Tag Archives | france

The Fighting Couple’s World Cup

The world is in a World Cup Fever!  This got us thinking….What if the “Fighting Couple” were to decide the outcome of the cup?  Forget the bad calls and last second scoring.  What if we based the group outcomes on how good their beaches are?  What if they scored points for having the best cuisine? Why not?

Let the games begin!

Group A:

Teams:  Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

This is a tough one.  How can you not pick the odds on favorite, the host nation of Brazil?  Brazil’s beaches, jungles, and warm hospitality seems like a given.  Perched on the Adriatic Sea, facing the Italian boot, Croatia is one of the more understated paradises out there.  Mexico is also a strong contender.  Mexico offers traveling couples some of the most amazing coast line found on the planet.  Cameroon?  Never been…..Sorry….

The winner:  Croatia.  What we love about this place is the understated beauty.  One of our fave national parks has to be Plitvice Lakes.  The entire park is made up of crystal clear ponds and waterfalls.  You walk on a wooden boardwalk that takes you into some of the most picturesque and photogenic scenes in all of nature.  Goooooaaaal!!!!    Croatia, you win!

waterfalls

The wonderful waterfalls of Croatia.

 

Group B:

Teams:  Holland, Chile, Australia, and Spain

This choice caused a great deal of fighting between the Fighting Couple.  Three of our favorite counties are represented in this quality grouping.  We just returned from our first trip to the land “down-under” and were blown away with Aussie hospitality.  The diamond of the Med, Barcelona has a special place in our hearts.  With its Gaudi creations and delicious tapas, Spain is a contender.  Due to routing from the states, we have spent a great deal of time in the Netherlands, and Luci may have a crush on the tall Netherlanders that man customs desks at Amsterdam airport.  Although we have yet to visit Chile, the backbone of South America is high on our list of locales to visit.  A camping trip to patigonia is high on our must see list.

The winner:  Australia

OK, call it a fix.  Having just visited the country-continent, we may be a little biased.  Australia with its rough and tumble natives and amazing landscapes make it a great choice for anyone up for adventure.  The highlight for our visit was another water theme.  We loved Wagi falls in Litchfield national park.  The rolling water of the red stone is a sight to behold.

waterfalls

Florence Falls in Litchfield National Park.

Group C

Teams: Colombia, Greece, Japan and Cote de Ivory

This one will be a bit difficult for us.  We have only visited two out of the four counties: Japan and Greece.  The land of the rising sun has amazing Sushi. BTW-The Fighting Couple loves sushi.  With austerity measures in place…Greece couldn’t afford the bribe.

Winner: Japan. (Mmmmm Sushi.)

 

sushi

Did someone say Sushi?

Group D

Teams: Costa Rica, Italy, England, and Uruguay

These teams are all worthy in their own right.  Costa Rica with its inviting beaches, jungle canopy tours and great latin food, scores a lot points.  England, home to all things Jane Austen and Top Gear, olde England dominates the field.  Fighting Couple Travel Tip:  For all of you Englanders headed to Brazil for the real contest, fly out of Gatwick!  It is much more organized, faster and still has a great selection of flights.    Italy-oh how we love thee.  Let us count the ways: food, towers, hill towns, beaches, history, and architecture.  Uruguay?  Never been.

Winner:  Tie:  Italy and England.  It is like picking which is cuter Brad Pitt or George Clooney.  Tough choice.  Both of these locations advance to the next round.

England!

England!

Group E

Teams: France, Switzerland, Ecuador, and Honduras

Ecuador=Equator=too hot.  France-  Gertrude Stein once said: “America is my country, and Paris is my home town.”  We tend to agree.  Having visited the wonderful city a handful of times, we keep finding new places to explore and experience…and then there is the food.  Yum!  Switzerland.  Luci wants Swiss-land voted in just to keep Roger Federer happy.  Honduras… Wasn’t Moon over Parador filmed there?

Winner:  France!  Viva la France!  Our hands down winner.  For one of the most romantic evenings of your life following this recipe:  Dinner at a small café along the River Seine, then stroll hand in hand under the glittering Eiffel Tower, and cap it off by sitting on the steps of the Sacre’le Coeur for a wonderful view of the grand city.

french chapel

Viva le France!

Group F

Teams: Argentina, Iran, Nigeria, and Bosnia

Iran….I don’t think we are allowed to be Americans there.  Their loss.  Argentina is another country on our bucket list to visit.  We hear all good things.  Across from our jr high school growing up, we had a little Argentine lady that made the best pizza and bambinos.  So good!  Nigeria-We get daily invites to do banking over there for some lottery winners.  Nigeria, not gonna happen.  Bosnia is one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth.

