5 Things to Do in Mallorca This Spring

Spring is the perfect time of year to enjoy a little break in Mallorca. Visitors can enjoy the great Mediterranean weather, and everything that this beautiful island has to offer, whilst avoiding the bustling summer crowds. Here are 5 great things to do if you are considering a mini getaway to the most popular of the Balearic Islands.

Take the Train to Sóller

Sóller comprises a little town and municipality nearby the island’s north-west coast. It is linked by the historic railway, the Ferrocarril de Sóller (Sóller Railway), set up in 1912. The 27,3 km journey to Sóller is completed in a historic electric train which takes a route across the plains, around mountains and finally through tunnels built in the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range. The views are truly breathtaking! With regards to the town itself, it is located in a large valley. The principal attraction comprises Plaça Consitució square in the centre boasting a fountain and beautiful Sant Bartomeu Church. The town also features a covered market, a famous botanical garden (Jardí Botanic) and quaint fin de siècle Art Nouveau style houses.

Visit the Drach Caves

The Drach Caves (Coves del Drach), one of Mallorca’s most beautiful attractions, consists of a group of four caves. They feature beautiful stalactites and stalagmites which hang from the ceiling and rise from the ground. In addition, the Drach Caves are home to Lake Martel, one of the largest subterranean lakes in the world. As part of the attraction, visitors  venture around 25 metres deep into the cave and follow a 1.2 km path allowing them to admire these incredible formations. A classical music concert on Lake Martel then follows with a light show imitating the sun rise over the lake before everyone is invited to enjoy a short boat trip marking the end of the visit.

Visit Na Foradada Peninsula

Na Foradada comprises a peninsula located on the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range in the Son Marroig territory. Flanked by the lovely Deià and Caló de S’Estaca beaches, it is considered one of the most beautiful places on the island. This unusual rock formation is famous for the enormous hole the middle to which Na Foradada owes its name. Those who brave the road between the towns of Valldemossa and Deià to get there will be rewarded with some spectacular views which have previously been the inspiration for many famous artists although, the most recommended time to go is at sunset.

Visit  Chopin’s House in Valldemossa

Nearby Na Fordada peninsula is the lovely town of Valldemossa, former home to none other than famous Polish composer Chopin. Known as the “Real Cartuja de Valledemossa“, it comprises a 13th-century Carthusian monastery and it was there that Frederic Chopin spent the winter of 1838 to 1839. Aside from this little claim-to-fame Valldemossa boasts beautiful landscapes and a town with little streets, as well as an array of shops, boutiques and traditional family bakeries selling local delicacies.

Explore the Countryside

Finally, what better way to discover this beautiful island than go on a walk and discover the stunning Mallorcan countryside. There are endless opportunities, ranging from gentle routes for families to more challenging hikes for the experienced walker. Es Salt des Freu comprises one of the more popular walks given that it is an easier option and the views that can be admired throughout are stunning. This 7km circular walk will lead you through oak forest and past the stunning Salt d’Es Freu waterfalls before finalising with a  sharp ascent to the top of Pas de s`Estelo. The walk begins just before the small town of Orient where visitors can leave their car and take the beaten track to the forest. Alternatively, a little circular route in Sóller (Soller and Biniraix) is perfect for those seeking something a little more leisurely. The walk, beginning and ending in Sóller, takes approximately an hour and a half. Visitors will be led through Sóller’s famous Citrus Valley featuring breathtaking scenery and soaring mountains in the backdrop. Finally, the Puig Roig walk is on offer for more experienced walkers. It comprises a 20km hike on one of Mallorca’s tallest mountains. They will climb the stairway to famous Corniche and then to the Lluc Monastery marking the end of the excursion. You can discover further routes and trails on the official Mallorca Tourism website.

Of course, a visit to the beautiful beaches and Palma de Mallorca centre goes without saying. Enjoy!

Maria Allen: http://www.luxuryseekersonline.com/

A Purr-fect Way to Enjoy Parisian Café Life!

Inspired by the original idea of cat cafés in Japan, Le Café des Chats  has recently opened in Paris, at the heart of the trendy Marais quartier. The idea, as its Japanese equivalent (there are now around 40 cat cafes in Tokyo alone), is to create a relaxing environment where visitors can stroke one of the resident cats, while enjoying a beverage or light meal.  The therapeutic and soothing effect of stroking a relaxed, purring cat is well documented, but the Parisian café has rapidly become a great success, and it is advisable to book several days in advance, or even more for a weekend slot!  The owners are already talking of opening another one in France.

Apparently the Japanese equivalent charges a cover charge and hourly fee to enjoy feline company, whereas the emphasis of the Paris version is on the quality of the food, and the cats are an added benefit.  Most of the cats were homeless and rescued via an animal protection society, so are no doubt delighted to be receiving such regular attention. There are a few rules though!  They must not be disturbed when they are sleeping, and there are several high places for them to enjoy periods of calm when required, away from over-enthusiastic humans.  It is also  forbidden to feed the cats from your plate of food, as they are fed cat food separately.  The website emphasizes the hygiene aspect, with all the cats receiving regular veterinary checkups and vaccines.

