Home(s)

Home is one of the most complicated words in the English language.

Or maybe it’s just me & my complicated home situation speaking. But the fact is, almost everytime I use it, I have to explain which home I mean.

Coming home, going home, being back home… How many times have I had to stop mid-sentence to add some helpful bit of context. One of the difficulties of being an expat’ (for lack of a better word) in a country I don’t have direct ties to, I suppose.

The Places I Call Home • #travellinkup • Cake + Whisky

From London to Ile de Ré, to my parents’ house in the French countryside and to places we visited that instantly made me feel at home, there are so many places I call home.

You know what they say… Home is where the heart and the memories are. And my heart & memories just seem to be spread all over the world.

My parents’ home

My parents bought the house they live in shortly before I was born.

It’s the place where I grew up. The place where I’ve woken up every Christmas morning. The place my childhood memories link back to.

It’s the place I’ve met my best friend in. The place I’ve baked endless cakes while studying for my exams. Where I fell in love with garden-to-table dining. The place that never fails to make me feel calm and at peace the second I pass through the door.

It’s in the middle of nowhere, in the tiniest of villages, and the sort of place where you need a car if you hope to be able to do anything. Post office, grocery store, the whole lot. Needless to say, it’s really rather unpractical given that I don’t own a car.

But then again, it’s the place the ones I love most live in. The place where the dogs are. The place where I come from.

It’s always been my home and even now, after having moving out almost 8 years ago, it still is.

London

The place I built my first home in.

The Places I Call Home • #travellinkup • Cake + WhiskyCake + Whisky | London

It hasn’t been easy. London is a demanding city. It’s gigantic, it never stops and it can take a while to find your spot in the city’s crazy diverse environment.

Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell, London | Cake + WhiskyAnd yet it was love at first sight. From the very first day, London has felt like home in ways every other place I lived in before never did.

● Cake + Whisky

And almost 5 years in, it looks like I’m not about to get tired of it any time soon. Especially since I’ve started cycling everywhere (more on that soon!).

Île de Ré

When I was a child, I went on holiday to Ile de Ré for a month every year.

Postcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + Whisky

There, I would live in my swimsuit, swimming in the sea, walking barefoot in the sand, eating ice cream by the dozen, sleeping under a tent, picking up shellfish on the rocks and salted butter by the kilo at the local market. And I would dream that one day, I would own one of the gorgeous houses overlooking the ocean.

Postcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyCake + Whisky | Ile de Ré France beach

To this day, that’s still a dream of mine, and a rather expensive one at that. But oh, how I’d love to some day live beside the seaside…

Finding new homes on the way

Whenever we travel (and even more so since the whole Brexit thing started), our #1 priority is to experience the city/country the way the locals do. Avoid the tourist crowds and try to have a peek of what living there would be like instead.

A weekend in Barcelona ● Travel Guide ● Cake + Whisky A weekend in Barcelona ● Travel Guide ● Cake + Whisky

That’s how we ended up finding the best tapas spot in Barcelona, why we decided to spend a week eating croissants and wandering the streets of Paris last summer, and why we loved our trip to Dublin so much.

It’s obviously not helping in any way with my travel bucket list as I now want to re-visit my new-found homes on top of trying to discover new ones…

A mini guide to Dublin, Ireland | Cake + Whisky

Where to you feel at home? Is home a specific place or city, or like me, do you confuse others with multiple homes and potential future homes? Answers on a postcard or in the comment below!

This post was created as part of this month’s #travellinkup, all about exploring the places closest to our hearts – home. If you want to join in the #travellinkup fun, pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th June 2017), then add it to the link up widget found on Follow Your SunshineSilverSpoon LondonAdventures of a London Kiwi or Kiwi Footprints from June 1st.
Home(s)

10 French places (that are not Paris) you must visit

When it comes to tourism in France, Paris definitely dominates the headlines.

And while it is charming, magical and a place everyone should visit at least one, this doesn’t mean other French cities should be overlooked!

