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

Pink in the Library

The day after I got back from my trip, I figured I may as well paint a room. Then I realized what a dummy I was for pushing myself too hard, and I took a few more days to rest before putting on a second coat of paint and finally finishing up. The library is now the most perfect shade of pale pink (Pink Ground from Farrow & Ball).

I tried to make the boy do most of the work, but he gave up about two minutes in. Thanks a lot, kid. I know three-year-olds are not the most reliable when it comes to manual labor, but can you not see the state your poor mother is in?

Painting Pals

I was eager to see some payoff after all of that painting, so I laid out one of the rugs I brought back from Morocco in an effort to create the illusion of a finished room. (Tricksy bloggers with their vignettes!) Eleanor went ahead and set up the pink stools around the table in preparation for a tea party — appropriate, since I drank mint tea while rug shopping.

Pink in the Library

I like the rug and I love that it would have the memory of picking it out in the Marrakech souk attached to it, but it’s not working in the larger context of the space right now. It’s too near the entryway and its vintage Persian Koliaei runner, and the two clash. The Persian can be used in the hallway upstairs though, which gives me a couple of options. Either I can find a runner to compliment the Moroccan rug, or just move the rug into the entry instead of the library. It’s a funny size (4’6″ x 8’6″), and it would actually fit pretty nicely, but I don’t know how well it would hold up to heavy traffic. Chicago winters are not kind to entryways with all of the salt and snow that gets tracked in, and the dense wool Persian is fairly impervious to all of that. I’ll have to play around with my options a bit more.

I am loving the pink walls though! I’d been missing my favorite color.

Exploring Northern France: Reims

I was invited on a trip to Northern France (along with Jordan, Carol, and Dave) by the the French board of tourism. Initially, I was going to sum up the trip to Reims, Dijon, and Poitiers in one post, but I found myself wanting to include more photos — particularly of the Reims Cathedral — and decided to split things up a bit so I could go into more detail.

Reims, France

Reims is 45 minutes from Paris by high-speed train, and the city had an interesting feel to it. It’s charming and the buildings look aged, but much of the town was destroyed in the World War I, with additional damage taken in World War II. Most of what you see is (relative to the rest of France) newer construction.

Reims, France

Reims, France

Fossier in Reims, France

Reims, France

If you like champagne, you probably already know this, but true champagne can only come from this region in France. The rest is ‘sparkling wine.’ It’s my favorite drink, so it was a bit of a bummer to be pregnant for this part of the trip. (“Non merci, je suis enceinte.”)

Champagne in Reims, France

I did enjoy learning about the process of making champagne (our time in the Taittinger cellar and on a tour went over everything from the grapes grown, the mixing of new and reserve juices, freezing the neck of the bottle to remove sediment, the aging process, and more), but I do wish I could have fully enjoyed the copious amount of champagne we were served while in the region. Champagne as an apertif! Champagne with dessert! In the dessert! Champagne with breakfast! You can even have champagne high up among the trees at Perching Bar.

Perching Bar in Reims, France

And then of course, if you’re looking for more to do in the area, there is the Reims Cathedral. I fell in love with it as a college student studying architectural history and had always dreamed of visiting.

Reims Cathedral, France

Along with the rest of the city, the Reims Cathedral suffered extensive damage during the first World War. The original roof was made of lead, and when the church burned, molten lead poured from the mouths of gargoyles situated high above along the perimeter. The horrific imagery was used as German propaganda supporting their cause, but the church survived and went on to be repaired in subsequent years. We were able to climb to the top, but getting there via a stone spiral staircase in one of the towers was not an easy feat. I’m so glad I did it, but at six months pregnant (and stupidly carrying my heavy camera equipment), I wasn’t sure I could make it! Every so often, you’re tricked into seeing light and thinking you might be done, but it turns out to be another window. The views were an amazing reward though, and it was fascinating to see the buttresses from above.

View from the Top of the Reims Cathedral, France

Reims Cathedral, France

Beneath the Roof of the Reims Cathedral, France

Only the cathedral in Chartres boasts more sculptural figures, and its beauty befit its importance as the site where many French kings were crowned. There is a statue of Joan of Arc, occupying the place she stood during the Coronation of Charles VII.

Reims Cathedral, France

Joan of Arc in the Reims Cathedral, France

Joseph Campbell said this, on being in the Chartres Cathedral, and I felt it in Reims as well.

I’m back in the Middle Ages. I’m back in the world that I was brought up in as a child, the Roman Catholic spiritual-image world, and it is magnificent … That cathedral talks to me about the spiritual information of the world. It’s a place for meditation, just walking around, just sitting, just looking at those beautiful things.

I myself no longer identify as Catholic, but what I felt in the church was an overwhelming sense of beauty and awe. I wept.

Reims Cathedral, France

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