Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Le Dernier Post.

I don't think I ever told you story of how the Mr. came to be.  And you are in luck as it just so happens that I have an original copy of all the details stored safely away in my gmail Sent Mail folder (i.e. the email I sent to my girlfriends after the big day).  It's recorded as follows:
August 4, 2010

Hello my closest friends!! 

Big day in France!! Here are the dets on the engagement: 

We are in Arles, France (Provence region).  We flew out of Atlanta Saturday and connected in Miami, direct to Paris.  I had a TERRIBLE flight. We took ambian and I woke up four hours into the flight and started throwing up everywhere. You can imagine how excited all of the people around me were. It was HELL. So that was fun.  Anyway, I changed clothes and we landed in France on Sunday around 9:00 AM.  We spent Sunday night in Paris and took the train to Provence Monday morning. So, today we toured the Cotes du Rhone and returned to Arles around 7:30.  We stopped by a little shop to pick up a bottle of wine, some camembert and a baguette. We get back to the hotel, which is this old chateau, that I am absolutely in love with. Our room room has these french windows that open onto this gorgeous courtyard with a fountain (complete with turtles). It's really indescribable. Anyway, we get back to the hotel with the food and wine and sit at a little table in our room next to the window/courtyard.  The Boyfriend* went down to get a wine opener and came back up- I ask why he is so quiet and he says because I want to ask you to marry me!!!! I am IN SHOCK. Literally silent. Say OMG like 5 times. Then The Boyfriend says, "please just say yes" so of course I do.** Anyway, after a world wind of emotions and tears we are engaged. 

I couldn't be happier.  We are going to decide on wedding location and time by end of trip.*** Mark calendars for March through August :) (prob closer to August).**** We're going to have to see when Boyfriend has time off of school and where are going to do it. Thanks for all of the well wishes and congratulations.  I can't wait to see everyone soon!! 



* It felt weird inserting "The Mr." before we were married, so The Mr. goes by "The Boyfriend" in this story
** Note -  "please just say, yes" is not supported by The Mr.'s version of this story. 
*** Ha, yeah right. Like that happened.
**** Again, this makes me laugh.  Try January 1st, four months later.  


To finish the story, we got married four months later, I quit my job at the law firm in Birmingham and moved to France two days after the wedding.  As the last few days of our life in Paris wind down, I can't help but look back over this adventure of a lifetime and be so incredibly thankful for every moment.  I usually roll my eyes at this kind of, "oh how wonderful and blessed my life is" kind of talk (because, honestly, isn't that a private thought?) But, I just want everyone to know that in case I die young or something horrific happens to me in the future - my heart is completely full and I could not have asked for more out of my life.  To have found love, happiness and an array of fulfilling experiences that I still grapple to comprehend, makes me complete.

Ok, now that my eulogy is over - let's get this adventure rolling through Provence, shall we? To commemorate the beginning of our journey, we did one last grand tour through Provence coming full circle, making the beginning our of journey now the end.

Spring has sprung in Provence in April.  The trees were all beginning to bloom and the flowers peaking out their heads.  Half of the fun was driving down through the beautiful wind swept trees as we made our way from one tiny town to the next. We took the train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence, rented a car and set off exploring.

Our first stop, Les Baux. An ancient town carved out of stone sitting on top of a mountain.  (Known for their fabulous olive oil).

We chose a chateau in Boulbon as our home base.  We wanted an "in the country of Provence" chateau experience while being within close proximity of the big cities for dinners (Avignon and Arles).  Bastide de Boulbon is one of the most charming hotel experiences we've had in France.  It's run by the nicest Belgian couple who went out of their way to make our stay beyond fabulous.  From the welcome drink (including the best olives I've ever had) to immaculate grounds and delicious chef cooked dinners, it was beyond fabulous.  20 minutes from Avignon and a half hour from Arles, it was a perfect home base to explore the Cotes du Rhone and hill towns during the day

First day - I vote Cotes du Rhone and the Mr. votes Roman Ruins, so we do a bit of a compromise and try to fit in both.  First stop, Pont du Gard, one of the oldest, most complete roman aqueducts in Europe.
The Mr. has a field day...

while I enjoyed the sun.

(if I had realized this is what I looked like, hopefully I would have stopped enjoying the sun so much).

Our next stop, and what turned out to be our favorite village in Provence, Uzès.  Idyllically beautiful with streets dotted with brocante shops and restaurants, we were ready to set up shop and stay forever.

This building was for sale in the town center... perfect B&B material.



After a morning strolling through beautiful Uzès, we set off for the villages of the Cotes du Rhone.  All perched atop sun drenched hills, one picturesque villages follows the next.  

Vines just getting ready to bud.

