5 good reasons to spend a weekend in Basel

5 good reasons to spend a weekend in Basel

The discovery of Basel was a real surprise for me. Located on the banks of the Rhine at the crossroads of the three borders Switzerland, France and Germany, it is a real gem. The third largest city in Switzerland, behind Zurich and Geneva, is not very well known at the tourist level, which is very surprising. It is true that when we think of a trip to Switzerland, we first imagine its mountains and natural landscapes rather than cities. Yet Basel is definitely worth the detour! It has the charm of a village while having the cultural assets of a great metropolis, with in addition the splendid natural setting of the banks of the Rhine in which one can even bathe! It’s really an ideal destination to discover on a weekend, or more if you have the time,

1 / The cultural capital of Switzerland

With a total of 40 museums, Basel has the highest density of museums in Switzerland. Every year, in mid-June, it becomes the world capital of contemporary art with the holding of Art Basel, the largest living room of modern and contemporary art in the world.

One of the most famous museums is the Fondation Beyeler , which presents a collection of 200 works of art including Monet, Cézanne, Picasso, Warhol … The building was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano and presents a beautiful harmony between Art, architecture and nature with the garden and the surrounding fields.

Until 1 October 2017, the temporary exhibition is dedicated to photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. Then, it will be the abstract painter Paul Klee until January 21, 2018. Prices and practical information .

Plus: Lunch at the restaurant in the Foundation Park, Berower Park Restaurant. When the weather is nice, you can eat in the garden overlooking the sculptures of Alexander Calder and Ellsworth Kelly. Fine cuisine with seasonal products (around CHF 30 for lunch).

The other museum I really liked was the one dedicated to Jean Tinguely, one of the most original Swiss artists of the 20th century with his mobile mechanical sculptures. We know him well in Paris because he made the Stravinsky fountain near Beaubourg, in collaboration with his wife, Niki de Saint Phalle. Like the Fondation Beyeler, the Tinguely Museum was also created by one of the world’s leading architects, the Swiss Mario Botta. Again, it fits very well with the surrounding garden, where you can see sculptures like that of Niki de Saint Phalle.

The most impressive piece of the museum Tinguely is the work “Utopia”, its real name “Big Meta-Maxi-Maxi-Utopia”. With 140 m2 of floor space, it is a sculpture-machine over 4 meters high, which can be climbed by stairs and mechanical walkways. There is an incredible system of wooden wheels and pieces of metal that move when you operate the mechanism. A great visit for children, as for adults elsewhere …

In addition to visiting the museum, or if you do not have time to go, you should at least visit the Tinguely fountain, close to the old town.

The idea a little crazy: we can return to the Tinguely Museum to swim, diving into the Rhine … But that I talk about it further!

10 things to see or do while traveling in Bali

10 things to see or do while traveling in Bali

When we imagine a trip to Bali, we fantasize about its dream beaches, postcard rice paddies and sacred temples … But on arrival, we sometimes disillusion a little face to its traffic jams, pollution and drifts of a poorly controlled mass tourism. It’s been just a week since I left Bali and I still struggle to take stock of this trip. To be honest, I went from exasperation to wonder. It makes you dizzy and in the end, we do not know what to think … Bali deserves in any case a thorough trip. Better to spend time there, both to visit the tourist attractions, but also to think outside the box and discover unknown places. This top 10 is a kind of mix of all this … At the same time of the places that you will find in all the guides of voyage, like Uluwatu and the forest of the monkeys, and others very little known or downright unusual, like the Tegunungan waterfall or the 3D illusion museum of Seminyak. I hope you canpick some ideas for organizing your trip to Bali.

1 / The dream beaches of the Bukit peninsula

The beach of Green Bowl in South Bali

This is the fantasy when you arrive in Bali: find a paradise beach with white sand, turquoise water, and – preferably – not too many tourists … The beach favorite of my trip to Bali, it was Green Bowl Beach , all the way south of the Bukit Peninsula. It’s like postcards: you’re almost alone and the decor is heavenly! The beach is suitable for both surfers and non-surfers since the waves are offshore. The ideal, when, like me, we do not like waves at all.

