France, Part I

Bonjour mon amis...

I'm back!!

I have LOTS of pictures to share. And had plenty of time on the plane ride to come up with a post. Whenever journaling, writing or blogging it's best to get it all out before you a) forget the memories and b) find that you don't have time in a week. It's now or never.  So put your reading glasses on folks… and grab a BIG cup of coffee. 

Ahhh…. France. !!

Where. do I. begin  ?

The trip was unbelievable. My family likes to travel a little "off the beaten path" which means there are surprises around every corner. And a very well-rounded itinerary (with some help from Bronwnell Travel).

It started by flying into Barcelona and cramming into a little rental car: 5 humans+ 5 bags +5 carry ons+jetlag= a traveling circus.

This isn't the car but it felt that small so let's just pretend.

(also please note the fact that Hoyt and Cooper are playing with a bunny in the background. He followed them around like a puppy dog. We like to think he has a heavy French accent and goes by the name of Behr'nard De'pardieu

I DIGRESS.

We were unable to spend time in Barcelona- (that's for another trip!) We immediately drove up the beautiful coast of France. Pit stop: Coulier, one of the towns that sits on the Mediterranean, looked like the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat and some fresh air.

Then on to Carcasonne, the walled city- founded in the Golden Age:

What's the Golden Age you might ask?? NO frickin clue. ;)It's just old.  

I won't bore you with a history lesson but it really was fascinating.. I felt a little like Harry Potter. But that could've been the jet lag….

We went to the local market, explored the city, and ate amazing food. (story of the trip)

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Inside the walled city was this gorgeous chapel. The architecture!!! 

This group of men stood up and started singing. They sounded like angels.

Everyone silenty sat down and watched in awe...

Beautiful hotel within the walls...

Before dinner that night we walked down to see what was on the other side of the castle. 

(If only we had capes on in this picture…)

And Cooper felt like the third wheel only a few times-

My favorite picture-  it just makes me laugh. Gotcha Pops.

After a nice few days stormin' the castle' we crammed back in our car and played word games, practiced our French, and did sing a longs.

 I'm kidding. 

Think: Griswold family.  Dad trying to translate the French road signs (on volume level 10) accompanied with a familiar British woman's voice saying "recalculating" on repeat, getting stuck at toll booths with a line of angry Europeans honking behind us, siblings in the back flicking and picking on each other, complaining about someone leaving "stinky cheese from the market" in the hot car, telling Dad to please stop swerving Rachel's going to throw up. Mom trying to take photos out a moving vehicle and feed her hungry family by rationing out whatever she has: an old french baguette and a jar of pepper jelly.  Your typical family road trip. 

The next stop was Gavarnie. Good friends of our family recommended it but other than them no one had ever heard of it- not even the locals. We drove into the mountains for what seemed like forever- "recalculating". 

We just kept following the signs, holding on to our stomachs as we hugged ever treacherous turn.  Then finally, we turned one corner and came upon this….

Our mouths dropped in unison. I think my brother's gum fell out.

We stayed a night in this old charming hotel.

The inside really needs updating but when your room has a view like this- who really cares?

My dad corralled his traveling circus and announced we were going on a short hike.

Yipee!

(second favorite pic)

We were all just assuming a stroll down the street' so we didn't really prepare. And by prepare I mean: prepare to hike straight UP the frickin mountain.

Which is why Hoyt is seen wearing his corduroys. And we have two giant cameras and zero water.

We didn't complain (okay- maybe a little) because once we reached the top the views were breathtaking.

The town is pretty busy during the day with hikers, locals, etc. but at night it is eerily quiet.

Hoyt and I overlooking the tiny, magical city. Quite the secret. Part of me wants someone to take over the town and put great restaurants and hotels, but then I'm afraid it would lose it's charm.

Either way, if you are ever in that part of France it is definitely worth seeing.

Are you still reading?

Let's break for Intermission.

Tomorrow I'll post the second half of the trip: St. Jean de Luz and my personal favorite- Paris.

*These pictures are taken by myself and ma mere. I have a Canon Rebel XSi and my mom has a Nikon D90. We both don't have any experience other than practicing, take thousands of pictures, and never using flash.