6th to 25th September 2014
Saturday, September 6’th
The first Tour de France inspires this trip. There are 3 exception. I don’t do Paris, I take it backwards and I do it by train.
In Nantes I take bus to downtown and my great hotel Mercure Grand Hotel. It’s above my normal class, but it’s nice to have a nice hotel for your first night. And room 321 is excellent. After a little relaxing, I head out to town – and the first thing to see is the Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne. They close down just as I arrive, but I don’t think that’s the reason. I take a walk around the place instead.
Dinner is at a Salatbar, before heading back to the hotel to get a shower in the huge bathroom, where water is coming out from all over the ceiling.
Sunday, September 7’th
I get up early and head down for the great breakfast at this hotel. At 9.30 I head out into town – and it seems like I’m the first one out there.
My first walk take me to Ile de Nantes, an island in the Loire-river. There’s a place called Machines de l’Ile. They have some interesting machines, inspired by Jules Verne who was born In Nantes. There’s a carrousel with fancy cars, planes and boats – and an mechanical elephant is taking a walk around the area. There’s also a museum, but that’s boring.
I also take a walk along the river, before crossing it and taking the lightrail back to my hotel.
After my hotel-break I head over for the Chateau once again. This time it’s open. Outside it looks like a fort – inside like a little village, with people having a good time relaxing and enjoying themselves. My final stop is Cathedral St. Pierre. It’s huge. Dinner is picked up at a baker-shop. A baguette is brought back home to the hotel.
Monday, September 8’th.
I’m leaving Nantes after this short stay. It’s a 20 minute walk to the local Gare. Next Tour de France stop is Bordeaux, but before I go there, I have a stopover in Le Rochelle. So I get off the train there, and head out for my hotel called Hotel le Bord’O.
La Rochelle is a cozy little town with a little marina, some old houses, 3 towers and some French tourists. I do the city in 2 stages. I check out all the 3 towers. First the Chain-tower, that was used to control a chain across the harbor for picking up taxes. Then the Lantern-tower, that was a lighthouse and finally Sankt Nicolas Tower, which was just a tower. All the towers are about 600 years old.
Dinner in the evening is at a nice restaurant down by the marina. A nice entrecote, with a nice sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
Tuesday, September 9’th
End of La Rochelle. Now this trip continues in a normal rhythm, with 4-5 days in each city. First one is Bordeaux. I leave by train at 11 and arrives 2 hours later. Then I take a taxi to take me to Citotel la Chantry. It’s located in a hotel-jungle, just outside the city center.
First trip was into the city-center. I start by the hotel – walks through the center – and end up down by the river of Garonne. There is Place de la Beurse that is very nice. There’s also a watermirror that is quit exception. Now and then, the water rises through the pavement, and give a great illusion of a mirror. People walk out there and seems to have a great time without shoes.
I continue to a small park called Quinconces and a strange sculpture at the end with more water. Then I head back home for the hotel. Dinner is picked up at a very ugly shopping-center close-by.
Wednesday, September 10’th
Another fine day in Bordeaux. Temperatures are close to 30 degrees.
After breakfast, I head over to the church Cathedrale St-Andre. It’s huge and nice – both inside and outside. Just beside is the Tour Pey-Berland. You can get up there, but only 19 people is allowed inside. And it’s full right now, so I skip it.
Instead, I continue along shopping-free streets to Porte de la Grosse Cloche. That’s a city-watch, which I have seen in other French cities. Then I head down to the river – Garonne. It’s a bit strange. Sometimes the water is running one way – and at other times the other way – depending on the tides at the Atlantic Ocean. I cross the river at Pont de Pierre, for a nice lunch at a restaurant on the other side.
Back towards city-center again, passing the nice water-mirror. Then up to the impressive Grand Theatre, before going back to the hotel for a nap. It’s been a long walk this morning.
Walk no. 2 is shorter. I’m heading over to some roman ruins called Palais Gallien. They are old, but not of much interest. On the way back I pick up a baguette making it my dinner for tonight.
