‘If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden’

After such an intense second year at university, I am going to be so relieved when exams are over and I finally get the chance to chill and, most importantly, spend some time outdoors. To me, there’s nothing more relaxing than stepping outside on a sunny day, breathing in the fresh air and exploring a new place with friends/family.

A few days ago, my friends and I visited Bodnant Gardens in North Wales, which is one of our local National Trust sites.

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The garden was established in 1874 by Henry Cochin, scientist, businessman and politician. With the help of his family, he Cochin the garden with plants collected from global explorers, like Ernest Wilson, George Forrest and Harold Chamber.

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The site covers 80 acres of land, including immaculate lawns, fields of daffodils, large ponds and various historical structures, including a stunning water mill erected in 1730.

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On a hot summer’s day, Bodnant makes a great backdrop for a makeshift photoshoot if, like my friends and I, you are rather vain and live for those candid Instagrams.

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Christmas in London

After a LONG, hard first term back at university, a break over Christmas with some of my closest friends was very much needed. It’s easy to get caught up in working and trying to be your most productive self yet forgetting that it’s equally necessary to take some time out and do something you really enjoy.


For me, nothing is more fun than visiting a new place – or at least doing something new in a fairly unfamiliar place. I’ve visited London before but of course it’s so large that it’s impossible to see all of it. So, over the holidays, I went on a short trip to London for a few days, to catch up with friends and get myself in the Christmas spirit.


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I was told that I wasn’t allowed to do anything ‘too touristy’, given that the friends I was visiting are all Londoners who were sick of showing people the Houses of Parliament and gawping over the ice rink at Somerset House when they’d done it a million times before.

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So, we decided to do some things in between – visit their favourite places near them to get brunch, go on scenic walks and have a few drinks at the pub. I was even allowed one hall pass to do something really ‘naff’ and ‘touristy’, which meant that we went to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. Who knew a knock-off Bavarian ski bar could be a such a hilarious experience?

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Also: This brunch at Gail’s Bakery in Barnes was soooo good. Anyone who knows me knows that you can always put me in a good mood no matter what with a decent cup of coffee! Shout out to the staff too who were very friendly. http://gailsbread.co.uk/bakeries/barnes/http://gailsbread.co.uk/bakeries/barnes/

Looking back at this trip has reminded me that it’s good to break your usual routine now and again and visit somewhere different. Whether that’s another country, city or even just a different coffee shop than usual, I encourage you to go somewhere different once in a while. Doing so can clear your head, lead you to meeting new people and at the very least trying some awesome new food, so what’s not to like!

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I don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions, however, this year I have promised myself that I will make the effort to take time off here and there to do little things like this and welcome new experiences more.

A Musical Misfortune: Never Watch Your Favourite Artist Perform Live

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now…

They say that you should never meet your heroes. Well, it also turns out that you shouldn’t see them live. A few months ago, a friend and I went to what we thought would have been the best musical experience of our lives; seeing Morrissey live in Manchester.

From the age of about fifteen, I have been a HUGE fan of The Smiths. One evening, I was sat at home on the sofa, complaining about having nothing to do, when my Dad suggested that I start listening to some ‘proper music’ and he introduced me to The Smiths’ ‘The Queen is Dead’ album. Unsurprisingly, the first track of theirs that I ever listened to was ‘There is a Light that Never Goes Out’ – a song that will now always be one of my favourites.

To me, no other lyricist has ever captured how it really feels to be a moody, self-deprecating, and egotistical young person like Morrissey has. Lyrics like ‘I want to see people and I want to see life’ and references to a ‘coastal town that they forgot to close down’ are all the more relatable when you’re a teenager growing up in a small British seaside town, where you can’t find much else to do other than occupy yourself with tonnes of schoolwork and then get pissed on the weekends.


Don’t get me wrong, I understand that many of the things that Morrissey mentions in his songs are trivial and he is hugely melodramatic, but he also has a marvellous way of complaining about the shit stuff in life in a witty, relatable way, that gets you to realise that the best way to cope with the crap in life is to laugh it off.

