We initially structured our trip a bit differently and changed it to visit Annecy, per a friend’s recommendation; I’m so happy we did. Annecy is situated at the northern end of turquoise Lake Annecy and is often compared to Venice, with its canals and river weaving throughout. There are quaint wooden bridges, flowers spilling out of baskets and windows everywhere, and an overall Medieval feel to the city. In fact, it was so perfectly pretty I found myself wondering if I was walking through a Disney village! We walked through the city, enjoyed lunch at a little outdoor café, and dipped our toes in the lake before continuing on our journey.
Because of its rich history and beautiful setting at the foot of the mountains, Annecy is host to many concerts, festivals, and events. It’s worth looking into the event schedule before you go; you might be interested in something or you might prefer avoiding the tourists altogether and coming at a more quiet time during the week. Walk past Le Palais de L’Isle, a 12th century prison and courthouse shown in the last photo above, and browse the artists’ selections for a souvenir to take home. We brought back a beautiful watercolor – ask for originals and don’t be afraid to bargain!
The Jura is a mountain range north of the Western Alps, following the border between France and Switzerland. My great great grandmother Adele (from Reims) married a man named Pierre whose records led me to this part of France. As we drove from Burgundy, the change in the scenery surprised me; the land became more mountainous and the buildings took on a distinctly Swiss style. Tall draft horses stared at us from their pastures as we drove by. Of all the places I visited along this ancestry journey of mine, Montbéliard was where I felt most connected to the past. It was strange, but as soon as we arrived I instantly felt a sense of calm wash over me; I felt comfortable in this place and I didn’t want to leave. I was able to FaceTime my parents while there and it felt especially rewarding to take my father to a place so ingrained in the history of our family. They lived there for over 300 years and I couldn’t help but wonder if somehow this place had written itself into our genetic code.
Leaving Montbéliard, we drove through the Jura with its towering green mountains and foggy valleys to Geneva, Switzerland. I’ve spent time in Switzerland before and wanted my husband to experience it as well; I knew he would love the breathtaking views the country offers. This “Jura” part of the trip involved lengthy drives and would definitely be for those who enjoy driving and getting away from the tourist traps, but I would highly recommend this area to anyone who loves photography, nature, or hiking. There were so many beautiful vistas and little hiking trails along this part of our drive and I felt they were completely worth the three hours of drive time between Geneva and Montbéliard. In fact, I found myself wishing we had an extra day or two to get out and get closer to the nature around us.
As I mentioned above, the city of Montbéliard was another stop on my ancestry journey. My great great grandfather and his ancestors lived there for over 300 years and it’s the place I’ve been able to tie most closely to our family with church records and government positions. So it’s not a necessary stop if you’re planning a France trip, but there is a lot of interesting history and a truly breathtaking drive from this location down to Geneva, Switzerland. This region is mostly farmland with lush, densely packed trees but it quickly transforms into green mountains and fog-filled valleys with charming chalets tucked here and there. It’s the kind of place I imagine on a Christmas card with lots of snow and a team of draft horses pulling a sleigh in front.
A highlight from Montbéliard was locating the Temple Saint-Martin church where many of my ancestors were baptized and married; some were even pastors there. We found it and were able to go inside and speak with someone from the church. She told us it was the oldest standing Protestant church in France and I got chills down my arms. It was so surreal to stand in a place – such a historic place, no less – where my ancestors stood in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. I’m sure they could never imagine one of their direct descendants returning someday.
Another interesting site in Montbéliard was the remaining ramparts from the Château de Montbéliard, the palace of the Dukes of Württemburg. Because of their influence, Montbéliard was a Protestant stronghold for centuries, and became an enclave for Protestants fleeing persecution in both France and Switzerland. The culture became an interesting mixture of French and Swiss and the architectural influences can still be seen today. Inside the château there is a museum covering archaeology, history, and natural history from the area. I would love to return to see their famous French Christmas Market during the holiday season.
There are about a billion and one things to do in Switzerland. It’s quite literally the most visually stunning country I’ve ever visited and I would definitely suggest any visitor make the trip up to the mountains, take in the miles-wide views and stand next to a glacier, go hiking past cows with bells and see little marmots scurrying past alpine wildflowers . But since we were on a long road trip and only had two days in Switzerland, we didn’t want to fill our time with more driving. We had experienced a lot of history in Reims and Beaune, a lot of emotion in Montbéliard, and once in Switzerland I just wanted to show my husband around Lausanne, see a few of my favorite sites, and indulge in a little retail therapy.
If you do visit Lausanne, I would suggest walking along Lake Geneva near the Port of Ouchy and catching one of the art exhibitions at the Hermitage Museum. Don’t miss grabbing lunch, a cocktail, or dinner at the beautiful Beau Rivage hotel overlooking the lake; this Ouchy/Lutry area feels a bit more peaceful than the busy (but lovely!) shopping area of Lausanne. And you have to experience a true Swiss fondue restaurant; ask your hotel for their favorite local spot and indulge!
We stayed at Domaine de Chateauvieux in Satigny, just outside Geneva. I would highly recommend it for its charming Swiss rooms, gourmet restaurant, and property overflowing with flowers and vineyards. I will never forget opening our shutters at sunrise and watching the sun come up over the vineyards outside our window – I felt like Heidi every morning.