Winner: Bosnia.  This is one of the surprise upsets.  We added two days to our visit to Croatia to enter into the war torn county.  We ended up drooling at the countryside.  The county is putting its difficult history behind, and developing some great places to visit.  Bosnia has become a destination that we must revisit.

bosnia waterfall

Beautiful Bosnia

Group G

Teams: Germany, USA, Portugal, and Ghana

First off…Portugal is now owned by Germany…so I will include them in with the Deutsch.  Ghana…never been…So it comes down to a grand battle between Germany and the States.  Merkel vs Obama.

Winner:  Germany! (Proving we are not biased.)  Our recent drive down the Rhine area of western Germany has made us fast fans.  It really came down to which country lets you drive faster.  Hands down, Germany.

Rhine Germany

A great perch for viewing the Rhine.

Well those are our pics to get out of the first found.  Do you agree with our selections?  Please make a case for your top pick in the comments section below!

 

 

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Fontainebleau: France’s Finest

France is known for its high style and cultural avant-garde….one of the most overlooked masterpieces in Paris is hands down Napoleon Bonaparte’s Fontainebleau.   It seems like Fontainebleau must always live in the shadow of its big sister the Palais de Versailles.   Located just an hour south of old Paris is one of the most captivating royal residences in all of Europe.

The official site of Fountianebleau.

Like its former occupant Napoleon, who was always one for over the top self-promotion and flash: as you arrive at the property you are welcomed by a broad courtyard with a dramatic stairway leading to the entrance.  Once inside you can stroll around the palace in awe at the nearly 1500 rooms!

FountainebleuA Quick History Lesson

Fontainebleau has been appropriately called, “the Home of Kings.”  It has played host for more than 700 years to the French monarchy and later to the French Emperor.  The area first welcomed the eye of Louis VII in 1137 and continued welcoming blue bloods and potentates till the end of the second empire in 1870.  Walking the halls of Fontainebleau you can’t help but feel that you are in the midst of history.

The mansion has always had a close connection with religion.  In 1169 the Archbishop of Canterbury, in exile in France at the time dedicated the chapel of the castle.  In 1812 Napoleon held Pope Pius VII prisoner in the cozy confines of the castle’s apartments for nearly two years.

Fontainebleau’s development has been classified into two distinct eras:  the first (from the 1530’s) and second school (From the 1590’s) of Fontainebleau.  These eras not only decorated and designed the palace, they are decorated the halls of the French elite.   The first was created by Francis I partnering with famed architect Gilles le Breton.  Italians Sebastiano Serlio and Leonardo da Vinci also were involved in the design and layout of the villa, gardens and water features.  Leonardo also has another interesting connection with the palace.  One of his lost master pieces (Leda and the Swan) was las seen in the palace in 1625.  It has since been lost.

The second school of Fontainebleau was lead by Flemish artist Ambroise Dubois, Toussaint Dubreiul and Martin Freminet.  At the turn of the 17th century, the word of interior design, originated from the heart of Fontainebleau.

Key rooms to visit

Library

The highlight for the entire tour was for us the Library and map room.  Unfortunately you are prevented from ascending the four stairs to the elevated library.  You can only lean over the red velvet ropes and look into one of the most interesting rooms in the world.

Library  and globe

Napoleons study

Napoleon, besides being a detailed oriented military general, was a city planner, inventor, cartographer, lawyer.  He worked 24/7 on his many various endeavors.  To assist in his workaholic nature, he attached his own personal bedroom to his office.

Cathedral

Our next favorite room if you can call it that is the cathedral inside the mansion.  It actually has two areas, the viewing balcony which the master of the home would view, as well as the nave proper.   The art, woodwork and the sculptures within the cathedral are stunning.

Fountianbleau

Gardens and Lake

The gardens and forests of Fontainebleau rival Versailles.  We actually prefer the wonderful “backyard” of the palace.  A small lake with a wonderful gazebo type structure an island is an idyllic setting.

beautiful lake house

Getting there

The short journey from Paris to Fontainebleau is defiantly part of the adventure.  The train takes you through the south gate of Paris, past the sleepy town of Saint Genevieve de Bois and gives you some fleeting moments to capture some views of the wandering Seine River.  Sounds wonderful huh?  Just wait!

wood carved doorYou will need to purchase the billet Ile-de-France ticket as this is well outside the metro range of Paris.

Take the Transilien (http://www.transilien.com/web/site) Train from Gare de Lyon Station in Paris.

