Wanderlust: France

As part of our European adventures this past summer, Nate and I spent a week traveling throughout France. Considering that we spent a whole week there, this should really be multiple posts but I have to live my life so get a glass of wine, or better yet bubbly, and get cozy while you read. This will be a long one. We flew in to Paris first and spent a few days there exploring the city and hitting up touristy spots: Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Pantheon, Luxembourg Gardens, Arc de TriompheNotre Dame, and Versailles. Like everyone says, Paris is a magical city and exploring it's little streets and cafes was so fun. But I will be honest and say that Paris in the middle of July is both crazy hot and crazy crowded. As in, all the tourists. That made a few of our experiences less than we desired (like the 2+ hour wait in the blazing sun to get into the palace of Versailles along with 2839732 other people!) or had imagined (like the 89742 people taking selfies with the tiny Mona Lisa at the Louvre). But, you can't beat the fresh bread and croissants and gardens and history and old world feel so obviously worth it! My dad lived in Paris for a while back in the 70's so we even hunted down his old street and apartment to see his old neighborhood!

Paris is always a good idea. —Audrey Hepburn

I'm probably in the minority, but the Eiffel Tower just didn't make my heart sing. All the other sites we went to were beautiful and had so much story and for some reason I just don't connect to the Eiffel Tower. Gasp! I did love waking up early and making a picnic on the Eiffel lawn though! That's a must do! The entire area and grounds surrounding the Louvre are so fun to explore, but be prepared to be disappointed in the Mona Lisa. First off, there will be so many people around it (not that you can get right up to it) and they will all be taking selfies and it kind of ruins the mood. Secondly, it's so tiny! I don't know, in my mind it was larger. And again, some people are probably going to unfollow me or stop reading after I type this, but there were so many other astounding works of art, even paintings the size of a wall and relics from all the early civilizations. But that's part of the fun of a museum right? Everyone connects to something different! 

Despite all the people and heat, Versailles is a sight to behold. It's a short metro ride from Paris (about 45 minutes) and it's breathtaking. There's so much history and opulence and beauty and it's just so big! Huge! It's a must do. The Luxembourg Gardens were obviously one of my favorite spots in Paris. Tree lined paths! Statues! Parisian buildings! Snacks! And of course pigeons! It also seemed to be a place where real Parisians frequent, as it is used by the French senate. The spot that surprised me the most though was the Pantheon. It seems like the most underrated spot for tourists! Someone suggested it to me on Instagram so we checked it out, without really knowing much about it. It's the tombs! (Okay, maybe everyone else knows this and it was just us!) The inside of the building has the most beautiful high domes and statues and then in the basement are the tombs. The actual tombs of famous, important dead Parisians from Voltaire to Victor Hugo to Marie Curie and you can totally explore them and read about them and it was so cool.

From Paris we flew to Nice and spent a few days beachside (with Nate under an umbrella, don't worry!) before renting a car and driving to Provence, also known as lavender country. We rounded out our trip out with a day in Monaco after, but who are we kidding? We are not fancy yacht people! Provence was by far my most favorite part of France (aside from Paris) and I wish we had spent a whole week exploring there. Provence is adorable and lovely and perfect and I just wanted to live in the lavender fields and tiny French towns forever. I insisted that we visit a lavender distillery and despite it being in the middle of nowhere and it seeming like we may never find it (the signs for it are sooo TINY and the GPS kind of gives up) it was one of the best things we did. Les Agnels Distillery is a working distillery and we got to see how they collect the lavender and smush it down and compress it and squeeze all the magic out. And you can frolic in the lavender fields! In actual fields! (See one not totally blurry picture of me frolicking below).

Ah, France! Mon petit amour!

Interested to see more of our European summer trip? Click below!

Kendra Engel

K. Engel Photography, 527 Plain Street, Stoughton, MA, 02072