Must sees in the Midi Pyrénées continued…..

So last week I looked at the Pyrénées and some of the amazing places there are to to visit, this week I’m taking a sneak peak at some of the most interesting towns around the Midi Pyrénées to visit…..

Carcassonne – A UNESCO World Heritage site based in the Midi Pyrénées, Carcasonne is a fortified French town based only 59 miles Southwest of Toulouse. The city lies within two outer walls and is home to some amazing medieval architecture including the old gothic cathedral – St Nazarius’s Basilica.32363_10152252340685704_52626413_n

Albi – Yet another UNESCO world heritage site in the Midi Pyrénées, Albi is a small village located about 75 km North East of Toulouse, and is well known for its brick cathedral which claims to be the worlds largest brick construction.

Brick cathedral

The village is also home to famous artist Toulouse-Lautrec, whose work can be viewed in the former Bishops palace.

albi

Lourdes– A small town lying at the foot of the Midi Pyrénées, Lourdes is a magical town famous for its Marian apparitions, where the virgin mary is said to have revealed herself to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.  The Notre Dame du Rosaire de Lourdes is definitely worth a see at the grotto, along with a visit to the grotto itself, and a chance to collect some holy water from the Lourdes water spring.

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These are only a few of the more well known gems in the Midi Pyrénées, I will continue to post the best places I come across and the secret treasures I find over here!! Till next time….

Au revoir mes amis x

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Must sees in the Midi Pyrénées……

Being the largest region in France, the Midi Pyrénées is a great place to visit as it has a huge variety of day trips and and beautiful places to see. During the time I live here I want to make sure that I make the most of the area, so over my next few posts I’m going to look at some of the essential places to go while over here!

The Pyréenées – Starting at just over an hour away from Toulouse The Pyrénées hold some breathtaking sights that are not to be missed;

The Cirque de Gavarnie – A UNESCO world heritage sight, the Cirque de Gavarnie is a natural ampitheatre only accessible by foot and home to one of the highest waterfalls in Europe.

The Pic du Baget – Is a mountain in the Néouvielle massif that lies within the Néouville natural reserve, a ‘must see’ on my list purely for its sheer beauty.

The Pic du Midi Observatory – An observatory that stands at a whopping 2,887 metres allowing you to get up close and personal with both the Southward Pyrénées chain and the Plains in the North. Don’t forget to visit the museum as well while you’re up there!

Keep your eye out for my next post as I’ll be looking at some of the ‘Must See’ towns in the Midi Pyrénées …..

Au revoir mes amis x

Welcome to Barcelona

So over the weekend we decided to take a short break to Barcelona to experience the city life and do some exploring……Only a four hour drive from Toulouse it was a lovely drive with some amazing views en route, the best parts of the journey had to be passing by the town of Carcasonne and driving along the coastal road of Narbonne.

Arriving in Barcelona we were excited but a little tired and ready to check in and relax, little did we know how our Barcelona experience was about to unravel…….

I had heard a lot about Barcelona and had been thoroughly warned about the pick pocketers and con artists that would be lurking about, however we were taken by surprise when we nearly lost our car due to a scam we were never expecting……

The flat tyre scam – As we took our exit off the motorway and came on to the main road leading into Barcelona, our car started jolting and making a strange noise which we soon realised was a flat tyre, a little confused we pulled over hoping it was salvageable and we could make it to the hotel. After pulling over we jumped out of the car to inspect the damage, when we were approached by a “nice motorcyclist” who was offering us directions to a garage…..however as we were being distracted by the motorcyclist we hadn’t notice the man behind who was about to jump into our car and drive away!!! Lucky for us a genuinely nice Spanish couple chased the thief off and we managed to save our car and all our valuables just in time. It turns out this is a well known scam in Barcelona where motorcyclists fit blades into their shoes to puncture your tyre while on the road, hoping you will pull over and that they can distract you while their ‘partner in crime’ tries to steal your things!

Thankfully after a long wait for the AA and a change of tyre we finally made it to our hotel and managed to get through the rest of our weekend scam free, and undeterred to enjoy our Barcelonan Experience.