As we toured wineries during our driving trip through France we sent our favorites home. Now our wine fridge is full and I’ve told my husband we have to return to France when the wine runs out. So… Suddenly we are drinking it a bit more slowly, savoring each sip. We rarely finish a bottle over dinner, so in the past we would forgo wine altogether instead of allowing half of a favorite bottle to go to waste. And then I discovered the Coravin.
This handy little tool allows you to pour glasses of wine without removing the cork, thereby preserving the bottle of wine for days, weeks, or even months. The Coravin punctures a tiny needle-sized hole through the cork and pushes the wine out with argon gas into your wine glass. It’s perfect for when you only want a glass of wine or when you want to offer guests a selection of wines to enjoy.
I also think it’s the perfect Christmas gift for the wine lover in your life. I picked up two for our parents. There are a variety of models and styles, but this version is the one we have and bought as gifts. I think you’ll love it. Throw in my favorite wine bottle opener and you have, quite literally, the gift that keeps on giving. Cheers to genius little gadgets like this one!
When I’m planning a trip, there’s always a bit of worry that comes into play. Are we spending enough time in areas we’ll love? Will we really enjoy a destination as much as the travel guides I’ve been reading did? Did the travel writers even go to said destination? And then there’s those moments when you arrive at a destination and you feel as if the stars have all aligned; it’s more than you dreamed of and you just can’t wait to soak up every second there. That moment happened for me when we arrived in Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy. I wanted to visit because my great great grandmother Adele’s father, Jean-Baptiste (their French names had this American girl swooning) and his ancestors were from this area, but I didn’t really know what what to expect other than reportedly great wine.
We left Reims, which feels a bit like a miniature version of Paris with its classical French architecture and towering Notre-Dame de Reims surrounded by the chalky soil of champagne vineyards, and drove into the more lush, green Burgundy region. Beaune is a little Medieval village still surrounded by remnants of the original ramparts and feels more like some surreal set from “Beauty and the Beast” than the fully-functioning city it actually is. If you read my France Itinerary post, you’ll notice I allowed for plenty of time to wander the city of Beaune and it was no accident; each step in the village offers new fairytale-like views – charming storefronts, flowers overflowing baskets and pots, and buildings from the 12th century on standing tall as reminders of the past.
As I mentioned in my France Itinerary post, France is a country whose culture is proud of their dedication to quality agriculture and gastronomy. And, though many a Frenchman will argue for his own region, Burgundy is often held out as the leader in wine and French cuisine.
What To See
The village of Beaune is a treasure trove of history. I was amazed to discover buildings and towers that were built in the 13th and 14th centuries. Among my favorite sites? The Hospices de Beaune, a museum of local art and furnishings in a beautiful Medieval hospice. The Basilique Notre-Dame de Beaune, a towering church dating from the 1200’s. If you’re into wine, you’ll love the Musée du Vin de Bourgogne, a wine museum set in the gorgeous home of the Dukes of Burgundy from the 13th to the 16th centuries. Take a peek at the de-consecrated Ancien Carmel de Beaune, which usually hosts modern art exhibits inside. I would also suggest taking a peek at the nearby châteaux and abbeys to explore.
Where To Eat
We stayed at the Hostellerie de Levernois, home to my favorite restaurant during the trip. Why? It begins (like many wonderful things, I suppose) with cocktails. Restaurant patrons can enjoy cocktails outdoors on the patio with live music while the sun sets – this was one of the most romantic settings we experienced! Dinner in the restaurant was perfectly prepared with amazing service. Our favorite course? The cheese course, served tableside by a true cheese connoisseur. My husband and I dream about that cheese course!
There is a more casual option for lunch and dinner on the Hostellerie de Levernois property called Bistrot du Bord de L’Eau. The hotel property is lovely and worth a walk around if you get the chance. There are shady areas tucked underneath trees that are centuries old, charming flower-filled bridges over trickling streams, and a giant garden at the back of the property.
What To Do
Besides touring the sites in Beaune I mentioned above, I really enjoyed the cellar tour and wine tasting we experienced at Joseph Drouhin. The underground cellars stretching through a portion of the village of Beaune are the oldest in the city, having been built and used by monks to age wine in the 1200’s. We had a fantastic tour guide and learned so much about the aging process of wine, as well as general knowledge of Beaune and the Burgundy region. We saw a cellar covered in mold; the “perfect aging conditions” for wine due to the positioning of a garden above it at ground level. And our tour guide showed us a false wall that had been built by the owner during WW2 to hide precious wines, cheeses, and hams from the Nazi soldiers. Our experience at Joseph Drouhin further reiterated that wine is not just a drink to the French people and many others; it’s a substance that brings together families and communities and can even teach us about times past.
If we had another day in Beaune, I would have liked to visit Château de Pommard, a winery established in 1726 just outside Beaune. You can do food and wine tours at Château Pommard and reviews online say they offer great information on the Burgundy region and wine production as well.
If we ever go back to Beaune (already saving my pennies) a cooking class is also on my list. There’s a coffee shop in the village owned by an American woman; our guide told us her cooking classes are quite fun. Research a few options, but I’m sure you can’t go wrong with a cooking class in one of the centers of French cuisine!
Reims (the French pronounce it Rahhns and I’m forever getting it wrong) is a beautiful city about 80 miles northeast of Paris, tucked in the midst of France’s Champagne region. It popped up in my ancestry research as the birthplace and home of my great great grandmother Adele and her mother Louise-Sophie’s family going back for at least one hundred years, so I knew I wanted to experience it during my journey through France. As I walked through the streets lined with pastel-colored French townhouses and listened to the distant bells of the Notre-Dame de Reims, I wondered if Adele and Louise-Sophie heard those same bells and saw the same peach-pink sunset glowing through the city streets. There’s certainly something special about returning to the place where your ancestors came from, something fulfilling about circling back to the beginning.
