France: The Abbaye de Daoulas in Bretagne

Before we headed off to our friends’ place, we visited the Abbaye de Daoulas which is about 900 years old. It is a former abbey of the Order of St Augustine located on top of a hill in the town of Daoulas, in the department of Finistere in Bretagne, France. It has been classified as one of the historical monuments in France since July 12, 1886.

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

The buildings inside the Abbey of Daoulas are exceptional witnesses of art in Bretagne from the Roman era to present day. Today, the old abbey is divided into a church, a cemetery, a cultural site, a school, and a garden.

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

After we parked our car, we entered into the “House of the 18th century” which is the current headquarters of the offices of the association where to purchase the entrance tickets.

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

As we got into the inner courtyard, we were greeted by a gorgeous gigantic old cedar tree. We couldn’t help ourselves, spent some time there and took some photos.

The old Cedar Tree at the Abbaye de Daoulas, Bretagne, France

The old Cedar Tree at the Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Then we ambled to the charming cloister with 44 pilars that was built in the last quarter of the 12th century. We have learned that it is the best preserved cloister in Bretagne. We also saw a basin that is octagonal in shape, and was built in the 12th century in the inner garden of the cloister. In this area, Christian monks used to spend a quiet time for meditation. Truly captivating!

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

From the cloister we hiked up to the garden. Oh, it’s so pretty and alluring there. We have learned that it contains 650 species of medicinal plants and herbs. We love the serenity of the place, the dazzling colors of the flowers, enjoy seeing the beautiful bees flying, incredible insects crawling, and bewitching butterflies hopping from flowers to flowers, and the enchanting pungent smell from the different herbs. Alan even told me, “Such as shame that the camera can’t capture all the nice smells.”

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

The first time that I got intrigued with an herb garden was when I read a book “Once in a Lifetime” by Cathy Kelly sometime last year. Now that I’ve seen such a gorgeous garden, I really want to have one.

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

After spending about an hour in the garden, we walked down to Notre-Dame-des-Fontaines, built in 1550 in Gothic style. Long ago, it was used for great devotion. At present it is surrounded by lofty trees and dense foliage.

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

We strolled further to the donkey stable located near the fountain, and kept walking to the exit of the office, and headed to the Romanesque Abbey (today it’s the parish church) that was built in the late 11th century. The old south porch became the entrance of the cemetery.

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

Abbaye de Daoulas in Daoulas, Bretagne, France

We spent about two hours there, and we enjoyed everything – the garden, the buildings, the history. Overall, it was well worth a visit, and whether you are a garden lover, a history lover or an old stones lover, this place is for you!

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France: Amazing Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne

One of the places that we really wanted our son to see and experience is the Pointe de Saint-Mathieu. It’s located at the extreme west of the Finistere in Bretagne in the town of Plougonvelin. The Pointe de Saint-Mathieu faces the Atlantic Ocean on its left and the English Channel on its right. It’s a really unique place, as we found many interesting things there – lots to see and amazing scenery.

Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne, France

First, we visited the Chapel Notre-Dame des Graces (Our Lady of Graces Chapel). Inside the chapel is the nave, rebuilt in 1861, which contains the imposing statue of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary with two angels and other statues. Then we circled around the place. It’s wonderful!

Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne, France

Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne, France

Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne, France

Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne, France

Second, we walked through the ruins of the abbey, which according to written reports, was built around 555 A.D. It was remade into a church in 1200AD. Then it was destroyed during the French Revolution.

Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne, France

Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne, France

Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne, France

Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne, France

Third, we took a tour around the 3 lighthouses, which were built in the 11th, 19th and 20th centuries respectively. At present, only the 3rd lighthouse (or semaphore) is working as it contains more sophisticated technology such as radar, internet and satellite communication. The mixture of buildings – medieval ruined abbey, lighthouses and the semaphore tower make up a curious mix of the architectural styles.

The Semaphore Tower at Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne, France

The 2nd lighthouse at Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne, France was built in the 19th century. You can climb up to see the gorgeous views.

The 1st lighthouse at Pointe de Saint-Mathieu was built in the 11th century.

