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If you live in the South of  France going to the French Alps is really accessible. A three hour drive is all that you need. We have been to three stations Orcières 1850, Risoul 1850 and Le Sauze and I tell you it’s worth the ski. Every time we go up to the French Alps, kids are always excited and especially impatient to hit the road. As usual, we have spent a white Christmas in Risoul 1850.  We are grateful to have the French Alps as we wouldn’t drive long hours just to have the snow, ski and slide 😀 ! Risoul 1850 station, on the other hand,  is found on the north so the sun is partly present.  The temperature is a bit elevated compared to Orcières 1850. Do not forget to cover yourself up to protect from cold weather. The ski area coupled with the sunshine and connected with Vars concocting the field of Forêt Blanche with 180km of pistes.  The ski slopes are very  pleasant, enjoyable and suitable for all levels.  The lifts are efficient and allow you to ski without having to wait long hours. You also have shops, postal service, restaurants, washing & dry cleaning shops.  Typically, there are amusement areas like swimming pool, cinema, skating rink etc.

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The ski slope near our rented flat with the lift.

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Went to the center to capture this ice curving of the crèche (nativity scene)

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Sunset and full moon in Risoul

From Risoul’s one week vacation, we went directly to Orcières 1850 which is 1 hour and 30 minutes drive only. Thanks to a good friend, he’s always been so generous to lend us the flat for free. Btw, the name Orcières Merlette has changed to Orcières 1850 but I really don’t know why probably it has something to do with the altitude. I will try to discover why they have changed some names  of the French ski sites.

To give you an overview of  Orcières 1850  it is situated at an altitude of 1850 metres.  Since the site is found in  the South, you have the sun all the way to give you company and it could be really hot especially wrap all out with ski suit.  So be ready to put on your sun screen lotion and all the protections you could possibly need when skiing. You may also find lots of interesting activities to do like,  ice climbing, husky dog sledding,  spending a night in an igloo, target sports, paragliding, quad biking, snow-shoeing, ski joëring, snake sledge, motor-sports and Tyrolean which is the longest zip line in Europe. The Tyrolean measures 1870m long cable stretching from the Drouvet summit (2655m) to the Lake Long (2500m). A person is specially attached securely to an adapted tackle, horizontally in sliding position, head first at speeds of up to 140km/hour. The whole sliding experience lasts approximately 1 minute and 20 seconds.  Normally, one needs to be 10 years old to experience this but my kids first ever sliding when they were 7 yrs old (my son) and 5 yrs.old (my daughter😀 ! There are also various facilities in the middle of snowy mountains like cinema, bowling, ice skating and swimming pool.

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This is an early morning capture of our first day in Orcières.

Lastly it was year 2009 when we went to Le Sauze, I was still pregnant of my third baby. I did enjoy the stay as I was able to relax because I didn’t do anything from groceries to cooking😀 ! It was a complete pension because we registered the family to CE (Comité d’entreprise from hubby’s work) to join the winter sport vacation. That was awesome :D  ! Station with seven hamlets, Le Sauze gives you an unrivalled sportiness. All the pleasures of skiing are offered with variety of exhibitions and diversity of the tracks invites you to ski without restraint. The after-ski couldn’t be boring because there are also other activities to do like an indoor pool, a cottage in the mountains, where it is good to relax or a night in an igloo atmosphere north. Everything is possible and no dull moments😀 ! The ski area measures  65 km of slopes,  23 lifts,  37 tracks, and with the altitude of  1400 to 2450 meters high.

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This is where we stayed. The hotel L’eau Vive is one of the  properties of  my husband work.

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Le Sauze Ski center

Despite of economic crisis, rocketing rates for everything , more tourist skiers still prefer to ski in France than anywhere else in the world.  Surprisingly,  I have seen many tourist this year 2012 and I don’t have this impression that crisis will stop people from skiing😀 !  It is undoubtedly  inescapable: the French Alps have always an excellent and broadest variety of skiing pleasure. If you book early as possible from lodging to ski passes it could be cheaper. If you’re planning a ski trip with friends and family try to consider a chalet rental or an apartment big enough to accommodate big number of person to match every budget.  It’s a way much cheaper than renting hotels which is out of price !

Book now before it’s too late😉 !

CE – A works council is a “shop-floor” organization representing workers, which functions as local/firm-level complement to national labour negotiations.

