it’s been a little while since my last post and only one thing can explain that: travel! i’ve been taking advantage of europe’s stellar train system and exploring different parts of france and its neighbors. today, i’m clueing you in on the beautiful (and nearby!) places i’ve been visiting over the past couple of weeks. this was my first visit to each location so you’re getting a true first look. let’s go!
amsterdam 3hr15m by train
amsterdam is just as idyllic as people make it out to be. i was surprised by how quaint the city was, being quite small and filled with gift shops selling the signature blue-stained pottery, delftware.
with just one full day in amsterdam, my friends and i opted for a paddling boat tour of the city. and lucky me, i didn’t have to paddle! (thanks sam and greta.) instead, i photographed and boy did we come across some beautiful architecture. the canals and renaissance architecture make for quite a view, even on a gloomy day!
- pancakes, the pancake bakery, prinsengracht 191
- small gifts, spiegel amsterdam, nieuwe spiegelstraat 2a hs
- afternoon snack, STACH food, nieuwe spiegelstraat 52
- dinner, breda, singel 210
- after-dinner drinks, dutch style, de twee zwaantjes, prinsengracht 141
lille 1hr by train
when first looking for a day-trip from paris, the image above drew me right in. just outside the city of lille is an art museum that’s housed in art-deco swimming pool from the 1930s. cool right?? it was my first stop on my visit to lille, the fifth largest city in france.
surrounding the swimming pool are sculptures, ceramics, fabrics and artwork. beyond the art, what used to be the pool’s refreshment area is now home to an offshoot of lille’s most famous patisserie, meert. art deco + pastries = i’m there! above you can see meert’s mille feuille, also known as a napoleon, which i ate completely by myself for lunch that day. who said sugar can’t be a good lunch substitute?
after lunch and my museum visit, i headed into the town center of lille. lille sits just below the border of belgium and you can tell by their architecture and the friendliness of the people there. similar to amsterdam, lille has many 2-3 story row-houses in colorful paints and darling square windows to boot.
after doing some research, i found many sources recommending the same restaurant and bar: estaminet au vieux de la vieille. it’s located in le vieux lille, a particularly hip part of town. i headed there for just an afternoon pint and bite of cheese but soon i was making a reservation for their dinner. this restaurant truly makes you feel at home, a great pick for any solo traveler!
and i even found a church named after me in lille! i was getting more comfortable in lille with each step i took.
- dinner and drinks, estaminet au vieux de la vieille, 2-4 rue des vieux murs
- cheese shop, fromagerie philippe olivier, 3 rue du cure saint-etienne
- pastries, meert, 27 rue esquermoise (in-town or at the museum)
- the funkiest quilt shop i’ve ever seen, la drougerie, 50 rue basse
- museum, la piscine – musée d’art et d’industrie andré diligent, 23 rue de l’espérance, roubaix
normandy 2hr30m by train
going to normandy is a trip i recommend for every american. it is a very special feeling being in a foreign country and going somewhere where you see your flag standing so high. after 7 months here in france, it was really moving to see just how america is recognized in normandy.
the coast is magnificent and a little known fact is that normandy is actually a popular vacation spot for many parisians and northern french families in the summertime. much like maine, the water keeps cool!
here’s me playing tourist outside bayeaux’s cathedral in a photo my dad took. i visited normandy with my parents and it was quite a treat for them as they traveled to normandy together 35 years ago! talk about a throwback. we even stayed at the same hotel, hôtel le lion d’or bayeux!
- hotel and dinner, hôtel le lion d’or bayeux, 71 rue saint-jean, 14400 bayeux
- normandy american cementary, 14710, Colleville-sur-Mer
- pointe du hoc (cliffs overlooking normandy, critical point in ww2)
- bayeux tapestry museum, 13bis rue de nesmond
- bayeux cathedral, rue du bienvenu
and in this week’s other stuff, how about some paris food recommendations!
all photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs.