My Take on Cannes

After spending a couple of vacation weeks in Norway, experiencing the Norwegian “summer” (rain, wind and cold weather), I was very grateful that I had in fact foreseen this and already booked a trip to the south of France, more specifically Cannes. For almost two weeks Cannes and the rest of the French Riviera was at my feets, here are my thought about the stay, recommendations and pictures.

What to do in Cannes:
* Treat yourself to a day at a private beach: Lets face it, Cannes in July / August is hot as h**l and in the middle of the day when the heat reaches its max, all you really want is to throw yourself into the sea (at least that was my reaction). The public beach is by then over-crowded. Your best option at that time is the private / closed off beaches. Here you´ll have to pay for a sun bed (about 20 – 30€ based on the time of day and location), but you´ll have someone bring you drinks, food and a parasol + you are steps away from the sea.
* Catch the fireworks at the beach: Turns out fireworks are a frequent phenomena in Cannes, the city is even a part of an international firework festival. Amazing firework and light show combined with classic music and a beach filled with people – locals and tourists, grown-ups and kids staying up late. A pretty great experience 🙂
* Go to a concert: Cannes has a lot of cool clubs that host concerts featuring some of the biggest names in the music industry. During my stay, Busta Rhymes, LMFAO, Xzibit and several others preformed in Cannes.

Shopping:
Rue d’Antibes:
For the mainstream brands, Rue d’Antibes is the best shopping street in Cannes. Here you’ll find Zara, Mango, Massimo Dutti (where I bought the dress below on sale), Sephora, PimKie, Jules and so on.

Boulevard de la Croisette:
If you are on a bigger budget (or looking for a place to go window shopping) Boulevard de la Croisette is the place to go. Here you’ll find all the high-end fashion designers and brands like Gucci, Bvlgari and Louis Vuitton .

Dining:
Before going, I was a little worried about dining in Cannes. Given that I was spending nearly two weeks in a hotel without any option to make any food myself, I had concerns about both the pricing and the variety of cousins. To my relief, I found that Cannes offers a wide mix in both pricing and foods. Some of my findings:

* Wide range of cafes and restaurants, offering Seafood, French cousin, Italian cousin, Sushi, Tapas, Bar food and lot more!
* The over all quality is good: I never had a meal that wasn’t satisfying (some more than others of course).
* Lots of places offer a 3 course menu for between 15 and 25 euros, often allowing you to choose between a long list of dishes.
* Wine is cheap and drinks are strong (at least compared to Norway 😉 )
* If you want to go for an ice-cream and check your emails at the same time, check out the area next to MacDonalds (located in city center, next to the harbor): Lots of ice-cream bars and MacDonald offers free wi-fi with some range outside 😉

On place I really liked, and can strongly recommend is Cocoon (18, rue Bivouac Napoleon – in the city center, close to the beach, harbor and Rue d’ Antibes): A charming restaurant perfect for breakfast and lunch. The menu changes daily, and the dishes are homemade (and delicious!). Cocoon is runned by mother and daughter (two very friendly ladies) and is on Trip Advisors top 5 list of restaurants in Cannes.

Daytrips from Cannes:

On of the reasons I decided to spend my summer in Cannes, is the short distances to other places I’ve been longing to see.

Nice
Nice, “Cannes bigger sister”, is another popular Riviera destination.

How to get there: Nice is just a short train ride away (depending on the train, it takes about 30 to 45 minutes from Cannes to Nice de Ville train station) and the ticket rates are reasonable (about 6€, again depending on the train type).

Things to do in Nice:
* Visit Le Chateau to enjoy the view of the whole city (where the picture above is taken), there is also a nice park and a playground on the top (didn’t see the castle / Chateau though…). If you don’t feel like walking up, you can take the elevator (free + no line when I went there!).
* Visit the Old Town: This area of Nice is amazing, lots of colorful houses, small streets and alleys, restaurants,shops (and tourists, of course).
* Go rollerblading at the beach promenade (Promenade des Anglais) and treat yourself to lunch at the famous Le Negresco hotel.

Monaco
The city state located at the French Riviera assosiated with welth, luxury, Grace Kelly, gambling and racing is worth a visit.

