A couple of months ago we took a road trip to Madrid.
My husband managed to get tickets to the champions league final, which was the main reason for going, But also, we has been to celebrate New Year's a couple of years ago and I came away feeling like Madrid was somewhere that I didn't love.
In it's defence, it was cold (surprisingly to us) and a little fact we didn't know at the time is that much of Spain tends to close down over the holidays. So I felt like perhaps we hadn't chosen the best time to visit. I very rarely come away from a city without finding something to love about it. So this was a second attempt to love Madrid.
So after 7 hours in the car we arrived in Madrid, breaking up the journey with a stop off at The windmills of La Mancha (more here, and defiantly worth a visit)
We stayed at a really cute boutique hotel, called Only You which Id definitely recommend.
We started our day with breakfast at Zenith cafe. They have a really great menu with all kind of yummy options! But I just cannot resist pancakes when the are on the menu. A few cappuccinos later, we were ready to explore the city.
Madrid has some of the best street art iv seen, really beautifully done. Its not always something that I'm a fan of but I felt that here it was quite special.
It is a much more vibrant place in the summer months, than in the winter. Its very busy and bustling and truly feels like a capital city.
We took a walk around Mercado de San Miguel, which like most Mercado's in Spain is utterly beautiful. They always have the most beautiful vaulted ceilings, and are a great place to pick up fresh local produce.
I found the architecture to be very diverse in Madrid. Many of the buildings have an imperial and almost art deco feel to them which is very different to other Spanish city's we have visited. There is a real mix of historic buildings along with more modern architecture.
So, the question is... did I finally fall in love with Madrid. I'll tell you in my next post later this week!
After 15 years of frequenting my favourite city, Paris... I thought id share my best discoveries with you, and it might save me some time in the future as Paris is the place i'm most asked for recommendations. If you are looking for Fabulous places to surprise and delight you, read on!
Quite simply the most fabulous, glamorous breakfast in Paris. Eat fresh award winning pastries so fabulous they come with their own booklet under a shimmering chandelier designed by Philip stark. And the staff are super nice too. Perfect for a special occasion, or simply just because...
Cafe de flore
Another lovely, very Parisienne cafe in Paris St. Germain. Perfect for people watching over a hugely calorific but worth it patisserie
Le deux maggots
In one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Paris, this is a great spot for coffee and people watching over a fresh croissant. Take a table outside and the parisiennes make their way to work.
The Little sister to the aforementioned Plaza Athenee, Le Meurice is beautiful in her own right. If you are feeling a little "extra" and fancy breakfast in an incredible ballroom adorned with crystal chandeliers and marble frescoes... Le Meurice is your girl. Warning, you may be so distracted by this amazing dining room you could forget to eat...
Laduree will always be favourite no matter how touristy it gets. To me it screams delicate femininity, and oozes prettiness. Its the perfect place a delicately patisserie cafe creme. I'll always have love for Laduree
Lunch or Dinner
Known for its utterly incredible (no exaggeration necessary) hot chocolate- Le African Angelina is a Parisienne institution. But whilst most tourist flock for the patisserie and hot chocolate, the locals come for the savoury menu... which is no less delicious. Try the truffle ravioli and thank me later. The perfect post Louvre location for lunch!
I'll never forget spending one of my birthdays at Le Cinq, it was the one of the most fabulous lunches of my life! The are many reasons to visit Le Cinq, the fabulous 3 Michelin star restaurant in the beautiful Four seasons hotel (a hotel which is still very much on my hotel wish list)
Let start with the fact that Christian Le Squer was voted chef of the year in 2016! The experience is everything you'd from a 3 Michelin star Parisienne restaurant with a menu to die for. And to add the icing to the cake, you'll get see the stunning Jeff Latham display on the way in which is a reason on its own to visit...
Le Grand Vefour
Le Grande Vefour remain's one of my all time favourite restaurant experiences ever. The food, the service, the restaurant are all simply perfect. Steeped in history, there is a story behind everything here. The place to come of you'd like a true Parisienne restaurant experience. I cant say enough good things about this place...
