The Town by the Lake, Aix-Les-Bains

For the last couple of years I have spent my holidays seeing Europe by train and trekking to gorgeous little towns around France and Italy. One of my particular favourites has had to be the town of Aix-Les-Bains, nestled quietly next to the towering Alps and the beautiful Lac Du Bourget in France.

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The weather here can be changeable and on the couple of occasions I have visited it has been prone to some quite fantastic thunderstorms! More specifically after our arrival it seemed to pour with rain as soon as we’d walked into the hotel lobby! We also had a bbq one evening which resulted in a quick dash inside when the first spots of a heavy shower started to plop onto our plates.

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For those who are keen cyclists the location is perfect and the nearby Chambery is the finishing point for Stage 9 of the 2017 Tour De France. Routes close to Aix-Les-Bains include Col Du Chat and the renowned Mont Du Chat, for those who would like more of a challenge and is also to be featured on the 2017 Tour de France.

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For those who like to explore on two feet, I recommend taking a trip down to Lac Du Bourget and what better way to get there than by miniature train which leaves the Hotel De Ville throughout the day. This is a perfect way to see the town – the commentary is mostly in French – but it is still wonderful to see the beautiful scenery on the way down to the lakeside. Once by the lake you have the opportunity to walk for miles, there are lovely areas to sit and relax as well as wonderful bars and restaurants which I’m sure would be open in an evening to watch the world go by.

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Although there are not many chain stores here, it is a beautiful town to stroll around at a leisurely pace, visiting the various independent stores. I bought some stunning shoes in one of the stores – a gorgeous pair of pastel coloured wedges. I had a wonderful morning enjoying some retail therapy and planning my dream French maison!

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If you are looking for a fabulous hotel in which to base yourself for the duration of your stay then definitely take a look at the Golden Tulip. With recently refurbished spa facilities it is the perfect place to relax and rest those aching feet from all that retail therapy. The large bar and reception area is perfect for chilling out – reading a book or catching up with the latest on the Tour De France on their widescreen TVs.

If you are looking for a town where you can truly practice your French. This is the place to go. I had quite an experience in a French lingerie shop where as it happened I had a brief lapse in remembering any French bar the words ‘tres chaud’ and manically trying to mime how hot the weather was outside.. fortunately the two French ladies were extremely excited about the fact that I was even attempting to speak their language – a very amusing experience by both parties involved!

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Becky

Pretty & Petit

 

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A Garden Paradise

I have to admit, I love gardens and gardening. I love pretty, country cottage front gardens with rose bushes decorating fences to sprawling back gardens with perfect, immaculate lawns and a summer house perfect for spending lazy afternoons in.

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My own experience with gardening however, has been somewhat limited. I have had several, small gardens which were quite sheltered leading to some very miserable looking plants, which like me, were in desperate need of some sunshine and perhaps a holiday to the Med for a couple of weeks! This was followed by a patio space of the extreme opposite. This space was south facing, leading to sweltering Summers, and sunshine all day long. Whilst my tomatoes (and I!) absolutely thrived in the sunny weather, the lack of shelter ensured not much else would grow!

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One garden I really admire is my mum’s garden, located in Whitstable, Kent. She has always had a passion for gardening and it shows through her beautiful garden designs and flourishing plants.

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I asked her a few questions about her garden and her passion for gardening.

How would you describe the design of your garden?

I have designed the garden by imagining separate rooms. The top garden, furthest away from the house, is the most formal. It has a Summer house, accompanied by a newly built oval pond on an oval lawn.

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The middle garden, is home to the fruit trees and also a vegetable patch with a greenhouse (along with resident frog, who I’m sure will be delighted once the pond is finished!)

The lower garden, closest to the house, is for pots to enable easy movement and an ever changing view from the conservatory. There is also a small patio area with lawn. It has a seating area, with a table and chairs for family BBQs and a vine covered pergola for when it gets a little bit too warm in the Summer. It’s lovely and cool in the shade under the vines.

What are your top 3 favourite plants and why?

  1. Fruit Trees – Beautiful blossom in the spring, shelter in the Summer and fruit in the Autumn.
  2. Cistus – Papery flowers that open in the sunshine. An evergreen plant, they remind me of a south facing garden that I came across whilst walking by the Thames.
  3. Roses – I tend to choose roses that are repeat flowerers with a beautiful scent to make the garden smell wonderful.

What garden project are you currently working on?

The pond! After putting in a Summer house towards the rear of the garden, I have decided to build a pond opposite. I often sit out there in the evenings as this is when the sun is in that part of the garden – it’s lovely and warm!

