Sunday, 26 July 2015

Sky Garden: Free and Unusual Attraction in London with Amazing Views

Free Attraction in London - Garden in the Sky!

Free attractions london city sky garden at top of skyscraper

The best thing about the Sky Garden at Number 20 Fenchurch Street is not the fact that it is free, it is the views over the river and the city, and the beautifully maintained indoor garden. There is an excellent cafe / restaurant with a fantastic array of healthy and tasty choices (and the biggest cookies)! 

The area at the top of this new and futuristic building is spacious and enjoyable to walk around to appreciate the garden as well as the views over London from all angles - indoors and outdoors. The Tower Bridge, The Shard and other South Bank landmarks are clearly seen from the outdoors viewing platform and the views over other parts of London are equally stunning from other indoors areas in the large space which is helpfully made almost entirely of glass. 

To visit the Sky Garden and get your free tickets you need to register online in advance at the website. The nearest tube stations to 20 Fenchurh Street are Monument, Bank and Tower Gate and the building is easy to find - in the centre of the city area of London looming high over the surrounding buildings.

20 Fenchurch Street as seen from street

While you're in the area other exciting and unusual attractions in this area of London are Spittalfields Market for clothes, arts and crafts; the Borough Market famous for its extensive delicious and fresh selections of international food produce, and Cornhill and Leadenhall Market with their exclusive and upmarket selections of shops and boutiques. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Cassis and the Calanques: Stunningly Beautiful Coastal Scenery near Marseilles, South of France

Stunning Coastal Scenery Near Marseilles

Whether you're in Marseilles and you want a little break from the city hubbub, or you're simply after some stunning locations and little beaches off-the-beaten-track along the French Riviera, Cassis village and the Calanques on the South coast in Provence are a must-see if you're in this beautiful area of the South of France. 

Calanques are basically little mini fjords within the rugged areas of rocky coastline. They start at Cassis and continue around the coast for a few miles; there are boat trips from Cassis specifically to see this scenery and beaches, and there are walking trails which may be partly closed at busier times to protect the surrounding nature. However you can access some of the individual Calanques very easily from Cassis.

We parked half a mile or so up from Cassis as it was a beautiful day and the walk down the steep roads and paths afforded us some magnificent views of the surrounding hillsides and Provencal scenery. We followed signs vaguely pointing us in the direction of the Calanques walking trail, but basically ended up at an area on the edge of a calanque just West of Cassis, with a bar and some steps down to the rocks and beach with a beautiful view of the mountains to the East, and Cassis town just inland.

Cassis calanques south of france natural scenery

Cassis calanques south of france natural scenery

Cassis calanques south of france natural scenery

The Calanque we found had a fantasic expansive area of smooth rocks to sunbathe on, and it was a fairly windy day but the enclosed nature of the calanque kept us almost totally out of the wind! 

After a mini picnic and some time sunbathing and admiring the stunning views and crystal-clear sea, we walked back to the car and parked in Cassis (we could have easily walked back to Cassis from the Calanque however). 

Cassis Coastal Town

The town of Cassis is a beautiful and extremely clean little place full of atmosphere and lovely cafes, ice cream bars and an exquisite array of gift shops, and of course a cute little harbour. 

There are lots of parking options and even when it is very busy there are large attended car parks further up the hill out of town with just a ten minute walk to the centre. The drive from Marseilles to Cassis is just over half an hour. Another great place to visit nearby if you're going around the coast for a further half-hour is Bandol, known for its Rose wines. Buses and trains also go between Marseilles frequently aswell as cruising boats. 

Cassis coastal town south of france