Where to Get the Best Views of the Eiffel Tower

Now we all know that when someone comes to visit Paris, the main priority is seeing the spectacular Eiffel Tower. Although the Tower was actually only intended to be built just for the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair, it has now become a global icon for France and is the most visited paid monument in the World!
After living in Paris for the past year, I have conducted a list of my favourite spots to wondrously gaze at the Eiffel Tower.

TROCADERO // Metro: Trocadero –  Line 9 & 6, Take the exit Eiffel Tower

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SEINE RIVER CRUISE // Find the boats located along the banks of the Seine – Day and night cruises available

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ARC DE TRIOMPHE // Metro: Charles de Gaulle – Etoile – Line 1 & RER A, Take the entrance for the Arc de Triomphe and climb its staircase to the terrace atop the Arc

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NOTRE DAME // Metro: St Michel – Line 4 & RER B, Line up on the left side of the Cathedral

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TERASSE DU PRINTEMPS // Metro: Auber – RER A or Harve Caumartin – Line 3, Take the escalator of the mall “Printemps” to the top level

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TOUR MONTPARNASSE // Metro: Montparnasse Bienvenue – Line 4, 6, 12 & 13, Take the elevator to the top floor for the best view of Paris

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CHAMPS DE MARS // Metro: Ecole Militaire – Line 8, Walk around the corner and find yourself at the beautiful gardens located in front of the Eiffel Tower

Photo Diary – A Week in London

A few weeks ago I travelled to London for a week to meet my Parents, who had flown over from New Zealand to see me. We were blessed with wonderful weather, and explored what London had to offer.
You can watch what we got up to on my youtube channel here.

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Top Free/Cheap Things to do in Paris

One of the most challenging things while travelling abroad is budgeting your money. I for sure am one of those people who live in the moment, and don’t think about the financial consequences afterwards. It is difficult when visiting expensive countries as you come to realise that things cost way more than you expected.

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But with some experience living in Paris now, I have chosen a few of my Top Free/Cheap Things to do in Paris for you to visit/try;

1. Free Entrance to Museums
On the first Sunday of each month, numerous museums offer free entrance such as Le Louvre. There are also many museums that are open for free entry all year round, and some are free if you are under 26. You can find the list of museums here.

2. Bus Tour
Instead of getting on one of the expensive bus tours that go around Paris, see the city from a public bus, as tickets are just over one euro!

3. Transport
Getting from A to B can become expensive. The best way to get around Paris via metro would be to buy your tickets in bulk, saving you money in the long run. Or if its nice weather, you have the option to hire a ‘velib’. Velib is a self service bike system open 24 hours all around Paris. You can hire a bike for the day for just 1.70 Euros or a whole week for only 8 Euros.

4. Order your coffee the right way
If you love your coffee with milk, but can’t afford to splurge 4-6 euros on it, order a cafe noisette. It is an expresso with a little bit of milk added to it. It also usually has a bit of a nutty taste to it, hence the name ‘noisette’, meaning hazelnut in French. 

5. See the sights from the outside
It is no secret that the architecture in Paris is beautiful. Save yourself a few euros by seeing the major sights from the outside.

6. Square du Vert-Galant
Located down the steps of Pont Neuf, this is a popular place with the locals to come drink some wine and hang out. The best time to come is at night, where you can see Paris lit up and can watch the boats go by.

7. Le Terrasse du Printemps
This is one of my favourite spots to view Paris from above. Make your way into the Department store ‘Printemps’ and take the escalators to the top. There you can walk through the cafe to the other side, where you find a big terrace. The view is magic, as you see the Eiffel Tower, Palais Garnier (Opera), Basilique du Sacre Coeur and much more.

8. Basilique du Sacre Coeur
This white marble church is located on the hills of Montmatre in the 18th Arrondissement. It is free entry into the Basilique, and there are also some stairs in front where you can sit and watch some street performances or look over the sky of Paris.

9. Place des Vosges
Located in Le Marais, Place des Vosges was built by Henri IV in 1604 and is the oldest square in Paris. Here you can also visit the house of the writer Victor Hugo.

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10. Cimetiere Pere Lachaise
This is the worlds most visited cemetery. It is the burial site of numerous French authors, musicians, writers and more. The most visited graves are Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Gertrude Stein, and Marcel Proust among many others.

11. Promenade Plantee
For a chance to escape the busyness of Paris, make a visit to the Promenade Plantee – A former railway line that was abandoned and then renovated into a linear park.

