In 2010, my mom and I decided to start taking French classes. We wanted something to do together, and we had both studied French when we were younger but forgotten all of it. To motivate us to study, we planned a trip to France in 2013. 3 years and 10 terms at the Alliance Française de Portland later, I met my mom in Marseille for an unforgettable trip. :)
Our first stop after Marseille was Arles, to see the Roman ruins and sites of several of Van Gogh's paintings.
Then Avignon, with the beautiful half-destroyed bridge and Pope castle.
Pont du Gard was incredible! You can still walk over it, and the surrounding area is GORGEOUS. The people kayaking in the river under the bridge had the right idea.
I had my first (and definitely not last) Nutella crepe in the charming, circle-shaped-town of Saint Remy.
Cassis was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been in my life. We were still in southern France, but it really felt like Hawaii. In October, no less! We swam in the ocean, hiked, sunbathed, sipped white wine and pastis (yuck) on the ocean. Delightful.
And then Florence! Beautiful, beautiful old Florence. I have to admit, this city was my mom's idea and not mine. I kind of just went along with it because she tends to know what she's doing and she said we should go to Florence while we were in the neighborhood. This actually turned out to be my favorite leg of the journey. The Uffizi and Academia really blew my mind. I had so much fun drawing the classic statues, I couldn't believe it! The people-watching was great, the city was full of history but kept up really well (clean, safe, etc.). We got by with next to no Italian, and people were very friendly and warm. And we ate our faces off.
I looooved drawing people in the square next to the Uffizi.
We stayed right next to Ponte Vecchio! This was the view from the roof.
This lion's face is the best face. I want it all over my castle someday.
And then it was time for Paris. Paris, you guys. We stayed for 7 days and did as much as humanly possible in that time. The weather behaved for us, and we saw a LOT of the city on foot.
We found France's only public drinking fountain in the Jardin Luxembourg (sliiiiight exaggeration. Slight).
Saint Sulpice at sunset. We caught the organ playing and that was a pretty epic experience.
Sunday brunch at Les Bonnes Soeurs! This was the closest I've felt to home since leaving; in a packed little brunch place with my mom, eating pancakes, bacon, orange juice, and tall coffees...ahhh.
We visited l'Orangerie, Musee D'Orsay, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Montparnasse, Le Bon Marche, Printemps, l'Opera, Pere Lachaise, Notre Dame, le Marais, Champs-Elysee....We visited almost all 20 arrondisement, and spent most of our time on-foot. It was the perfect end to a really wonderful trip. It was so hard to say goodbye at the train station! Leaving Portland was a little easier knowing I had this trip with my mom to look forward to. Sending her off at the end was like..."Oh, I'm really alone here for the foreseeable future now." But with Skype and Whatsapp and all, it's a little easier being away from home.