Lastly, we explored the trails for two hours along the spectacular sea cliffs with its far stretching views. We took our time there. We were fascinated by the gorgeous wildflowers. So colorful and beautiful! The breeze was nice and the weather was just perfect. While trekking, we saw the lighthouses a number of times from the distance – very impressive! And since my husband informed us that the site is also an archeological area, so we kept our eyes to find flint stones hoping that we could find one. With luck, Alan and Pete found three flint stones. We felt very ecstatic especially because we found something that is very very old – the prehistoric people (from the Mesolithic Period, about -12,000 to-6,000 BC) used flint stones to make tools such as knife (much smaller and precise tools, having refined the skills of their Paleolithic ancestors).

Pointe de Saint-mathieu in Bretagne, France

Beautiful wildflowers at Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne, France

Beautiful wildflowers at Pointe de Saint-Mathieu in Bretagne, France

Beautiful butterfly at Pointe de Saint-mathieu in Bretagne, France

Flint stones. Great finds at Pointe de Saint-mathieu in Bretagne, France.

These two were happily hunting flint stones at Pointe de Saint-mathieu in Bretagne, France.

There is a small museum and a Cenotaph, a national memorial to the French Dead Sailors, for visitors to see. We visited them the first time we went there, but this time we weren’t able to see them.

The Pointe de Saint-Mathieu is a very nice surprise on the most western side of the country– history, culture, architecture, and nature – held together for several centuries. The abbaye, the church and the lighthouse are beautiful and shed a special flavor to this part of the world. The path along the coast line reminded us of many lives lost at sea while defending their country, plus it invites to a pleasant walk by the sea for everyone. Indeed, the entire place is stunning and thought provoking!

Can you spy the 3 lighthouses?

Pointe de Saint-mathieu in Bretagne, France

Pointe de Saint-mathieu in Bretagne, France

Pointe de Saint-mathieu in Bretagne, France

Pointe de Saint-mathieu in Bretagne, France

 

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • There is a small car park and the parking is free.
  • If you stroll the coastal path with young children make sure you keep them close with you as the path has some sheer drops straight down to the sea.
  • Just like in most major French cultural/historical/natural sites, you can buy coins (2 euros), minted by the Paris official coin factory, picturing the main features of the place you’re visiting. At the pointe St Mathieu, you can also find a rather fun coin-squashing machine: insert one euro, a 5-cent coin and turn a handle, it will squash the 5-cent coin and engrave a view of the Pointe St Mathieu on it.

 

France: A Dreamy Day at Keremma, Bretagne

The morning air felt a bit nippy, but when everyone was geared up, we cheerfully hopped into the car and drove to the Dunes de Keremma site for another adventure. The Dunes de Keremma is located in the northern Finistere of Treflez and Plounevez-Lochrist. It is the largest dunes in Bretagne, France – 6 kilometers of dunes dotted with granite formations. It’s really a unique environment protected by the Conservatoire du Littoral since 1987.

Dunes de Keremma, Bretagne

Dunes de Keremma

Dunes de Keremma, Bretagne

As soon as we got there, to our surprised, it was very foggy and chilly. Shivering, we zipped up our jackets. Then we walked through the dunes, and all our eyes were on the amazing landscape with the colourful flowers – yellow, green, pink, purple, orange, white, grey, and so on. We also caught a glimpse of rabbits’ holes – small and big. And we fondled the soft and irresistible ivory or white bunny tail flowers.

Besides Pete was a big a rabbit hole

Fascinated by the beautiful bunny tail flowers

Then we hiked forward to the rocky coast. The rocks were mammoth-big and with weird formations. They were beautiful to look at. When we reached the seashore, the fog got thicker and thicker that we couldn’t even see the sea as it was completely covered by dense fog. However, we spied some people – small children and adults alike happily swimming in the sea.

Dunes de Keremma

Dunes de Keremma, Bretagne

Dunes de Keremma

Dunes de Keremma, Bretagne

Dunes de Keremma, Bretagne

While strolling along the shore, we fished some shells out of the seashore. Eventually our ears started to hurt, so we sauntered back to the hilly coast. From a distance, we spotted the Saint-Guevroc Chapel (also called Saint Guirec), built in the 6th century. We have learned that it was abandoned during the Renaissance and covered by sand, but it was rediscovered in 1872 and restored between 1895 and 1896. Also, the information said, the Hermitage there is about 1,500 years old.

Dunes de Keremma, Bretagne

Dunes de Keremma, Bretagne

Dunes de Keremma, Bretagne

Dunes de Keremma, Bretagne

It was absolutely a wonderful dreamy day on the beautiful dunes of Keremma. It was clean, quiet, one-of-a-kind landscape, white sandy beach behind the dunes, turquoise water that is suitable for walking, collecting shells, bird watching, and seeing the landscape changing with the tides. Certainly, we never tire of this magical place!

