Atmospheric canals

 

Shopping is well looked after – all the brands on earth. And, the TGV has no luggage restrictions! All you can carry, though!

 

This great kitchen shop was discovered – and plundered.

 

As lovers of religious artefacts, we were taken by these Belgian crosses. Not for sale, sadly.

You’re a bit spoiled for choice as to what museum to visit in Bruges but we plumped for the Hospital Museum – fascinating! Upstairs we found the old pharmacy. Quite impressive!

 

The museum precint is mostly surrounded by canals

 

..and, of course, the inevitable antique shops

 

Bruges is well known for its lace and chocolates – even the Town Map is done in lace!

 

One of the entrances to the Museum precinct

Most of Bruges’ museums are gathered around a precinct – near the Church of the Notre-Dame. Walking through the smallish streets around this area reveals many architectural delights.

 

Inside the Notre-Dame

 

They made Church doors strong in those days

 

Madame and Erica down on the Burg-plein.

 

A little restaurant we found tucked away

 

During its history, Bruges was once ruled by the Duke of Burgundy – here is his old residence, now converted into a Kempinski Hotel – very swish.

 

The Historium in the central Bruges Marktplein

 

Like many others who live here in the Luberon, we always try and take a few days break in Europe over January or February – the deals on transports like the TGV are amazing, the hotels more affordable, the crowds much less and, by the way, it’s fun!

2014 has been no exception. Bruges, Brussels and back – all via the TGV and local Belgian rail.

Our first stop – Bruges. It’s a mere 5 hours from Avignon TGV to Brussels Midi Station, luxuriating in the TGV, picnic hamper at the side and glorious countryside. A quick hop over to the domestic platforms, and 58 minutes later you’re on the Bruges railway station looking for a cab.

We stayed at the Zucchero self-catering apartment (booked via www.booking.com) – centrally situated only 150 metres from the main Marktplein, 15 metres from the nearest Le Pain Quotidien, very comfortable even if a temple to IKEA, as boasting a v-e-r-y steep staircase.

Some of the most glorious buildings you can imagine.

 

Bruges is a walking city – around every teist and turn are sculptures, fountains and little pieces of magic.

Christmas decorations were winding up but this bicycle owner was hanging on to the last moment.

 

Bruges has chocolate shops – plenty of them!

 

 

 

 

Snow capped Alps in the far distance bask in the winter sunshine

A few more whacky superstitions: For those who are really superstitious here are some more from France: Wives should never iron their husbands underpants whilst wearing a belt – it will lead to him suffering kidney pain. Move into your new French house by bringing the table in first, for good luck. For the same reason women should wear a polka dot dress on New years day and finally, for good luck, carry a rabbit’s foot in your pocket.

Cats:There are numerous superstitions centred around cats in France. So if you believe in luck and wouldn’t mind some good fortune, then never cross a French stream holding a cat. Also, if a black cat crosses your path at night then prepare for some bad fortune coming your way. And perhaps the most peculiar and worrying French superstition with cats, which only affects people in Normandy, is if you ever see a tortoiseshell cat, then this foretells your death in an accident.

Horse shoe: Hanging a horse shoe outside your door can bring you luck in France, if you do it the French way that is. In some countries it has to be the right way way up, as seen in this photo, in order to keep the luck inside, but in France it is upside down.

It’s A Girl!:If you have a three sons and are desperate for a girl then it’s perhaps a good idea to head down to the local aviary and try to get a glimpse of an owl. According to a French superstition, if a woman sees an owl during the nine months when she is pregnant, then she is guaranteed to have a girl.

Candles: Candles are involved in a few superstitions in France. Firstly, if you light a prayer candle in a church always do it from a match or a lighter and never from another candle. If you do, then your wishes and good will will be transferred to whoever the first candle was lit for. Secondly, when it comes to smoking, never light a cigarette from a candle, because the old wives tale says this will result in the death of a sailor, or he will at least lose his job.

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