Category Archives: Stroll, walks and travel diaries

Hiking in the mountains

French Alps: On the mountain of the Flégère in the Aiguilles Rouges nature reserve, these hikers return from a walk around White Lake. Along this very popular hiking trail that returns from White Lake to the  Flégère cableway station, they are passed in front of magnificent mountain scenery: overhanging the valley of Chamonix, needle Grands Montets, Aiguille Verte (photo below, under the clouds) and Dru (right of photo), the Mer de Glace glacier, all this with the Mont Blanc summit in the landscape background. After a well-deserved break viewing this panorama, it’s left to do their back to the valley by cable car from the Flégère.

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Hikers on the mountain of Flégère, facing a beautiful mountain landscape: the Aiguille Verte and the Dru (french Alps)

Saint Sulpice Fountain

Magnificent monument built between 1844 and 1847 on the Place Saint-Sulpice in Paris (France), facing the front of the church of the same name, this fountain is decorated with statues representing four Catholic bishops, hence the name “Fountain of the four cardinal points.” This fountain, which was restored in 2008, is a remarkable monument worth a visit if you go by the 6th arrondissement of Paris

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The Saint Sulpice fountain, Paris, France

Lovelocks on the bridges in Paris

Walking in Paris to the Pont des Art bridge, one can see many golden hues adorning the railings of the footbridge over their entire length. At first glance, you might think it is still many gilded with fine gold ubiquitous on many sites and monuments around the french capital. And yet, approaching a little more of this elegant bridge, it soon becomes realize that we are dealing with a very singular phenomenon in the Parisian landscape: thousands of padlocks,   called love-padlocks, are hooked, entangled, overlapping, on racks, railings, and even with some chains on streetlights… There is of course the classic brass padlock, which give the golden hues seen from afar, but also locks in all shapes and colors, some heart-shaped, others with code, even bicycle chains here also arranged in a heart … All are engraved, or marked with indelible ink initials or names of couples who wanted to leave here a trace of their passage. And keys for these locks? Presumably there were thrown into the Seine… Removed in May 2010 by a student of Fine Arts to make a sculpture (who apparently beat a desire to remove these “ornaments” of from the municipality),love padlocks came back very fast on the bridge …

The Pont des Arts is known for its romantic, magnificent view over the Seine, the Pont Neuf bridge and the Cité island, and located between the Louvre and the Institut de France. Love padlocks are very recent in Paris (probably from 2008, according to some sources that deal with the subject on the net), and would give rise to Eastern Europe (read this article on Wikipedia ). Since then, many other bridges are beginning to bloom… these unusual decorations icon wink Lovelocks on the bridges in Paris

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Thousands of “love padlocks” attached to the railings of the Pont des Arts (Paris, France)

The best landscape photos of 2011

Here’s a little retrospective of some of the most beautiful natural or urban landscapes that I had the chance to photograph in 2011.

 The best landscape photos of 2011
Dune landscape: Tip of the Espiguette. Nice big stretch of sand and dunes near Port Camargue and Grau du Roi (south of France), which found an almost wild when winter arrives and this natural site is found deserted by tourists and holidaymakers …
 The best landscape photos of 2011
Flamingos, beautiful birds and protected species that nest in by thousands in the natural park of the Camargue (south of France).
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Shooting landscapes, is also photographing the seasons: spring, with flowers and foliage of first green leaves…
normal Une allee de peupliers en automne The best landscape photos of 2011
… or the fall, probably the most photogenic season with its bright warm colors …
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… and sometimes misty landscapes in the forest in the cool of the morning.
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The human intervention on the landscape has not every time a negative impact. Thus, the artificial lake Salagou, originally created in the 60’s, for needs for irrigation, is a beautiful place, where the blue sky reflected on the surface of the lake contrasts with a bright red ground, the Ruffe, a color typical of this clay soil saturated with iron oxide which covers the plains region of Herault (south of France)…
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Mountain scenery: beautiful winding roads that pass through preserved natural parks. Alternation of valleys, peaks and forests, photographed in the Austrian Alps. A very nice idea for those who want to take a breath of fresh air in the Alps during the summer, far from crowded beaches and the seaside resorts …
 The best landscape photos of 2011
There are some landscapes that can be described as heavenly. I was able to return this year to photograph the lakes and waterfalls of Plitvice, Croatia. This is certainly one of the natural sites worth seeing at least once in his life. This alternation of tens of turquoise lakes and many waterfalls, can at times give the impression to the visitor to have found a paradise on earth.
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Landscapes of the East: the beautiful Istanbul, on the border of Europe and Asia, a megalopolis surprising and inevitable, that amazes by its colors and contrasts, between mosques, bazards, shopping, and intense maritime activity on the Bosphorus.
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Romantic Landscape: Who has not dreamed of a gondola ride on the many canals of Venice? Venice, an almost mythical city. Although the streets are crowded with tourists in high season, atmosphere in this city can not be found anywhere else. All the monuments are as splendid as each other, from the beautiful Rialto Bridge to the legendary St. Mark’s Square …
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From the canals of Venice, we turn to those of Amsterdam: this is not the same climate, nor the same atmosphere, but Amsterdam is nevertheless a unique city. Visit it by walking … and cycling.
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Urban landscapes in black and white: a street in Paris, photographed on the slopes of Montmartre hill. A typical image of romantic Paris, who walks around on the stairs and pedestrian streets, with old lampposts and rooftops of Paris in the background …

