Bordeaux Photo Diary // December 2017 – Suz and the Sun

Bordeaux Photo Diary // December 2017

bordeaux-france-photo-diary-suz-and-the-sun-travel-2017

Did you ever go somewhere and fall in love at first sight? That’s how I feel about Bordeaux.

We initially only stopped in the city so that we could rest for an evening in – what we’d heard was – a beautiful city before the final leg of our road trip down to Spain. I had no idea that it would become one of my favourite cities in Western Europe in about 0.8 seconds. Because we loved it so much, we actually decided to give it two more nights of exploration on our way back to (rainy) Belgium, this time with my brother and cousin in tow.

bordeaux-france-photo-Cathédrale-Saint-André-2017

Our first afternoon consisted of walking around with Hobson, checking out Avenue Saint-Catherine, and sampling a few glasses of Bordeaux red at Cafe Edouard. Obviously, I’m a shopper and became immediately intrigued by the idea of a mile-long shopping street. Chaotic, but right up my metaphorical alley.

On our second trip, I found a good tip for food across the river from the center, or where we were staying, at a really interesting restaurant called Magasin Général – lots of nice bio food. I wish we had made our reservation for a time when everything else in the area was open, but alas – an 8.30 dinner was what we had in store, and a glass of red wine with my steak tartare was just what the doctor ordered for our walk back across the river.

bordeaux-magasin-general-wine-restaurant-2017

The next day was a lot of eating pastries, drinking coffee, walking through Jardin Public to the mini Statue of Liberty (‘A surprise for the 3 Americans’, according to PJ) and then shopping, shopping, shopping. Bordeaux is apparently one of the rainiest places in France, according to a very cool tourist map we consulted, but we luckily only had the rain for about 30 minutes in the morning. In the evening we ventured out again for food, but we unluckily chose the busiest time so we had to ‘settle’ for Greek, though it was delicious.

Before I get on to more photos, here are some must visit addresses for your trip to Bordeaux:

La Boulanger de l’Hotel de Ville Jocteur – the above mentioned bakery – the best I’ve ever been to
Magasin Général – for a luxe meal that you can feel good about
Miroir d’Eau – we were lucky that we actually got to see it on our first visit. This water mirror was unfortunately all dried up at the end of December
Le Bistro d’Edouard –  a Hobson-approved cute little resto on Place du Parlement; our waiter was very happy to have a little dog on their terrace
Fifty – the coolest luxury vintage store near our favourite bakery. The shop-owner is extremely charming and helpful. If I could have, I would have spent a lot more money instead of just buying the Italian leather boots I’m still obsessing over. Absolute must-visit for vintage lovers.
Aux Quatre Coins du Vin – Okay, I know these types of wine bars aren’t extremely new, but I hadn’t experienced one up until this point. You get a card worth €30 that allows you to get a glass of wine of your choosing from any of the machines within. You can choose a tasting size, half or full glass, and the price you pay reflects your choice. Whatever you spend, you pay – the card won’t stop you from getting more. But be careful, there are a few very pricey glasses available1 My personal favourite was the Gabriëlskloof Syrah

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bordeaux-jardin-public-archway-france-2017

bordeaux-statue-of-liberty-france-2017

bordeaux-miroir-d-eau-france-2017

I honestly can’t wait to visit this city in the warmer months and for a bit longer; I wouldn’t mind a visit to the City of Wine and maybe some vineyards in the surrounding area. My best friend and I are already planning a return. Croissants and a beautiful glass of red – I’m ready for you.

