Ladies’ Trip to Paris

This November, Lauren and I did our first solo-ladies trip together! We decided to go to Paris because neither of our husbands are super keen on Paris. We (I) had an amazing time.

At Point Zero – the point from which all distances in France are measured. Center of Paris 2300 years ago.

There were days we walked more than 30 kilometers, and I think we did a great job of seeing all the major touristy parts. We did Versailles, the Louvre, the Tour Eiffel, Invalides, all the fancy ponts, we went to Shakespeare & Co., Notre Dame, The Bon Marché, Petit and Grand Palaises, Jardins of Luxembourg and Tuileries, and we spent a bunch of time just wandering around stumbling on cool things.

Hall of Mirrors in Verailles

We managed to make it to Versailles while it was open! (Last time I went with Julien, we got there at like 15h and they were like “ah mais non.”) You really do need all-day to see it. It was just OK for me? Like a lot of gold rooms I guess but too samey-same for me.

The Gardens were once again under construction, and part of me hopes I never get to see it in the high season. As far as I know the gardens of Versailles is just a bunch of weird tarps. We did get some fog which made everything look super creepy, and met a Raven who stayed long enough for me to get a (sharp!) photograph of him.

The Louvre was super fantastic. I’m not a big museum person, but it is room after room of incredible things housed in a palace, so even if you’re not a museum person there’s stuff for you.

Louvre pyramid at night! Lauren was super patient while I long-exposured this.

FOR EXAMPLE. In the (19th) century, a bunch of feet were ACCIDENTALLY replaced by dogs during the restoration of these tomb things. This happened more than once:

Then when you’re done with the dogfoot statues, there’s a few cool paintings and stuff.

Long hair, don’t care, she handle the business and don’t ever tell

We took a break midway on Louvre day to get outside and get lunch, walk over to the Invalides, see some town, do some shopping. In the Tuileries, there were goats!

These goats were literally stolen the day we met them.

All in all we (I) had a fantastic time! I really hope Lauren is up for more ladytrips because she is a wonderful travelling companion. Never a complaint, always up to Go! Go! Go! and full of research. We ate, made merry, and saw so much.

End of the week, Lauren finally saw the Tour Eiffel, and was so Parisian she didn’t care.

SNOWSTORM 2019

We did it, we brought a snowstorm.

We dug the mini out of the alley, twice. Made it, though!

We had been complaining about the middling winter this year – not very snowy, not good enough for winter activities. We complained about it and we got what we deserve for it.

Sorry about that.

We ventured out in the snow to drop my sewing machines off for repair. I have a tonne of projects planned once I get them back! It was terribly stupid to go out though, it was full-on blizzarding.

Road Trip – Coast of Spain

We did an amazing road trip down the coast of Spain this summer. Starting in Barcelona, where we dropped friends off for their flight to Sweden, then down to Javea & Alicante. Four days. Amazing time!

Peniscola at night.

We started in Peniscola, about a three hour’s drive from our starting point. It was so crowded and touristy! I was really surprised. Though it was the end of June, so the height of vacation period, I suppose!

The second morning I woke up just before dawn, and decided I may as well wake Julien for sunrise. We walked through the old town streets, no one else around – that was something else!

Penis-Verd was a must-see.

Obviously, we had to stop around Peniscola for all the penis-themed signs. Of which there were many.

The roads in Spain are twisty.

It turns out I get super carsick. The roads in Spain are twisty and my tummy was not built for it. It was also in the mid-40s C, and our AC was fritzy at best.

Julien pulled over for me to vom on the side of the road often, and luckily got many photographs of it. 😐

😀 in Valencia

Valencia’s City of Arts & Sciences is incredible. It comes from the future, like an episode of TNG (or, you know, Doctor Who!). It’s super beautiful and we spent hours wandering around. Julien took a wee nap on a bench while I explored by myself a bit. Which was scary for me, not speaking Spanish, but not bad.

The food! My goodness the food. I had my first Paella in Alicante, on St Jean Baptiste day, which they also celebrate with the most amazing floats and bonfires, and food tents! The food offerings stretched on forever and we managed to partake. It was amazing, I love streetfood. We also got Sangrias the size of our noggins.

The second Paella was in Denia, who claim to be the inventors of Paella. I bet loads of places make that claim, but it was a darn fine Paella.

We spent one night in an actual castle in Tortosa! The Paradores are these hotels that are in converted historic buildings. This one was a tenth century castle, Castillo de La Zuda. We book everything in the car as we drive up to it, and because it was super last minute, we got it at like 60% off. Tortosa doesn’t seem to be a big Tourism place, so we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. We dined on the terrace and didn’t explore the city at all. Have to go back, I guess!

Tarragona

Our last stop was Tarragona, where we hoped to see the human towers, but missed them by one day! Julien was moderately disappointed, but since we saw so much, I don’t feel too badly about it. I know we’ll be back, and I suppose we’ll time it better next time around.