Among the other very nice beaches of the Bukit Peninsula, I also really liked Pandawa Beach(this is the top photo of the article above). There are a few more people, but the advantage is that there are plenty of warungs (traditional Indonesian restaurants) and you can eat a good grilled fish overlooking the turquoise water.

See also, right next to Pandawa beach: Padang Padang beach , made famous by the movie Eat, Pray and Love . The atmosphere is much less quiet since the success of the film that has attracted tourists, but the setting remains splendid and we take the game to follow in the footsteps of Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem. Otherwise, for other sublime beaches in Bali, spend a few days on the island of Nusa Lembongan , 30 minutes by boat off Sanur.

Padang Padang beach. Photo credit: Emily Zanier Travel and Film

2 / The rice fields of Jatiluwih

I have traveled to several countries in Southeast Asia, and I must admit that Bali’s rice fields are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. You have to go to the rice fields of Jatiluwih, located in the center of the island, a little north of Ubud. They have also been classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, both for the beauty of the landscape and the importance of rice cultivation in the country. Jatiluwih in Indonesian means “really wonderful” and it’s really the right term to describe the rice terraces of the site.

3 / Uluwatu, its temple, its cliffs and the surf Uluwatu is one of the most famous places in Bali, famous for its cliff-top temple and surf spot. Regarding the Pura Luhur Ulu Watu, the temple, we come for the view, because the panorama of the Indian Ocean is magical, but not for the temple in fact, because only the faithful can access it. It is necessary to pay attention to the monkeys however, very numerous, and who do not hesitate to jump on the tourists to steal pairs of glasses or any other shining object …

When it comes to surfing, Uluwatu is known around the world for the strength of its waves. It’s a place for experienced surfers. For others, the best is to enjoy the view in one of the many bars and cafes that line the cliff.

4 / The sunset in Seminyak

Seminyak, it’s a little Asian Saint-Tropez, with its trendy bars, fashion boutiques, art galleries … Its beach is located in the extension of that of Kuta Beach, north. It’s more like a beach for surfers with big waves. In the late afternoon, everyone is there to watch the sunset and must say that the show is sublime! There are plenty of nice bars to sip a good cocktail or a cool Bintang enjoying the view. One of the most popular places is the bar La Plancha, very photogenic with its Moorish parasols and multicolored poufs. Once night falls, it’s the right place to party on the beach!

Some ideas to discover Tokyo differently

Some ideas to discover Tokyo differently

Tokyo is not just a city, it’s a universe. More than anywhere else in the world, the contrasts are striking. One has the impression of entering into a kind of parallel dimension where everything becomes possible. At first we are surprised at every street corner, and then the extraordinary becomes normal. The weird melts into the environment.

It is a city that is not obvious to discover. Whether we stay there for three days, three weeks or three months, we will always have a feeling of frustration at not having seen enough. We must accept that we can never have done the trick. I wanted to write an article with all the essentials to see or do in Tokyo, but the list seems so interminable that I feel discouraged … So I start with these ideas of places or things to do that ‘ have rained, but are not necessarily part of the usual Top 10 or Top 20 of the Japanese capital. So of course you have to go to Shibuya, Akihabara or Shinjuku, but not only!

1 / A museum dedicated to the master of Japanese prints

This is one of the most famous images of Japan in the world: this huge wave that pretends to engulf Mount Fuji. This print is the work of one of the greatest Japanese artists, Katsushika Hokusai, and a brand new museum has just been dedicated to him in Tokyo. The Sumida Hokusai Museumopened in November 2016. There is much to learn about the life of this artist, who lived from 1760 to 1849. His most famous prints are the famous Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji, including “The Great Wave off Kanagawa “. The museum is also very successful architecturally. Directed by the Japanese architect Sejima Kazuvo, it impresses with its facade with geometric shapes and aluminum panels that reflect the light. A very successful contrast between a traditional artist and a modern architecture.

To see more. The Sumida Hokusai Museum is right next to the Edo Museum dedicated to the history of Tokyo City. It is also a great museum, with life-size reconstructions of ancient Tokyo. It’s like a real journey back in time and you can see the extent of the cataclysms the city has had to deal with, such as the 1923 earthquake or the Second World War. It’s a good idea to chain both visits.

