Avignon and Geneva

We stayed in a lovely 15th century Airbnb in Avignon that had been completely renovated and modernized , whilst keeping the medieval beams and old charm. It was a short walk to the Palais des Papes and everything we wanted to see.

Although the staircase to the bedroom had charm…it was a bit intimidating!

Avignon was charming. The old city walls, Roman ruins, medieval alleyways…we loved it.

We then traveled by train to Geneva, Switzerland. We had one day to explore before our flight home and we tried to fit in as much as we could. We strolled through the old town, did a boat tour on Lac Lemon, and did lots and lots of walking. Geneva is lovely.

That large chateau is (one of) the Rothschild estate(s)


We took a train from Strasbourg to Dijon (about 3 hours, with stops).

Dijon is beautiful. Our Airbnb (which was fabulous, by the way…an apartment connected to a hotel) was right around the corner from the Palais des Ducs – the home of the Dukes of Burgundy (very rich and very powerful).

Nice digs for the dukes, right?

We loved walking around on the old cobblestone streets, exploring, shopping (Dijon!), visiting museums, and eating (we had to try beef bourguignon in Burgandy!)

We also did a wine tour and drove through some of the villages near Dijon and past lots and lots of vineyards.

This vineyard is enclosed (le clos) by a wall dating back to the 14th century

The Côte de Nuits is a French wine region located in the northern part of the Côte d’Or, the limestone ridge that is at the heart of the Burgundy wine region. It extends from Dijon to just south of Nuits-Saint-Georges, which gives its name to the district and is the regional center.
Clos de Vougeot, also known as Clos Vougeot, is a wall-enclosed vineyard, a clos, in the Burgundy wine region, and an Appellation d’origine contrôlée for red wine from this vineyard.

The Clos de Vougeot vineyard was created by Cistercian monks. The land making up the vineyard was purchased by the Cistercians, or donated to them, from the 12th century to the early 14th century. The initial vineyard consisted of donations in 1109 to 1115. The vineyard was complete, and a wall had been built around it, by the year 1336. It served as the flagship vineyard of the Cistercians, and has been a highly recognised name for centuries.

The wine presses were designed by the monks and date back to the 15th century

We then drove to a more modern winemaking facility where we learned about the modern process (not much different than the ancient methods) and got to taste a few local wines 🍷…

Many of the Côte de Nuits vineyards have crosses…this dates back to when the monks controlled the vineyards
We also saw several cemeteries right smack in the middle of vineyards, which struck us as rather odd, but is apparently just the way it’s done here!

Our final day in Dijon was spent wandering and soaking up the cool Dijon vibes.

Frankfurt & Strasbourg

We flew into Frankfurt for a myriad of reasons, most specifically because we (finally) got on (the last 2 seats!) the late flight out of Jacksonville and so the late Frankfurt flight was the only connection we could make. Also, there were seats available on the Frankfurt flight.

We packed a lot into our one day in Frankfurt; we strolled through Ramsburg Square, took a sightseeing boat trip, and visited the Städel Museum (which was wonderful!) It’s a smaller museum with some works by Rembrandt, Botticelli, Rubens…and you can walk right up to them and inspect the brushstrokes and details. Just don’t, for example, try to point something out to your husband and point at a painting and let your hand get within 6 inches of it. You might set off an alarm and be very embarrassed. Hypothetically, of course.

Eating frankfurters in Frankfurt, as one does.

We spent one day in Frankfurt and then got on a train to Strasbourg, France. (Hallelujah for the ease, efficiency, and affordability of train travel in Europe!)

We loved Strasbourg…it was like a fairytale village. Sadly, it was rainy and gloomy most of our time there, but that didn’t dim the quaint, medieval vibes of the magical place.

This Way to Annecy 

The other place Paige and I wanted to visit was Annecy. Because Annecy is only 35 kilometers south of Geneva, I had hoped we could just hop on a train to do a day trip, but alas, there are no trains to Annecy. Instead, we took a bus. Which, despite stopping in every single teeny tiny village and despite taking an hour and a half to travel 25 miles or so…was actually sort of fun. It was a comfortable bus, and we got to people watch, and catch glimpses of everyday villages and towns and see cows and countryside and mountains. As Paige said, “It didn’t suck.”  

Gruyère and Ementhaler on the hoof (So to speak) 

When we arrived in Annecy, we walked to The Vieille Ville (old town) and found a market going on. It was packed! I was so jealous that I couldn’t shop and bring all that gorgeousness home with me!

Annecy is nicknamed the Venice of the Alps because of the many canals and bridges. 

The water in Annecy (from Lake Annecy) is an almost uncanny, otherworldly turquoise color…but crystal clear. It is known as Europe’s cleanest lake. It’s amazing. (Fun fact: Paul Cezanne painted several watercolors of Lake Annecy.) 

