My name is Diana Elizabeth. I'm a journalist, photographer, graphic designer and FORD model who had memorable days reporting from the LA red carpet for E! Online. I love sharing my life as a creative professional and the things that I discover along the way - with camera in hand.

My husband and I live in a restored 1952 red brick home that sits on a former citrus grove in Phoenix. I love traveling, home improvement projects, sewing, gardening, and John Mayer and Twilight. This is a glimpse into my life and work.

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Do you have a small closet?  Our home was built in 1952 so my answer is yes.  Mr. Wonderful uses the guest room (also his office) closet and we also utilize dresser drawers for other clothes.  The hallway closet holds all of our coats, I am so happy that I was able to give many away and downsize.  The “DI” in blue rhinestones was a gift from my sweet Nicole many years ago, it makes me happy just to see it.  The photo is my mom in a frame, she is actually hiding the electrical panel, but I like seeing my mom every day, Hi Mom!

I took a day to reorganize my closet and thought I’d share some space sharing tips and how to have fun with a small space.

Use thin uniform hangers

If anything, a little OCD is highly rewarded if you use uniform hangers, it makes things look cleaner.  I used to have pink wood velvet hangers but they wouldn’t fit in this tiny closet so I left them at my townhome.  These thin velvet hangers are by Real Simple (similar).  If I were to do it over again, I’d order the beige color because lighter colors make spaces look bigger. If you want a fun closet, try these hot pink heart hangers - these would be great for a fun gift or special items you want to hang!

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Use a board to make a shelf

I use metal shelf dividers (similar) and found a board leftover from a project and placed it on top to hold more purses.  You can pick one up at Home Depot and they will cut it to size for you.  I am now using all the space overhead that I can.

Do you use dust bags for your purses?  You should, especially if you live in a dusty state like Arizona!  Designer purses always come with one and you should always use them, take care of your investments!

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I also use metal shelves – also can be found in the kitchen section of stores and I put my shorts above my folded camisoles.

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I decided to fold my scarves on the shelf instead of clipping them to hangers.

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Use the space behind the door

Not to waste any space, I use this over the door shoe rack - this one holds more shoes I might need to get it one day.  These are not all my shoes, I actually have a ton in our laundry room which varies depending on the season.

Right now boots are stored away and all my wedges, flats and flip flops which I wear regularly right now are in our mudroom.

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Make shelf space if necessary

We have a great handyman named Dennis who does a lot of work for us.  I wanted a built in dresser like area with a shelf.  The basket is holding all necessary travel goodies, travel slippers, pillow, blanket, pills, tons of see-thru zip bags and shoe bags.  I love bags, I should probably get rid of some but I’m a bag hoarder.  If you ever opened up my luggage you would just see everything in bags.

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The shelf is great to leave my panama hat undisturbed and a few cute umbrellas.

Install hooks everywhere you can

These petal hooks are from Anthropologie.

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See this hidden hook?

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Use baskets to store unattractive items

I call tennis shoes unattractive because they don’t fit my lifestyle.  I rarely wear them so I put them in a little basket around the corner away from eyesight.  For things you don’t use that often, it’s OK to put it out of sight.

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Have bags + boxes for donations

When I organize my closet I prepare a box ready for a girlfriend to send her some goodies.  I also have to admit – I had those shirts I kept grabbing out of convenience and I hated that I wore so often – so I would just force myself to get rid of it so I couldn’t wear it anymore!  If you have items like that, I support you in self control and releasing it so you aren’t caught dead wearing it ever again!

Other bags are for donations – preferably hospice stores or the Salvation Army.  As much as I enjoy shopping at Goodwill for the bargain, I prefer to send my donations to charitable places so nonprofits can get money to support the good they do.  If you live in Phoenix I recommend the White Dove Thrift Shoppes which belong to the Hospice of the Valley.

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Add a fun rug

Just because your closet is small doesn’t mean you can’t fit a 2×3 rug inside just for fun!  You can also place your wedges on top if you want to keep your carpet clean.  We are a no shoe wearing home.

Machine washable leopard print indoor/outdoor rug: Madison at Main (c/o).  It’s the small things that can make you happy even if it’s a small space.

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Choose what gets hung and what is folded

Right now it’s hot and it’s swimsuit season so my swimwear is hung.

I choose to fold:

  • Tees, camis, leggings
  • Non fashionable items (basics)
  • Sweatshirts

I choose to hang:

  • Lovelier things that make me want to grab them.
  • Jeans. I used to fold them but after I visited Seven for All Mankind at Kierland Commons, I liked the way they were displayed in the store that I rushed home to hang mine by their belt loops.  You can see them behind my swimsuits.

I know if I see my closet full of pretty things – my eyes go straight to my hangers, I’ll feel better about what’s in my closet and not feel as though my wardrobe is boring.

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Label your shelves

When you see where things are, it is kind of a “no duh” of what it is.  But, I read in a magazine that just having labels will help you sort things faster – and help your husband know where things go.  I also can look at a shelf and say to myself, OK, that’s enough basic tees, or that’s enough camisoles.  My OCD side loves the labels!

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Store out of season items

Because my closet is small, I prefer to switch out my seasons.  It also works well because every time I pack up or unpack a season I can look at every piece of clothing and ask myself if it’s something that should go back into my closet or be donated.  I keep my out of season things in plastic bins under the bed and my boots are stacked in the hallway closet.  I also purged many boots after realizing I was a boot hoarder.