Snowy mountains, golden sand beaches, no-house-for-miles countryside, buzzy cities, adorable little towns, France has it all.

And because there’ll be more than enough ‘Paris’ content coming to this blog very, very soon (I’m on my way there as you read this!), I thought it was only fair to balance things out by sharing 10 other French places you absolutely must put on your travel bucket list.

1. Lyon

Located in the South East of France, near the Swiss border, there are many reasons to put Lyon at the very top of your travel bucket list.

Lyon | 10 French cities (that are not Paris) to visit

First things first, food.

France is always acclaimed for its gastronomy, and Lyon is the capital city of French gastronomy. No molecular food to be seen there! Lyonnaise cuisine focuses on home cooked dishes and the classics, with the ultimate aim of highlighting carefully chosen ingredients.

Lyon, France

Lyon’s ‘bouchon’ restaurants are the place to go to taste the best local dishes such as sausages, duck pâté or roast pork along with local wines. Much like tapas bars in Barcelona, the locals have their favourites and will happily give you tips.

Lyon | 10 French cities everyone must travel to

Besides being a delicious city, Lyon is also a beautiful one and is home to 2,000 years of history. The Historic Site of Lyons has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998 and includes examples of Roman and Renaissance architecture.

2. Saint Malo

Saint Malo, Brittany, France | Cake + Whisky

Located on the English Channel, Saint Malo is a walled port city with a badass history!

Saint Malo, Brittany, France | Cake + Whisky

Traditionally with an independent streak (and a tradition of asserting its autonomy in dealings with the French authorities and even with the local Breton authorities), Saint-Malo was in the past notorious for privateering.

Saint Malo, Brittany, France | Cake + Whisky

The city still shows marks of its hectic past, making it the perfect destination for history nerds and pirates lovers!

Saint Malo, Brittany, France | Cake + Whisky

And then, there are some of the most beautiful beaches in France, green-toned water, the freshest seafood… and SALTED CARAMEL!

Read more: 10 reasons to visit Saint Malo / Sailing to Saint Malo with Brittany Ferries / 10 awesome souvenirs to buy in Saint Malo

3. Corsica

Corsica | 10 French places for your travel bucket list

A small island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea (and the birthplace of Napoleon), Corsica is nothing like mainland France.

Corsica | 10 places in France to visit before you die

Mountains make up two-thirds of the island, forming a single chain and creating jaw-droppingly beautiful landscapes and the dreamiest of backgrounds for hiking.

Corsica | 10 places in France too beautiful for words

Surrounded by the sea, covered in forests and under a rather mild weather, Corsica is the perfect destination if you’re in for a bit of a walk on the wild side!

4. Strasbourg

Strasbourg | 10 French cities to visit before you die

Strasbourg, the capital city of the Alsace region, sits near the German border in northwestern France and it’s the perfect example of what makes border cities so special.

Strasbourg architecture, much like its culture, blends German and French influences perfectly.

Strasbourg | 10 French cities to put on your travel bucket list

And there’s a lot to see: from the breath-taking gothic Cathedrale Notre Dame to the hyper-modern European Parliament building, as well as many other EU-related buildings and the too-cute-for-words Petite France area, Strasbourg is a small city that packs up a lot!

Strasbourg | 10 French cities perfect for a weekend getaway

Perfect for a (potentially Flamenküche-and-beer-fueled) weekend city break!

5. Nantes

Nantes | 10 best French cities to visit

Long rated one of France’s best places to live, the capital of the western Loire was once a powerful maritime city. Nowadays, the waterways are not as influential as they once were, but Nantes has many other aces up its sleeves.

Nantes | 10 best French cities to travel to

There’s something fascinating about how the old (including the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, former home of the Dukes of Brittany and Anne de Bretagne) mixes with the new and a walk through Nantes will take you way into the past and back.