Beautiful alpine roads in Austria

If you travel by car in Austria, you should go outside motorways, and ride along the unique and beautiful  high alpines roads, crossing gorgeous natural parks and mountain landscapes.

Click on the photo below to download its HD wallpaper for your computer or notebook.

normal Alpine road in Austria  03 Beautiful alpine roads in AustriaGorgeous landscapes along the Nockalm alpine road in Austria

Approaching the wildlife in the Espace Rambouillet

Located in the heart of the forest of Rambouillet in the Yvelines, in less than an hour from Paris, the Rambouillet area is a wildlife park managed by the french National Forest Office (ONF) where you can observe animals reared in semi freedom: the aurochs, deer, fawns. Upon entering the heart of 180 hectares of wilderness you can, if you take the trouble to move quietly and against the wind not to be identified, approached the nearest deer crossing or a herd of wild boars. Of course, you should keep in mind that these animals wild, calm behavior and attitude are responsible for setting this place where you will be in direct contact with Nature.

The Espace Rambouillet also offers educational tours for young people (and their parents icon wink Approaching the wildlife in the Espace Rambouillet ), for example by proposing to identify insects or imprints of animals, or play activities as the “Green Odyssey” where young and kids can run on platforms and suspended walkways in the trees. Of course we must not forget the hundred not raptors (about thirty different species), and demonstration flights carried out by professional falconers.

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Able to approach the wildlife in the Espace Rambouillet, Forest of Rambouillet, Yvelines, France

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Travel diary : a week-end trip in New York

thumb la statue de la liberte Travel diary : a week end trip in New YorkIt seems that New York is  the  favorite destination of french people in Uncle Sam country. This is not surprising, after all on an historical point of view the most immigrants of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries came from Europe in the United States through the port of New York. New York  has been more opened to the old continent that other major U.S. cities. New York is a unique city in the U.S., with  mixture of cultures, a city that never sleeps, always in turmoil. This city is often taken as a symbol of  the USA, with its forest of skyscrapers planted in the early twentieth century. We love it or hate it, but in any case this megapolis not leave indifferent its visitors.

Go just for a weekend in New York, three or four days including the flight, will not learn you a lot about this city, there’s so much to see, so many activities to do there. You can not really in only a few days visit the many museums of this city, except perhaps at a run. But going for a weekend in New York will not be too much expensive,  and should be a nice first contact with The Big Apple.  Then you may catch the virus of New York, and have an irresistible desire to return to this city for a longer time. The tour guides also advised to spend at least a week or two to really enjoy it.

For myself, I did visit only a part of Manhattan (Midtown, South Central Park, and Downtown). Here is an overview of my weekend in New York:

Day 1 – Arrival in New York & ferry ride

While most of the time the European land at JFK airport, our flight landed at Newark, New Jersey. We had booked a shuttle to get to Manhattan. The drive to Times Square area, where our hotel was quite fast (outside rush hours).

