Spring is such a beautiful time of the year, with the birds chirping and flowers blooming, it’s the perfect time of the year to pack your bags and take a beautiful trip through Paris and Madrid, discovering treasures that either don’t exist or that just aren’t the same any other time of the year. Say goodbye to the winter in the perfect way, and travel between these two amazing countries like never before with Renfe-SNCF en Coopération’s high speed trains.
LA NUIT EUROPÉENNE DES MUSÉES, PARIS
The Pyramid - Louvre Museum
The European Night at the Museum. Once a year every spring, over 1,200 French museums join together and become nocturnal for the night. From 6pm to midnight they swing open their doors and welcome in marvelled spectators to see their beautiful collections in a different light. This is an amazing opportunity in Paris, as the city is rich and overflowing with incredible museums of incredibly unique nature and beauty.
Entrances to permanent collections are free of charge, and only some temporary exhibitions are paid for. Stages and activity areas open up inside and around the majority museums, offering activities of diverse nature, with something for everyone: workshops, talks, performances, readings, family activities and many more.
This initiative to generate enthusiasm, especially among the younger generations, each year it will takes places on mid-May.
JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG, PARIS
Built originally in 1611 by Marie de Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, the gardens and palace were made as an imitation of a palace in her hometown, Florence, Italy. It is located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, and currently occupies 56 acres. The park contains over a hundred different statues, fountains and monuments spread throughout its space, along with the beautiful Medici Fountain, the bronze fountain, a large basin of water in which children play with remote controlled boats and, of course, the Luxembourg Palace.
CAFÉS AND STREETS, PARIS
Typical Parisian café
No matter how famous it is for its spectacular and unique monuments and must-see sights, much of Paris’ magic lies in its unknown. It’s sitting in terrace cafés with a Café au Lait and a croissant while watching families, friends and couples stroll by, laughing and talking. On a picture-perfect spring day in Paris, when the weather has just gotten warm enough to ditch your winter jacket, and the sun is shining strong, pick an arrondissement or an area and start your journey. Turn in and out of winding cobblestone streets and between magical buildings. Alone or with company, it is the perfect way to get to know Paris as a true Parisian. Once you begin getting tired, stop in one of the many cafés which in spring will be reopening their exterior terraces, with a good book or an interesting conversations and soak up the sun and the pleasant weather and surroundings.
SAN ISIDRO FESTIVAL, MADRID
San Isidro festival - puppet show
San Isidro, or Saint Isidro, is Madrid’s patron saint, and is honored every year during a festival on the 15th of May, which represents the beginning of the bullfighting season in Madrid, attracting top bullfighters and breeders from all over the world. Bullfights happen every afternoon for 24 days, featuring some of the world’s most famous matadors.
The festival lasts for around 5 days, one of which is always May the 15th, and fills the city with countless activities and festivities. The local people dress up as goyescos and chulpapos, wearing traditional costumes and they gather for all the events that take place. Along with bullfights in the famous arenas such as Las Ventas; concerts, musicians, food stalls, parties and dancing can be found in several locations spread throughout the city. The heart and main festivities take place at the Pradera de San Isidro, and start on the morning of the 15th, when, as dictated by tradition, everyone must drink from the spring. In the afternoon everyone joins for a giant picnic (you can either take your own food or take the opportunity to try the amazing food at one of the many freshly-made food stalls, accompanied by music and dancing, which then continues well into the night.
This festival is an amazing and unique, yearly opportunity to get to see not only Madrid, but the true Madrileño traditions and people at their proudest.
PARQUE QUINTA DE LOS MOLINOS, MADRID
Almond trees - Quintos de los Molinos Park
Although big and beautiful all year around, the true wonder and beauty of this park can only be seen during the months of spring. Visited any other time of the year, though nice, it will seem to be quite an ordinary park, 25 hectares large and located in the Salvador neighborhood of Madrid. People and couples stroll around, children run and play and couples walk together breathing in the fresh spring air. There is an impressive amount of trees of every sort: olive, pine, eucalyptus; but the true treasure of this park is the almond trees. Hundreds and hundreds of almond trees are planted in this garden, technically making it an almond orchard, and in the months of Spring visitors have the amazing opportunity to see them all in bloom. Blossoming thousands upon thousands of white and pink flowers, they cover both the trees and floor of the entire park, creating a wondrous sensation of almost a spring snowfall, but with gorgeous weather.
EL RASTRO, MADRID
FleaMarket - El Rastro
El Rastro de Madrid is the most famous open-air flea market of the city. Taking place every Sunday and public holiday from 8 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon. Vendors can be both commercial and private, and you can find anything from second hand clothes, household knick-knacks, CDs, book, records, souvenirs and food. With the great spring weather, when its finally warm and sunny enough to spend a pleasant day outside, and before the sweltering heat reaches Madrid, it is the perfect place to spend a Sunday in the city, wandering from stall to stall buying cute trinkets and trying all the lovely food. Street musicians are sure to be on every corner setting the perfect mood for your day. Here are some tips to have a great day in the market! Get there early. The market opens at 8am, but it fills up around 11. To find the best-hidden treasures and to be able to walk around a little more freely, be an early bird! Haggle and bargain! Don’t be embarrassed or limited to sticking to the first price vendors will tell you, a huge part of the experience is negotiating and finding the best price you can! In fact, most sellers expect that, and put the initial price higher on purpose. Don’t worry if your Spanish isn’t fluent, it is a great opportunity to practice it, and if not, most people will understand enough English to realize what you mean!