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Old 14th December 2013, 13:59   #1
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Smile Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France

Note : This is just a photologue. I didnt have international license so couldn't drive/ride.

Whenever we talk about France first thing that pops up in our mind is the iconic Eiffel tower in Paris. You went to France and didn't visit Eiffel is like going to KFC and having Veg

But I for one have always been a big fan of off-beat locations which are serene weekend gateways but less-treaded. Summer 2013 I flew to netherlands for some official assignment and luckily it was the time with maximum public holidays.

Note : Month of May has around 4 public holidays in Netherlands.

Europe has always fascinated me more than any other foreign destination and this was an opportunity(to explore the continent) served to me in a platter. April onwards started to hunt for destinations I could cover in the long weekends. Whole team was headed to paris and I agreed too initially but the travel-bug in me kept telling I need to do something else(Everyone goes to Paris and I know in and out of the city through travelogues/pics/friend's-experience et al). After frantic googling for around a week zeroed in on two places which had decent connectivity to the city I was based out of(Eindhoven in Holland).

1. Carcassonne
2. Marseille

Now since I had just 3 nights, didn't want to spend time there searching for accommodation. Did all my bookings online a week earlier. Flights are the cheapest mode of quick communication and the local European players have pretty good deals around Summers as its the season time. Visa was not a problem as I was on 'schengen visa' and France is a part of schengen nations. Shocking part was the travel expense including two flights plus a 3 hour train journey in SNCF cost me around 11,000 INR whereas Bangalore-Kolkata return flight costs me north of 12k INR

Day 1:

Had a early morning flight from Eindhoven at around 6.30AM. Ryanair was the player I chose to fly with. Quality of planes is at par or worse than our Indigo but I could live with that as it was dirt cheap(read ~40euros only).

Now biggest problem for us in France(atlest the off-beat part of the country) is language. 9.5 out of 10 people dont speak english. I leave 0.5 cause they are the ones who could manage the key english words. Google translator came to my rescue here. *God bless technology*

1st view of Bonjour land from the flight.

Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-1.jpg

Carcassonne is situated around France/Spain border and Costa Brava(from Zindagi na Milegi Dobara fame) is stone throw away from here. A couple of folks staying next to my room were headed there and invited me to join but sadly I was on a tight schedule. Anyways,main attraction of this town is 'The Medieval City'. Used to be a fortress which has seen quite a few wars at its time. Now a 'World Heritage Centre'. This place was a pleasure to be in and 1 day is not enough to explore it all. Was buzzing with tourists and coupled with the lovely weather had a pleasent time there.

My ride for the day :
Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-2.jpg

First view of the Castle/Fortress:
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A closer view from outside...
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The insides. Host of lovely restaurants serving delightful french cuisine. Inspite of loads of tourists you get ample space to sit and read a book while enjoying a drink or two.
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The Archers must be taking aim from these gaps on the right.

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The way to the cells...

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Further exploration of the fort.

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A view of the town from the fort. This was taken around 8.30PM.

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By the time I finished all of it was evening already and it was time to head back hotel. Public transport again is easily affordable. 1-2 euros flat from anywhere to everywhere within the city. Now since it was summer it went dark only after 10PM. Post a sumptuous dinner I hit the sack.

Day 2:

This day was to be dedicated to shopping(had a list from family), travelling to my next stop(Marseille) and if time permitted some exploration there.

Ride for the day for a city tour though I dropped off at the central Market.
Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-11.jpg

Train was supposed to be at 12noon but in came the bummer. Delayed by 4 hours. That was a HUGE set-back for me as I had only a day and half in Marseille and now that was further reduced. Anyways, being a weekend town was buzzing with activities. Host of super cars and bikes were flying around the city. One similarity I found among the bikers in India and france i.e. they ride pretty rash and overtake from both sides(Comparitively the folks in Holland and Belgium were way more organized) .


A bunch of super-car owners flocked in at the cafe I was enjoying reading a book. This was a surprise treat to watch.
Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-12.jpg

A usual sight across Europe.
Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-13.jpg

My ride to the Marseille. 2nd leg of journey begins.
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View of the fields from within the train.
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I dozed off in the train as needed to save some energy for the most exciting part of the trip. Being a sucker for beaches this was supposed to be the most exciting part and boy!!! what a beauty it was. My first encounter with the Mediterranean left me awestruck. Have a look at the first view...

Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-17.jpg

Enjoyed the view for sometime, had dinner and headed to my hotel post that via tube. This town had brilliant communication infrastructure. Buses/Tubes/taxis name it you have it. Luckily the hotel receptionist here was dutch and understood English. He instructed me on the must visit place/s here.

P.S : this is my first travelogue on TBhp. Please bear with the mistakes.

Last edited by SoumenD : 14th December 2013 at 19:32.
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Old 14th December 2013, 19:25   #2
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Default re: Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France

Day 3:

How does it feel to wake up to a hot cup of coffee and this view from your balcony? View to kill for innit?

Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-18.jpg

Post the usual chores headed to Port Vieux for a date with Mediterranean. 1st stop was 'IF' island(yeah, that's the name). The island takes around more than a hour and half on foot to cover the diameter. Had my breakfast there in a shack/restro.

The island...
Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-24.jpg

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Post breakfast it was time for a walk around the island and ofcourse enjoying the sea. Being coastal tow here the weather was warmer than Carcassone with temperature was hovering around 12-14 degrees. The sea was strikingly blue in colour and looked so different from my usual holiday destination GOA. Wish I could buy a boat, do fishing and settle here *sigh*

Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-21.jpg

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This dude kept circling around me for around 10 mins. Had to click it.

Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-22.jpg

Spent close to three hours there and then went back to Port. Next in list was a ride into the sea and to check out the famous 'Calanques'. The booking lady thought I am a student and gave me a 20% discount on the ride . Been seven years I passed out of college but who cares as long as its to my advantage. Looks can surely be deceiving.

Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-20.jpg

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Poser time again. The satisfactory smile after getting a student's discount

Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-33.jpg

Had a pleasure ride for around a couple of hours in the sea and while at it it never struck me that I had missed my lunch but who cares. There would be a lot of eating but this doesnt happen everyday. Once back to the port took a tourist ride to a famous cathedral 'Cathedral Notre-Dame de la Garde'. A few pics of the church.

Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-29.jpg

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Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-31.jpg

And that was it...Time for dinner and end of what goes down as one of the most exciting long weekend vacations. Next morning had my flight back to eindhoven. With a few shopping bags, truck load of pics, memory to cherish and a heavy heart had to say "Au revoir France!!!"


Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-32.jpg
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Old 16th December 2013, 09:27   #3
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Default re: Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France

Thanks for the approval ben.

Some more pics around Mediterranean.

Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-dsc03421_1.jpg

Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-dsc03589_1.jpg

Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-dsc03444_1.jpg

Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France-dsc03456_1.jpg

Last edited by SoumenD : 16th December 2013 at 09:28.
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Old 18th December 2013, 11:24   #4
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Default Re: Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 19th December 2013, 10:16   #5
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Default Re: Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France

The pictures say it all! Maybe the first French travelogue I've read without the Eiffel tower showing up anywhere! Nice pics. Congrats.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoumenD View Post
Shocking part was the travel expense including two flights plus a 3 hour train journey in SNCF cost me around 11,000 INR whereas Bangalore-Kolkata return flight costs me north of 12k INR [u][b]
Reveals how bad our flight rates are! When I checked ticket rates a few months back, Kochi-Singapore was INR4500 and Kochi-Bangalore was INR5300. The more unreasonable the rates become, the less people use flights, which makes the rates go even more unreasonable!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoumenD View Post
A view of the town from the fort. This was taken around 8.30PM.
Seriously??
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Old 19th December 2013, 15:21   #6
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Default Re: Photologue: A short trip to Bonjour-Land! 3 days in offbeat France

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe M View Post
The pictures say it all! Maybe the first French travelogue I've read without the Eiffel tower showing up anywhere! Nice pics. Congrats.
Glad you liked it. Thanks bud

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe M View Post
Seriously??
Yeah. That's european summer for you. Sun sets around 10PM in peak summer and its 10.30PM by the time its dark. Really tough for the likes of us(who are used to dusk at 6-7PM) to keep track of time.
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