How to get there: Go here by train (about 1 hour and 15 minutes) or by boat ( about 1 hour and 30 minutes). Train is cheaper, but gets really crowded at times.

Things to do in Monaco:
* See the royal palace, home of Prince Albert.
* Visit the The Oceanographic Museum: It’s both a museum and an aquarium, and on the roof there is an outdoor restaurant and viewpoint overlooking the whole city/state.
* Admire all the grand buildings and fancy cars, eat lunch at a posh restaurant and go to the casino.

Saint Tropez
The old charming fishermen village that turned in to the number 1 playground for the rich and the famous, offers an odd combo of jet-set and shabby chic charm, turned out to be my favorite location during my stay in the south of France. It was just so incredible beautiful, if you ever have the change to go – then go! 🙂

How to get there: You can’t take a train there, and car parking seems to be a hassle, so If you don’t have a yacht or helicopter, the ferry-boat from Cannes might be the best option. It departs in the morning and takes you back in the afternoon for about 50 euros.

Things to do in Saint Tropez:
* Look for celebrities, St. Tropez is still a favourite vacation place for celebs like Rihanna, Brad Pitt and Paris Hilton, who occasionally steps out of the yatch or beach house to walk the streets with all us regular tourists (I spotted Karl Lagerfelt cruising by in an open car *starstruck*).
* Stay over night, it was a big regret of mine that I didn’t have more than a day to spend here. It´s expensive , but if you are better at planning or saving than me, I bet you can get away with it 🙂
* Take it all in: Admire the scenery, enjoy the glamour, go bananas with your camera (I did) and maybe even get inspire to put your painting skills to the test – It´s a picture perfect view!

In addition, there are several small villages and islands near Cannes, easy to get to by either boat or train, like Ile Sainte Marguerite (beautiful Island a 15 minutes boat trip from Cannes), Antibes (popular beach and vacation place a 15 minutes train ride away) and Golfe Juan Vallauris (small village right outside Cannes, beach with free wi-fi).

Check out My Take on Milan and my Pinterest boards for more of my travel stuff 🙂

How was your summer? Have you been to any of the places above, and have any additional recommendations?

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My Take On Milan

I’m back from my first visit to Milan and Italy. The impressions I’m left with it that I have to go back and that I have to have more time. The city, the shopping, the food was simply an amazing experience. Here are some of my thoughts and recommendations:

Eat:
As the pasta addict I am, I was very excited about visiting Milan and Italy for the first time and trying out all their famous pasta cousins. Below I’ve listed some of the dinning places I visited during my stay and my experiences with them.

  • The Kitchen (Via Scarlatti, 7)

Good: Tasty and inexpensive food in a family friendly venue with free Wi-Fi. I think we ended up paying 25 euros for bread and tomatoes, two main dishes, a wine carafe (500ml for 5 euros – a bargain for Norwegians!) and some sweets for dessert.
Bad: Nothing really, but might be a little “touristy” as we ended up next to two Swedish backpackers and several English speaking families.

  • Papermoon (Via Bagutta, 1)

Good: Tasty first course and dessert.
Bad: Unfriendly staff ( I got the feeling they did not like drop-in tourists, even if the venue was less than half full the whole evening) that didn’t give more than the minimum of attention required. As this was a somewhat expensive place, I expected that waiter would present the menu and the dishes and recommend wine but that did not happen.

  • Obika Mozzarella Bar (Piazza del Duomo, 3)

Good: Rich menu, affordable prices and with its location, on the top of the department store La Rinascente, it gives you a perfect overview of the magnificent Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano). The taste-of-three dessert (Ricotta di Bufala Mousse, Tiramisù Chocolate and Almond Cake) is delicious!
Bad: I expect this is a very crowded place in the tourist season, but for an off-season visit it was great. Also quite “touristy”, the couple at the table next to us were Norwegians as well.

Shopping:
Where to go shopping in Milan? I have to say – EVERYWHERE! I found that almost everywhere I turned there was a shopping street, a mall or at least one shop I had to check out.

  • La Rinascente, Piazza del Duomo, 3 ( Subway stop: Duomo)

Large (8 floors) department store located right next to Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano). High-end brands and designers mostly. Nice food court on the top floor.

  • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II ( Subway stop: Duomo)

To be fair, I did not do much shopping here ( my shopping budget did not contain a big post for goodies from Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton), but just admiring the stores, the high sealing, golden decor and mosaic floor makes it worth visiting.

  • Excelsior, Galleria del Corso, 4 (Subway stop: Duomo or San Babila)

Free Wi-Fi, a big gadgets department on the first floor, a coctail bar, modern art on the walls and shoes from Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin makes this my favourite department store in Milan. A visit here is highly recommended!

  • Corso Buenos Aires (Subway stop: Porta Venezia, Lima or Loreto)

If you’re tired of the high end stores (or, like me, have a modest shopping budget), check out Corso Buenos Aires. It’s one of the biggest shopping streets in Milan, and was very conveniently located just a few minutes’ walk from my hotel, contains most mainstream brands and stores such as H&M, Footlocker and Nike and a lot of Italian brands as well.

I recommend a visit to Kiko Make Up Milan (located close to the Porta Venezia Subway stop), for nail polish in every color thinkable at 3,60 euro.

Outlets:
With all the high-end designers, stores and brands present, Milan is also known for its many factory outlets and discount stores. Many of them are even located within the city center, close to the main shopping areas. Here is a list of some of the outlets I visited:

  • Diecidecimi Spazimoda, Corso Buenos Aires, 36 ( Subway stop: Lima)

Brands I spotted: D&G, Armani, Valentino Red, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren and Just Cavelli among others at 30 – 50 % off.

  • Dmagazine, Via Montenapoleone 26 (Subway stop: Montenapoleone , also a short walk from Duomo)

Brands I spotted: Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo, D&G, Stella McCartney, Prada, and many more at 30% to 70% off. A big selection of shoes. Small venue, so it gets crowded!

  • KiloFascion, Via Bagetta (Subway stop: San Babila)

At KiloFascion the weight of the item determines its price (the items are categorized as either good- better – best and this also effects the prices). I was quite fascinated by the concept at first, but after a closer look I found that I preferred set prices over constantly going back and forth to the weights and checking the items up against their category and weight.

Brands I spotted: Gant, Ralph Lauren, D&G (shoes), Just Cavalli. Kids clothing from about 10 euro.

See:
Looking back at my Milan visit, I’m sad to say I did not manage to see many great sights (shopping and dining took up most of my time it seems). The only sightseeing was done while walking around looking for shops, outlets and dining places. I did manage to get a close look at Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano) and buy my standard souvenir ( a snow globe with famous sights from the city), but next time (I’ll be back for sure) I also want to visit the Brera Art Gallery and Santa Maria delle Grazie, see a AC Milan match ( they were out of town this time) and take a trip to one of the many lakes located right outside the city.

Some practicalities:
– Free Wi-Fi is offered on several café’s and stores (giving me some sweet Foursquare points 😉 )
– Credit card is accepted throughout the city (I did not come across any places that didn’t accept card payment)
– The subway is a great means of transportation within the city centre, with frequent departures and information in English.
– English: Everyone I meet understood and spoke English quite well ( I mainly talked to people working in the service- and tourist industry though).

Please bare in mind that this is my personal experience and opinion based on only a couple of days in Milan. I’m sure I missed MANY great places, and would be very grateful for other recommendations. Have you been to Milan? What did you see and do? Where would you recommend dining for the most authentic Italian taste and atmosphere?

For more pictures from my trip to Milan, check out my Pinterest board: http://pinterest.com/mariannemixi/my-trip-to-milan-italy/

Pinterest Traveling Inspiration

On April 1st I’m going to Milan for the first time (in fact, first visit to Italy at all). This is a place I’ve been wanting to go for some time now, so I’m super excited!

Before going some place new I like to plan ahead, get really in to all the sites, must-sees, and activities offered. Usually this means buying a travel book and searching online, this time it also includes Pinterest. Yesterday I started a board for Milan and begun the pinning – buildings – food – people on the streets of Milan (or at least what I believe to be Milan 😉 ) and so on was pinned to this board:

Thanks to Pinterest and its users, I was able to get a glance at people’s own vacation pictures from Milan and pictures taken by people living there, and from the looks of it – Milan is a very beautiful city! 🙂

I’m still on the look-out for must-see spots and most-do activities in Milan. Have you been there? Let me know what you think, what you did and what I cannot miss!