2 / A cruise to discover Tokyo seen from the river

Most of the time to move to Tokyo, we use the subway. The city is so huge that on foot you are quickly discouraged. An alternative to discover the Japanese capital differently is to cruise on the Sumida River that crosses the eastern part of Tokyo. There are several companies that offer this, but an original way is to do it with the boat Hotaluna. Imagined by the Mangaka Leiji Matsumoto, it is a boat with a very futuristic design. The departure takes place from the traditional district of Asakusa, just in front of the headquarters of the Asahi Japanese beer with the golden flame designed by the French designer Philippe Starck. On the first part of the route you can see the landscape through the windows and the metal hoops and on the second part, you can go outside on the roof of the boat. The arrival takes place in the district of Odaiba, one of the most modern of Tokyo.

Traveling to Russia during the World Cup: A Complete Guide

Traveling to Russia during the World Cup: A Complete Guide

The 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia from June 14th to July 15th. Every four years, it is one of the biggest sporting events on the planet, but also one of the most beautiful popular festivals in the world, which unites far beyond football fans. Rather than follow the matches in front of his TV, why not take the opportunity to go on site and combine both the passion of sport and travel? This is what I have done twice since I went to South Africa for the World Cup in 2010 and Brazil in 2014. Each time, it was a great adventure and unforgettable. With supporters from all over the world coming out to cheer for their team, it feels like going around the world while staying in the same country. The festive and friendly spirit predominates largely on the rivalries and animosities that can sometimes exist between supporters. More than just a sport, football is a great vector of social gathering.

So how do you go about organizing a trip to Russia to see the World Cup? Contrary to popular belief, we can very well attend a World Cup without breaking the bank, provided we are resourceful, flexible and not demanding on comfort on the road. Whether for South Africa or Brazil, I did not organize anything in advance. But for Russia, the configuration looks different. It is a country more complicated than the others and which is not very touristy. I have been there three times, so I invite you to read this general article with all my advice for a trip to Russia . As for the World Cup, here is the main information that I could gather and the tips that I can give strong of my experience of two World Cups.

Note: I will be in Russia during the World Cup, so I will regularly update this article based on information collected on site.

Russian visa instructions for the World Cup

This is the first good news: fans holding tickets for matches will be exempt from visa to enter Russia. When you know the galley to get it and the price to pay, it’s a big advantage! It will be sufficient to have purchased at least one ticket (on the FIFA website), and this will entitle you to stay in Russia in a period starting ten days before the first match (ie June 4 from 00:00) and finishing ten days after the final (ie until 23:59 on July 25), so much more than the tourist visa which is limited to 30 days. It will however make a request for Fan-ID, kind of ID of the supporter, it will be necessary to present to access the stadiums. Everything is explained on this site: https://www.fan-id.ru/index.html It will of course have a passport also valid throughout the duration of the trip to Russia. Another advantage of the size of the Fan-ID: it will also allow to go to Belarus during the same period, from June 4 to July 25. This is an opportunity to visit a second country on this trip!

For those wishing to attend the World Cup without buying match tickets in advance, who just want to enjoy the atmosphere or who accompany supporters, it will be necessary to apply for a traditional Russian visa. For my part, I recommend going through an agency like Action Visas to facilitate the process.

Buy tickets for Mondial matches

This is of course the most important step: to successfully buy a ticket (s) for the competition. The FIFA websiteis the only official website to buy tickets. There have already been several sales phases, including a random draw or first-come, first-served basis. It must therefore be responsive enough to dig up the precious sesames. The last phase takes place from April 18 to July 15, the day of the final. It will still be possible to buy tickets after the start of the competition, especially at the end of the group stage, when we know which teams are continuing the competition. At this point, there may be a lot of last-minute buying possibilities, especially when favorite teams are not qualified for the second phase: many disappointed fans cancel the options that allowed them to see their matches. team and therefore release tickets for sale.ticket resale platform for those who can no longer travel to Russia. Resellers only lose 10% of the ticket price. As a result, it puts on sale tickets for matches while everything was sold-out before! The best way to buy these last minute tickets is to connect to the FIFA website in the middle of the night. This is where there is more shopping opportunity, otherwise in the course of the day there is nothing.

