Over the last few years I've developed a tradition of a fall work trip. In past years I've done trips organized by Jim West at Scrapmap/Craft Tours (Italy, Ireland, China, Peru). This year I decided to mix it up and attend an event in Montpellier in southern France organized by my friend Celine Navarro.
The trip ended up being part vacation and part work as are many of these kinds of adventures. Aaron, being the good sport that he is, came along for all the reasons I'd want him along.
We arrived in Montpellier a week ahead of the event for the vacation portion of the trip. This was the least planned trip I've been on but it ended up working out just fine (least planned in terms of knowing exactly where we were going on what days and what cities we were going to focus on). Part of it was that we'd both been busy and part of it was that it was hard to choose and I kept changing my mind on where I wanted to go. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this method of last minute booking during a busier time of the year, but for late September/early October it worked fine and we had no issues finding rooms.
We ended up venturing outside Montpellier to three locations using trains as our method of transportion - all happen to begin with the letter A - Aix-en-Provance, Antibes, and Arles. We used TripAdvisor and Booking.com to find hotels in each location. We considered renting a car to be able to get to some of the smaller towns but ultimately decided it was simpler to just stick with locations we could get to via trains.
This was my first time in the southern part of France.
There was a lot of wandering. There was a lot of peeking around corners. There was a lot of wine and bread and cheese. There was a lot of looking up and looking down. Photos below were all taken with either my DSLR or my iPhone 6.
I'm thinking I'll do another Artifact Uprising photo book for this trip.
Here's a look at this adventure via photos.
For the first couple of days we stayed with Celine at her house and it was so, so fun to get to stay with her and her husband and share meals with them and chat and laugh.
There was so much laughing.
Celine showed us around Montpellier and the weather was beautiful.
I love checking out doors in other countries as you'll see throughout this post.
In Montpellier there were these awesome fish door knockers which I'm assuming is because of it's proximity to the Mediterranean Sea.
Our first stop outside Montpellier was Aix-En-Provence (the "Aix" is pronounced "X").
Our hotel (Le Pigonnet - found via Trip Advisor) was an easy walk from the train station to the hotel and an easy walk to the center of town.
The grounds of the hotel itself were beautiful and I could have just hung out there for awhile.
Ah but the light calls.
These three doors were found as we walked along a street out of the center of town. We walked and walked and walked.
We stayed in Aix-En-Provence for two nights. If I was doing it again one night would have been fine. Also, because we didn't really plan ahead, some of the things I'd have liked to have seen there (a museum specifically) were closed on the days we were there (Sunday & Monday).
We knew that we wanted to stay in at least one town along the Riviera and we ended up choosing Antibes (located between Cannes and Nice).
It was a good choice.
We stayed here two nights (booked one night and then ended up staying a second night to spend more time there). If you are following the news you might have seen that there was severe flooding in Nice and the surrounding areas. We were there before the rains came and it was really, really windy.
Such a beautiful spot.
I loved this town.
We spent a lot of time on one day just walking around looking at all the boats in the harbor. Everything from small fishing boats to the biggest yachts I've ever seen.
Antibes is home to this amazing sculpture made of letters of the alphabet by James Plensa. Awesome.
We also went to the Picasso Museum - which I loved. It featured paintings and drawings from a period of time when he lived in Antibes. I loved being able to see the progression of the artwork from some of his initial sketches/drawings to the completed paintings.
Antibes has a great market area - definitely one of my favorite things to capture with my lens.
The third place we visited was the lovely town of Arles.
The shutters. Definitely one of my favorite things to check out in each place we visited.
After Arles it was back to Montpellier for workshops.
For this event I put together a new class called Book Of Joy to celebrate some of the things that bring us the most joy in life.
As always it is so fun to see the students working with the products, creating their albums and telling their own stories.
Big thanks to all the students for your enthusiasm and laughter and for putting up with me as I practiced my French.
I'm so thankful to Celine for inviting me to come and stay with her and teach at her event. Her friendship and kindness and hospitality and sense of humor is a blessing in my life.
It was exactly where I needed to be.
As some of you know, Chris remarried while I was away. It's been tougher than I thought it was going to be emotionally. Traveling was great and hard at the same time. I'm thankful that Aaron was able to come with me on this adventure and for his compassionate heart along the way. I'm also thankful for my other close friends whose support means so much.
Now it's back to the business of being at home and kid routines and Fall and pumpkins and December Daily® preparations and continuing to work on living the length and the width.