One of the things that I love the most is travelling! I guess I inherited this love from my mother. Since I was little I remember my parents going away for one month once a year to explore different countries. I thought that was fantastic. We also got to travel as a family several times too. I took a few trips with my mum while I was still living in Peru. The one that I will never forget is a long trip we took around Europe. It was an amazing trip, visiting several countries, one of which was France. This was a long time ago, so I was very grateful and excited to be invited to go on a press trip around the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine in France, visiting Angoulême, Cognac and Saintes.
I made a video of my stay in Angouleme. You can see it below:
I was invited by Poitou-Charentes Tourism to visit and explore these cities along with two journalists: Nigel Aplin from Cotswold Style and Fiona Tarbet from The Jewish Chronicle. This was the first time I have travelled with journalists so I was a bit nervous about how it would be. Given my excitement though, I was ready for it.
We all met at St Pancras station in London where we were to board the Eurostar train to Paris. We were all guided by Gillian from the PR agency who organised the trip, so everything was easy and smooth for all of us. We travelled in First Class so we had the opportunity to wait inside the Eurostar lounge. This reminded me a little bit of the Virgin lounge we experienced a few months ago. It was smaller though, but very smart too. We were able to enjoy some drinks and something to eat. It all looked yummy!
It was lovely to travel First Class or Business Premier as its called. The Eurostar train was lovely as everything was all new and comfortable. We were given a meal during the journey which was really nice. I was able to use the onboard wifi although it wasn’t that fast but it did the job of keeping me connected so I could do my work. The journey to Paris took less than two hours, so it was really convenient. I didn’t realise how quick it was until they told me we had already arrived in Paris. I really loved the experience.
We then headed towards the Metro. We needed to travel to Montparnasse – Bienvenüe to take another train that would take us on to Angoulême. Everything was straightforward, with the exception of having to carry my suitcase the whole time. This was my own fault as I made the mistake of bringing luggage that wasn’t very easy to manage but I did manage to get it to the destination at the end, LOL!
The next train was an SNCF train (Voyages – SNCF). SNCF provided our train tickets including the one from London to Paris, so I’d like to say a massive thank you to them as it was all fantastic. This train was really cute. Like the Eurostar, we also travelled in First Class so we were in nice a coach. It had a very romantic style which I really like. There were lamps on each table, giving it a really nice, classic old fashioned look.
The journey to Angoulême was about 2½ hrs from Paris, although it didn’t feel that long. I ate again and also managed to sleep a little as I was feeling tired at that point. I couldn’t use my phone as at that point I had forgotten to turn on my data roaming and there was no wifi so I thought the best thing to do was to nap a little bit.
Arriving in Angoulême we picked up our Hertz rental car, a very modern Renault. It took Gillian sometime to get used to driving it as it wasn’t easy, but she managed in the end, LOL!
We then went to meet our guide in the courtyard of the Town Hall. I was very excited to start learning more about this beautiful city. She showed us around the building and took us to the top, where we had a great view of the city.
This was amazing because the sun was shining and the views were mesmerising. It was very hot – about 30C! We were so lucky as back home in London it was already starting to get cold. We were lucky that the weather was actually very kind to us for the whole weekend.
Angoulême is located on the banks of the Charente River. It has long been associated with paper. It became the capital of paper in the Middle Ages and nowadays it is renowned as the capital of the image and more particularly, of the comic strip, with its annual festival and new museum.
In the centre of Angoulême you can follow the cartoon trail throughout the town, as there are works of comic strip art on every street corner with over twenty painted walls to admire! Famous cartoonists such as Yslaire, Zep and Moebius are featured. They place the comic strip and the image in the heart of the city. How fantastic is that?
I must admit that I really loved this city. I fell in love from the moment we arrived. The painted walls were stunning. It is amazing to walk around and find them everywhere. It certainly gives the city a special character.
Although we saw several I didn’t manage to see all twenty. I took pictures of two of the most famous ones. It was gorgeous to see them in person. I really recommend you to visit these painted walls.
Our guide took us around the whole city so we were able to really take it all in. The views were amazing. As you can see here, I took lots of photos of some of the city’s scenery and streets.
Having spent a few hours touring the city it was time to go to our hotel, Le Saint Gelais. OMG, this was one of the most AMAZING hotels I have ever been to. I really loved it! It is very impressive and the location couldn’t be more central. It is the perfect hotel for a nice getaway to explore the city. It wasn’t cheap though but it was nice to feel that we were in a hotel surrounded by locals. This way, the experience was even better. You can see their rates here.
We had an hour to go to our rooms, unpack and be ready for dinner. I’m not going to lie, this wasn’t enough time for me as I really wanted to rest a bit, but I did manage to be ready on time. Yay! The room was beautiful! I was really in love with the decor and all the details. I felt like a princess whilst staying their! 🙂
I met the others in the hotel’s restaurant which was really lovely. Again the decoration was gorgeous. I liked every single detail. We were given a special menu so we didn’t get to choose, but I didn’t care as I loved everything we were given!
We had bread, starters, the main meal and an amazing dessert that came in a plant pot – weird but at the same time fantastic! I really enjoyed it as it had strawberries, marshmallows and chocolate flakes. It was filling but delicious. The strawberries were so soft and fresh too! I really loved it! 🙂
After the dinner, I was really ready to go back to my room and have a chat with Nick and go straight to bed! I was exhausted! It was an unforgettable day but I wanted to rest and be ready for the next day! 🙂
The following day I woke early, changed and met the others for breakfast. The table was a dream. It was all so nice and fresh. The yoghurt was delicious and the croissants were just perfect! After breakfast we took a walk towards the market. We had seen it the day before but thought it could be nice to explore inside!
We felt lucky to have another sunny and warm day! The walk to the market was lovely. Inside there was some amazing fish – so big and fresh! Really nice!
After the market we returned to the hotel to pack our things ready to continue on our second destination, Cognac and the next part of our adventure! I will publish my post about this very soon: ‘A Moment in France: Cognac’, so keep an eye for my post!
What do you think of Angoulême? Have you been there before? If not, I hope I have inspired you to add it to your travel bucket for 2017? Please leave a comment below as I would love to read what you think.
*Disclosure: I was invited on this amazing press trip to France to explore 3 different cities (Angoulême, Cognac & Saintes) for the purposes of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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