There are four different price categories, knowing that the 4th, the least expensive, is reserved for Russian nationals. This is the case for all World Cups: there are always cheaper tickets to allow the inhabitants of the country to enjoy the event more easily. A Russian will be able to attend a group match by paying a little less than 20 euros, which allows the Mondial to remain a popular party. For foreigners, the minimum price is 90 euros (it is cheaper than the price of the Russian visa which easily exceeds 100 euros with ancillary costs).

Before buying tickets for matches, you must first decide what strategy to adopt. Encourage the Blues and follow the team of France? It is then necessary to apply for the packs of the first phase and / or the options on the matches according to the results. At this stage of the sales phase, as many tickets have already been sold, it may be wise to consider an alternative strategy: target matches for which there is little demand. For example: Croatia / Nigeria on June 16th in Kaliningrad, Sweden / Korea on June 18th in Nizhny Novgorod, Iceland / Nigeria on June 22nd in Volgograd … This can make sure to see at least one match and have the precious fan-ID that entitles you to the Russian visa and the entrance of the stadiums.

Perpignan travel guide with lots of great places

Perpignan travel guide with lots of great places

I did not expect it, but Perpignan was a very good surprise. Nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees, the prefecture of Pyrénées-Orientales has many tourist attractions. This is not just the gateway to discover the pearls of the coast as Collioure or the inescapable hinterland as Céret or Villefranche-de-Conflent. With its historical heritage and charming old center, Perpignan is worth a stop for a day or two, to enjoy its pleasant atmosphere in the shade of plane trees and palm trees.

The many red and gold flags hanging from the colorful facades of the city highlight its strong Catalan identity: here we are in French Catalonia and the cultural change is at the rendezvous. Here are the must-see sites to visit in Perpignan and all the good addresses (12 in total !!) that I could find there.

What to see and visit in Perpignan

The Castillet

The Castillet is the emblem of Perpignan. This 14th century fortified gate marks the entrance to the old city center. You can climb to the top of the keep and its 142 steps to enjoy a panoramic view of the city, but we still have a better view from the terrace of Galeries Lafayettes, just in front of the Castillet (plus it’s free and we can take the elevator …).

St. John the Baptist Cathedral

Southern Gothic style, the Cathedral Saint-Jean-Baptiste was built between the fourt  and seventeenth century. Longer than 70m, the nave is quite impressive. The visit not to be missed is that of Campo Santo, just behind the cathedral, passing on the right. It is the only cloister-cemetery in France. The immense, very bare courtyard surrounded by white marble gothic arches is a real haven of peace in the city center.

The Sea Lodge and the Town Hall

The Place de la Loge is the historic heart of the old town. The Sea Lodge, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, built in the 14th century in flamboyant Gothic style, was once the maritime court. When I went to Perpignan, the building was in full work because this is where will be installed the new tourist office of the city. Next door is the Town Hall, a beautiful building dating from the 13th century. The major asset is the patio with a sculpture by Aristide Maillol, The Mediterranean, in its center.

14 tips and tricks for traveling cheaper in Iceland

14 tips and tricks for traveling cheaper in Iceland

Iceland is a fabulous country to discover. But the downside, it is also a very expensive country and it is not easy to travel without spending too much money. Average budgets are usually 80 to 100 euros per day per person. I went there three times: in August 2006, November 2015 and July to September 2016. For my part, I was rather on an average of 50 euros per day. We can even spend a lot less if we have the adventurous spirit and we are not at all looking at its comfort … From this experience, here is a series of tips for traveling cheaper in Iceland.

1 / Enjoy cheap airline tickets

This is one of the reasons for the tourism boom in Iceland in recent years: the marketing of Icelandic companies Icelandair and Wow Air are engaged in a real price war on the transatlantic flight market. As a result, flights to Iceland have never been cheaper. These two companies propose the “stop-over” formula, which makes it possible to make a stopover of several days in Iceland during a transatlantic flight, without additional cost for the price of the ticket. This provides a first glimpse of the country. The third company that offers really good prices is Transavia, a low-cost subsidiary of the Air-France KLM group.
The best way to find a plane ticket at the best price is first to do a simulation on Google’s comparatorMatrix ita : you can not buy a ticket, but it gives you an idea about the good rates and the good dates. Then, we can compare with what we find on Skyscanner , which I really like the search function “over the whole month”. Excluding promotions, the average prices for a Paris-Reykjavik AR are between 150 and 300 euros. For the promo, you should aim for a trip in autumn, from October to December.