This was definitely a top-trip for me. We often spend a lot of our holidays driving, but this one we had planned so many stops that it didn’t feel like a long car ride at all, even though it was about 1600 km.

Winter Hikes

I find that I kindof like outdoorsy things these days. I used to be not one for such – I was an indoor person: I read, I shop, I’m cozy. As time goes on, though, I look forward to walks in the woods, forest bathing, and, in the winter, a bit of the ol’ snowshoeing. 

It was -30C when these were taken! We were brave and intrepid Canadians, though, and traipsed around the mountain like it was a piece of frozen cake. 

Worth it for the views.

This year, winter is going by so quickly! I have a hard time believing it’s already mid-January. Pretty soon everything will be melting and we’ll already be late in planting the garden. 

My mom got me this winter coat and it is super warm. It’s my third year with it, and I am really happy with it. Even on the coldest of days, it keeps me cozy. Add three or four scarves and a hat or two and you don’t even realize how cold it is. (You do.)

Friends Trip!

We’re the luckiest people in the world, so we had the opportunity to offer our great friends Aaron and Leah a place to stay rent-free on holiday to the South of France.

It was Leah’s gift to Aaron for his 40th birthday. Can you believe he’s 40? It doesn’t show. He’s a vampire or something. I think they had a good time. We’ll know more if they ever agree to travel with us again.

We stayed in this amazing bastide in Provence for a few days, because I deeply wanted to see the lavender in bloom in July! It was just as amazing as you imagine. It’s FULL of bees, the fields buzz all the time. You smell it when you roll down the windows of the car! Heavenly. Provence is heavenly.

Julien enjoying the Bastide’s pool.

We spent a lot of time just relaxing, which is super unusual for us on holiday! Normally, we go-go-go and this time since we were with people we had to let them chill out a bit, so we spent a day on the beach in Cadaques, and lounging by the pool in Banon. It was difficult to let go, feel like there is nothing else we need to be doing or seeing, but not that difficult. I often find it hard to slow down and relax, though. It was nice to be forced to do some of that.

One day, we drove around the vineyards locally and picked up a few cases of wine here and there. Did tastings in the caveaus, met the vineyard dogs. It was probably my favourite day of the trip. At Domaine Villepeyroux, they took the time not only to show us around the caveau and deguste right from the stills, but also recommended three other local vineyards who are making interesting wines. I really appreciated it. They sent us to Domaine Sibille, where we found the most amazing Chardonnay, and Pierre Cros, where their Veille Vignes spoke to me. Super wonderful day.

Finally, we did get a road trip in, to see Tommy Cash perform in Clermont-Ferrand. On the way, we stopped at VOLVIC – where they make the best water. There was a little musée of water and you can fill up from non-source water at their old fountain. Man, I miss Volvic water. It sounds silly but the mouthfeel is really different from our water here. Seriously! Try it. You’ll see.

Tommy Cash was a pretty great show, highly recommended if you’re into that kind of thing.

Family Trip – May 2018

This May, as soon as flights on Toulouse started, we headed to France to spend time with Julien’s grandma. At 98, we’re spending as much time with her as possible! She’s a truly amazing lady.

She lives in the south of France, which means we get to explore the most amazing places nearby. This time, we stayed quite close to home, venturing only as far as Perpignan (~ 1.5 hrs from home base). While there, we checked out the Palace of the Kings of Majorca! It was super cool.

Julien & I at the Palais des Rois de Majorque in Perpignan.

One afternoon, we headed out to Albi, got caught in the rain, and took refuge at the Musée de la Mode – a private collection which was quite a sight. So many beautiful dresses! 

We happened upon a town fair celebrating its 761st year, in Tarascon. They put on quite a show, with costumes from their sister cities, a marching band, and a King and Queen of the Foire. We watched the whole thing, and then stuck around for some reunnionais food, and churros.

Foire de Tarascon

Mostly, we kicked around at home, spent time with Mamie, and disconnected a bit from life at home. It was a good holiday. 

Hello Kitty Vans, road thyme, road fennel.

Valentine’s Day in the Hobbit House

Seems we’re often escaping the busy day-to-day! Ages ago, we had seen this amazing eco-cabin in the Eastern Townships, Le Hobbit.

It’s always booked up super far in advance, but Julien noticed a Sunday night that was open, so we jumped at the opportunity! 

Just one night is not enough in this super zen little spot, I tell you what. We spent the night playing cards, sitting by the fire, and, of course, taking photos 🙂 

They offer fresh eggs from their chickens, a selection of board games, everything you need for a super cozy stay. I wish we had had more time to enjoy. We’ll definitely return.

Downside: scraping the car upon leaving. 

Holiday in France

It turns out that I have this super amazing life which allows me to spend a week visiting Julien’s family, in France. This time, we decided to drive from coast to coast in one single day, because we are silly. So from Gruissan to Biarritz! 