As you can probably tell by now, when me and my friend managed to finally get our hands on a pair of tickets to see Mozza, I was beyond excited. Not only was I buzzing to go and see him after about 4 years of playing his songs on repeat and annoying my mum and friends with my ‘really depressing, old-fashioned’ music, but the fact that he was playing in Manchester, in a venue just down the road from his old school – the school which inspired him to write ‘Headmaster Rituals’ – made the idea ten times more sentimental.

My Dad drove us to the concert and really hyped it up for us by reminding us of the time when he saw The Smiths live in the eighties, when they were first emerging as a band. He recalled how,

“People were so excited about them but I just didn’t get it at first. However, I bought their first album, which was amazing, and I then got into them like everyone else! A few weeks later, I had the suede head, 501’s and bomber jacket!”

Maybe we should blame him for getting our hopes up but the impression that Morrissey and his music made on my teenage father certainly did not have the same effect on my friend and I after we’d been to see him.

Firstly, what irritated us was the fact that the tickets were pretty expensive. Considering Morrissey has widely been recognised for his socialist principles, it seemed rich that he was open to ripping-off his fans. However, we chose to overlook this in the hope that the performance would make up for the heavy price we had to pay. We also let him off on the assumption that he probably doesn’t have control over the company that hosts the concert. However, this soon seemed incorrect when we arrived at the stadium and were told that the consumption of meat on the premises was prohibited. Jokes on him though, because there were still Wine Gums being served behind the bar which, needless to say, actually contain gelatine, ha.


Also, the concert featured the well-known, ‘Meat is Murder’ single, containing a video compilation of animals being slaughtered in the background. Although I agree with the idea of using artistic methods to shape how people see things, this was rather extreme and most likely quite ineffective. Surely there are more important issues to draw an audience’s attention to than whether or not you eat meat, for instance the plight of starving children, civil violence or the emergence of Donald Trump, to name a few. To quote the man himself, the music that he constantly played said ‘nothing to me about my life’.

We were so disappointed by the gig that the friend who joined me (who also happens to be vegetarian) claimed that she’d ‘sooner eat a big mac’ than pay to see him live again. In all fairness, she was hacked off because he only played one song by The Smiths. Considering that it was a Morrissey solo concert, you could say that we weren’t in a place to complain. Nevertheless, it did seem rather ignorant of Morrissey when about 90% of the audience were sporting The Smiths memorabilia.


Although the concert was by and large a huge let down, there is an irony in the fact that there is arguably no better musician who could have prepared us for the disappointment that we experienced than Morrissey himself. Also, there were some positives about the experience, like the fact that he took his shirt off at the end, exposing his toned and hairy torso to us all; an iconic Morrissey move.

Maybe my expectations were far too high and I should have known that Morrissey’s performances today aren’t going to be anything like those of the 1980s, especially when three other important people no longer play with him (sigh). Despite being one of the most irritating and unsatisfying musical performances I’ve ever seen – even worse than the time I went to see JLS live with my parents at 14 – I have to admit that it’s still difficult for me to hate the moody old git and I’ll probably never stop listening to his music. So, if you’re ever considering going to see your favourite artist/band play live, think twice before you do.

Things to do in Barcelona

img_5418This September, a few friends and I decided to go on a last-minute trip to Barcelona. After working non-stop over the summer a little break like this was long overdue. We chose to go here because we fancied something in between a touristy sightseeing kind of holiday and something beachy and relaxed. Also, none of us had been before and seeing as it’s always nice to try something new, we thought we’d give it a go.

I was in Barcelona for a total of 5 days, so not really long enough to know the city in and out but in terms of getting a feel for the place it felt like we saw quite a bit. So, I have made a list of my five favourite places/things to do in Barcelona.

Park Güell


Situated in the mountains of Collserola, Park Güell is a public garden/park area designed by the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi and established in 1914. This place somewhat reminded me of Montmartre in Paris, in the way that it looks over the city, giving a sweeping panoramic view that arguably cannot be found anywhere else. Besides this similarity, Park Güell is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It was by far my favourite attraction that we visited in Barcelona.

A mosaic effect runs throughout the park, with coloured pieces of glass and tile that shine brightly in the sun and provide the perfect backdrop for any of those compulsory touristy pictures that we all know and love. If you’re lucky enough, a good friend may even take some candid ones of you by yourself gazing into the distance while sat on the quirky benches (apparently these are perfect ‘profile picture’ material).

