Saturday, December 30, 2017

Noël 2017

The week before Christmas, we visited Aix-en-Provence. I wanted to stop by again before we move back to the U.S... and that clock is ticking!

I was hoping the Christmas market would be bigger, but it was still festive and fun to walk through.

The south of France really has nothing on the north when it comes to Christmas- but something they do do better are pretty pastel streets like these.

Ballerina Christmas lights!
That's me. The American.
Aix-en-Provence has an interesting cathedral. The baptistery is from the 6th century. It's one of only two churches in France that still has a baptismal font. Back from when the Catholics used to dunk instead of sprinkle.

Baptistery- font in the middle and the columns were recycled from an ancient Roman temple
Baptistery ceiling
We were able to do a guided tour of the cathedral cloisters. The original purpose of cloisters was to be a private meditation garden for monks. Each sculpture told a Bible story, all going in chronological order. It was pretty interesting!

Cannes also has a cute holiday market that I wanted to visit. There was even a giant tree at the Palais des Festivals that I don't remember from last year.

The red carpet had to get decked out too.
It's usually worth it to stick around for the sunset when you're hanging out by the beach.

For Christmas weekend we went to Gap to be with David’s family. I was happy it was a “partially white” Christmas. There was pretty snow on the mountains and a tiny bit sticking to the ground.

I found Père Noël in downtown Gap!

David kept busy cooking for all of us. On Christmas Eve he made lemon chicken pasta and for Christmas Day he did a big Thanksgiving-style meal. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, and mashed potatoes (all home-made). Good thing one of us knows how to cook and enjoys it!

Nicole took care of dessert- including this chocolate cake. 

I got to video chat with my family on Christmas morning and watch the dogs act like little kids with their new toys. I’m definitely excited to be home for the holidays next year! 

We were both spoiled by Santa Claus and had a fun 3rd (2nd while married) Christmas together.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Paris Firsts and Favorites Part II

This is the sequel to my previous post talking about our trip to Paris a few weeks ago and the efforts I made to visit both old favorites and new places.

Paris Favorite: Galeries Lafayette
Even if you're not in the mood for designer window shopping, it's so worth it to pop inside the Galeries Lafayette department store. The stained glass dome is beautiful year-round, but their Christmas display makes it even more amazing.

I've also happened to stop by in December 2016 and 2013, so I had to include those pictures as well to compare. I think this year's colorful tree was my favorite!

If you ride the escalators all the way to the top, you can go out on the roof for a lovely view of the opera house, Eiffel Tower, etc.

Paris First: Salon de Thé Angelina
Angelina is rumored to have the best hot chocolate in Paris. Since I LOVE both hot chocolate and Paris, it's surprising I haven't been before. 

Because it's famous, the restaurant was pretty filled with tourists. I was a little shocked with how good the service was and how nice the waiters were- that's not common in this city! Maybe because I never go to fancy restaurants... haha

The hot chocolate 100% lived up to expectations- best I've had in my life.

I also had some French French toast. It's called "pain perdu" in French, which translates to "lost bread." I loved the caramel sauce! Everything was so delicious that it was worth the little splurge.

Coco Chanel used to be a frequent customer at Angelina, because the flagship Chanel store is just around the corner on Rue Cambon. I had to walk by this fashion history location on the way to my next destination.

Paris Favorite: Place Vendome
This is one of the most elegant places in Paris, and I hadn't stopped by in a while. The largest building is the Ritz Hotel. Most of the others are designer boutiques. The column in the center was put up by Napoleon to commemorate one of his victories.

Traveling during the Christmas season is great. Beautiful places get even more beautiful.

Paris First: Père Lachaise cemetery 
It seems odd to visit a cemetery, but this one really is a Paris landmark. Countless historical figures and celebrities are buried here. We had no clue how huge it is! Our map wasn't great, so we weren't able to "visit" everyone we'd heard of.

Héloïse and Abélard are a sort of Romeo and Juliet-type story from medieval France. 
They were both renowned scholars, and some of their love letters still exist from the 1100s. They had an affair that didn't end well. After getting caught, they were forced to separate and join a convent/monastery. This is their tomb. 

David the pianist was excited to see Chopin's grave.

I don't have a picture, but we also saw the "Mur des Fédérés," where a massacre of 150 Communard rebels took place in 1871.

After sightseeing at the cemetery, I was lucky enough to get to reunite with my favorite Parisienne! I hadn't seen my long-time friend Claire for a while and it was great to catch up over dinner.

Paris Favorite: Musée d'Orsay
It's been over 10 years since I've made it to Musée d'Orsay. It was about time. 

They had a special Degas exhibit that was right up my alley (he's mostly known for painting ballet dancers).

I checked out the other Impressionists after Degas, and eventually made my way to the famous clock. There are some great views of Paris out the windows!

That just about wraps up all I got to see during my 4 days in Paris! I think I'll write one more post about David's immigration interview and the photo shoot we did at the Eiffel Tower :)