I was so privileged to photograph this lovely series of engagement photos, celebrating the Bluck’s. We set it right where Lewis proposed to Kirsty: by Sham Castle, Bath.
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*Disclaimer: Services were offered free and non-profit.*
All images subject to copyright – © Eleanor Hyde 2020
Not far from Bordeaux
Bordeaux is one of France’s famous wine regions. French wine is a delicacy that anyone hoping to encounter the nation’s culture must delight in. French wine production is second in the world league tables, and cycling French wine regions is certainly great travel activity.
On the periphery of Bordeaux, sits the Libournais wine region which is named after the beautiful medieval town of Libourne. Geographically, Libourne sits on the banks of the Dordogne river and played an important part in the shipping of French wine.
I visited and stayed in Libourne during my French travels. I soon found that the best way to travel around Libourne was to cycle. There is nothing more relaxing than a slow cycle through ripe vineyards, past medieval town buildings and quaint French villas. Green country rolls out beyond you and well-kept cycle routes connect Libourne to surrounding French wine destinations. The roads are beginner-friendly and from Libourne, it’s only 5 miles to Saint Émilion – the oldest, and most charming wine producing town in the Bordeaux region!
Libourne on Sundays
Beginning our tour, my two friends and I ended up landing in Libourne for a Sunday. On Sundays, Libourne’s market comes to life and wandering the streets up from the town square, you can step into history. Smelling fresh oysters and purchasing local fruits gives you the sense that you are retracing the steps of medieval locals and participating in the preservation of Libourne’s market-town heritage.
Fortunate to be hosted by local friends, we observed life as those in Libourne play it on Sundays: up early, stroll the markets, and stop for a coffee (or a glass of French wine) in the indoor market café. It’s simple yet wonderful!
Our friends then headed off to a local wine bar to join friends for a bread & cheese lunch – something the locals enjoy alongside some French wine to continue good friendships. We picked up some bread at the market and jumped on the bikes to continue through Libourne.
A 20 minute gentle cycle along cycle paths landed us at Libourne’s local lake, Lac de Dagueys. This large, man-made lake is the perfect pic nic spot and place for an afternoon swim. You can cycle round the lake to a beach area and other attractions also sit along the perimeter, including a water park which opens during the summer. Since everything closes and life ‘halts’ on Sundays, the lake is by far the best way to relax and live like the locals!
Pedalling the French Wine
Experiencing French wine often comes by tasting, buying, smelling and perhaps visiting vineyards. We found another great way – cycling the French wine region! Pedalling through the countryside and quite literally rolling past grape fields on your bike gives a new perspective. Each vineyard is part of the network of the Libournais production. Besides, it’s just incredibly relaxing!
From Libourne, cycle routes will take you out of town and beyond the railway. From there you can follow quiet country roads, past a number of vineyards and a couple of wine museums. The route is a total of 5 miles (approximately 40 minutes at gentle pace) to Saint Émilion, and flat most of the way. [See the route here.]
Saint Émilion – A French wine must-see!
Built into a hillside, Saint Émilion is a beautiful medieval city to meander through. Rest from cycling and park your bike by the Saint Emilion church and take a look inside. You will find a beautiful mural in the cloisters!
Then, I advise you walk around the corner to the office desk tourisme where you can pay €2 to climb the tower. Here you get stunning views out across the region. Look back on where you cycled from, or absorb the green scenery; I enjoyed watching people wander through the lanes below you.
Saint Émilion Recommendations
Back on the ground, take a day to explore French wine! There is no set way to do this, other than to meander and experience as much or as little of the wine shops and bars ass you like. However here are some suggestions from our French Wine cycling trip:
- Cloitre de Cordeliers: a beautiful converted church and cloister, now selling French wine & gifts, offering tasting, and a coffee shop in the cloister gardens.
- Find an art gallery: there’s one here.
- Sit in the square outside the Ermitage de Saint Émilion: Have a glass of French wine from one of the cafes, or enjoy a picnic.
- Walk along the Rue du Convent: Here you can enjoy some beautiful views of Saint Émilion and continuing past La Tour du Roy, you can venture towards the cities old wine tunnels – where barrels of wine are stacked up and stored in the heritage network of underground caves.
End your French Wine tour well!
After a delightful day, you can pause to stop for an ice cream right where you parked your bikes! This place has some delicious flavours and a private courtyard with a water feature to sit in, if you enter and pass through the back door of the store. What a dream – French wine and ice cream, and well deserved after that cycling!
Cycling the French wine region of Libournais is a wonderful way to slow down and soak up culture! We added a trip into Bordeaux onto our 48 hours and it was definitely worth it. Whilst we took a 40 minute train from Libourne, there definitely would be an option to hire bikes and cycle along Bordeaux’s river to.
Thinking of planning a holiday? Cycle the French wine region of Libournais!
More on France? Click here!
Want more cycling ideas? Take a look at this cycle tour of Helsinki.
A collection of street photography: portraits of strangers on corners or through windows.
Some people people-watch, sitting on street corners or at cafe tables. A select few reach for a note book and sketch away, creating characters with stories and adventures imagined. Yet, I find there is a frustrating sense of inactivity involved in this process, feeling stuck and still with one single frame in which to capture.
Thats why I take to the streets. I walk and delight in the split-second moments that a 50mm lens affords me to capture. With street photography, I’m no longer observing but stumbling upon a moment – an exchange and interaction. Some of my subjects notice. Others will maybe never know. All are captured with the intent of dignity.
The French, I find, are more expressive of their personality. Each individual follows a fashion of their own style and lives out their unique moment, perfectly intertwined within habitual routine.
All street photography images subject to copyright – © Eleanor Hyde 2022
More from France here.
*Disclaimer: One or two of these were shot in Bordeaux, although the majority were from the streets of Paris.
