The French town that inspired a Japanese artist

The town I am referring to is Colmar, located in the Elsas.

The artist is none other than Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, who delighted us with cinematic gems such as Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.it’s this last one where the cityscape resembles that of Colmar.

Maison Pfister clearly recognisable in Howl’s Moving Castle

Im not quite sure why I converted almost all my pictures to b&w, since Colmar with its half-timbered houses, canals and flowers is very picturesque.

the St. Martin’s Churhch is wort a visit.

For the foodies amongst you, this is a wine region!

Have a look at the trailer:

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Creepy Travels – An Underground Walk amongst Skulls and Bones

Even without giving away the name of the location, I guess you know what touristic hotspot I am talking about. Indeed, the Paris Catacombs! It has been the subject of intriguing documentaries and horror movies (like the not so great As Above, So Below). Moreover, look for the catacombs on YouTube, and you will see that everybody involved in urbex has explored them and made a video of their adventure.

I’m not going to lie, so did we…

Some facts and numbers:

  • Established in 1810.
  • Contains the remains of more than 6 million people.
  • Location: Place Denfert-Rochereau.
  • About 480.000 yearly visitors.
  • During World War II, members of the French Resistance took refuge here. On the other hand, the Nazis built a bunker there as well.
  • As Above, So Below received permission from the French government to film in the catacombs and was the first to do so.

Our Video

Check it out on our YouTube channel. And while you’re there, give us a like and subscribe!

And the Pictures?

Well, they are gone…

I have one external hard disk with all my pictures from 2009 until 2015 included and another one with all the pictures I took in 2016. The latter didn’t survive the move from Belgium to Spain…

Anyway, the place looks like this…

Photo by Felipe Hueb on Pexels.com

Some practical information:

  • The best way to move around in Paris is by taking public transport. It’s also the easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to go to the Catacombs. Get on metro lines 4 or 6, direction Denfert-Rochereau or use the RER, line B.
  • The best way to avoid the crowds is NOT by coming early in the morning. Sounds contradictory, but believe us! Come in the beginning or middle of the afternoon. You could of course pay to skip the line, but it is not worth its money… A guided tour can be interesting but is the most expensive option for a visit.
  • Have a look at their official website, in case you want more historical information.

And What About This?

You decide to spice up your life and visit the Catacombs the illegal way. We hate to disappoint you, but then there is a pretty good chance that you end up like this guy…

Coming on the website next week… Good news, I have just finished editing the video for the second part of our series about the Sierra de Huétor! Furthermore, we will show you a beautiful religious location somewhere in Poland. And our favorite place in Bruges!

What about you? Have you visited the Catacombs in Paris? If not, would you consider doing so? And for those who have been there: did you experience anything out of the ordinary or even paranormal? Let us know in the comments!

Discover the Timeless Beauty of the Place Stanislas (Nancy)

Although it only takes you three hours and a half to drive from Brussels to Nancy, this French city has a completely different vibe than the Belgian capital. And even though the weather was far from sunny – as you can clearly see in the pictures, Nancy has a certain Mediterranean atmosphere…

Who Is Stanislas?

The square was named after Stanisław Bogusław Leszczyński. In the 18th century, he was King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, and Duke of Lorraine, of which Nancy at that time was the capital. He was also the father-in-law to the French King, Louis XV.

During his reign, Stanisław was responsible for a lot of urban planning. This square was supposed to link the old town of Nancy with the new one, built in the 18th century after devastating wars. With the Place Stanislas, the Duke also wanted to honor his son-in-law.

Centuries of Changes

The Place Stanislas has changed its name and purpose for many ages. At some point in history, it was called the Place Napoléon, for example. Until 1983, the square served as a car parking area; now it’s a pedestrian space. Festivities usually take place here as well.

More Facts

  • The Place Stanislas is 125 meters long and 106 meters wide.
  • The City Hall, the Fine Arts Museum, Grand Hôtel, and the Opera House call this square their home.
  • Its construction took place from 1752 to 1755.
  • The statue in the middle depicts Stanisław (Stanislas in French).