2 / Book in advance

Whether for airfare, car rental or hotel night, no need to hope for last-minute prices. The tourist success of Iceland makes everything fast enough and last-minute promotions practically non-existent. The only case where I found interesting prices at the last minute was in November, which is the trough of tourist activity in Iceland. If you are planning a trip to Iceland, it may be a good calculation to make reservations in case on Booking , a hotel booking site where most of the time the cancellation is free (to be checked on a case by case basis on each reservation)

Nature and design trip to Sweden through Småland

Nature and design trip to Sweden through Småland

Have you heard of Småland before? It is a little known region of Sweden, located in the south of the country. Covered by huge forests and innumerable lakes, I discovered it on the occasion of the inauguration of a new airline serving Växjö, one of the main cities of the province. Småland is not only a destination for nature lovers, but also for design lovers, as it is also the kingdom of furniture and crystal. This is where the global giant Ikea was born, as well as many prestigious brands in the glass business. Follow me on this nature and design journey through Småland, from Växjö to Kalmar …

Växjö, one of the greenest cities in Europe

The journey starts in Växjö, accessible via daily KLM-Air-France from Amsterdam. It’s not especially a tourist town, but it’s a good starting point for exploring Småland. Interesting fact to know: it is one of the most ecological cities in Europe! Located on the edge of huge forests, it is warmed by moss and pine cones and public transport biogas using food waste as fuel. As a result, the city has a CO2 emission rate of just 2 tonnes per capita per year, which is one of the lowest rates in Europe. Renewable energies contribute 85% of the energy for heating and electricity.

The city center of Växjö is pleasant to discover, with its pedestrian and lively streets. The cathedral is one of the emblematic monuments of the city, with its two symmetrical towers that can be seen from afar. It dates from the 12th century, but it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. With 63m high it is the tallest building in Växjö.

The best way to visit Växjö is to rent a bike. The network of bike paths is very developed and it allows to cover large areas, among the many lakes and green areas of the city. We often feel like we are in the middle of the Swedish countryside when we are just rallying from one neighborhood to another.

A break in paradise on the island of Nusa Lembongan in Bali

A break in paradise on the island of Nusa Lembongan in Bali

That’s the feeling I had when I left Nusa Lembongan … I had just spent three days in paradise. This small island of just 8km2 off South Bali is a real treasure. We come here to swim in its incredible blue turquoise waters, surf, dive or snorkel. After a month of traveling in Indonesia with Lucie ( Voyages and Vagabondages ), we wanted to ask ourselves a few days in peace on dream beaches and we chose our destination.

We arrive at Nusa Lembongan by boat from Sanur. The crossing lasts a little more than 30 minutes with a speed boat (approx 150.000 IDR, or about 10 EUR). Attention, it shakes a little, I prefer to warn for those who have seasickness … And better to provide flip flops or sandals for the ride because you have to put your feet in the water (to the knees) to go up to edge. We dock at Jungutbatu, on the main beach facing Bali. This is where we booked our hotel, the Krisna Home Stay , a small family run hotel with clean and comfortable rooms, hot water and air conditioning (approx. IDR 200.000 per night, around EUR 15).

We leave immediately to discover the sublime beaches of Nusa Lembongan. I have rarely seen a blue water so pure and beautiful. It’s almost unreal. The island is not big, so you can walk, along beaches or trails on the cliffs. For those who prefer, it is of course possible to rent scooters. From the first day, we discover our favorite bar for a drink facing the sea: the Blue Corner Bar. Very photogenic with umbrellas and poufs of all colors, we will come back there every day. This is the best place to enjoy the sunset, with good music and a good cocktail. It is also a diving club (with good reputation) for those who want to do on the island

