Packing List: Summer In France

Just a couple of days ago one of my wonderful readers asked me if I was able to post about what I packed for my four week trip to France a couple of years ago. Now it has been some time but luckily I still have my packing list! So without further ado, here it goes!

My 2015 trip to France – First week: Paris, Second and Third week: Southern France, Final week: Back to Paris

I wanted to pack my suitcase with just enough clothes to last me for my entire trip and not overload it with to many clothes.

Something I had to keep in mind when packing was to keep some room for some clothes and items that I would purchase during my trip.

In the end, it ended working and I was off! So here is my list of what clothes and items I packed for my exciting trip to France.

Basics

12 pairs of underwear

This may seem like a lot but it really wasn’t, they take up very little room but at least you don’t have to deal with trying to work out a washing machine in your apartment.

15 pairs of socks

You may be wondering why I brought an abundance of socks and less underwear, well the reason for that is, it’s always good to bring more socks in case the socks you’re currently wearing gets either wet or muddy. And nobody likes to wear dirty socks!

Clothes

6 short sleeve t-shirts

I didn’t really need to pack that many t-shirts considering the duration of my trip because I could wear them more than once and also if I had access to a washing machine nearby.

3 long sleeve shirts

Bringing just three long sleeve shirts was all I needed, because it’s perfect to wear on those chilly days.

4 sleeveless shirts

I knew it was going to be hot so why not pack a few sleeveless shirt.

2 hoodies

Whether if it’s raining or if it’s cold, hoodies provides warmth and comfort when it gets cold and muggy.

6 shorts

Honestly who’s going to wear jeans on their entire trip especially when you visit a warm country? In France, the weather is absolutely fantastic and usually it’s always sunny which means it’s the perfect for wearing shorts!

2 jeans

I did mention it’s usually always sunny which means there are days when it’s not, meaning that it can get a little chilly. Jeans are perfect on those days but also it’s good when decide to take a walk in the forest and you don’t want to be bitten by mosquitoes.

3 swimming trunks

Where I stayed, there were a lot of pools available and when I visited the South, there were also many beautiful beaches nearby. So if you like to swim…bring your swimming trunks!

Shoes

2 pairs of sneakers 

Great for walking and running especially when you travel to a walking city.

1 pair of comfortable sandals

It’s hard to walk on hot sand without any shoes! I had bought myself a brand new pair of sandals for the beach!

Accessories

2 hats

I didn’t really need many hats, all I needed was one hat and an extra hat just in case I lost the other.

1 pair of sunglasses

Great on those sunny days but it also it shields you from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. You don’t want to go blind now do you.

1 travel wallet

You can’t travel anywhere without your wallet! My wallet had many compartments for cash, cards and change.

1 small backpack

I needed a backpack when I went from one place to another just to put my essential items.

Toiletries

1x toothbrush 

2x travel size toothpaste

1x dental floss

1x container of hair gel

1x comb

1x bottle of skin cream

1x travel size bottle of shampoo

Items + Entertainment

MacBook Air + iPad (including chargers)

Mini binoculars

3 books

Sketch pad + pencils

1 liter plastic water bottle


Anyways, hopefully that wasn’t too long but there it is, my complete packing list to France. I will be posting many more blog posts related this topic in the future so stay tuned and hope you enjoyed this new blog post!

What Makes Good Photography Beautiful

You may be asking yourself, “Is photography considered an art form?”

In today’s society, you know as well as I know, a photograph does not need to prove itself that it is in fact an art form. Photography stands on its own without any reference to other arts. In other words, that’s what makes photography so beautiful and unique.

Here are four common elements I learnt in what makes a picture beautiful:

1. Photography can portray the photographer’s meaning and purpose.

You may be wondering how can a simple picture tell so much about the photographer’s meaning and purpose. Just imagine for a second, you visit an art gallery and decide to visit Leonardo Da Vinci’s art exhibition, you will obviously see many of his beautiful artwork but you may be asking yourself why he made that specific artwork (drawing, sketch, painting…). Each artwork represents a different meaning which relates to the artist’s purpose. Thus, that artist must have made “that” for a reason.

Same goes for photography, generally a photographer will take a picture that stands out for him, which means there’s a reason for why he took that picture. That reason alone may be because it’s so beautiful that he must capture that moment.

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2. Choice of lighting 

You can’t pick it up. You can’t give it a hug – light is impalpable. Think of light as an object, a tool you can use that can make your photograph stand out. When I first started photography, I had to pay attention to the lighting and the mood it was creating. That is an important factor for photography and it’s true for all photographers. Light can affect the space and atmosphere of your surrounding. Light can draw out details and create contrast, but also it can bring emphasis to key elements within a frame. Whether you photograph in hard light or soft light, both can create stunning photography.

