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There’s no party like a Venice Carnival party

The Venice Carnival is a celebration unlike any other. Elaborate costumes and masks adorn the streets of the fabulous destination once a year. We love the colourful display and that's why we choose to travel there during that period of time. Here's a snapshot of one of the activities during our trip, the masked gala ball!

A Little Louvre in Lens

With more than 10 million visitors a year, the Louvre is the world’s most visited museum. It’s also the world’s largest, so it’s not surprising that it can be a bit overwhelming. But if you want to see some of the world’s great treasures, you don’t have to venture into Paris. The Louvre has smaller museums in Abu Dhabi and Lens, Pas-de-Calais, a mining town located about 200 kilometres north of Paris.  In October, Expat Club journeyed to Lens. The Louvre-Lens is the baby brother of the Louvre and home to 200 masterpieces on loan from the Louvre Museum in Paris. From a Coal Mine to a Museum The Louvre-Lens opened in 2012, transforming a former coal mine into a regional jewel. The museum was built in Lens to re-energize the city and give it an economic boost.  It’s also part of France’...

Monet’s Magical Gardens

There are few places in France as magical as Giverny, a quaint village that lies just 80 km from Paris. Claude Monet, the father of Impressionism, discovered this gateway to Normandy as he glanced out of a train window back in 1883. On 26 May, Expat Club travellers got a chance to discover it, too. It was an early start for the weary travellers as we headed down the highway from Brussels. Sitting on our comfortable and roomy luxury coach, we got inspired for the visit with a 90-minute documentary about Monet that showcased his life through letters he wrote. Soon, the rolling green hills of the French countryside greeted us as we neared Giverny.  By lunchtime, we had arrived! We walked down stone streets, past charming slate-roof buildings and homes, to LesNymphéas, French for the water lil...

Meet the Castle: Château de Cheverny

Did you know that Château de Cheverny was the inspiration for the fictional Marlinspike Hall  (Château de Moulinsart in French) in the Adventures of Tintin books? Chateau de Cheverny is the second castle of the Loire Valley we visit during our weekend trip. Here are a few reasons why we love this castle. Practically untouched Accounts vary about the chateau’s construction which dates anywhere between the 15th and 16th century. The original owner of the estate, Henry Le Mareschau, sold the estate to Jean Hurault, whose grandson, Jacques Hurault became the first Marquis de Vibraye. Cheverny thus became the official seat of the Marquis de Vibraye. The property has remained in the same family for over six centuries; this is probably why the chateau has practically maintained its classica...

The Cathedrals of Europe

Yesterday’s fire at the Notre Dame in Paris was not only a shock to the Parisians and French people, but also to the rest of the world. Cathedrals, unlike any other building except for castles, have stood the test of time. But where castles have remained closed but for the happy few, at least until recently, Cathedrals have welcomed billions of visitors over many centuries, including countless tourists (13 million per year for this church alone). The destruction of a great part of this Paris landmark saddens us all. Most of the people in the Expat Club community have visited this incredible structure, possibly even multiple times. During the many Expat Club trips to Paris, our groups always stopped at the Eastern end of the Île de la Cité. Just to look and be amazed by the iconic towers an...