FUN IN FRANCE
Last week I found myself lucky enough to experience the north region of France. I ended up avoiding Paris altogether, only driving through it a few times. And from what I saw, it didn’t seem how it had always been depicted in movies or on TV. I definitely want to go back and give it another chance though! I didn’t even see the center of it where all the major touristy sights are. Eiffel tower is on my list!
However, where we were in Champagne was just beautiful. The French countryside is as picturesque as you’d hope. And despite stereotypes, the French people were SO nice and kind. It wasn’t even just the country people, it was the people we met in all the cities/towns we visited as well. They seemed to like to practice their english, which was awesome because I know very little French.
The villa my good friend had rented for the week was situated in a very rural setting.. Vineyard country. The hills and fields were beautiful. The house was technically an 1800s farmhouse that was transitioned into a rental so there’s plenty of ceiling beams and exposed wall details. It was one of only a few rentals in the area – Le Breiul, a little village in Champagne. The lack of tourists made the experience all the more tranquil. I spent a good bit of time just soaking up the sun and reading outside. It was around 30 C the first few days! Even though it’s not THAT far from Ireland, the weather is totally different (despite it raining a few times on my last two days there!). I did get a little sunburn..which quickly faded. My skin was probably happy to see the sun again, haha.
I had my own room with beautiful lighting. I didn’t spend much time in it honestly, except the time I spent sleeping like a rock. It was lovely though, I really liked it.
What I didn’t like was the spiders the size of tennis balls with the speed of Olympic runners. Terrifying. They showed themselves at night so we were all careful to watch out for them. The wasps were huge also! I’m not delving into negative things about the trip, there weren’t many at all! But if you hate bugs like me seriously watch out.
FOOD & DRINK
Veg/Fruit – Everything was ridiculously fresh. I could eat the lettuce pretty much as is. Tomatoes as well and I’m not even a big tomato fan! The grapes from our yard were also lovely. I made our salads with the lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and just squeezed lemon on top with a dash of grapeseed oil and pepper. It was simple and tasted fab.
Cheese – Not only did I eat some killer cheeses, I got to visit the village of Brie. A charming little town that is the home of famous and amazingly gorgeous Brie cheese. It was adorable and I’m an even bigger fan of the cheese now. Like a lot of the villages in the Champagne area, Brie is fairly small and has a quaint vibe. I’d say Brie ended up being my favorite cheese of the trip!
Bread – We would run up to the local boulangerie for fresh bread and croissants nearly daily. Also heavenly. Croissants have never tasted better. They’re especially good with a bit of Nutella on top. Add Brie, lettuce and tomato onto a piece of French bread with a sprinkle of salt. Basically my lunch the entire vacation. I feel like a wheel of cheese. In need of a detox from it.
Wine/Champagne – Cheap and delish. A bottle that cost a fiver would taste like one that cost closer to twenty. I was impressed but after all it is one of the French’s areas of expertise.
As a gal pal of mine told me the other day, champagne is only authentic if it actually comes from the Champagne region of France. Otherwise it should be labeled a sparkling wine. The villa we stayed in was surrounded by beautiful vineyards…People pick the grapes from the vines once a year! I wish I could see how it was done.
My friend loves gothic cathedrals. We purposely planned our day trip towns around this for her birthday. One day we did an eighteen hour road trip of the cathedrals – kid you not! I was wrecked after and don’t want to see another one for at least a month. I see why she adores them, they’re absolutely stunning. The details are so elaborate for their time, most of them having been built as early as 1100 or 1200. We went (in no specific order, because I can’t remember it) to Le Breuil, Château-Thierry, Dormans, Reims, Chartes, Reoun and Amiens. Not all of those towns had cathedrals we visited but majority did. While I enjoyed just about everywhere, Reoun was my absolute favorite. It was by far the nicest city in my eyes.
Farewell, France! I shall be back. I have a new love of traveling and appreciation for France and their culture but there’s nothing like coming back to Ireland. I was only gone five days and it was such a relief when the plane landed in Belfast. Since then I’ve moved back to uni. I finally have a place of my own, woohoo! I’ll have to do a post on how I decorate it.
Catch more updates and pictures of my trip on my Instagram: @redheadamerican