Annecy is vibrant and fun, filled with history, but with a youthful (and touristy) vibe. We loved our day there and only wish we’d had more time to explore! 

Eau Potable

One of our favorite things about Geneva (and Annecy and Yvoire) was the plethora of water fountains, most quite ornate and often surrounded with delightful flowers, and usually with a placard stating “potable water.”  We took frequent advantage of those fountains, using them to refill our water bottles at every opportunity! The water was delicious – clear, cold, and tasty. This is definitely one thing we will miss!


One of the things Paige and I really wanted to do was visit Yvoire, a medieval village on the shores of Lac Léman. On Monday morning, we got up and bought tickets on the CGN ferry from Geneva to Yvoire. It was a relaxing boat ride, a gorgeous day with clear blue skies and spectacular views. 

On the way out of Geneva we had beautiful views of Château de Pregny aka Castle Rothschild and also of the Palais de Nations. 

Up close and personal with Jet d’eau! 

The views….and then coming into Yvoire! 

So, Yvoire. It’s old. Medieval. Those of you who know me know that I kinda get a little giddy over old stuff. Like, the older the better. Cobblestone streets? Old stone walls with moss? Old churches? It’s nirvana to me. So Yvoire was basically heaven. It wasn’t quite tourist season, so a lot of the little shops weren’t open yet. But that was okay because…it wasn’t quite tourist season and so hardly anyone was there! It was quiet. A few people were walking around. You could hear birds chirping. Cats were strolling around nonchalantly and sunning themselves. It was peaceful. 

Paige and I happily wandered, and explored. We shopped, and ate lunch. We loved the charming village of Yvoire. But…we still had the return boat ride to look forward to, and even more spectacular, breathtaking views…

Knights in (sort of) Shining Armour 

Thursday we woke up early and met Louise at the entrance to the catacombs…we thought we’d try again to do the ghoulish tour and hopefully beat the crowds by going early. But, no. Again, when we arrived we found a ridiculously long queue around the block. What gives with that? Is every single tourist in Paris  right now really as weird and creepy as we are?

Anyway, we aren’t doing queues. Nope. So we uber-ed (yoo-bayrd) to Le Marais where we walked, and peeked in shops (cute, but yikes! Even with July sales going on it was crazy expensive), and stopped for tea, and walked (A LOT) more. Louise’s boyfriend, Vivien, joined us for lunch and then they took us on a tour of St. Eustache and pointed out other interesting sights along the way. 

St. Eustache was beautiful. Really, really beautiful. Quite honestly, I thought it was more beautiful than Sacre Couer. And Notre Dame is lovely, true, in an old, gothic way…but so dark. It’s hard to see. Trust me, if you’re in Paris, avoid the lines and go to Le Marais/Les Halles and walk through this magnificent old church. The pipe organ is the largest in France and Mozart’s mother’s funeral was held here. (Also Molière was married here, among other notables)

Today was our last full day together before Paige checks into her dorm and I head home. We decided to spend it in Provins and it was a perfect day. 

Once we arrived in Provins, we walked through town and up, up, up the hill to the “old” town, where we wandered and admired…

And then, after fully admiring the age and quaint beauty of Provins, we settled down to watch La Légendes des Cheveliers. It was dramatic. It was well choreographed. It was fun and exciting. The feats of horsemanship were amazing. The several hundred French schoolchildren who were there on school trips seemed to enjoy the show as much as we did! 

Semaine Chargée 

This past week has flown by. Paige and I have been trying to make sure she has everything she’ll need for her month in Paris (adapters? Check. A travel towel? Check. Deodorant? Check.) and trying to figure out how to fit everything in two carry on bags. I’ve been emailing back and forth with former French exchange students and making plans to see them and emailing our future Italian exchange student who will be arriving in August and getting to know her a bit. 

I worked on a couple of painting projects. I’m not sure why…because my timing was atrocious. It’s been terribly hot and humid – not ideal conditions for sitting on our porch painting. Still, I’m happy with how everything turned out. 

This is the “before” picture of an old desk I bought at an auction years ago. I painted it in Annie Sloan “old white” chalk paint and I love how it turned out!

While Paige and I were gathering clothes together for Paris, we realized she needed a couple of things…so we had a shopping day. 

And we both had a hair day…

And then I realized that I needed gifts for our French friends…so we headed to St. George Street one afternoon. 

Some of our favorite people stopped off for a quick visit on their way to Orlando and we had so much fun visiting with them!

And Clay has been busy too. He’s been hanging out with a new…friend, and did some water sampling the other day for International Ocean Sampling Day. He was even In the paper!

In a couple of days, Paige and I will be heading out on our way to the City of Light. 

A bientôt!