Some people can be surprised when they discover the U.S. roads near New York, which are in poor condition. Some may find the beginning of an explanation in the amount of road maintenance and the harsh climate on the east coast (thermal differences …). But when our mini-bus is passed to the motorway toll gate, the toll was in a very disrepair (thinking about the amount of rust apparent on the toll, that they probably did not see the color of a paint pot for a long time). I felt more like a road equipment come straight from the depths of one old East European country,  than the one expected to be seen a few kilometers from the capital of the U.S. economy …

thumb time square matin Travel diary : a week end trip in New YorkAfter crossing the Hudson River from the Lincoln Tunnel, we come to Time Square. The time to retrieve the keys and deposit our luggage in our room, we go out for a first round of the district. And we are immediately immersed in the urban jungle, it’s all there: the sirens of emergency vehicles, the Newyorkers running in all directions, cars and trucks that aims at full speed in the potholed streets (be careful when crossing !), and strange chimneys leaving out thick clouds of steam, and of course the giant screens that line the facades of buildings neighborhoods Time Square and Broadway. It is around 15 local time, so we take the metro to go to the south of Manhattan and take the ferry from Staten Island.

thumb statue liberte ferry staten island Travel diary : a week end trip in New YorkThe ferry linking Manhattan to the south of Staten Island was free. What’s more, after 8 hours spent in an airplane than getting outdoor on a boat. During this crossing of the bay of New York, we see Ellis Island (where U.S. immigrants were docking), and of course near the Liberty Island and its famous statue. It’s always fun to think that  on the morning we were on in Paris and the afternoon we are quietly sitting on the deck of a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, this so symbolic monument of States United States of America and the New York City itself.

Once in Staten Island, we had to get off the ferry to go back immediately to Manhattan in another ferry and return to the starting point, again passing near the Statue of Liberty, with the backdrop landscape of southern Manhattan skyscrapers , lit by the sun.

Notes: When we take line 1 from New York to get to the ferry from Staten Island, only some wagons of the train let us getting off at the South-Ferry station. So remember to check your wagon that allows you to get off. This is supposed to be announced by the driver, but sincerely the commentary screamed through the speakers was completely inaudible, even for local or native English speakers … Also note that the ferry linking Manhattan to the south of Staten Island does not stop on Liberty Island (it only goes near) and will therefore do not make yourself at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. To go to Liberty Island, you need to take the ferry at Battery Park : Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island ferry (this ferry is not free). Note that since September 11 2001, security measures limit access to the statue itself, and you have to be patient at checkpoints, particularly during peak periods …

thumb manhattan Travel diary : a week end trip in New YorkThe ferry docked in Manhattan, so we leave the terminal to visit the district ( “downtown”). We turn next to Battery Park, then in the financial district of Wall Street, to finish at the rebuilding site of  Ground Zero. On the spot, seeing the great empty space left after the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, we can realize the dimension and the horror of the tragedy of September 11 2001 …

Night has fallen, and this business area becomes very quiet. We take the subway to go on the side of Time Square and Broadway theaters. If this area was already impressive in the day, at night it becomes a permanent fireworks with display of colored lights and fixed or videos ads, whatever the direction is the eye could see …

Day 2 – Midtown Manhattan

thumb empire state building Travel diary : a week end trip in New YorkThe next morning, after a hearty breakfast in a Starbucks near the hotel, we take the direction of the Empire State building. Arrived just before the opening, we avoid having to queue at security checks. The transition is even faster than we already had our tickets purchased online from Paris. And now we go towards the top! Arrived at the observation platform, it is New York cityscape under our feets, with midtown Manhattan buildings, Central Park, the Hudson River and the East river, 5th Avenue and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the area around Times Square and other famous and beautiful skyscrapers like the Chrysler Building or the Rockefeller Center. In the south we can see the Flatiron building (the first skyscraper built in New York, which takes its name from its triangular shape, similar to that of an iron …) and then in the distance the skyline of Manhattan downtown skyscrapers. In the background in the bay can be distinguished the Statue of Liberty, emerging from the mist. It was a beautiful start to the day, sunny, with just a little mist that was rising in the East river.

thumb flatiron building depuis observatoire empire state Travel diary : a week end trip in New YorkNext, we go down 5th avenue, to see a little more closely the historic Flatiron building and the surrounding area.

On the return we stop at the New York public library, with its beautiful reading rooms, decorated with beautifully carved wood, worth a look.