The photo below is a great example of lighting. Behind me, there was a gorgeous sunset happening, which was great because you can see the warm colors of the sky reflecting on the water, but what’s even better with this photo is that the camera is fixed so that it also portrays the hard light, meaning the trees as well as myself were completely black while there was color in the sky and water.

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3. Photographer’s choice of distance to their object

Usually the distance the photographer choses to be from their subject will affect the true feeling of the overall picture. Many key aspects are for example the focus strength of the lenses, which means whether if the photograph portrays the subject from far or close, it will make the viewers feel like if they were actually there. I know for a fact that for any picture, it will stand out to me if I feel as if I was actually there, assuming you do too.

4. Moment

For photography, you need that moment that highlights a particular object or subject in time. That moment will create a captivating story. Every single part of the picture must interact with the other parts as smoothly as possible which will make your viewers like your picture because they will find it unique. Sure, not every photo will have that special moment when the parts come together perfectly, but it is important to keep in mind when shooting so that it creates a stronger moment for your audience.

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I guess that sums up my four elements in what makes good photography beautiful. I have to be the first to admit that it’s not easy to have all four elements come together in one frame, however by aiming to capture all four elements will essentially improve myself to be better. Yes there are many more important elements that can make a beautiful picture, but these four elements in which I’ve talked about are my top four that can improve your photography at a greater level. If we start to recognize the importance of these elements, we will start to make stunning and beautiful pictures rather than just mediocre pictures. If you bring all elements together, no doubt you will have created something fantastic.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this post. I will be posting more Tips & Tricks in the future so stay tuned.

Garden of the Gods

Where: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

This is no question the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited in Colorado.

Before even going to Colorado Springs, I’ve been debating on many cool places I would like to take my older sister to. Why you may ask? Well, my sister just arrived from Ottawa to visit my family and myself in Denver. It was her first time visiting Denver so I figured she should make the most of it during her stay.

What better way to do so by visiting Garden of the Gods located in Colorado Springs. From Denver to Garden of the Gods, the total distance is about 112 kilometers away which means by car it would take a good hour and a half with no traffic.

So my family and I all agreed on taking my sister to Garden of the Gods. On our way there, I looked out my window and saw plenty of gorgeous mountains and red rock formations (which I’ve never seen before).

When we finally arrived in Colorado Springs, we decided to eat at a good burger joint not too far from our destination. After we gorged ourselves, we went directly to Garden of the Gods which was a ten-minute drive from the restaurant and already you could see the incredible red rock formations from far as well as the kilometers of mountains and greenery. Not only was there an incredible view but the day we decided to go to Garden of the Gods, the weather was absolutely fabulous. What I love about Colorado’s weather is that it’s dry, maybe a little too dry for me but it’s definitely not humid. And I’m guessing you don’t like humidity either.

Once we arrived, we took a long beautiful walk to explore the scenery and appreciate the magnificent view.

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Isn’t the view beautiful? I mean seriously it was breath-taking. If you so happen to be in Colorado Springs, Colorado or would like to visit, I strongly suggest you visit Garden of the Gods because firstly you won’t regret it and secondly it would make great pictures.

After a fantastic and long day, we drove back home to hit the sacks and surely my sister enjoyed it as much as I did.

Stay tuned for my next post!

Perfect Spanish Weather

I arrived in Barcelona early afternoon, after driving for about two hours from Southern France with my family. We didn’t really have a reason to go but the idea randomly popped into our heads before leaving to Barcelona. Now, what exactly did we do once we arrived?
Nothing, although, because we were hungry and it was almost lunch time, we asked one of the locals for directions to the nearest restaurant that served lunch.
Luckily he pointed out a couple and we chose the best one.

Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the restaurant, however, I do remember they served soups, salads, chicken…So your typical restaurant. Anyhow, after we filled our stomachs with good food, we decided to take a walk, to explore the famous “Barcelona”. I did end up seeing a large Roman Catholic Church called “Sagrada Familia” designed by famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi – A major tourist attraction.

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As you can see, the church itself is under construction.

When I first saw it, I immediately thought how weird-looking the church was from the outside. I’ve seen many churches in my life but I’ve never seen one that looked quite like this one. I’m not saying his work is ugly but on the contrary, I do admire his work and find it very original. If you so happen to be in Barcelona, and you would like to see his amazing work, it is very easy to distinguish which one is his compared to the others.

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For me, I had only the entire day to explore Barcelona which meant I needed to see as much as possible. In front of the Sagrada Familia, there were several buses parked on the opposite side of the church. Immediately I ran to the bus to get inside and I ended up sitting on the second floor which was perfect. When the bus started moving, I felt a cool breeze and the warm sunlight on my face, not to mention I had a 360-degree view of the city.

