Three places to visit in France that aren't Paris

I seem to be in the minority but Paris isn't really my jam. I'll continue to go as it's only a train journey away and I can't stay in the UK for too long. But I wasn't really that fussed about France until I started exploring other places. Now? I can't get enough! Here are three places to visit in France that aren't Paris. The capital city isn't everything!




Marseille
Marseille was the city that made me fall in love with France.  It could have been the beautiful blue skies but I absolutely adored it. In the centre, Le Panier is full of winding side streets with multi-coloured buildings just begging to get lost in. It's full of quirky independent shops and cute bars and cafes, perfect for losing a few hours of your day. Vieux Port is a great place to settle on a bench and watch the world go by before finding somewhere to fill your bellies. We had a wonderful lunch at La Poulpe, the set lunchtime menus in France really are fantastic. Make sure you head to the French African quarter of Noailles for somewhere a little different. Here you'll find delicious looking food and shops selling wonderful knick knacks you didn't realise you wanted.




Bordeaux
If you want a few days away from everyday life with incredible food and wine then book a flight to Bordeaux pronto. With architecture similar to Paris, it does have a fairly Parisian vibe but a lot cheaper. It's one of those places where you can spend as little or as much as you want and still have a great time. It's not a very big place so just wander where your feet take you. Half the fun is not knowing where you're going to end up. Wine enthusiasts should check out Cité Du Vin which takes you through the science of wine - you even get a taster at the end.




Côte d'Azur coast
Oh my this coastline made me do the heart eye emoji from the moment I clapped eyes on it. I was only there for a weekend so just got to know Sanary-Sur-Mer and Hyerés. Surrounded by palm trees and clear blue skies, I could hardly believe this was so close to home. Walking around it felt like I was in a type of DisneyLand. We stumbled across pastel coloured buildings, men selling the catch of the day on the edge of the sea and a bustling farmers market filled with deliciously plump vegetables, creamy cheeses and tempting biscuits. I'd love to hire a care and drive along the coast for week, stopping at the beautiful seaside towns along the way.
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How to do a gallery wall in your living room


Corner sofa: DFS*, Grey floor lamp: IKEA, Custard Cream cushion: Nikki McWilliams, Wire lampshade: IKEA, Mustard throw: H&M, Grey, navy and mustard cushion: Sainsbury's, Gin cushion:  Matalan

We first came up with the idea in Copenhagen two years to start collecting prints from every city we visit with the view to create a gallery wall when we moved out. We haven't managed to pick up a print in every city but we've got a great collection so far. I love having a mementos from trips we've been on as I'm a sucker for picking up a souvenir. They catch my eye and I'm immediately taken back to that walk along the river in Derry or the music festival we went to in Budapest. Here are my tips on how to create a gallery wall in your living room.

1. Choose a theme
We went for travel as it is something we're both so passionate about. If I'm honest, I never stop thinking about where to go on holiday! By choosing a theme I feel it helps to inject some of your personality into your house. Everyone always comments in the gallery wall when they visit and it's an immediate conversation starter. My friend Hannah has a music wall filled with posters from her favourite bands and gigs. It looks great and really does sum up her personality.

2. Pick different sizes
We've gone for a variety of sizes in prints in different colour frames. It helps to make it so much more interesting and much more of a statement. You want your gallery wall to make an impact as soon as you enter the room. Our frames come from both IKEA and Wilko. As we have white walls, we opted for a trio of colours to help make the prints stand out.


3. Lay them out on the floor
Before you take the plunge, make sure you lay them all out on the floor. Take pictures of different combinations so you can really study them before making up your mind. It's a big commitment to put a hole in the wall so make sure you 100% know what you want.

4. Leave room to add
If you choose a big space, arrange the prints so that it looks finished but also has room to add some more. I feel like a gallery wall is an ongoing project that can be added to as and when you fancy. We arranged our prints in the middle so we have enough room at the sides and below to add some more. We going to keep an eye out for some postcards on our next trips to try and fill some of the smaller spaces.

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How to spend 24 hours in Bordeaux



10am: Go for pastries at Le Boulangerie Saint Michel. Make you pick up a the local delicacy of Canelès. The sandcastle-shaped rum flavoured pastry has a tender centre with a caramelised outer. Once you've chosen a few pastries to try and a orange juice, head outside to find a bench overlooking the Saint Michel church. If go on a Monday, make sure you take time wander around the flea market to see if you can pick up any goodies to take home.


11am: Head to the tourist office to pick up a CityPass. Available for 24, 48 or 72 hours, the card offers free public transpire (even to the airport), free entry to most of the main attractions and discounts of some of the surrounding vineyards. Prices can be found on the website.


11.30am: Make sure you get to the Citè Du Vin before 12pm for free entry with the CityPass and a voucher to have a glass of wine. You'll be able to grab a tram from the city centre. Shaped like a decanter, the museum takes you through the science behind wine. You'll be given an audio guide and have lots of information to process. It's quite intense so be prepared to read a lot!


2pm: You'll have built up quite an appetite so it's time to grab a bite to eat. Karl offers a great selection of toasted sandwiches, quiches, salads and sweet treats. It's set in a pretty square so will be the perfect place to eat al-fresco if the weather is warm.


3.30pm: Now it's time to explore the city on foot. Sights to look for include Place de la Bourse, Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, Bordeaux Cathedral, Post de Pierre bridge and Tour Pay Beland - which you'll be able to climb for cracking views of the city with your CityPass. We wanted to visit the Resistance museum but unfortunately it was closed.

5pm: Make time to stop at Le Comptoir Bordelais to buy some foodie souvenirs to take home. I treated myself to some fancy salt (it's such an old person thing to say but France has some great salt) and a box of canelès for my office. I also picked up some great caramels and chocolate to take home as gifts.

6pm: Stop by one of the many wine bars for a chance to try the region's wine. I highly recommend the Bordeaux Rosé which I couldn't get enough off. We had a drink at Le Regent as we wanted to have a drink outside in the main square.


8pm: If you're watching your pennies, pump for L'Entrecôte for dinner. The menu only consists of a simple walnut and lettuce salad to start followed for steak and frites. You can choose from medium-rare or just rare. The fries are unlimited so just catch the eye of the wait staff to ask for some more. But if you're looking to splash out then definitely book a table at Le Bouchon Bordelais. The cosy restaurant's menu changed weekly as they only use seasonly produce. You can order a la carte or as we did, opt for the taste menu. Priced at 55 euros, the nine courses are a surprise and they ask at the beginning of the meal if you have any allergies. Sadly I didn't get any decent pictures as it was too dark. But, I'd rate the food here as one of the best meals I've ever head, up there with my all-time favourite meal at Fleish in Copenhagen. It was simply divine.

10.30pm: If your belly can take it - ours couldn't and we headed home - try out a couple more of the wine bars. After all, you are in Bordeaux!
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A Essex based lifestyle blogger who lives a champagne life on a lemonade purse!

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