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Riviera Travel Guide

November 24, 2018

Categories: Travel

french girl style

eze france

nice beach riviera

cap estel hotel

shopping in nice

best places in french riviera

Interested in more Travel Content? Take a peek at the following posts: Travel Outfit/What’s In My Travel BagHow To Avoid Jet Lag, and Essential Francophile Gifts.


Although it was my least favorite spot we visited, the French Riviera was beautiful – the perfect kind of beautiful that made me think we were on the set of The Little Mermaid or Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – swaying palm trees, turquoise water, giant boats docked in the harbor, palatial French resorts dotting the coast. And beautiful pairs well with relaxation. The Riviera is designed for pure relaxation, which is why we scheduled three days there at the end of our trip. But… The Riviera is also really touristy. As soon as we left our hotel each day, we were in traffic winding up and down the hills facing the coast. A guide told us that places like Nice and Monaco used to be just as authentic as places we visited like Provence and the Jura, but construction hasn’t stopped since the 70’s and 80’s and now these cities have nearly every square inch jammed with condo buildings and mansions. I will say the French Riviera is worth seeing and experiencing at least once. And if you’re planning to only stay at your resort and lay by the ocean, it will be the perfect relaxing ending to a long trip.

If you go, here’s what I recommend. If you’re coming from Provence, stop at the village of Apt and the city of Aix-en-Provence on your way. Consider spending a little time in the fragrance capital of Grasse; I’ve heard their perfumery tours are incredible. Besides these, there are so many other villages and towns to explore along the Riviera: Nice, Monaco, St. Tropez, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Cannes. Pick a few and start exploring!

We stayed at Cap Estel in Èze and I would highly recommend this hotel. It’s absolutely stunning; set on a lush green lawn with the waves crashing onto the rocky shore below. They had Sothys products and Dyson hair dryers in the bathroom. Even if you’re not staying at the property, you can make a reservation for dinner at their romantic restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean Sea or listen to their live music on the weekends. Further up the rocky cliff behind the hotel is the medieval hilltop village of Èze – it’s a short drive and worth an afternoon of exploring as well!

I did really enjoy just relaxing after our journey with a great book and listening to the waves crash next to me. My husband and I searched for sea glass on the rocky beach. One of my favorite nights was spent enjoying comfort food at a little Italian place in the Port de Beaulieu-sur-Mer overlooking the harbor. And shopping in Nice wasn’t bad either. Just expect a lot of tour buses and tour groups, even in the quiet season, and you’ll be prepared!


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Provence Travel Guide

November 21, 2018

Categories: Travel

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chateau d alpilles restaurant

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chateau d alpilles bar

st remy de provence

au bistro marin

french garlic

french sunday market

provence flowers

Interested in more Travel Content? Take a peek at the following posts: Travel Outfit/What’s In My Travel BagHow To Avoid Jet Lag, and Essential Francophile Gifts.


Church bells ring across the villages each morning as the gentle fog leaves the lavender fields of the Luberon valley. Ivy creeps up the crumbling fronts of peach and cream French architecture. A bespectacled woman in a linen dress carries a fresh baguette in arms for breakfast. An orange cat eyes you warily from the doorstep of an old French farmhouse. His owner is smoking a cigarette in the garden. This is the heart of ‘French country’. This is the beautiful, perfectly relaxed Provence.

I had a feeling Provence would be my favorite stop on our trip. I truly love the French culture and all it has to offer. A large part of this is their effervescent joie de vivre – or enjoyment of life. We Americans tend to push for extravagance and excess – super malls the size of a village, huge theme parks that cost the average American family thousands to visit, giant sprawling casinos with oxygen in the ventilation systems, sparklers coming out of your champagne bottle at the club. But in all that muchness we’re missing something important. We’re missing the simple joys of life.

