discovering Dijon

Not long ago I was invited to join Rendez-vous en France, the official site for France Tourism, as a select few traveled the country to create their new campaign Fall For France. Considering there were several regions of France I hadn’t yet explored, I eagerly accepted the adventure and boarded the train with Rail Europe. In under two hours I arrived to Dijon.

IMG_9241Dijon being the capital of the Burgundy region, naturally day one was spent wine tasting.

IMG_9093Bourgogne being my top choice in wine, I discovered new reds and even a few whites.

IMG_9375Being in the expert hands of the Dijon Tourism Office, our next stop was a special one.

IMG_9361The Clos de Vougeot vineyard was created by Cistercian monks of Cîteaux Abbey in 1336. This medieval wine farm was highly recognized for centuries. The Château de Clos de Vougeot, sitting regally within the stone wall, was added in 1551.

IMG_9353Since 1945, it is the seat of the Order for the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.

IMG_9325Wine is no longer produced, but this historic Château holds many stories within it’s walls.

IMG_9330It was now time to enjoy the city, and why not from the 46m high La Tour Philippe de Bon?

IMG_9339The sunlit views were stunning, and I was eager to explore by foot down below.

IMG_9404I spent countless hours walking, looking up, admiring the architecture, the historic details.

IMG_9441I discovered a new love for a city and it’s neighboring landscapes. With local products in hand, including a few bottles of Bourgogne, Dijon mustard (I couldn’t leave without a tasting), and gingerbread (another specialty), I vowed to return when the vines are filled with leaves. Maybe even with a certain someone. There is much more to see… and taste.

IMG_9467My next adventure is taking me to Italy…feel free to follow along on Instagram + Facebook!


adventures down south

In mid-August my Italian and I decided to do like the Parisians, leave Paris to the tourists, and venture south. I had heard a lot about the unpretentious charm of France’s Cap Ferret, and was eager to discover it for myself. It has been likened to Montauk, the most unspoilt part of the Hamptons, where I grew up. Our first stop was lunch in a rainy but elegant Bordeaux. I know little of this city, this being my second visit, but look forward to becoming better acquainted in the future.

IMG_5619Rather than head directly to this trendy enclave, we stopped in Arcachon for a few days. Just enough time to meet with friends and climb the highest sand dunes in all of Europe.

IMG_5737The Dune du Pilat measures 107 meters high and I felt rather accomplished reaching the top!

IMG_5697We spent the afternoon climbing, jumping, running… and sitting beneath the late summer sun.

IMG_5968Our next stop was Cap Ferret. We settled in with a plate of oysters, local wine, and a view.


The dominant mode of transport is by bike. And that is how we explored this little French paradise.


I could immediately understand why it was compared to Montauk with it’s chic yet relaxed vibe.


After many great meals including at the highly revered Chez Hortense, it was time to bid adieu.

IMG_6006Via boat and train we made our way back to Paris filled with sounds and tastes of the sea.


This past spring when my mom came to visit, I thought about where to bring her. Last year we had explored Chantilly, and while it would have been a lovely time of year to visit Giverny, I opted to be more creative and we ventured to Auvers-sur-Oise. This commune, only about 27 kilometers northwest of Paris, was once home to the Impressionists. More specifically, Paul Cézanne, Charles-François Daubigny, Camille Pissarro, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and, Vincent van Gogh.


IMG_1742This was a trip into Van Gogh’s life. It was incredible to be amidst the church that he once painted.

IMG_1744It is here that he rests alongside his brother Theo, who passed away only 6 months after Vincent.

IMG_1750The next stop was Château d’Auvers where we discovered a most insightful interactive journey into the lives of the Impressionists. A unique experience! Not to mention the breathtaking gardens…


As the sun was setting we walked the length of the estate, reflecting on years long gone.

IMG_1820It was time to bid farewell to Auvers-sur-Oise. Like the artists before us, we headed back to Paris.

fit for a king

A few weeks ago a dear family friend was in town. Since she’s already seen much of Paris, I planned a day of historic elegance in a landscape not too far away. We boarded a bus on an overcast morning, and soon arrived to the legendary, and now private estate, Château de Vaux le Vicomte.


Here began our adventure into the life of Nicolas Fouquet, who created this 17th century castle.


This majestic masterpiece was a collaboration between architect Louis Le Vau, the painter Charles Le Brun and the landscape gardener André Le Nôtre. A ‘home and garden’ to be admired by all.


Yet the story behind Monsieur Fouquet and his château is a unique and tragic one.


In brief, after throwing a lavish party in his new home, Fouquet was arrested by Louis XIV (who had plotted against him out of jealousy), and spent his remaining days behind bars, unlawfully so.


In the famous words of Voltaire, “On 17 August at 6 in the evening, Fouquet was King of France; at 2 in the morning, he was nobody”.


As we wandered the château and landscape, the gray sky set a sobering mood. At once in awe and aghast at the history lesson upon us. Certainly a castle fit for a king, perhaps even too much so.

Château de Chantilly

During my mom’s recent visit to Paris, we decided to take her for a day trip. Where else but to a château? Less than 30 minutes by train lies the town of Chantilly, home to a spectacular château spanning the 14th to 19th centuries, not to mention chantilly cream, which in itself is worth the trip!


Our first stop was the Grand Stables. Yes, horses do still live within this admirable structure!


At first sight the Château de Chantilly exhibits an air of serene magnificence.



The Musée Condé boasts the grandest collection of paintings in France, after the Louvre of course.





I could not stop admiring (and photographing) the château from every angle, both near and far.




A idyllically regal day spent beneath blue skies and the historic charm of France.

36 hours in Lille

I decided to visit Lille on a whim, to meet a dear friend and her 5 month old baby who were traveling via Eurostar from London. What better place for a rendezvous, a city I knew little about, and a place often referred to for it’s history and art. Only one hour by train yet worlds away.

Upon arrival, I forgot that I was in France. The locals of Lille are a friendly people, and the architecture of the old city reminded me much of Brussels, regal and replete with color. I was free of the gray hues of Paris and reveled in this change of scene. Much time was spent exploring these charming cobbled streets, which even a stroller could manage.

Though Lille is the only city in France where beer versus wine is the drink of choice, we skipped both and headed for tea and waffles at Charles de Gaulle’s favorite spot, Meert. This tearoom-sweets-shop which served kings and generals since 1761 is a must! I even took a few gaufres to go…

Somehow lunch followed dessert. It is next door to Lille, in the town of Croix, where the famous boulangerie and patisserie Paul first opened it’s doors, just over 120 years ago. Still a hotspot!

The rain prolonged our explorations of the Palais des Beaux-Arts, housing impressive collections of 19th century art. Well worth a rainy afternoon, this being the largest museum outside of Paris.

The following day the sun joined us, leading the way to the charming Rue de Gand where many an estaminet, a traditional Flemish eatery, was found. It was here where we enjoyed our best meal, in the company of the friendly French. 36 hours very well spent, in a city that pleasantly surprised.

1 2 3 4 6