The next day, we leave to discover the neighboring island, even smaller, Nusa Ceningan. During our stay there, the two islands were connected by a small yellow bridge, only accessible for pedestrians and scooters, and that did not make us feel good anyway, so it was shaking under our feet. He unfortunately broke the day after we left, killing nine people and dozens wounded. There was a problem of overload following a religious ceremony that day. This tragic event reminds us that Indonesia’s transport infrastructure, whether roads or bridges, is often in poor condition. This is something to keep in mind when traveling to this country, although unfortunately there is not much you can do about it. Since,

On Nusa Ceningan, we went to see Secret Beach, on the other side of the island. The beach is sublime, however, to swim is average, because there are big waves and lots of rocks. To get refreshed, it is better to swim in the pool of the resort which borders the beach. It is accessible to foreign guests of the hotel if one consumes. On the other hand, it’s better to just have a drink and go eat somewhere else, because we found it expensive and really bad.

The other magical place on Nusa Ceningan is the Blue Lagoon. You can not swim there, because it’s on the edge of a cliff, but the view is amazing! Again a turquoise blue of unreal transparency.

In addition to tourism, both islands live from seaweed cultivation. You can see algae parks in the water when you walk around. At low tide, fishermen come harvest the seaweed in large baskets. They let them dry in the sun along the roads.

Trip to Kota Kinabalu on the island of Borneo in Malaysia

Trip to Kota Kinabalu on the island of Borneo in Malaysia

Kota Kinabalu? What strange and exotic name is it? For my part, I had never heard of it before receiving an invitation from Thai Airways and the Malaysian Tourist Board to discover this place. The unknown aspect of this destination has all the more fueled my curiosity and my desire to make this trip. In addition, it was my first time on the island of Borneo, known for the exceptional richness of its fauna, such as orangutans and monkey monkeys, and its flora with its equatorial forests. Borneo is divided into three countries: Malaysia in the North, Indonesia in the South, and the small state of Brunei on the North West Coast.

Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the Sabah region, also called “The land below the wind” because it is protected from typhoons. It takes its name from the nearby mountain: Mount Kinabalu , which with 4,095m above sea level, is the highest point in Malaysia and one of the highest peaks in Southeast Asia (see photo above). We did not have the opportunity to climb it during this trip, but it is one of the best in the region, even if it’s quite physical given the high altitude.

The main interest of Kota Kinabalu, also known as “KK”, is that it is the gateway to discover northern Borneo. The airline Thai Airways has recently opened a new line to connect Bangkok to Kota Kinabalu and wants to attract more travelers. There are also currently promotional flights from 615 euros (Paris-Bangkok-Kota-Kinabalu A / R) for departures until December.

Visit Kota Kinabalu and discover the traditions

The city itself of Kota Kinabalu does not have much interest. It is a large agglomeration of more than 500.000 inhabitants, modern, developed and very concreted. Originally an old British port, but following the Japanese occupation during the Second World War, it was massively destroyed by Allied bombing, hence the lack of historical heritage. What struck me was the impressive number of construction sites and buildings under construction. We can see that it is a booming city. The roads are in very good condition, modern and comfortable cars, recent infrastructures. The level of development is really much higher than in neighboring countries like Indonesia or Thailand. Malaysia is one of the richest countries in Southeast Asia.

There are still two tours worth visiting: Kampung Warisan Traditions Village and Kota Kinabalu Heritage Museum . You can visit reconstructed traditional houses, made entirely of wood and bamboo. You can also see the traditional clothes of the ancient tribes, their tools, the musical instruments … With the explanations of our guide of the agency Asian Trails , we learned there the history and the traditions of the peoples of this part of Borneo which have also been formidable cutters!

Gaya Island: beach, jungle and relaxation

Gaya island resort on Gaya Island in front of Kota Kinabalu

Located just opposite Kota Kinabalu, a 10-minute boat trip, Gaya Island is ideal for enjoying the pleasures of the beach and discovering the equatorial jungle. The island is actually occupied by several hotels and you have to stay in one of them to enjoy it. For our part we were at Gaya Island Resort , a beautiful 5 star hotel, perfect for a romantic and quiet couple stay (approx 200 euros per double room). You can easily spend three days as there are plenty of activities to do beyond just enjoying the pool or the various beaches. The ideal is to go on a boat trip to go snorkeling. The seabed is sublime and you can see tropical fish of all colors. You can also kayak through the mangrove.