Board one of the many trains that make a stop at the Fontainebleau-Avon stop, these can include: Laroche-Migennes, Montargis, Montereau, and Sens. You can confirm that you are on the right train, by checking the monitors along the train’s boarding lane.  It should list Fontainebleau-Avon.  (The journey from Paris to your stop should take 35 mins.)

Once you disembark at the station, descend at the rear of the station, walk a short ways to the well marked bus stop.  There are three different bus routes for the area.  You will want to take Bus 12 A.

Cant get enough of Fontainebleau?  Check out our post: Fountainebleau:  The Better Versailles

Paris and its surrounds is truly one of the Fighting Couple’s very favorite destinations.  Paris proper offers a lifetime of exploration and learning.   Fontainebleau is one of those perfect day trips from Paris.  Have you been to Fontainebleau?  We want to hear from you!

 

 

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Kissing Capitals: Looking for a Nice Place to Kiss

Il n’y a qu’un bonheur dans la vie, c’est d’aimer et d’être aimé.

There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.  ~George Sand

 

We are on a mission to find the best places to plant “the kiss” in the world.  We are calling it our Kissing Capitals.  Our pick for this installment is some “French Kissing” in the South of France: Nice.  The Cote d’ Azur or its better known name the French Riviera offer couples warm sunshine, inviting beaches, lush parks and gardens, sun washed villas and costal paths.  Nice was made for couples!

First off before we start our kissing lessons, a quick French lesson.  How to pronounce Nice.  In the French it is pronounced: Niece.   This little hint will separate you from the great unwashed masses.

So what does Nice have going for it on the kissing front? Grande!

French beach

The blue waters of Nice, France

The Beach

Our first recommendation is the crown jewel of places to smooch, the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean.   The beaches attract everyone from Hollywood starlets to German pensioners.  It important before going to set some expectations.  There is no sand on the beaches in Nice.  It is made up of small stones and pebbles. Bring a chair or you can easily rent one at one of the many vendors.  The beach is divided up in intervals of public and private beaches.  As long as you walk along the water line, you don’t have to pay.  Steal a kiss at one of the little beach front cafes that offer the best of French cuisine, with views to die for.  Better yet plan a moonlight stroll along the surf.

 

Dreamy Eze

Just outside Nice is one of our favorite little French towns, Eze.  This charming town is truly one of the most magical places we have visited in our journeys.  The hill town is perched on a rocky outcropping overlooking the sea.  The 12th century fortification has been transformed into a cluster of little shops lining winding paths.  We highly recommend you take an afternoon and meander in and out of the artisan workshops, and intimate cafes.

french town

Pathway in Eze, France

To plant the perfect kiss, climb the stairs and paths to the crown of the city.  There you will find an amazing reward for your effort: the Jardin exotique d’Èze.  Commence kissing.  The panoramic vistas from the garden are simply breathtaking. Your chaperone for your intimate moment will be 15 white alabaster-like female statues entitled the “Earth Goddess” they are the handiwork of artist Jean-Philippe Richard.  For more pics of these masterworks, please visit our facebook site.

French Flag

View from top of Eze

Français : Chateau de La Napoule

Français : Chateau de La Napoule (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Castle Kissing

-One of the quirkiest places we have visited is the Chateau De La Napoule.  It is one of those off the beaten path treasures that make couple travel wonderful.  We love it for the love story associated with it.  The castle perched on the edge of the sea was constructed in the late 14th century for the Countess of Villeneuve.  Since its construction it has been added to and renovated a number of times.  In the 19th century it was converted into a glass factory.  By 1900 the Chateau had fallen into neglect and disrepair.  In 1918, an American couple Henry Clew Jr. and Marie Clew saw potential in the location, purchased the property.  They fell in love with its charming location amongst cedars and eucalyptus trees.

Henry Clew Jr. was a renowned sculptor, and son of one of the richest bankers of the mid 1800s.  Chateau de La Napoule was a labor of love between Henry and Marie.  Marie focused on creating the wonderful gardens surrounding the property and Henry tackled placing crazy sculptures and reliefs in every nook and corner of the castle.  As the story goes after Henry’s passing, during WWII the Nazi’s occupied the home and Marie disguise herself as a maid and continued to serve at the Chateau to be close to her husband’s memory.

French Chateau

Ornate door of Chateau de La Napoule

The castle in now owned and operated by the La Napoule Art Foundation.  They host a number of art events including an artist in residence program.  Tours of the home and gardens are available.  The tour and stroll through the gardens are highly recommended.

But what about the kissing?  We are saving the best part for last.  Framing one of the entryways of the Chateau is a sign “Once upon a time”.  Find a willing tourist to take the picture, center yourselves under the sign and Smooch!  What a story book picture for you adventure in Nice!

