The only thing better than Paris (is there really any such thing?), is leaving it for awhile. In between dreaming of purchasing property and a real garden and plants actually planted in the raw soil (rather than balcony tomatoes and rosemary), shortened commutes and driving again, new departs and changes in general, I’ve been escaping à droite à gauche* over the course of the year.
Sunset in the Tuileries, looking toward Concorde and the Champs Elysées
Turns out, the strongest bond that Jé and I have is our shared passion for traveling. Luckily we live in France, land of the five weeks minimum of vacation per year plus work time reduction days… I cannot wait to explore the globe, to say I’ve been to Madagascar, Japan, China… For now, here’s a little glimpse of our year so far…
January: OK, so Versailles might not technically count as a voyage, a true vacation, but as it is a dream destination and the first ‘visiting’ I did in 2010, I’ll start with it. A jaunt through the old cathedral, a stop in a tea shop where I became the proud owner of some delicious hibiscus infusions and spicy teas, and a little golden gate gazing, marveling at the awesomeness of it all.
The entrance to Versailles (so many people waiting in line after this gate…)
Chantilly was also a quick trip, but a great one. The insides of the castle rival Versailles (I appreciated them more, they were cozier) and the surroundings, including miles and miles of forests, give one a nice, serene feeling, something that’s often missing in the city.
The Chantilly castle, or ‘mini Versailles’
February: Prague! Oh, the Czech Republic. Land of my ancestors (1/4 of them, anyway) and full of beer, schnitzel, strudel, garlic! The most beautiful city in Europe (maybe!), full of Eastern charm and well preserved traditions. Great, friendly people, and oh so many pretty buildings to look at.
View from the clock tower
One of Prague’s many pretty golden things
April: La Punta Cana… This trip to the Dominican Republic even boasted its own preparatory song, we were so f*!§ing excited. Crystal clear water, incredible wild life, migratory birds and swamps, mangroves and seashells… swimming with dolphins, boating to deserted islands, all you can eat and drink… It was the most excited I had ever been to go anywhere. Ever. And it did not let me down. It was paradise.
A deserted island full of empty seashells (we were told that the fisherman threw them there so they wouldn’t catch empty shells once they’d emptied them of their goodies)
A crab! I was so in love with him and his googly eyes…
Miles and miles of this… it never got old
May: Southampton/the Isle of Wight! Nothing like a quick flight across the Manche* to see some of Jé’s family. An hour after boarding the plane, we were in England, Jé’s sister and baby waiting to cart us off. It was a great, relaxing four-day weekend full of barbecues every day and lounging, a lovely boat ride to the Isle of Wight and a tour of the surroundings.
A leisurely stroll along the coast on the Isle of Wight
I’m so obsessed with colza fields… and the ocean, of course
June: Machicco and Funchal, Madeira, the mountainous and flower-filled Portuguese islands off the coast of Morocco. What a sight to behold. As the plane descended, I was overtaken by oohs and aahs as I remarked the snaking landscape below. Green, larger-than-life, and full of tropical vegetation, cacti, palm trees, little blue and green lizards threatening to be smooshed at our every footstep. The soothing sound of the water at night as we slept with our hotel room window open, and scuba diving lessons before hiking up and up, further and further until my calves were sorer than they’d ever been.
View of the bay from our hotel room each and every morning
Pointy colorful tropical flowers anyone?
Sunset on the beach
July: Ardèche!!! Oh, the Massif Central, its peaks and valleys, dangerous driving conditions and take-my-breath-away paysages*… Plus, my birthday! Wading in babbling brooks, kayaking down cascading rivers, rock formations, castles, grandeur nature… And neverending apéritifs* full of sausage and dried ham, wine and gin & tonics, bread and cheese… Eating so much that dinner became an impossibility, a silly afterthought. Climbing through sparse trees and finding that perfect angle…
Dancing in the river, on my actual birthday!
Exploring the mountains
Deauville/Trouville (Normandy): I don’t remember when this was, sometime last spring, but I do know that it was my first ever casino experience that didn’t involve slot machines. I played black jack and I doubled my mise*! I wandered along the water, scanning the ground for the perfect seashell or rock that I just had to keep tucked away in my pocket. Our day trip spontaneously turned into an over-nighter, and we ate at Chez Jérôme.
And on our list for the rest of the year? Coutainville in Normandy this weekend, perhaps a short stop off in Luxembourg and/or Western Germany, and America (crossing my fingers) this fall, including but not limited to: Boston, Iowa and Las Vegas, baby! Let the countdown(s) begin.
*à droite à gauche : left and right, here and there
*Manche: in this case, the English Channel. In other contexts, a sleeve.
*apéritifs: pre-dinner cocktail hour, with lots of finger food and alcohol, of course
*mise: bet, money