Slices of Life

I decided to mix it up a bit and do something new. I am a little bit obsessed with pictures… taking them and then looking at them over and over. So as I was reminiscing about a time that Europe … Continue reading

Journey into the Champagne Region

Callie, Nicole and I decided to take a day trip to Reims, which is in the Champagne region of France. It is only about a two-hour drive from where I live. The drive is gorgeous– fields of green and rolling hills. The French countryside is unmatched. I know that many people who visit usually do not get a chance to take a drive out into other areas of France other than Paris but it is truly extraordinary and a must-see. Reims usually brings tourists to its city because of its champagne– there is 120 kilometers of champagne cellars there! But there is so much more to the city, which is also known as “The Coronation City” because of the history of Notre Dame de Reims.

Notre Dame de Reims

When we first arrived in the adorable city of Reims, we went to the Notre Dame de Reims. It is this incredible cathedral that is the center of Reims. The architecture is incredible and the stained glass is breathtaking. Notre Dame de Reims is unique because this is where 33 kings of France since the 11th century were crowned. It was built in the 13th century and although has had a long history of surviving through events like the Hundred Years’ War and WWI, it still has incredible beauty. I can get lost in places like this. I just want to see every little bit and learn about it. I always imagine what it looked like in the past– with ornate kings and royalty lining the pues.

Me getting ready to eat my first course of tomatoes and mozzarella. So yummy!

After exploring the cathedral, we decided to venture into the city and find something to eat. We decided on this delicious café and got to sit outside enjoying the incredible weather. In France, most restaurants and cafes offer a normal menu as well as an option that for a certain price you get three courses you choose from a selected menu. I decided to choose that option– fabulous decision! For my entrée, (which is the appetizer in France), I got tomatoes and mozzarella in balsamic vinegar. My second course was basil crusted salmon with white butter risotto. This was amazing. The flavors were so vibrant and mouth-watering! I didn’t want it to end. Finally, I finished up with dessert. I got fruit in lychee syrup that is extremely popular in France. Lychee kind of tastes like grapes but has a little sweeter taste. It is incredible how even just fruit tastes so much more delicious in France!

Breathtaking view of The Pierre-Schneiter Horticultural Garden

From lunch, we walked over to visit the Horticultural Gardens. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the day. These gardens were created in the 19th century and have frequent floral shows with different themes. When we visited, the theme was “Fairy Tales and Legends of Champagne.” They were spot on with the theme because as soon as I walked into the gardens, I seriously felt like I was walking into a fairy tale. It was so incredibly green and luscious. It was so fun to explore the gardens. Callie, Nicole and I enjoyed ourselves playing and taking pictures. I cannot even put into words how incredible the gardens were.

Mars Gate

After the gardens, we headed over to the Roman Mars Gate. This is the oldest monument in Reims being built in the 3rd century. It was one of the 4 gates to the city walls. It was really neat to see something so old is still so intact. Of course we had to have some more photo shoots there…

Me, Callie and Nicole at Taittinger trying the delicious champagne!

Next we headed to Taittinger to have a tour of the champagne caves. When I first thought about moving to France I had researched places here I really wanted to go and the champagne region was high on my list. I am so excited I got to visit a champagne house and Taittinger was definitely incredible. They take you down to the champagne caves and the tour is definitely worth 10 euros. The tour guide did a great job explaining everything and the best part was you get a sample at the end of the tour! Now I completely understand why they are famous for their champagne here!

Me with the view of Verzenay in the background

About 20km outside of Reims is a town called Verzenay that we were all very interested in seeing so after touring the champagne house, we headed that way. Such a charming little town with incredibly gorgeous views! We went up to La Phare where we could see the whole town and all the vineyards. We spent our time walking around and just taking in everything. I cannot believe that I only live a couple of hours from here! The weather was phenomenal, too, which added to the wonderful day. After soaking in the sun and the views we headed to the other side of the town to the Mumms champagne house. It was really neat to see the view from the other side–equally as beautiful!

I am so happy we decided to take this day trip. It was something I really wanted to do and could not have expected how amazing it actually was. I fall more and more in love with France everyday…

Check out my pics from here!

