Easton Place

France

Mont St. Michel

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While staying in the Normandy region of France this past summer, my husband and I drove to Mont St. Michel, a small island just off the coast of France. Today there is a long bridge connecting the mainland to the rocky land mass and it's Gothic Abbey built atop it. There are shops, gardens, high stone walls and a grand church. You can read about it's incredible history here.

It was low tide the day we visited. Groups of tourist were walking around the outer sandy area of the abbey. There were even a few people riding horseback along the sandy surroundings. And though it was cloudy and a bit rainy, the sites were still incredible. I'd love to return someday when the tide is high so I could see the grand rock and it's buildings reflecting on the water. 


Summer Holiday 2015: Normandy (where I stayed)

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My husband and I stayed three nights in the countryside of Normandy, France. I wish we'd stayed for at least a week or longer. A return trip is definitely on my wish list. The region of Normandy is quite large. It is both country-living and coastal-living. The inn we booked, Auberge de la Source - Hôtel de Charme, is situated about 2 miles from the quaint coastal village of Honfleur. It is one of the most special places we've had the fortune of enjoying. Its location is the perfect place to vacation. Nestled in the farmland of Normandy, surrounded by lush gardens, old barns, livestock and farmhouses, this 15 room, 4-star inn is just moments away from the coast. The accommodations are quintessential French Country with its red gingham window treatments, sitting room complete with an iron daybed topped with a tufted linen cushion, wide-plank wooden floors, window boxes overflowing with pink and white flowers, and the welcoming gardens and grounds. The king size bed was incredibly comfortable, dressed in crisp white linens, plenty of feather pillows and a fluffy down comforter. Out of the 3 weeks of travel, my best nights sleep were here. At night, my husband and I opted to open the windows so as to be lulled to sleep by the trickling brook outside our window as well as the softly mooing cows in the distance. The cool night breeze was the cherry on top for an incredible night's sleep.

Each morning we were treated to a delicious breakfast spread of French cheeses, yogurt, sliced meats, soft boiled eggs, fresh juices, teas and coffee as well as an assortment of French pastries and breads. I resisted the breads, but I could tell from the look on my husband's face just how delicious everything was! The buffet-style meal also had an assortment of fresh fruits, butter, jams etc. It was the perfect way to start our day.

dining room photo via hotel website 

We sampled local foods, and explore Normandy each day, but we did stay in one night for dinner at the inn. I'm SO happy we did. It was one of the most delicious five course meals I've ever eaten. I didn't take photos of every course, but I will tell you each and every bite was amazing. My meal's starters included champagne and a cold, whipped, creamy tomato soup topped with one muscle (local fare), then THE most delicious goose foie gras I've every eaten. Main course was "pork three ways" over a vegetable compote, 4th course was a small salad with baked camembert, and dessert was a collection of fresh fruits, homemade sorbet, whipped cream, an almond crisp, poached peach, caramel crackle... basically summer fruits prepared to perfection with added goodies. Have a look through my photos. I dare you not to get hungry! 

The final piece of this perfect vacation spot was the staff. Veronique, the inn's manager & front desk hostess was incredibly helpful and attentive, as was the dining staff and housekeeping. They all work together to create an environment that is both elegant, yet comfortable. While I felt like I was staying in a very special get-away, the inn also felt warm and inviting, never stuffy. 

I hope you've enjoyed my little recap of this sweet hotel. If you find yourself planning a trip to Normandy, consider staying at Auberge de la Source - Hôtel de Charme!

Summer Holiday 2015: Paris

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Ah, Paris... it's nearly impossible not to fall in love with this city. There's so much to love about it and in turn there's so much love in the air! Paris really is the "City of Love". 

The view from the Louvre, Paris, France

This trip to Paris was my second visit, my husband's first. I visited with two friends when I was 18. The trip was a graduation present from my mother. That first visit was fun and exciting, but visiting Paris with the person you love is extra special. Walking hand and hand through the parks, along the River Seine or down a busy avenue, is so special in Paris!

