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Exploring Northern France: Poitiers

After visiting Reims and Dijon, I ended my trip with the French board of tourism in Poitiers. (Jordan and I extended our trip and visited Marrakesh and Paris on our own afterwards.) We stayed in the Hotel Mercure Poitiers Centre, a former Jesuit chapel built in 1854. My room was incredible, as was the dinner we had in the hotel’s restaurant, Les Archives.

Hotel Mercure Poitiers Centre

We started by exploring the city center with our guide, Françoise d’Argenson, seeing Notre-Dame la Grande, Cathedral Saint Pierre, Baptistry Saint-Jean, and more. La Fete de la Musique was happening too, when bands put on free concerts in cities throughout France!

Notre-Dame la Grande, Poitiers, France

Nicole Balch, in a Cathedral in Poitiers, France
↑ photo by Jordan Ferney

Poitiers, France

La Fete de la Musique

Cathedral Saint Pierre, Poitiers, France

Poitiers, France

The next day, we went to the Marais Poitevin, a network of canals through the Atlantic marsh nicknamed ‘The Green Venice.’ The relaxing pace of the boat ride was perfect. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but my camera gear had gotten too overwhelming by the end of this trip for my poor back, and I only had my iPhone with me from Poitiers on.

Marais Poitevin, France

And, um, we had a fish spa experience which resulted in these truly excellent photos of Carol and me. (The fish felt like fizzy bubbles, by the way.)

Fish Spa

I’m so grateful to have been invited on this trip. If you find yourself planning a trip to France, be sure to explore a bit! The trains make it very easy to get around, and a quick ride lets you experience so much more of the beautiful country.

Poitiers, France

What to Wear When Pregnant and Traveling

What to Wear When Pregnant and Traveling

I wanted to look cute while traveling recently to France and Morocco, but I’m too far along to wear most of my regular stuff and I didn’t want to go out and buy a lot of new clothes. And now I’m posting this while on a quick trip New York. Really though, this post could have just been called “What to Wear When Pregnant,” as it’s pretty much the same thing — traveling or not! Two new pairs of cropped maternity pants have been the mainstay of my wardrobe, but some of what you see me wearing above is from when I was pregnant the first or second time around (or accessories that I’ve had for years), so I found suitable substitutes below.

Dresses

I think the easiest, and often most comfortable thing to wear when you’re pregnant is a dress. No weird elastic band around maternity pants to deal with (ugh), and you look instantly put together.

Maternity Dresses

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Tops and Bottoms

Tunics and cropped pants have been my friends on these trips. Pants in black or white look dressier than jeans, and everything still goes with one or the other. A blazer was handy for chilly nights.

Maternity Tops and Bottoms

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Accessories

Accessories keep me from getting bored with my limited maternity wardrobe, so I like to bring a lot of them with me on trips. And here’s my fashion public service announcement: Pregnant ladies (and ladies that just like good shoes for walking a lot), do yourself a favor and buy those Worishofer sandals. They’re old-lady orthopedic shoes that had their heyday of grandma-chic a couple of years ago, but they’re still cute and they are super comfy.

Shoes and Accessories

Exploring Northern France: Dijon

Dijon, France

I’m sharing more today from trip to Northern France! After first visiting Reims, we went to Dijon.

Dijon, France - Architectural Details

Nicole in Dijon, France

A Church in Dijon, France

The food was excellent (as it was everywhere in France, but especially at Loiseau des Ducs), and the food shopping was excellent too. The big marketplace we visited was bustling, and everything looked so fresh!

Food Marketplace in Dijon, France

Of course, you have to have Dijon mustard when in Dijon.

Moutarde Maille (Dijon Mustard, in France)

And more wine! More vineyards! This time, they’re producing Burgundies.

Burgundy Vineyards Near Dijon, France

Burgundy Wine in Dijon, France

As we explored, it’s hard not to notice that everything is more charming in France. Take this perfectly adorable orange bicycle, in front of a perfectly lovely doorway, for example.

A Cute Orange Bicycle in Dijon, France

See also: a perfectly blue vintage car, in front of a perfectly lovely lunch spot.

Vintage Blue Car in Poitiers, France

Carol, Dave, and Jordan climbed the Tour Philippe le Bon, for a view of the town. It’s 150 feet high, and after climbing to the top of Reims Cathedral the day before, my six-months-pregnant belly and me were out. Instead, I went by myself to the Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne, which was just down the street from our hotel. I mean this in the best possible way — because I really liked it — the first floor was a little creepy. It was empty (though more people did filter through as I was there longer), and the first floor starts out with wax figures wearing period clothing, staged in sets, with French phrases in whimsical calligraphy floating across the glass displays of disembodied hands and other body parts.

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne, Dijon, France

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne, Dijon, France

I was super into it. The second floor was equally interesting, albeit it in a less creepy, more conventional way. There were various recreations of old-fashioned shops.

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne, Dijon, France

Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne, Dijon, France

For a foolproof way to see the sights in Dijon, follow the Owl’s Trail. The Dijon Office of Tourism has maps with more information too, and you can follow short or long loops of the trail to see the historic city. And don’t forget to find the owl (La Chouette) on the corner of the Notre Dame in Dijon — rub it with your left hand and make a wish!

The Owl's Trail in Dijon, France

Church in Dijon, France

Dijon, France

Shopping inDijon, France

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