In Provence, I learned to enjoy life. Period. No complications, no excess, just life. I enjoyed waking up to an open door, the breeze blowing in across clean linen sheets. Walking to the market, buying fresh strawberries, and enjoying all their juicy sweetness on the walk home. Lying back on the crumbly ruins of an old fountain and reading the perfect book under the southern French sun. Eating dinner by the light of four simple ivory candles and hearing the crickets begin to chirp. The French appreciate life and don’t take anything too seriously. Because if you can’t enjoy your life, what else is there?

We spent the majority of our time in Provence and discovered some beautiful places. Quaint little villages and palaces that will take your breath away. No matter what, when you go, make time to enjoy the little things. Because that is the beauty of this place and the culture of the people who live there.

Saint-Rèmy-de-Provence

This charming little village lies just 12 miles south of Avignon. Unassuming and casual (people can be seen dining in comfortable linen and their daytime espadrilles) this village is made up of Michelin star restaurants and luxe boutiques tucked into its winding streets. We stayed outside St. Rèmy in the beautiful Château des Alpilles hotel. If the château’s exquisitely French façade, alfresco breakfast, and relaxing grounds with swimming pool don’t persuade you to stay, at least visit for dinner. As you crunch through the gravel under trees older than the United States, you’ll feel transported to another time.

In the village, take some time to browse the local shops and boutiques. Don’t miss boho chic Provence staple Souleiado, mentioned in my Essential Francophile Gifts post. The St. Rèmy market is worth a visit as well; you can find everything there, from linen and fresh lavender to the most delicious olives and paella of your life. For dining options, I suggest the effortlessly French, semi casual L’Aile ou La Cuisse and the playfully inventive, Michelin starred Restaurant Fanny Rey.

Outside the village, 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.


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Les Baux-de-Provence

From St. Rèmy venture to the cliffside Medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence, a stunning cliffside fortress since the Bronze Age where you can spend the afternoon wandering the winding streets, shopping for souvenirs, and exploring the breathtaking views and ancient temple at the top. This village is so beautiful and so full of history, we decided to spend a full day here. Don’t forget to take in the multimedia show Carrières de Lumière as the sun goes down; the show is always changing and focuses on incorporating history and art.

Tip: Wear comfortable, flat shoes here. The village sits at the top of nearly one hundred stairs from some of the parking areas and the streets in the village are steep and worn smooth. A tiny, elderly French woman was making her way down and looked so unstable, I offered her my arm and we walked the rest of the way arm in arm.


chateau vaudieu

grape harvest

chateauneuf du pape wine tasting

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cooking class chateauneuf du pape

wine class chateauneuf du pape

popes palace


Châteauneuf-du-Pape & Avignon

Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the Pope’s “new” country palace, away from the politics and spying eyes in Avignon. There are only ruins left now (John and I are standing beside it above) but it’s worth the walk up to see the interior arches of the palace and the beautiful view over the valley the Pope would have had. Châteaneuf-du-Pape is now a world-renowned region for wine, especially red wine made from grenache grapes. The region is an AOC or Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, subject to strict standards and quality control for the best wine production possible. In 2010, there were just over 300 wine producers, so this makes the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine a bit more rare and special. It’s because of this I would recommend doing a vineyard tour and tasting here. We toured the beautiful Château de Vaudieu vineyard and were even able to witness the grape harvest in action before sitting down to a wine tasting with our tour guide.

Another suggestion for this area is to take a tasting with a master sommelier; they aren’t tied to a particular winemaker and will be able to teach you a bit more about the different fragrances, flavors, and textures in the local wines. I would recommend Guy Brémond at Les Caves St. Charles. He offers cooking classes at his wine shop as well.