France: Why we love walking in Paris?

My husband and I have spent days walking in Paris, whenever we’ve been lucky enough to be there. Since this summer is our son’s first time in Paris, there was no question in our mind that sauntering around Paris in our comfy shoes was the best and only way to get the feel of the place, enjoy the culture, charm, beauty and soak up all the beautiful city has to offer, and to see how Parisians live, work and relax. Plus, roaming around the city on foot is one way to overcome jetlag.

Sacre Coeur Basilica in Paris

beautiful Paris

Walking in the center of Paris is like wandering about in a gigantic museum – strolling through history – where most of the buildings were built several hundred years ago. Also, we’ve got a feeling that we’re following in the footsteps of countless intellectuals, writers, artists and philosophers who once made the city their home.

I’m just over the moon

Academie National de Musique in Paris

Our first stop was at the Opera House, and then we sashayed in the area. The Opera Garnier is one of the best examples of Parisian architecture. It represents the wealth of Paris during the 19th century and it’s a place of arts, entertainment and luxury. There are many things to do near the Opera House such as: explore the Academie National de Musique, go shopping at the Galeries Lafayette on Haussmann Boulevard, the biggest mall in Paris or visit the Museum of Perfume on Scribe Street, this is where the perfume was born and Coco Chanel used to work.

at the facade of the Academie National de Musique

Behind is the Opera House

Then we ambled at Montparnasse. It  brought us at the time of the old Montparnasse since the district was essentially born around 1900, and I learned that it was the heart of the artistic and intellectual Parisian life during the interwar years. We bumped into some artists’ studios, gorgeous green paths and discover the charms of Montparnasse neighborhood. At present, Montparnasse contains one of the tallest tower in the city, the central station and its many theaters.

Behind us is the Montparnasse Tower, the 2nd tallest skyscrapers in Paris.

From there, we headed to the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is considered as the “Paris’s lungs” and one of the landmarks in Paris. These 17th century Luxembourg Gardens were originally the gardens of the Luxembourg Palace. Today, the Luxembourg Palace is the home of the Senate but the garden is still open to the public. I like the almond green chairs there, the alleys, and the varieties of beautiful flowers, and I enjoyed sunbathing there.

sunbathing at Jardin du Luxembourg

Leaving the Louvre, we made our way to the Jardin des Tuileries and trekked down to the Palace de la Concorde. I’ve heard that these gardens are among the most famous in the world.

green is beautiful

I caught them again and it’s just too cute. Alan was taking a photo of Pete with Obelisk at the background.

Pete found and identified a statue of Julius Caesar at Jardin des Tuileries

Cheerfully, we walked down the Avenue des Champs-Elysees. It was a great stroll from the Arc de Triomphe l’Etoile. Before we made some detours, we grabbed some food and fresh berries and cherries at the local market, sat on the bench and enjoyed a quick lunch. We really enjoyed our trip on foot.

Arc de Triomphe at the Avenue des Champs-Elysees

IMG_1105.JPG

at the de Triomphe

Then we hiked forward to the Champs des Mars, an un-missable part of Paris as it is where the Eiffel Tower is located. We always enjoy lazying under the Eiffel Tower and picnic there with baguette and our favorite cheese and wine.

@ the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel from a distance

We also had a nice walk at La Defense which is a major business district in Paris and it’s Europe’s largest purpose-built business district. It contains many of Paris skyscrapers, Les Quatre Temps, a large shopping mall in La Defense, and many others.

shopping in Paris

Without a doubt, we took a walk in Montmartre, the most romantic place in Paris. The narrow alleys, the little details, the Sacré Coeur Basilica, the beautiful view of the city from the top of the hill, are some of the things that make Montmartre sooo unique and definitely inspired me.

Pete climbing up the stairs to the Sacre Coeur Basilica

The city of Paris from the top of a hill.

And of course, we sauntered along the Seine Riverside, and I’m telling you it’s one of the most seductive walk. We passed by palaces, gardens, parks, a flower market, bookshops and many more.

The Seine River

walking in Paris

Behind us is the oldest bridge in Paris.

just can’t resist.