If you have any other addresses for me to keep in mind, please let me know!

xox, 
Suz

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A weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer – Suz and the Sun

A weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer

Boulogne-sur-Mer, nausicaa, nausicaa 2018, nausicaa guide, Boulogne-sur-Mer guide 2018, suz and the sun travels, weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer, , Canon Eos M50, Canon m50

This weekend we had such a nice time exploring Boulogne-sur-Mer. I’m not entirely sure what inspired our trip there, but we got talking and immediately decided it was the perfect Autumn weekend destination because 1) the sea and 2) the AQUARIUM IS NO JOKE. We could’ve stayed in there for hours. It’s the type of place that I wish you could bring a bottle of wine and just enjoy the scenery. Like an underwater sunset. But not wet. And with no light. So nothing like that at all, really…

We arrived Friday night (after listening to Southern Nightmare on the way – super interesting but the first four episodes were also super depressing). Because we know they allow dogs and we’re not fussy at all, we stayed in the Ibis just a few minutes walk from the city centre, and about 15 minutes from Nausicaa. Being the couple that we are, we brought a bottle of champagne and talked the night away. No complaints here, most of my favourite nights are spent with PJ, Hobson and a glass of something good, chatting about everything and nothing all at once. 

On Saturday morning we took a beautiful walk through the town, stopping to admire the Saturday market and loaves of bread that were about as big as my torso, and definitely bigger than our tiny boy. We romped around the ramparts of the old town, enjoying the little streets, an installation of sculptures inspired by 16th-century poetry and fables by Jean de La Fontaine (like the city mouse and the country mouse). 

Boulogne-sur-Mer, Boulogne-sur-Mer old town, Boulogne-sur-Mer guide 2018, suz and the sun travels, weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer, saturday market, fresh bread, , Canon Eos M50, Canon m50
Boulogne-sur-Mer, Boulogne-sur-Mer old town, Boulogne-sur-Mer guide 2018, suz and the sun travels, weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer, saturday market, fresh bread, travelling with a french bulldog, , Canon Eos M50, Canon m50

Boulogne-sur-Mer, Boulogne-sur-Mer old town, Boulogne-sur-Mer guide 2018, suz and the sun travels, weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer, french pharmacy, Autumn travel France, , Canon Eos M50, Canon m50

Boulogne-sur-Mer, Boulogne-sur-Mer old town, Boulogne-sur-Mer guide 2018, suz and the sun travels, weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer, saturday market, fresh bread, travelling with a french bulldog, autumn travel France, , Canon Eos M50, Canon m50

Boulogne-sur-Mer, Boulogne-sur-Mer old town, Boulogne-sur-Mer guide 2018, suz and the sun travels, weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer, saturday market, fresh bread, travelling with a french bulldog, autumn travel France, , Canon Eos M50, Canon m50

We passed by the cutest buildings and bakeries, and after a mini Autumn-themed photoshoot with Bob, we made our way back to the hotel (obvi stopping for croissants on the way) so that the little nugget could pass out and we could make our way to the aquarium. 


Yes. The aquarium. It. Was. Amazing. Much like the ocean, I also have a slight fear of aquariums. I always have that moment where my life flashes before my eyes and the glass cracks and all the water rushes out and the sharks devour me. A fairly active imagination, I know. 

Boulogne-sur-Mer, nausicaa, nausicaa 2018, nausicaa guide, Boulogne-sur-Mer guide 2018, suz and the sun travels, weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer, , Canon Eos M50, Canon m50


But man, this place. It was recently renovated and reopened. Split into two sections, the first takes you around one extremely large tank, with different viewing stations and information guiding you along. But once you get to the large view, it’s truly like a window into the depths. We made friends with some sharks and tiny fish and kept telling ourselves that we would watch one of the eagle rays pass “just one more time”. I’m certain they glided by us over 10 times before we finally moved to the second section. 

Boulogne-sur-Mer, nausicaa, nausicaa 2018, nausicaa guide, Boulogne-sur-Mer guide 2018, suz and the sun travels, weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer, Canon Eos M50, Canon m50
Boulogne-sur-Mer, nausicaa, nausicaa 2018, nausicaa guide, Boulogne-sur-Mer guide 2018, suz and the sun travels, weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer, , Canon Eos M50, Canon m50

Boulogne-sur-Mer, nausicaa, nausicaa 2018, nausicaa guide, Boulogne-sur-Mer guide 2018, suz and the sun travels, weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer, eagle ray, , Canon Eos M50, Canon m50

This view alone is worth the admission ticket. Pro tip: take your break here. Buy a bottle of water and get off your feet for as long as you like and just enjoy it. 