Nantes | 10 best French cities to travel to

Even more interesting is Nantes’ ever-growing number of art and cultural diversions. Highlights include open-air Les Machines de L’Ile, an unprecedented artistic project channeling Jules Verne’s “invented worlds”, of the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci, where you can ride a 12-m elephant-machine, as well as a trip to Le Lieu Unique,the national center for contemporary arts, housed in a former biscuit factory at the center of the city.

Nantes | 10 French cities everyone should visit

And no visit to Nantes is complete without a feast on the region’s food specialities, including fish with beurre blanc sauce, Gateau Nantais (a kind of iced almond cake), all washed down with a chilled glass of crisp muscadet!

6. Lille

Lille | 10 best French cities to travel to

Lille is an architectural beauty with strong Flemish influences, but it’s also a historical hot-spot.

Long an industrial centre, Lille has made major efforts to reviev itself in the last two decades it has made great efforts to revive itself, efforts that were rewarded with Lille becoming the European City of Culture in 2004.

Lille | 10 best French cities to travel to

Most of the city old buildings have been renovated to their original beauty and are well worth a look, especially the Old Stock Exchange building and the magnificent Grand’ Place, which has many historic houses and is also home to markets and other public events.

Lille | 10 best French cities to travel to

Less famous but equally stunning is La Piscine, the craft & industry museum, worth a visit for the outstanding art deco interior and the mosaic indoor swimming pool alone!

Lille | 10 best French cities to travel to

Flea market lovers will want to plan their visit around the Grande Braderie de Lille, the largest flea market in Europe, taking place at the beginning of September and gathering about 2.5 millions visitors each year.

7. Bordeaux

Bordeaux | 10 best French cities to travel to

Bordeaux is of course the destination of choice for any wine lover. From vineyard tours to pretigious tasting sessions and wine festivals, there’s something for everyone and every budget.

Bordeaux | 10 best French cities to travel to

And while oenology and gastronomy are at the heart of many a trip to Bordeaux, there are many more reasons to pay the European Best Destination 2015 a visit.

Bordeaux | 10 best French cities to travel to

A city at the crossings between past and future, Bordeaux is elegant and surprising. From the amazing mirror of water to the monumental Grand Theatre and its small-street city centre, it’s truly a city of contrasts.

Bordeaux | 10 best French cities to travel to

On foot, by bike, tram, Bordeaux deserves to be explored before re-joining the docks in the evening for a stroll and a taste of the region’s many specialties on the edge of the river.

8. Annecy

Annecy | 10 best French cities to travel to

Settled on the shores of the Lake, and surrounded by mountains and woods, Annecy is one of the most popular towns in the Alps, and with good reasons as it combines the advantages of a town with unlimited water-based and mountain-related activities, such as hicking, cycling, pedal-boat on the lake, or even swimming.

Annecy | 10 best French cities to travel to

The old town is also well worth climbing to, with buildings dating back to the 12th century and many a great ice cream parlour to reward your effort!

9. Ile de Ré 

Ile de Ré | 10 best French cities to travel to

Located bang in the middle of continental France only a couple of miles away from the Atlantic coast, Ile de Ré is my happy place.

It’s where I spent all my holidays growing up, and I go back every opportunity I get.

Postcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + Whisky

It’s a beautiful little island, all in shades of blue and green, with white houses, endless beaches of golden sand, salt marshes as far as the eye can see and loads of bikes.

Cake + Whisky | Ile de Ré France beach

There’s more markets than you could possbily hope for, all bursting with fresh produce, gorgeous little restaurants dotted around the island, and the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Postcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + Whisky

(and seeing that as you read that, I’m wiggling my toes in the sand on one of Ile de Ré’s beautiful beaches, expect more Ile de Ré pics coming your way very, very soon!)

10. Disneyland!

Disneyland Paris | 10 best French cities to travel to

Alright, alright, that last one is cheating a little bit… But then, when a place makes perfectly responsible adults act like 6-year-olds, surely it is worth a visit!