Thursday, September 11’th
It’s time for a daytrip. After breakfast I head out to Gare St-Jean and a bus to Sain-Emilion – a famous place for fine wine. We are set off at the railway station, and there’s a nice walk to the small town.
There are loads of tourists in town, and most of them are there for buying wine. It’s a bit snobbish if you ask me. But most of the tourist keep to the city-center where the wine-shops are located. I get a little bit of the beaten track and head up for the cloister-ruin called Cloitre des Cordeliers. There’s a great lunch opportunity in the park. You buy a baguette, a sausage, something to drink – and they lent you a knife and I just sit in the park and enjoys this birthday-meal.
I continue around town and the wine-yards around it. It’s a really nice place, and it’s easy to stay away from the tourist route where the tourist-train is running and serving all the tourist-spots.
At 5 I head down for the tiny railway station again. This time there’s a train taking me back to Bordeaux. Dinner is picked up at the railway station and brought back to the hotel.
Friday, September 12’th
I start the day with a bit of culture. The art gallery has a branch showing photo-exhibitions. This one is called Road Trip and has great pictures from the wild west.
There’s no more sights left in Bordeaux, so I take the lightrail B to the end, and follows the river Garonne back on foot to the city-center. It’s a nice walk. People are strolling around having a good time, some skaters, bikers, bicycles etc. etc. is out this morning. When I reach the center I turn right and head back to my hotel.
In the evening it’s movie time. The cinema Utopia is built in an old church. It’s a nice place. The movie is The Salvation – featuring Mads Mikkelsen and Eric Cantona. It’s some kind of a western – just like I started this day.
Saturday, September 13’th
Time for a change. I get up early and head out for the railway station and a train to Toulouse. It’s a comfortable trip.
In Toulouse I check in to my hotel Hotel d’Orsay. It’s just across the railway station and room 503 is ready for me.
Then I head into town. The city center is full of shopping and rugby exhibition, so I get away from that – crosses the bridge across Garonne – that’s also passing here – for the area around Hotel-Dieu Saint-Jacques. There are nice building, a nice park and photos from an exhibition hanging on the wall. There’s also a place called Les Abattoirs – an old slaughterhouse turned into an art gallery. And then there’s a water-tower turned into another places with photo-exhibitions. There’s a French one with pictures from the 50’s – pretty nice.
Then I head back to the hotel. It’s pizza night tonight.
Sunday, September 14’th
The view from room 503 is not the most interesting. The homeless is just opposite the hotel. Then you can feel privileged that you can afford this nice hotel.
After breakfast I head into the city-center. I pick up a brochure at the tourist information with 5 nice Toulouse walks. One of them was close to the one I took yesterday. Today I take the walk “must-see”. I start out at The Capitol – the Town Hall of Toulouse. And of course there’s a photo-exhibition inside.
Then on to a fine little monestary and some churches – Saint-Sernin and Saint-Pierre-des-Chartreux. It’s Sunday morning, so they are doing their things – and it’s not appropriate for a tourist to disturb. Finally I head down to a former water-mill, now turned into an educational museum under the theme “water-power is good”. Then I head back to the hotel.
Later on I take trip no. 3. It’s called “small streets and old houses”. It’s one of these walks that I really enjoy. Plenty of photo-opportunities and no tourists.
Dinner is picked up at Subway, before watching a game of football on the TV.
Monday, September 15’th
It’s time for another daytrip. This one is for Albi. The train leaves at 11, and the trip takes about one hour.
There are 2 major sights in Albi. First I go into the Toulouse-Lautrec museum. This lunatic was born in Albi in 1864. The museum is nice with about 500 drawings and paintings. Some in more than one version, so you can see how the final work has developed.
The other sight is just next to the museum. It’s the Cathedrale Ste-Cecilie. It’s build out of bricks – supposed to be the largest brick-building in the world – but who knows. From outside it looks more like a fort than a church, but so it was meant to be. Inside it’s very creative and full of colors as a contrast to the outside.