Waking up the next morning I was glad to see the city was every little bit as beautiful as I had expected. Some of our favourite sights over the weekend included;The Sagrada Familia – a famous church within Barcelona designed by Gaudi, a Catalan architect. Construction of The Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and still continues today!

La Catedral – A beautiful gothic style cathedral dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, the co – patron saint of Barcelona.

Casa Batlló – The restoration of a house by Gaudi in 1904 that had been originally built in 1877.

Nou camp – FC Barcelona’s Football stadium, a little less cultured but definitely a must see when in Barcelona.

It was a wonderful weekend in all, and even our near scam disaster helped add to experiencing the true culture of Barcelona (although I’m sure I wouldn’t being say that right now if our car had been stolen). I can’t wait to go back as I feel we have only skimmed the surface of a city full of gems.

Au revoir mes amis x

Things I Miss Most About England….

I have been here for just over a month now, and can’t believe how fast time has flown by. We are settling in well and have met some great people, and cannot wait to move into our new home next month, living in a hotel is starting to drag…..however I have to admit that there are a few things from home that I am starting to miss, and that I definitely took for granted before I left….

Making a quick call…This is definitely something I miss more than anything else, being able to pick up the phone and have a natter, without having to worry about how much it’s going to cost, scheduling a skype date, or ending a call mid sentence because you’ve run out of credit.

English radio…Something I never thought I’d miss is turning the radio on and listen to a bunch of presenters gibbering on about completely meaningless things, but since I’ve moved away this seems a lot more appealing than listening to a bunch of presenters gibbering on in French. Also I have not yet acquired a taste for French pop music….it is much to be desired!

Roast Dinners…Roast dinners are by far my favourite meal in the whole world, and it is near impossible to get one in Toulouse, there are only two pubs in driving distance to me that do them, one is always full of 50 year old men….no thanks, and the other is so popular you have to make a reservation and arrive before midday to make sure there’s any roasts left, which defeats the whole idea of a lazy Sunday lunch!

Red post boxes…Quite a random one, but the French have these bright yellow post boxes and yellow postal vans, that I just can’t take to….give me a pillar box red post box any day!

English fashion…So I have just finished a 5 year fashion degree, and I know it’s cliched but have a serious passion for fashion….lets just say Toulouse isn’t quite Paris, and I am seriously struggling to find a winter wardrobe….what i would do for Topshop right now!

Robinsons orange squash…(Has to be no added sugar!) A strange addiction of mine that I just can’t seem to overcome, although I have managed to get my hands on different varieties of Robinsons orange squash, I have failed miserably to find the right one…..I have already insisted to anyone who comes to visit they must bring orange squash!!

Proper English pubs…Imitation English pubs just aren’t the same, they may be full of English people, but they are generally in strange shop units that look nothing like a good old English pub, and don’t serve good pub grub like you get back home.

http://www.the-metropolitan.co.uk

A good natter with a stranger…I love to chat, and I definitely wouldn’t call myself shy so generally I have no qualms about having a quick natter with someone sat next to me on the bus, or in a queue at the supermarket…..this is near impossible to do when 99% of people around you are French and have absolutely no idea what you are saying!

Screw top wine…I’m pretty sure this is one of those I shouldn’t admit, especially considering the amazing wine you can get over here, but no matter how much I try I just seem to lack the talent to use a corkscrew or need to invest in an expensive snazzy one that will undo my wine in one pop.

Although there are a few things I’m missing about home there’s plenty of stuff I’m loving over here, but that’s for next time……

Au revoir mes amis x

My 5 top tips for a trailing spouse…..

Being a trailing spouse isn’t an easy task…..firstly you are agreeing to leave your nearest and dearest, you are temporarily giving up your career , and you are taking a massive leap of faith that everything is going to work out!!

Photo credit: Mr Chris Johnson / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Being young, ambitious and straight out of university, choosing to move abroad for my boyfriend was a big decision, and one i did not take lightheartedly. Although the initial reason we moved was for his job, I have no intention in sacrificing my own career and see it as an opportunity instead to widen and extend my opportunities.

However that does not mean it has been a walk in the park so far, and I still have a long way to go before I am where I want to be, but meanwhile I wanted to share some of my top tips with you that I have been using to stay positive and integrate into my new life as well as possible!