We enjoyed lunch with a view at Hostellerie des Fines Roches before heading to Avignon to tour the Pope’s Palace. Take the iPad tour; it brings the space to life as it was centuries ago. Our friends have told us the Avignon market is quite nice as well, but it wasn’t being held the day we visited.


gordes france

gordes market

french baskets for sale

fresh lavender

menerbes france

menerbes france view

village of menerbes france


Gordes & Menerbes

Gordes and Menerbes are two of my favorite villages we visited in the Luberon Valley. Gordes is a Medieval village that appears to be cascading down the cliffside. It offers beautiful vantage points for photography, lovely shops (take a peek at ISA near Le Bastide hotel), and a lively market. Menerbes is nearby and offers twisting, winding streets and a breathtaking view from the top of the village near the famous Truffle House. Stop at Bistrot le 5 in Menerbes for a delicious lunch and another beautiful view. Shop at Sacha Décoration Mode for beautiful European clothes for both men and women. These villages are less about sightseeing and more about relaxing, wandering, souvenir shopping, and beautiful photography opportunities. We didn’t use a tour guide on these days; we just drove with a Spotify “French Café” playlist and the windows down and wandered at our own leisure. It was the perfect way to experience them.


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Essential Francophile Gifts

November 20, 2018

Categories: Beauty, Fashion, Travel

best french gifts

More French posts: French Driving Itinerary, Reims Travel Guide, Beaune Travel Guide, Jura Travel Guide, Annecy Travel Guide, Provence Travel Guide, and Riviera Travel Guide.


Something I always ask my readers pre-travel is, “What should I bring back?!” I love bringing back meaningful gifts to my friends and family at home; something that says, I wasn’t only thinking of you… I was willing to sacrifice suitcase space for you! (Because aren’t those the best presents?!) And of course, when traveling I always hope to find little mementos that remind me of my trip as well.

Keep reading to discover the items I would suggest picking up if you’re traveling to France. And… Maybe a few pieces we Francophiles can get here in the U.S. as well!

Linens

This was the overwhelming response I received when asking about the best French souvenirs. The French have become masters at linen and you can find the best linen in the world in little French shops and marketplaces. A few of my favorites? Tablecloths, napkins, dish towels, and little sachets to tuck in drawers and cabinets. We got some beautiful tablecloths with matching napkins at a little shop in Les Baux de Provence; they’re cottony-soft and will last for years and years. Shopping in the U.S.? Take a peek at this linen tablecloth, this grey stripe linen cushion, and these vintage striped kitchen towels.

Tips: Take measurements of your furniture beforehand and keep in mind a “table for four” in Europe is generally a bit smaller than what we would call a “table for four” here in the U.S. Ask for 100% linen or cotton products; some vendors sell ones mixed with polyester and these will become warped when steamed or ironed.

Traditional French Items

Ahh yes. Did you think I would forget about the beret?! I know, I know… It’s cheesy. But delightfully so, wouldn’t you agree?! My top three French staples would be a beret, a traditional Breton stripe top, and a leather ballet flat.

Take a peek at Laulhère, the only beret manufacturer still making berets start-to-finish in France. They have a shop in Paris, but I don’t think they’re shipping to the U.S. yet. I’ve actually ordered a few from their Amazon shop. And if you don’t see this brand in France, just ask for a beret that is wool or cashmere and made (at least partially) in France.

My favorite Breton stripe manufacturer is Petit Bateau. I like the traditional Mariniere, but also got a drop-sleeve style this trip. Go one size down if you want yours a bit more fitted. And mamas, rejoice… Their shop makes me wish I had littles to dress because their things are so darling!

I fell in love with the Repetto brand years ago. Repetto made their first ballet shoes in 1947 and slowly celebrities like Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn began wearing their Repetto flats out on the street. They are the only shoe I can buy and immediately wear for hours comfortably; and they only get better with time.





francophile gift guide


Region-Specific Items

This is something you might have to experience to decide, but each region in France has at least a few products they make exceptionally well. In Reims, of course, it was champagne. In Beaune, it was their wine and delicious mustards. In Provence, it was their hand painted pottery, beautiful printed textiles, lavender, and comfortable linen shoes. Everyone was wearing one of these Panama hats in Provence and though the one I purchased was Italian, I felt like I blended right in.

Tips: Simply ask your tour guide or the front desk at your hotel what items the region is famous for producing and where they prefer to shop for those items – you’ll find the best local spots this way. Another idea is to walk the local market and browse; I found so many lavender items in Provence this way.