Grenache and Syrah are king of the grapes in the Cotes du Rhone, making for hearty, spicy wines.  The chalky limestone soil give Cotes du Rhone wines a distinctive taste, which we can't get enough of.
Our final village stop was Gigondas, one of the best red wine producers of the region.  There is a great tasting room in the teeny tiny town center which lets you try as many wines as you want (blindly, without labels) from the different vineyards in the area.

Night two, we had dinner in Avignon at Le Bain Marie.  I was dying for the beautiful tiny courtyard but it was a bit too cold to sit outside.  The food was fantastic though, so I would highly recommend.  Pictured above is the the Palace of the Popes, it's stunning to see beautifully radiating with light at night time.  (Btw, Avignon is probably my pick for a home base in Provence.  It has the best restaurants, shopping and overall charm of all the cities in the region.  Obviously Arles is also one of our favorites as well, but it is a little bit quieter (especially in the off season).  That being said, you are in Provence! The real key is to find a fabulous chateau near one of these cities and explore, but if a city is a must - choose Avignon or Arles).

On our last day in Provence, we head for the hills - Gordes and Roussillan.  I think the hill towns of the Luberon are the images conjured up by most of us when we think of Provence.  Consisting primarily of villages sitting on top of mountains overlooking a vine strewn valley, it is a sight that you won't quickly forget. (If you are interested in Provence and French lifestyle in general, I highly recommend Peter Mayle's book, A Year in Provence. Dry British humor at its best).

Now,  I'm going to be honest, I thought this picture I've been looking at on pinterest for a while was Gordes.

Turns out, it is Gourdon.  Maybe next time. 

Gordes is also reputably jaw-dropping (and touristy).  But in the off season, we found it completely quiet and delightful.  

I decided I definitely need a fountain like this !

After lunch in Gordes we head next door to Roussillan.  Known for it's distinctive ochre soil, Roussillan's red tile roofs make for a beautiful cap on the hilltop horizon.  

The Mr. was loving playing in the Ochre cliffs.

I was praying my white jacket was not going to be ruined forever.

My favorite part about Rousillan was the wedding we got to watch take place in the town center.  How adorbs and romantic is this? 

Loving my front row seat!

Sad to say goodbye to Roussillan, we hit the road back to the Bastide followed by a drive through the Camargue and dinner in Arles.

What is the Camargue? (I didn't know before this trip).  The Camargue refers to the expansive low country land between Arles and the Mediterranean, between the two arms of the Rhone river delta.  It's home to many species of wildlife, most notably wild white horses, bull and pink flamingo.  We decided to embark on a twilight safari through the area to see what we could see.  With nothin but marsh and grasslands until you reach the coast, it's serenely quiet and beautiful.

We mostly chased after flamingo, but this was about as close as we could get.

Although it was rainy and quiet in Arles, it was still a lot of fun to go back and relive the big moment.  I made the Mr. get down on one knee and reenact the entire thing.  (Kidding).  But it was fun and special to be back.   The next morning, we said our goodbyes to Provence, stopping through Isle-sur-la-Sorgue on our way out to peak at some antique.

Eventually, we made our way back to Paris where we are now, wrapping up our lives, packing up, saying our goodbyes and enjoying one last of everything we can think of.  One last crepe.  One last bike ride.  One last macaron.  One last walk across our favorite bridge.  One last stroll through Passy Plaza.  One last night on the town.  One last night at our favorite neighborhood restaurant.  One last trip to the boulangerie for that coveted warm baguette, pas trop cuites.  One last evening under the Eiffel.  One last Sunday in the Marais.  One last drink at our favorite outdoor cafes.  One last scowl from the laundry mat guy.  One last trip to Bon Marche (well, and Printemps, Galeries and Franck et Fils, to be honest).  One last stroll through Isle St. Louis.  One last obscenely crowded ride on the 9 line.  One last visit with the Impressionists at the Musee d'Orsay.  One last ravioli dinner from the Italian store.  One last bump on an overly crowded street.  One last beer at the Frog XVI (well, for the Mr.). One last longing walk down Avenue Montaigne.  One last mind snapshot of every awning and window box I can contain.  One last week without a sighting of the sun.  One last Rose opened before five o'clock.   One last deep breath of the Spring peonies overfilling every flower shop in town.  One final load up at the French pharmacy.  One last picnic in the Tuileries.  One last brief look back over the best year of our life.

And so comes the end to Mr. and Mrs. in Paris.  I can't thank you enough for all of your love and support and your loyalty to this blog.  It has been one of most fulfilling experiences of my life.  Who knows, maybe there will a  Mr. and Mrs. in Nola in the near future.  Stay tuned!  Until then, au revoir.