Epicure, Le Bristol
When a restaurant has 3 Michelin stars, you expect amazing things. When you leave having all of the expectations exceeded... well, you know you found the real deal. Not only was this some of the most sublime food we have ever experienced, but also the most beautiful and theatrical. And the sweet trolley just seals the deal (more in depth review here)
Le train le Blu
Who knew that this breathtakingly gorgeous restaurant was tucked away in the Gare de Lyon train station?! A little way out from the centre of Paris, its absolutely worth venturing out for. We have been coming here for years and it quite simply never fails to impress. It is the most beautiful, decadent restaurant that will blow you away...
Also worth a visit
Le ambassadors at The Crillion Hotel (now L' Ecrin, we haven't been since the hotel refurbishment)
La Cour Jardin at The Plaza Athenee - absolutely stunning in the summer in all its red glory. A must
(I hope you find some of these recommendations useful! Please let me know if you have fabulous places to share that I haven't listed.
Vejar de la Frontier
Widely known to be the prettiest of all the pueblos blancos, I figured Vejar (more detailed here) would be a great place to start. Around 30 minutes drive from Seville through the picturesque Spanish countryside this super cute town is one of my favourites and definitely not to be passed on. Stop by the Plaza de Espana for cafe con leche and people watching and a dose of Andalusian culture.
I went to Ubrique in search of the famous leather bags which are made there, and whist I failed at my primary goal (these designer handbags are kept well hidden away) I won at finding another Spanish town to fall in love with.
Another town that takes away your breath at first sight, I couldn't quite get over how stunning Ubrique is set against a giant mountain range. Get lost in the little cobbles streets and head to the Plaza d'Espana for coffee and people watching. More on Ubrique here
Arcos de la Frontier
The old town of Arcos de La Frontier is a tangled labyrinth of cobbled streets that lead up to a castle (a vision in sandstone) and views of the rolling Spanish countryside. Head to the central Callejón de las Monjas for Tapas and a refreshing glass of tinto de verano. If its just a coffee your after, head to The Casa del Corregidor’s in the Parador hotel. The views from here make the trip worthwhile on their own. Arcos has some of the most beautiful Andalusian architecture iv ever seen just in case you needed more reasons to visit.
Another super cute and relatively tourist free town, frigiliana was voted prettiest Andalusian village by the Spanish tourist board and I can see why. Like most of these mountain towns, its best explored by foot. This way you'll be sure not to miss a thing. Be sure to taste the local wine!
This little hidden Gem, (now made a little more famous with game of thrones) is an absolute must. The first time I saw it it took my breath away, much like seeing Gordes In Provence for the first time. If you view the town from afar, you may be lucky enough to see falcons and eagles.
Make sure you head to the old town at the top. If you fancy staying at one of the most fabulous hotels in Europe (one of my favourites too), Finca cortesin at the bottom of Casares will blow your socks off. When its time to leave, turn right for the next fairy tale village below...
Gaucin is another super cute, whitewashed mountain village. I'll never forget the first time we visited, and made a total rookie mistake of arriving at 2 pm in the peak of summer. We got out of the car to 44 degree heat... ouch. Still totally worth it. Gaucin is just beautiful, charming and honestly Andalusian. In the summer they decorate the town with crochet bunting for the ferias! Whats not to love...
Setinil de las bodega
In my opinion, Setinil (I wrote more about it here) is one of the most magical of all of the pueblos blancos. A village that grew out of the rocks and cliffs, it is a total bucket list place to visit. It may look like something from lord of the rings, but is a fully functioning village complete with restaurants and cafes. Pure magic!
Have you ever visited any of these lovely little towns? Or maybe you know of some I haven't mentioned? Let me know in the comments below!
A travel, beauty and lifestyle blog with the occasional afternoon tea by Angelina Belle
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