Weekend in La Ville Rose : Toulouse, France

This past weekend the weather forecast predicted sunshine, so we decided it was a good opportunity to finally get out of the house and go on another adventure. I’ve been wanting to check out the city of Toulouse, the fourth largest city in France, after hearing so many of our French friends and coworkers talk about it – many of them are either from there or went to college there. It’s only a two hour and forty five minute drive from Biarritz, so we decided to head there Saturday morning and spend one night. The drive from Biarritz to Toulouse was really beautiful. The freeway runs along the Pyrenees mountains, which were covered in snow and looked so beautiful in the sunshine, and passes lots of country farms that looked so mysterious in the morning fog. I also loved that the farther we got from Basque Country, the architecture started to feel a little more ‘traditional French’ (vs. the Basque architecture we see so much of around Biarritz), and it’s always refreshing and inspiring to see something different.

When we arrived to the center of town and made our way down the miniature streets to find our hotel I was immediately in love with the city – the colors and textures had me at first sight! Toulouse is called La Ville Rose, or The Pink City, because most of buildings are made out of terra cotta brick. Every street was a gradient of shades of dusty rose, rusty corals, and grapefruit pinks. So many different textures of bricks peeking through layers and layers of old plaster, hand door knockers attached to almost every door, peeling paint in random pops of colors. It was beautiful! So many interesting architectural details full of history and color.

After checking into our hotel, we spent Saturday afternoon exploring the streets in the center of town. Toulouse is a huge college town and the streets felt so alive with a young crowd – I loved the energy. I took too many pictures of beautiful doors (thanks to Brent for being patient with me and all my picture-taking), we went into some cute shops, my favorite was a paper store (of course) called Trait, where I found some unique cards, and an old book sale that was set up outside in a square next to the Toulouse Cathedral, where I found a huge photo book called ‘La Mer’, all about the Sea : history, oceanography, and anything related to it (score!). We were really excited when we found a taco shop, Cóatl, and enjoyed chorizo tacos with Mexican cervezas for lunch. The best part about visiting large cities is the variety in food! We definitely don’t get very many options in small Biarritz.

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Sunday morning we made our way to the weekly flea market that takes place next to Saint-Sernin Basilica. There wasn’t as many old, vintage objects as I was hoping to find – but I did get a few ceramic door knobs that look like they could be from Anthropologie. We enjoyed a croissant and cafe in the Place du Capitole, walked along the river, explored a beautiful park, and enjoyed some time in the sun (there hasn’t been enough of it lately). We found another South American restaurant where we enjoyed a few more tacos and nachos before heading back to Biarritz.

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If you are thinking about visiting Toulouse, I would definitely recommend it for a weekend trip. The color of the city and unique architecture are worth the trip alone, and with all the shopping and great restaurants, it’s definitely a combination for a perfect weekend getaway!

bonne année from Biarritz

Happy 2016 friends, family, and blog readers! Thank you to everyone who has been following along with our adventures. We’ve been busy with life and have neglected posting as often as we’d like, but one of my resolutions this year is to keep up with this blog more often, starting today!

I remember thinking last New Year’s, when we rang in 2015 with some of our favorite people in San Diego, that 2015 couldn’t possibly be better than 2014. In 2014 we got engaged, had the best wedding ever, moved to France, both started new jobs and a whole new life – it was a big year. But now looking back, 2015 was just as amazing and I’m so thankful for everything that has happened in the past year. I can’t help but feel the same way, on the first day of 2016, wondering if it’s possible to have another year just as amazing as the past two, but I’m thinking positive and feeling really thankful for how amazing our lives have been up to this point.

I should have written individual posts about all these events, but since I didn’t I felt like doing a post highlighting my 15 favorite moments from 2015. In chronological order, these were moments that made 2015 so epic :

1. Road Trip To Porto, Portugal

In early March Brent and I drove seven hours from France, through Spain, all the way to Porto, Portugal, where we spent a long weekend exploring the city and tasting wine and Port. We fell in love with the people, the food, the wine, and all the design inspiration and are hoping to explore more of Portugal in 2016. We actually did a full post about our weekend in Porto, which you can find HERE if you are interested in reading more!

