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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The Program Film Review

When I think of Lance Armstrong I think of three things, cycling, the Tour de France and doping.

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I used to love cycling when I was younger and was out on my bike every night after school. I never really thought of it as a hobby though – just something fun to do. Eventually as I grew older I found other interests, music and dance in particular, so my passion for cycling dwindled away at that point. Now I’m out of education and have been settled in a job for the past few years I have started to get more interested in it again. In the summer of 2015 I even got to witness first hand the excitement of the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris and even though it was pouring with rain, it was still so exhilarating and amazing to watch. When watching a race like that first hand, you notice the true passion these riders have for their sport. Cycling is their life.

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The program, which held its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival last night, tells the story of Lance Armstrong, his rise to glory and the doping scandal that engulfed his highly successful career. Based on the book, Seven Deadly Sins by David Walsh, Chief Sports Writer of The Sunday Times it looks at the relationship between these two characters and provides an account of the events that took place leading up to and post his confession on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2013.

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In a Q&A with the cast and director, after watching the film it was interesting to hear how David Walsh had spoken to people after they had watched various screenings of the film to discover their reactions to find them somewhat having empathy with Lance. This may have something to do with the cancer, Walsh stated, but as was said in the film, he was ultimately using his disease as a shield. It is at this point I should mention that of course cancer is the most terrible of diseases and of course I do sympathise as what he must have gone through would have been one of the most horrific times of his life. Ultimately his career was about doping and whilst I did not feel the empathy with Lance, I did feel it for David. It was admirable to hear how he stuck with his beliefs even though no one else believed him.

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I found this film difficult to watch. Despite some mixed reviews coming out today, I have no doubt that it was an enjoyable film – I can tell I enjoy a film when I don’t feel like I’m clock watching at all. There were a few laughs shared and I definitely think Chris O’Dowd playing David Walsh and Ben Foster playing Lance Armstrong are what made the film. To be honest though, I felt a bit flat coming out of it. I initially thought it was in regard to how I felt about the responses the director, Stephen Frears, was providing to his questions. It felt as though he had made the movie because he felt like it needed to be made and wanted to get there first. I felt frustrated by his responses and felt that the film and the story, deserved so much more than that. This one man had cheated his way to the top SEVEN times without intense questioning. I think it was at this point that I really felt my empathy for David Walsh. I didn’t really feel anything about Lance when the stories were breaking in the news at the time. I didn’t know enough about the sport to pass judgement – I just knew it was wrong. To witness his portrayal by Foster though, to witness his arrogance and his greed to win, made me feel disappointed and well, heartbroken really. Cycling is a sport, it should be enjoyed by those who have a passion for it and whilst I think Lance’s career started with that passion, he clearly lost that when his greed for the win took over.

The Program is in cinemas now. A must for any cyclist enthusiast!

Becky at Pretty & Petit

Pretty & Petit visits The London Bike Show – Feb 2015

On Saturday 14th February with love in the air (a belated Happy Valentine’s Day to all!) we travelled to ExCeL in London to visit the annual London Bike Show!

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This show, perfect for cycling enthusiasts, also including entrance into other shows including the Outdoor and Adventure Show, Triathlon Show and the Dive Show which meant there was something for all fitness fanatics!

We started off the day trialling a few different bikes. The Boxer bikes were fab and great for parents with children.

We then took a walk round the exhibition which was huge and including so many different bike brands. We even spotted Chris Hoy and the Pinarello that Bradley Wiggins rode to victory!

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I am currently researching Dutch bikes as it will be my major Summer 2015 purchase and was so pleased to see a Bobbins stand at the event. I absolutely love all the different pastel colours available and they are so affordable.

20150214_115844IMG_20150214_16013720150214_115829 20150214_115815Over the day I was also converted into wanting a road bike, especially when I found the Cannondale Synapse bikes (one of which had pink stripes and the other silver glitter!) Despite the colour, the technical aspects of Cannondales are fantastic and definitely something I’m looking to get once my confidence in cycling improves! We also spent a lot of time at the Canyon and Pinarello stands – both amazing bike brands!

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Of course, if you are thinking of buying a new bike, like me, you will need the accessories to go with it! For the girls I found two amazing stands – Velo Vixen, which I have come across before at previous events and Bike Belle, Boutique Cycling Accessories – both of which I am planning to feature soon so keep an eye out for more information about these cute brands.

20150214_12155620150214_121810 20150214_121815Overall, The London Bike Show was a fab day out and something that the whole family can enjoy. From trialling new bikes, to watching thrilling BMX demonstrations to visiting the many different stands available – a great day out!

Becky at Pretty & Petit