If you are staying somewhere quite central in the city, then I advise you to get the bus up to the park, given that the walk in hot weather may be rather exhausting. Also, we booked our tickets online which meant that we didn’t have to queue for ages in the baking hot sun to get into the park. So, if you’re thinking of going then it is definitely worth booking in advance as the queues tend to be quite long.



Las Ramblas/Food Markets


No holiday is complete without having a little spend or overindulging in new foods. Las Ramblas, a street in the centre of the city, is the perfect place to potter around if you are the type of person that likes to explore new places without the risk of getting lost down some backstreets that all look pretty much the same.

Here you will find all the city’s best hughstreet clothing shops, a wide range of restaurants and perhaps its most well-known feature, the food market. If you enjoy trying out new foods or need somewhere to escape the heat and recharge your batteries then the market is the place where you can do just that. There is a wide variety of traditional Catalan cuisine, fresh fruit and vegetables and it even has its own mini restaurants and bars.

We were all both surprised and pleased to discover that most of the produce sold here is really good value – something which tends to be a large factor in choosing where to eat when you are travelling as a group of students!



A Tour of the City via the Open-Top Bus


Sometimes, you have to accept the fact that you are a massive cliché, stop trying to avoid anything that you deem ‘mainstream’ and just embrace the tourist lifestyle. There is no better way of doing this than hopping onto the open-top bus in order to ‘get your bearings’ of the city.

We chose to do this on our first full day in Barcelona after it was recommended to us by many friends/family who had been before us. Keen to cross all of the main attractions off or ‘To-Do’ list, we saw this as the easiest way to figure out where all the key points in the city are. The busses cover more or less every inch of the city’s main features, from La Sagrada Familia to the Olympic stadium.

Although tickets were fairly costly, getting the bus was definitely worth doing as it saved us doing a lot of walking (especially up hills) in 30-degree heat. Also, breezing through the city on the bus allowed us to really take in the fact that there is such a wide range of things to do/see in the city. For example, this took us past the beach, the shops we wanted to visit and Montjuic – places that we probably wouldn’t have found as easily by just using the sat nav on our phones.

You can also get on and off the bus whenever you like, which led us to finding a spot where we could get amazing views of the city, from Park Güell all the way to the harbour.



The Beach, of course!


Initially, we were quite indifferent to the idea of lounging around on a beach when there is a whole city to be explored right behind it. However, when feeling pretty zapped from all the walking we had been doing, we gave in and decided to give ourselves a little break one afternoon at the beach.

Of course, the beach in Barcelona is huge, with a great choice of bars and restaurants to visit after sunbathing and swimming all day. The beach was in fair walking distance from our apartment, however, we chose to get the bus as there is a frequent bus service running to and from the beach throughout the day. To recover from a night of cocktail drinking, this was the best place to chill and prepare ourselves for the night ahead by lounging around and drinking guess what… more cocktails!



Boat Rides at Park de la Ciutadella 


We’d read about this place in a tourist guide and straight away knew that it would be something we’d enjoy. After another day of trekking around the city, a boat trip on the lake was a great way to relax and soak up the last of the evening rays.

This was a really inexpensive activity and it turned out to be quite a laugh trying to manoeuvre the boats around given that none of us are rowing experts. After attempting to nail the whole rowing technique thing, most of us gave up and were happy to float around on the lake, watching the turtles swim past – yes there were turtles!

Word of advice if you ever do something like this, don’t lean over the boat while wearing sunglasses. You may lose them in the water and they DO NOT float.



Barri Gòtic in the Old Town


The old town can be found in the centre of the city, not far from Las Ramblas. Founded in Roman times and bursting with impressive gothic architecture, this section of the city makes a rather interesting place to explore.

Most of the area is inaccessible by car. The fact that you can only explore it on foot adds to its historic atmosphere as well as making it quite easy to get lost within its high walls and narrow, winding streets.

Close by is a range of hidden shops, bars and restaurants, including a restaurant where we came across the best tapas in the best location ever!




The Best Places to Grab a Cuppa & Cake in North Wales

For some, tea and coffee aren’t much of a feature in their lives. For others – myself included – popping into somewhere when you fancy a cuppa and a bite to eat is THE BEST.

