Arles: Chasing Van Gogh

While I was in Avignon, I decided to take a day trip to Arles. Arles is best-known for its association with Van Gogh – he lived there for about a year (incidentally right before he had a mental breakdown?), and did many of his most famous paintings there.

As one would expect from the place that inspired so many of Van Gogh’s paintings, the whole city is unspeakably beautiful. I think Arles is the most beautiful place I visited in France.

I walked along and couldn’t help but think of Annie Sloane paints – those wonderful chalk paints to bring a bit of rustic France to our American furniture. Y’all… she looks so much less creative on having to think up colors after visiting Arles! It’s like she just stole colors from Arles, bottled them, and now sells them. I’m impressed with how true to their colors her paints are. Read more

Avignon: The Heart of Provence

I knew after leaving Paris, I needed to head south towards Italy to meet my mom. So I tried to figure out where I’d want to go in France on my way to Italy. And then I remembered Avignon.

I remember learning about Avignon in school – specifically, the Avignon Captivity where the papacy moved from the Vatican to Avignon. Avignon is also the heart of Provence, and is well-served by rail and public transit (yes, still too chicken to rent a car in Europe!).

So I headed down to Avignon! I found a little studio to rent in the heart of the old town, and spent a few days exploring. It also didn’t hurt that I found a train service called OuiGo, which runs a high-speed train service from Paris to Marseilles, and stops at a few places including Avignon. I was able to get my train ticket for only 10 Euro! Read more

Paris: Notre Dame and More

I was in Paris on a Sunday, and that happened to be the day I planned to go to Notre Dame cathedral. I walked up at just the right time, because it was right when they were starting their Sunday services. So I decided to take time to worship.

It felt like no worship service I’ve ever experienced. The service was mostly in French, with some in English, and was a true, traditional Catholic service. Complete with organ accompaniment! The music for the service was just breathtaking and incredible. In so many ways it reminded me of The Phantom of the Opera – these giant melodies that come through the organ, filling the church to the brim with music rising up. Read more

The Girl Who Fell in Love With Paris

Paris, oh Paris. Paris was never on the original itinerary, and I honestly planned to skip it this trip. But something about it kept calling me. It was so close, I had time, and other reasons all conspired to get me to board a plane from Naples and head to Paris.

I never thought Paris was for girls like me. I always thought Paris was for beautiful people… and before you comment “But you ARE beautiful,” I’m not talking about that so much. I’m talking about Paris being for the kind of people who enjoy beauty as a hobby. Not necessarily naturally beautiful, but the people who spend their free time perfecting their new makeup technique, or researching the next season’s trends and colors. Read more