Life in France

So here is my first blog post from France! How exciting! Never really thought this day would come but I can’t even explain how happy I am that it has. I know all the earlier posts were me freaking out about the decision but I am more than satisfied that I decided to make the move. I definitely had my doubts and I definitely freaked out the first night I was here, but I know this was the best decision to make. This year is going to be incredible.

So what have I been doing the past 3 days you ask? Let me tell you…

The first day was kinda tough but I was just adjusting so now I think all is good. My flights went really well. Air Berlin was awesome for my long flight. I got 2 meals, free wine, an amenity kit, free magazines, the list goes on. I also had prime seating in the middle with the seats next to me empty so I was able to sprawl out. Air Berlin seriously pampers you, which is extremely different from how awful the Germans were at the Düsseldorf airport.

I seriously got yelled at in German a thousand times. The airport is really confusing too. I had 10 minutes to make it to my gate once landing. First I had to get my passport checked and wait in this long line so I didn’t think I was going to make it. Then I sprinted to my gate which I swear was like 2 miles away through all these weird hallways and such. Then after I gave them my boarding pass, I had to walk down stairs to get on a bus, which took me to the middle of no where on the runway to this little dinky plane–four seats across. No one on my plane spoke English and I sat next to this smelly guy. Awesome.

Me on the bus right after Callie picked me up at the airport

I got in to Paris at like 430pm and Callie picked me up. From there it was seriously Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. First off, my suitcases weighed 400lbs. Callie and I dragged them through the airport, through the metro, on the buses, and then through the quiet town of Chambourcy. To make matters worse, one of my suitcases broke.  So we literally had to drag it. 70 pounds of weight getting dragged on cobble stone streets. Needless to say there are pieces of my broken suitcase in front of our house. You all would have died laughing to see Callie and I.

That day we went to the boulangerie in our town and got a baguette. I am so French… I know. Then Callie made a quiche and we had dinner. That night I slept awful because I was jet lagged and had a mental breakdown. But all is good now! 4am is not fun alone in the dark after you made the biggest decision of your life.

Yesterday was Bastille Day, which is basically like France’s 4th of July. We had all these fabulous plans like going

La Fête Nationale Parade

into Paris to watch the parade, then having a picnic by the Eiffel Tower, finishing off with watching fireworks. Of course, this didn’t happen because Paris decided to have a torrential downpour! The morning was beautiful and we went into Paris to watch the parade. Ok so here is where America has one up on France–we know what a parade is. For some reason the French just play music out of speakers and stand there in military uniforms. It was the weirdest thing. All of the tourists just stand there staring at French military standing. Strangest concept. So Callie and I decided to walk along the path and make our own parade. It was neat to see everything but unless you were walking along the route, you would have stood there and stared at the same guys the whole time.

Me in front of the Arc de Triomphe during the pouring rain

But then the storm hit which was hilarious. All of the sudden it just started pouring. I was luckily prepared with my backpack that had an umbrella and rain coat so while all the lame tourists sat under canopies in cafes, Callie and ventured in the torrential downpour to meet up with her friend Nicole. We sat with her for while by a park and then took the metro to her house which is a couple of towns away from ours. After hanging out there and me taking a nap, Callie and I went into St. Germain en laye (which is the big town by our village) to show me around a bit. This is where my school will be. Everything was closed of course because it was a national holiday but it was awesome to see everything. It is so precious. I love it here so much. Afterward we went home and made crepes. I love Nutella.

Most exciting thing is that I got a full nights sleep last night! I fell asleep at a normal time and woke up at 10am! Callie said that it was amazing for my second day.

Today, Callie and I went to the grocery store and had an incredible lunch involving cheese and baguettes obviously! On Friday, we are driving down to Reims for a day trip with Nicole. So excited. This is somewhere I really wanted to go. It’s a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France about 2 hours northeast of Paris. I think that we are going to some vineyards to try some champagne. We will also try to see some chateaus.

Then Sunday we leave for Biarritz and then Spain. I cannot wait. I absolutely love it here and it feels so natural to be here. I cant wait to understand French though!

Check out my pics from today!