Friday, July 25, 2014

travels | normandy +70 | of lemon tart, castles & la vie en rose

I love this photo.  I remembered a darling customer from my shopgirl days who was always visiting France and was on a personal mission to find the best lemon tart in the world.  And suddenly, I was craving lemon tart!  Thankfully, there are patisseries on every corner and I was able to quickly locate the delicious treat.  We had decided to take the afternoon off, so after an absolutely refreshing 3 hour nap, I made some coffee and sat down to catch up on my journaling.  Hoping that the change in scenery would bring some clarity to my thoughts.  I found the perfect spot at a large wooden table that had been placed underneath a perfectly draping weeping willow tree.  It being France and in a garden, there were giant rose bushes lining the wall to my right and a perfect carpet of emerald green grass.  I couldn't have styled it better myself!  It was truly one of those "all is right with the world" kind of moments that you want to bottle and keep forever.  It's one of my favorite memories from this trip, and the tart was incredible!
It's a castle!  Anna is one of my best friends in the whole world.  We've had the opportunity to travel to some incredible places together and have some great stories to go along.  Our familys actually met about 6 years ago on a history tour (surprise!), then we went on another tour together, and another...  Both of us being introverts, we never really hit it off or talked.  At all.  Finally, on one tour, three counties, fifteen cities, and 12 days into the trip, she and I ended up on a castle wall, both very disgruntled at some kids who were climing on top of the ancient, already crumbling, walls.  We started talking and over the next year or so, a great friendship came to be.  Nothing like friction to bring people together!
We found an old castle not too far from where we were staying and all voted to visit.  It was probably in the worst shape of any I've explored, but was slowly being repaired.  It was also very small, most people think of castles as giant structures, but your average castle is really just a house that needed to protect one family.  This one had three walls surrounding it (paranoid much, sir?).  Above one of the arches was a disintegrating, cut stone, coat of arms or Richard the Lionhearted. How cool is that?!?  The legend goes, with this particular castle, that the family was being held hostage inside the walls while the enemy waited for their surrender.  One morning a flock of geese flew over the walls and off into the distance.  As the castle was invaded, it was found empty with no trace of the family anywhere.  It is believed that they turned themselves into birds and escaped.  (P.S.  I just love family chapels, this one was no exception.)
Our final stop before flying home was Paris.  Oh my heart.  This city will never be overrated to me.  We returned our rental car to a place right in the center of the city.  Our darling little Peugeot!  How it ever fit all five of us and our suitcases and our map that was literally the size of its interior, I will never know.  But it was fun!  We ate some lunch (salad nicoise, merci monsieur) and then Anna and I hailed a cab to take us to the Louvre.  Neither of us had been and we were ready to seize the day!
The hilarious part of the story is that I had found a Starbucks in Paris and was thrilled to finally have a coffee to go (and a new mug for my collection).  I was only a few sips into my americano when we got into the cab and took a wild ride around the city.  Well, I just so happened to get a cup with a lid that leaked.  With every turn, hot coffee was spilling on my hand and dress.  I tried to act real cool and nonchalant in the back seat.  "Who? Me?  No big deal back here...  Just enjoying the sights...".  I could see the cabbie watching me in his rear view mirror and rolling his eyeballs.  He dropped us at the curb and tried to apologize in broken English, but it was fine.  As was my dress.  I was laughing too hard to care very much  Just throw the coffee out Abbe!!!

Anna and me goofing off at the Louvre!  It was so hot inside and the humidity was approximately 500%, my hair started to go crazy.  I loved seeing all of the famous works of art, of course we stopped by to visit with Miss Mona Lisa and took a quick spin around Marie Antoinette's apartment.  The color scheme was just as magical as I'd imagined.  Marie wanted Anna and I to stay for tea, but we had to decline, perhaps next time.  Do save us some cake!
Whoever built this place knew what they were doing.  It's quite the view from the upper floors.  I would love to have a free pass for the day to explore every nook and cranny.  You know, behind the velvet rope and all of that.  Ah the daydreams of a museum volunteer!
We called it an early night and settled into our fabulous hotel (little boutique hotels are so much fun!).  We're probably the only twenty five year olds in the world who would find themselves in Paris and decide to hang out in their hotel room and repack their suitcases.  It's because we're introverts.  Anyway, I was sitting in my bed trying to decide if I should call home or repack said suitcase when I looked up.  Above the apartment building facing my window was a little spire and some flashing lights.  It took me a second to realize that I was looking at the very top of the Eiffel Tower.  All this time and I was practically sitting under it!

We flew home the next morning, after a visit or two to the airport Laduree for some much needed travel provisions.  Haven't you heard?  Macarons are the new pemmican.  

And that's a wrap!  A few more scars on my suitcase, a few more stamps in my passport and a lot of memories of time spend traveling with my friends.  Life doesn't get much better than than.


  1. Just so much to love about this post!! :-D So many people say Paris is overrated, but I really must find this out for myself...

    1. Paris is NEVER overrated! Even if the only thing you do is sit in a cafe, drink coffee and people watch, it's worth the plane ride over. :)

    2. I'm inclined to favor your opinion. And that's good because that is pretty much what I want to do. :-)