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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Albert Kahn Museum and Gardens, Paris

Here's one more place that has been on my list  that I managed to squeeze in just before we left Paris. Unfortunately the museum (featuring the ethnographic photographs of  the banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn) was closed as it was in between exhibits but I had a lovely morning strolling around the gardens with my friend  J., whom I met on Paris Walk's Modern Architecture walk.
We were chatting so much that I didn't focus on the photos, so much so that I'm not sure I've done  the place justice. However, it's so lovely that it seems to transcend even quickly taken snaps! This is an amazing garden filled with texture, color and water. The azaleas were spectacular and midweek is a great time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds.
The sense of contrasts, color and calm grab you from the moment you arrive. It must be sublime to live in the neighborhood and be free to come here regularly. They even sell a yearly pass for 20 euro. I love it so much that this will be one of my first stops on our next visit to Paris.
The twisting paths take you through a variety of gardens and past a number of different structures including some traditional Japanese pavilions and an elaborate hothouse. 
This is one of those off the beaten track places that you don't make on your first or second visit to Paris, but that when you get here you immediately think. 'why didn't I come sooner and when can I visit next?'
In addition to the Asian inspired gardens with their manicured trees, bridges, water and stone features there are also meadows and fruit gardens.
I loved the formality and restraint of the espalier fruit trees which seem such a contrast to the meadow-like flowers planted below.
The glasshouse, while impressive, was not open when we visited. However, the gardens are quite charming and there are lots of places to sit and take it all in.
Highly recommended and only steps from the Boulogne - Pont de Saint Cloud metro the gardens are well worth your time.

For further details of the current hours and museum exhibitions click here.