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If you have been anything like me lately and practically running around like a chicken with its head cut off, you’ll know that there is nothing more desirable than a peaceful place to escape to in order to leave the bustle and stress of Paris behind. While this place could have a variety  of names (Cote d’Azur, Biarritz…to name a few), there is one that you might not have thought of and that won’t break your bank.

It’s called Giverny. Yes, like in Claude Monet‘s Giverny. A glorious place where a serene calm reigns and a natural beauty is in abundance. Only an hour from Paris by car, and an hour and a half by train (trains leave out of Gare St. Lazare and get into Vernon – from Vernon it’s a 15 miunute bus ride), Giverny is close enough to do a day trip, and well worth a weekend stay. A small ivy covered town, its a step back into the past to a time when artists such as Claude Monet flocked to the countryside to capture pictoresque landscapes on their canvases and sip tea in a blossoming garden. Giverny, with its quaint cafes and darling bread and breakfasts allows one to slow down and take in what was the great inspiration behind some of the most stunning chef d’oeuvres of the 19th century. Lily ponds, flower gardens, orchards, row boats… Giverny has preseved it all and is a must see at any time of the year.

For museum information visit the Claude Monet Foundation’s website. The museum holds original pieces and often has great exhibitions, the current one is impressionism featuring. I highly recommend visiting Claude Monet’s house and garden, which allows you to see how he lived at the time, and to visit his unique gardens and lily pond. The walls of his house are adorned by an exquisite collection of Japanese art that Monet cherished – so also very much worth the visit. For those who love impressionism, viewing the actual lily pond is truly a spectacular sight that could keep you gazing dreamily for hours! My photos don’t do it justice!

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Plage de Santa Giulia

After having spent a little over a year so far in France, one of the most culturally widespread obsessions I have observed so far has to be “les vacances.” Suffice to say, I can recall memories of discussing summer vacations with random strangers as early as March. With every employee entitled to 5 weeks of vacation, it didn’t take much to convert me to the French system. This summer, I was determined to join the club, and discover one of the most popular french vacation destinations, “La Corse.”

Having already spent several vacations in the south of France (Nice, Monaco, the Camargue etc) , I was preparing myself for gorgeous coastlines cluttered with extravagant villas. Someone was very pleasantly surprised.

Les Aiguilles de Bavella

Corsica, with its history of terrorism and strong sense of Corsican identity, was a world away from la promenade des anglais. My boyfriend was happy to inform me upon arrival in Ajaccio that a gas station had been blown up the day before (in Ajaccio) by those manifesting their separatist inclinations. A nice warm welcome, eh?

And yet despite what I had heard (that Corsicans poopoo mainland frenchies), I was greeted by very sweet locals in Propriano, Tizzano, Bonifacio and Porto Vecchio, and I was completely enveloped in a preserved savage beauty on every part of the island I visited.

Les iles Lavezzi

The island was  a cornucopia of natural beauty that included crystal clear water, sandy beaches, imposing cliffs at it’s most southern tip, quaint mountain and beach towns, and a range of solid rock mountains with turquoise colored rivers flowing out of them.

An outdoorsman’s/woman’s paradise, one week was way to short to do the whole island. Not only do you need time to discover the flore and fauna, but there are also all kinds of sport activities available to do. Mainly water sports (scuba diving, snorkling, wakeboarding, waterskiing, wind surfing etc) but also horse-back riding, cycling, rock climbing, and running. In a seven days, I was only able to cover the entire southern region, leaving the north’s treasures for another trip!

Plage a Tizzano

And if the nature wasn’t good enough….let me just briefly recount the eats…

DIVINE goat cheese (taste between a great parmesan and a salty feta) otherwise known in Corsica as “tomme de brebis”

– Tangy Rosé wine (local of course)

– Sweet and perfectly ripe cataloupe

– Deliciously salty jambon ( a dried ham – see photo)

– And last but not least – amazing seafood of all kinds!

Good Eats!

Check out my photos of some Corsica goodness, and I added a wee map for those thinking of checking out the same sites!

Map of southern Corsica

Bonnes Vacances!!!

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