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If you enjoyed Part One of my European vacation, you’ll absolutely go crazy for Part Two and all of its French charm from Paris and the gorgeous eastern town of Annecy. There’s so much to discuss, so I’ll just jump right in!
**Also, you’ll notice in a lot of the photos that it looks like nobody was there. A huge travel photo tip is to be patient. For some of these photos, I waited up to 2-3 minutes for a clearing that would allow me to get my shot without a trace of human beings. It’s totally worth it!**
With no time to spare for further exploring London, David and I began an early morning travel to King’s Cross Station to depart for Paris. They said check-in would only be available up until 30 minutes before the departure and we cut it too close and had to take a later train (wallet = sad). Other than that the chunnel journey was quite pleasant, though I found it so hard to keep my balance on the way to the cafe cart. It was on this train that I learned the French and American versions of hot chocolate prove quite different (French version is so bitter compared to the sweet American version).
After arriving and grabbing lunch, we walked to Place de Valois, an adorable little spot near the Louvre. I had seen the area on someone’s Instagram and loved how quaint it looked, despite being in such a populated arrondissement of Paris. After checking out the area, the Jardin des Tuileries, across the street from the Louvre, was our next stop. I absolutely loved and adored the abundance of greenery, monuments, and statues in the gardens. It quite reminded me of the East Coast.
On our way home, we picked up desserts from Angelinas on Rue de Rivoli and it was dark before I remembered to take photos of our selections. They were thoroughly enjoyed, nonetheless!
Bright and early, we began our day with a morning stroll on the way to Musée des Archives Nationales at Hôtel de Soubise. Even though it wasn’t yet open, the architecture and layout of the grounds were stunning enough to satisfy our itinerary.
The Notre Dame was next on the list for our adventures of the day. Just outside the church, a bread making convention (maybe also competition?) was in full swing. It was such a neat little surprise to happen upon this. We loved seeing the different groups of bread makers working diligently to create dozens of different variations of my favorite gluten-filled snack.
The church, itself, was absolutely stunning. If you’re going, do be prepared to wait in line before going inside. Also, whenever you enter such a sacred space, please be aware of the rules. Photos are allowed, however flash and use of mobile phones are not. Several people were using both of these, as if they were totally oblivious of rules and respect. It’s best to err on the side of caution to be mindful to the worshippers inside.
After visiting the Notre Dame, David and I explored the streets of Paris on our way to the Jardin des Plantes, a gorgeous park with beautiful flowers and stunning architecture. Just upon arrival, it began to rain which led us into the botanical garden. I’ve never been a huge fan of plants (I’m a flower gal), though the garden made for a nice, yet humid refuge from the rain. Once it cleared up, we were able to enjoy the scenery and vibrant colors of the flowers.
Our last stop of the day was the gorgeous Rodin Museum in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. We had originally planned just to walk around the property, though you’re unable to do this without a ticket. Because we had plenty of time left in the day, we opted for a ticket for the grounds and museum and it was absolutely worth it. Not a huge fan of sculptures, I preferred the grounds for their vibrant beauty and the architecture of the actual museum. David more so enjoyed the exhibits of the museum as he’s much more of a sculpture fan than me.
Although we had grand plans for this day, David was quite sick and I had a beautiful shoot planned for later in the day so we decided to sleep in and rest. With as many activities as we had planned, we didn’t feel too guilty about getting much needed rest. Otherwise, I think we would have been so burnt out.
In the early afternoon, I departed for my shoot at Hotel Marignan, an incredibly chic hotel with views of the Eiffel Tower. I’ll be sharing more from this shoot in the next few weeks, so here’s a small sneak peek for now!
This evening was one I was most looking forward to for almost all of our trip. We made reservations for Alléno Paris at the Pavillon Ledoyen, a three star Michelin restaurant that is consistently ranked among the top restaurants of the world. To say the food was amazing would be an understatement. All I have are iPhone photos in undesirable light, though you can at least get an idea of how much food we ate and what it looked like. Honestly, no words are fit to describe the explosion of flavor and genius of combinations of ingredients that we ate. I would definitely recommend dining here for anyone looking for a mind-blowing culinary experience.
Early this morning, David and I departed Paris for Annecy with plans to tour Vaux le Vicomte along the way. Having rented a car, we were able to be flexible with our plans as opposed to if we had taken a train. Do be aware that many roads in France are tolls…and expect to spend a few hundred dollars on them if you’re driving around the country.
While it beautifully boasted its Louis XIV style, Vaux le Vicomte, in my opinion, was a little overrated. Because of its popularity, it was incredibly crowded (I try to avoid crowds because, well, personal space) and that made it hard to enjoy a relaxing tour of the interior of the property (Read: dozens of rowdy school kids who don’t care about history, except the tiny cute ones below).
Don’t get me wrong, it was gorgeous and I loved seeing the design and architecture, but I much more so enjoyed the chateaux that we visited in the Loire Valley (coming in Part Three) that were far less crowded and gave us the space to better explore and enjoy everything. I did, however, drool over the ceilings here. So. Much. Ceiling. Envy.
Back on the road, we had several hours of driving ahead. That driving may or may not include several speeding tickets I possibly racked up due to a lack of speed limit signs, my uncertainty of how fast 150…or 160km/h was, and the sneaky speeding cameras along the highway. Let’s hope no tickets come in the mail. Eventually, we made it to Annecy, an adorably picturesque town just half an hour from Geneva, Switzerland.
Annecy is known for its charming old town and its crystal clear blue lake. I visited this cute town just ten years ago and felt like it was all new and also so familiar at the same time. Unlike our other towns, Annecy had no itinerary. We only wanted to relax and enjoy the scenery.
Because I had a shoot scheduled for this afternoon an hour outside of Annecy, David and I had an early morning start that included a walk to one of Annecy’s parks followed by a tranquil (literally, this boat was so slow) boat ride around the lake. Apparently my enjoyment of lakes skyrockets when the water is blue instead of brown ;)
The drive to Jongieux, where my shoot was scheduled, was breathtaking in two different ways. One: everything was so pretty and green. If I could have taken photos while driving, I absolutely would have. Two: After 20 minutes into my drive, I hit a detour, panicked because Google wouldn’t reroute me, then finally found the detour and spent 30 minutes driving around the windiest, most narrow roads up a mountain of death.
I am so surprised none of the ten cars behind me honked. I was probably driving 15 mph up the whole thing. To those people, I am so sorry, I didn’t want to drive off a cliff. More images to be shared from this shoot soon!
To anyone traveling to France, I would 100% recommend scheduling three to four nights in Annecy. The views are stunning and the people are quite charming. We absolutely loved our time here and consider it one of our favorite cities! We were so sad to say goodbye, but had to make our way to Lyon for our next adventure…to be continued in Part Three.
Part One, in case you missed it. And Part Three to see next.