What a blast! We visited some of the world’s famous tourist spots, rambled over the city’s beautiful parks, joined the crowds on some of the awe-inspiring boulevards in the world, strolled down little alleyways, and allowed ourselves to wander about aimlessly. Apparently, our son has enjoyed it. He was fascinated by everything – the diversity of the people, the amazing architecture, wonderful gardens, the smells of bread everywhere you go, and the delicious French cuisine.

The Notre Dame Cathedral is under renovation. Even from a distance, it’s still stunningly beautiful.

walking in Paris

walking in Paris

Little Lilly travel tips:

  1. Wear a very comfortable walking shoes so that you would not end your day with blisters and very sore feet.
  2. Bring a bottle of water because walking round a big city like Paris is tiring and can be very dehydrating.
  3. Get a good map, and plan your itinerary.
  4. Be a street savy – just like any places or big cities, Paris is no exemption for pick pockets, etc.
  5. Take your time- pop into patisserie for a special treat, enjoy the view and architecture, sit on the bench and people watch, and slow down.

France: How to get to Versailles from Paris by RER C Train

We took Pete to a day trip to Versailles to visit the Palace of Versailles. To get there, we took a train called RER because it’s the cheapest option and the most convenient public transport to get to Versailles from Paris.

on our way to the Palace of Versailles

Pete excited to get into the RER C train.

A roundtrip to Versailles cost us 7.3 euros per person for RER C train and 1.5 euros per person for the Tram (Metro and Tram use the same ticket). All in all, it takes between 1 and 1 ½ hours to get to the Château de Versailles, depending on the location of your hotel.

There are so many ways to get to Versailles from Paris – either by bus or by train or by car. But for us here’s the easiest and the cheapest way to get to Versailles as it landed us directly to the Chateau de Versailles (it means you do not have to transfer to another train):

  1. From the hotel (our hotel was located near Le Kremlin Bicêtre metro station), walk to the nearest Tram station, which was Place de Italie. Wait for a few minutes for the next tram to arrive.
  2. Take a Tram directly from the Place de Italie to Pont du Garigliano. It takes about 30 minutes to get there.
  3. Get off the Tram at Pont du Garigliano. Walk toward the building of France TV. Once there, keep walking downhill to get into the train station.
  4. France.TV building near Pont du Garigliano train station

  5. Get your RER C train tickets to the Chateau de Versailles Rive Gauche (one way only). It costs 3.65 euros for a one way ticket.
  6. Walk inside the train station. The RER C train to Versailles will stop at the opposite side of the platform. So you have to turn left and walk downstairs. Then turn right and walk upstairs to get into the platform to catch the right RER C train.
  7. Get into the RER C train, and enjoy your ride. It takes you about 23 minutes. The train will drop your directly at the Chateau de Versailles Rive Gauche.
  8. Get your RER C train ticket (on the way back) before you leave the station, so it will be convenient for you on the way back (no need to queue).
  9. Just in front of the train station, you can see the information office, where you queue to get the entrance ticket to the Palace of Versailles (only if you pay by card) but if you wish to pay in cash you have to walk further to the Tourism Office (on your right from the train station) before you reach the entrance of the Palace.
  10. Hike up to the Palace of Versailles. It takes about 15-minute walk from the train station.
  11. Queue for the security check. The queue is very long and it takes about 30 to 60 minutes of queuing in order to get in.

Chateau de Versailles Rive Gauche train station

Little Lilly travel tips:

  1. Understand and know how public transport works in Paris.
  2. Check what kind of public transport links exists from your hotel to the nearest metro/tram station to Pont du Garigliano RER C train station.
  3. Metro (subway) and Tram use the same ticket.
  4. If you go there in the summer, bring
    1. a hat to protect you from the sun.
    2. some water to keep you hydrated, and
    3. some food to pass the time while queuing to get into the palace.
  5. No food allowed inside the palace, but you can bring a bottle of water.
  6. Enjoy your visit.

 

Cambodia: Full moon walk with my son at a park in Phnom Penh

When my siblings and I were still little, our parents number one priority was our education. They did not spend a truckload of money on entertainment in order for us to have fun. They taught us that the most fun things are free. In fact, my childhood best growing-up memories were right in our backyard, in our neighborhood. And one of those I have enjoyed since I was a child was walking or playing at night at the beach with our neighbors, by the moonlight. It was very fun and it offered me a new and different perspective on how the world was mutating from an ordinary landscape during the day into a wilderness at nighttime.