When in Rome do what the romans do
Rome. Straight roads, ancient architecture and empires come to mind. The capital of Italy is impressive and definitely worth a visit! This summer, we couldn’t hit Venice and Florence without going to Rome!
There were a lot of things that I loved and found to be unique about Rome:
- Hundreds of sites to see!
- A good range of restaurant types – in other Italian cities you are restricted to Italian restaurants alone.
- There is a brilliant contrast between ancient and modern architecture, educational museums/art galleries and family friendly attractions.
However, some things to be aware of are:
- Metro Tubes and Buses get VERY busy and are rather claustrophobic.
- It’s difficult to find somewhere inexpensive to eat unless you go out into the suburbs.
Sites and attractions
You can’t go to Rome and not see the Colosseum! The largest amphitheatre ever built is one of Italy’s most renowned attractions and built beside the Forum and Palatine, makes an exciting day out.
On Palatine Hill you get some incredible views of the city and the forum ruins!
You can buy a combined ticket that grants a pre-selected, timed entry into the Colosseum and then also one entry into the Forum and Palatine. This ticket lasts two days to enable you to take your time in each since the Forum takes up a vast expanse of landscape itself.
However, don’t be fooled! Whilst the ticket is a two day entry, you can only go in once – no return. We discovered this when we came back a day later to finish seeing the Palatine, not realising that the Forum and Palatine Hill don’t have separate entries. Thankfully we managed to persuade the staff to let us in as the ticket was not very clear.
The Pantheon was built as a roman temple to the gods. It has no windows and it’s only light source is a huge hole in the top of the domed roof. Apparently it does rain into the Pantheon but the floors are designed to allow the water run straight off towards the edges of the building.
Now the Pantheon is used as a church so you get free entry. Whilst statues of the roman gods have now been removed, the interiors are still very royal.
The fountain makes for a pleasant place to sit for a little while but I wouldn’t allow too much time there. It’s a very busy site and whilst beautiful, takes time to find and there’s not much else there! But if you fancy an ice cream, then why not?
The Spanish steps connect Piazza di Spagna with the upper Piazza Trinita dei Monti, and are considered to be Rome’s most romantic spot. They were built to represent peace between France and Spain. From the top you get some lovely views of the city. The place seems to come to life during the evening where most people congregate to enjoy the fountain after dinner.
The Vatican is the state belonging the the Pope and technically the smallest country in the world. Here you can visit the Vatican Museum, St.Peter’s Basilica and the famous Sistine Chapel where Michelangelo’s incredible works can be found on the ceiling.
We didn’t get chance to go into any of these sites because we didn’t prebook fast enough – the earliest tickets (unless you want to waste 4 hours queuing in the sun) were for two weeks after our trip! However if you know you’re heading to Rome, I would definitely recommend the Sistine Chapel. Why? You aren’t allowed to take photographs inside and it holds some of the world’s greatest paintings – they are a must see and you won’t find any pictures of them online!
Bioparco Di Roma
A day out to a zoo always goes down well with the family! We find that it’s a relaxing break from site-seeing and something that all of us can enjoy. Bioparco is easy to get to on the bus and the animals are really well cared for. Every hour they have scheduled feedings, including hippo feeding! Tickets are €16 per adult which is amazing value and the park offers some good, valuable food choices too.
Why you don’t need an organised tour
So many people these days opt in for organised tours – you see offers everywhere! It’s almost as if people aren’t willing to ‘risk’ it and try to see the city themselves…
This is why you don’t need one:
- They are extremely expensive (€50-80)!
- Long and awkward hours: often tours last all day but start as early as 7am and finish at 5pm. This means you are up early and doing most of the tour in midday heat. Most places in Rome open late so it’s a lot better to go in the evening when it’s cooler.
- Large groups: I mean why do you want to be carted round in a group of forty, camera-clicking tourists? I’ve been there, done that and I can tell you that it’s one of the most stressful things ever!
Are the benefits actually benefits?
- “You get to skip the queues.” Perhaps it’s satisfying to skip the queue and not worry about handling tickets but you pay a fortune to do so. The best way to skip queues is to prebook tickets because you just pay a standard price.
- “It’s easy to use the hop on and hop off buses.” This is ridiculous! These sorts of buses charge a premium when you can buy a Rome day ticket for the metro and bus. You can buy a 24 hour pass for €7 or a 72 hour pass if you stay longer.
- “The audio guide provides all the information you need.” Most museums and sites will either sell a paper guide or have a free audio guide app – so you really don’t need a personal tour guide! Or save even more and buy a good Rome travel book!
Of course you want to know where to stay and eat…
We actually stayed in a Holiday Inn Express in the suburb of San Giovanni. It only took 15 minutes on the metro and since it was a more residential area, we found a brilliant pizza restaurant and bistro. It was a lot cheaper than central restaurants and greater quality too – we actually ate there twice after trying two not so great places in the centre.
over and out
That’s it for Rome! There are so many more museums and galleries that we could have visited but we didn’t quite have time. I would definitely recommend Rome if you are looking for a city break or holiday.
Our Italy blog ends here too. Of all the countries I’ve visited, Italy definitely wins for transport – the trains are irreplaceable! It makes touring the country easy, quick and affordable. If I were to pick a single destination, it would have to be Rome simply because of the range of sites to see – Venice is beautiful but at the end of the day, it is just canals and art galleries!
I definitely recommend splitting your flights and using the trains. We flew to Pisa, then went Florence, Venice and flew back from Rome. However there isn’t a great deal in Pisa besides the leaning tower so it might be worth flying to Venice first and passing through Florence on the way to Rome!
I hope you have found all the information and inspiration you need to hit Italy yourself!
Is there anything else you would like me to write about?