France

This Christmas Miss W spent her holiday in France. Miss W’s auntie and uncle live in a small village in Normandy, where they run a B&B in a beautiful small château with stunning gardens. Miss W spent Christmas there and then went on to Paris for a night before going to Strasbourg and Colmar in Alsace, eastern France.

I grew up going to my auntie’s house and whenever I go back there it feels like home. The village is absolutely tiny and has no shops. When I was little a boulangerie van would come round all the houses to deliver fresh baguettes and croissants… so basically this place is deep in the countryside. The main activity in this village is going for walks. One of my favourites is to the church that you can see below.

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My uncle also has a donkey, which also provides hours of entertainment!

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The house also has an orchard with apples, which are so typical in Normandy.

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From Normandy Miss W went to Paris. I have visited Paris countless times, but always love going back. Since I have done most of the touristy things in the city I usually just walk around and enjoy soaking up the atmosphere.  This time I went shopping in Le Marais. I popped into Mariage Frères where I bought a few different types of loose tea. This is a picture of their iconic tins.
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I also discovered a shop I had never been into before, called Fleux, which sells all the kind of not so useful, possibly overpriced, but OH so beautiful lifestyle trinkets Miss W loves. I wanted everything in the shop. I bought this amazing breton breakfast bowl which describes Miss W perfectly; la princesse. I love it!

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Here are some of the things I wanted but didn’t buy.

  1. World map canvases.

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2. Constellation cushion. Wanted this SO much, but will in the coming year attempt to make my own.

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3. Eiffel tower in a mason jar turned lamp. J’adore!

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3. Heart shaped fairy lights… so sweet.

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The best thing about this shop was that they had their own cat, who clearly does not like having his picture taken.

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After her amble around the chic little streets of Le Marais, Miss W took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and went to have an ice cream from the famous Berthillon on Île Saint-Louis near Notre-Dame. This place has some of the most incredible ice cream I have ever tasted. I personally think the roasted pineapple with basil flavour is the nicest. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of the ice cream because I was too busy eating it, and yes, it was delicious!

Here is a picture of a vélib‘ (public bikes in Paris) on a bridge across the Seine, just because it is beautiful.

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Miss W loves éclairs au café and although we have them in the UK, they are so much yummier in France, so whenever she goes past a pâtisserie, you’ll be sure to find her ordering an éclair. 

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In the evening I headed to the area near Canal Saint Martin and after browsing in the impossibly cool (slightly hipster) bookshop Artazart I had dinner in a restaurant called Les Enfants Perdus

I had this fish dish  (can’t remember what type of fish it was… I know, what kind of food lover am I?) which replaced something on the usual menu, and it was sublime. The fish was served with a vanilla sauce which really complemented it and the carrots underneath were tender and sweet.

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For dessert I had crème brûlée. In order from the left they were: pistachio, 0riginal and caramel. What I love most about this dessert is cracking the sugar crust with my spoon; it makes me feel like I’m skating on thin ice.

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As always I was sad to leave Paris but I went to Strasbourg, a city I had never visited. It is such a picturesque place. Strasbourg is the capital of Alsace, a region in eastern France, right on the border with Germany.

Strasbourg is supposed to be the capital of Christmas, as Europe’s oldest Christmas market was first held here in 1570. Indeed, it is very festive. Unfortunately, this year the Christmas market was shortened because of the security measures in place in France after the Paris attacks in November. However, the city was still fully decked out for Christmas.

This is the huge Christmas tree in Place Kléber.

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Due to its closeness to the German border, Strasbourg has gone back and forth between being French and German, and you can definitely see the German influence in the buildings and also in the Christmas decorations. People in Alsace have their own language, Alsatian, which sounds very similar to German. Many of the street signs are also in German which gives the city a shared cultural feel.

My favourite part of Strasbourg was the astronomical clock in the cathedral. Please don’t hate me for this sin, but I am going to be very lazy (*grins*) and not tell you anything about it, so if you want to know the history read the trusty wikipedia page.

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Beautiful globe, isn’t it?

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From Strasbourg I went to Colmar, a town that is considered to be the capital of the Alsatian wine region.  (I really enjoyed Gewürztraminer, a sweet white wine.

Colmar is such a picturesque little town. Its German-style buildings look like little gingerbread houses, and thankfully for my Christmas mad husband, the Christmas market was running here! I particularly loved the mulled apple juice and pain d’épices they sold.

This is the most famous part of Colmar, which is nicknamed Little Venice. IMG_0769.JPG

 

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Cute little nook in Colmar. IMG_0700 (1).JPG

More Christmas decorations! IMG_0738.JPG

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Models of buildings in Colmar.

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I had a very relaxing and fairly quiet Christmas and New Year in France, but what better place to eat well and enjoy life?

 

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