Well, we’ve started the second month of 2017 and just starting the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Rooster. How do you feel? Happy with a new, fresh start? Still holding on and tackling your New Year’s Resolutions? I’m happy to start February for many reasons, but the best are because it’s one month closer to Spring and because it’s one month closer to my next big travel adventure!
As last year was finishing up and all throughout January, I took a step back to reflect on all the amazing, wonderful, fabulous, adventurous, even the not-so-swell moments of 2016. For many of us it was a complete roller coaster of a year, but we have to always remember the positive things that happened in our lives – the many bright and shiny, unforgettable moments, no matter how big or small, that brought smiles to our faces. This post is dedicated to these highlighted moments shared through photos, one from each month – good ‘ole 2016 – and I threw in one extra photo to give you a taste of what my 2017 is looking like thus far!
January 2016: The picture I’ve chosen for January was actually taken Dec. 31st in New York City. My boyfriend and I had spent Christmas with my family and on our way back to France we purposely had a 12 hour layover so we could discover more of the city. At the beginning of our Christmas trip we stayed in New York for a long weekend and had my brother fly up to join us. Being my first time in the Big Apple, I wasn’t disappointed. NYC was just as I had always imagined, especially during the Christmas season. The picture below shows part of Times Square, blocked off in the early evening (although barriers were put up during the early afternoon that day). We were headed to the amazingly delicious Magnolia Bakery to get some treats to eat while waiting at the airport – the best idea ever!
February: Upon arrival to the airport, exiting out and walking to the boat taxi port, I knew Venice was going to be an awesome trip. Any destination surrounded water always gives me a romantic vibe, and I think Venice wins the romantic marker in my book. In this picture you can see how water is associated with the daily lives of Venetians, with the Adriatic Sea flowing along, boats sailing in all directions to and from the many islands and through the canals. The architecture is so divine and really gives Venice it’s distinctive character. A perfect destination with your Valentine.
March: A little weekend getaway to the town on Clisson, about an hour away from where we live, and discovered a bit more of the Loire Valley and its wine country. I got my boyfriend a wine tour and tasting package for his birthday back in January I had scheduled the day in March when the weather would be sunnier. The degustation included receiving 6 complimentary bottles from the winery’s cellar. In the picture is a view of the restaurant we ate dinner and also the river that runs through the town. We also took a walk through a nice park to end the weekend.
April: Another month of appreciating the surroundings of where I live. This photo was taken in one of the neighborhoods by my apartment. Saint Nazaire was completely destroyed during WWII, however you can still get a glimpse of what the city was like before the war with the few buildings and houses that have been reconstructed and maintained back to their original structure. This photo shows a perfect example of French seaside architecture and just how chic it was to have lived in this city before.
May: The month of May 2016 was filled with travels galore! At the beginning of the month we visited my family in Leicester and Derby, England. The weather was perfect during our stay and a great way to introduce my boyfriend to other parts of the country (as well as my family!). The first picture dedicated to this month was taken by Leicester’s town hall, the weekend just after Leicester City won the championship in their football league.
The end of May was welcomed by my favorite couple and longtime friends from the states who were taking a trip around Europe. They started by visiting us in France, and where we took them around Paris and Nantes, then we all traveled to Amsterdam for the first time and explored this charming city. The second picture in this selection was taken by one of Amsterdam’s many canals, complete with boats, bikes, and an inspiring quote posted on a building. I would love to have the opportunity to explore more of the Netherlands again, maybe this time bring back some tulip bulbs?
June: I love castles and chateaux, so what better way to spend the warm summer by exploring one with the largest garden I’ve ever seen? The chateau of Villandry is such a beautiful place to visit, inside and outside. We visited the domain while spending a long weekend with my boyfriend’s grandparents, who live in Tours and is only a 30 minute (and very scenic) drive away. We spent over 2 hours in the expansive garden alone! Since we arrived in the last group for the day, and after a free tour of the chateau itself, we felt as if we had our own private tour and had all the garden to ourselves. It was a very special day!
July: Barcelona! My first time in Spain and I wish I could do it all over again. I loved this city and all it has to offer, from tapas to museums, to the beach and nightlife. I also loved having the opportunity to practice my Spanish with the locals. This picture was taken in the famous Parc Guell with Gaudi’s beautifully created mosaics gracing the seating area that curves all around an area of the park. We went earlier in the day to avoid the hot afternoon temperatures in order to have the most time to enjoy the park.
August: My favorite time of the year last year. Also celebrating 2 years since moving to France! My mom, sister, and niece all came to visit for a week and we spent three of those days in Paris. On the first night there together, my boyfriend’s brother offered to take us on a midnight tour of the city, and it was perfect! I love this photo of my sister and I together because it shows how happy my sister is to be in Paris for the first time and for both of us to spend time together. Can’t wait to do it all over again this year, only this time it will be at home in Saint Nazaire.
September: A much quieter month to rest and relax after the busy vacation period. But I did get the chance to try out a new sport on the beach called “Char a voile”, where you sit in a plastic buggy seat, your feet placed on a bar attached to the front wheels, and you use the wind and cords to steer yourself along the beach and around a sand track. I never thought I would get the hang of it, but was pleasantly surprised to learn very quickly and had a blast learning how to control the vehicle on land using nothing but the wind to propel you and the cords to guide you.
October: Spent a weekend away and discovered the grand palace of Versailles! I was very intrigued by how many times the chateau has been transformed by its various owners since it was first constructed hundreds and hundreds of years ago. This picture shows one of the most popular rooms in the establishment: “La galerie des Glaces” which translates as “The Hall of Mirrors”. As you enter into the Hall you see mirrors to the left, placed exactly identical as the windows facing each one, giving the room a sense of grandeur with natural light reflecting all around the room, glimmering from the golden statues to the mirrors and the crystal chandeliers, complete with lit candles.
November: A month of multiple celebrations with mini-trips to go along with them. November is my birthday month, and last year was a special one indeed because I turned the Big 3-0, celebrating it in style in Paris. I also discovered Dijon, the town not only known for its famous mustard, but also for its many well-preserved churches and, my personal favorite, its wine, as the city is located in the land of Burgundy. One of the prettiest cities I’ve visited in France, Dijon contains beautiful architecture that gives the city an ambiance of elegance, and a taste of its rich history.
December: I refer to it as the month of amazing sunsets. I had seen so many colorful sunsets formed in the winter sky and it brought me peace and reassured my mind that winter doesn’t last forever. The picture below was one taken just before going inside the Tour Solidor just as the sun was beginning to set in Saint Malo, France. We spent 10 days celebrating the holidays with my boyfriend’s family in Dinard, with Saint Malo being a short 15 minute drive away. I love how there seems to be movement in this photo from the water and boats floating at their anchored spots as shadows, plus the sky beginning to turn from blue to crimson.
January 2017: Ah! A fresh new start and beginning! I know this year will be a great one. I started the year out in style with yet another trip to Paris, this time to celebrate my boyfriend’s brother’s 25th birthday, which is a big deal in France, and also spending an afternoon at the Grand Palais to see an exhibition on Mexican art, showcasing two of my favorite artists: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. I was blown away, standing in front of works of art that I had only seen in books and online, always dreaming to see them one day.
Until next time: Go.Get.Inspired!!!
Inspired by…Quote: “You are the one that possesses the keys to your being. You carry the passport to your own happiness” ~Diane von Furstenberg
Disclaimer: ALL pictures are taken by myself and are not to be reproduced without my knowledge and permission.