Enroll in our newest Stash Class
FREE US SHIPPING ON $100+
Enroll in our newest Stash Class
FREE US SHIPPING ON $100+
Your cart is empty.
30% off select classesdigitals
30% off select classesdigitals

Southern France 2015

Over the last few years I've developed a tradition of a fall work trip. In past years I've done trips organized by Jim West at Scrapmap/Craft Tours (Italy, Ireland, China, Peru). This year I decided to mix it up and attend an event in Montpellier in southern France organized by my friend Celine Navarro

The trip ended up being part vacation and part work as are many of these kinds of adventures. Aaron, being the good sport that he is, came along for all the reasons I'd want him along. 

We arrived in Montpellier a week ahead of the event for the vacation portion of the trip. This was the least planned trip I've been on but it ended up working out just fine (least planned in terms of knowing exactly where we were going on what days and what cities we were going to focus on). Part of it was that we'd both been busy and part of it was that it was hard to choose and I kept changing my mind on where I wanted to go. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this method of last minute booking during a busier time of the year, but for late September/early October it worked fine and we had no issues finding rooms. 

We ended up venturing outside Montpellier to three locations using trains as our method of transportion - all happen to begin with the letter A - Aix-en-Provance, Antibes, and Arles. We used TripAdvisor and Booking.com to find hotels in each location. We considered renting a car to be able to get to some of the smaller towns but ultimately decided it was simpler to just stick with locations we could get to via trains. 

This was my first time in the southern part of France. 

There was a lot of wandering. There was a lot of peeking around corners. There was a lot of wine and bread and cheese. There was a lot of looking up and looking down. Photos below were all taken with either my DSLR or my iPhone 6.

I'm thinking I'll do another Artifact Uprising photo book for this trip.

Here's a look at this adventure via photos. 

MONTPELLIER

For the first couple of days we stayed with Celine at her house and it was so, so fun to get to stay with her and her husband and share meals with them and chat and laugh. 

There was so much laughing. 

Celine showed us around Montpellier and the weather was beautiful. 

I love checking out doors in other countries as you'll see throughout this post. 

In Montpellier there were these awesome fish door knockers which I'm assuming is because of it's proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. 

AIX-EN-PROVENCE

Our first stop outside Montpellier was Aix-En-Provence (the "Aix" is pronounced "X").

Our hotel (Le Pigonnet - found via Trip Advisor) was an easy walk from the train station to the hotel and an easy walk to the center of town. 

The grounds of the hotel itself were beautiful and I could have just hung out there for awhile.   

Ah but the light calls. 

These three doors were found as we walked along a street out of the center of town. We walked and walked and walked. 

We stayed in Aix-En-Provence for two nights. If I was doing it again one night would have been fine. Also, because we didn't really plan ahead, some of the things I'd have liked to have seen there (a museum specifically) were closed on the days we were there (Sunday & Monday). 

ANTIBES

We knew that we wanted to stay in at least one town along the Riviera and we ended up choosing Antibes (located between Cannes and Nice). 

It was a good choice. 

We stayed here two nights (booked one night and then ended up staying a second night to spend more time there). If you are following the news you might have seen that there was severe flooding in Nice and the surrounding areas. We were there before the rains came and it was really, really windy.

Such a beautiful spot. 

I loved this town. 

We spent a lot of time on one day just walking around looking at all the boats in the harbor. Everything from small fishing boats to the biggest yachts I've ever seen. 

Antibes is home to this amazing sculpture made of letters of the alphabet by James Plensa. Awesome. 

We also went to the Picasso Museum - which I loved. It featured paintings and drawings from a period of time when he lived in Antibes. I loved being able to see the progression of the artwork from some of his initial sketches/drawings to the completed paintings. 

Antibes has a great market area - definitely one of my favorite things to capture with my lens. 

ARLES

The third place we visited was the lovely town of Arles. 

The shutters. Definitely one of my favorite things to check out in each place we visited. 

After Arles it was back to Montpellier for workshops. 

For this event I put together a new class called Book Of Joy to celebrate some of the things that bring us the most joy in life.

As always it is so fun to see the students working with the products, creating their albums and telling their own stories. 

Big thanks to all the students for your enthusiasm and laughter and for putting up with me as I practiced my French. 

I'm so thankful to Celine for inviting me to come and stay with her and teach at her event. Her friendship and kindness and hospitality and sense of humor is a blessing in my life.  

It was exactly where I needed to be

As some of you know, Chris remarried while I was away. It's been tougher than I thought it was going to be emotionally. Traveling was great and hard at the same time. I'm thankful that Aaron was able to come with me on this adventure and for his compassionate heart along the way. I'm also thankful for my other close friends whose support means so much. 