12. Watch the Eiffel Tower Sparkle
By far one of my favourite things to do in Paris. It truly is a magical moment and can be viewed from many spots in Paris. The best being the Champs de Mars, where you will find yourself surrounded by others, with wine, food, and sometimes music.

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Photo Diary – Paris in Spring

“I never knew the charm of spring, I never met it face to face, I never knew my heart could sing, I never missed a warm embrace, Till April in Paris” – Ella Fitzgerald

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Travel is the Best Form of Education

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Deciding what to do as a career has been a mind boggling frustration for me since before I can remember. There is so much pressure from those around us, trying to force us at the meer age of 17 or 18 to make life changing decisions. In our final year of high school, we are told to choose a university, choose a degree, and head off to study the following year. However for me, I was unsure, and still am, as to what i’d like to pursue. The only thing I knew is that I wanted to gain some life experience to help me figure out what path I wanted to take.

It has now been 4 years since I finished high school – and I still have yet to have attended a university. Some people may think that i’m avoiding it. Others might see it as an escape from reality.
But you know what? It’s not made for everyone.
Why should I have to choose something, pay a lot of money to study it, then come out of my degree in debt and unhappy, just because humanity has made me feel like I must follow that certain path? I don’t.

It was only last week when I had a thought – why does it matter if I don’t attend a university. I’m young. I’m only 21 years old and I have my whole life ahead of me. This doesn’t mean that I will indefinitely cross out university as an option for the future, but for now, I want to live my life how I want. I shouldn’t be worrying about the future, I should be focusing on the now and enjoying every day as it comes.
It has taken a while for me to get to this point, because I used to think it was immoral to not attend university, but i’m here.

Travel has given me so much more than expected. What people don’t realise, is that you will gain so much experience and learn so much more than you could ever have imagined by travelling the world, instead of sitting in a classroom for hours a day. Yes, you do learn a lot by achieving a degree, but all you’re doing is learning. You’re not experiencing it first hand. You’re not getting out there and exploring the vast opportunities that the world has to offer.

For those of you whose decision is unclear, I advise you to educate yourself and travel the world! Stop worrying about what others will think, live your life for you, to make yourself happy, not others.
Don’t say it’s not possible, anything is possible. There are plenty of ways to be able to afford to travel overseas. At the top of my list is to work abroad – loads of countries offer working holiday visas for people aged under 30!

So get out there, see the world, gain life experience, grow, and enjoy every minute!

Best Cafes to Try in Paris

Over the past year or so, the coffee culture in Paris has grown immensely. More and more cafes have been opened all around Paris. For coffee addicts like me, it is great to have plenty of options as to where to go. Not only do these cafe’s have great coffee, but awesome food too!

Here is a list of my favourite cafes in Paris.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! x

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Lily of the Valley (photo above)
Tea room + Cakes
12 rue Dupetit Thouars // Metro Stop: Line 3 Temple

Holybelly
Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch and Coffee
19 Rue Lucien Sampaix // Metro Stop: Line 5 Jaques Bonsergent

Merci Used Book Cafe
Brunch and Lunch
111 boulevard Beaumarchais // Metro Stop: Line 8 Saint Sébastien Froissart

Claus
Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch
14 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau // Metro Stop: Line 1 Louvre Rivolli

La Cafeotheque
Coffee and Cakes
52 Rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville // Metro Stop: Line 1 Hotel de Ville or Line 7 Pont Marie

The Broken Arm
Lunch, Cakes and Coffee
12 rue Perrée // Metro Stop: Line 3 Temple

Folks and Sparrows
Lunch, Cakes and Coffee
14 Rue Saint-Sébastien // Metro Stop: Line 8 Saint Sébastien Froissart

Boot
Coffee
19 Rue du Pont aux Choux // Metro Stop: Line 8 Saint Sébastien Froissart

Café Kitsuné
Coffee
51 Galerie de Montpensier // Metro Stop: Line 1 Palais Royal – Musee du Louvre

Odette
Choux a la creme
77 Rue Galande // Metro Stop: Line 3 Saint-Michel, RER B Saint-Michel Notre Dame

Cafe de Flore
Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch and Dinner
172 boulevard Saint Germain // Metro Stop: Line 4 Saint Germain des Pres

Pouchkine
Cakes and Pastries
155 avenue de Boulevard Saint-Germain // Metro Stop: Line 4 Saint Germain des Pres
2 rue des Francs Bourgeois // Metro Stop: Line 1 Saint-Paul
64, boulevard Haussmann // Metro Stop: RER A, Line 3, Line 9 Havre – Caumartin

