Tag Archives: France

Review: Incident at Vichy – Finborough Theatre

Incident at Vichy three main characters: Laurence Boothman as Lebeau, Michael Skellern as Waiter and Brendan O'Rourke as Bayard.

Incident at Vichy, a one-act play by Arthur Miller, condenses and multiplies his usual sense of foreboding. It’s 1942 in Vichy France and an assorted group of suspected Jews and ‘asocials’ have been detained by Nazis in a makeshift prison. One hysterical young man has had his nose measured. The drip-drip-drip of rumours and panic start to build as the waiting game continues.

Miller’s play is a window into French deportations of Jews, which took place between 27th March 1942 and 17th August 1944. 77,000 deportees from France lost their lives at Nazi death camps or concentration camps, and 1/3 of these were official French citizens.

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2016 in the Travel Industry

Street art asking why, on wall against blue sky

2016 wasn’t exactly the happiest year on record – celebrities dropping like flies, not to mention Brexit and President Trump adding to our woes – but there were a lot of travel industry stories and trends making headlines as well. Here are some of the biggest developments from the last 12 months.

Europe was on high alert

Paris continued to mourn the victims of its terror attack, which happened at the close of 2015. Just days into 2016, the city marked a year since the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Nice, Berlin and Istanbul sadly became newsworthy for all the wrong reasons in 2016 – Islamic State extremists struck again. These horrific acts have, of course, made people nervous about travelling, but they’ve also highlighted the scarily simple tactics terrorists employ.

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2015 in the Travel Industry

Whereas 2014 was all about knee defenders, awkward profiles of Brits in the German press, and Outlander-themed tours of Scotland, this year has been very different.

We’ve seen terror on the streets, refugees in crisis, and a king reburied half a millennium after his death, and that’s only a snippet of what 2015 involved.

A World in Chaos

With ISIS/ISIL-led terror attacks tragically striking Egypt, France and Tunisia, and with parts of Belgium on lockdown following the recent Paris attacks, it’s been a sobering year. Western tourists have naturally been cautious, but holidaymakers are not the only targets. Locals socialising or going to work also lost their lives. Whilst the travel industry is under pressure to deliver better safety measures and tighter security, anyone driven to cancel their holiday and stay at home won’t be risk-free, because domestic threats are just as common. The sad fact is that we can’t always prevent these attacks from happening, however we can’t live our lives in constant fear.

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Louis Vuitton Series 3 Exhibition: In Fashion for the Long Haul

Classic Vuitton monogram symbols including fashion brand logo

A Louis Vuitton trunk at the airport speaks volumes about its owner. For one thing, they’re probably not bothered about excess baggage charges (no fear of Ryanair restrictions here). For another, they probably won’t buy three copies of The Daily Telegraph in WHSmith just to get the free giant bottles of Buxton water for the flight and the onward journey. And they won’t have a dilemma about whether it’s ok to nick the blankets from the plane on long haul flights or not, because they don’t fly economy.

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Paris Tips for Families and Solo Travellers

Pompidou Centre with unusual architecture in central Paris steel pipes and grid

Whether you’re travelling en famille or you’re flying solo, you know there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all city break. As there are far too many existing Paris guides aimed at couples, I’ve aimed to redress the balance for the rest of us with these tips, following on from my guide for first-time visitors.

Paris with Kids

I recently compiled a city break itinerary for a family of five, so I can promise you this city is child-friendly. It’s just a case of finding what will keep everyone entertained…

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Paris Travel Tips for First Time Visitors

French capital with rooftop scene in miniature mode and Eiffel Tower in background

The city of light can be dazzling, which may explain why it’s on so many travel bucket lists. Paris seems maze-like and full-on at first, with its different arrondissements (neighbourhoods) and its constant trendsetting, but once you start wandering you’ll see it’s not so daunting after all. Are you ready to explore?

Your First Trip to Paris: The Basics

Start as you mean to go on…

  • If you’re travelling from the UK, choose the Eurostar over planes. Charles De Gaulle airport is nowhere near where you want to be, and it’ll cost €10 for a train ticket to the city centre, whereas the Eurostar takes you straight to the Gare du Nord.
  • The Mayor of Paris’ website has a ‘First time in Paris’ guide full of tips – I like the sound of the helium balloon tour in the André Citroën Park (weather-permitting).
  • Using the Metro is pretty straightforward, and the ticket machines have an English language option. Buy a carnet which gives you 10 tickets – much easier than buying a single or return each time. Try to avoid travelling at rush hour (09:00-10:00 and 18:00-19:30).
  • Read the free Metropolitan magazine on the Eurostar for up-to-date events listings and more ideas of what to see. Text is in English (phew!).
  • The big Tourist Office is at 25 Rue des Pyramides, near the Opera metro station.
  • Find out which local markets are on during your stay – useful for buying fresh food or souvenirs.
  • Safety tips are as standard for any European city; keep an eye on your valuables, be wary of walking alone at night in quiet areas, and don’t react to tourist scams (e.g. someone asks if you’ve dropped a gold ring, in the hope of distracting you).
  • We all know the French are a stylish bunch, but save your Louboutins if you’re seeing Paris on foot. Swap them for a pair of unisex Stan Smith trainers by Adidas – loved by the ever-chic Phoebe Philo of Celine, seen in a 2013 issue of Vogue Paris and sold at hot designer boutique Colette, where Pharrell Williams even issued a limited edition customised Stan Smiths range.
  • Browse one of my previous posts for things to see and do on a budget when you get here, including the Pompidou Centre.