If you could have a garden anywhere in the world where would it be?

I would love to have a Mediterranean garden. Mediterranean plants remind me of the wonderful holidays I have had and are some of my favourite plants to grow in the garden.

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A garden should be somewhere you can enjoy every day, somewhere that you can spot changes every day. It should cover all the senses – from the smell of the herbs, to the beautiful sight of the roses, the tweeting to be heard from the birds, the taste of the delicious fruit being grown and the plants with the most unexpected textures to feel.

For those with their first garden, where do you recommend they start? Do you have any tips?

Always start with a plan! Shape the garden to your own style. Always include a tree for height – preferably a fruit tree.

Starve plants so that they can develop their root systems.

Encourage wildlife – I have birds regularly visiting my garden to have a wash in the bird bath and to feast on my fruit trees! I have a resident frog in the greenhouse – who I hope will hop into the pond once finished! I also would love to encourage some hedgehogs into the garden.

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Water regularly and feed plants once a week throughout the growing season.

Ensure you walk around your garden to keep a check on things!

Dig in plenty of blood and bone! (*I have been assured that these come in pellet form from garden centres after enquiring what on earth it was!!!)

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For some more garden hacks and tips on how not to kill your plants make sure you check out this amazing article from Pocketful of Rye, so useful for first time gardeners!

Get ready for Summer 2016 in your garden with fantastic discounts with My Voucher Codes – perfect for adding furniture to your garden, or for purchasing some new tools for your shed!

All images are my own taken of my mum’s garden.

Becky at Pretty & Petit

#SendMeAway with IceLolly.com – My Dream Destination for 2016

In 2016, this Olympic year, my dream destination would have to be Rio de Janeiro in Brazil! This city has everything a perfect holiday destination has to offer; sun, sea, beautiful beaches along with some truly magnificent cultural sites to visit. Not only that but there are some truly amazing photo opportunities to be taken, with vibrant, colourful scenery, beautiful views and fabulous people! It would be the perfect place to visit in Summer 2016.

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Check out my top 5 things to do whilst visiting Rio de Janeiro below and let me know if you have any more hidden gems!

Visit Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. Christ the Redeemer, an icon of Rio, stands tall above the city and is best seen either from a helicopter or by making the climb up to it. It was completed in 1931 and is 30 metres in height (not including the base) and was beautifully designed in an art deco style by French sculptor, Paul Landowski. Another fantastic site to behold is Sugarloaf Mountain. Sugarloaf Mountain, stands tall opposite the Christ the Redeemer statue and is rated to be one of the top sites to see on a trip to Rio and with it’s fantastic views it’s easy to see why! Located on a peninsula out in the Atlantic Ocean it is widely known for its cable cars as a way to reach the top for the most spectacular 360 degree views over the city of Rio de Janeiro.

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A visit to Rio isn’t complete without a trip to Copacabana Beach. This beautiful beach, up to 4km long, is one of the many beaches located around the coastline of Rio de Janeiro. The beaches play host to a mix of activity, from beach soccer matches to games of volleyball, through to sun worshippers and swimmers.

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Carnival in Rio is like no other. One of the most famous festivals in the world, the carnival is full of the most vibrant, colourful costumes from the revellers and floats from Samba schools located in Rio. The carnival took place between February 6th and 10th in 2016 and will be taking place between 24th February and 1st March in 2017 if you want to experience it for yourself!

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Brazilian food is a mixture of Portuguese, African and Amazon influenced delicacies, however something you will definitely come across is barbecued meat – and a lot of it! Want to try some Brazilian barbecue before heading there? Why not visit the fabulous Rodizio Preto (so yummy I’m off there for my birthday meal next month!) One of the few foods that you will find wherever you visit in Brazil is Feijoada, a delicious stew of black beans, sausages and pork which is truly a labour of love taking up to 24 hours to cook. It’s definitely worth it though!

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Rio is home to the 2016 Olympics. Last held in London back in 2012 (has it really been 4 years?!), Rio will play host to this fantastic sporting event with everything from swimming and diving through to athletics and cycling. A trip to Barra Olympic Park is essential on a visit to Rio, located to the south of the city. The Olympics will be taking place August 5th to August 21st 2016.

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Make sure you take a trip to icelolly.com to get some inspiration for your next holiday in 2016!

I nominate the following three fabulous bloggers to share their dream destinations as part of the icelolly.com competition #sendmeaway!

  1. Twisted Beauty Blog
  2. Crunch Corner
  3. Cait’s Cozy Corner

Let me know in the comments where your dream destination would be for 2016!

Becky at Pretty & Petit