Off North

It’s true that we are lucky to have lived in the South of France.  Marseille weather is habitually warm throughout the season and snow is very rare.  Just this fall break we wanted a little change….go North !  Since we haven’t been to North of France for a long time we decided to visit husband family. It was a 10 hour drive quite tiring though it’s all worth going there. We stayed at our friends house in Méru, a nice little village in Picardy. The town has  13,249 inhabitants and has privileged access to both Paris region and northern France which is not bad.

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Méru village overlooking from the forest

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Méru church

My friend took us to the forest for a pleasant promenade.  It’s quite cold but we were lucky to have sun shone all the way to keep us warm and brightly shining.  We even had chestnut (châtaigne) picking.  We went home with basket full of chestnut.  Kids and parents have had so much fun. Imagine 6 kids and 4 adults in a house :d . It was all fun !

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the sun of the south brought to the north (according to my friend)

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the chestnut we harvested yummm !

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It was a short stay so we haven’t had enough time to go out and discover the whole village but we were happy to explore a little of Méru. We will surely go back to visit and know more about her new home.  Sorry the quality of the photos are not so good as I’ve used my mobile though I have my numeric camera. The classic me…. when I try to use it,  I had a low battery sign😦 !

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White sand in Corsica

Now here what I discovered in Corsica a white fine sand beach situated in St. Florent which is apparently rare in France. My husband was also surprised to discover this place because normally white sand is not  common in France. From our village it only took us 1 and 1/2 hr travel passing by the  The Desert of the Agriates a rocky mountain and rather green panoramic view. The desert stretches between Alliso and Ostriconi villages measuring 16 hectares seeing bizarre geographical evolution which makes them more mysterious. From the beginning of the century, the Corsican farmers worked between thousands of olive trees, cultivates the wheat, harvests almonds, lemons and figs. While on our way to St. Florent the drive is just untiring because of the magnificent landscape even if  it’s a winding road I almost forgot that I have a motion sickness problem. There are rocks with its strange formation. They called it the desert because there are no villages nor people living in that area.

This is the centre ville of  St. Florent and you’ll find the nearest beach right under your nose.  In the center, you will find a lot of restaurants that offer more choices from budget wise, good deal to classy bars, restaurants and pizzeria.  Anyway, most of the restaurants will display their menus and tariffs to inform the tourists which is pretty more assuring. There are also little stores such as Petit Casino, Spar etc that will cater for you. If you  are a type of person who likes picnicking  it would also be nice to sit and relax while picnicking near the seashore. In our case, we went there to see the famous white sand beaches called Lodo and Saleccia beach.  We bought our ticket from Popeye. Here is the tarif : and schedule back and forth in crossing St. Florent going to Lodo and Saleccia beach.

time table
Information : 06 62 16 23 76
> Where to buy tickets?
NAVETTE PLAGE DU LOTU
Departure from
St Florent
Departure from
the Lodo
8.30
9.15
9.55
10.50
11.40
12.30
13.20
14.05
14.50
15.35
16.20
17.15
11.10
12.00
13.00
13.45
14.30
15.15
16.00
16.50
17.40
18.30
19.20
20.00
TAXI BOAT PLAGE DE SALECCIA
Departure from
St Florent
Return from
the Lodo
8.30
9.15
9.55
10.50
11.40
12.30
13.30
14.30
15.30
16.30
12.00
13.00
14.00
15.00
16.00
17.00
18.00
19.00
20.00
The management reserves the right to make changes with the vagaries weather
les tarifs

NAVETTE PLAGE DU LOTU
15 minutes de traversée

Return ticket
april – may – june – september

Adults: €15
Children 4-10 years: €8 – under 3 freejuly – august
Adults: €17
Children 4-10 years: €10 – under 3 free
TAXI BOAT PLAGE DE SALECCIA
15 minutes de traverséeReturn ticket
april – may – june – september
Adults: €25
Children 4-10 years: €15 – under 3 freejuly – august
Adults: €30
Children 4-10 years: €15 – under 3 free

Lodo or Lotu (in Corsican dialect)  beach has an easy access than Saleccia beach.  It would take you about 30 minutes to cross the sea and  you will already embark right away to Lodo beach while getting to  Saleccia is quite  difficult. You need a long walk  about 12 km or 4X4 drive but seriously not advisable to drive there with a standard car. To protect the island they prevent overcrowding the beach that’s is why there are schedules to respect . During summer  July and August could get busy.  This is just fabulous because finding  white sand beaches  in France is  definitely rare.  One advise, please bring something to protect you from the sun like parasol, tent and sunblock.  The place is so wild so think of bringing liquid drinks and something to eat while you are there.  They really preserve the place so you cannot find stores and certainly no restauranst to answer  to your needs.  I believe it’s  good that it should stay that way. Here is a slideshow of our little escapade to such a beautiful paradise.

