Last looks

Our final day in Paris ends in style at the beautiful Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris.

Commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur.

The basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was completed in 1914. The basilica was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919

From the magnificence of the pearly basilica domes to the more earthy delights of the capital streets.

From thoughts on the prevalence of social media to the creative urge, the paste-ups cover a whole range of topics!

The final trip of our first ever visit to Paris ends in a slightly more morbid setting . . .

The Montparnasse Cemetery in the 14th arrondissement of Paris is the second largest operating cemetery of the French capital.

The 45 acre landscaped funeral park is like an open-air museum as many graves have been listed as Historic Monuments.

It is the final resting place of many famous, world renowned artists. These include Serge Gainsbourg, Samuel Beckett, Jean Paul Satre and Simone De Beauvoir – the only ones we managed to find!

Les Puces

No trip is complete without bribing / forcing the husband to trawl around a market or two. And this is no exception as I get very over excited by the idea of a proper French flea market (blame Escape to the Chateau!)

The most famous flea market in Paris is the one at Porte de Clignancourt, officially called Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, but known to everyone as Les Puces (The Fleas).

It covers seven hectares and is the largest antique market in the world, receiving between 120,000 to 180,000 visitors each weekend.

Battle your way through the initial rows of cheap plastic tourist tat and mass produced junk that circle the old flea market to the heart of the original old market and you’ll be rewarded with a treasure trove of the old, retro, unique and down right odd.

Mountains of glittering beads tempt me like a magpie while terrifying old dolls stare blankly from every stall and box.

Les Puces is a mix of street and floor stalls, old established antiques shops, pop ups and undercover markets.

There are actually around 15 different markets that collectively make up Les Puces. Some specialise in expensive antiques, others have old fabrics and buttons.

One market is a colourful explosion of street art and knock off clothing!

While the covered markets and actual shops are interesting, my favourite part is the actual street markets where goods are piled up on the floor and on walls.

As well as the fascinating things for sale, the walls themselves provide an outdoor gallery to enjoy.

A visit to Les Puces is a highlight for rummage fiends and knick knack lovers. Just keep a close eye on wallets, purses and other valuables as it is a pick pocket haven.

Sauntering around the Seine

There’s plenty to see just wandering around the alleyways and markets on the banks of the Seine.

Including this sumptuous flower market that I dragged the reluctant hubby around.

Here he is looking particularly unimpressed with the delights on show!

The riverbanks are lined with little stalls full of curios, postcards and paintings.

Below posters advertise a Paris / Tokyo expo – reminding me of my favourite every country!

Parisians love their dogs (even if they do not like cleaning up after them!)

The walls and fences are impromptu outdoor galleries as fly posters vie to get their colourful creations in prime spots.

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Pretty Piana

There are a variety of pretty little villages scattered around Corsica and one of them is Piana.

We’re dropping in en-route to our next destination, the tourist town of Calvi.

Piana is a pretty village set in and overlooking the fabulous Calanqes de Piana; one of the most beautiful parts of Corsica.

The Calanqes de Piana is a stunning series of rock formations and we’ll be heading through those next.

Last looks

Last few shots from our summer holiday to Mykonos (LAST JULY!!) so backlogged with trip write ups!!

Still zipping around on our quad we head for the remote little bay that is Fokos beach in the North East of the island.

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Early in the morning we have the beach virtually to ourselves to enjoy.

The last stop on our tour before we retreat to lounge by the pool for the rest of the holiday is to Armenistis Lighthouse.

This abandoned relic was built in 1891 and is located on the north-western tip of Mykonos, overlooking the strait between the island of Tinos and Mykonos.

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Now completely derelict it offers wonderful far reaching views out across the sea.

Easy riders

Mykonos is only a pip squeak of an island – one of the tiniest Greek islands we’ve visited (certainly in terms of things to see TBH).

But in order to reach some of the more remote, off the beaten track, beaches we opt once again for the king of small road warriors – the quad bike!!!