A little further north on 5th Avenue is the Rockefeller Center and skating rink, St Patrick’s Cathedral, and many shops often interesting, but also often unaffordable… Then the avenue leading to the vast Central Park, with its many alleys, skating rinks, lakes, bridges, fountains, lawns, groves, and its swans, ducks or squirrels… A real green lung in the heart of this metropolis … Central Park is huge and visit the entire park can take some time, but even if you are just passing through quickly, it is part of New York landmark.

Note: Central Park is now considered safe, although it is always advisable not to go alone, especially in desert areas. However, at night, tourist guides advise clearly to avoid Central Park …

Coming out of Central Park, we make a quick hook to the Natural History Museum. Then we descend to the south of 5th Avenue, to visit Grand Central Terminal, with its sumptuous hall, then we continue a little farther to the Chrysler building, which is probably the most beautiful building of Art-Deco style in the city.

Day 3 – Singing in the rain …

No chance, now it’s rainy day. We take to the shops on Broadway and Times Square, buying some souvenirs for children in the huge Toys’r U.S. store, taking some calories in M&Ms Shop (I never imagined that one can invent as many variations of these chocolates, or as many products on the same topic …) and then visit Macy’s, etc … We then take a walk on the side of neighborhoods of Soho, with its trendy restaurants and boutiques, to finish by Little Italy and China Town.

thumb paysage nocturne new yorkais 1 Travel diary : a week end trip in New YorkIn the evening we return to Midtown, to go to the top of Rockefeller Center ( known as  “Top of the Rock”). From its panoramic terrace you can admire New York and its main monuments by night, including the Empire State building. Unfortunately for us the weather was not in our favor, and at the top of the skyscraper we enjoyed rain and wind storm. Conditions a little difficult to take pictures at night, anyway I kept nice but wet memories of this evening… icon wink Travel diary : a week end trip in New York

Day 4 – last morning in New York, and fly back in Paris …

For the last day, the sun has returned. We take a breakfast in a self, and when enjoying my cheesecake I distracted look of a giant screen broadcasting videos of beautiful landscapes. This was on the facade of a bank building which, at the time, I didn’t know : Lehman Brothers…

thumb pont de brooklyn Travel diary : a week end trip in New York This is the last morning in New Yok, we enjoy the good weather to go to the Brooklyn Bridge. Taxi to save time. The yellow cab drop us at City Hall, just near the pedestrian and cyclist access. The Brooklyn Bridge is separate into two levels of movement: one of them for cars, another, above, restricted to pedestrian traffic and cycling (each have their own lane). Since the bridge, we see the skyline of Midtown skyscrapers (Empire State Building, Chrysler building …), the Manhattan Bridge, and of course the skyscrapers of Manhattan south (downtown), very close. In the distance in the bay of New York, we also see the Statue of Liberty.

We continue our walk around the neighborhood, then it’s time to return to the hotel, to finish preparing the luggage, and take the shuttle to the airport.

Conclusion

thumb baie de new york usa Travel diary : a week end trip in New YorkI really enjoyed the atmosphere that emanates from this town, and also like friendliness and professionalism of the people we met in shops and restaurants.

If I go back to USA this will probably to visit some great natural parks (one of my dreams !), but for sure I will also return to this Big Apple, just to chew a piece again…

Photos of New York :


Note: in order to reduce the environmental impact of this trip, the round-trip Paris-New York (2 people in economy class) has been the subject of compensation for its CO ².

This travel diary news is partially an automatic translation of  this post. If you see any translation error, please feel free to tell it in the comment area. icon wink Travel diary : a week end trip in New York

Green canyons in middle France

Although smaller in size, the Gorges de la Jonte in the heart of the Cévennes (Lozère, France) have at times looked like a verdant Grand Canyon, patiently carved over millennia by Jonte river in the limestone. A mountain river hard to access, protected by imposing cliffs, which end up in the Tarn river at the villages of Rozier and Peyreleau. This is the same location as another ends green canyon, the Gorges du Tarn valley, larger than the Gorges de la Jonte, but also longer and more sinuous. Many tourists will travel during the summer season on the road in these valleys, just before enjoying a stroll by boat or canoe from Ste Enimie or La Malène in the Gorges du Tarn.

The Gorges du Tarn and Gorges de la Jonte canyons surround the limestone plateau of Causse Mejean, including separating if from the Causse Noir plateau in the south, and the Causse du Sauveterre plateau on the north.

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Gorges de la Jonte, a green canyon