Boulogne-sur-Mer, nausicaa, nausicaa 2018, nausicaa guide, Boulogne-sur-Mer guide 2018, suz and the sun travels, weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer, , Canon Eos M50, Canon m50
This was also quite nice, but my favourites were, of course, the sand tiger shark and sea lions. I love the penguins but prefer seeing them in Cape Town (which might be the most pretentious thing I’ve typed on this blog). We also tried to get in touch with our fishy friends in the touch tank, but the water was cold and those rays just weren’t having it anymore. 

When we finally left, we walked past the water to a little place off the town square for some steak tartare, beef, fries and creme brûlée for dessert at Le Dôme’s terrace. I may have also peaked into Sephora since we don’t have those in Belgium

Boulogne-sur-Mer, Boulogne-sur-Mer old town, Boulogne-sur-Mer guide 2018, suz and the sun travels, weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer, creme brulee, french food, Canon Eos M50, Canon m50

In the evening, we walked Bob to the water and that golden hour sunlight did him well. I will always claim that my boy is the most handsome in the world (but all dog people do this, so my proof is rather subjective). Our evening ended with some beautiful fish dishes at Chez Jules. Definitely the place to go if you have a large party. If you want to go somewhere else on a Friday or Saturday night in the city, make sure you book a table in advance!

Boulogne-sur-Mer, Boulogne-sur-Mer old town, Boulogne-sur-Mer guide 2018, suz and the sun travels, weekend in Boulogne-sur-Mer, saturday market, fresh bread, travelling with a french bulldog, autumn travel France, Canon Eos M50, Canon m50
So, overall, 10/10 would recommend visiting this little town for a relaxed weekend of good food, sunny terraces, and hours among our under-the-water friends. Just don’t be like PJ and ask why they aren’t selling seafood in the aquarium. In there, fish are friends, not food. 
xox,
Suz

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Versailles During the Pandemic // Our Visit – Suz and the Sun

Versailles During the Pandemic // Our Visit

In June, after the French government allowed travel throughout the country – and even opened the borders – PJ and I decided that we both felt safe enough to brave the crowds and visit Versailles during the pandemic.

Since our holidays this year will focus on France (with the exception of going to see family in Belgium), it’s day and weekend trips around the country that are going to get us through the summer! We’ve already done a number of small trips, but they’ve been predominantly outdoors, like walking through gardens, taking drives, or enjoying some salty air on the beaches in Normandy.

Versailles during a pandemic was a bit of a different story.

sun king paint symbol

Getting There

Though we have a car, we don’t love to use it for short trips when public transport is so easy to use. That said, this is France, so of course, something went wrong.

There’s always a lot of work happening on the transport lines here, but the surprise was real as we showed up at the Invalides metro stop – to then take the RER to Versailles – only to be told that no trains were leaving from the station that day.

Because tickets to Versailles right now are based on a specific timetable, we were under a bit of time pressure to arrive perfectly on time (and PJ is always late). So, we scrambled to get on a metro to Montparnasse where we caught an A train to the main station in Versailles. 60 sweaty minutes later, we arrived, still more than early for our timed visit – or so we thought. Though we were technically 30 minutes early, we ended up waiting in line for about 1:15, entering the Palace close to 15 minutes after our entry time.

gate of Versailles with sun king symbol

The Experience

After donning our masks, slathering ourselves with hand sanitizer and stepping into Louis XIV’s world, the only thing left to do was walk and learn in awe. Each room has audioguide numbers that allowed you to listen about the palace’s history a little more intimately. It was slightly frustrating, as we went on a popular day, at a popular time, and they only let people inside in phases, so the minimal hall space became even less. We did manage to shake this feeling by finding the lease populous part of each room (very likely the spot with the worst views) and listened from there.