I hope this inspires you to clear out your closet, donate or sell items, have a garage sale, or bless a friend who needs your things more than you do!  I think of a tiny closet as a tiny purse, don’t overload it!

Diana Elizabeth will now probably go back through her closet and thin it out even more.  The feeling of being lighter is always good and the 20/80 rule applies – you probably wear 20 percent of your closet 80 percent of the time.

Home

IMG_1573_edited “There are no wrong turnings.  Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.” – Guy Gavriel Kay

I spent 10 days back home in Northern California with my parents, old high school friends – enjoyed the cooler weather (except for that one horrific day it was 107!), escaping the Phoenix heat.  While I imagine being home will be nothing but sleeping in and being in my sweats, I found myself busy with a schedule overload and unable to see some friends I hoped – next month we’ll try again.

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Do you live in your hometown?   If you don’t live in your hometown, every time you return do you realize just how much you’ve changed?  I still reminisce about moving home as I did last fall, after all those years growing up swearing I would never move back again because the country was so boring.  OK, Granite Bay really isn’t country-country but it is less city, more quaint, and a lake town – with 10 rated schools.  A definite perfect place to grow up and settle down – yes mom and dad, you were right and the move from Sacramento was a positive change that shaped the rest of my life.

Although it has been said that the idea of being home is much more glamorous than the reality of being home – so I’m sure visiting is more suitable.

I saw my college buddy Paris who I gifted to my parents before I moved to LA.  I always thought I’d come get him again but he bonded with my dad that I think he needed to stay, but I miss him so much.

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Mom gave me some of my late grandmother’s Chinese ornaments – I think they will be lovely on my mini pink tree I display in my office.  I remember hanging these up when I was a little girl.  This was my bunch, my brother gets a few as I fairly split them up.

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Took my parents out for dinner to TGIFridays, they were thrilled.  Aren’t they the cutest? I had a yummy buttery steak, so did dad, and mom had lobster and salmon – handcrafted goodness.

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One night I hung out with some of my closest high school girlfriends.  In high school, our little group was called the Mod Squad, named by Mr. P.  It stuck.  We had colors – red and black.  It was just a fun little thing we called ourselves, you know, you do that when you’re 16.  Now on the GroupMe App which we use to message everyone, we’re called ABCD Mod Squad- April, Becky, Carrie and Diana.

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Becky grilled on her patio for us, I though it was so cute – and ended up being so delicious I had to snap a photo of the marinated chicken and halved peaches.  I overdosed on produce when I was back home, I should have turned into a nectarine or plum!

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We ate dinner on Becky’s parent’s wedding dishes – so Anthro, right?  Carrie proceeded to cut her chicken so nicely so I took a photo of her dish instead of mine.  She was proud.

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Good chit-chats and a suggestion to take a nice evening stroll sounded perfect.  I made a new friend – he’s green.

I don’t know why, but I am convinced if praying mantises were an ethnicity, they would be Asian because I think they are going to karate chop and do some tai chi.  That also reminds me I planted two praying mantis eggs in our garden late spring and never saw the little guys around.  I love way they look, I think they are so beautiful.

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Time with home girls who have known me since I was 11 are just the type of girls who allow you can completely be yourself – even if you revert back to being 14.  I swear I haven’t changed much, I still jump into conversations completely unaware of what was said before (I should have been listening but I rarely do), and I make them repeat stuff.  We laugh, we have the same habits, but yet we’ve changed.

California is having a little drought going on right now, hence some dryness.  This little squirrel was barking at me, not happy I was taking his photo and then I got a flashback of the Griswold Christmas tree scene and decided I would not coax him to come closer.

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How I feel about being home?  Hip, hip…

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We talked about life, relationships, babies, and our parents – mainly about how we are hearing about wills and how to handle life after death, a completely different stage in life that none of us really thought about.  I think during our walk I listened more than I talked.  I was taking everything in, the sights, the feeling of just being.

Diana Elizabeth extended her upcoming trip back home next month by two days, just like that. 12 days is much better than 10.  She can probably bear Arizona summers the more often she’s gone!

Life

*Winner from France giveaway announced at the end of this post*

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Quite a few of you mentioned you wanted to visit Paris so I thought I should dig up my Paris photos from a several years ago and show you around.

I had visited in the fall to visit my girlfriend Fawn who was temporarily living in London to help start up a new branch.  I stayed at her flat in London for a few days before we headed to Paris.

TAKING THE TRAIN FROM LONDON TO PARIS

We headed to Paris on the Chunnel by Eurostar and spent two and a half days in lovely Paris.  I do suggest booking this ahead of time as last minute can be quite pricey, just like an airline ticket.  Also, don’t get a coffee thinking you can get on the train aroind the time posted on your ticket.  The depart time listed is when you should be on the train at that time. We got sweetly scolded by an employee asking where we had been.

Late Americans.

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WHERE WE STAYED IN PARIS

I had done some research and found the most adorable and most probably expensive hotel.  But, it made me squeal.

I found Hôtel Le 123 Elysées from a search and oohed and ahhhed over the details. Our room was two single beds placed next to each other which worked fine for space.  It was the most gorgeous hotel that it made me squeal – what a way to experience Paris!  To book, click here.

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The hotel is located in an incredibly fantastic place in the city in Paris, right by the Avenue des Champs Elysées.  This avenue is where you will definitely want to go, also the bus tour has multiple stops along this busy road.

