i’ve been putting off writing this post for almost three full weeks- it’s just too daunting! i can’t even begin to tell you everything we loved about our trip and it’s just too hard to choose what to leave out. everything in france is too big to explain- i can’t describe a meal without rambling over their wonderful approach to mealtime in general, i can’t describe a building without describing the overwhelming feel of a city that has been perfected since the roman empire and when i think about describing the people i can’t begin without a nod to generations past and the strength and pride that comes with being truly from somewhere- from as far back as anyone can remember. trying to talk about our time in france has left us tongue-tied on many occasions since our return and all we really can describe is what it was like to spend three weeks trying our very best to absorb every moment surrounded by a stunningly vibrant and fascinating environment. for matt that means taking images that capture the feel of a certain moment, not just the space. for me it means limiting our agenda and making time to learn the flow of each city we visited- following my senses (especially my nose!;)) and learning how to feel at home and connected in a world so different from what we’re used to. so without further excuse, here are a few of our favorite images.
up first, from our day at the louvre- after several hours of admiring some of the most stunning pieces of art in the world, matt and i took a break for a light lunch and a couple cafe cremes. we spent most of the rest of our day at the louvre admiring the building itself and the views from the different wings. just stunning.
this is the twilight view from the tiny apartment we rented in paris:
a french friend of ours once tried to describe the seriousness of finding the perfect spot in the sun on a beautiful parisian afternoon. we never really understood until we were there, looking carefully for our own little space to spread out. jardin du luxembourg:
one night we collected cheese and wine and fruit and baguettes and olives and a knife from at least four different shops and took everything down to square du vert galant to watch the sun set over the seine and create silhouettes out of the couples lingering on the boats and bridges. it was one of my favorite nights in paris. [not to kill the beautifully romantic image you have in your mind but we also saw a duck eat an eel at least three times it's size- never before or after that incident did we see parisians move so quickly.]
from our apartment:
from the arc de triomphe:
toward the arc de triomphe:
we spent quite a while at the jardin des tuileries sipping wine and trying to figure out how to include a long gallery of trees in our own yard- we’re kind of obsessed with something so natural yet so architectural:
from la basilique sacre coeur de montmartre, this doesn’t even look real to me:
we visited the cathédrale notre dame de paris on a sunday morning and sat in on part of a service- what a beautiful experience to be part of a worship service that has been attended since 1163:
more picnics! really, we were purchasing so many little bits of things to try that we had to have lots of picnics!
we watched some little kids play a pretty intense pick up game (no idea what sport- they maaay have been making it up as they went. at least that was the impression we got) at jardin du palais royal:
this next image is in a mall- like, a shopping mall. the most beautiful shopping mall in the world- just my guess. galeries lafayette:
even though it was under some pretty heavy renovation, sainte chapelle was still one of the most incredible churches we visited- all that stained glass!
great views from the temple de sybille at the parc des buttes chaumont- we could have spent a full day there!
we’ve seen so many stunning eiffel tower images that we were quite prepared to be unimpressed by the real thing- assuming it was just one of those touristy landmarks that everyone tries their best to take an epic image of to represent their trip. instead, we were surprised to find ourselves drawn to it. it was bigger, grander and more beautiful in person that we would ever have guessed- the detailing is incredible- making it appear almost lace-like and fragile instead of the massive, imposing metal tower that it is. we spent an entire evening just staring at it:
throughout the trip we used airbnb.com to find some of the most adorable (and perfectly located) apartments to rent in the different cities we visited- we really enjoyed it so much more than staying in hotels! even when the buildings were too old for elevators and we stayed on the top floor:
this is my boulangerie face. stunned. we were totally overwhelmed by the variety of perfect pastries at every turn and we never questioned whether to stop and try a few things, the answer was always YES!
in lyon, we were encouraged by the locals who owned the apartment we rented to walk around the old city and just push on doors to explore the inner courtyards of the city- apparently they are left unlocked in the mornings for trash collection and it’s totally acceptable to wander in…so we did! one of the doors that i’m pretty sure was unlocked by accident lead to a rickety staircase that ended with a beautiful view of the basilica of notre-dame de fourvière:
my heaven. the lyon farmer’s market. i don’t even know how big it is- we NEVER reached the end. we stocked up before heading to pick up our rental car to wander down through provence to the coast. best road-trip snacks ever!
about half way to the coast we caught sight of a sparkling lake we just couldn’t resist- we turned off the main road (not a fabulous idea when you’re traveling with no cell service and no gps but we couldn’t resist!) and took any turn that seemed to be heading down into the valley. what we found was a tiny, hidden sailing club with a small restaurant and families dotting a rocky beach. we parked and made our way toward the remains of an old water mill to enjoy our strawberries and get our feet wet- such a perfect find!
a few of our favorite views from the drive:
after attempting to hike down to en-vau and deciding my flip flops were not ideal for the scramble down, we hiked back and rented a kayak. honestly, i got a little scared by some of the swells when we were out in the open between the calanques but we made it and enjoyed a splendid picnic and a swim and a nap. exactly perfect for us!
the water was FREEZING and the rocks, though hard on bare feet, were warm- so we spent some time relaxing in the shallows.
for the last two years i’ve been trying to grow lavender in our back yard here in atlanta- matt & i both love the scent so much we have not given up! so, can you even imagine the heaven it was for us to drive through the lavender fields!? so stunning even when not in full bloom! we stopped in at the abbaye notre dame de sénanque for some of their lavender honey and lavender liquor which we somehow kept ourselves from opening until we got home. :)
anytime we were faced with a window display like this we couldn’t resist going inside! in the case of yves et virginie in sault, we were not dissapointed! we collected a few of yves’s own cured meats and ventured next door for a little round of fresh goat cheese marinated in a grassy local olive oil and a baguette. lunch on the sidelines of a pétanque game never tasted so good.
early morning at pont du gard:
a skinny little walkway down the side of the palais des papes:
a few favorites from our drive up to thorrenc. this first set was taken behind a gas station- no big deal to them, incredible to us! until the train came. that was a little scary…
auberge de thorrenc- the incredible bed and breakfast where we stayed during mary nevin & thomas’s wedding weekend!
real life: they left this in a basket at our door every morning:
we spent an afternoon exploring a few of the idyllic little towns of la drome- such a wonderful way to see the countryside and discover untouched french towns full of personality and secrets:
another friend of ours from france who knows our love for local, fresh, handmade food suggested we stop in crest to try their world famous cheese- picodon. we drove just a little bit out of our way to make it happen but it was worth every second! even though we missed the picodon festival by just a couple weeks, we were able to enjoy a young round of the soft, tangy goat cheese and a rich, creamy rillette paired with a crusty bread and a fruity white wine. you know, as a snack after lunch. ;)
well, that’s it for now! i’m sure we’ll be slowly posting more about our experience on facebook- at least more images. we feel so blessed to have taken our trip and we hope you enjoyed the images! :)