When planning our holiday, I chose to stay in apartments, mainly. There are a couple reasons for this. First: apartments tend to have washing machines. This is very important when traveling for several weeks abroad! Secondly: apartments give you a better feel for "living in the city". We bought groceries for home-cooked breakfast. We were able to pack a picnic lunch for the park. It really felt like we were residents instead of guests just visiting. This could also be because our apartment was so lovely and well appointed. I chanced upon a newly remodeled, one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the Marais. We were just a few blocks from specialty food shops, restaurants, cafes, the metro and parks. I couldn't have asked for better accommodations. If you're planning a trip to Paris, definitely send Abby, the owner, an email to inquire about staying in her fabulous apartment, and tell her I sent you!

Besides the overall dreamy feel of the the city, I have to say walking alone the Seine and visiting the parks were my favorite things to do. The Place des Vosges was just a few blocks away from our apartment, and though it was small, it was so special to take a picnic, a bottle of wine, and just enjoy the people and garden. We visited this little park a few times!

Place des Vosges

The Jardin du Luxembourg was by far the most dramatic garden we enjoyed. Not only were the plantings, sculptures and buildings incredible, the sky and weather that day had such energy! This is one garden I want to return to and linger a bit longer. I could have stayed all day!

Jardin du Luxembourg

The gardens and sculptures in the Musée Rodin were also breathtakingly beautiful. We arrived a bit late in the afternoon, and the museum proper was closed for remodel, so we didn't get to see as much of this site as I'd have liked. I definitely want to see this again and linger!

The Thinker, Musee Rodin, Paris, France

All throughout the city are sweet courtyards with hidden treasures of gardens and meeting places or small museums! This, the Musee Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris, gorgeous spot was in our neighborhood! I'd love to have a strolling, formal garden like this in my home neighborhood, wouldn't you?

Musee Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris

Of course we visited all the usual tourist spots like the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame etc, but then we also walked along the River Seine, next to all the houseboats, and saw a different part of Paris... under the bridges! I just loved this scene.

"under the bridge", River Seine, Paris, France

Evenings in Paris were filled with long walks along the river, delicious food, a bit of wine and Glacé or Sorbet. Our favorite spot was Amorino. There were several throughout Paris and each was prettier than the last! Lucky for us, there are a few in the US as well, NYC and Boston being closest for us! Two of our favorite restaurants were Le Coupe Chou and Le Petit Prince de Paris. Both are located in the Latin Quarter in the same little alleyway! Add both of these eateries to your list for your visit!

River Seine, Paris, France

I hope you've enjoyed "revisiting" Paris with me. If you have suggestions for my next trip to Paris, please comment below. I'd love to know your favorite finds!

Travel Tuesday: Good Eats, Europe

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Not use to seeing Crocodile, Zebra, Emu and Kangaroo on a menu like they offer at the Outback Lodge in Zürich, Switzerland

This past summer Matthew and I spent 23 days traveling Europe. The majority of our time was in Ireland, France and Italy. On a spur-of-the-moment decision, we traveled up to Innsbruck, Austria where we spent two nights (more on that part of the trip at a later date). We took a scenic drive through Liechtenstein (a tiny and beautiful country) so we could have lunch in Zürich, Switzerland before finally heading back into Italy for our final 3 nights of vacation. It was an incredibly fun trip filled with delicious food and drink plus plenty of sweets. 

While I didn't take the challenge to eat Zebra, Emu, Kangaroo or Crocodile in Switzerland, I did enjoy plenty of fruits, vegetables, beef, chicken and seafood during our travels. And I might have had more than one helping of gelato as well. My favorite breakfasts were had in Ireland where we were offered a hearty buffet selection of meats, cheeses, fresh fruit and pastries (though no pastries for me), plus we also ordered from the resort's menu where I enjoyed the best eggs and bacon along with perfectly prepared mushroom caps. And the silver pot of tea, that was frequently refilled, ensured a leisurely start to the day.

Italy offered delicious meals, but I believe the best lunches and dinners were had in France. The French know their sauces! And the seafood was incredibly fresh, as it was in Ireland, but the French seem to really know how to do everything just right. From salads to elaborate dishes, our palates were most happy in Provence! Here are a few shots of some of our favorite dishes. Enjoy!