WHAT WE SAW

Just a few blocks around the corner, here I am by the Arc with my baguette!  I didn’t want to eat it, I really just wanted to walk down the avenue with it and take a photo.  Do I look Parisian?  How about ParASIAN?

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After we grabbed a bite to eat – it was rainy and a bit overcast, we used our Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour I preordered and decided to just see Paris for a few hours and decide what we wanted to really see the next day.

On our second day, it was our full day there.  We decided to walk and utilize the bus tour again (we got a 2-day pass) to get us to where we wanted to go. There was so much to see but Fawn and I really just wanted to shop and walk around to be completely honest. When in France, do what the French do…shop!

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I had a few things on my wish list to see, Notre Dame was definitely one.

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I know this bridge is famous, but I forgot the name.  Someone fill in the blank for me.

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As Fawn and I walked around the streets with a mission in mind – shopping, a bus nearly run us over and through a narrow opening of a building.  We poked our heads inside, curious.  It wasn’t a pedestrian entrance but we decided to proceed by walking through and we stumbled into the Louvre! You should have seen how big our eyes got as if we just discovered a hidden treasure.  We then got carried away with excitement, clearly.

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My Top 10 Paris book told us all the things as must-sees in the Louvre - the Mona Lisa included.  She’s only 5×7 in person by the way.  I know, she looks 8×10 on TV, camera adds weight.

We spent the rest of our day going up and down the stairs giggling, searching, and finding 9 out of 10 favorites.  We couldn’t find the Lacemaker and asked a worker where she was only to find she was on tour in Japan!

Here we are proud of our check off list.

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A walk back to our hotel…admiring the lovely Arc de Triomphe – did you know there are several of these throughout France?  The one in Paris is the original and most well-known of course but there are several versions.

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The loveliest sight of them all.  The top is blue so it’s the French flag colors. It was a rainy, drizzly night, just how I like it.

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What is it about flower shops in Paris that make us stop and take our breath away?

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Just a few sights from taking the last bus round back…

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Back to our sweet hotel…

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Where the lights were glitter…

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And the floor sparkled…

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Sweetest dreams, Paris.

GIVEAWAY WINNER

I genuinely loved reading all of the places you hope to visit in France some day and I know the French Tourism PR enjoyed reading them.  I know you are wondering about the French Goodies winner!

Winner: Faline / 1st runner-up: Carissa  / 2nd runner-up: Hogan

I decided to do a few extra goodies.  Every time I travel some place special I’m bringing something back for one of you, I like hearing from you all.  That way, you’ll have more chances to enjoy a few goodies from other places.

BLOGGING BREAK

Just for a week, I haven’t taken time off from blogging for a long time since I decided to blog daily.  I’m going home to Nor Cal tomorrow for 10 days and I have a lot of reading, lake walks, and time with my parents to enjoy.  You can see what I’m up to on Instagram (@dianaelizabeth_).  I’ll be back the following Monday.  I appreciate you all reading and commenting, have a fantastic weekend! xx Di

Diana Elizabeth’s college dog Yorkie turned parents dog is named Paris.  He’s pretty darn cute.  Yes, she said he.

France, Travel

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Oh come on, did you really think it was over?  Nah, I still have this post and ONE more smashing surprise city tomorrow you won’t want to miss.  Then normal *yawn* life presumes.

I thought a lot about my garden readers when I was in France.  OK, I kinda thought a lot about my own garden that I had to snap some photos to document for myself what I wanted to create back home.

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Bamboo supports were a huge thing, and I have noticed it’s now taken over on American gardening sites as well.

I love how they look, my only hesitation is keeping them in the ground when our crazy dust storms and wind comes around.  I also noticed there were several different ways of using the bamboo poles and using them with twine.

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Right now we have wood posts similar to the photo below which also looks as if twine seems to work well with supporting basil and tomato plants.

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Once our summer crop dies and I can start over, I think I’ll try to get a few of these bamboo sticks in place.  If you’re in another part of the country this might be your season to start growing and organizing your garden beds.

USE THESE TOOLS TO CREATE A FRENCH GARDEN

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Various sized Bamboo Poles and Stakes – 25 Set / Set of 12 Faux Bamboo + connectors
2 ft – 8 feet (you pick) Pack of 25 Bamboo Stakes / Natural Twine

I’m going to try the various height 25 set on Amazon. I also like the thicker pole at the top too, so maybe I’ll do some measuring and see how it’ll work.

GSTBAMBOO_02 Various sized Bamboo Poles and Stakes for this look

 What do you think?

Diana Elizabeth says it’s too hot to really garden.  She goes out in the evenings but then the skeeters get her and she’s not happy.  She’ll need to use her OFF! fan clip, it totally works, she once used it during an October wedding.

Home

france-outfit-floral-pants Pants: Morning Lavender

Ten full days of France, plus two days of travel, means a whole lot of packing.  Somehow, I came back with half my clothes and the other half of my suitcase was full of things I bought.  Sorry product links won’t happen much since a majority of these items are older or vintage.  If they are still available I’ll list them.  Remember, you can be creative!

It takes the same amount of time to dress plain than it does to dress cute (thanks for saying that Brenna).

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“Pardon my French” shirt

Remember, I already planned leaving a lot of my clothes and shoes behind (I left a pair of my Sam Edelman ballet flats behind, as they got ruined in the rain in Aix). Oh well, I replaced the space with something better!

I also got photobombed a bit, especially by vespas. I didn’t mind. I mean really, how many places can you get a vespa in your photo?

See this one.  He looks like he was speeding up to get in my photo.


