Versailles Revisited

Versailles Revisited

Somehow this photo was lost on my original post about Versailles.  I’m pretty sure Louis XIV would be pissed if he knew I liked the fish more than the gold.

© Sarah Milstein 2013

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GR20, Corsica

I was thinking that we would do some hiking in Corsica other than our accidental hike in Bonifacio.  One quick search on Google* would have told me that the GR20 is not some path for sissies–it’s a 180 km trek beginning in Calenzana, which “traverses Corsica diagonally from north to south,” and ends in Conca, and is recommended as a 15-day hike.**

We decided to check it out, so we drove from Porto Vecchio to Conca in Sainte-Lucie de Port-Vecchio.  Really, this was a short drive (13 miles), but with the traffic, it probably took over an hour.  But we got to see things like this.

Once we got to Conca, we saw a sign for the GR20 and parked.  As it turns out, there were about 10 forks in the road after that sign, none of which were labeled with which direction the trail began. (Answer: Pick the path towards Radicali.)

We walked up each road to the end before finding the entrance (featured above).  In the heat, I was dying before we even found the trail.  Which by the way, was pretty awesome.  However, I can’t imagine doing the other 179 km of it, at least in that heat!

*Actually, I met two guys on the RER heading to the airport who told me this, since they had just done the trek a few days prior.  Who needs Google when there are cute strangers?

**For those who are curious, this website lays out everything you need to know about the GR20.

© Sarah Milstein 2013

Le Mur des Je T’aime, Paris

Je T'aime

Le Mur des “Je T’aime” is a wall in Montmarte with “over 311 written declarations [of I love you] in 250 different languages.”  I overheard a tour guide telling her devoted clan that it was only 52 languages.  I suppose eavesdropping does not guarantee accurate information.

© Sarah Milstein 2013

Ajaccio, Corsica

Based on Garance Doré’s blog, we headed to Capo di Feno on the northern tip of Ajaccio on Sunday before our flight.  Who doesn’t like boarding a plane covered in sunscreen and sea salt?  Okay, maybe me.  But our flight was so delayed, I think I was actually clean by the time we boarded.

To get to this beach from the main road, you have to drive down a narrow, rugged path (it’s two ways, I promise).  You’ll pass some horses and barbed wire.  Keep going.  At the end, you’ll see a parking lot and an amazing view.  You’ve arrived!

Since you’re in the middle of nowhere, it’s good they have a restaurant on the beach.  However, if you want prime front row seating, you have to make a reservation.  You should definitely come with an appetite as the portions are enormous.

This was one of the nicer beaches we went to.  The beach itself was very wide with tons of room to spread out.  The water was shallow for a long ways out and is perfect for swimming and/or paddle boarding.  Although you wouldn’t know from these photos, there were waves.  I swear.  Lots of people were surfing and body boarding.  The waves are fairly calm though, so don’t come expecting to catch a big swell!

We walked around Ajaccio after laying on the beach, but seeing as it was Sunday, most things were closed.  So we headed to the beach right next to the airport, where we drank beers before our flight.

© Sarah Milstein 2013

Bonifacio, Corsica

Bonjour!  Nine beaches, numerous long car rides, and one-very delayed flight later, I’m back in Paris after spending an amazing week in Corsica with Janine.  With Garance Doré’s blog, French Elle’s August 2013 issue, and some recommendations guiding us, I think we did pretty well.  Although it’s hard not to have a good time in Paradise.  Corsica is a land of endless beautiful beaches, saucisson, and magnums, and where 80 percent of the people on the beach are wearing bikini bottoms and no tops (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration).

Last Monday, we flew into Ajaccio on the west coast and drove three hours to Porto Vecchio on the east coast.*  During the week, we explored Bonifacio, Ajaccio, and Porto Vecchio (where we spent most of our time).  A word to the wise, if you’re going to Corsica, download maps in advance.  My map application barely worked and the maps you can get from the tourism offices have few, if any, names of the roads (or don’t show the roads at all).  Also, there is a lot of traffic on the island (at least in August), so expect to spend a decent amount of time sitting in the car!**  We’ve become very familiar with the four songs that rotated on the radio.

Bonifacio.  We spent a day in Bonifacio, famous for its limestone cliffs, which is about 18 miles south of Porto Vecchio on the southern tip of the island.  We parked near the cemetery, and headed towards the town.

The view from the town, looking down, was not too shabby.

After walking through the town and loading up on French pastries, we decided to walk along the path towards the lighthouse.  If you look down from the lighthouse, you will see what appears to be a beach.  We were curious and decided to make it our mission to get there.

We walked for over an hour before cutting down towards the beach.

Climbing down in flip flops was probably not the easiest means of transportation, but we made it!

Finally, the reward.  There wasn’t any sand, but it was pretty secluded and the water was gorgeous.

*Turns out the airport in Figari is much closer to both Porto Vecchio and Bonifacio, but EasyJet does not fly there, and apparently Kayak thought it would be funny to hide this fact from us.  On the bright side, we got to see a lot more of the island!

**We were very grateful that our hotel found us a rental car with an automatic transmission, since there were tons of hills, turns, and traffic.  Also, I really need to learn how to drive a manual. 

© Sarah Milstein 2013

La Patache & Le Perchoir, Paris

After walking to Canal St. Martin the other day to check out a restaurant I read about on this awesome blog, I was bummed, but not surprised, to see that it was closed for August.  I’ve started to accept the fact that regardless whether a restaurant has a website, it does not mention whether it is closed in August, on said website.  It just lists its normal business hours.  Sigh.

So, I was left to my own devices and after wandering a bit, peaked through the window of La Patache (Rue de Lancry, 75010) and saw three women eating roasted chicken and potatoes.  Done.  I ordered the same and it was delicious.  Actually, the potatoes were pretty heavenly.

Saturday, my friend scored a reservation at Le Perchoir (Rue Crespin du Gast, 75011).  The rooftop bar reminded me a little of High at Hotel Erwin in Venice, California.  Only, instead of the Pacific Ocean, there are panoramic views of Paris, freshly sliced charcuterie, absinthe, abundant wine, and an amazing restaurant just one floor down.  The only option is a prix fixe, which comprised of 8 dishes, each possibly better than the previous (sea bass sashimi, ahi tuna, roasted eggplant, veal, roasted potatoes, tomato provençal, cantalope soup, and a berry variation of mille-feuille).  However, if you ask my friend, the tuna was the best.  It did come atop a giant potato chip like thing.

© Sarah Milstein 2013

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges, Paris

Le Marché des Enfants Rouges

I found open places to eat in Paris!  Le Marché des Enfants Rouges in Le Marais, which is the oldest market in Paris (notwithstanding several renovations), appears to be staying open for August–well, at least some of the vendors.  The Moroccan restaurant inside is always packed and a safe bet.  The Italian restaurant looks good, but avoid their gâteau.  Possibly the worst slice of cake I’ve had.  The Lebanese food looks good, as well, however, I can’t vouch for it.

Also, I just found myself on Rue Tiquetonne and was happy to see tons of open restaurants and cafés.  Le Titi Qui Tonne, on this street, is still open.  I ate there a while back and was pleased with the canard, and the waiter always waves when I walk by now.

© Sarah Milstein 2013

Angelina, Paris

Angelina

Was it worth the hype?  Maybe?  It was good.  But kind of just tasted like my mom’s hot fudge melted just enough to make it drinkable.  You’d think you’d be wired after all that sugar, but I felt more like sleeping.

© Sarah Milstein 2013

Bois de Vincennes, Paris

It seems that 90 percent of Paris has shut down, and the rest is under construction.  All my usual cafés and coffee shops have closed for August.  There is a man yelling, “Alice, your mommy and daddy are here!” in an American accent outside my window.  And, I think I’ve heard more Spanish, English, Italian, and German today, than French.

Nevertheless, the parks remain open!   Yesterday, I laid in the grass in the Bois de Vincennes, which looks and feels like a flat version of the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.  However, there are more birds (at least of the non-pigeon variety), horses, and boats to rent at the Bois.  I hear if you come at certain times, you might also find ladies of the night.  That is, if you’re into that sort of thing.

© Sarah Milstein 2013

Le Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, Paris

If it weren’t for Jude and her husband, Brian, I never would have discovered Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, on a vélib’ no less.  A must see park–not manicured like many of the other Parisian parks, but a perfect spot to picnic, read a book, stare off into the distance with your lover (below), or in my case, be a third wheel.  Come back to Paris, I miss you guys already!

Don’t miss the hidden waterfall.

The restaurant in the park is also pretty nice–they stopped serving lunch by the time we arrived, but they still made us an awesome charcuterie platter!

For more information about the park, such as events that are occurring there, or even more about its history (like that it used to essentially be an open trash dump, which Napoleon decided to turn into a garden that opened in 1867), read here.

© Sarah Milstein 2013