It's hard for me to put into words how much I love this country. I've now been twice, visiting different regions each time. I feel fortunate that we traveled during the fall, when the world is getting ready to sleep. The vibrancy of fall was so beautiful against old stone walls and cobblestone streets. There is something so quietly beautiful about France. It's classic and refined, simple and elegant. My soul feels at home in France. I really can't explain it as anything other than that. When people ask what was our favorite place we visited was we always say France, and I think it will always hold that number one slot in our hearts. Definitely mine.
In Paris we had the privilege of meeting with friends and fellow industry creatives. It was magical. We got into Paris a day late due to a delayed flight so we had to rush around looking for flowers for the shoot the next day, but I loved this day. There was something so romantic about being in Paris in the fall, the hustle and bustle of the busy season had passed. I felt we had so much of it for ourselves to enjoy. We headed back to our flat, and I decided to get started on the bouquet. It was right around dusk, so the light was dim. I stood there alone with the windows open listening to the noise of the street below. I couldn't help but feel so incredibly grateful and blessed to be there in that moment creating. Such a beautiful moment it was, I'll never forget it. There is something so wonderful about that beautiful city.
It's always sad to leave Paris, but heading into the countryside with a rented car is even better. Having a car is like having a place all to your own. It's like refuge for some reason. I highly recommend driving in Europe when you can. We never drive in big cities, but there are so many parts of the country you just miss if you travel by train. We drove to various chateaus and then went to see the cave we would be staying in. I couldn't believe how adorable it was. You may have seen it online, I didn't realize that Curtis had booked this until I walked in and immediately remembered reading about something similar online. Sure enough! You can read about it here. It's remarkable and Alexis and Lottie were such gracious hosts. I highly recommend you stay here if you are in that region.
When we left there, we headed to The Dordogne region of France. I've had a few friends visit there in recent years and it lived up to every thing I had ever heard and more. What's really wonderful about using Airbnb when you travel is the associations you get to have with locals that you would never have otherwise. Patrice and Marie were sensational people. Patrice is a french man that works in the organic foods industry. He travels a lot, but otherwise he works from home. They live on about 20 acres of gorgeous property. They spend their days waking up early and visiting the local farmers markets and junk yards looking for things they can repurpose or restore. They are always up at dawn. Curtis had a question for Patrice about canoeing one day and Patrice invited him in. He walked in to a beautiful scene, of these two beautiful people cleaning the mushrooms they had just collected after the rain on their property. They were cooking pasta and talking together. He gave Curtis a large piece of bread for us to have with our dinner.
When we had arrived, I remember seeing this small black empty urn sitting at the bottom of these gorgeous stone steps. With a large property of beautiful foliage and blooms it was begging for flowers. Patrice was kind enough to let me spend my last morning there foraging from his grounds. I walked around during that misty morning so happy to be alive. I got up early and spent time walking through the property studying each and every plant. I stepped in stinging nettle but I really didn't mind. It was nothing short of a spiritual experience that I'll not soon forget. The last thing I stumbled upon was a gorgeous tree. It was vibrant red with the leaves fading into a darker purple. I didn't know what it was until I looked up and noticed the fruit, it was a persimmon tree. I had never seen one before. Patrice walked up behind me, and he asked me what the fruit was called in English. I couldn't help but tell him how envious I was of his beautiful and simple life. I have never seen two people enjoy life as fully as these two did. You could tell they enjoyed each other, they got up early and spent time together. I think ultimately that's what sets Europeans apart from Americans, they truly are authentic people who enjoy every moment. They aren't always looking for what's next. They really just enjoy. After I put together the simple arrangement I went to tell Patrice and his wife goodbye. I handed over the arrangement and Patrice stuck his hand out for a handshake, but I felt it was only necessary that I give them both a hug. Marie kissed me on both cheeks, and I walked back to the car in tears. France, you will always have a piece of my heart.