Dresses were easy.

And those vintage skirts I never wore, finally looked great in France!  But really, doesn’t everything and everybody look better in France?

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Adding a top (crochet or lace) over a tired maxi skirt also helps.  I belted a scarf to make it more unique.

If you forget something, just buy a new top, like I did!  Fabric made in France, I bought this top from one of the markets in Aix-en-Provence and paired it with linen pants I brought.

An oldie but goodie Anthro top with shorts.  Welcome to my palace!

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The perfect dress to boat down the Canal du Midi, don’t you think?

There were also quite a few outfit changes as it was warm and only lightly humid – but we were also very busy all day so a quick shower before dinner was always necessary, so I had two wear two outfits a day.  Good thing I packed enough!

Here’s something you might get a kick out of, in France, they only have sales twice a year, they last for about a month and a half.  It’s law, they aren’t forced to do it, (trust me, I wanted Hermes to have a sale but they didn’t), but it’s the only time they can do it, as I was told.  ”SOLDES” is said like “Sold” and that means sale.

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The day we arrived into Montpellier, it was the first day of the big sales. It was craaaazy.

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Isn’t it also crazy that on Sundays the stores are closed, most anyway.  The Galeries Lafayette (high end) is open, but closes early – by the way, sales they have on their tags apply only if you have their card.

As a huge shopper I couldn’t imagine life with sales only twice a year.  Gosh dang we are lucky in America, aren’t we?  The freedom of sales anytime! *wink*  Although I gotta tell you, French fashion is just stunning, the quality, creativity, I took interest to multiple French clothing lines.

I fell in love with this 100% silk scarf from Souleiado - (different print). I was looking for a memorable piece of jewelry as a souvenir but couldn’t find anything unique enough and saw this scarf which was created in France and begged to drape my shoulders and be twisted on my head.  Some of you might know Liberty London, Souleiado prints are very popular in Southern Europe, and um, quite pricey.  Their items are gorgeous, see their fashion look book, the photography is stunning!

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I also found this unique soap holder, of course, made in France.  Marseille is known for their soap – made from olive oil.  Isn’t this cool?  Good news, if you really like it, I found one online too here while looking for refills. Mr. Wonderful said I probably should’t mount it unless I could find refills, and, done.

Did you notice the pink scrubby towel under it?  Have you ever considered going to a supermarket in another country just to see what they use?  Of course see the “Made in France” logo, as in France, not much is made in China.  The kitchen cleaning towels were under 3 euros.

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I also knew I had to get an olive wood piece and loved this ladle, it was 14 euros.  The tablecloths under it are French fabrics, so so so so divine.  I bought two, plus six matching napkins.  The cost of the tablecloths vary from 20-35 euros.

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So this is all the stuff I bought.  No wonder I didn’t have room.  Yep, that’s pink sugar and olive oil in an Eiffel Tower glass.  I had a quick layover in Paris and since I didn’t have much room the last time I was in Paris to buy much, I figured I’d dump all my euros and buy a few more things.

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There’s a lavender sachet – also a must-buy especially in Aix, and more towels, candy, and I also came home with six tea towels, my favorite souvenir of choice, but again, I won’t be keeping them all.

Speaking of not keeping things, I did also bring back stuff with you in mind, truly.  The fact that this took up space in my suitcase means I really really love my readers.

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How about this adorable tin I picked up from the Roy Rene Calissons factory.

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But wait!  That’s not it!  I also got a soap from Nice, a towel from Montpellier, candy from Aix – note this candy has almonds so if you are allergic to nuts don’t eat it!  There is also a small glass wine stopper from Château La Coste in Aix. Everything is made in France so it’s a special treat!

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  • Leave a comment below with what city you’d like to visit in France – Nice, Aix, Carcassonne, Marseille, Montpellier, or Le Boat down the Canal du Midi?

US residents only because I’m not sure how to ship internationally, sorry, I still love you international readers! Comments close tomorrow, Thursday at 5 p.m. Arizona time, I gotta make it brief so this is a quick giveaway –  I have to mail this out before I take off again!  Winner selected at random so just leave a comment :)

Diana Elizabeth only felt slightly guilty when she left things behind, but she needed the space and she knew some things would never come out of the closet again.  A photo in it was all she needed!

France, Style, Travel

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Staring from Nice and working our way slowly west, we had to return to a city with an airport to eventually return home to the States.  Montpellier is a very large city filled with lots of students and international students, a young crowd. We only had half day and really a few hours to see Montpellier after a lengthy drive from Le Somail after leaving our Le Boat fun down the Canal du Midi.

About Montpellier

There’s quite a bit of history in this city, lots to see if you take the time to grab a tourist map and see the Historical Montpellier.  There is a lot to see while you can also check out the shopping on your way.  Since we only had a few hours I wasn’t able to give as much time as I wanted to this city, but it’s a lovely location to walk the streets, of course lots of decisions when it comes to food.  There’s a pretty park that you can’t miss right in the middle of the plaza area.  Visit the Montpellier tourism site here.

Things we saw and where we ate

We were starving so we found a little spot to eat.  It was around 3 p.m. and many restaurants were no longer serving lunch as they were out of food and getting ready for dinner.  So eat when the French do or starve.  But we did find a place that was serving, so just ask around.

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For lunch I decided to cater to my sweet tooth and get a banana Nutella crepe with vanilla ice cream.  I should also clarify that it’s pronounced “krepe” not “cray-pe” as us Americans say.  I’m not sure where we put the “A” vowel in the word but I’ve come to the conclusion we have butchered many words.  Did you know “tampon” means stamp in French?