During my bus ride, I saw plenty of malls, restaurants, beaches, a few docks, and many gardens. What was great with the bus ride is that it stopped at various locations throughout the city, which is perfect if you want to get off and go by feet.

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In Barcelona, there are many beaches to choose from so you do not have to worry. It is absolutely beautiful, from the light blue water slowly fading into dark blue, from the pom trees to the perfect weather, to the several ice-cream beach shops, it couldn’t get any better!

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After a two-hour bus ride showing the city of Barcelona, I finally got off and walked to the nearest ice-cream shop because I haven’t eaten for the entire ride. I ended up ordering a refreshing mango sorbet with a big bottle of water. Because the afternoon was ending, we decided to say goodbye to a fantastic day in Barcelona, and we were on our way back to La Redorte, France.

On the way to La Redorte, we somehow decided to go eat at a restaurant outside of Barcelona, but still in Spain. There we found a great Italian restaurant in front of the beach, and after we ate, we took a walk on the beach staring at the sunset, and when it was completely dark, we decided to drive back home.

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One of the most memorable travels I had in a long time, even if it only lasted a day. I definitely suggest you go to Barcelona because it has everything and it is gorgeous!

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Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more silliness and epic travel stories! You can also add me on Snapchat – @benlessard –

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An awe-inspiring day in Narbonne

 

Narbonne.

One of the many places where everyone desires to visit. But why?

Besides dating back to Ancient Rome, Narbonne is famous for its beaches, tourist attractions, and its gorgeous dry weather.

If you are planning on going here, which I strongly suggest you do, there are beautiful hotels such as the Brit Hotel Plaissance. It offers great rooms with a terrace view with seating, Wi-Fi, and on top of that, it’s surrounded by great shops, restaurants, and attractions.

Anyways, I went from La Redorte (where I was staying) to Narbonne which is a total of approximately 32 kilometers, so a 34-40 minute drive, which surprisingly didn’t take that long. When I arrived there, it was time to explore and eat because I was famished.

By the way, Narbonne has fantastic restaurants and cafes! And if you love shopping, there are great boutiques offering an abundance of different things.

After exploring the area a bit, I decided to go for a walk in a peaceful neighborhood away from everybody to take some air. As I was walking, I saw many old houses, probably over fifty years old or so, an old cathedral and a beautiful garden.

 

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Now, this was the outside of the cathedral. I, unfortunately, did not have the chance to go inside because it was closed but I did, however, appreciate the architecture and the cobblestone streets leading towards the entrance. I just find it astonishing how they used to build buildings, streets…And yet still to this day, it remains rather intact, unlike our buildings today.

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After my peaceful walk, I decided to go back and eat at this Italian restaurant. I naturallysat outside on the terrace to appreciate the view and the weather. I ordered homemade seafood pasta with a small platter of cheese, meat, and baguette which was delicious.

After my long and exciting day to Narbonne, I decided to head back home to La Redorte, when I arrived, I was exhausted, so I went up to my room and fell on my bed and slept, dreaming of my exciting day and what to do on the next day.

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Remember: Bring sunscreen – it does tend to get very hot.

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more silliness and epic travel stories! You can also add me on Snapchat – @benlessard

Finally, if you enjoyed reading this post, don’t forget to give it a like, comment and share it on Facebook or Twitter. I’d appreciate it. Thank you so much!

© Benjamin Lessard – TheBenLessard

A trip to the south

Where: Hérault, France

I have seen many gorgeous sceneries and places as I travel to one location to the next during my trip to France, and I have to say, it has been wonderful every single day. Many of those days would be considered as being some of the best days of my life.

One day, I woke up feeling happy and excited as ever ready to explore. But what to do? I eventually decided to take a short trip to Minerve. I can recall feeling a bit tired, and I wasn’t really in the mood for walking.

But I have read that Minerve is a small and old village, 21 kilometers away from where I was staying in La Redorte. So, getting to Minerve was rather simple, and as I was driving, looking outside my windshield, there were kilometers of mountains and greenery everywhere.

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Anyways when I arrived, I was very shocked to see how small but beautiful the village was. I’m guessing a few families were living there, but otherwise, it was mostly a tourist attraction. However, on that day, there weren’t that many tourists…Thank God! As I explored the village, I saw a small bakery, a couple of restaurants (straightforward), an ice-cream shop, and a few small boutiques selling their goods.

What I found the most surprising was, many people who came to visit Minerve left pretty early, maybe they had already visited the entire village or perhaps they had places to go. Regardless, I enjoyed it.

I recall the weather being partly sunny with many clouds in the sky and a crisp breeze.

The best part of the day was exploring a whole new area of Southern France, an area in which I didn’t even know existed. I sure was glad to visit it. A very memorable trip.

 


Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more silliness and epic travel stories! You can also add me on Snapchat – @benlessard –

Finally, if you enjoyed reading this post, don’t forget to share it on Facebook or Twitter. I’d really appreciate it. Thank you so much!

