Archives pour la catégorie Travel

Orsay Museum

I’m not what you will normally describe as a fan of museums, however I have to say on our recently trip to the Orsay museum I was pleasantly surprised. In many ways it reminded me of the MET in NYC. Located in an former railway station built in 1898-1900, the Orsay museum is a site to be hold even for the jaded Parisian. After a brief restoration completed a couple of years ago, the building itself as well as the view of the Seine are breathtaking and worth the visit itself. Also most visitor to Paris put the Louvre at the top of their list, the Orsay museum provide a spectacular alternative. The price is 13$ (this is the standard museum admission fee for most of the museum in Paris) per person but admission is free if you are under 25 and show an ID at the cashier. Unfortunately, when we arrived it was already late and we were only able to spend 2 hours exploring, however I would suggest setting a side an half day. You might also consider that the museum is close on Thursday and you can have free admission on every first Sunday of the month. Note, this Sundays can be very crowded, so come early.

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As I mentioned earlier, most of the people consider the Louvre at the top of their list of museum to visit. Personally after our recent visit, I have to say with all things consider I prefer the Orsay museum. It is not as overwhelming in terms of scales and exhibitions and you won’t be as overwhelmed as you might trying to take it all in at the Louvre. I also felt a personal connection to these paintings, they almost talked to me. These are the paintings and sculptures you grown up seeing in books, movies and documentaries. I’m sure you will recognized at list one painting or sculptures for some moments in your life. To be able to get up close and see the marks of the brushes and see how meticulous the artists were in their work was informative and inspiring. Even as a novice like myself, being exposed to this grand masterpieces gave me the curiosity to pay more attention to the details and learn more about the artists.

You will find a large collections of impressionist and post impressionist masterpieces, from such legendary artists like Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh… to just name a few. It is one of the largest museum in Europe. There is something to see in every corner, even if like me you do not necessary like art, I promise you will find a painting or exhibits that will touch your heart.

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If you decide to visit the museum, choose a day when the horizon is clear and the sky is blue. There are so many great view points on the second floor to take in the sites of Paris, especially of Montmartre. Unfortunately we didn’t have a great weather during our recent visit and the pictures we took just did not do the view justice. Luckily, there is a beautiful café on the second floor, located just behind the Railway station clock. The location is really cool and the food is excellent.

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My parents visited the museum 20 years ago and this was the first time they returned since. My husband has been pushing us all to rediscover Paris, through the eyes of a tourist and as opposed to a busy Parisian who doesn’t have the time to appreciate this amazing city. It is been a lots of fun to actually rediscover some of the city little secrets and hidden pleasures.We had a great day and I will definitely try to take my husband back when we have the time. If you happen to be traveling to Paris in the near future, you should seriously consider adding a visit to this museum on your list. 

If you are fortunate enough to have good weather during your visit, you might consider a nice leisurely stroll along the Seine. Stop at one of the many side café and have a coffee and some croissant as well as people watching like a true Parisian.

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As I mentioned, the Louvre can be very overwhelming, as one day might be enough for a visit at the Orsay museum, the Louvre might be 2-3 days. I have been fortunate enough to visit the Louvre around 5 times in my life mostly due to school visit. Now that we have visited the Orsay museum, I’ll make sure on our next trip that we have enough time to take in everything the Louvre has to offer as well. I will say that as a Parisian, I now appreciate even more how fortunate we are to have two such specials jewels in our wonderful city.

3 days in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming. This was my first trip visiting a ski resort in the United Sates, and I have to say it was incredible. Jackson Hole itself is a sleepy little mountain town, far removed from the craziness of NYC, to give you an idea the population of the entire town of Jackson Hole is 9577, which is probably the population of the apartment building I’m living in. We stayed at the spectacular Four seasons Hotel and Residences in the lovely Grand Tetons village. Their residences are incredibly spacious and well maintained. Conveniently located right at the bottom of the slopes.

