We decided to visit Musée de Cluny, the National Museum of the Middle Ages, because I have always been particularly fascinated by that time period and wanted to see the famous tapestry housed at this museum, the Lady and the Unicorn, that I had studied and fallen in love with in an art history class in college. The museum is located in the vicinity of the Latin Quarter of Paris nearby the Pantheon, so if you plan on visiting both, you should do so back-to-back.
The Louvre is usually one of the main Paris landmarks people plan on visiting while in the city. The building has a fascinating place in French history well beyond its current life as an art museum. In this blog, we’ll share with you all things Louvre - from fun facts to our personal experience to tips for your own visit. Have you been? For a museum as large as this one, I expect no two visits are alike. We would love to hear your own tips and experiences in our comments section!
First, when most people hear Pantheon, they are generally thinking about the famous Pantheon in Rome. (Not to be confused with the Parthenon in Athens.) But still, we were curious about the Pantheon in Paris and thought it would be worth checking out. A ‘pantheon’ by definition is a group of important people or gods. Paris’ Pantheon is currently a secular, state-run mausoleum that began life as a cathedral and houses the remains of some of the city’s most important historical residents.
The creativity and unexpectedly universal themes and elements that show up in street art always make for an interesting lens through which to view a city. Paris did not disappoint. The majority of these images were captured in the 3rd, 4th, and 11th arrondissements during a day where we spent a lot of time walking through the city.
Ireland has a long-standing literary tradition and is a country that values its writers and poets. Over the years, I have read many inspiring novels by the likes of Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and others. But recently, I have found myself on a kick of reading contemporary Irish novelists without even realizing it! These newer-on-the-scene Irish female writers are making their mark in the literary world.
The final day of a trip is always bittersweet: bitter that it is coming to an end and for the upcoming return flight home and sweet for the new memories and experiences. I often get to the end of a trip having not done things I thought I would do but having done other things that led to unexpected surprises.
With different itineraries, we parted ways with our traveling companions for the day. The first stop on the list for us was Musée de Cluny, the National Museum of the Middle Ages. I have always been particularly fascinated by that time period and wanted to see the famous tapestry housed at this museum, the Lady and the Unicorn, that I had studied and fallen in love with in an art history class in college.
Our day started with what had become our Paris norm: flaky goodness of croissants. Adding some excitement to the mix, Dustin added a ham and cheese croissant, whereas I stuck with my you-can’t-go-wrong choices of croissant au beurre and pain au chocolat. Hey, if you can’t have chocolate for breakfast on vacation, when can you? (Never is not an option!).
After long days of walking around Paris, our feet were sore and some blisters were starting to rear their ugly heads. So, we planned our fourth day perfectly: a bike tour of Versailles to give our feet a rest and use some other muscles for the day!
While we are pretty active travelers, we are not over-active travelers; we know when to go-go-go and when to go slow! With a full week in Paris staying at one place, it was a perfect excuse to explore the city at just the right pace. What that meant is we whiled away some mornings over croissants, coffee, and conversation. Bonus: the day was able to warm up a little before we ventured out. Our April in Paris was a tad on the nippy side!
If you like wandering without a goal in mind, Paris is a great city for absentminded discoveries. Our first full day in the city can be summed up in that sentence. Along the way we explored a huge section of the city on foot, wandered much of the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery, lunched in the oldest planned square in the city at Place des Vosges, which dates to the 17th century, and dined casually along the Seine.
We arrived in Paris by way of Reykjavik after departing from Washington-Dulles airport late in the evening. It was an odd feeling to land in familiar Reykjavik, having just been on our Iceland Ring Road trip last June/July (check that trip out here), and wished we could stay in Iceland but also still go to Paris. The more we travel, the more frequent the feeling of familiarity in different airports, cities, or countries occurs, making the world feel very small.
