Our last stop was Nice, and while we could have spent days and days soaking up all of its bright colors and sunshine, we were only there one night before flying out. We worked tirelessly to make the most of it by splashing around in the ocean for a bit before going on the hunt for some delicious food. As you can imagine, it was a very difficult 24 hours.

My favorite thing about Nice (and the Riviera as a whole) was the wonderful people-watching. The yachts were many, the bikini tops were few, and the tans, ON POINT. However, in walking through the streets of Old Town, the Italian influence was also really prominent. The antipasti flowed, the flower markets were abundant, and time seemed to move just a little slower. Families on vacation waited in long, leisurely lines for gelato, and couples, young and old alike, leaned against the colorful broadsides of stucco buildings, stealing kisses and drinking wine. It was the nicest, that Nice, and I'm so glad that we were able to say hello before we said goodbye. 


From Vézelay, we headed south towards Provence, where we spent two nights in the small village of Gordes. While Gordes was really, really lovely, it also felt very much like a tourist-centric town filled with lots of (pretty) international vacationers. While this can make for great people watching, it also usually means less locals to meet and considerably higher prices. However, we were lucky enough to be in town on market day and we were pretty giddy to soak up some of that dreamy provincial goodness. The lavender was abundant, the olive oil was delicious, and the cheese and Rosé spilled forth from every corner. (See? Dreams really do come true.)

One of my favorite things about Provence was the light. It was as though a golden cloud was nestled throughout - seeping into the nooks and crannies and crevices- and, in turn, the entire earth seemed to glow from within. Time slowed down, the days felt longer, and we did our best to find the patios and chase the sun. It was the best kind of lesson in savoring the small joys. And savor we did.


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.


From Paris, we hopped on a train to Caen. (Did you know that if you tell a lovely French women at a front desk that you want to go to Caen, she may hear your pronunciation and think that you want to go to Cannes and immediately work exasperatingly hard to book you a ticket? And then when finally understanding that you don't, in actuality, want to go Cannes, but instead to Caen, she may make fun of you with her eyes in the way that only a true Parisian woman can do? Hypothetically speaking, of course.) We weren't sure what to expect from our time in Normandy, but it truly was one of our very favorite stops. The landscape was lush and perfectly unkept, the villages were cozy, and the people were unbelievably kind.

We spent the first night in the charming village of Bayeux and headed to the D-Day Museum and Cemetery the following day. The museum was beautifully moving and an unexpected favorite of mine, and I don't think I'm being dramatic when I say that it shifted things just a bit for me. It was immensely special to observe Rob there as well, as his patriotism and love for military history runs deep, and I know how powerful it was for him to be able to put eyes on such an important part of history. After the museum and cemetery, we walked down to Omaha Beach. It was early in the afternoon and so there were only a few people there - a small family and their dog, and an older couple going for a swim- and it seemed the perfect way to honor the thousands of lives lost there. Those simple acts - a young boy and his dog, playing, and a retired couple sunbathing- well, those are the very simple joys and freedoms that those soldiers fought for. I'm so glad that, if even for a few hours, we were able to pay our respects to the many lost lives by being in the present, digging our toes in the sand, and enjoying the beautiful day we'd been given. 

From Omaha Beach, we drove into the country side of Lower Normandy and spent three days and nights at the absolutely perfect Hotel d'une ile. We explored several smaller villages in the surrounding area and I got to fulfill my life-long dream of going to a French flea market. We also tracked down some Brocantes (secondhand shops) and did our best to barter with the very little French we had picked up. In between the wandering and exploring, we drank some cider, ate lots of Camembert cheese, and I tried my first duck confit. All in all, Normandy was one of the true treasures of our trip. It somehow just felt like home.  


I could fill pages and pages and it still wouldn't be enough to describe how wonderful and soul-nourishing our time in France was. Rob and I have become a little obnoxious about it, really, daydreaming about a life filled with soft cheese and baguettes, small artisan shops, jaunty scarves, and cafe-laden streets. Two weeks there basically makes us French, right? Right.

We know how fortunate we are to have been able to go on such a fantastic honeymoon, and looking back, it truly feels like a fuzzy, wonderful, red wine-fueled dream. Paris was our first stop, and we spent three long days hunting down the perfect beef bourguignon (we found it at Restaurant Joséphine Chez Dumonet) taking lots of photographs with every camera we own, and ducking into cafes and shops to escape the rain. We walked miles and miles and did our best to not look like the over-excited American tourists that we were. It was just the loveliest. I believe with my whole heart that what they say is true: Paris is always a good idea.

In the next couple of weeks, I'm hoping to post a few more photos from our stops in Normandy, Vézelay, Provence, and Nice. Each part of our adventure was unique in its own way and I can't wait to look back and remember all of our favorite moments.  Follow along if you'd like to see.