Eat Well-Travel Often: France & Spain

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When I was a little girl, I always dreamed of traveling. Growing up in a small town in Texas, I always wondered what life was like in other parts of the world. Unfortunately, the only traveling I did was through the books I read. When I was in high school, I took both French & German classes. That only intensified my desire to travel even more. I fell in love with the French language and culture. I found German to be a bit harder to learn, in fact I think I forgot most of the little I learned back in high school. However, I loved learning about the country nonetheless. I have yet to visit Germany, but it’s on my bucket list 🙂

I started 2013 off counting down the days until our family trip to France. The purpose of the trip was a family reunion in Le Mans in May. We spent two weeks in France, which gave us time to explore prior to and after the reunion. We decided to drive through Normandy & Brittany (Rouen, St. Malo, Mont St. Michel), down to Bordeaux, into Spain (San Sebastian & Pamploma), back up through Angoulême & Orléans and into Paris.

If you ever have the opportunity, please do see more than just lovely Paris. As majestic and wonderful as Paris is, there is just so much more to France. Take Le Mont St. Michel for example, it’s a gorgeous island on the north coast of France. Another must-see place would also have to be Saint Malo. You will want to stay within the old city walls, as we did at the Ibis Hotel. We ate at one of the restaurants just down the street from the hotel, great food & wine. Make sure to walk around the old city walls, check out the local farmers market, and of course spend some time at the beach.

The D-Day beaches and the WWII cemetery & memorial is another stop you will want to make while in France. An area with so much history. We have all read about D-Day, so why not see for yourself where it all took place.

If you love wine, then make your way to Bordeaux. The old city has wine bar after wine bar… after cozy wine bar. Which had we not had our two little ones with us, we would have surely taken advantage of. And I was wonderfully surprised with salsa dancing right there on the square. It looked like people were having tons of fun bailando salsa!

If you love architecture, then Rouen is the place for you. The city has plenty of monuments and Gothic churches for you to explore. Rouen is after all the city of a thousand steeples. We actually got a little lost because we forgot which of the churches was the one we were staying near. This is also the city where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake in 1431. Don’t worry, I think you’ll be safe. Make sure to pick up some of the delicious caramels, which the region is known for.

The family reunion took place in Le Mans. The actual city of Le Mans, I found to be quite diverse and modern. But do stop by the old city of Le Mans, where it looks like you have stepped back in time. It didn’t feel as touristy as other city-centres sometimes do. On our first day there, we had dinner with family on the outskirts of Le Mans. I actually don’t remember the name of the town, but as we drove to the cousins’ home, we went through several cute sleepy-French towns. If you take a look at my pictures, you can see how lovely the French countryside truly is. Everything just has a beauty to it, even something as boring as yogurt. If our yogurt came in these pretty glass jars, then more people would choose it rather than an unhealthy bag of chips.

España, la madre patria. 2013 was the first year I was able to visit her. We went to San Sebastian & Pamplona. No running with the bulls, but lots of sangria and yummy pintxos (tapas). Okay, maybe not that many. San Sebastian was gorgeous and we actually stayed at the hotel on the mountain (Mercure San Sebastian), which has a breathtaking view of the La Concha beach. {I loved loved the food!!}

I have already told you about my trip to NYC in August to celebrate my 30th birthday. So how did I wrap up 2013? With a road trip of course! We drove from Dallas to Saint Augustine in Florida. Did you know it’s the oldest city in our nation? The historic area reminded me a little of Europe. It had tiny shops & cafes, and a plaza of course. The beach was gorgeous of course.

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My wish for everyone is more travel. I’ve always thought that if people traveled more (through books, planes, cars or even on foot to a neighbors home), there would be more understanding of cultures, religions, customs, ideas….more accepting of others overall.

What’s on your travel bucket list for this year? I want to go to so many places! I want to back to Colorado (Estes Park), Prince Edward Island (umm yes to see where Anne & Gilbert fell in love), Hawaii (to truly relax), and I really think a trip to Paris every year does the good!

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