Just a few pictures from a quick half day trip we took to a little village built into the side of a cliff. I learned all of the legends that come with the beautiful church that rests within the walls of the cliff. Inside of the church there are boats hanging from the ceiling in the chapel, sailors used to pray to the Lady of the church in times of crisis out at sea. Legend has it that she saved those men and they repaid her with the small replicas of their ships. The rugby team also prays to the Lady of the church so they have their own little alcove off to the side with a wall lined with their framed jerseys in which they offered to her. Every place I have visited on this trip has something to teach me, and I love learning all of it!
The south of France was once know for its truffle mushrooms because they are very rare and hard to find, but now it is recognized for many different types of dishes. Duck is a key item on any menu, served a variety of ways. It is also known for the vast amount of land, home to many animals such as sheep, cows, chickens and of course ducks!
But what I love most is the rolling hills filled with nothing but open land and tall grasses that sway softly in the constant breeze. I love driving down the winding cliff side roads, looking out over the villages below wondering what the people who live there would be doing at that very moment.
On one of our many small “road trips” we have stopped to see castles that overlook the cliffs. The first one sat on top of a cliff with a small village built into the walls below it. Some of the houses only have three man made walls, the fourth is of course the rock wall of the cliff.
The south of France is so different from anywhere I have ever been. Every road leads to another small village filled with picturesque stone buildings and thin flower covered streets. On every corner there is a cafe wafting an abundance of fragrances that are like nothing else I have ever smelled; freshly made crepes, filled with chocolate or cheese and ham,cheese, and ice cream, oh the ice cream. French chocolate or caramel flavored ice cream topped with whip cream.
Since I have arrived we have visited many different villages, all filled with a similar type of beauty and architecture. Many of the buildings date back to the early 1800s. Walls made of stone, roofs pieced together with wooden shingles, colorful shutters and beautiful gardens.
Once I arrived, three hours late thanks to hurricane Arthur, I saw everything. My cousin (who I am staying with) and I walked everywhere "to keep the jet lag away" which definitely worked. First we visited L'arc de Triomphe, and hiked all 294 stairs to the very top. Paris from above is absolutely gorgeous, in every direction there is a different monument. After a speedy descent in the elevator we headed down Le Champs Elysée to a small cafe for lunch, and then onto the Louvre. We didn't go inside but the outside was stunning, and much much larger than I was expecting. Next stop was a walk along Le Seine and a boat tour on the river, which was incredible; I saw everything from le Musee d'Orsay to Le Notre Dame. The boat travelled under at least 6 different bridges linking the right and left banks, while house boats lined each stone covered wall. At the days end people filled every cafe in Paris eager to have a good seat to watch France play Germany in the world cup game, although tragically France was defeated.
My Second day is Paris was absolutely amazing.
We spent the day at the palace of Versailles, wandering through the massive gardens filled the statues and perfectly trimmed bushes and plants. In the late 1600s Louis XIV had the first part of the palace built right by his fathers hunting "house" because he was scared of Paris due to the riots at the time. The central part is covered in intricate gold trim both inside and out. Some rooms had spectacular murals painted on the ceilings while other even grander paintings hung on the walls. My favorite room was the mirrors room, one wall was lined with floor to ceiling windows while the opposite wall was covered in mirrors shaped exactly like the windows. When light would shine in through the windows it would be reflected back into the room by the mirrors. We also visited the other smaller palaces on the property, both were considered "country houses" although still quite large and luxurious. My favorite of the two was the slightly more rustic one, complete with goats, chickens, a pond or two and many small little spread out homes. The area was created so that Marie Antoinette could play "the farmer" so to speak. We travelled back on my cousins motorcycle, which I now realize is the only way to really see Paris. Everything I passed the day before while riding on the bus or in a car, seemed to no longer matter because I saw everything with an entirely new point of view. We took a route along side Le Seine that ran right next to the Eiffel Tower and Le Louvre, it was absolutely incredible and so exhilarating.
I feel like I have seen so much of Paris and it has only been two days, I can't wait to see what comes next!