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The Four seasons resort maintains a partnership with Mercedes Benz, which gave us the opportunity to rent a car for the day for free (so technically, we just borrowed it). We took advantaged of this golden opportunity and decided to go check out the National Elk Refuge. The refuge is about a half hour drive from the hotel but the landscape that the Grand Tetons provided during the drive is just breathtaking. We took a bus from the visitor center to the refuge, approximately another  5 minutes ride. Then, we hopped into a wagon that was being pulled by two magnificent horses. Our journey lasted about 45min, it was incredible to be able to see wild elk that close. For me personally, it was a big first that I will always remember. The surrounding vistas and the solitude were just beautiful, peaceful and inspiring all at the same time. The elks migrate down to the valley and the refuge during the winter. Unfortunately you won’t be able to see them during the summer. We were able to see hundreds of them from babies to adults. We even got to see males fighting, which was very impressive. They are such amazing creatures. We were able to stop and take a lots of pictures. Our guide was very friendly and patient and answered all of our questions, some of them quite silly. I would highly recommend this attraction for families with older kids. It doesn’t necessary move very fast and you might find that little kids can get bored pretty quickly. After our little adventure, we decided to head back to Jackson for lunch. We stopped at the Pizzeria Caldera, which was actually pretty good even for this transplanted New Yorker. The restaurant was not very busy, the service was quick, our food came in within minutes and the staff was very welcoming. After lunch, we took a walk around town for a little while. Some of businesses were close while we were there but it is still a cute little town with a lot to see.

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Ever since I was young I always wanted to learn how to snowboard. I have been skiing for for most of my life (my dad was a ski instructor when he was young) but I always been fascinated by snowboarding. I was determine to try it one day. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity until now. Due to some more good fortune, I was offered a snowboarding private lesson. It was 3 hours with a teacher and was just what I needed to start me on my new obsession, I have to say I just loved it. It is fairly easy to book lessons from all level of experience, from beginner to expert. You have the option to book 24h before and they will be happy to find you somebody. I was a little concerned that 3 hours would be too much for me,  that I might nit be in shape or fall to much. Fortunately enough, none of that happened. I actually felt quite natural on my snowboard.  I had a great teacher that made me comfortable and I was able to make lots of progress really quickly. I did so well in fact, my teacher made me ride by myself after a half hour. His advice were very helpful, and I believe it made all the difference in helping me get off to a good start. I truly believe that if you want to start a sport like this, private lessons are the way to go, the cost is worth it. In just 3 hours, the lesson allowed me to go from the beginner slope to the green slope, and from rope tow to the chair lift to the tramway. It was intense and a little overwhelming but I really really loved it. I am now completely obsess with snowboarding, so much so that I am simultaneously shopping for new gear and affordable vacation packages while I’m writing this.

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Another one of our adventures was a trip to the wildlife safari. The safari itself lasted a total of 4 hours winding its way thru Grand Tetons National Park. We were fortunate enough to see elks, moose, the great American symbol: bald eagle, coyotes and wild sheep. The park is breathtaking and being able to see the wildlife in their natural habitat was for me a life changing experience. Experience like that better helps you understand your place in the world and nature itself. We loved every minutes of this, and plan to do it again on our next visit, hopefully during the summer time.

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No visit to Jackson Hole is complete without visiting Grand Teton village and no visit to Grand Tetons village is complete without visiting the legendary Mangy Moose bar and saloon. This is as close to a landmark in Jackson Hole as you would find, because of that it can get very crowded especially in the afternoon or aprés ski. They have a great ambiance and live music, cold beers and great food.

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I would also like to recommend the Handle Bar, this is where we had almost all of our lunches. I can say the food is outstanding and affordable. Some of my recommendations are their nachos, home smoked trout, their homemade pretzel bread and their Grand Teton grilled cheese sandwich. I don’t know if it was the altitude or the mountain air but the food was amazing wherever we went, which is important because my appetite doesn’t stop.

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To wrap it all up, I have to say like most vacations, this one was too short but full of fun and new experiences. I would definitely highly recommend a visit to Jackson Hole and Grand Tetons National Park. It is a small town but there is lots of things to do for children and adults. The slopes are well groomed and challenging, whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, exploring nature, whatever is your interest, you can’t go wrong in Jackson Hole. I hope to be back very soon.

Have you ever been to Jackson Hole before? If yes, share with us any of your recommendation.