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We’re heading to the South East of the island first. Stopping off first at Kalafati beach (see my previous post) we then head up a dirt track onto a tiny spit of land with a teeny harbour and pretty church.

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Below is a remote, traditional little harbour side eatery – Markos Fish Tavern. Close to a tiny, tucked away sun spot – Divounia Beach

I love the colour combination of navy water, white boats and shades of yellow in the tangled fishing nets.

Naturally the hubby AKA the Easy Rider enjoys cruising around topless in order to complete the bronzing process.

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However, safety conscious (AKA spoilsport) wifey demands full coverage, helmets and annoyingly squeaks if we so much as creep above 20mph!

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The ‘smile’ below is partly because the wind has firmly stuck my lips to my teeth and partly through fear… so much for YOLO . .

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Kalafatis beach

Beyond Mykonos old town there is very little to do on this tiny Greek island except enjoy the stunning little beaches that are dotted around the place.

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We hire a quad bike in order to zip around on and head to the South East of the island to the beautiful beach of Kalafatis.

It’s a glorious stretch of beach with trees providing much needed natural shade and gently sloping sands into inviting turquoise waters.

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A very faint breeze ruffles the palm frond umbrellas and is a welcome break from the heat.

The beach is a paradise for wind surfing as most days there are strong winds constantly blowing.

Typically for me however the week we arrived heralded one of the rare non-windy weeks!

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However the human heat seeking missile that is the tiny husband is incredibly delighted by the stultifying heat!

Windy millers

Before we head out of Mykonos town we can’t avoid visiting one of the island’s most iconic sights – the line of windmills high above the town. *rubbish phone pics alert*

The windmills can be seen from every point of the village of Mykonos and are the first thing seen when coming into the harbour of Alefkandra.

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There are currently 16 windmills on Mykonos of which seven are positioned on the landmark hill in Chora.

Most windmills face the North where the island’s climate sources its strongest winds over the largest part of the year.

Most of them were built by the Venetians in the 16th century, but their construction continued into the early 20th century. They were primarily used to mill wheat and were an important source of income for the inhabitants.

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Their use gradually declined until they ceased production in the middle of the 20th century.

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Relics and rocks

As the husband desperately tries to drag me away from the old town, I once again get hopelessly distracted. This time by an enchanting, tucked away shop full of religious icons.

 

Painted on driftwood and old salvaged wood, this shop is an Aladdin’s cave of the sacred and holy.

 

Ever corner is crammed full of sumptuously coloured paintings, with glided details glimmering in the shadowy recesses.

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The, by now bored rigid, husband finally managed to pry me out of the shops and we head towards the rocky beach.

 

Here we can get a better view of Little Venice, the tiny, chic section of the old town where cafes and restaurants hang precariously above the sea.

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Captured in a thousand different paintings, this jumble of buildings have a wonderful waterside position but must get battered in storms!

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It might look relatively peaceful but Little Venice gets jam packed from midday onwards as it’s a perfect people watching spot and it’s also a prime sunset spot.

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The water gently laps the pebble beach (which is far more painful to walk on than it looks)

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A local man sets up his fishing rod and quickly becomes a tourist magnet as people flock to get a snap with him and his tackle 🙂

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If you look closely you can make out the crowds of people that have formed in the waterside cafes.

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The single file walk along the water’s edge is slippery and is made pretty difficult to traverse given the number of buggies and prams attempting to pass across.

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Mykonos maze

The sun is rising ever higher in the Mykonos sky so we know we won’t have the old town to ourselves for much longer!

The cafes and restaurents are starting to put out their signs to catch the day trippers and the shops are beginning to lay out their colourful wares.

The meandering maze of streets seems endless and I love the cool greys, blues and white hues.

Olive oil, herbs, soaps, bags and a hundred other souvenirs begin to appear on the street, artfully designed to snag your eye, and then money!

Every door is an advertising board or tiny art work, whether in shades of green or sky blue.

Squishy blue cushions soften the solid stone walls, a common seating arrangement in the old town.

We’re heading gradually towards the sea and its line of windmills, but it is hard not to get distracted by this pretty little oasis.