Throwback to Paris & the heart of France.
Is Throwback Thursday a thing in the blogosphere? Well, it is now. I took this trip a couple years back while on blog hiatus but after rediscovering the photos felt compelled to share.
This was the first "tour" vacation I went on, traveling with "Rick Steves' Europe" through Paris and the heart of France. I had been before but only once for a long, rather dreary weekend in Paris with an ex-boyfriend. This time I got a much better sense of both the city and country.
The itinerary appears to remain the same, starting with a few days in Paris. Our guide, Patrick, is a long-time employee of Rick Steves and brought his own touch to the tour. Patrick steered us clear of the usual tourist traps, saving us from what could have otherwise been a rather cliché trip. This is not to say we didn't see the highlights, but instead went at off-hours or during free time. This approach also allowed me to see other sites like the Montparnasse Cemetery and the graves of Serge Gainsbourg, Simone de Beauvoir and Man Ray.
After Paris, we drove to the middle of nowhere to see Guédelon, a 13th century medieval castle being built using the materials and techniques of the time period. Interesting in theory, I wouldn't go out of my way for this one. Luckily from there we went to Bourges, a small town that felt like it was right out of "Beauty and the Beast."
Next up, Chambord (and I don't mean the black raspberry liqueur). Though, if memory serves, we did stop on the way to sample some Loire Valley wines. We stayed in this area for a few nights, seeing many different chateaus along the way. On the way to our next stop, we took a detour to try and catch some of the Tour de France in action. Lo and behold, after waiting patiently for about 30 minutes, the front runners went rushing by in a flurry of activity. Jazzed from this adventure, we made it to the Mont St-Michel in time to cross and stay the night. This gave us the opportunity to see the Mont once the crowds subsided. Much more enticing than the initial summer on the boardwalk vibe I got.
As the trip wound down, we spent time in Bayeux, perhaps my favorite stop along the tour. Here, we stayed at a hotel that reminded me of Madeline and saw the famous Bayeux Tapestry. The following day we toured the beaches of Normandy and saw sites commemorated in movies like "Band of Brothers." Our final adventure took us to Monet's Gardens at Giverny, arriving back in Paris hours before the start of the Euro Cup semi-final against Germany. An exciting end to say the least.