Monday, July 21, 2014

Checking in from France! {A Whirlwind through Paris, Angers, La Rochelle, and Villard}

While I had the very best intentions of keeping things consistent around here, the less than consistent wifi in France (in the mountains, specifically) has not been cooperating... clearly last week did not work out. Womp womp.

Moving right along! I arrived safe and sound in Paris ten days ago - to grey skies, temperatures in the low sixties, wintry outfits, and tall boots. Not exactly the ideal picture of Paris in July ;) Nonetheless, we made the best of our first afternoon straight off the plane and spent a couple of hours at one of my favorite museums, the Musée d'Orsay, strolling past impressionist works and through sculptures in the former train station. 

The museum was followed by a delicious and decadent meal at the La Coupole, a Paris staple near our hotel (full disclosure: the service was very slow and a bit brusque). Our delectable dinner made up for it though ;) The hotel, Hotel Delambre, lived up to its description as clean, ideally located near the Gare Montparnasse (perfect for an early train ride), and comfortable - though a bit tight with three single beds crammed into a small room! Let's just say it would be cozy for two. I can't say the hotel was amazing, but it absolutely served its purpose and I loved the neighborhood. And I obviously appreciated the teal exterior.

Those fleeting hours in Paris were all too short, as we boarded a train early the next morning destined for Angers and rented a car to pick up my mom's friend on the way to La Rochelle for the annual summer music festival Les Francofolies. Before continuing on our journey, we explored Angers, visiting its famous castle and tapestry and strolling the old city's winding cobblestone roads. I loved it, especially the lush castle gardens - as is quite obvious from my photos ;)

^^ A Senegalese restaurant (/bar?!) in Angers!

La Rochelle was also a very pleasant surprise. I didn't know very much about the city before our trip, and wow, it was beautiful and quite the (classy) tourist hotspot. The city was obviously packed for the concert weekend, but it was still full of character, delicious restaurants, a beautiful port and castle, city park, and much more! Apparently there are also some very nice beaches in the area... I would absolutely return for a bonafide vacation.

^^The crowds at Les Francofolies were nothing to scoff at!

The weekend was truly a whirlwind... many hours in the car with countless rotaries, a new hotel every night, concerts and medieval castles, towers, moats, and duck confit.

On Saturday (only three nights after my arrival!), we boarded yet another train for Grenoble, followed by a winding bus ride into the mountains and FINALLY settled in our quaint mountain town of Villard-de-Lans. Hallelujiah.

^^Just a peak of Villard-de-Lans. More to come!

My mom has been returning to this town for the past eight summers, but I had only spent a long weekend back in 2010. With a full week in Villard-de-Lans this time, two major hikes, Bastille Day, and two concerts in the center of town, I was able to experience true mountain village life, as a tourist, of course ;) I'll share lots of pictures in a separate post!

To sum things up, I've spent the past ten days in Paris, La Rochelle, Angers, Villard-de-Lans, and now in Provence, in my grandparent's village of Cabrières. A whirlwind indeed. All that is left is a drive to Marseilles for my flight back next Friday, when I return to the joy of summer in Senegal :)

Until then, I'll be enjoying the sun, the pool, the cheese, and the flora of southern France with family and a good friend from elementary school, arriving tomorrow with her fiancé! More photos to come...

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