Key Attractions

You don’t have to do these, but you’ve heard about the hype…

  • I won’t big up the Eiffel Tower – you’re either desperate to visit or you’re not bothered, let’s be honest – but get alternative city views from the top of the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame. The Arc de Triomphe is open from 10am-11pm, with free entry for under 18s. Adult tickets cost €9.50. Notre Dame is open 10:30-18:30 Mon-Fri and 10:00-23:00 Sat-Sun. Tickets are €8.50, and queues move quickly.
  • Montmartre’s famous Sacré Coeur church is open daily from 6am-10:30pm. The nearby Musée de Montmartre (2/14, Rue Cortot) is on a side street, and it’s open every day from 10am-6pm. There’s also Paris’ last working vineyard, Clos de Montmartre, opposite.
  • If you won’t rest until you’ve seen the tiny Mona Lisa, pre-book your Louvre tickets to cut down some queuing time. The Paris City Pass gives you free entry here, and to many other museums and galleries.
  • Desperate for a Seine cruise? High-end evening trips can cost up to €180pp, which isn’t good value in anyone’s books. Instead, the Paris Tourist Board has a range of daytime cruises from €6pp. Bateaux Parisiens has lunchtime trips from €33pp, including a one hour tour; if you get a Paris City Pass you’re entitled to a one hour Bateaux Parisiens Seine cruise (without food) for free.
  • Loads of major museums and galleries are closed on a Monday or a Tuesday; many restaurants can also be closed on a Sunday or Monday. Always check listings before you travel!
  • The Musée des Arts et Métiers (60 Rue Réaumur) is a bit like London’s Science Museum, with exhibits covering science, technology, energy and communication, including Foucault’s pendulum. Visit from Tues-Sun, 10am-6pm, and late night on Thurs until 9:30pm. Tickets are €8 for adults and €5.50 for children.

Food and Drink

Not every meal is baguette-based or best consumed with wine…

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Riviera Style at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London

Riviera Style swimwear display seen in London museum

If there’s one exhibition the makers of the dreaded Protein World advert – ‘Are you beach body ready?’ – should see, it’s Riviera Style: Resort & Swimwear Since 1900 at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London, where it’s proven that idealised beach bodies – and holiday trends – are forever changing.

There’s no failsafe seaside look that could carry you from the 1900s to the noughties, just as no destination has consistently ruled over all the others (for one thing, Dubai and Benidorm were barely on the map in 1900, unless you fancied a quiet fishing trip).

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Why I’m not as Well-Travelled as You

A London City Airport survey has found that the average Brit has only visited seven countries, and only 31% have made it to 10 or more of them, despite there being an incredible 193 countries in the entire world that could be explored. This data, which I was reading about in Wanderlust Magazine, really got me thinking about my own travelling past, as it’s only in the last few years that I’ve really started accumulating a respectable country count.

Rather than tally up where I’ve been, I’m going to admit why I haven’t been to as many places as you. It’s time to come to terms with my travel inadequacy and look back on those few countries with fond memories.

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Are You Ready to Nightswap? Win Seven Nights’ Free Accommodation with Cosmopolit Home

I’m pleased to announce the very first competition here on the blog, and it’s a really cool concept to get involved with. Nightswapping is a modern and über-convenient way to see the world, allowing you to stay in other people’s houses and be placed right in the heart of the city you want to explore. That’s why I’ve teamed up with Cosmopolit Home to offer one lucky winner the chance to bag seven nights’ free accommodation in the destination of their choice from the company’s website.

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Parisian Culture on a Budget

So, you want to see culture in Paris without spending a fortune? So did I. Being short on both time and money when I visited (I was working at a trade show as part of Paris Fashion Week), I created my own adventure and ticked off some of the well known and the more obscure sights of the city, knowing that every second counts when you’re trying to absorb a new destination.

Along the way, I stumbled upon some great places that I think you should know about, too – just put down the guidebook for a second and  you’ll see what I mean. Get ready to try out your finest Franglais phrases and enjoy a whistle-stop tour.

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