Being from North Wales, along with being a great lover of café visits, I thought I’d grace you all with a list of THE places to go.


  1. One of the most picturesque places I’ve been to and will continue to visit each summer without fail is Tu Hwnt I’r Bont Tearooms, Llanrwst. I always appreciate anywhere with pretty crockery and this place certainly has it. The building itself is rather unique – in warmer months it appears covered in leaves, like something out of a Tolkien novel. It’s also a cosy place to stop off in the winter for a pot of tea before a refreshing walk in the countryside. I recommend: The scones!

    Tu Hwnt Ir Bont Tearooms

    2. Bodnant Garden – Situated above the River Conwy, the Garden has two parts, blooming to the brim with wild, colourful flowers. When I visited the garden, along with two gardening experts – my Mum and Nana – we couldn’t help but be in awe of the stunning efforts put into the maintenance of the place. My first impression was that it was much bigger than I thought – perfect for passing the time strolling around in on a sunny day. As for the cafe, whilst the interior may not be as impressive as the outside, they do a pretty mean slice of carrot cake!

    Bodnant Garden

    3. Café Nero – Anyone who knows me will know that this is my go to place for a quick stop or a good long catch up with friends. I love the quality of the coffee, their frappé are perfect in the sun and their cake is pretty good too. The staff their are always friendly and it’s the best place to people watch and chill. I recommend: a caramel latté or English Breakfast tea.

    Caffè Nero


4. Rest and Be Thankful Café, Great Orme Llandudno. This place is bursting with tourists, locals and fitness enthusiasts, all desperate to refresh themselves after a strenuous walk around the Great Orme. The views are breathtaking and this is the perfect place to sit and take in the scenery. I recommend: Milkshakes.

Rest and Be Thankful

5. St. Tudno Hotel, Llandudno. Located on Llandudno’s Promenade, this is a great place for afternoon tea with a sea view. The interior is sophisticated and whilst it may seem posh, it’s prices are modest. I recommend: Afternoon tea – the full shebang!

Hotels Llandudno | St Tudno Hotel & Restaurant

6. Character’s Tea Rooms. Available for both afternoon tea and evening meals, this place is rather unique. It’s boho interior is unlike anywhere else nearby and its tea sets are adorable. When I popped in, afternoon tea seemed to be the most popular day time special, and it certainly lived up to my expectations. I recommend: the scones.

Characters: Home

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Don’t Listen to People’s Advice about Festivals!

Find out about them by experiencing it for yourself.

(You do however, have permission to read THIS advice, but THIS advice ONLY.)


So, a few years ago (summer 2014) I went to Leeds festival.

I’m not too sure how typical this experience was of British festivals in general, however I guess it was fairly typical, given that rather a rather large number of people were there and the weather was ‘British’ – occasional sun but mostly grey.

Anyway, before we went (my 5 girl friends and I) had a few little meetings to discuss a plan of action for the weekend. We took it so seriously that even one of my friends who was away in Canada at the time was summoned on FaceTime to make a virtual appearance. We had planned who would stay in who’s tent, that we would leave the empty tents at the festival when we left (to save carrying them home in our hungover states) and we even decided to bring my friend’s tent as a toilet cubicle/storage unit – don’t ask.

We had been told various stories about what our festival experience would be like, including ‘Everyone will either offer you drugs, be on drugs or both’, ‘If you split up from your friends you won’t be able to find them for the rest of the weekend’ and ‘My friend didn’t wear her wellies in at home before Vfest and after using them out there her feet were so blistered I swear you could almost see the bone.’ Now I don’t know about you, but I was fairly suspicious about these words of wisdom. I mean, if her feet were really that bad surely she’d have had to a) go home, b) go to A&E or c) be so blackout drunk that she didn’t notice her feet looked like they’d had a run in with a cheese grater and in that case ‘a’ and ‘b’ should also have been necessary.


Wellie Preparation.

Below is a list of the things we brought with us, with a brief description of whether they were a brilliant idea or a load of crap that just took up extra space in our bags. WARNING: this is NOT a list of skimpy/overpriced and impractical garments that I will pretend will determine whether you have a fab time or not. From my experience, festivals are not about fashion and looking your best, they are about having a laugh with your mates, embracing the rain and mud and sporting your best pair of sunglasses and a novelty headpiece that hides your greasy, unwashed hair.