Then I have a few hours to spend in the nice city. I cross a bridge to get a little bit away from the tourist-streets, and take a nice walk around there. At 5 it’s back to Toulouse, where I pick up some junk-food in the hotel area.
Tuesday, September 16’th
It’s a hot but windy day in Toulouse.
Trip 1 is from my brochure. It’s called “Vieux Toulouse” and take me past some of the old neighborhoods in downtown Toulouse. There are plenty of nice squares and streets along the way. It’s still morning so the shops and restaurants are slowly opening. France get up late in the morning.
I also check out another church – no. 1 million on this trip. It’s Eglise des Jacobins and it’s monestary just next to it. This has been a place for The Dominicans since 13-hundred something. I end up at the Capitole – in time for a café a lait – before heading home. Lunch is at a cheap local restaurant with local people.
Trip 2 is along Canal di Midi. It’s the longest canal in France, but honestly – the part in Toulouse is rather boring. I take a detour so I can take a part of trip no 4 in my brochure. It’s the green part of Toulouse. I check out Grand Pond and Royal Garden before I find a metro-station to take a train back to the hotel.
Dinner is a pizza, before it’s soccer-time streamed live via wi-fi at the hotel.
Wednesday, September 17’th
Transportation-day today. I’m leaving Toulouse at noon and arriving in Marseille close to 4. Then it’s time for at Metro down to Vieux Port. My hotel Hotel du Sud is there – and I check in to my room 43.
So – time to get practical. I will have to do my laundry, so I find a Laundrette for the purpose. And it has started to rain so no sightseeing tonight – only a pizza from a local food-bar and a game of football on the TV.
Thursday, September 18’th
First action-day in Marseille. After breakfast it’s down to Vieux Port and then on to Fort St-Jean – one of two fort on each side of the harbor. It’s an exiting place to stroll. Just beside is the art-museum MuCEM. I don’t check the exhibitions but the building is nice.
Then I continue to the lovely neighborhood of Le Panier. Before I got here, I read 3 books from French writer Jean-Claude Izzo. The books takes place in Marseille – and some of the action in Le Panier – so I’m almost familiar with the area. There are small streets, lovely old houses, nice squares, local living and a huge number of good restaurants. I find one at Place de Lenche for lunch. The area is full of photo-opportunies, and a really great place for the afternoon.
Trip no 2 later in the day is for the top sight in Marseille – and surprise surprise – it’s another church. The Notre-Dame de la Garde is located high above the city on a hill with lovely views. The church is nice as well. I take a bus up there – and take a walk down.
Back at the hotel the music starts playing in the evening at the Opera, just across the road. It’s tango-time and the locals are having a good time dancing to the music.
Friday, September 19’th
“Merde – I’ll pleut” – and even a thunderstorm from the morning. Nothing better to do, than stay inside and read a book.
But at noon it suddenly stops. I walk down to Vieux Port for at boattrip to Chateau d’If. That’s a small island with a prison. The Count of Monte Christo stayed here – though he was just a figure in a novel. Some other celebrities stayed here for real – mainly political prisoners back in the old days. Exiting place for a couple of hours.
Late lunch is at Hippo, before a break at the hotel.
My evening-stroll is around the area – and mainly Vieux Port for some people-watching, a beer at the café Samaritaine and just enjoying things. There’s a nice feature at the port. A roof made out as a mirror – gives great photos of the people that gather underneath. Norman Foster made the thing.
Saturday, September 20’th
My first trip is a 3 hour sailing at the Mediteranean Ocean. It’s a trip to some of the “Calanques” around Marseille. That is small bays going inland with cliffs around them. A very nice trip.
After a break it’s football time. I head out to The Velodrome where Olympique Marseille play against Rennes. Nice spot at Port 12, access V, row 23, seat 73. And it’s damn hot too – but the sun disappears behind the spectacular roof of the stadium just as the game starts.
The atmosphere is ecstatic. Those Marseille-fans know how to make a party. And it helps a bit that they win the game 3-0. OM’s charismatic coach Bialsa has done good to this team, and the forward Gignac is excellent scoring two goals.