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The drink of choice in France, Orangina!  I have loved this drink as my local LGO has this and it’s a treat.  I drank way too many of these.

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Oddly enough during lunch a storm rolled in and just poured on us, but only for a few minutes as we waited for it to pass so we could explore the city.

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The Arc de Triomphe.  Now I know you’re thinking as I thought, wait, isn’t this in Paris?  Well, apparently there are many of these in the country, not just Paris.  This one was created in the 17th century to honor Louis XIV and was built where one of the gates of the rampart used to be.

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We got the access to go up top as we were press and wow look at this view!  Thanks to Crystal for this awesome photo, my favorite.  She was so patient with me taking photos of me, I am so thankful.

I believe I was yelling, “I love France!!!!!” from the top of the Arc. I mean, what better place, right?

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Can I stay, pretty please?

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Let me also briefly tell you about me waving around the wrong flag around town.  But first, let me explain that I know what the France flag looks like before the mishap.  I had purchased a blue, white, and red striped flag from a tent selling World Cup memorabilia.  I started waving the flag around town, taking photos with it (including the top of the Arc) and I reviewed the photo off my camera right.  ”Wait a second,” I said, “Those stripes are going the wrong way, is my flag broken?”  I freaking bought the Netherlands flag.  And this dumb American was waving it around the Arc taking photos.  HOWEVER, for the record none of my other blogger friends even noticed, nor the France gal giving us the tour, so it was an easy mistake, but I caught it in time!  THANK GOD!  You know, before I started waving it around the streets at night during the World Cup game and got spit on.

Tsk tsk, what happened was the flag I purchased was displayed sideways, so I saw it the CORRECT way of the France flag.  So for the record, that guy probably knew I wanted a France flag but sold it to me anyway.  I want my 3 euros back.  I suppose I made some funny memories for everyone else at my expense.  I shall never show you those photos on my blog.

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We saw a medieval Mikve used by the Jewish who used it to purify their bodies before a lot of the holidays. This was also an exclusive because we were press.  I believe I was told it was around since the 11th century but again, I’m bad at numbers so I could be wrong. They build where natural water comes in and it is very cold. They dip themselves in it, not to wash themselves. Observe how clear the water is which is also 10 degrees Celsius.

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A little dinner at La Panacée.  Even though this was really amazing to see inside, we decided to enjoy tapas outdoors since the weather was so lovely.

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The kitchen staff was so excited we were Americans they made us a special plate!

The World Cup was on TVs set outside by restaurants and everyone was outside cheering which was an amazing experience to observe, listen, and cheer for France.  I was genuinely rooting for France to win all their games.  I know, I’m not quite patriotic, they still let me back in the States but when one spends 10 full days in France exploring it in unique ways, well, of course I’m going to fall madly in love with everything about it!

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Oh, goodnight France, what a way to end a lovely trip. We said our goodbyes with long hugs and sweet words, sad that our adventure had come to an end – that moment you wish wasn’t happening so soon, that time when you know as soon as you said hello that before you would know it, you’d have to say goodbyes.  I will forever treasure my time with my sweet blogging friends and hope one day we can travel again together, as we all bring a unique background and specialty to the blogging world.

Have you seen my 3 minute video tour of France?  Click here.

Equipment used: Sony NEX-5R (c/o), 50mm f1/.816mm f/2.8 + 18-55mm (c/o), 18-105mm f/4 (c/o) + Canon Powershot S100

Diana Elizabeth is ready to give you some tips about visiting France, a few more travel tip advice and also a France giveaway!  Stay tuned and make sure you don’t miss it.

France, Life, Travel

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When we were asked if we would be willing to extend our France trip by a few days to go boating down a canal, I was beyond ecstatic!  The lovely people at Le Boat wanted to show us what it would be like to experience boating in France.  Um, OK, dream come true.  After our brief yet lovely visit in Carcassonne, we rode in a car to Homps, a little area where boats were docked and we spent our first night on a boat in our individual rooms (rooms sleep two) and private bath. Our particular boat had 4 rooms and 4 bathrooms, a kitchen below and an amazing deck above, including room to lounge (as you see me doing above), seating in the back and an outdoor grill!  We spent two nights on Le Boat, with one true full day from Homps to Le Somail.

First, this video that will explain it all!


{On mobile?  Click here.}

About Le Boat

Anyone can rent a boat to sight see down the canal.  Le Boat offers several different types of boats all over Europe so you can go at your own pace while enjoying your mobile hotel.  It’s kinda like cruising only private.  If you enjoy boating anyway, this is definitely the route for you to take.  I grew up on a lake, though our Sea Ray was nothing like this amazing boat provided by Le Boat, and you won’t get any motion sickness, the boat doesn’t rock even while in motion and the canal is very smooth.  At night, you dock and anchor so there are no weights and again, the canal is a quiet body of water.  To plan your boating vacation with Le Boat, click here.

We woke up the next morning and walked to a little market.

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I had to take a few photos, this little gem is for sale by the way.

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Then I got all nosey and peeked into someone’s backyard.  Look at this garden!  When I came back, a little old lady was outside checking on it and I thought to myself, that’ll be me one day.

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The tiny market had pink and orange, and green toilet paper.  Do you see how the French just have more fun, even in el toilette?  If only I had more room in my luggage you know I would have bought some pink toilet paper.