Chateau France

Make your own fairy tale

These are three of our best recommendations for Kissing in Nice.  We could have an entire blog dedicated to “French Kissing”!  Here is some help to find Nice hotels in central locations.  Nice has so much to offer couple travels.  Have you been to Nice?  Did we miss a great kissing location?  Is there a wonderful street side cafe you could recommend?  Please leave us a comment below.

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10 Easy Steps to Become a Francophile

Fran•co•phile [frang-kuh-fahyl]

1. Friendly to or having a strong liking for France or the French.

2. A person who is friendly to or has a strong admiration of France or the French.

 

Recently, I posed a random question out into the twittersphere: “What language do you wish you spoke fluently?” An extensive and enlightening convo resulted. The consensus was French. Why? What is it about France?  Is it the hot French teacher we had in high school with the sexy accent? Is it that French is the language of love? In response to the unified desire to become more French, we have come up with the 1000 Fight’s 10 step program to become a certified Francophile.  Go grab your beret, some Foie gras and a glass of Chateau something-or-other and lets begin. Step one:

1-Attitude

How many Frenchmen does it take to change a light bulb?

Anwser: One. He holds the bulb and all of Europe revolves around him.  — Author unknown

French attitude is world renowned and refined as its fine wine. To develop a little of the French outlook on life: Limeys and Yanks are to be despised! They are the great culturally unwashed. Key to being a true Francofile you must develop a healthy belief that France is the place that everyone wished they lived. One down nine to go.

2-Parlay-vue fran-say

I was told once, “Anyone interesting must speak French.” Entry into the elite Frano-club requires a command of the language of love.  According to our friends at Wikipedia, only 5% of the world’s population can speak French.  Must learn it to love it.  Start learning today!  Je souhaite que nous nous battions!

 

3-Become a Foodie Snob

The French do a lot of things well: building Eiffel Towers, kissing, and writing beatnik poetry, but one of their best contributions to humanity is their honed skill in the culinary arts.  The French love really great grub.

French food is definitively a cut above. There are over 5000 restaurants in the city of Paris alone! Some historians even believe that the concept of restaurant-ing was developed in France. Whether you are a fan of crème brulee, crêpes (YUM!), quiche, or even brandade de morue- you must have an opinion. In a millisecond, you must decipher if your Aligot is made with Tommee cheese or not. Good luck with that.

4-Un Nouveau Nom

Let’s face the facts. Names like Hank, Mark and Martha are just not going to cut it. To make the complete Franco conversion, you must take on a new moniker. Names like Gerrard, Jean-Pierre, Marie-Élise are ideal. You need lots of hyphens and lots of lines over vowels to be considered a true convert.

5-Get Your Chic On

Fashion is a tricky one. Unique rules apply to both men and women. Hommes- go dig into your wife’s closet and find all of her Clam diggers. Anything that leaves two to three inches of skin between the shoe line and the hem. Style! Femmes- attire must have interesting larva and antenna sticking out at unique places.

6-Master the PDA

This is another fun step to practice. The French aren’t exactly shy about expressing their romantic affections in public. You must “make out” in parks, on the subway, at cafés, on the bus, getting off the bus, and in line for the bus.

While taking pictures of the pyramid at the Louvre during one of our recent trips and in the back ground, an amorous couple were going at it.  I guess the pyramid wasn’t all that interesting. Go for it! Its research.

7-Know How to Ride a Bike in a Skirt and High Heels

Yep. Easier said than done:

8-Limit Productive Work to 4 Hours Per Month

For most of you this may be the most difficult step. Try you must. Take out your calendar. Take out four months for summer break. Take out another 4 months for winter break. There are three weeks of national holidays in France, so take out another month to be on the safe side. Set aside a month to be on strike due to overburden of the work schedule. There you are. (This should be the easy step. Viva le France!)  Life is meant to be lived not worked.

9-Know Your French Geography

French tend to love all things French. What could be more French than France? You must know how nice it is in Nice. You must know where to take ski holidays in France.  Take the time to get outside Paris and see the French countryside.  Spend a holiday in the French Alps.  With all of this new found vacation time in step 8, you will have plenty of time.  Bon Voyage!

10-Get Some Je ne Sais Quois

Even after completing steps listed above, the final and most important step is developing some je ne sais quois. What is that “certain something?” Where do you buy that certain something? What school do you attend to hone those skills? I don’t know. I am still stuck on step six.  You are on your own.

 

That’s it! 10 easy steps to becoming a certified Francophile. They say the ultimate compliment is emulation. So France, we salute you and your snails. Did we miss anything? Can you offer any great hints on connecting with your inner Franco-ish-ness? Leave a pithy comment below.

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