The café is on two levels and, owner Margaux Gandelon has created a cosy and quirky ambience, with comfortable sofas, bookcases, and a piano in the vaulted basement. The menu includes an interesting and diverse selection of teas, including Hansel and Gretel (orange and cinnamon) and Romeo and Julian (Green tea with raspberries, pomegranate and ginger), as well as hot chocolate and various coffees, and cold drinks.  Wine is also served by the glass. To eat, there is an appetizing selection of salads and light main courses.  Dessert is mainly cookies and cakes, bearing in mind that this cafe is open for tea all afternoon.  At the weekend, there is a special brunch menu for 25 euros.

Le Café des Chats

16 rue Michel Le Compte, 75003 Paris

Tel: +33 (0)9 73 53 35 81

Open every day from midday to 10 pm.  Bookings can be made on-line, or by phone.

Métro: Rambuteau

5 Things To Do For Valentine’s Day in Paris

Synonymous with romance, Paris is the perfect destination to enjoy a little Valentine’s Day getaway. However, if you’re not quite sure how you are going to celebrate the special occasion once you get there, here a few ideas which will help make your Valentine’s Day in Paris truly an unforgettable one.

1. Admire the Paris Views at Dusk

Nothing could be more magical on Valentine’s Day than admiring the most romantic city in the world from way up high. One of the best places to enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the French capital is, of course, the Eiffel Tower. This iconic monument is open until midnight in Summer (11 pm in winter) and visitors can see as far as 70 km in all directions on a clear day from the top floor. Perfect! Alternatively, you will be rewarded with some stunning views of the Paris Old Town if you brave the three hundred and eighty steps to the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Finally, the spectacular views of Paris from the beautiful Sacré Coeur Basilica gracing the Butte de Montmartre (Montmartre Hill) are unrivalled. Further recommendations include the lovely views from the Arc de Triomphe and Tour Montparnasse (Montparnasse Tower).

2. Visit “I Love You: the Wall”

Located in the popular Montmartre district in Paris is “I Love You: The Wall“. As the name indicates, it comprises a 40 m2 wall covered in 612 tiles of enamelled lava. However, what really makes it special is that the most beautiful phrase in the world “I love you”, has been painted on the wall in no less than 311 languages and dialects including South African, Italian and Norwegian (“Ek’s lief vir jou”, “Ti amo” and “Eg elskar deg”). If you would like to visit this romantic spot in Paris and show off your language skills then “I Love You, the Wall” can be found in the romantic garden at Square Jean Rictus Place, at the foot of Butte de Montmartre.

3. Put a Love Padlock on the Ponts des l’Archevêché

If you would like to make a small , romantic gesture for Valentine’s Day this year then purchase a padlock and head to the Pont des l’Archevêché (Archbishops Bridge). It comprises the footbridge that crosses the Seine between Quai de Conti on the left bank and Quai Mitterrand on the right near the Notre Dame Cathedral. Simply write your names on the padlock with a marker, secure the lock to the railing and throw the key in the river in accordance with tradition.

 4.  Enjoy a Romantic Picnic in the Park

Weather permitting, what could be more romantic than going for a picnic, or even just a quiet stroll, in one of the many beautiful parks in Paris. The Jardin du Luxembourg, located in Paris centre, features English and French style gardens, perfect for a little spread out on the grass! Alternatively, Parc de Buttes-Chaumont boasts gentle rolling hills, a waterfall, winding paths and a bridge, the perfect setting for a romantic Valentine’s Day picnic! Finally, Parc Monceau, with its duck pond, beautiful flower beds and elegant white statues is a perfect Valentine’s Day venue. Further options comprise the Jardin de Tuileries beside the majestic Eiffel Tower and the Jardin des Plantes botanical garden in the Paris Latin Quarter. The choice is yours!

5.  Enjoy a Valentine’s Day Dinner Cruise

Finally, if you would really like to spoil your fair lady on this romantic day then a Valentine’s Day Dinner Cruise could be just the ticket! Bateaux Parisiens offer a romantic evening out for two which includes a delicious gourmet dinner comprising various courses. Fortunate guests can enjoy a fine dining experience all the while gliding along the River Seine and admiring Paris spectacularly lit up in the evening. Alternatively, there are more economic options including the Dinner Cruise Decouverte Valentines Day which includes dinner and a rose for the lady or, Paris Romantic Tour (For you, Paris Lights Up) consisting of a romantic night bus tour complete with a glass of champagne each and a rose for the lady. Oooh la la!

After all this, if you are still stuck for ideas then for those of you with deeper pockets, there are endless shopping opportunities in Paris. Featuring the more popular choice amongst the well off (famous names, lottery winners, celebrities, etc), the City of Light boasts more shops and department stores per square foot than any other destination in the world. So if you are looking for a unique gift on Valentine’s Day, you are guaranteed to find what you are looking for. Alternatively, I would highly recommend simply strolling the charming streets of the most romantic city in the world and admiring its unrivalled architectural beauty!

Guest post by Maria Allen