Carrette
Hot Chocolate, Pastries, Lunch and Dinner
4 Place du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre // Metro Stop: Line 9, Line 6 Trocadero

10 Belles
Coffee and Cakes
10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles // Metro Stop: Line 5 Jaques Bonsergent, Line 2 Colonel Fabien, Line 11 Goncourt

Coutume
Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch and Coffee
47 Rue de Babylone // Metro Stop: Line 13 Saint-Francois-Xavier, Line 10, Line 12 Sevres – Babylone

Telescope
Coffee and Cakes
5 Rue Villedo // Metro Stop: Line 7, Line 14 Pyramids

Lomi
Lunch, Cakes/Pastries and Coffee 
3 ter Rue Marcadet // Metro Stop: Line 4, Line 12 Marcadet – Poissonniers, Line 12 Marx Dormoy

Matamata
Coffee and Cakes
58 Rue d’Argout // Metro Stop: Line 3 Sentier

How to Become an Au Pair

After my most recent post on 10 Reasons to Become an Au Pair, I have had a number of people contact me asking how I became an au pair. Becoming an au pair may seem like a long lengthly process, but if you do enough research and prepare yourself, it can be easy.

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1. Is this the right decision?
To start with, you need to think about when you want to do it and if you really want to do it. Do you want to begin as soon as you find a family? Wait 6 months to save money? Are you prepared to drop everything and move?
The decision is yours, but it needs to be made before going any further.

2. Where do I want to be an Au Pair?
Next you need to think about where you’d like to be an au pair. Almost every country in the world has families searching for au pairs!

3. Agency or not?
Now its time to decide if you’d like to go through an agency or not. I myself did not go through an agency, I went through the website aupair-world, which I highly recommend. It is a great website, and I have met plenty of other au pairs who have gone through this website also.

4. What family to choose?
Finally, it is time to find your host family. When you go through an agency, they will organise a few potential family choices for you. If you go through a website, such as au pair world, you have the chance to choose your family yourself. No matter what path you choose to find a family, make sure you are comfortable with your choice of family. Skype them, email them, get to know them on a better level before saying yes.

5. Do I need a visa and how do I get it?
Now that you have a host family, you need to apply for a visa. Depending on your choice of destination, most countries require au pairs to have a valid visa. However, if you are from the EU, wanting to be an au pair in the EU, then you are in luck and do not need to obtain a visa.
To get a visa, there are usually a number of requirements needed. To check your requirements for your chosen destination, you need to look at the website for their Embassy in your country.
For Example: If you’re from America and want to be an au pair in France, you need to visit the site of the ‘French Embassy in America’. In most cases, all countries require a ‘work contract’ filled out by your host family, signed by them and you, and then stamped by the immigration office of your chosen destination. The process of getting a visa can range from 1 month to 3 months.

6. I now have my visa, what’s next?
Get excited! Pack, prepare, and say goodbye! It’s now time to head off overseas on your life changing adventure! Becoming an au pair has given me so many amazing opportunities and I hope it can do the same for you!

10 Reasons to be an Au Pair

Most people tend to passover the idea of becoming an au pair when wanting to work or travel abroad, as most think it’s just being a nanny. Well yes, you are looking after someones children, but you’re also a student. Most au pairs are required to take classes to learn the native language of their country while working.
The idea of being an “au pair” is to travel to a foreign country, where a host family welcomes you as a temporary family member. Here you will be required to look after the family’s children and do some light housework, in exchange for free board, food, and some pocket money. The term au pair means ‘on equal footing’.

Now moving to a foreign country by yourself, where everything is completely opposite to what you’re used to, can sound terrifying – learning a new language, figuring out your way around a new city, moving into the home of a family you don’t know, not knowing anyone. But I assure you it can be the best life changing experience, and you will grow in so many ways. I am now halfway though my second year with my host family, in Paris, and I’m loving every second of it.

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I would like to share with you 10 reasons why I think you should step outside your comfort zone, find a family, book an plane ticket and become an au pair:

1. You get to make friends from all over the world! Taking language classes in your chosen destination is the best way to meet people, who like you, are au pairs/students living abroad. Facebook is also another great way to meet people. Loads of ‘groups’ have been formed online specially for au pairs in different locations, looking for new friends and fun people to do things with.

2. You get to watch the kids grow up. To me this is such a precious part of being an au pair. Becoming part of the family and being able to watch them learn and grow up is quite special. Even after your time living with them, you keep in contact and get to see them change into wonderful human beings.

