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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Two Cities of Love

Two beautiful cities, both beginning with V, and only 75 miles apart, 1 hour and 20 minutes by train. Two cities synonymous with romance and epic love stories, each filled with magical and mysterious tales. If you are staying at the nearby Lake Garda and you are interested in culture and city sightseeing they are the perfect addition to your visit whilst holidaying in the region.

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I first fell in love with Venice when I visited on a school trip. I love the water, so to be able to explore a beautiful city literally floating on water was a dream in itself. With countless bridges, the lapping of water against stone walls and the beautiful balconies, there’s a vibe about this city that is so mysterious and magical. There is also a peacefulness that lingers over the city. Masks loom from independent shop windows and little pathways between tall houses break open into courtyards home to beautiful, pristine churches.

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“Venice never quite seems real, but rather an ornate film set suspended on the water.” – Frida Giannini

The main difference between my first trip and my second, almost ten years later, was the full on tourist trap that is has become. I would say it’s a shame, but not for the people of Venice who of course would welcome tourism as a vital source for the economy. Whilst there is the odd tourist with a shiny new selfie stick looming on bridges and in gondolas on the canals, there is also a calmness and to even take one turning off the tourist track leads you to the serenity of residential Venice. For those who want the unique Italian experience, even just for a weekend, this would be the place to go.

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“What about damp? What about flooding? Wouldn’t it make sense to have a little lawn or garden as a sort of buffer zone between the house and the water? But then it wouldn’t be Venice, said Connie’s voice in my head. Then it would be Staines.”- David Nicholls, Us

More recently I visited the gorgeous city of Verona. This ancient walled city was one that I had only briefly thought about visiting and now I am so glad that I had the opportunity. I am a huge fan of Romeo and Juliet, so to be able to visit Juliet’s balcony was a dream come true. It was truly incredible to see just how many names and padlocks were there, as well as the number of people that can fit in one courtyard! There’s so much love in the world but it seemed like it had all accumulated in this one place!

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“Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet

I was amazed at the stunning architecture of the city. Walking through the walls of the city it was amazing to see the cobbled streets and the huge Roman amphitheatre, Arena di Verona, towering over the city and its citizens and visitors, famous for its opera which fills with over 15,000 spectators per performance.

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I was pleasently surprised by Verona and plan to return to this beautiful, intriguing city soon to explore it further. Would love to hear about any particular places you have explored in Verona! I’m looking for some more places to adventure to which are off the beaten track. Feel free to tweet me @prettyandpetit

Have you visited the cities? Did you have a preferred city? Let me know in the comments below!

Becky

Pretty & Petit

 

Achievements and Resolutions 2016/17

So here it is, a brand new fresh year to start again. New ideas, new focus but also a good time to reflect on all the fantastic achievements from the last year. I always take a day between Christmas and New Year to do this. I usually head out of the house (most likely to my local Starbucks) grab myself a mocha and write two lists. I start by writing all of my achievements for the year, using social media and my blog I start at January and work my way through the year, noting key highlights and achievements along the way.

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This is such a feel good exercise and truly makes you focus on all the positive aspects from the year, opposed to the negative which is often what we tend to do without really meaning to.

The next list I create is my resolutions list. It’s worth noting that both of these lists that I write are kept in my notebook that I carry everywhere with me. It helps me keep track that I am actually on course to achieving my goals for the year. I look back at my resolutions twice in the year. The first is at 6 months – usually when I am on holiday in the Summer. I look at what I have achieved so far and make notes on how I can keep on track to achieve the others going forward. I then look at it again in December when it comes to making a new list to find those resolutions I can carry over into the new year and to produce new ideas for future resolutions.

My Highlights and Achievements of 2016

Passing my driving test – It took a couple of attempts but I’m finally out on the road! Hooray!

Getting a new car – My dream first car, a Ford Fiesta, 5 door in red.

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Moving into a new job – I now am in a brand new college, meeting new people and getting involved in new challenges (which involves learning about a whole new range of careers!)

Visiting beautiful Lake Garda in Italy – On my wish list for a few years now and I finally was able to go and visit this beautiful lake.

Started Hula Hooping – Through attending HulaFit classes.

My Resolutions for 2017

These are a few of my top resolutions for 2017! Hopefully they give you some ideas for your New Year’s resolutions too!

To find a new hobby – I am such a creative person and I think this is something that has truly been lacking in my life. I’m setting out to find a new creative hobby and hopefully I’ll post some of my makes up on this blog!

To go on more day trips – I have made a list of days out in the UK and plan to visit at least one per month.

To walk more – I have set myself the challenge of completing one long walk a month and entering myself into a walking challenge. I am due to have another foot operation so we’ll see how we get on with this one! In some ways in may aid my recovery!

To read more – I have set myself a target of 2 books a month minimum.\

To have a Sunday night movie – I find this is the best way to help me relax for the week ahead. I’m planning to make a record of all the movies I watch throughout the year.

To be more creative – I feel so much better when I have spent a few hours being creative. I would like to draw at least once image per month and also create one collage a month. I’ll be posting these on my Instagram too to prove it!

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What are your new year resolutions? I’d love to hear what you have planned for 2017!

Becky at Pretty & Petit