Wellies – An obvious festival essential, given the unpredictable British weather. High socks were equally necessary – one of my friends only brought one pair of socks for the whole five days he was there (although he remembered to bring about 3 litres of cider) and soon started to regret his priorities.

Bottles of Water – DEFINITE ESSENTIAL. This may not seem wholly important – after all, there are water supplies on the campsites. However, it only takes one time of waking up hungover in a stifling hot tent with no water, to show you that leaving that six-pack of water that your mum got you from ALDI at home and bringing your monopoly set instead ‘incase we get bored’ was a HUGE MISTAKE. P.S. – I guarantee you won’t get bored at a festival, you will either spend your time recovering from a killer hangover, partying with your mates or taking various pictures of you and your friends in front of typical ‘festival’ backdrops – i.e. a ferris wheel, row of tents, field or – if you’re a hilarious individual – in front of the grotty toilets.

Speaking of toilets brings me to my next essential. Hand Sanitiser. Always useful for cleaning up mud-stained hands or for after you’ve visited the toilets of doom. Don’t however, bring a bottle each if there’s like a group of six of you. When have you ever used a whole bottle to yourself in four days? Never? Then you won’t be running out at a festival either. The same goes for things like make-up, suncream etc too. Don’t overpack these things.

Layers/comfortable clothes for all types of weather. You’ve only got so much room in your rucksack so be careful. It could be baking hot in the day and your stood in a sticky pair of jeans, wishing someone would throw some ice over you. Or you could be freezing cold at night and you’re regretting wearing that tiny short pyjama set on the off chance that a hot guy catches you in them, hoping that your mate might let you get into their sleeping bag with them because body heat is the only available heat resource. Don’t bring expensive clothing either – remember you’ll be leaving this in a tent and occasionally things get stolen.

If you bring anything electrical like a torch, BRING BATTERIES before you get there. On our first night, one of my friends had a fall out with the people she was sharing at tent with because remembering the batteries for their lantern was her ‘only job’ and she forgot. She then spent about two hours of her first night scavenging for batteries while we were partying away.


Approx. 2 litres of vodka/other spirits EACH in addition to various pre-mixed cocktails. Do not bring different types of alcohol each, even if the percentage is not that high. As you don’t tend to eat much at festivals, you can get drunk quite easily and a hangover is not ideal when you don’t have running water and the privacy of your own bathroom. *Remembers friend who continuously threw up into her own hands for about an hour because she wasn’t used to drinking and thought that downing a considerable amount of vodka was the right way to kick off the last night* GROSS.

Hair chalk/facepaint/glitter. Yes, Yes, YES. At first you’ll seem sheepish about applying it on your first day when people don’t seem to be interested in all that ‘cringey’ stuff. But just you wait until everyone’s had a few drinks. Then, everyone (including the guys) will now be your best friend, begging you to paint those ‘cool dots’ around their eyelids in neon yellow. A festival cliché but brilliant all the same.

Dry snacks. Nothing too exciting because you need to line your stomach for all that drink you’ll be consuming. Not gonna drink much? Well you say that now but just you wait!

Cheap mobile phone with a long-lasting battery & a decent camera. Not gonna explain this one, it’s pretty obvious why you’ll need these.

Plasters & tissues. Again, rather self-explanatory.

A large group of your best mates. If there’s loads of you and you’re arriving at different days/times, then fear not, pitching your tents in different camps is actually a good idea. We knew a lot of people who went to Leeds and before we went we were panicking that we wouldn’t all be together. Six of us camped in one site and another twelve in others, which turned out to be great because we got to know each other’s neighbours, it was fun to explore/hang out in other camps and if someone got on your nerves, you could go and chill somewhere where they were out of earshot. (No offence, but hearing about how little sleep you had for 4 hours straight can be a little annoying; we’re ALL tired here.) Also, you do bump into people at festivals, which can be both awesome and awkward.

A programme/lineup of all the acts. This way you don’t miss the first half of Foster the People’s set because you were applying the boys’ pink glitter face paint.