Now it's back to the business of being at home and kid routines and Fall and pumpkins and December Daily® preparations and continuing to work on living the length and the width. 

Related Posts

Sign in or sign up to comment.

45 thoughts

  1. Bellaa75 says…
    10/09/2015

    Looks like a wonderful trip Ali and that it came at just the right time. Hoping you find lots of joy in your life as 2015 comes to an end. Hey you'll be 40 soon and man that's worth celebrating. Not everyone is lucky enough to make it to that age. X

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. hgauvin says…
    10/09/2015

    What a lovely trip and beautiful photos. You are an inspiration to so many. Thank you for always sharing the good, the bad and the difficult.

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. gerdieneke says…
    10/09/2015

    Hi Ali, thanks for sharing this. Your pictures make me want to go to France again. I considered joining but it wasn't a good time to travel for me. I hope to take one of your classes if you come back to Europe. Your last paragraph adds a different dimension. It's a good reminder that there are stories going on in people's lives, that there's more than just the pretty pictures. Thanks for being so honest and sharing this and glad to hear that the trip and the people around you made you feel better.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. laura_g_ says…
    10/09/2015

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful photos...what a fun trip!! I admire the grace that you have shown during your divorce and moving on with your life! Way to go!! You so deserve a hug and a pat on the back!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. heyecho says…
    10/09/2015

    Just a note to say thinking of you. It is funny how we can prepare ourselves for things but we can still take an emotional kick to the gut regardless. Keep your chin up!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. happytoscrap says…
    10/09/2015

    Thank you for taking us to France. Beautiful scenes. Live that length and width!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. jmr483 says…
    10/09/2015

    I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. You inspire others to be authentic with your courage!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. instantphoebe says…
    10/09/2015

    So glad you got to spend time in southern France -- it's one of my favorite places in the world! I would move there immediately if I could!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. YolandaL says…
    10/09/2015

    Isn't it interesting that while something so monumental was shifting at home, on the road your eye was drawn to windows and doors? And finding beauty in all of it?

    Reply 6 Replies
    1. AliEdwards says…
      10/09/2015

      Thank you for making that direct connection for me - I teared up when I read your comment.

    2. tealmyre says…
      10/09/2015

      What a lovely, lovely comment Yolanda.

    3. ciahansen says…
      10/09/2015

      OPEN! Your past OLWs stick with you. What a special comment and observation, Yolanda!

    4. ginnyc says…
      10/09/2015

      This is lovely. I hope Ali you are drawn to look through the windows & step through the doors to a beautiful future.

    5. shawn_altman says…
      10/10/2015

      Beautiful words!!

    6. snhackett328 says…
      10/12/2015

      Oh, Yolanda, your comment is so true and so wonderful.

  10. Radish38 says…
    10/09/2015

    Just Welcome back

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. justrhonda says…
    10/09/2015

    We just got back from my first trip to France and I went to some of the same areas as you. It's an amazing place. (and the light! and the food? oh my! Just lovely.) We just rented a car and just drove around really stopping wherever we ended up. I think there is a total sense of freedom vacationing like that and it was just lovely to just BE with my hubby and see what we saw.
    And I'm glad you could share a trip like this with Aaron. It's good that you have him. :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. ScrappinMyHeartOut says…
    10/09/2015

    Beautiful photos taken by someone with a beautiful soul and zest for life. Those windows, doors and shutters may be symbolic of the passages you've been through in life - remember that you aren't just loved, you are cherished by many - even by thousands of us from afar. I tell myself that loss brings me to new possibilities I would have otherwise been less for not experiencing. Poetic, but still not easy to live by every day. So we just keep "giving," moving "up," and telling our stories.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Laura_Steingiser says…
      10/09/2015

      This is so lovely and true. Thank you so much for sharing your trip, but thank you even more for sharing how to write and document the events in our lives. It was a great idea to be away, understandable how conflicted feeling can be.

  13. mtercha says…
    10/09/2015

    I'm so glad you had comfort when you need it the most. Your ability to be vulnerable, and work through the hard stuff is something to aspire to. You are inspiring. And I mean about life. Michelle t

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. virginiegoujon says…
    10/09/2015

    Thank you Ali for sharing this (both emotions and pictures). Even if I'm French, I've never been there. It was my first time in Montpellier.
    Glad you feel a little better with us.
    Love this quote from Maya Angelou "No matter what happens or how bad it seems today, life does go on and it will be better tomorrow" . It has been really helpful during difficult times.