After the game I head back downtown – it’s pizza at the Port – and that’s the end of a nice day.
Sunday, September 21’st
It’s Sunday in Marseille, and my first walk is along the south border of Vieux Port, almost out where the Mediterranean start.
On this side there’s also a fort. It’s called Fort St-Nicolas and is under repair. This Sunday some of the workers are showing their skills, in what I believe is some kind of “open house” at the place. From there I continue to Jardin de Pharao, almost where harbor turns into ocean. A lovely little castle, a nice little park and great views of the city and the port.
Later I take another stroll in my local area. It’s shopping-district and therefore not much of interest – especially on a late Sunday afternoon. But it’s ok to gather some appetite before dinner down at Vieux Port.
Monday, September 22’nd
Bye-bye to Marseille. First the Metro and then the TGV-train to Lyon. I arrive in Lyon at noon, and take the very ugly local lightrail to city-center, where I check in at Hotel la Residence – room 406.
First job here is to change my ticket back home. Air France pilots are on strike, so I change the tickets to KLM.
After lunch at Hippo, and a break at the hotel I head over to Vieux Lyon. Temperatures has dropped 10 degrees since Marseille, so more clothes is also needed. In Vieux Lyon I go Traboules-hunting. Traboules are small alleys between the houses – almost secret sometimes. You open what you think is a door to a building – and then it’s a Traboule instead. I find 3 or 4 from the map that I picked up at the touristoffice. Others I’m unable to find – and one turns out to be an access to the loo at a bar. Vieux Lyon is – by the way – also pretty and interesting.
Having done that, I return to my hotel – baguette in hand.
Tuesday, September 23’rd
Nice hotel this one. Beside the usual TV and wi-fi there’s also a radio built into the bed – and bacon is included at breakfast.
Then I’m heading out using the fine public transport in Lyon. First the Metro to Hotel de Ville, and then another one up to Croix Rousse. First stop is the impressive wallpainting Le Mur des Canuts. It’s huge and impressive. Then I walk downwards through the neighborhood of Croix Rousse. There are great views of the city, a nice atmosphere and more Traboules to be discovered. Down at the Hotel de Ville again it’s burger time. Cheap and miserable – and rather stupid to go to such a place in a city known for it’s cuisine.
Trip 2 today takes me to Vieux Lyon, where a cableway take me up to Fourviere. Here we have – surprise surprise – a huge church. It’s called Basilica Notre-Dame de Fourviere. There’s also great views from the top, and a nice walk down the hill as well.
Wednesday, September 24’th
Up and out and over to Vieux Lyon. Museum-time. Musee Miniature et Cinema has a nice exhibition of movie-articles – mainly figures from famous movies. Starwars, Batman, The fifth element – among others. Pretty much fun, and good stories about how they cheat in movies.
Then it’s time for something new – shopping. I go to Gallerie Lafayette to shop. I have heard that it’s a proper thing to do on a vacation. But I can’t find anything that I need, so this is close to a fiasco.
Later my final walk in Lyon. It’s umbrella in hand since “I’ll pleut”. The tourboats on the river has stopped, because no one wants to go tourboating in the rain. So I head for another wall-painting instead – “Fresque des Lyonnais celebres”. It’s huge and impressive – eventhough I don’t know any of the celebrities.
Dinner is a nice little family restaurant in a street full of family restaurants close to my hotel. Best deal on the tour.
Thursday, September 25’th
I was supposed to go back in the evening, but my change of flight has changed that, so I’m heading back on a 2 o’clock flight. And that’s fine with me. So I get a good sleep in the morning, plenty of time for bacon and breakfast, before taking lightrail to the airport at St-Epuxery.
Flight is at 2. It’s 4 when we reach Amsterdam – and 5 when I leave Amsterdam again. At 6 I’m in Billund and then there’s a bus to Aarhus at 7 – I’m back home at 9.
That was my Tour de France – Voila…..