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It’s time to go for everyone to get back to St. Florent.  It was a very lovely day and we will surely  come back  on our next vacation to Corsica. This time we will explore Saleccia, welcome to 12 kilometers walk. Goodluck to us😀 ! When you want to see white sand beach, you will only see them in Corsica. So sit back, relax and get ready to pamper yourself.

Untouch

Philippines has 7,100 island so there are a lot to see, explore and experience.  Of course, Boracay, Palawan and Bohol are a great sites for diving that’s no doubt. Just recently we went to Apo Island….a beautiful place and it is said to be one of  the top 10 dive sites in the country and around the world.  The island is volcanic with 12 hectares  in land area. Dumaguete  is the capital of  Negros Oriental and  daily flights are available from  Manila to Dumaguete.  Normally it would  take 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach Dumaguete  Port.  From Dumaguete port transfer could be arranged according to the hotel service and it could take you 30 minutes to reach Malatapay, Dauin.  From Malatapay, there are boats that takes you directly to Apo Island. In general, one trait that we can be proud of  is hospitality while Dumaguete is known as “The City of Gentle People”. They have different kindness and they don’t really take advantage of tourist.  The are 2 main resorts in the Island Liberty Lodge and Apo Island Beach Resort but there are also some cheaper accomodations you could find around the island.

We have stayed in Liberty Lodge. The owner and the staffs are all very warm and friendly. They are not only friendly with tourists but with their fellow Filipinos like me. We were treated ike kings and queens.  The cuisine is just perfect because we could ask them to cook a certain dish and they do it even if  it’s not included in the menu.  This is our view from our balcony…..ah sunset ! I have always been fascinated by the sunsets and sunrises. When  they start to appear in the horizon and the light travels through the atmosphere that is why we see such magnificent colors like red, oranges and yellows.

Liberty lodge has probably 10 ooms and is decorated with Filipino touch with wooden bed, mosquito net, and with wide window as a form of  ventilation to replace the airconditioning.   They recently made an expansion to have bigger rooms,  each rooms has its own private balcony facing west of the island.  Room rates begin from 20 USD to 40 USD depending on the type of  accommodation.  This is our luxury room with toilet and bath, balcony and sea view. This is how the new rooms look like.  We are lucky to have stayed here.  It is very cheap, clean but the only inconvenience is that there is no hot water,  running water or showers neither aircons in the  rooms.  It’s local style of a water cistern and a handled pail of water dumped over your head. Yes, the Filipino way which has a lot of charm. The island has  an electricity schedule because they only use generators.  On the other hand, they provide rechargable  electric fans and lamps.

This is the restaurant with typical Filipino design and furnitures  made of wood and bamboo.  The dining place is very well positioned as there is a panoramic view of the beach.  Most of its specialties are Filipino cuisines  combined with some International dishes.  If you love fish then it’s the easiest dish you can have all  year round.  You can have the best fruit shake depending on the availability of fruits. Buko (or young  green coconut) is freshly serve in it’s natural shell. You could also ask the staff to open it for you so you could savour  its flesh soft, thin, sweet and silky taste of buko.

The view from the resturant

This place belongs to Apo Island Beach Resort. It’s true that we stayed in Liberty Lodge but it doesn’t mean we could not access to this beautiful beach. This is the  giant rock of  Baluarte.  What we normally did during out stay in Apo Island is have an  appetizer here before having lunch or dinner at Liberty Lodge restaurant.  This is a good compromise to take advantage of the place.

Speaking of diving, husband told me that it’s one of the best dive he did.  I couldn’t tell you more as it quite complex for me According to many divers sea life was wonderful. There is also the marine sanctuary in which the locals take good care of it.  Just by snorkeling, you could see lots  of turtles  and fishes out there. I even saw a sea snake and was too alarmed, but they are not violent as they stay on the bottom so just snorkle at the surface, so they wont bug you.

So if you are a diver or simply wants to snorkle or just want to explore and stay to a virgin island please inlcude Apo Island on your lists😀 .