    If a fall trip is one of your tradition, I may suggest you the Loire Valley for next year so I can see you again ;)
    Hugs.
    Virginie

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. sypharmer says…
    10/09/2015

    Love these pictures. Sure makes me want to go on a trip. Could not think of a better way to distract yourself from the wedding. Big hugs! Life goes on but it does not mean we don't feel the bumps in the road.

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. agnes_and_co says…
    10/09/2015

    hello ali ... it's a little bit funny because in this summer , I discovered montpellier for the first time : it was a very hot day and the streets of the old town are very perfect and so quiet & peace. You made very beautiful photos of the shutters.
    when I saw your two kids at the father's wedding ... I said "oh" ! and I thought about you... a end/ a start...nether be easy
    I hope happiness will be with you ... like you share your passion of scrap....as story teller

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. gina200 says…
    10/09/2015

    Ali I love seeing your travel photos and writing. Thank you for sharing those and sharing parts of your life with us. You really are an inspiration, both in documenting life & storytelling as well as showing grace and class throughout your divorce and time after. After seeing family members go through divorce and the hurt and feelings that go with rushing into the next phase of life, I admire your mindfulness about what is right for you and everyone involved. And everyone is different! I'm so glad you were able to get away and enjoy France and enjoy time with Aaron - sounds like it was a much needed and beautiful disctraction. Enjoy all that Fall has to bring!! I'm really looking forward to December Daily.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. JenHart says…
    10/09/2015

    Ah, Ali another difficult season to navigate and I am so sorry for all the emotions you must be feeling. I am glad you have Aaron to help you and of course your fantastic family and I hope that all your scrapbooking 'family' and our wishes help a little. I had to go through it quite quickly after we separated and so I know a little how you are feeling (we all feel it a little differently I expect) and it is so weird and hard.
    One thing I think I know about you from following you is that you are determined to feel it all and deal with it all and for that I admire you and seeing your journey has helped me immeasurably. I hope that gives you some comfort that sharing it is helping others even if we can't help you. Anyway, I am sending you some uplifting vibes and I hope they get to you.

    On a different note, my lovely parcel arrived in North Devon, England today. I have been on a late shift and I can't 'just' open it! I am savouring it for my day off on Sunday.

    My very warmest bestest wishes to you and all of your extended family. x

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. ximena says…
    10/09/2015

    Ali, please please consider doing a photography workshop, like Lens of Joy, but focused on travel. I LOVE the pictures that you take on trips! I think your style is amazing and would sign up for sure.
    Also, do you have info about your December Daily class? I'd like to start budgeting for it. Could you give us the details soon?
    Lastly, thank you for sharing the good and not so good with us. Change is hard, but there are awesome things ahead. You have all my admiration.

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Murray says…
    10/11/2015

    Absolutely love the photographs from your trip. I too would sign up for the travel photography course from the awesome suggestion above. Could you please share the details of the album that is pictured from your class along with the place to purchase the celebrate. I received my December Daily items and love it all! I just received the new daily PL cards from your shop with the large letters and it all Rocks! I put it to use in my PL spread for this week. Your designs inspire us all. I hope you will have comfort in all the love you have on your blog and from your dear family, friends, and Aaron. Your life is amazing and we are all lucky to be apart of it as you share the depth and width of it here on your blog.

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. jemi says…
    10/11/2015

    You did my 2016 Word: Compose. You carefully put together the things you love the most: Aaron, travel, photos, friends, work. And, maybe most of all, a gift to Simon and Anna--sparing them your own pain so they could be a part of something that hurts you so much. I'm not so sure it is time that heals all things. I think it may be the capacity to love still, but again, that heals us. How perfect that your project was "Book of Joy".

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. lizbeth8 says…
    10/11/2015

    You have love and support all around you, Ali; both near and far. You've got it "goin' on," girlfriend. Go. Your. Own. Way ~ ~ ~ ;) {@}

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. suzq910 says…
    10/11/2015

    I have long had a fascination with European doors and windows and their lovely window flower boxes. Loved the pictures. The colors of the macaroons were luscious! I can't think of a nicer place to be away from home for distracting from events there and enjoying "just the two-of-you-time" with Aaron. I admire your living the breadth and width. Sometimes that is really hard, but it is fulfilling.

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Untiedt says…
    10/11/2015

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos of France. It makes me want to plan a trip there. It must be a tough time for you but you are stronger than you think. I'm glad you had this trip when you needed it most and Aaron to share it with you. Hugs. :0)

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Borcherding says…
    10/11/2015

    Ali, your photos are like postcards... they all look AMAZING!!

    Reply 0 Replies

Sign in or sign up to comment.