3 statues as decor
decorated hallway
chandelier in gold room
Hall of Mirrors at Versailles
musical gardens and fountain show at the palace of Versailles

After some nourishment at Angelina’s (by that I, of course, mean coffee and sweet pastries), we made our way outside to the absolutely beautiful gardens of Versailles. To be completely honest, if this isn’t your first visit to the palace and are just keen to see it again, skip the inner tour and head straight to the back for the fountain and musical gardens show.

We ended up walking a lot, taking in the different shows at different parts of the gardens, but we finally watched what we had really come there for – some fantastic water art. 10/10 would recommend on a sunny afternoon!

Just make sure you’re in the best spot for the show (in my humble opinion).

Travel Tips

  • Check the weather and go prepared! I didn’t bring a jacket and ended up soaked in a random rainstorm.
  • Take your mask and WEAR IT. In France, you now must wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.
  • Bring water and snacks in your bag, you never know how long you may be waiting in line to get in.
  • Go on a weekday if you can!
  • If not, try and go around 3 pm – especially if you’re more interested in seeing the musical gardens show which started at 3.30 pm.
  • Hungry? Have a sweet snack at Angelina! We chose to sit down for our snack, but you can also grab them to go.
  • Be sure to download the Versailles app for an easy-to-use audioguide!

Are you planning to visit Versailles during the pandemic, or have you already been? What was your experience like?

xox,
Suz

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The Last Two Months in Paris // Life Update – Suz and the Sun

The Last Two Months in Paris // Life Update

the last two months in Paris

Life comes at you fast, right? And the last two months in Paris have felt like they’ve FLOWN by. The last real update on what’s been happened in Paris was back in May, so here’s what we’ve been up to:

The last two months in Paris

Terraces were open since the beginning of June, with restos/bars/etc being open for half capacity a few weeks later. Stomach = happy. Wallet = not.

Parks and gardens opened for groups and we spent hours enjoying the sun at the Tuileries.

We did day trips to Chantilly (just the gardens) and Versailles (the full tour – masks on and socially distanced. And our visit to Chigny-les-Roses lasted a full weekend – so we could do some champagne tastings, of course!

To get ourselves out of Paris for more than a day, Peej found a manor house in Normandy to use as a base as we worked during the day and explored the beaches in the evening. Many pictures were taken, but I was especially fond of this wall:

More holiday? We booked a little stay in Belgium to stay at a friend’s house while they’re on holiday in Italy. Some sun, relaxation, and a pool are exactly what I could use right now.

Discovered the Fit On app, which provides programmes and individual classes from top-rated fitness instructors. I’m already feeling the burn and it’s only been a week! It’s seriously the only fitness app I think I’ll use from now on.

We experienced Bastille Day from the start of the Tuileries with such a fun group of people, watching the fireworks over the Eiffel Tower.

Celebrated T’s 28th right on the Champ de Mars and were treated to the most wonderful summer night!

sparkler in front of the Eiffel Tower

I signed up for a new French course! Each day in August, I’ll be chatting for an hour with our professor and a few other ladies as I try to take my intermediate vocab and extremely shy speaking to the next level.

