Where to start?! Richard and I just got back from the most wonderful family vacation / babymoom / pastry eating extravaganza in France and I am still in a jet lag influenced haze of denial that it’s over.
It all came about because my amazing aunt and uncle rented a house in Provence and invited Richard and I to join on their family vacation. Well... no one really had to twist our arms much! Their daughters are like sisters to me and Richard and I jumped at the opportunity to return to France (we both studied abroad there in college) as a last European adventure before baby girl arrives.
I was initially a little nervous to travel such a long distance while pregnant; would I be able to ask "is the cheese pasteurized" in French (oui!), would the long flight be unbearable (not too bad! compression tights all the way!), could I keep up with everyone (mostly!)? Well, I am SO glad that we went for it and I feel really lucky to have had this experience before traveling becomes verrrrry different in a few months.
We spent the first part of our trip with my family just outside Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, which has to be one of the most charming little cities in the south of France. It's where Van Gogh spent his last days and where he painted Starry Night! You can literally walk through the olive groves and sunflower patches he made famous and my inner art history nerd loved every minute of it. The food there is also, of course, delicious and we had to try the pastries from every boulangerie we could find. I kid you not the first morning Richard lost count after 7 croissants. Oh to be 6'7" tall! So much room for deliciousness!
While staying in Saint Rémy we were able to take lots of day trips to some incredible nearby villages and towns. Driving through the countryside was seriously breathtaking and just as beautiful as you might imagine it to be. July is also peak lavender season, so being able to drive through the rolling purple fields surrounded by towering mountains on either side was pretty dreamy. Next time we'll have to go when the sunflower fields are all in bloom!
Our first drive was to L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue for their Sunday market. As we walked through the small cobblestone streets I was overwhelmed by the scent of lavender and savon de marseille from all the sweet little stalls. My cousins and I also hit the jackpot and found these really pretty linen dresses (I've never found clothing at a farmers market before but they had so much good stuff!) that I wore almost every day for the rest of the trip!
Other towns we visited included Gordes, Roussillon, Bonnieux, La Coste, Les Baux, Fontvielle, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, and Aix-en-Provence. One not-to-be-missed highlight: the Carrières de Lumières outside of Les Baux! Nestled in the mountains (the drive alone is worth it for the views) is an old quarry that is now used for art-based multimedia shows. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced. You enter a massive dark cave and they project still and moving images on the walls, floor, and ceiling all set to music. We were there for a Picasso and Spanish Old Masters show and it was literally like stepping IN to the paintings. Too cool. Start your morning there and then head up to the city of Les Baux, literally built atop a mountain, to explore the old castle and grab lunch at one of the charming restaurants overlooking the sprawling landscape below.
Another highlight was seeing Cezanne's Studio in Aix-en-Provence! It's a quick visit but so awesome to see where he worked, the still life supplies and brushes he used... even the painting smock he wore was hanging in the corner!
And guys... the baby clothes in France. They are too. cute. I'm already super hormonal and prone to tears at the drop of a hat but Richard couldn't stop laughing at me because every time I held a little onesie or stuffed animal I would start crying thinking about how much I can't wait to give it to the baby! Oy. I used as much self control as I could muster and only bought a few things ;) but they're the cutest things!
We split off from the fam for the last two nights for our official "baby moon" portion of the trip and drove down to Cassis. It's an adorable port town about an hour from Marseilles complete with the prettiest pastel buildings, charming old sailboats, beautiful beaches and ice cream shops on every corner. We took a boat tour of the Calanques national park (amazing glacial inlets surrounded by massive white cliffs), lounged and swam at the beach, and were lucky enough to be there for Bastille Day celebrations on our last night. The whole town turned off their lights for the firework display which was set to old French music and it was the most amazing way to end our trip. If you told me a year ago that this summer Richard and I would be watching fireworks on a beach in the south of France just three months away from the birth of our baby girl I wouldn't have believed you! Definitely shed some more tears that night as well :)
Anyway, sorry for the longest post ever! If you're still reading this, thank you for sticking with me!! And if you're thinking about planning a babymoon yourself, do it. Whether it's a trip abroad or a staycation in your hometown, being intentional about spending that quality time with your person is so magical and I will treasure the memories from this trip forever!