While we were sad to leave Normandy, we couldn't wait to head towards the tiny, hilltop village of Vézelay. Famous for the 11th century Basilica of St. Magdalene, Vézelay has long been a pilgrimage site, as legend states that the Basilica holds relics of Mary Magdalene. We spent only one night here, but it provided a few perfect surprises. During our short stay, we stumbled upon a small choir practicing in the Abbey courtyard (divine!), ate some delicious ice cream (twice!), and spent dinner next to a precious French family of three - a single mother and her two teenage sons. We chatted for a long time, laughing at the sons' stories of studying abroad in the U.S. and taking in their insightful perspective about all things political. They were really wonderful, and I loved having the opportunity to hear their story and dreams for the future.

And the final surprise? Well, it came early the next morning when we were abruptly pulled from sleep by the loudest church bells that have ever existed. Unbeknownst to us, our room sat directly beside the Basilica's bell tower, and so we awoke, very bright and very early, no alarm clock needed.

We get it Vézelay. You're fantastic.