Walking in a Palace

Where: Versailles, France

When you hear the word palace, what are your immediate thoughts? Just take a moment to think about it, and I’ll get back to you in a few seconds.

So what was it? Did you immediately think of royalty, or perhaps a King or Queen? And if you did, that’s exactly what I first thought when I visited a real royal palace.

Before I talk in detail about my visit, I think it would be important to talk a little about the history of the Palace of Versailles, aka Château de Versailles.

The Palace of Versailles was first built in the year 1623 by Louis XIII, made of brick and stone, and it was then enlarged by Louis XIV into a royal palace. During the French Revolution, the royal family was forced to leave, three years before the fall of the monarchy. Much of the palace was destroyed and a lot of furniture had to be sold. After many years, they rebuilt the palace and still to this day remains intact along with the furniture belonging to the Royal Family. Today there are over five million people who visit the Château, and over ten million people visit the garden every year.

Now hopefully that gives you a little insight of the history of the Palace.

So, my visit to the Palace of Versailles, well, I can sum it up in three words: stunning, gorgeous, and amazing. This is because when I first saw the outside of the palace, I was amazed of how beautiful it was!

Now, before visiting the interior of the palace, I decided to see the gardens located to the west of the palace, because I’ve heard it’s one of the most beautiful gardens in the world! And when I got there, it was most certainly true.

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This fantastic garden covers around 800 hectares of land with over 200,000 trees, and around 200,000 flowers are planted every year, it also has 50 beautiful fountains and 620 water jets! When you walk in the Gardens, there are seating areas located almost everywhere, so you don’t need to worry about finding a seat. And if you want to relax in front of an amazing view, I suggest bringing a good book, some snacks, and sunscreen, because it does tend to get a bit hot especially in the afternoon.

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After my visit to the Gardens, I took a private tour of the Palace, which was great because you avoid the public and you can see parts of the Palace that the public can’t have access too. And gosh, the rooms in which I visited was gorgeous!

In this picture down below, I had the chance to visit the Royal Opera, a beautiful room with crystal chandeliers, wall art, stone floor, and marble pillars.

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If you ever have the opportunity to visit Versailles, take it because it is an unforgettable experience! And to finish my private tour, I had the chance to see many other rooms such as the royal library, dining rooms, piano rooms, and royal bedrooms…

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Just having the chance to see this wonder, I couldn’t help but imagine how much time and money it takes to maintain the entire palace.

Overall I had a blast, I got the chance to see most of the inside, and outside of the Palace, not only that, but I learned a lot about the history behind all this, so I had a truly fun and amazing experience.

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© Benjamin Lessard – TheBenLessard

Seeing the Eiffel Tower

Before I get on with this post and show you the incredible Eiffel Tower, can we just take a moment to admire or at least appreciate this amazing landmark? I managed to take this picture on the famous Bâteau de Mouche, a boat ride that shows you different landmarks, which was great.

Anyways, back on to what this post is really about – Eiffel Tower, aka the Iron Lady – Paris’ most famous landmark!

It was my first time in Paris, and I must say I enjoyed every second of it, I mean, what can you not love about it? From the culture to the architecture, to the beautiful language and its exquisite French cuisine… Sounds like a dream, right?

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I always wanted to visit Paris and see its famous landmark, because first of all, it’s always on social media and magazines, not to mention how my friends and family are always telling me their wildest stories about their trip there, so my curiosity grew even more. But when you’re actually there in person, it’s a whole different story.

If you’ve ever been to the Eiffel Tower, you’d know that there are different entrance fees. The prices vary depending on what part of the Eiffel Tower you wish to visit, which means it would cost less to use the stairs to the second floor than using the elevator. However, if you would like to use the elevator all the way to the top, it’s quite expensive. But don’t let the price discourage your decision, because when you’re either on the second level or the top floor, the view is simply breathtaking.

Here is a picture from the amazing view I got from the second floor! This picture was taken by my sister Jasmine.

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Here is another example of the gorgeous view of the city, but now from the very top of the Eiffel Tower. First, I must quickly mention that there are thousands of tourists daily wanting to see the Eiffel Tower and its view, so I suggest going in the early morning when there are fewer people. It’s less of a hassle time wise, but also there isn’t a big crowd blocking your view, and if you love taking pictures, assuming you do, it would be much easier and you’d enjoy it more.

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The Eiffel Tower is undoubtedly beautiful, and if you ever are in Paris – it is definitely worth a visit.

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Remember: Bring your camera – or else you will regret it!

Overall, my trip to the Eiffel Tower was incredible! I loved every second of it.

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more silliness and epic travel stories! You can also add me on Snapchat – @benlessard –

Finally, if you enjoyed reading this post, don’t forget to share it on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you so much!