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About our boat

Here’s the inside of our boat, I’m with Crystal and Beth.  We called our boat the Princess Cruise line since we had the Captain and honestly, the three of us can’t do anything that involves sportiness.  So we pretty much lucked out and were thankful that we had Captain to go through the locks and manage on his own.  We would have been useless!

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Our friends – four of them had to go on another boat.  Thankfully Dave had a sailing/boating license and was experienced so he could handle the boat.  Again, anyone really could, but it was much easier with him since he was on a boat full of girls.

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The Locks

Here is a lock, after the water has gone down.  You need to watch the video I’m including at the end of this post to see how it works.  Le Boat will help and explain how to go through the locks, as there are several down the canal and you must take turns.

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Feeling on top of the world in France!  John Mayer playing a sweet breeze, oh the life!

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Duck!  Watch out for those bridges!

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Who let this crazy drive the boat?
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Scheduled was an exclusive wine tasting at Château de Paraza.  We had a bit of a climb, but it was worth the view.

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I really wanted a donkey after meeting these two who took a huge liking to Amanda but backed away from everyone else in the group.  Donkey whisperer!

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Now onto wine tasting in this chateau.  This has been in the family for generations and they have lots renovations planned.  It’s amazing yet mind blogging the details and upkeep of such a lovely place.  I asked if they planned on having weddings here one day and they said they were planning on it.  So, I’ll be your photographer if you want, just saying.  I mean, I’d be perfect for it since I already scouted the place.

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This little spot is the kitchen area where the cooks way back in the day used to hang out and make the meals.  I thought of Downton Abbey of course.

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However, the stairs hit this very low ceiling.  Here’s Dave showing.  I mean really, could you imagine carrying food and all sorts of things having to duck so low?

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We jumped in a jeep and got a gorgeous eyesight of a tour of all their vineyards.  They are one of the oldest estates dedicated to growing vines in the South of France.

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Look at this chicken coop! The girls were clucking and were so excited to see people I had to run over and snap a few photos for inspiration and to share.

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Now those are real French hens.

Now trust me when I say French food is absolutely amazing, no doubt about it.  However, sometimes when you’ve been away from home for so long, you crave the familiar.  Even the things you rarely eat back home, like a burger.  All of us freaked out when we saw a burger delivered to another table that well, some of us had to order one.  This was at L’eau à la Bouche.  We fell asleep with happy tummies.

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The next day Francois from Discover France showed us the different bikes we could take to discover France.  OK so maybe I took a picture to show you again how beautiful France is, and the people.  Shame on me.

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A little bit about Discover France – you can do a bike tour in Spain, Italy, Holland/Belgium, Czech Republic/Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, and Sonoma County, California.  I want to try the Sonoma County one since my friends and family are in Nor Cal.  And you can also do the Tour de France route.  They will plan your entire tour, give you a GPS and itinerary so you can stop for lunch, sight seeing, wine tasting, whatever you want, just tell them and they will plan it for you.  Just another way to discover France!  Click here for more information.

If you are not athletic as myself you can choose to ride an electric bike, one little pedal it goes so fast!  Weeeeeee!

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Here we are with our Captain, such an amazing guy!  Thanks Captain for keeping us safe and your amazing company, you truly were such a fun captain to be around, the experience would not have been the same without you.  Also thanks for cooking lunch for us.

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Time to say goodbye to our Le Boat and go onward.  Goodbye sweet room!

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Onto Montpellier tomorrow!

Have you seen my 3 minute video tour of France?  Click here.

Equipment used: Sony NEX-5R (c/o), 50mm f1/.816mm f/2.8 + 18-55mm (c/o), 18-105mm f/4 (c/o) + Canon Powershot S100

Diana Elizabeth thinks when she looks back at photos she sees people who are part of her memories forever.  

France, Life, Travel

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We only had half a day in Carcassonne before we had to head out to catch outrboat.  However, in the few hours we were there, I absolutely fell in love, we all winced that we didn’t get more time there, and we agreed this gem of a spot deserves another visit.  I hope to come back and enjoy this medieval town one day – they even hold a concert inside those walls!

About Carcassonne - This ancient city has been around 1,000 years before Christ.  In 1 B.C. it was part of the Roman Empire, before becoming a part of France in the 13th century.  This Château Comtal was built in the 12th century and restored in the 1800s.  There are 21 abbeys, castles and the like within the Carcassonne nearby area.  There are also concerts within these walls, lots of shopping that would keep any girl entertained for hours, restaurants, and great places to take photos.  If I were to return I’d stay in the hotel inside (it’s 5-star), and enjoy at least two days to explore.  For more information, visit Carcassonne’s site.

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I’m so tiny!

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A jumping photo in honor of my friend Melayne who always jumps in front of things.

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The inside is like it’s very own village.  Stores galore!  I was a happy shopper.

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This is the 5-star hotel inside the La Cité Médiévale, called Hôtel de la Cité.

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A beautiful church.

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I kinda squealed looking at the garden below.

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And that was our evening!  We had a little dinner in a local spot and hopped in a car to take us to Homps for the night to start our adventure on a boat down the Canal du Midi!  See you Monday on a boat!

Have you seen my 3 minute video tour of France?  Click here.

Equipment used: Sony NEX-5R (c/o), 50mm f1/.816mm f/2.8 + 18-55mm (c/o), 18-105mm f/4 (c/o)

Diana Elizabeth says hope you have a great Fourth of July!