3. You get to learn a new language. Learning a new language is one of the best parts of becoming an au pair. Even if you learnt it previously at school,  you learn so much more about the language and the mannerisms from being immersed in it daily.

4. You get the opportunity to travel often. Depending on the location of your chosen family, it is generally very easy to travel often during your time as an au pair. As a New Zealander living in Europe, I love having the chance to explore new cities and/or countries, as they are so close to each other. Where as back home, the nearest country is still a 3-4 hour plane ride away. Also, host families often invite their au pair to join them on their vacations.

5. You get free accommodation and food. As part of the contract of being an au pair, the host is to provide them with the means of living – food,  a bedroom/apartment, living costs. In most cases, the au pair has their own room in the house. I myself don’t actually live in the house with my host family, but in a small cottage on their property.

6. You get to improve your CV/Resume. What employee wouldn’t love the fact that you were brave enough to move to a foreign country, by yourself, for a year or two ?

7. You learn to love yourself.  Traveling while you’re young, in my opinion, is the best way to learn to love yourself and others. You become more confident, more sure of yourself, you form more respect for yourself, you become more understanding, and more appreciative. These are just a few of the many attributes to living overseas solo.

8. You get childcare experience. Working as an au pair is a great way of learning what “parent life” is like. Before I became an au pair I didn’t even know how to put on a nappy(diaper), but now I have so many skills and experiences that will be extremely helpful when I decide to settle down and have children of my own. You also learn to appreciate everything that your own parents have done for you throughout your life. Mum and Dad if you’re reading this – thank you!!

9. You become part of the family. It is a humbling experience, and you grow to love your host family as you would your own.

10. You get to experience a new culture – not as a tourist but as a local. When visiting a city or a country as a tourist, you don’t usually get the chance to see it from the locals point of view. Short visits mean quick trips around the city to all of its most famous touristic spots. For example; in Paris, you would go and visit places like the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysees. But as an au pair, when you are actually living in the city/country for a long period of time, you have the chance to explore the real side of it and choose your own favourite spots – without the tourists.

 

Meandering Morocco

This post is going to be a bit different than usual – it’s turned more into a “journal” entry about my experience in Morocco, and what we did each day. I am so grateful to have had time off work, to be able to visit here the past week. It was by far one of the best experiences of my life, and I will never forget it.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect coming to Marrakech. I had heard a lot of speculation as to whether it was safe to visit or not. I do believe it is a safe city to visit – in saying that, all normal precautions must still be made (such as locking away valuable belongings in hotel, paying attention to items you have on you, not to carry too much cash on hand).

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Marrakech is such a colourful, vibrant city, and the weather was absolutely stunning our whole trip, although a bit chilly at night.
The first day we were there, we wandered the souks (local markets) and explored the Ben Yousef Madrasa – an old Islamic college that was founded in the 14th Century. I straight away fell in love with the architecture and tiling of this building. We then found ourselves perched at Terrasse des Epices – which overlooked the rooftops of Marrakech. We all (accept Rachel) decided to try our first Tagine, a traditional North African dish, which was delicious! Faye and I then ventured off to visit the Marrakech Museum together.
As dinner time came around – we headed to a restaurant recommended by the owners of our Riad (a large traditional house built around a central courtyard, often converted into a hotel). I ordered a three course meal; a salad as a starter, chicken tagine as the main, and orange and cinnamon as the dessert, for a whopping 6 euros total! Still to this day I find it hard to fathom the prices of things in Morocco!

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The next morning began with breakfast at 6:30am, as we left on our Sahara adventure at 7am. The journey to the desert was long, but was broken into pieces, as we had a few stops along the way. First stop being the Atlas Mountains. We then continued on to our next destination – Ait Benhaddou. An old town, which was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Films and TV series have also been filmed here, such as The Gladiator, The Mummy and Game of Thrones. Faye and I used most of our time here sneaking off the beaten track and lagging behind our tour group. The remainder of the day was spent in the van until we arrived at the edge of the desert by nightfall.
We were greeted by some locals and were taken to our next ride – a Camel! Despite the fact the sun had set, the moon was bright enough to light our way. The locals guided our camels in the direction of the campsite, and I wondrously gazed at the thousands of stars above me and took in the moment. It was nice to see the stars, since i’m sure they have been hiding from us in Paris. At our campsite, hot tea was brought to our “rooms” as a welcome offering. Soon after, Dinner was served; delicious Berber soup (Harira) and…wait for it….tagine! We filled our belly’s and moved to the bonfire outside, where we spent our night dancing to music with the Locals.