And even if you don’t have familial ties to this pretty little city, I’d love to share the reasons why you’d enjoy a trip here. Start practicing your champagne toasting now!
What To See
There’s plenty of history and architecture to see and explore in the city of Reims. If you love French architecture, it’s worth wandering the streets with your camera and snapping away at the shutters, doors, and Neoclassical and Belle Époque façades that will make your Francophile heart flutter. The Cathedral de Notre-Dame de Reims was the coronation site of French kings dating back to 1179 and is considered one of the most beautiful churches in France. The Palace of Tau nearby served as the residence of the French kings when in Reims and now exhibits royal and religious treasures. The Musée des Beaux Arts is set in a former abbey and its collection was based on works of art seized from the region’s aristocracy post-Revolution; they include paintings by Monet, Matisse, and Renoir, just to name a few. And don’t miss the Subé Fountain in Erlon Square; during WW2, everything around the fountain was destroyed but the golden angel towering over the square remained intact and untouched.
Where To Eat
We stayed at the charming timber-framed L’Assiette Champenoise, home to the Michelin-starred restaurant of chef Arnaud Lallement and the cuisine was truly magical; we even found ourselves excited to go to breakfast in the mornings, our mouths watering for the selection of house-made yogurts and flaky pastries. I would recommend Le Millénaire in Reims as well; its modern aesthetic and attention to detail and presentation are a foodie’s dream. Of course, the best kind of dining experience in France involves chairs facing a busy street for an alfresco dinner spent people watching. For this, I recommend Le Gaulois with a beautiful view of a trickling fountain and lots of people watching in the square.
What To Do
If you visit Reims, champagne tours and tastings are a must. Aside from the more selfish reasons of enjoyment, you’ll learn a lot about the champagne production process and the history behind the terroir, or the blend of environmental conditions necessary to produce a particular wine or champagne. My advice is to visit at least one small and one large champagne producer. We visited the smaller, family-owned Champagne Roger Coulon champagne vineyards and production facility outside Reims in nearby Vrigny. I loved the more intimate experience and found it easier to ask questions about the process. For a larger, more commercial tour we visited Veuve Clicquot because it was the champagne we served at our wedding. The Veuve cellars are in Reims and, like many of the local cellars, are dug underground into the soft, chalk soil in deep crayères that existed even before the champagne industry.It was interesting to hear the story behind the brand; it was taken over by a widowed woman and grown to the worldwide success. They have a huge facility lit with Veuve-orange lights and Veuve-bedecked tasting areas both inside and outside the shop. You can have champagne shipped to the U.S. from both of these champagne producers if you wish.
And while we’re on the topic of champagne… Be sure to visit nearby Épernay. Take a walk down the historic Avenue de Champagne, a street lined with the beautiful mansions that belonged to the original champagne vineyard owners. Many of these are now open for tours and tastings, so pick a favorite and start exploring! Beyond just champagne houses, the town of Épernay is filled with little lunch spots and cute corners, so it’s worth a half-day visit. There’s also a huge hot air balloon you can take up for an unbeatable view of the city and glass of bubbles to celebrate.
Welcome to France! This little itinerary is designed to give you a quick overview of a three-week driving trip through France. This is a long trip because there’s a lot to see and I wanted to make it a relaxing one too, just in case you’ve been saving your vacation time. But it can easily be condensed or broken up into separate trips. I’ve listed options to make this into a two-week or one-week trip and I’ve included activity ideas for each day to give you some mix-and-match alternatives. Of course, the best kind of journey is the one that happens in moments of pure discovery, in between activities and reservations, but I hope this itinerary inspires you to explore and experience new cultures and places.
This trip was a long time coming. For over a year, I’ve been researching my family ancestry and tracing their journey to the U.S. – and to me. My paternal ancestry was particularly interesting to me because of the precision with which the French kept their records and I’ve been able to trace it back to the 1500’s thus far. For over three hundred years, our family lived in France. And aside from being a self-confessed Francophile, I knew I wanted to experience the places they lived to strengthen the personal connection to my past, to my roots. I wanted to breathe that same air, to walk through those same streets, and sit in the churches where their most celebrated life moments took place.
So how did we decide on these particular destinations? The paths of my family’s migration guided our journey through France for the most part. Epperly Travel (we’ve been using their services since our honeymoon) tied everything up perfectly for us. And piles of travel books and hours on travel websites finished the rest. My husband and I both felt this was the most visually stunning, beautifully planned, and well organized way to experience much of France; it’s for this reason we can recommend our little route 100% to you. In the next two weeks, I’ll be sharing in-depth, photo-filled posts on each city/region we visited so you can get a better picture of the places you might be interested in.
When you read this itinerary, take note of the restaurant mentions; they were mostly my husband’s choice to experience, but even if you’re not a foodie they are important because food is such an integral part of the French culture. France possesses the perfect climate for agriculture within its beautiful borders and over thousands of years, the French people have cultivated an appreciation of food as both an art form and a way to bring people together. If you travel there, it’s important to understand this.