Introducing the Côte d’Opale through B&W Pictures

Back to France! This time we take you to the north of the country, to a coastal region of 120 kilometers long, between the French-Belgian border and the border with Picardy. It’s a landscape characterized by cliffs, beaches, dunes, and swamps. Moreover, you can eat in one of the many restaurants along the coast, stay in a cute B&B in a small village, or learn something about the local history in one of the many war museums.

You can easily explore this area in a day. There are a couple of bigger cities such as Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer. But we prefer to photograph smaller places such as Blériot-Plage.

The name of this place refers to Louis Blériot who, in 1909, was the first to cross the English Channel by plane.

You can keep on driving along the coastal road. After some time you will reach Cap Blanc Nez, a cliff of 132 meters high, consisting of white chalk. On a clear day, you can see the English coastal line, with the White Cliffs of Dover. We didn’t have such luck…

In between the Cap Blanc Nez and the other cliff, Cap Gris Nez, there are smaller picturesque towns and villages.

We kept on going southwest. The Cap Gris Nez is smaller: it only reaches 50 meters. Because of its proximity to England, it was a strategic location during World War II.

We kept on going south, passing beautiful holiday homes near the sea.

Our last stop was in the coastal town of Wimereux.

For our next post, we will take you to the Czech Republic.

The Beginner’s Guide to the Destroyed Villages in France

Another week, and a new destination, because today we take you to France. But instead of the good old Eiffel Tower or another touristic highlight, we take you to a lesser-known corner of the country. Today, we are in the département of the Meuse, at the Villages Détruits (Destroyed Villages). But what exactly are these?

During the First World War, specifically at the time of the Battle of Verdun in 1916, many villages in northern France were destroyed by the fighting. After the war, it was decided that the land previously occupied by the destroyed villages would not be incorporated into other communes, as a testament to these villages which had “died for France”, as they were declared, and to preserve their memory. While three of the villages in Meuse were subsequently rebuilt and are governed as normal communes, the other six are entirely unpopulated and are managed by a council of three members, appointed by the prefect of Meuse. (Source: Wikipedia)

The other departments in France with destroyed villages (from World War I) are Marne, Meurthe-et-Moselle, and Aisne.

Back to the department of the Meuse. Lars and I were staying in Metz at the time, not too far from the villages:

The weather and the landscape at the beginning of our journey already predicted a sad journey.

Some remnants of the war greeted us just before we arrived at the first village.

Fleury-devant-Douaumont

Before the war, about 420 people called this village their home. It was recaptured between the French and the Germans 16 times before the latter finally annihilated it. Because of the explosives and the poisonous gas used, nothing could be rebuilt afterward.

All that is left, are these markers… The holes that are spread all over are where the bombs hit the ground.

Tranchée des Baïonnettes

Not another village, but a different kind of reminder of World War I.

On 12 June 1916, two companies of the 137th Infantry Regiment of the French army were sheltered in their tranchées (trenches), baïonnettes (bayonets) fixed, waiting for a ferocious artillery bombardment to end. It never did – the incoming shells covered their positions with mud and debris, burying them alive. They were found three years later, when someone spotted several hundred bayonet tips sticking out of the ground. (Lonely Planet)

Douamont

This village was partially reconstructed after the war. Markers indicate where the locals used to live.

Vaux-devant-Damloup

This is the new village… Less than 100 people call this their home.

There is only a memorial for the former village, which is a short distance away. We couldn’t get any closer to it, because there was so much mud and neither of us was properly dressed.

Bezonvaux

This village underwent the same fate as Fleury-devant-Douamont. All that is left today are bits and pieces of everyday life. Can you imagine the devastation, looking at the impact those bombs made? About 150 people were killed.

Ornes

Although a few residents still remain, Ornes too has never been rebuilt, mainly because of the gas and the explosives. Here 700 people died during the war.

Cumières-le-Mort-Homme

And another village that died for France. This one too has never been rebuilt. About 200 inhabitants perished.

As you can see, we were not able to visit all the villages. After Cumières, the sun started to go down and we had to return to Metz. And for the day afterward, we had already made other plans.

Anyway, here are all the other villages that we visited that day on one map.

Wednesday we are back, in another corner of Europe.

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