And you may discover a new brand simply walking around the local village; I stumbled upon Souleiado this way. The brand came into being during the 1700’s when France banned the import of Indian block-printed textiles the people in Provence loved. So… Provence found a way to make their own printed textiles and Souleiado was born. Today the brand offers a selection of bright, colorful prints for both men and women. The beautiful silk blouses were my favorite. You can see a bit of the blue and white style I chose in the photo above.

Other gift ideas for the Francophile in your life? These Toni Pons espadrilles – order your regular size. Made in Spain, but they were quite literally everywhere in Provence. Put them on with a breezy dress and you’ll feel Provençal in no time. Tuck a pack of Les Anis de Flavigny mints in their stocking. I fell in love with these in France; smooth and with just a hint of delicate flavor, they become addictive in no time and you’ll feel just a little bit fancier pulling them out of your purse.




best french lingerie


Fashion + Lingerie

Fashion is one of France’s main exports and understandably so; walk around any French city or village and you’ll see numerous women looking très chic. Aside from the famous French designers, there are a few lesser-known brands and items I love to pick up when I’m in France.

The first item? Knits. French women wear little sweaters, cashmere, and knit wraps so well. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but their knits seem to look effortlessly elegant both during the day with jeans and at night with a pencil skirt or ankle pants. I like browsing around in local shops for cashmere finds, but one of my favorite U.S.-accessible French brands is Sézane. They just get their sweaters right – their styles with the removable collars are my favorites.

Another knit brand I love is Majestic Filatures. Their silky-soft knit tees and long-sleeves are so comfortable, but still look crisp enough to wear out under a blazer or jacket. This style is my favorite, but I’ve gotten several colors/styles/materials from them and have been pleased every time. You can find them for 30% to 50% off the U.S. price when buying in France, but I promise they’re worth the investment.

Last, but certainly not least, lingerie. The French know lingerie. My favorite brands are never tacky, but always feminine. Aubade Paris, ChantelleEberjeyLise Charmel, and Simone Perele. Any woman knows the confidence pretty underthings can give us, but quality undergarments can actually help clothing lay better on the body, creating a more flattering fit.




best french skincare


Beauty Products

The amount of articles I’ve read on “French skincare tips” is embarrassing – it should be banned by Google, really. But there is something to the whole European beauty phenomenon. Ever since I moved to Colorado and moved in with one of my top allergens (hello, shedding dog) my skin has become extremely sensitive. The downside? Rashes and allergic reactions at the most inconvenient times. But the upside is I have done a lot of research on skincare and am now extremely disciplined about my skincare routine and the products I use on my face and body. The E.U. has banned over 1,300 toxic ingredients in their skincare. The United States? Only 11. We shouldn’t need a chemistry degree to understand the products we apply onto our largest organ each day and we shouldn’t be forced to accept allergic reactions as ‘normal’ just because so many toxic ingredients exist in our products. When in France, I picked up a lot of beauty products for myself simply because the quality standards are so much higher there; I was able to test every one of those products without any reaction.

Among my favorites? The hydrating and soothing NUXE Rêve de Miel line – especially the lip balm and the face and body cleansing gel.  Biotherm’s gentle Deo Pure invisible deodorant that worked well, moisturized, and didn’t get white marks all over my clothing. Klorane Dry Shampoo for hair and La Roche-Posay Lipikar moisturizer for body. La Bonne Maison sophisticated home fragrances and candles. Any and all of the elegant Fragonard and Molinard fragrances, but especially Belle Cherie, Reine des Cœurs, and Le Rêve Nirmala.





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Annecy Travel Guide

November 17, 2018

Categories: Travel

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Interested in more Travel Content? Take a peek at the following posts: Travel Outfit/What’s In My Travel BagHow To Avoid Jet Lag, France Driving Trip Itinerary, and Essential Francophile Gifts. My collection of Annecy Instagram Stories is shared in an episode on my IGTV – also available to view here.