I didn’t always understand why people appreciate dining experiences so much. In fact, I remember an evening when my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I had finished law school classes for the day and after picking me up, he asked me where I preferred to eat. My response? “Panera or Chipotle.” I will never forget the astonished (and truthfully, probably horrified) look on his face as he stared at me. But I was just being honest. Until my late twenties, I just didn’t care about food that much. I didn’t appreciate the subtle flavors in wine and I didn’t think it was worth adjusting my budget to accommodate a few nice dinners out. I should note this was a much better outlook when it comes to fitness goals… But I was missing out on so much! I missed out on the art that is gastronomy and the way it can bring people together over the most simple act: eating. While we were driving, we stopped to fuel up and eat at a gas station outside Montbèliard and it was one of the most delicious sandwiches of my life; you just have to trust the French when it comes to food… They know what they’re doing! Whether you’re eating at a street-side café or a Michelin starred restaurant, set aside time to sit down and truly enjoy the experience.
If you travel to France, learn a bit of the French language beforehand (Duo Lingo is a favorite learning app of mine), take in the breathtaking architecture and history, and immerse yourself in the art of French cooking and winemaking. Be curious. Ask questions. Learn as much as you can while you’re there. And you’ll walk away having had the best experience possible.
4 Days for 3-Week Trip, 2 Days for 2-Week Trip, 1 Day for 1-Week Trip
Day 2: Plan for a low-key first day as you adjust to the time change. Check into your hotel and spend the day taking in the stunning Palace of Versailles outside Paris or, if you’re more into treasure hunting, browse the French antiques at the legendary Les Puces de Saint-Ouen flea market. Travel lovers will love a nighttime boat tour along the Seine, taking in the sparkling lights over a glass of wine and making notes of places to visit the next day. Foodies will appreciate a dazzling dinner out; the Restaurant le Meurice Alain Ducasse is an experience (at my favorite hotel in Paris) you will treasure forever.
Day 3: Plan for a full day of sightseeing if this is your first time in Paris. Some Paris must-sees: Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, The Louvre, Notre-Dame, Musée de Orsay, and Centre Pompidou. Don’t be afraid to throw on your comfiest shoes and schedule a group tour or hire a tour guide for the day; this really is the best way to see all the sights when you’re short on time! If you’re into the theater, snag seats to a ballet or opera performance in Paris; the breathtaking talent present in this incredible city is worth witnessing!
Day 4: Enjoy a relaxing last day in Paris with no strict plans; in my opinion, this is the best way to truly experience the Parisian culture! Wander the streets of Montmartre or window shop along the Champs-Elysées and Rue Saint Honoré. Eat lunch at a café and watch the Parisians stroll by. Bring a book and relax in the Tuileries Garden. Walk along the market stalls near the Seine and pick up a little watercolor painting to take home.
3 Days for 3-Week Trip, 2 Days for 2-Week Trip, 1 Day for 1-Week Trip
Day 5: Check out and drive the 1.5 hours to Reims. Check into your hotel and head out to explore this little city. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the old Hôtel Dieu were favorites of mine. Enjoy dinner overlooking the hustle and bustle of the city center. Le Gaulois was one of my favorite Reims cafés with a lovely view of the fountain and plenty of people watching.
Day 6: Drive to Épernay and walk along the Avenue de Champagne, home to some of the most famous champagne houses in the world. In the afternoon, meet up with a tour guide for a local champagne vineyard tour. I recommend beginning with a small, family-owned vineyard. Foodies would enjoy dinner at the Michelin-starred L’Assiette Champenoise with Chef Arnaud Lallement; he creates food you’ll be dreaming about for years!
Day 7: Schedule another tour with a guide or spend a relaxed morning enjoying the grounds of your hotel. In the afternoon, meet up with a tour guide for a large champagne vineyard tour; it’s nice to compare a more commercial, large-scale experience with that of the small, family-owned experience the day before. Take one last walk through the city before dinner. For the foodies out there, I recommend dining at Le Millénaire; their presentation and attention to detail is something special.
3 Days for 3-Week Trip, 1 Day for 2-Week Trip, 1 Day for 1-Week Trip
Day 8: Check out and drive the 3.5 hours to Beaune in the beautiful region of Burgundy. Check into your hotel and enjoy relaxing on the grounds or wander the streets of Beaune in the afternoon before enjoying dinner at a restaurant in the village.
Day 9: Meet up with your guide for a morning tour of Beaune. The Hospices de Beaune, Basilique Notre-Dame, and the Musée du Vin were favorites of mine. In the afternoon, take a tour of the Joseph Drouhin cellars with a wine tasting to finish. Enjoy dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant in Hostellerie Levernois; it was my favorite restaurant of the trip! The cheese course is unbelievable.
Day 10: Spend your last morning in Beaune enjoying a leisurely breakfast and take a tour of one of the beautiful chateaus or abbeys in the Burgundy area. In the afternoon, make time to walk around the village of Beaune and pick up a few souvenirs for loved ones; mustard, wine, and seasonings are some treasured items from this area. Plan to take a cooking class in the evening.
2 Days for 3-Week Trip, 2 Days for 2-Week Trip, 1 Day for 1-Week Trip
Day 11: Leave Beaune early and enjoy a breathtaking drive into the mountainous Jura region. Baume-les-Messieurs (one of the most beautiful villages in France) and Montbéliard (take a peek at remnants of the Duke’s palace) are beautiful stops to make along your way, but allow at least 2.5-3.5 hours’ drive time depending on the route you take. Check into your Geneva hotel and enjoy dinner overlooking the vineyards at Domaine de Chateauvieux in nearby Satigny.
