48 Hours in Nantes

French city breaks don’t just mean Paris, you know. For your next European getaway, think France, or more importantly, think Nantes. A laidback mix of old and new, the modern and the majestic, this all-too-often overlooked French city has finally found its pulse in recent years and a weekend in Nantes is all you need to uncover its charms.

Like all your favourite European cities, Nantes has historic tourist attractions to satisfy the hungry sightseer, as well as modern attractions to woo the most cynical tourist. Here are my tips for what to see and do in 48 hours in Nantes:

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News: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…well, at the Gibson Hotel anyway

Who says you need to go abroad to experience all the food and fun of a Christmas market? Add this one to your pre-Chrimbo ‘must-do in Dublin’ list, stat: the Gibson Hotel’s glorious Christmas food market is open once again, hurrah! Transforming the hotel courtyard into a mini-German Christmas market, this winter wonderland includes cute little chalets bubbling over with hearty festive favourites Santa Claus would totally approve of.

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Need a reason to visit England in 2015? Here’s 10

Like most Irish people, I’m willing to bet, my first foray outside of Irish soil was to England, to London to be precise (no awards for originality here). So, I’ve always had a soft spot for visits to England, from the Georgian gorgeousness of Bath to the quaint countryside of Windsor. There’s always a reason to visit England – major sports events, fashion and art exhibitions, music extravaganzas, historic anniversaries, food festivals – you name it, it’s happening in England.

So here’s 10 things to see and do in England in 2015, if you needed an excuse to visit:

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A Wannabe New Yorker’s Guide to Manhattan

Everyone loves New York, right? To the point where even saying it sounds like an opportunity to roll your eyes at the obviousness of it all. Well, here’s my travel confession: I only recently fell in love with New York after visiting it for the first time a few years ago. Always the cynic, I expected it to be overrated and not to get it. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Now I read everything about NYC, I devour lifestyle blogs by uber-fashionable types about their glam lives downtown and I double-tap every single pic of New York on Instagram, even if it’s just a garbage can. You get it, I’m obsessed.

So, here’s my guide to things to do in New York that are guaranteed to make you LOVE it and dream of living there too:

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Ramping up the romance factor in fair Verona

Few cities have romantic legend in the bag as much as Verona. Sure, Paris is still the capital of Lurve with a capital L and New York is the home of cinematic lovefests from An Affair to Remember to Sleepless in Seattle, but Verona has Romeo & Juliet and no rom-com can trump that.

As well as being the stomping ground for Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, Verona is actually a beautiful, lesser-spotted Italian city that’s well worth a visit, whether you snoozed through Romeo & Juliet at school or not.

Here’s my tips for what to see and do in Verona, with a little sprinkle of romance along the way:

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Gallery: An ode to Venice

So unless you’ve been living under a rock this past week you’ll have caught the A List wedding of George Clooney to Amal Alamuddin. In Venice no less. I have to say, even the cheesy shots of the Clooneys sailing off in a boat called Amore (groan) headed for their honeycloon (extra groan) made me all sorts of sentimental for my own trip to Venice this time last year. After all, movie stars and super-chic international human rights lawyers are no match for Venice in all its glory.
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Checking In: Hotel Metro, New York City

Like an embarrassing Time Out-wielding tourist I asked the doorman of the Metro how much I should tip him for hailing me a cab. “You just need to smile”, he replied. Really cheesy I know but this encounter probably summed up my experience at this underrated West 35th Street hotel.

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