And my final July accomplishment – I successfully took part in the HEC Paris Summer School course in Luxury Management and learned a lot. Would highly recommend it for students looking to learn more or for any young professionals interested in learning more about the luxury sector. Is an MBA in my future? This course has me slightly convinced…

So, what have you gotten up to over the last two months? Any Parisians that have some secret new spots they’ve discovered?

xox,
Suz

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The Grumpy Girl’s Guide to Gentse Feesten 2018 – Suz and the Sun

The Grumpy Girl’s Guide to Gentse Feesten 2018

AKA Gentse Feesten Friday 2018
 
gentsefeesten, gentsefeesten 2018, gent, visit gent, gent belgium, belgium, travel, fair, festival, city fest, suz and the sun travel,
I’m not going to lie – I was a horrible grump this past Friday. I worked all day, got an email I didn’t like and became tired before we even left the house. And I always have this expectation about me being happy all the damn time. But, despite my contradicting mood I soldiered on (and got a mini-lecture from PJ on not letting shit affect me the way that it sometimes can, but such is my life as an over-thinker & dreamer with a real knack for cynicism).
 
Keen to make the most of the evening without letting my mood destroy it, we did what we do best (and what we’re currently doing now): found the best spot in the area, had a drink and watched the world go by, which is far funnier when the world in front of you is full of 110,000 drunk people. 
 
PSA – if you don’t know about the Gentse Feesten, it’s a 10-day arts & culture festival taking place at venues all over the city. In the evening, it becomes a city-wide party, with concerts, DJs and rivers of Belgian beer flowing from every tap the city can handle. 
 

1st stop:

Superette RTT (for some reason this link doesn’t work on mobile?! Get it together Facebook.)
Location: Oude Beestenmaarkt
We’ve been here pretty often when it’s open. This little pop-up makes the best pizza in town, has a great forest-vibe setup, and sits next to water across from a few bars. Perfect people-watching material. Can highly recommend the cava over the wines here.

 

 

2nd stop:

Gent city centre

Location: Sint Jacobs Kerk
A quick walk through town to the stage at Sint Jacobs is where I took the featured photo (which was also posted to the official @visitgent page), but also this one. An accurate representation of a normal, non-grumpy night:
 
gentsefeesten, gentsefeesten 2018, gent, visit gent, gent belgium, belgium, travel, fair, festival, city fest, suz and the sun travel,

We stopped to watch 2 minutes of a concert before my mind said a big old NOPE to the number of people around us that were way more intoxicated than I’ve ever consciously considered being. I’m 100% sure the girl selling jenever made an absolute killing on Friday. 

 

3rd and final stop on the grumpy tour:

Location: Smack in the middle of the City Pavilion and Korenmarkt, across from Sint Niklaas Kerk
Because we hadn’t properly celebrated PJ’s (most likely) passing of his exams, we went for the 3-glass tasting menu: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Titus was right to pen an entire song about it, even if I’m talking about grapes and his ode is to something slightly more risqué. Pinot Noir – you’re a star. 
 
gentsefeesten, gentsefeesten 2018, gent, visit gent, gent belgium, belgium, travel, fair, festival, city fest, suz and the sun travel, champagnekelder, champagne,

Just to reiterate these words of warning – there will be drunk people everywhere. A group of young kids, so stoned one poor guy could barely keep his eyes open, barreled their way onto the above-pictured terrace, ordered 6 cokes and ‘sneakily’ added red wine to their glasses when the waiters ‘weren’t looking’. No one was openly bothered, but I’d rather have shithead kids take their antics to a venue more prepared for their needs (and I mean that in the nicest way, I’m constantly a shithead).

 

Top tips for the grumpy girl:

  1. Take a jacket. Euro summers are great, but this is Belgium. There’s a 99% chance you’ll be cold at night
  2. Don’t wear white or shoes you like. You’ll probably have beers thrown on you. Whether accidental or on purpose is dependent on the situation. Again, Belgium. 
  3. Figure out how you’re getting home ahead of time. I’ll never condone drunken cycling (esp. since you get a hefty fine), and taxis/buses/trams can be hard to come by. If you’re close enough – walk. It’ll help you sober up if you choose to imbibe. 
  4. Don’t be grumpy. Take a shot of tequila if you can to get out of your funk. Would have served me (but not my head) well on Friday night. 
 
Hope you have a good Gentsefeesten this year, and that you’re in a far better mood to enjoy. 
 
xox,
Suz

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