Planning Update + Travel Wishlist Part I
Thursday marks two months until I say bon voyage for my 7 month adventure in France. As of my last post I was struggling to find an available visa appointment in Chicago. Now, I am happy to report that I have an appointment for mid August and that gave me peace of mind to finally book a flight and Airbnb for my arrival in Amiens. I went back and forth with my Airbnb as I could have paid less than $30 a night, but ultimately opted to spend a little more for the apartment that would provide comfort and set the tone for this experience. A beautiful turquoise tufted bed caught my eye, but it was the petit balcon with a small table and chairs and a view of the over 800 year old beffroi (bell tower) that sold me. I'm not 100% sure, but I think there may also be a chance of spotting the Cathédrale Notre Dame d'Amiens to the east. Wouldn't that be a treat. :)
If I haven't mentioned it before, I have never traveled solo. Tony is honestly the perfect travel partner for me and traveling with him I have had some of the best experiences in my life. I have also dreamed of solo travel. I'm currently reading Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom and her description of solo travel with no itinerary needed, the freedom to wander as a flâneur with no particular place to be, and the opportunity to spend time in a way that feels valuable to you but may not to others truly speaks to my soul. Of course I will be careful and aware (Rebecca of Every Day Parisian has some great safety tips for female solo travelers), but I very much look forward to the limitless possibilities of what I could experience. I also look forward to the opportunity to form new friendships along the way.
I plan to spend my first month finding an apartment, settling into my job as a teaching assistant, and really getting to know the city of Amiens. I am fortunate in that the French school calendar offers multiple two week breaks, the first coming at the end of October. It is during these breaks (also including Christmas, winter, and spring) that I will get to know France and continue to explore Europe, both solo and with Tony and family. In these next two months of summer, I will spend time researching all that I hope to see and do, making "plans" to anticipate with joy but always leaving room for the impromptu. I have books and podcast about Paris in abundance, so here is a list of some of my favorite resources for France beyond Paris:
The Good Life France (blog)
Join Us in France (podcast)
Rick Steves France Beyond Paris (podcast)
So far I have been focusing on the more northern regions including Picardy (my region), Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Brittany, Normandy, Champagne, Burgundy, Alsace-Lorraine, and the Loire Valley. I hope to share my research in future Travel Wishlists (hints the title of this post: Travel Wishlist Part I). My initial thoughts for my first trip outside of Amiens: Paris and Reims in Champagne (which would be an easy day trip from Paris). In Reims I would like to visit a champagne house (maybe the iconic Veuve Cliquot or Mumm which I hadn't heard of but is an easy walk from the train station), see the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Reims, and have a coffee at a café like the Art Deco Café du Palais. Of course these ideas are jumping off points and leave plenty of room for wandering and discovery.
So now is when I get to start asking - what would you do if you had the chance to spend 7 months in France? What have you already seen that you would recommend? What do you dream of seeing and doing? I am especially interested in suggestions outside of Paris and I'm not limited to the north! Bordeaux and Provence are definitely calling. Let me know in the comments below.
Warm wishes from me to you!