Full moon walk at a park in Phnom Penh

When I learned that the moon was full on the night of 17th April 2019, I took my son for a full moon walk at the park near the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh as we are living in the capital city (far from the beach and the mountain) . We strolled for 6 rounds in the park making it about 7km under the moonshine.

Full moon walk at a park in Phnom Penh

Wandering as slow as a snail pace, we talked about the moon. I explained to Pete that the moon makes no light of its own instead it reflects the sun’s light back to us. The moon is full when the orbit that carries it brings it close to the earth but not behind the earth so that it can very nearly fully lit by the sun. When the moon is behind the earth, it is a dark moon (it means that there is moon but we can’t see it). When the moon is between the sun and the earth, it is a total eclipse. Furthermore, we also talked about nature, about family in the Philippines, and the Lent season. It was marvelous – leisurely and educational.

Full moon walk at a park in Phnom Penh

The moon is indeed mysterious and alluring. This winsome white and shapeless mass gleams with radiance, bringing light on the darkest of nights. It dances through the twilight sky, and hides in daytime. Even though the huge pale ball seemed to be quite dull to other people, it always beamed a smile at me.

Certainly, it was a special night and great opportunity for me and my son to bond. Plus, the moon that was wandering companionless followed us home as we sauntered through the night and kept watching us from the distance.

Indonesia: Temple hopping in Bali

Another interesting activity to do in Bali is temple hopping, as the island is home to thousands of Hindu temples. Each temple (pura in Balinese) has its own intricate architecture, great views, charming courtyards, and beautiful story. So, during our trip to Bali, we made sure we could visit a few of them.

The Temple of Tirta Empul

It is located in the village of Manukaya in Central Bali. The name Tirta Empul means “holy water spring” because it houses a mountain spring that is the source of a river. This temple is one of the most important temple complex in Bali built circa 960 AD, and considered as a national heritage site. According to the legend, the spring was created by the Hindu god Indra who pricked the earth to let out a spring of sacred water. This temple is popular among locals and tourists alike. Many people go there for a dip in the bathing pools as they believed that its waters have curative properties.

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The Temple of Tirta Empul

The holy water spring at the Temple of Tirta Empul

The Temple of Tirta Empul

The Temple of Tirta Empul

The Temple of Tirta Empul

The Temple of Tirta Empul

The Temple of Tirta Empul

The Temple of Tirta Empul

The Temple of Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot Temple (which means a small island floating on the sea) is one of the photogenic sites in Bali, situated on a rocky islet off the south-west coast surrounded by gently crashing waves in the ocean. The temple can only be reached at low tide, and only the staff can go inside for ceremonies and to preserve the place from further damage. We went there in the morning even though we heard that the sunset there is spectacular just to ditch the crowd. To me, the place is more than the temple itself – it’s good to visit with family, it’s very leisurely and calm.

The Temple of Tanah Lot

The Temple of Tanah Lot

The Temple of Tanah Lot

Behind me is the Temple of Tanah Lot

The Temple of Tanah Lot

The Temple of Tanah Lot

The Temple of Uluwatu

Uluwatu Temple, one of Bali’s iconic landmark, has stunning and dramatic views, especially views of waves lapping onto the rocks below. It’s built on a cliff about 70m above the sea on the south-western tip of the island. The tourists can walk along the cliff and enjoy the sea breeze and breathtaking views. What I love the most there is the elevated vistas stretching as far as the eye can see. Since many people go there at sunset when the sky is painted with a thousand shades of orange, pink and yellow, my family and I opted to visit the temple early in the afternoon to avoid the sunset crowds. It’s an amazing sight – to see this 11th century temple perched on a towering precipice overlooking the Indian Ocean.

The Temple of Uluwatu

The Temple of Uluwatu

The Temple of Uluwatu

The Temple of Uluwatu

The Temple of Uluwatu

The Temple of Uluwatu

The Temple of Uluwatu

We truly enjoyed our time there and the temples are absolutely well worth a visit if you’re in Bali.

 Little Lilly travel tips:

  • Beware of the notorious monkeys at the Temple of Uluwatu. They are awful. They might steal your mobile phone, glasses, cap, bag, etc.
  • We heard that there’s a dance show at the Temple of Uluwatu at every 6PM.
  • The entrance fee for every temple was very reasonable and it covers the cost of the use of a sarong.