Ressurection

Sorry I have abandoned this blog as l lead an extremely busy life. As I look at my other blog I was thinking it’s unfortunate and sad not to update this blog. It was my own and husband’s idea to create this to share the beauty and wonder of both worlds.  It’s been 3 long years since my last post. We got a new addition to the family which is one good reason why I was not able to write a blog post.  A lot has changed we have moved to our new abode, a bigger one with a small garden wherein kids could play outdoor. Plus we needed to repair things at home, make it clean and all that stuffs you need to do when you move to another place.  We are embracing the busy-ness of  life !

Just to start taking care of this blog I want you to share the new addiction or shall I say discovery of the family. We are now into rock climbing. My husband’s colleagues who is a professional in this field introduced us to this awesome sports. I admit it’s quite terrifying up there. Climb up and down or crossing natural rock formations or artificial rock walls are tedious. When you look at it, it seems so easy but it”s NOT !!! But the goal to reach the summit is quite unexplainable. Here are some photos of us.  

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So now you see us, please hang on there. I will update this blog once in a while PROMISE😀 !

Coron Busuanga

A month of hiatus I know it’s unforgivable. Anyway, I and the family have been very occupied with all these outdoor activities as it’s almost summer time. Weather is getting better in the South of France. I would say, I have found the time to update this blog.

I’ll be tackling about the travel we have had in the virgin island of Palawan. At first, we wanted to go to El Nido but it’s quite expensive for us so we opted for Coron Busuanga . Final decision and we did not regret to have discovered Coron. I thank my sister who was nice enough to book everything for us. She found a great resort and affordable accommodation. I would suggest if you want to go to a calm resort you should try Kokosnuss Resort. There are also hotels but they are mostly located in the center so the noise is not surprising.

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The resort

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the air-conditioned room

It was lunch time when we arrived so as usual we have ordered in the resort. The cooking was excellent! Nothing to say. While I and hubby was talking about going out to look for a diving shop a man overheard us and did not hesitate to talk to us. Asking my husband if he is a diver and husband said yes. The man was ecstatically happy to know that husband is a diver because they were looking for another diver to go with him and his wife otherwise they cannot dive. Apparently, diving shop needs a minimum of 3 person. They have discussed the plan as they have already found the best dive shop in the place. Husband was also glad to have found company that shares the same interest.

Later that day we rented a tricycle to see the spring water called “Makinit” and is 5 km from Coron. The “Makinit Hot Springs” is accessible either by boat or by tricycle in just 20 minutes with rough roads. The tricycle rent is P35.00/person which is nothing. There is caretaker asking for a small entrance fee of P30.00 which is not expensive at all. This is to maintain the cleanliness of the place. The “Makinit Hot Spring” is excellent to unwind at the end of a long travel or simply enjoy a “hot soak” and relaxing moments.

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Makinit Hot Spring

Back to resort and had dinner. At the end of the day the hot spring has helped us to get enough rest and sleep. The next day, it was husband’s turn to dive. Without further adieu I will just share some GREAT pictures with you courtesy of the couple we have met. I am not diving so I cannot exactly tell you the feeling and sensation down there😀 !

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Husband did 2 dives with them and they were really impress how beautiful Palawan is. They also went to dive in Barracuda Lake is a crater of the volcano. The water is soft and at the same time salty.  The  water temperature quickly changes  from about 27°C  to 38°C. So you don’t need to dive with your thick diving suit, a t-shirt and swimming short will do.

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Barracuda Lake

Whilst me and the kids stayed at the resort to get some rest. They found a very nice playmate who is the owner’s daughter.

The next escapade we did was exploring Cayangan Lake which is said to be the cleanest lake in Palawan. This place is also know as Blue Lagoon.   Snorkeling is just perfect for us to enjoy the crystal clear blue water.

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Cayangan Lake

It was really amazing to see little creatures  just right under your  nose.  Kids enjoyed snorkeling a lot and I guess, it’s a sort of introducing them to their future diving lessons soon😀 !  Will tell you more about the  travel for the moment enjoy reading !

Cityscape

I had the chance to take this photos from the 20th floor of our friend’s flat. This is Marseilles during the day. I am not a professional photographer but I just would like to share what is like to be on top and see this beautiful cityscape. Well, I did not stay much as I have a vertigo :(  !  If you can see farther,  Marseilles is surrounded by the sea and mountains. A lot o interesting f activities to do like  hiking, a simple ballade, surfing, canoe kayak, paragliding, roller skating, skate boarding, diving and many others.  I will share some more pictures of Marseilles soon. So when you want to visit Marseilles you won’t regret it as you have a lot of choices to have, surely you will enjoy😉 !

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