Melbourne, the beating heart of AustraliaRegularly cited as one of the world’s most pleasant cities, Melbourne has been building its reputation since 1835, when its first modern foundations were built on the banks of the Yarra River. The city owes its cosmopolitan population to a period of great enthusiasm for the area during the gold rush in the 1850s. Thanks to this, the city very rapidly grew to become one of Australia’s largest cities, sometimes even surpassing Sydney, its East Coast rival. The best way to get a first impression of Melbourne is to jump on a tram and ride around to different parts of the city using its 245-kilometre network, one of the oldest in the world. Free in the CBD (Central Business District), it will take you to the city’s biggest attractions.Lose yourself in the narrow streets of the city centreAs the business district and home to many multinational companies’ headquarters, the CBD is also the city centre of Melbourne. A mix of Victorian monuments and futuristic skyscrapers, this area reflects the city’s charm, which is unique in Australia. It is rare to find historic buildings or narrow streets—laneways, as they call them—on the rest of the continent, but Melbourne is full of them. Lose yourself in this jumble of roads, strolling past the graffiti-covered facades for which the city is famous, then choose a random neighbourhood cafe to enjoy a cappuccino prepared for you by a veteran barista. In keeping with its European lifestyle, Melbourne takes great care with its indoor spaces (the climate necessitates it) and its rooftops, creating warm, friendly places with delicious cuisine. A charming city with a strong character, Melbourne is also known for its parks and gardens. To see where it got the nickname of “garden-city”, take a walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens, Fitzroy Gardens or Flagstaff Gardens, true oases in the city, which prove that in Australia, nature holds a central role in the city planning of its megalopolises.Fitzroy: Melbourne’s creative, quirky sideThe city’s pleasant lifestyle comes from the atmosphere that reigns in its neighbourhoods, sometimes considered as so many separate villages. If Carlton, the Italian quarter, and Chinatown are worth visiting for the local recipes and taste of the city’s multicultural identity, Fitzroy is a testimony to Melbourne’s cultural energy and creativity. A temple to alternative culture, this neighbourhood reflects what Europeans enjoy most about Australia. With its hip bars and meticulously-decorated restaurants, organic grocery stores, boutiques owned by young designers and art galleries, Fitzroy is to Melbourne what Williamsburg is to New York.Bathing in the sea in Saint KildaAnother essential part of Melbourne, which reminds us that the city is also a seaside destination, is Saint Kilda. A favourite place for families out on a walk and kite surfers catching the wind, this neighbourhood is built around Acland Street and Fitzroy Street, along with the wide strip of sand forming Saint Kilda Beach. You can’t miss its pier, typical of Anglo-Saxon seaside resorts, which leads to Luna Park. This hundred-year-old amusement park brings a touch of novelty to the city. On Brighton Beach, the brightly-coloured cabins on the seaside are the perfect finishing touch for your stay.
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