Monday, September 29, 2014

The South of France

I have never walked into a country town I liked and not looked in the real estate window whilst dreaming of buying property there. Yesterday in the South of France was no exception. We drove into a few little perched towns. My favourite of which, was a town called Goult. There was a house there for sale for about 350,000 Euro, built in the 1700's. It's the one the kids are sitting in front of on the rock with the olive tree out the front. It was bulging with olives ready for harvest, the shutters had chippy paint and were just hanging in there and the whole thing had "buying trouble" written all over it.  So why was I in my element standing in front of that house and considering the possibilities? 
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Our Apartment in Normandy Port en Bessin

Our Apartment in Normandy Port en Bessin

If you are at all interested in a beautiful little spot in Normandy whilst you are taking a look at the  D Day Landing Beaches or the Calvados, camembert and apples, which the region is famous for, then Port on Bessin is your place.  As for the war, every human being enjoying the freedoms we do today,  should try to get here at some point in their lifetime, if they get the chance.  We owe those brave souls  who landed on the beaches and cliffs, so far from home, so very very much.  The movies and the history lessons we learned at school made it look easy, but it is clear from what they were asked to do, it was anything but.

If you are interested in any or all of the above, Port en Bessin is a fabulous base from which to launch yourself.  I will do a whole post about the town of Port en Bessin and her fascinating surrounds, but today's post is to show you our apartment.  Homemakers hold on to your hats, this one is fabulous.  I did show you some shots, when I booked it back in November last year, but now I have some really intimate ones and I hope you enjoy them.  The apartment is located right in the heart of the American Sector of the Landing Beaches and quite close to the American war cemetery and apart from it's beautiful decor, this is why I chose it, because it is very well located.
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Paris Department Stores,The Opera House and Jardin du Luxemborg

Paris Opera House

This is an extract from my diary describing a typical day in Paris.

I can feel I am getting fatter.  Not good, but how can you watch your weight in Paris?  Today was huge. We went into the interiors of the Paris Opera House.

 It almost puts the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles to shame.  Absolutely amazing decadence and no queue, so my kind of attraction.  

The Grand Foyer was just mind blowing and was created for the opera attendees to socialise and to see and be seen.

Just near the Opera House are the famous department stores Galeries Lafayette and Pringtemps. We had a quick coffee on the 9th floor of Pringtemps. The outlook is totally cool and it is pretty much devoid of tourists. 

Sacre Coeur at Montmartre

Paris Roof tops from Pringtemps

I can never tire of those views, because from Pringtemps they are free.  The coffee is only $5 not $10, as in most of the bistros around Paris.  $40 for morning coffee/hot chocolate for four daily, is a bit rich.

The most luxurious shopping is to be had at Galeries Lafayette.  The dome is completely stunning and not to be missed.

  All the great brands are there.  There are several buildings. Make sure you go into the one on Boulevard Haussmann and look up. It will make your day.

 It is awe inspiring.  There are beautiful little cafes and lunch spots in Galeries LaFayette and the 8th floor has a lovely terrace with fabulous views of Paris and an Alfresco Italian Restaurant.

We then took some lunch in Foyer de la Madeleine.  It's a very affordable way to eat in Paris and you can read about that here.

After lunch we took the metro to Jardin du Luxemborg for a sit amongst the beautiful flowers.  The gardeners change them every two weeks ,so they are always pristine.

  BTW that leaf the Littlest Beach House Brat is holding is real.  The Garden also houses the Senate, which equals lots of police, so happily no Gypsies asking us to sign a petition.

We walked home through the Quartier Latin, past Notre Dame (the bells were ringing) and also the Hotel de Ville, (town hall) where in typical fashion, the Parisians were sitting on lounge chairs taking in the last of the Summer sun.

Quartier Latin

Notre Dame

Hotel De Ville

That day we occasionally rode the Metro and were entertained by buskers, as only Paris could put on. The puppet show on the train was amusing and those guys in the band really deserve to be on a real stage.

I hope you enjoyed Paris for a day.

For more travel stories go here.

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Today I am linked up here
Metamorphosis Monday
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Monday, September 15, 2014

A Very Affordable Lunch in Paris at Foyer de la Madeleine

Paris can be an absolute trap for tourists who want to eat well.  It's not unusual to pay $AUD10 just for a coffee in Paris, so when our friend Malcolm told us about the restaurant situated in the cellars of the Madeleine church, known as Foyer de la Madeleine,  we decided to give it a try.  Set up as a fund raiser to help the poor, it is a well patronised establishment, offering a 3 course meal with bread at the unbelievable price of 8.50 Euro.  You need to be a member and obtain a card, which costs an additional 5 Euro, but it still works out as great value for a meal right in the heart of Paris.  The membership card is valid for a year, so if you are in town for a while you can make good use of your memebership.

You will need to speak a little French, but only a little and the volunteer ladies serving the food are absolutely lovely.

To enter the restaurant walk around the side of the church (right hand side facing Place de la Concorde) and enter through the door marked with the sign above.

You buy the membership card at reception and then pay the lady sitting at another desk to the left of reception

Then find yourself a table and wait to be served.  The ladies will bring around a tray of salads with several choices.  On the day we were there there was rice, cous cous, green or potato and fish.

The is also a good selection of bread.

For the main course there was a choice of two.  Beef or fish with lovely carrots and fries.

The half bottle of rose was 3 Euros.

Dessert is also a selection of fruits, cakes, cheeses, yoghurts or creme caramel also bought around on a tray by the ladies.  This changes daily.

There was also coffee or chocolate ice cream served in an ingenious container, where the lid became the base.

Afterwards you can retire to the lounge at the left of the cellar to take in an espresso coffee and chocolate, for 80 centimes.

After lunch make sure you check out the interiors of the beautiful Madeleine

and the views from her front stairs back to Place de la Concorde, where Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI met the guillotine.

This restaurant is just down the road from Maxims and whilst it is no gourmand, it is great value and a really French experience.

Compare the Maxims menu here.

La Foyer de la Madeleine open weekdays from 12-2pm.  Closed Christmas Day, May Day and for the month of August.
For more travel stories go here.

If you would like Desire Empire posts to come straight to your inbox every ten days or so, you can sign up here for my Newsletter.

You can pin any of these shots by hovering over the shot and clicking on the  'P'.

You can also find me on
and instagram @desireempire

Today I am linked up here
Metamorphosis Monday

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