were the highlights of your trip? I would love to hear what other people love about my favorite city! As a big MERCI to Casey's readers for making it this far, I'm giving away 2 months of ad space on my blog, plus $10 in PayPal cash. Bonne chance! P.S. Even if you don't feel like entering the giveaway, you can keep up with me on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or Bloglovin!

May 25, 2015

Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia

I can't tell you how many times I said "Oooo" and "Wow!" and "Can you believe we're here?" while on our Adriatic cruise. Port after port captivated us…but none more blog-worthy, frame-worthy, and brag-worthy than Dubrovnik, Croatia. Dubrovnik was THE sole reason we booked this particular cruise itinerary. It was a city on our bucket list throughout our entire stent abroad, so finally visiting on our last grand "hoorah" around Europe seemed like a victorious accomplishment. Granted, we would have loved to spend longer than 9 hours there, but beggars can't be choosers, now can they? 


The second we stepped foot inside Dubrovnik's historic city walls, I was hooked. So was D ("How'd ya like to get stationed here?!", he said...um yes, please!). Dubrovnik is a combination of everything we adore about Europe...sweeping views & vistas, charming details, a location by the sea, and some seriously amazing architecture. Oh, and gobs of history. Can't forget its long, rich history! You know that feeling of wonder you get when you visit a place that totally catapults you back into time? Every square inch of Old Town Dubrovnik had us vibing with what life must have been like in the 9th century. The city is totally enclosed by thick stone walls...dotted with turrets, towers, and more vibrant red "kupe" tile roofs than my eyes knew what to do with. I was basically chomping at the bit to get atop the 2 kilometers of city walls and start snapping my camera shutter, so that's the very first thing we did. 

(And for all you future Adriatic cruisers out there, some logistics for you: we took a taxi from where our ship docked to the entrance of Pile gate. Short ride, maybe 10 minutes max and it was fairly cheap…although we did split the ride with another couple. No need to purchase a transfer from the ship, taxi will do just fine.) 



If I remember correctly, just as you enter through Pile Gate (one of the main gates into Old Town), there is a shop where you purchase tickets to walk the walls. That's where we started our 2 kilometer trek and eventually ended it as well. Tickets were roughly 100 Croatian Kuna (13 euro) for adults, a bit cheaper for kiddos…but were worth every single penny. The views, guys. I still die over those views! Some of the most incredible we experienced during our travels around Europe, no joke. I could not get over how the stone just bled from the streets straight onto the buildings, everything covered in white limestone/marble (no one could tell us which!) and topped with vibrant red tile. Slap a shimmering blue sea and a forest of lush palm trees all around and BOOM…paradise along the Dalmatian coastline. "Pearl of the Adriatic", indeed!


We took our time walking every square inch of wall around Dubrovnik. It was a nice walk, too. Some stairs and tourists to battle, yes, but because we got there first thing in the morning when the walls opened, we got to enjoy them (and the views) without much annoyance. Thankfully, the sun wasn't blaring on us either, because our walk took roughly 2 hours. We did stop for photos quite often, but we also wanted to make sure we didn't miss a thing. I looked down every alleyway, tried to capture every vantage point I could in those 2 hours. I knew it could possibly be the only time we'd ever spend there, so I savored every moment as if it were my last (dear Lord, don't let it be our last!).

The photos in this post are just a small fraction of what I took on our walk (we were almost at the halfway point of our walk at the end of these snapshots), so expect another post full of gorgeous views to come. So much to see, so little blog space (or attention span, I should say)! ;)


Here's a quick map for you to reference, so you can get a sort of aerial visual of the walls and just how far we walked. The walls are outlined in gray and the entrance we used to get into the city was on left, at the PILE gate. You can view the larger map here:


More from Dubrovnik to come...

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