So, there it is. The only festival advice you should take note of! Of course, I am kidding, but if you’re excited about going to one this summer but people’s horrific stories are putting you off, don’t listen to them! Go and try it for yourself, you’ll love it. From my experience, festivals are pretty safe places and most people are just there to have fun like you. Make sure you go with a group of mates that you can rely on and don’t drink too much!

Speak soon,


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My Top Five Places to Visit in Paris

Paris; a city of great beauty, culture and romance, not to mention some pretty delicious and bizarre foods.

I have only been to Paris twice, notably as a tourist, so perhaps my favourite places are rather obvious or even a little bit narrow. However, it is a city that certainly – pardon the cheesiness – has my heart, and for that reason I would like to share this list of my favourite places to visit there, in the hope that it inspires you to visit them too or even gain a little insight into some of the charms of this enigmatic place.

So, without further ado, let’s get on with it!

Firstly, my most favourite place to go in Paris is Le Marais. Recommended to me by a friend who lives in Paris, but ‘the dodgy part’, Le Marais is an alluring district in the way that it encapsulates everything Parisian (or at least in my view). Here you can find many of those typically ‘Parisian’ buildings, with their effortlessly beautiful sandy colouring, subtle foliage with the occasional Juliet balcony. Admittedly, these buildings are found in almost every Parisian district, yet the ones I came across in Le Marais were for some reason particularly breath-taking to me.

A quick Wikipedia search tells me that Le Marais is a historic district, containing a variety of important buildings, including the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan, the Hôtel d’Albert, the Hôtel de Sully and the Temple du Maurais. The district is also said to host one of Paris’ main Jewish communities, as well as being a centre of the Parisian LGBT community.

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Next, is the Sacré-Coeur. I first visited this spot at the age of fifteen whilst on a school trip. Having not heard of it before I was amazed by the uniqueness of the cathedral’s architecture and also surprised by its appearance. To me it seemed to possess more of an oriental than French quality. The views from the Cathedral are, according to some, and myself included, the greatest views of Paris you can get.

When visiting the Sacré-Coeur for the second time, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the scene in Amélie, when she speaks to a puzzled Nino on the phone, carousel twirling in the background and the hustle and bustle of people passing by.

An interesting feature of this location is the artists’ square in the village centre, where you can purchase artwork and watch pieces come to life on canvas.

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Another place that I find is worth the visit it the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore, located on the Seine, close to Notre Dame. Again, I first saw this place in a film – in this case in ‘Before Sunset’, where Ethan Hawke holds a book signing at the store. I was intrigued by this place, firstly because of its role in the film, and secondly because of its seemingly British qualities.

Inside the store are a number of Shakespeare’s works (obviously) along with other great literary pieces. Draped in old ladders, the bookshelves are heaving with all sorts of literature, including an erotic novel section, next to which I (accidentally!) stood to take some photographs.

Your typical estate agent would tell you that the building possesses great ‘character’, due to its low, narrow staircases, and small windows that peer out onto the Seine. Unlike any bookshop I have ever been to before, this place is certainly one of a kind and a worthwhile visit for anyone interested in literature and its history in Paris.

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Next on my list of favourite places to visit is not a specific place, but Parisian ‘brasseries’, or cafés, or, more generally, anywhere Parisian that sells coffee or delicious food.

I’m not sure what it is, but there’s just something so appealing about these quintessentially Parisian set-ups that makes me want to visit them all and try every type of delightful dish that I might find there.

One of my favourite lunches in Paris is the ‘croque madame’, or what we may simply call a cheese and ham toastie with an egg, which may sound basic but is an utter dream. This with a coffee and a view of Paris is something I could marvel at forever.


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And finally, something that is again more so a feature than an exact place, that I love is, of course, the Seine. Especially in the summer, a stroll along the river – or even better a boat-ride – is the perfect chance to see many of Paris’ great attractions from an exclusive angle. The views include, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and the Pont des Arts. Whenever I walk along the Seine, I love to explore the riverside bouquinistes, watch the tourist scurry by and my head plays an Edith Piaf song in awe of France’s wonderful culture.


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So, there it is. A list of my five favourite places in Paris.

I would love to know your favourite places to visit, in Paris or on any other city.

A bientôt,