Day 12: Plan for a day of sightseeing and a little shopping. In Geneva: St. Pierre Cathedral, the Reformation Wall, Place du Bourg-de-Four, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Patek Phillipe Museum are a few favorites. In Lausanne: Hermitage Foundation, Olympic Museum, and the Lausanne Cathedral. Walk along Lake Geneva near the port of Ouchy. Whatever you do, you must experience true Swiss fondue for one meal; ask your hotel for their favorite local spot. And be sure to enjoy lunch, cocktails, or dinner at the beautiful Beau Rivage hotel overlooking Lake Geneva.
5 Days for 3-Week Trip, 4 Days for 2-Week Trip, 2 Days for 1-Week Trip
Day 13: Make a stop in the lovely lakeside village of Annecy an hour outside of Geneva as you make your way into the Provence region. Walk along the turquoise lake, meander through the winding streets with flower-filled bridges over the canals, and enjoy lunch at one of the outdoor cafés. Continue your drive, check into your hotel, and enjoy alfresco dinner at the charming Le Château des Alpilles in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Day 14: Enjoy exploring and shopping in the pretty little village of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence; their market days are energetic and lively. Take in the nearby Roman ruins of Glanum or take a tour of St. Paul de Mausole where Van Gogh was treated after he cut off his own ear. Then venture to the cliffside Medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence where you can spend the afternoon wandering the winding streets, shopping for souvenirs, and exploring the breathtaking views and ancient temple at the top. Take in the multimedia show Carrières de Lumière as the sun goes down.
Day 15: Organize a vineyard tour and wine tasting at the beautiful Chateau Vaudieu, one of the older vineyards in the area with the unique advantage of vineyards and production all within a contiguous plot of land. Enjoy lunch with a view at Hostellerie des Fines Roches. In the afternoon, take a tour of the ruins of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, then experience a wine lesson and tasting with one of the local master sommeliers; the Châteauneuf wines are world-renowned. In the evening, take a cooking class in Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Day 16: Meet a tour guide for a day of sightseeing in Avignon. Don’t miss the Palais des Papes; the new iPad tour brings the space to life! Make dinner reservations at the playfully inventive Restaurant Fanny Rey in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Day 17: Experience Gordes, another Provençal cliffside village. Gordes has a charming market, lovely shops, and great places to grab a drink or lunch. If you haven’t had lunch, enjoy it at Bistrot le 5 in nearby Ménerbes. Ménerbes is another photo-worthy village, full of twisting streets. It’s a worth a walk to the top for the views and the Truffle House. Make dinner reservations at the Saint-Rémy-de-Provence restaurant L’Aile ou La Cuisse; I am still dreaming over the lamb.
4 Days for 3-Week Trip, 3 Days for 2-Week Trip, 1 Day for 1-Week Trip
Day 18: On your way to the Riviera, stop at the village of Apt and the city of Aix-en-Provence. Check into your hotel (we stayed in Èze) and explore the hilltop Medieval village of Èze in the afternoon. Looking for a romantic dinner? Enjoy it at Hôtel Cap Estel with the waves crashing just beyond the your table.
Day 19: The Riviera is about relaxation, so spend the morning relaxing on the rocky beach of the Mediterranean Sea after breakfast. There are so many nearby villages and towns to explore along the Riviera: Nice, Monaco, St. Tropez, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Cannes. My advice? Divide them between your last two afternoons and have fun exploring! Consider taking a perfumery tour or organize a sunset cruise along the coast.
Day 20: Spend another morning relaxing on the rocky beach, catching up on a great read and hunting sea glass, perhaps?! Then explore more coastal towns in the afternoon and have a relaxing last-dinner-in-France by a restaurant along the water. We went for comfort food at a little Italian place in the Port de Beaulieu-sur-Mer and it was the perfect ending to our trip!
The first time I flew internationally my mom took me to a sandwich shop upon arrival – where I promptly fell asleep on my chips. I spent subsequent sleepless nights driving my parents crazy until they finally put me in the living room with my toys around midnight and told me to have at it. After several all-nighters (followed by miserably sleepy days) my jet lag finally went away a day or so before we flew back home. Needless to say, it wasn’t pleasant for any of us.
And since my family was international for a long time, I had to either figure out a way around jet lag or get used to being uncomfortable each trip. Eventually, I discovered a routine that works for me. I might feel a little tired the day of arrival and the day I return, but there’s no more week-long struggle with my sleepy self. Ultimately, travel is a luxury and if it comes with jet lag I think most of us would gladly sacrifice a few nights of sleep. But here are a few tips and tricks I utilize to avoid jet lag and make the most of our travels.
One Week Prior
Set your watch to match the time at your destination. Use your phone for the current time. Take note of your new time zone as you glance at your watch throughout the day and mentally begin to prepare yourself for your trip.
Start drinking one Emergen-C packet each day. If you feel like you may be picking up a cold beforehand, up it to two packets per day.
Try to organize your trip prep so your last two days before your flight are relaxed and easy. Make them sacred – they’re your downtime.
Day Before Flying
Eat plenty of leafy greens. Make a green smoothie for breakfast and munch on salads for lunch and dinner.
