My vacation is officially over. Today marks my first day back in the office in over two weeks. Though I’m sad to no longer be in my beloved France, it does feel good to be getting back to normal. There’s only so much laissez-faire one can take, after all.
We took over 5,000 pictures during our 12 day trip. I promise to never share all of them – that would be cruel and unusual. Instead, I picked a few gems from among our many stops to share with you all. Click on the pictures to view larger versions.
Our first stop was Nice, one of many cities littering the French Riviera along the Mediterranean. We lunched on the beach, ate fresh pasta and gelato, and watched the end of the Paris-Nice cycling race.
View from the Nice boardwalk:
Though my favorite cyclist, Andy Schleck, had to bow out of the race early due to illness (yes, I watch enough cycling to have a favorite – we’re huge fans), I happily cheered on his equally awesome brother and teammate, Frank Schleck. Check out the steepness of this hill, which they flew up with ease:
We also took a day trip to neighboring Monaco, and stopped in the famous Monte Carlo Casino (we even won 4 Euros on the slot machines):
After Nice, we picked up a rental car and spent the next few days driving through the French Alps. We visited the Grand canyon du Verdon, the largest canyon in Europe, as well as Mont Ventoux. It was a harrowing drive with many twists and turns looking out over sheer drops. Needless to say, it was breathtakingly gorgeous. This is a pic from lunch at the top of the famous cycling mountain, Alpe d’Huez:
We made a pit stop in Grenoble to ride the cable cars up to La Bastille, which gave a gorgeous panoramic view of the Alps:
Then it was on to Lyon, where we splurged on a hotel with a phenomenal view:
One of my favorite sites we visited of the whole trip was the jaw-dropping St. Jean Cathedral. Built from the 12th through the 15th centuries, it is astonishing in its size and beauty, especially considering its age. I dare anyone to visit this breathtaking church and not feel the hand of God:
From Lyon it was on to my favorite city in the world, Paris. One of our first stops was the Opera Garnier:
The Opera Garnier is known for its opulence, which as you can see, could put Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors to shame:
I have a special place in my heart for stained glass, so we made sure to visit the famous Sainte-Chapelle:
No trip to Paris can be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower:
Last year, my sister and her fiance visited Paris and attached a love padlock to the Passerelle Solferino, and I promised to look for it during our trip. I was beyond excited when I managed to find it (theirs is “F & M 2011″ in the middle):
I also insisted on a visit to the famed English-language bookstore, Shakespeare & Company:
Though I didn’t buy anything, Mike snapped this awesome shot of Notre Dame reflected in the shop’s window, with a young worker stocking books in the background:
We managed to see and do much more than this, but these were some of the highlights. I’m very happy to be back and filled with memories from the trip of a lifetime. I haven’t read a single book in over three weeks and I’m itching to get back into the swing of real life, as well as catch up with all of you!
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