Adventure, baby!


South of France, The Highlights

After an amazing week in Paris, we flew south to Montpellier, picked up another hire car, and drove to Arles for a two-day stay.

Arles is famous for two things – most recently, Van Gogh lived and painted here, but a long time before that, Arles was conquered by the Romans. The remains of the Roman civilisation are still visible in Arles, including the theatre, baths and arena. We were lucky enough to see a gladiator match being put on in the arena when we visited.

Arles is a funny place – from the outside looks quite run down and old, but the narrow streets remind me a lot of Venice – a rabbit warren of streets, revealing treasures tucked into corners. The insides of the derelict buildings have all been renovated, so it’s quite the town of surprises.

The Roman arena.

From Arles we drove to Carcassonne, where we rented an apartment for four nights. Carcassonne is quite amazing to see when you approach the city. The old city is perched on a hill top and is quite majestic!

We spent a lovely day exploring the old city.

The area is rife with castles and is rich in history, particularly from the Cathar period. Many of the castles are actually more like fortresses, designed to protect the people, and the Cathars, from the religious crusades.

The castles are just amazing. Perched on the top of mountains in terrain that is so inhospitable it’s just extraordinary imagining people climbing up and down, or laying siege to, in every-day life.

One of the castles, Montsegur.

Sunflowers – everywhere!

Lastours castles.

Matchy-match at Lastours.

Final view of Carcassonne.

We ended our France leg by driving to Toulouse, spending the night, then catching a flight to London early the next morning.

Paris, France – Getting Engaged!

The absolute highlight of both Paris and the trip was getting engaged.

Alec went to a lot of effort to create the perfect day for me, and it truly was!

First, Alec booked an amazing hotel for us to stay in for two nights, called Jays Paris. They also upgraded our room for free, which was unexpected! The hotel was made up of only six suites, all of which were individually themed, and extremely luxurious. The service is also what sets Jas apart. We found chocolates on our pillows, fresh fruit left for us in the evening, and the weather report was put under our door each morning! Our suite looked over a private garden, so we could enjoy looking at beautiful flowers every morning.

Since I had fallen sick when we drove through Giverny, we decided to take a day trip back. It was so beautiful – the most amazing day trip. The gardens are just so exquisite I can see how Monet was inspired to create his masterpieces here. Alec told me later he was planning on proposing at the gardens, but the ring was stuck in the bottom of his bag and he couldn’t get it out!

Next on my perfect day was chocolate shopping and dessert sampling at Fauchon, a Paris institution that was recommended to me by my dear friend Masa. We spend a few happy hours here buying delightful chocolate and trying more avante guard desserts, like the one below (it looks like any other tart, but believe me when I say I think I found the source of Zumbo‘s inspiration!)

We decided to go out to dinner somewhere special for our last night in Paris, and went back to the hotel to get changed. I was ready to go and waiting for the taxi in our suite when Alec came around to where I was sitting, dropped to one knee, and presented me with a Tiffany & Co box.

Even though we’d been talking about marriage for a while, nothing prepares you for the moment! I had tears in my eyes as he opened the box, took out the ring and asked me if I would marry him.

Dinner to celebrate was at L’Arpege, a three-Michelin star restaurant that focuses on vegetables. It was the perfect place to celebrate being newly engaged! The food and service was just divine, with friendly people happy to explain every detail about the food, help us chose wine, and accommodate our every eating desire. The food was just exquisite – the best meal of both our lives, with amazing wine to match, chosen by the sommelier. Four hours passed in a flash, and we have never been to a restaurant so lovely before – and doubt we might for a long time again.

This was taken at the end of dinner by our very friendly waiter.

And so it was back to the hotel! The most amazing day every was coming to an end, but the most exciting things are still to follow – planning our wedding with our family and friends, and beginning our life together as a married couple. I can’t wait!

At the hotel after dinner – totally blissed out.

My new bling, close up.

Proudly displaying my bling – loving being a newly engaged girl!

France! Parisian Highlights

An amazing week in Paris. Too much to go into detail about, so here is a touch of my favourite city.

Saint Chapelle is my favourite church, possibly of any I’ve ever seen. It’s just so beautiful with all of the stained glass.

Arc de Triomphe – I drove around this in peak hour traffic. Scariest driving experience of my life.

Delicious tart from Laduree – snobby evil staff, tasty pastry.

Gargoyle at Notre Dame.

The Louvre – home of fabulous art. Love the sculptures in particular.

Notre Dame in the sun – beautiful church.

Our hotel was only a five minute walk from Notre Dame. Amazing location. Amazing city!

Dinner with friends – Shelley and Eric met us for the weekend. Paris with friends is even better!

Versailles bike ride – one of the best things we did in Paris.

Eiffel Tour at night – love it when it’s all lit up.

Tour de France – what an amazing vibe and day.

Napoleon’s tomb in Hotel les Invalide. Very impressive!

Sewers tour! Made Alec happy 🙂

Sacre Coeur – prettiest situated church ever, with a great view of Paris.

France: Normandy, The Highlights

We arrived in France after a terrible flight, exhausted, picked up our hire car and drove to Giverny. I picked up some kind of bug and was unfortunately too sick to leave the hotel, so we missed out on seeing Monet’s gardens.

Sick, but still smiling in Giverny.

We drove onwards to Rouen, and saw the tower where Joan of Arc was held, trialled, and the area nearby where she was burned at the stake.

Next stop was Bayeux so we could drive out to Mont Saint Michel. Sadly I was still sick at this point, so we took a day of rest for me in bed, then went on a tour to the Mont the next day. It was uber-touristy sadly, and over-run with people, but still a great place to visit.

Mid-way up the Mont.