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I barely slept that night, because of the pure fact that I was too cold! For those of you who plan to sleep overnight in the desert, make sure you bring some warm pj’s, cause I surely didn’t. I am unsure as to whether it would still remain cold during the summer nights however!
Eventually the sun began to rise, and that was our que to get up, once again around 6:30am. I don’t think any of us expected to be getting up this early in the mornings on our trip, as we were on holiday of corse. I guess not all holidays mean sleep ins! We grabbed our blankets and headed out, seeing the desert for the first time in daylight. This sight definitely woke us all up! We hung around the Camels, acting like silly school girls laughing at the funny noises and faces they were making, trying to capture as many as we could on our cameras.

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At 7am it was time for us to depart on our camels once again for a 30 minute ride to our vans. The trip back to Marrakech wasn’t hugely exciting, as we only stopped once for lunch. We were all extremely happy to get out of the van when we arrived home.
The owner of our Riad then suggested a place that we could go get a Hammam which we thought meant a Moroccan massage. All of us were a bit stiff and sore from riding the camels, so we thought this was a great idea! We all had no idea what we were in for and it ended up being the complete opposite to what we expected! A Hammam (In Arabic translates to “Hot Water”) is traditionally known as a Turkish/Roman style Bath. This is a place where locals go to cleanse or purify themselves.
When we arrived at the Hammam, we were instructed to take all our clothing off and put on a robe. Little did we know that they would then tell us we did not need our robes and throw the 5 of us into a sauna together, practically naked! Suddenly hot water was thrown all over us and we sat there laughing our heads off at how uncomfortable we felt! They then scrubbed us down and covered us in mud and clay. I can say this was a very different experience and if I had known what it was going to be like – I probably would have said no way! But now that i’ve done it, despite how out of my comfort zone I felt, I’m glad that we had the chance to partake in something so traditional in the Moroccan lifestyle.

The next morning exploring more of Marrakech, buying spices, teas, and some remedies to help our skin. We then visited Bahia Palace from the 19th Century. Bahia means “brilliance”, and this Palace was intended to be the best of its time.

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Lunch was spent at Nomad – which had to be my favourite restaurant the whole entire trip! The view was perfect and food was absolutely delicious, so good that we went back the next day! Nomad is definitely a must do for those of you whom plan to visit Marrakech.
Next stop was the main square, also known as the ‘Jemaa el-Fnaa’. Here we aimlessly wandered the markets and somehow ended up with snakes around our necks! Having never touched a snake in my life, I was quite nervous! and of all people, the ‘snake man’ decided to grab a handful of baby snakes, and casually place them on top of my head, mid photo. You can see from a photo below that I was not too happy about that.
Sadly afterwards it was time for Faye to head back to England – as she had to leave a day before us. We said our goodbyes and then headed up to the rooftop of our Riad to watch the sunset over Marrakech.

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And then it finally became our last day. We decided to make a quick tour around the Majorelle Garden, the Saadian tombs, and the New Town of Marrakech. The Majorelle Garden was beautiful and the colours of the buildings were such a lovely blue. It has been open to the public since 1947. In 1980 the garden had been owned by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé, and when Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008 his ashes were scattered here.
We returned to Nomad for lunch, this time managing to get a table in the sunshine. We all made the most of our last meal in Marrakech and ordered a lot! It was just as good as the first visit.
After lunch, it was time to go back to our Riad and pack our bags and head to the airport. I started getting a little sad at this point as I was having too much fun and didn’t want to go back to the cold, rainy weather in Paris.
Now i’m off to London in 6 weeks with my parents, who are visiting me during the holidays from New Zealand!! You can say i’m a tad excited!! 🙂

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You can also watch what we got up to in Morocco in the video below – Don’t forget to subscribe for more videos like this to come 🙂 I hope you enjoy it!
Kate x

Festive Brussels

Having visited Brussels just over a month before returning again for Christmas, I wouldn’t have imagined how it could have become even more beautiful than the last time I saw it. Decked out with everything Christmas, Brussels turned into a magical place. The town square almost became a “stage”, where every night on the hour, they put on a marvellous light show. I cannot describe how fantastic it was – and having a glistening Christmas tree in the middle of the square was just the cherry on top. Brussels also had Christmas markets galore; they are the perfect place to pick up a last minute Christmas gift!

And let’s not forget having access to Belgium Waffles at every turn you make! – they truly are as good as people say. C’est la Vie!

You can watch my vlog from the trip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ubls9-SjoK4

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