Mentally place yourself in the new time zone. For example, at 2 PM I look at my watch and see that it would be 10 PM in France. I think… I should be feeling sleepy and going to bed right now. I know it sounds crazy, but just try it… It really does help your mind to prepare for the time change.
Speaking of feeling sleepy, get plenty of rest the night before. Don’t watch TV, don’t look at your phone… It’s early to bed and early to rise for you, dear traveler.
Day of Flight/Day After
Flying at night is best so you can sleep during your destination’s nighttime and arrive in the morning when everyone is waking up.
The day of your flight, drink lots and lots of water with lemon. Limit alcohol, but it’s okay to drink a coffee when it’s morning in your destination’s time zone.
As soon as you get on the plane, eat meals in accordance with your new time zone. It will help you to get acclimated; glance at your watch when you need a reminder of the local time and try to stay in that mindset.
After the meal service, snuggle up with a relaxing movie or music, dim the screen, put in ear plugs or wear your headphones, and try to get some sleep.
When you wake up, head toward the bathroom and take advantage of the little hallway in front by stretching a bit. If you feel like a total idiot, just wait until you land and stretch in a bathroom at the airport.
Hit the ground running. Yes, you will feel like a limp flower, but just do a bit of exploring and enjoy a nice lunch outdoors in your new destination. Resist the urge to sleep – don’t even take a nap. Just power through to at least 9 PM.
If you can, check into your hotel, organize your things, and take a nice hot shower before heading out to dinner. Anytime after 9 PM, feel free to cozy up and crash. You made it!
Don’t let yourself sleep in past 9 AM the next day. Wake up, catch a beautiful sunrise, enjoy some breakfast, and get going.
NOTE: Need help with what to wear on a long flight? Curious about my in-flight essentials? Take a peek at this blog post!
Your Flight Home
Bring Emergen-C packets with you to take each day leading up to your flight home.
Eat plenty of leafy greens the day before your flight and drink plenty of lemon water the day of your flight just like before, but this time… Add in some extra carbs when you’re flying home and after you land. Comfort foods are your friend at this point.
Try not to sleep on the flight home; switch your watch back and get in the mindset of your new (old) time zone.
Go to sleep at your normal bedtime, but make an effort to create a really quiet, relaxing environment before you go to bed. I like to close the shades, diffuse some peppermint oil, turn the thermostat down a bit, and put on fresh clean sheets. The challenge is staying asleep; your body will want to wake up extra early and you want to encourage a peaceful, restful sleep your first night back.
I was recently in my home state of Iowa, spending time with family. The autumn weather was cool and crisp and it rained for almost nine days straight. It was the perfect weather for something cozy and warm, so I created this recipe one evening after my cousin and I went to the local pumpkin patch and picked up a few spaghetti squash. My spontaneous little meal tasted so delicious, I made it three times during my stay.
The blend of spices tastes like fall and the combination of textures is comforting. And for those with special dietary needs, it’s easy to remove the ground beef for a vegetarian option, reduce the amount of spice for sensitive palates, or switch out the cheese for a dairy-free alternative. This recipe makes enough for at least four people and we ended up with plenty of leftovers each time; I think it would make a great meal prep option!
1 lb Ground Beef
1 Packet Mild Taco Seasoning
Mild or Medium Salsa
Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese
1 Can Black Beans, Drained
1 Can Golden Corn, Drained
1 Green Bell Pepper, Chopped
1 Small White Onion, Chopped
1-2 Small Jalapeño Peppers, Sliced
1 Bunch Cilantro, Chopped
2 Roma Tomatoes, Chopped
Seasonings: Salt and Pepper, Mild Chili Powder, Cumin, and Turmeric.
Optional: Salted Tortilla Chips
Step One: Split spaghetti squash in half and scrape out seeds and pulp. Place both squash halves, inside up, in a baking pan with one inch of water in the bottom. Drizzle squash halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in oven at 425ºF for one hour.
Step Two: In a large skillet, brown 1 lb ground beef with a small drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of salt and pepper, and one packet of taco seasoning. Remove and place browned beef in a bowl and set aside. Do not drain leftover oil from skillet.
Step Three: In the same skillet, soften chopped onion, sliced jalapeños, and chopped green bell pepper with a tablespoon of salsa and a tablespoon of chopped cilantro on Medium heat. Add just a sprinkle of turmeric, cumin, and mild chili powder. Stir often for three to five minutes.
Step Four: Turn heat to Low-Med. Add one can of drained golden corn and one can drained black beans to the skillet mixture. Stir in 1 tsp. mild chili powder, 1 tsp. turmeric, and 1 tsp. cumin. Then add in the browned ground beef, mixing all the ingredients together. Taste to see if mixture is at your preferred level of spiciness and add more mild chili powder, cumin, and turmeric if needed. Turn heat to Simmer.
Step Five: Take squash out of the oven and carefully scrape out “spaghetti” with a fork into a serving bowl. To serve, place spaghetti squash on plates and top with the seasoned beef and veggie mixture. Add shredded cheese, tomatoes, salsa, and cilantro on top. Optional: Serve with salted tortilla chips on the side.
Note: Store beef mixture, spaghetti squash, and toppings in separate containers for best-kept leftovers!
I remember traveling with my mother as a little girl and noticing how she always looked so put together and polished. She would twist her hair up and wear one of her pretty scarves and she looked so elegant and beautiful. She continues to wear some of those same styles to this day and they still work because they’re classics. I’ve definitely taken note and have implemented some of her tricks into my own travel style with a few new updates and a few tricks to help you feel your best no matter how long you’re up in the air.