 

Biarritz in spring is absolutely lovely, full of hydrangea and the beach is largely deserted except for brave surfers and people walking their dogs. One pupper decided our cheese looked like the BEST thing, and so made a beeline for it and got it all in his face. He didn’t grab the saucisson, so we were cool. We were cool anyway, he was a great dog. 

The atlantic from the other side! It’s quite a sight, I highly recommend it. 

Same trip, we also did a jaunt through the Pyrenees, which is positively littered with roadcows and roadhorsies. We stopped in this meadow and had a picnic. Their bells were absolutely wonderful, it was like being in a movie.

Shadow Selfie in Aigues Mortes. Aigues Mortes was fine. Quite touristy for my taste, but there is real history there. We got some wonderful flavours of ice cream and took a walk around the perimeter, and then headed off to do a tour of the salt .. fields? flats? Of the Baleine: 

 

This was SUPER fascinating and I would recommend that everyone go. There’s a salt museum and a petit train that takes you around all the collection areas and the water is SUPER pink and it’s magical. Magical. 

 

The roof of the salt museum. These colours have not been edited. 

Aigues Mortes from the petit train. Again, real colours. Can you imagine? It is amazing. These bodies of water are also full of FLAMINGOES!! REAL FLAMINGOES! Ah! Some Flamingo facts: 

 – their colour comes from the tiny creatures they eat! (same with the water) 

 – they can drink boiling water

 – their feeties can be frozen overnight when they stand and then unfrozen, and they are totally unharmed by this.

I learned a lot about flamingoes from Every Little Thing. Great podcast, great topic. 

Road vineyards on the way to the Chateaux Lastours, which is a hike, I don’t mind telling you! We made it up and down in about 3 – 4 hours and on our way back down when we made it back to the entrance, I declared “WE MADE IT!” and a lovely German couple was like “It’s that bad? Is it worth it?” It’s totally worth it. It’s totally that bad.

From across the gorge, the Chateaux at sunset.

We tried to go to the Grotte de Limousis, but it being France on a Tuesday, it was closed. Everything in France is closed all the time. Instead we went for a drive around, and ended up in this gorgeous meadow. The jauniers were in full bloom and it was incredible.

I have a photo of this same non-house from our trip in October. It looks super different, but the same. 

The canal du midi, and a boat off in the distance (a Le Boat boat). We watched them go through the locks, it was dope. 

So instead of the Grotte de Limousis we went to the Gouffre Geant of Cabrespine, which is a giant gouffre. I think they’re missing an opportunity there to sell giant waffles from a food truck (Les Gaufres Geants de Cabrespine, patent pending). 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the Gouffre. We had a superb guide both at this one and at Limousis, which we finally made it to in October. 

Julien appreciates art. 

This is the Abbaye de Fontfroide, and I am certain the Scarlet Monastery or whatever it’s called in WoW is modeled after it. I literally knew there was going to be a room behind this one before going in due to that map. 

This is where in the Scarlet Monastery the ghosts are. There’s a pat that runs around the perimeter. I didn’t find them, in this RL version, weirdly. 


 

Who?

 

 

Adventures in Spain

We got to do quite a bit of travelling this year. One of my favourite little jaunts was through Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, in northern Spain.

Cows.

All along the trail, there were baby cows (and non-baby cows, but these are pretty baby). It was a good two hours hike along the trail, some of it quite steep, and I had a pretty rough time of it, but looking back on the photos all of that bad stuff is gone and it’s just like “hey we should do this again, so amazing!”

There were ants in the tree. He poked near them. This is him reacting.

 

Along the way we met a tree full of ants. The shady spots of the trail were SUPER welcome, it was really warm. Luckily, much of the trail was covered. 

 

 

 

Regilait is hiking necessary.

We got to our destination, a clearing with a lake and a mountain and it was juuust stunning, so we had a wee picnic and took a walk around the area. Little break from the climb up was so welcome, too! One of the things I love about Europe is how picnic friendly it is! Just about everywhere you can sidle up and have a break, spread out your blankie and just nap in the sunshine. 

 

Meeting cows.

They’re not super sure about humans, which made me happy because it means tourists aren’t constantly hand-feeding them.  This is the closest we got, and he ran off to be with the rest of his pals pretty quickly. 

Our final destination!

Mountain from our rest spot was super majestic. Aiguestortes – well worth the trip! We sat down and had a mini picnic (regilait, saucisson, you know – the essentials), took a little nap, took a walk around the man-made lake, and just took it in. 

 

River near the beginning of the trail

In my photo class I learned a bit about long exposure! This was before then, so I am hopeful I can make nicer / more stable shots in the future. This was hand-held over a railing, so you can definitely see a little shake. Nonetheless, it is lovely and I am moderately proud of it.

En route to Spain, wild horses.

 

Taken from the car – wild horsies! 

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