France, Life, Travel

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I hope by now you can tell how uniquely different each city is from one another.  Marseille (pronounced – Mar-say) was one of my favorite cities and you’ll see why, this post is loaded with photos with lot of adventures – including fish eating my feet.  Just wait.

About Marseille

Marseille is a port city, France’s oldest major city.  The harbor is full of fishing boats, and on Sundays the port area is filled with an arts and crafts market – which is perfect to visit since most stores are closed on Sundays (customary). This city has quite a long history, as people have lived here for over 26 centuries. The sights of the city are breathtaking and worth the hike.  To plan your trip, visit the city of Marseille site here.

We had one heck of a ride into Marseille, due to a subway and bus ride (not recommended) – take a taxi straight to your hotel.  But, we came out of the subway with happy faces, looked up at the reflective ceiling above, and took a pic.  I love our little blogger travel family. Crystal (mommy), Vivienne (travel photog), Amanda (fitness + health), Kristen (travel vlogger).

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Day 1 – The View, Soap Making + Fish Pedi

To see an amazing view of the harbor, check out Le Palais du Pharo.  It’s up on a hill, not much to see other than well, a pretty spectacular view of the old port.

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We headed down along the port into the old city.

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Here is La Vieille Charité which is just lovely to take photos, and a little restaurant is in there as well.

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Darling, right?

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This is the Marseille Cathedral, look at those pretty stripes, such a fashionable little church.

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Then we headed to the Marseille éternelle museum which will forever be full of giggles in my memory for non artwork related reasons.

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Then off to the fairly new MuCem Museum.

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Just walking around outside is worth it.

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And then I saw a Fish Spa!

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I mean, the 15 euros for 15 minutes was worth every euro it just for the photos.

But first, gotta clean my feet.  I figured the fish couldn’t be that picky, but maybe they are.

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It felt like bubbles. I’m not ticklish so it worked out just fine.  But, maybe you want to see a video?


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Then after we posted the photos on social media we started getting feedback on how that wasn’t a good idea, and we decided oh well, if we have a fish food disease we have a pretty cool souvenir – and story.

Here are French children lined up ready to play games.  I had to throw in French children because that sounds so much cooler than just children.  Fries aren’t the same, but French fries, well, I’m hungry, how about you?  See?

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Had a little lunch with a great view at the Regard Cafe, I just ate a little salad in a jar but I of course had to end the meal with an espresso.

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We then learned how to make our own famous Marseille soap at Grande Savonnerie made with just sodium, water, and olive oil.  Who knew I’d be so enthusiastic about making soap?

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Then it was dinner time at the Rowing Club, a place with another gorgeous view of the harbor.

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I tell you I attract photo bombers.

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I ate a lot of lamb while in France, my meat of choice.  The French really do get me – chocolate croissants, lamb, duck, I mean let’s just get married France!

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Us, posing with our French dessert.  This was a rose macaroon.  Some of the bloggers thought it tasted like they were eating perfume, ha!  I actually thought it was so interesting I enjoyed eating it.

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Day 2 – Bus Tour, Cathedral

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I wish my neighborhood just had a gorgeous two-story carousel, don’t you? Sheesh my city isn’t quite as charming as you, Marseille.

We hopped on a bus and got a tour of beaches – Marseille actually has one sandy beach (imported sand).

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Another great view of the city is from the top of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde.  But wait, look at these stairs.  Even the little boy is contemplating if he wants to go up or not.  I’m with you kid, but out of peer pressure and not wanting to be ashamed, I’m going to do it!

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Not gonna lie, I didn’t make it to the top of the actual Notre Dame, I rested at the base and took in this view.

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Then back on the bus and check out this amazing amazing AMAZING place – Palais Longchamp, known for its impressive fountains and is a natural history and fine arts museum.

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Time to eat again in this lovely open air restaurant called Mathazar, owned by chef Michel Portos, a former 2 Michelin stars chef.

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And, this is what 7 p.m. looks like, the sun stays up past 9 a.m.  It seriously looks like it’s 4 p.m.

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A walk back across the harbor, some adorable little French boys sat at the dock and said, “Hello.”  I responded, “Hello.”  And trying in an American accent said, “Hello,” in return.  I was horrified at how they think we sound.  I shook my head and grinned.

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Day 3 – At Sea!

Like my hat?  It was the best price, free.  We needed some protection since being in the sun all day was taking a toll on some of us.  I just put it on because a free hat is just fantastic – courtesy of some alcohol company, this was a promotional hat but J.Crew sells one just like it here.

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When you spend quite a bit of time in a country and experience nearly everything it has to offer, you really truly fall in love with it.  I adore this photo, oh that sailboat, and that flag.

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A little lunch in the park because our not-so-awesome-four-star-hotel-which-should-be-a-two-and-will-not-be-named wouldn’t let us bring outside food to eat in there.  ”That is not possible,” is a very often used phrase that is quite annoying. Tscha! In America everything is possible!

Anyway, this park across the street was quiet and cute.  Lunch was from Green Bear Coffee.

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We hopped on the city bus to the train station.  Crystal dropped her bag and the doors closed and we watched as the rest of our crew scratched their heads wondering why the bus took off with us still on it.  We both were screaming, laughing and almost crying.  The bus thankfully just had one more stop which was closer to the train station and we decided – we have no time, let’s just get to the train.  Neither of us spoke French but managed to get help and find it.  I snapped a quick pic of our crazy urgency.