We talked about going to France for several years before we actually took this trip. When we finally booked it, we weighed whether to spend a handful of days in Paris and then head out to the French countryside or to just stick with Paris. I can’t think of another trip we have taken where we stayed in one city the entire week but we knew Paris had so much to offer and didn’t want to feel like we were rushing to jet off to the next spot. We easily filled our 7 days in Paris and didn’t even get to every spot on our list! Don’t worry, we feel other regions of France deserve the same dedicated focus, so we will be back to France at some point!
In Barbara Kingsolver’s latest novel, Unsheltered, she tells the stories of two families living in the same spot but separated by about 150 years. Add to the mix: winds of societal changes, family obligations, a fascinating female scientist, an eccentric town founder, and many characters trying to figure out if they have shelter over their heads - literally and figuratively.
Since James Madison died at his home, Montpelier, in 1836, the home has gone through renovations and updates - most notoriously by the DuPont family. In more recent years, time has been unraveled as archaeologists and historians have sought to remove the more modern updates and return the home to the most accurate version of James and Dolley Madison’s home.
Monticello is more than a quick house tour - we spent most of a day there exploring the house, museum, gardens, and Mulberry Row, the center of the world for Monticello’s enslaved population. Read more about our visit and discover tips for yours.
In April 2018, I spent a long weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, with my mom. We both have an affinity for history and archaeology. If you have similar interests, you will find this itinerary to your liking and a long weekend a perfect amount of time!
In April 2018, I visited Charlottesville for a long weekend and enjoyed spending time as a tourist in a town that used to be mine. But it also led to some interesting reflections on how the city has always been and how it has changed, as well as how my own view as an adult has evolved.
Ever since coming across a review of Normal People back in January, I had been interested in reading this second novel by Irish writer Sally Rooney. Longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize and winner of the ‘Best Novel’ at the 2018 Costa Book Awards, clearly 28 year old Rooney is immensely talented. When I found myself book-less before an 8-hour flight back from Scotland, I was happy to come across it in an airport bookstore and tore through it in a single sitting.
The annual Blue Ridge Folklife Festival held at Ferrum College in Ferrum, Virginia, has been my window into learning more about the history of my local region: Appalachia. There is an entire culture of mule jumping, clogging, and more that I had no idea existed until my three visits over the last decade to this event.
Want to better understand the Appalachian culture and history? Here are 3 books to read - both fiction and non-fiction - to bring the region to life through the eyes of historic figures, literary characters, and historical research.
Did you know that running through the hills and valleys of Virginia and North Carolina is the 469 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway? Chances are if you live in one of those two states, you do, but if you are from outside of the area, you may not be aware of this hidden gem that offers back-road scenery through beautiful vistas and interesting hikes and historical sites along the way.
This past December we headed south to Pawley’s Island in an effort to beat the winter blues. Here we relaxed along the beach, did some hiking and enjoyed time outdoors, and sampled a little of what this part of the state had to offer.
This past December we headed south to Pawley’s Island in an effort to beat the winter blues. Here we relaxed along the beach, did some hiking and enjoyed time outdoors, and sampled a little of what this part of the state had to offer. On day 2 we did some hiking at Santee Coastal Reserve and the Sewee shell and clam mounds in Francis Marion National Park, both short drives from Pawley’s Island.
This past December we headed south to Pawley’s Island in an effort to beat the winter blues. Here we relaxed along the beach, did some hiking and enjoyed time outdoors, and sampled a little of what this part of the state had to offer. On Days 3-4, we visited the beautiful Brookgreen Gardens, took some short walks at Huntington Beach State Park, and ate a delicious seafood lunch.
Everyone should watch a moon rise over the ocean at some point. A moonrise is made even more spectacular when it’s a super moon. Check out the video of a super moon rising over the Atlantic Ocean off of Pawley’s Island.
Mabry Mill construction began around 1903 by Edwin Mabry. Within a few short years, it was an operating gristmill. Today, the mill sits off of the Blue Ridge Parkway and is one of the most photographed mills with large numbers of people visiting it per year.