How To Feel Your Best
There’s something about these dirty little boxes of air that can make anyone feel exceptionally slimy, even after just a couple of hours. But there are a few essentials I’ve learned to bring with me that help me feel fresh and clean during travel. Upon arrival, I usually feel fresh enough to explore the city a bit or grab a bite to eat before heading to the hotel.
Let’s be honest, those “in-flight skincare routines” we see influencers post are for business and first class flights only. When you’re sitting in economy, you’re lucky if you can raise your elbows three inches without bumping the person next to you. If you are sitting in business or first, bring some makeup wipes and eye gel pads, but my best advice is to check in for your flight looking and feeling your best and simply try to preserve it until you can get ready again at your hotel.
I try to take my time getting ready before an international flight – exfoliating, shaving, moisturizing, etc. I don’t skip any steps because it’s important for me to feel completely fresh when I step on the plane. (Because it kind of goes downhill from there!)
When I travel I try to wear very little makeup. I make do with my favorite CC cream, a little mascara, and some tinted lip balm. I don’t go completely makeup-free because it makes me feel greasy and sloppy, but lots of makeup doesn’t usually look so pretty upon arrival.
Most airlines offer a toothbrush and toothpaste even in economy class, and if not, a pack of Colgate Wisps can do the trick.
I always bring a mini deodorant and a little travel sample of perfume to keep feeling fresh. I take them into the bathroom once or twice during my flight and freshen up so I don’t disturb other passengers by spritzing my perfume everywhere.
I never forget antibacterial wipes for wiping down the surfaces around my seat; planes are dirty places and when I do this step first thing on a flight I instantly feel better. I also use the wipes to wipe down my tech items like my phone, iPad, and laptop at the end of the flight before I put them back into my bag. And they’re nice to carry in your bag while you’re out and about exploring each day.
I’m sure you see the same people at the airport I do; they’re wearing their pajamas and they have piles of travel pillows and blankets with them. Don’t be this person. It looks tacky and it’s completely unnecessary, plus you’re really going to annoy whoever you sit next to with that load of bedding. (Trust me – my husband owns one and I want to bop him with it every time he brings it on a flight.) I promise, the airline will give you a decent pillow and blanket if you need one. And it’s just as clean as that pillow you’ve drug through seven airports. By layering your outfit, you can stay comfortable in fluctuating cabin temps and avoid looking like a mess.
I always bring a colorful silk scarf with me when I travel. It pulls any outfit together and can easily give a daytime look just enough polish to head to dinner or drinks. Tie it around your neck, drape it over your shoulders, or tie it in your hair or onto a bag… The options are endless.
Now that I’ve found these incredibly comfortable leather sneakers I want them in every single color. They are the only shoes that I can wear for hours on end comfortably. A little tip: start off wearing socks and when you get through security, stow them away and put your sneakers on with (clean) bare feet.
The other pair of shoes I love for travel? Tod’s driving loafers. They’ll last you for years and literally mold to fit your foot. But break them in for a day or two before traveling in them.
Don’t forget some classic sunnies to put on post-flight. Forget the trendy tiny sunnies out right now; the larger classic styles cover any hint of jet lag or puffy, sleepy eyes.
What’s In My Bag
I prefer a soft-sided duffel when traveling internationally. It can squish into the overhead bin nicely and is rarely forced to be gate checked. I usually bring a tote bag as my personal item and bag for daytime looks during my trip, then stash a smaller clutch or bag inside to carry in the evenings. This system forces me to pack a bit lighter than I normally would and I don’t risk losing important things by constantly switching bags throughout my trip.
I’m sure you’ve heard about noise-canceling headphones before, but they’re so great I think they’re worth mentioning here. They block out sound – whether it be crying babies or airplane noise – and this pair feels incredibly comfortable to wear.
This silk sleep mask is really just about personal preference. My eyes get so dry on planes and a few eye drops followed by sleeping in one of these masks seems to help. It’s not essential for everyone, but if you have dry eyes or are a light sleeper, you might want to try it. The silk isn’t just to be glamorous – it won’t give you face creases like other materials will.
I always pack an oversized wrap or pashmina in my duffel bag. During the flight when the cabin gets cold, I pull it out and bundle it around my neck. Sometimes I cover my face with it when I want to sleep.
I’m old-fashioned. I like a nice book in my hands. (Read about my current book list here.) I’ll load a couple favorite movies on my iPad pre-flight, but when it comes to books I have to read the paper kind. Leave a little extra time before your flight so you can check out the airport book store and browse the stacks.
This is the most important part. Pack a clean tee or shirt and undies to change into in the airport when you arrive. Best case scenario, you’ll feel fresh. Worst case scenario, you’ll have essentials if your luggage is lost.
My Instagram bio states “always reading” and it’s not an exaggeration! I read every night before bed and just packed up a few new reads for my trip, so I thought I should share my new bookshelf additions in case you’re looking for something new as well. It’s about to get chilly outside; there’s no better time to cozy up and be whisked away by stories of other times and places. I’m so looking forward to diving into these new books and I would love for us to read them together so we can chat about them as we go! What are you currently reading?
When I read about this book and the true story behind it, I was intrigued to know more about this horrible employment rights violation. It’s unfathomable to think of such a tragedy happening in 2018, but in the early 20th century it wasn’t.
Description from Amazon:
“The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.
Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.
But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.
Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives…”
This book was recommended to me by a great friend of mine. When I read the description and saw the book combined time travel and England, I was sold and ordered it that very day. It sounds romantic and mysterious; I can’t wait to read it.
Description from Amazon:
A journey through time and a story of love, The Rose Garden tells the story of a modern woman thrown back three centuries only to find that might just be where she belongs.
After the death of her sister, Eva Ward leaves Hollywood behind to return to the only place she feels she truly belongs, the old house on the coast of Cornwall, England. She’s seeking comfort in memories of childhood summers, but what she finds is mysterious voices and hidden pathways that sweep her not only into the past, but also into the arms of a man who is not of her time. But Eva soon discovers that the man, Daniel Butler, is very, very real and is thrown into a world of intrigue, treason, and love.
Inside the old house, Eva must confront her own ghosts, as well as those of long ago. And as she begins to question her place in the present, she realizes she must decide where she really belongs: in the life she knows or the past she feels so drawn towards.
When I read Plum Sykes’s “Bergdorf Blondes” years ago, I fell in love with her writing. “Bergdorf Blondes” was a light-hearted, fabulous escape and while “Party Girls Die in Pearls: A Novel” sounds a bit darker and more mysterious, I’m hoping to get the same sense of escape from Plum Sykes.
Description from Amazon:
The New York Times bestselling author of Bergdorf Blondes takes us back to the decadent 1980s in this comic murder mystery set in the tony world of Oxford University.
It’s 1985, and at Oxford University, Pimm’s, punting, and ball gowns are de rigeur. Ursula Flowerbutton, a studious country girl, arrives for her first term anticipating nothing more sinister than days spent poring over history books in gilded libraries—and, if she’s lucky, an invitation to a ball.
But when she discovers a glamorous classmate on a chaise longue with her throat cut, Ursula is catapulted into a murder investigation.
Determined to bag her first scoop for the famous student newspaper Cherwell, Ursula enlists the help of trend-setting American exchange student Nancy Feingold to unravel the case. While navigating a whirl of black-tie parties and secret dining societies, the girls discover a surfeit of suspects. From broken-hearted boyfriends to snobby Sloane Rangers, lovelorn librarians to dishy dons, none can be presumed innocent—and Ursula’s investigations mean that she may be next on the murderer’s list.
Clueless meets Agatha Christie in this wickedly funny tale of high society and low morals, the first book in Plum Sykes’ irresistible new series.
I’ve heard so many recommendations for this book; most of them from my readers on Instagram. The description sounds a bit mysterious and a bit suspenseful, so I’m not exactly sure what to expect, but my readers rarely steer me wrong so I’m up for anything!
Description from Amazon:
In this entrancing novel “that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all” (Kirkus Reviews), a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
“Heartbreaking, yet beautiful” (Jamie Blynn, Us Weekly), The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is “Tinseltown drama at its finest” (Redbook): a mesmerizing journey through the splendor of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it costs—to face the truth.
I was so excited when I saw the trailer for this movie and even more excited when I realized the movie was based on a book. (I rarely come across a movie that’s better than the book.) I adore Blake Lively and I can’t wait to see this movie, but I want to read the book first; something tells me there’s a Gone Girl-style twist at the end.
Description from Amazon:
It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When glamorous Emily asks Stephanie to pick up her son after school, Stephanie happily says yes. Emily has a life that would make any woman jealous. She is the perfect mother with a dazzling career working for a famous fashion designer in Manhattan. Stephanie, a widow with a son in kindergarten, lonely in their Connecticut suburb, turns to her daily blog for connection and validation. Stephanie imagines Emily to be her new confidante and is shocked when Emily suddenly disappears without a trace, leaving her son and husband with no warning.
Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong. Unable to keep away from the grieving family, she soon finds herself entangled with Sean, Emily’s handsome, reticent British husband. But she can’t ignore the nagging feeling that he’s not being honest with her about Emily’s disappearance. Is Stephanie imagining things? How well did she really know her “best” friend?
Stephanie begins to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.
A Simple Favor exposes the dark underbelly of female friendship in this taut, unsettling, and completely absorbing story that holds you in its grip until the final page.
I discovered this book by mistake. I was looking for another title from this author and I noticed the title of this book. I read the back, saw it centered around the Pacific Northwest (which I fell in love with earlier this summer) and I thought it sounded intriguing enough to pick up. I think this will be a serene, soothing type of novel to read before bed.
Description from Amazon:
Jo Marie Rose first arrives in Cedar Cove seeking a fresh start. A young widow coping with the death of her husband, she purchases a local bed-and-breakfast—the newly christened Rose Harbor Inn—ready to begin her life anew. Her first guest is Joshua Weaver, who has come home to care for his ailing stepfather. The two have never seen eye to eye, and Joshua has little hope that they can reconcile their differences. Jo Marie’s other guest is Abby Kincaid, who has returned to Cedar Cove to attend her brother’s wedding. Back for the first time in twenty years, she almost wishes she hadn’t come, the picturesque town harboring painful memories. And as Abby and Joshua try to heal from their pasts, and Jo Marie dreams of the possibilities before her, they all realize that life moves in only one direction—forward.
I received so many recommendations from my readers to read this book. It seems a bit chilling and suspenseful; the Amazon description compares Ruth Ware to Agatha Christie so I’m assuming this will be a clever, creative mystery.
Description from Amazon:
On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.
Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.
Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.