1. Learning the language…..although this may be pricey, i believe learning the native language of your country is priceless and will open up a whole world of opportunities for you both socially and professionally.

2. Put yourself in awkward social situations….so we all hate those new situations where you don’t know anybody, and sometimes it just feels easier to hide yourself away…DON’T DO IT…..putting yourself in these situations is a great way to meet new people, possibly create life long friendships, and a great way to meet contacts which might lead to new career prospects.

3. Find your own path – finding your own path away from your spouse is key to your integration into a new country, whether it be charity work, a hobby or a new job, it’s important that you have your own identity and life away from your partner.

4. Transport….learning to drive, buying a car, or getting to grips with the public transport system is key for your freedom…..without this you will find yourself feeling limited and trapped in the confines of your house.

Daveness_98 / Foter / CC BY

5. Make a home from home…..this point is vital…..make sure where you call home feels like a home… a haven that you can switch off in and forget about the outside world no matter where in the world you are, a space where you can relax and unwind!

There is a long road ahead but the key is to stay positive and keep smiling, I will share my trials and tribulations over here with you…and hope that you will share some of yours with me also!

Au revoir mes amis x

Our first road trip…..

After being here a few weeks, and feeling a little more settled, my boyfriend and I decided to risk the crazy French roads, and take a day trip to Andorra. Although snow season has not yet started we fancied getting a feel for the place and of course were not adverse to picking up some cheap booze!

The journey took about 3 hours in total, but the views along the way were breathtaking making the journey well worthwhile.

 Once we had reached Andorra we headed for Andorra de Vella, the capital of the country and Andorra’s most popular ski resort. We were a little disappointed by the views in the town centre, but found a lovely chalet restaurant where we grabbed some lunch and practised our Spanish amongst the locals. ( This was very confusing as we have been trying to speak French constantly for the last 2 weeks, and had now added a new language to the mix!)

After a little look round the shops, we decided to head back stopping off at a hypermarket on the outskirts, to pick up some well deserved Spanish wine and a nice bottle of bubbly which we are going to open when we move into our new house!

Although the town centre was not quite what I expected, the little towns and villages surrounding Andorra were beautiful and I cannot wait to return and try my luck at skiing next year!!

Au revoir mes amis x

How Time Flies……

So I have been here just over 2 weeks now, and I cannot believe how much I have already done!

The first few days after I arrived were a blur of excitement and bewilderment from moving over here, I spent most of my time exploring the little towns and villages close by, one of my favourites was Pibrac;

Pibrac

Pibrac is a picturesque little town on the outskirts of Toulouse, nicknamed ‘La petite Anglettere’ due to the large number of English speaking inhabitants in the village.

 The bell

Is a lovely English style traditional pub in the centre of Pibrac where you can grab an English pint and English pub food, I opted for the typically English cheese and beans jacket potato which did not disappoint!

A village full of history 

There is plenty of history surrounding the town of Pibrac, it is well known for Le Chateau de Pibrac, a converted 16th century castle, and the Basilica de St Germain a beautiful church dedicated to St Germaine Cousin.


I have also ventured into the city centre, and had a fab day trip to Andorra over the weekend, details to follow…….

Au revoir mes amis x

Let the adventure begin…..

After whats seemed like months of anticipation and waiting, I finally boarded my dreaded flight ( I am not a fan of flying! ) ready to join my boyfriend in Toulouse to start our new French life, no doubt I was feeling a tad nervous!

I arrived at our hotel in Colomiers, a small town just outside of Toulouse, feeling a little disappointed to find out it was on a trading estate, but nevertheless positive as we will only be staying here as a temporary measure until we have a house sorted.

With my flight departing late afternoon by the time I’d arrived and settled we were well into the evening, so we popped down to the local cheap and cheerful chinese buffet ( these appear to be the only restaurants open on a Sunday night in France! ) where I got to meet my boyfriends work mates, and girlfriends all who were really welcoming and friendly ( Phew! )

After all the excitement of the day I decided to get an early night in preparation for a day of exploring, who knows what tomorrow will bring!!

If anybody has recently moved to Toulouse or is new to the area, I would love to hear from you please don’t hesitate to contact me 🙂

Au revoir mes amis x