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Then I filmed a video to explain the chaos of being separated from our group and what on Earth we would do next without them since we couldn’t find them. I guess we’ll just hang in first class by ourselves…to be continued…

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See you in Carcassonne tomorrow – a medieval city!

Have you seen my 3 minute video tour of France?  Click here.

Equipment used: Sony NEX-5R (c/o), 50mm f1/.816mm f/2.8 + 18-55mm (c/o), 18-105mm f/4 (c/o)

Diana Elizabeth and Crystal had an enjoyable time in first class with old French men who were adorable – apparently they weren’t assigned to the car they were in, but the others who were in the different car and so, they got lucky.  We thought they knew each other but in fact, they didn’t but were friendly.  They were as sweet as can be.

France, Life, Travel

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Aix is less than two hour ride from Nice – headed west. We enjoyed the gorgeous sights along the way, Provence style homes, and vineyards.  You can easily take a train via Rail Europe from Nice to Aix (unfortunately during the particular day we needed it the trains were on strike and we needed to get to Aix ASAP).

About Aix-en-Provence

Located in Provence, this is the home of famous artist Cézanne. There is a walkway with his name embedded in the streets, and you can tour his studio and go to the quarry which inspired several of his paintings.  You’ll see lots of 18th century fountains, mansions that used to house several generations at time turned into several flats, and enjoy four major markets (flower, fish and vegetable, and clothing, and other textiles).  The buildings and streets itself are less busy and incredibly charming.  For more information visit Aix-en-Provence‘s site.

Day One – A little rain

The night we got in it was raining, but I was prepared!

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We were starving and walked to Chez Grand Mère where I tasted rabbit and squid – off my fellow blogger’s plates as I ordered my usual lamb.  I had already tried octopus in Nice so I figured this would be the time to just try things.

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Day 2 – Markets and Painting

I woke up to room service breakfast at a four-star hotel, Grand Hotel Roi René.  As you can see I got really used to chocolate croissants and yogurt, and my espressos!  The staff was incredibly courteous, and the mattress was by far a favorite by all of us bloggers, just divine.  We absolutely enjoyed staying at this hotel.

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A new day, the sun is shining, and we aren’t in Nice any longer, Aix looks so very uniquely different.  You feel like you are in a small town, but there’s so much to see and do.

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The streets had these plaques giving tribute to local famous artist Cézanne.

Just beauty, all around.

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Be still my heart, Repetto is one of the most darling stores for ballerinas (and wannabes).  Too bad when I was little my mom wanted me to get into ballet but I didn’t like the shoes.  Oh Diana…

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The flower and vegetable markets in France never get old, ever.

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Lavender of course is a very big deal in Provence.  If you go, ask to check out the lavender fields, we didn’t get to see them this time, but they are in bloom June and July I hear.

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A sweet lunch spot at Chez Thome, located 6 km away from the city, but worth the drive and views.  The chef prepares this menu from fresh products.  We enjoyed an incredible Provencal cuisine in this lovely location!  I want my backyard to look like this…

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The pork with mushroom sauce was amazing, I ate every bite.

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My blogging friends: Crystal (mommy), Vivienne (travel photog), Amanda (fitness + health), Kristen (travel vlogger).  We truly do enjoy one another’s company and I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to share experience, advice, wisdom, and spur one another on in this blogging industry.

Then with full bellies, we headed to Château La Coste which is a vineyard and outdoor art museum in one.

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I was a bit more interested in the landscape than anything else, clearly.  Story of my life as a photographer.

Then it was time to wine taste in this case I just took pretty pictures since I don’t drink (Asian glow).

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We checked out Cézanne’s studio where he worked from 1902 to 1906 before he died.  See the narrow side window to the right?  It’s completely open and used for sliding large paintings outside to transport them since the stairs were so narrow.

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We channeled our inner Cézanne’s and created our own memories and drew with .  She’s an amazing artist and instructor and she likes to draw things so she can remember them, we were in complete awe.

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And there’s mine!

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Just a few sights around the workshop…

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We then took a walk to our dinner.

I ordered a salad at Café Jeanne so I didn’t take a pic, but I also ordered dessert which was THREE creme brûlées so I did take a pic.  Pistachio, chocolate and vanilla.  Yeah, the whole losing weight thing in France, that didn’t happen.  I’ll call my extra weight a souvenir.

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What a sweet ending to a great day.  I think the streets of Aix love me too.

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Day 3 – Quarry + Candy Factory

We checked out Bibémus Quarry, a pine forest, where artist Cezanne was inspired by, and created some of his pieces.

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This is what happens when no one knows what a quarry is – you come dressed completely unprepared.

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We then headed to a confectionary, Roy Rene Calissons where we had a nice tour of how they make the famous candy.  So let me tell you about this candy!  It’s very unique, and dates back to the 14th century and was made just for royalty, it’s made from melon, sugar, and almond.

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Just filling up my French tin with some goodies.

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Then lunch time at La Fromagerie, known for their cheeses.  We ate upstairs and had a lunch that was just too pretty to eat, but I was hungry and I ate it anyway.

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Then we hopped on our Rail Europe train for a quick ride to Marseille.  See you there tomorrow!

Have you seen my 3 minute video tour of France?  Click here.

Equipment used: Sony NEX-5R (c/o), 50mm f1/.816mm f/2.8 + 18-55mm (c/o), 18-105mm f/4 (c/o)

Diana Elizabeth brought back the calisson candy and Mr. Wonderful really liked them! 

France, Life, Travel

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