My "Souvenirs" of France: Part 2

If you missed the last post explaining my awesome pun, I'll fill you in: "Souvenir" in French can mean that knick-knack you need to buy for family and friends back home to show you thought of them on vacation, but it can also mean "memories." So in light of our near departure back to the US, here's Part II of my mini-series reminiscing about my favorite souvenirs I've acquired during my travels in France.

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Discover France, Outside of Paris!

I made my big announcement on Monday. In case you missed it, the time has come for Michael and me to pack our bags and move back to the US after three wonderful, full years of life in Paris. The specifics will come later, but know that it is a happy decision for us and we’re really looking forward to our next adventure in New York City -- and don’t worry: the traveling (and blogging) are not going to stop! 

Yet regardless that we are happily and willfully moving on, a big change like this doesn’t come without heartbreak and sadness. Our time in Paris has forever changed our lives for the better, and over these past few weeks I can’t help but reflect on all the happy memories we’ve shared.

One outcome of living in Paris is that we’ve had the opportunity to explore a decent amount of the country outside of its capital. France is very diverse, and I highly recommend to anyone to visit Paris (because it really is always a good idea) but then to get outside and explore other regions of France as well. In hopes to introduce you to a taste of what France has to offer, here’s a little photo montage of where we’ve been in France. I’ve roughly organized the post starting from the north and heading southward. I hope this produces a bit of curiosity to travel around this gorgeous country or motivates you to see more of it!

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Into the Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Planning a Trip to Bordeaux

So did the winemedieval village, and ocean convince you that a trip to Bordeaux is a good idea? If it did, here's what I recommend to pull the vacation together.

Make the city of Bordeaux your home-base during your stay. It is the largest city in the area and offers plenty of choices for accommodations, restaurants, and night life. 

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Uncorking Bordeaux

You know that sound of the pop of the cork, followed by gurgling and a splash hitting the glass? I thought planning a trip to Bordeaux would be that easy, as simple as opening a bottle of wine and making the first pour. Wine flows freely in France so I assumed it would not be hard to figure out where to do some tastings in perhaps the most well-known wine region in the country, Bordeaux. 

The decision to select Bordeaux as a destination for some of the wine enthusiasts coming to visit me was the easy part. I planned a long weekend with friends there last March, and then a quick overnight stop-off on en route to Dordogne with my parents. Beyond that though, figuring out where exactly to go took much more time. 

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Oysters and Arcachon

Bordeaux is known for its land. That special terroir, the earth that makes a prestigious Bordeaux wine what it is. Land that is very valuable and comes with quite a price tag.

The land of the region should be explored for its famous vineyards. Yet it's easy to focus just on the land and not realize that the sea is so close.

That's where an excursion to Arcachon comes into play.

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Bordeaux's Little Sister: Saint-Émilion

Promises of medieval quaintness and beauty led me to Saint-Émilion the first time. The small family-run vineyards that surround the town will keep me coming back.

About a 40-minute drive east of Bordeaux lies the town of St. Émilion, covered in cobblestones and surrounded by miles of vineyards. The city of Bordeaux is perfect to make a home base for its central location and for more happenings going on, but it is essential to make a trip east to its little sister, the small town of Saint-Émilion.

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La Belle France

Paris gave us quite a few canvas-worthy moments in 2013. But then there is the rest of France to consider beyond its capital. 

2013 was a great year for us to discover more of La Belle France. We took short trips to Bordeaux, Normandy, Brittany, Provence, Côte d'Azur (the French Riviera), and Dordogne. We found great food and beautiful sights every step of the way, and have a few exceptional photos to capture those memories:

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