10 French places (that are not Paris) you must visit

Postcard from the Ile de Ré

Some places just feel like home. I can’t really explain how it works, but the second you set the foot there, you immediately feel calmer, happier and like everything’s just right. Ile de Ré is definitely one of those places for me.

St Martin de Ré, Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyPostcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyPostcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + Whisky

My love story with the small Atlantic island started when I was a kid (I spent each and every one of my summers there) and it never went away.

Postcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyArs-en-Ré church, Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyPostcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyPostcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyPostcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyPostcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + Whisky

It most probably has something to do with the pastel shades of the blinds and the bright, very pure light.

Salt marshes on the Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyPostcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyPostcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyPostcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + Whisky

From the beautiful beaches to the lively markets, the salt marshes as far as one can see and the quirky bits here and there, there’s so much to love and there’s no place I’d rather be.

Postcard from the Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyIce cream from La Martinière, St Martin de Ré, Ile de Ré | Cake + WhiskyIce cream from La Martinière, St Martin de Ré, Ile de Ré | Cake + Whisky

Especially if the plan includes a picnic, followed by some ice cream at La Martinière.

If you’re ever around, do yourself a favour and order a scoop (or three) of their signature salted caramel ice cream. And if you ever need any more tips on visiting this little gem f an island, let me know!

Where’s your happy place? I’d love to visit each and every one of them! 

Postcard from the Ile de Ré

8 photos of happiness

It might seem a bit voyeuristic of me but I actually love tag-style articles as I find them to be a really good way to get to know the person behind the blog (and the little Gossip Girl inside me finds learning secrets extremely satisfying!).

Ariel of Ariel’s Little Corner of the Internet recently created the 8 photos of happiness tag and was kind enough to nominate me. Thanks Ariel!

And while I was busy deciding which pictures to include, the lovely Helena of Helena’s Teabreak, and the darling Amanda of Amanda Bootes tagged me as well! Thanks both!

The rules are very simple: it’s basically about sharing 8 pictures that make us happy and then sharing the love (and happiness) with other bloggers by inviting them to join into the tag!

So here are my 8 pictures!

8 photos of hapiness tag | Cake + WhiskyThis picture of me and my brother when we were kids is the cutest one I have and it gives me all the feelings.Cake + Whisky | FamilyThis picture of my sister & me, taken on Christmas Eve 😂😂As you might have guess, Christmas parties are a bit wild in my family! 😂

I love those pictures with my siblings as they remind me of how great a time we have when we are together. Being away from them is probably the most difficult thing about living abroad, but pictures like that always make me feel better. Cake + Whisky | 8 photos of happiness tagA fantastic trip, Polaroid cameras and my ever-so-wonderful boyfriend who’s getting far too good at dealing with even the craziest sides of me and would’t even think of eating a bite before I’ve taken 25 pictures of anything that’s on a table… This picture says it all! ❤Cake + Whisky | Touring London's best coffee shops with The London Coffee FestivalCake. Duh.

Cake + Whisky | London's best ice cream at GelupoIce cream. Basically like cake but frozen and much more appropriate in a heatwave. I’ll take 1 scoop of each please-and-thank-you-very-much!Cake + Whisky | Ile de Ré France beachOh, I like to be beside the seaside! Pictured is my absolute favourite place on Earth; Ile de Ré, on the French Atlantic coast.

Cake + Whisky | A walk around London | Sunny Days & Pretty DoorsLiving in London. Yes, it’s too expensive and there are too many people and it takes you ages to go anywhere, but I love it anywayCake + Whisky | 8 photos of happinessSlow mail. The sure-fire way to put a smile on my face. If you’re unable to provide cake, that is.

And now I’m going to sit tight and look forward to seing those lovelies’ happy pictures!

Izzy of Qthee

Bella of The Other F Word

Charity of My Life’s Miscellany

Susie of Sequins and Strawberries

Ophélie of Cross my Heart and Hope to Die

Want to join in the picture fun? Don’t forget to tag me in so I can go check out your happy pictures! 

8 photos of happiness