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!


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Jura Travel Guide

November 16, 2018

Categories: Travel

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montbeliard france jura

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montbeliard jura

Interested in more Travel Content? Take a peek at the following posts: Travel Outfit/What’s In My Travel BagHow To Avoid Jet Lag, France Driving Trip Itinerary, and Essential Francophile Gifts. My collection of “Montbéliard to Geneva” Instagram Stories is shared in an episode on my IGTV – also available to view here.


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.

Montbéliard, France

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.



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domaine de chateauvieux vineyard

switzerland sunrise

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domaine de chateauvieux

domaine de chateauvieux switzerland

swiss winery


Lausanne, Switzerland

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.


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The Best Wine Saving Tool

November 13, 2018

Categories: Lifestyle

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how to use coravin

wine saving tool

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Coravin Wine Saver.  Wine Bottle Opener.


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!





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Beaune Travel Guide

Categories: Travel

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Interested in more Travel Content? Take a peek at the following posts: Travel Outfit/What’s In My Travel BagHow To Avoid Jet Lag, France Driving Trip Itinerary, and Essential Francophile Gifts. My collection of Beaune Instagram Stories is shared in an episode on my IGTV – also viewable here.


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.


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breakfast in burgundy

french country garden

beaune bridge

hostellerie levernois grounds


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!


burgundy france best hotel

old french tree

french village

beaune burgundy

beaune travel guide


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Reims Travel Guide

November 7, 2018

Categories: Travel

cathedral notre dame reims

Sube Fountain Reims France

Interested in more Travel Content? Take a peek at the following posts: Travel Outfit/What’s In My Travel BagHow To Avoid Jet Lag, France Driving Trip Itinerary, and Essential Francophile Gifts. My collection of Reims Instagram Stories is shared in an episode on my IGTV – also viewable here.


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.


reims france architecture style

french architecture reims

reims france things to do


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.


lassiette champenoise

lassiettechampenoisereims

reims travel guide restaurants

le millenaire reims


What To Do

If you visit Reims, champagne tours and tastings are a mustAside 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.


roger coulon champagne

champagne vineyards

champagne roger coulon

champagne things to do

la villa rose epernay

avenue de champagne

epernay france

veuve clicquot cellar tour

veuve clicquot cellar

veuve clicquot vineyard


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France Driving Trip Itinerary

November 6, 2018

Categories: Travel

the cashmere gypsy france trip itinerary

Illustration by LB Project Print

Interested in more Travel Content? Take a peek at some of my related posts: Travel Outfit/What’s In My Travel BagHow To Avoid Jet Lag, and Francophile Gift Guide.


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.


Paris

4 Days for 3-Week Trip, 2 Days for 2-Week Trip, 1 Day for 1-Week Trip

Day 1: Travel Day – Take a peek at my posts on Travel Outfit/What’s in My Travel Bag and How to Avoid Jet Lag. (Don’t count your travel days if you’re doing a one-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.

Reims

3 Days for 3-Week Trip, 2 Days for 2-Week Trip, 1 Day for 1-Week Trip

Reims Blog Post Here

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.

Beaune

3 Days for 3-Week Trip, 1 Day for 2-Week Trip, 1 Day for 1-Week Trip

Beaune Blog Post Here

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.

Geneva

2 Days for 3-Week Trip, 2 Days for 2-Week Trip, 1 Day for 1-Week Trip

Jura Blog Post Here

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.

Provence

5 Days for 3-Week Trip, 4 Days for 2-Week Trip, 2 Days for 1-Week Trip

Annecy Blog Post Here

Provence Blog Post Here

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.

Nice

4 Days for 3-Week Trip, 3 Days for 2-Week Trip, 1 Day for 1-Week Trip

Riviera Blog Post Here

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!

Day 21: Travel Day


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How To Avoid Jet Lag

November 4, 2018

Categories: Travel

breakfast

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.

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