2. Ashley’s Bridal Shower In California

My best friend of 18 years asked me to be her maid of honor for her wedding, so we kicked off the festivities in March with a bridal shower that her bridesmaids and I threw for her. It was a beautiful backyard spring shower, with everyone in shades of pink. I was thankful to be able to fly home and spend some special time celebrating my best friend. *Photos by Kristina Lee Photography

3. Turning 30 In Santorini, Greece

Brent and I both turned 30 in March, and since we couldn’t celebrate it with all of our favorite people we decided to go on a really epic trip – 10 days in Santorini, the top destination on my bucket list. It really was the trip of a lifetime and I was in heaven surrounded by all white everything, in a gorgeous hotel room with a private hot tub overlooking the ocean. The most amazing place for us to celebrate our birthdays, and it’s tied with the island of Menora for my favorite place on earth (so far – lots of places to still explore!)

4. Running The Paris Marathon With Jade

In April my best friend Jade and I checked another HUGE box on our lifelong bucket list when we ran the Paris marathon together. Jade and her husband Josh came and spent a week in Biarritz with us before we all headed to Paris together for the race. Jade and I have run many marathons and races together and had always joked about running a race in Paris… little did we know I would end up living in France and our goal would become a reality so much sooner than we expected. It was definitely the best race I’ve ever run and I feel so thankful to have accomplished such an amazing goal with one of my best friends! The was the beginning of her training for her first FULL IRONMAN, which she completed this past November. I’m so proud of her, she is my inspiration!

5. Ashley & Mike’s Wedding In Yosemite

In May I was lucky to get to spend more time in California with family and friends and watched my best friend get married. The wedding was at Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite, where we grew up, and every detail was perfection. I was so honored to have been her maid of honor, and it is a day that will go down in history as one of the best of our life. Ashley was such a gorgeous bride, planned an amazing wedding, and married the most perfect guy. Definitely a highlight of the year!

6. My New Favorite Place On Earth : The Island Of Menorca

Our first summer vacation trip was to the Balearic Island of Menorca off the east coast of Spain. It was love at first sight for me, when I saw the swimming-pool clear water of the Mediterranean. The beaches, the coves, the Mojitos on the beach, the boat we rented for the day so we could explore yacht-filled, aqua-blue coves, everything. It was everything. I also did a full post about this experience, which you can read more about HERE.

7. Mediterranean Adventure In Dubrovnik, Croatia

We also checked Dubrovnik off our list this summer – an amazing medieval town on the Mediterranean. We did one of Brent’s favorite activities again, rented a boat, and swam in crystal clear waters, explored the medieval castle town, and lounged at the beach. We even took a day trip into the country of Montenegro. A trip we will always remember!

8. Lunch With Mimi Thorisson In Médoc

I still plan to write a full post about this, but one of the highlights this year was our lunch with Mimi Thorisson in Médoc. I have her cookbook and have been using it to learn to cook French recipes, so when her and her family hosted a pop-up resturant at their home this summer, we were excited that it was only a few hours away and, thanks to our friend Daniele, we were lucky to get a reservation. We enjoyed one of the best meals we’ve had in France with our friends Mike and Daniele and it was very surreal getting to meet someone (Mimi) who is such an inspiration to me. More on this whole experience (still) coming soon!

9. Summertime In Biarritz

Spending simple summer days in Biarritz was also one of my favorite things this year. Our first summer in France last year was really rainy and I felt depressed from lack of sun, but this summer was exceptional, with warm sunny days for almost four months straight. I spent many days at the beach, we enjoyed lots of weekend surfs, bottles of rosé, and time on our balcony. It was simply perfect. 

10. Weekend In Barcelona

In September Brent and I took the train to Barcelona for a long weekend of exploring. It was a first-time visit for both of us and we enjoyed a long weekend eating amazing food (lots of Mexican!), shopping, visiting the Picasso museum and seeing Gaudi’s architecture. Barcelona is a huge city full of so much life and culture, it has so much to offer and I hope we can make it back there again!

11. My Dad And Sister’s Visit  To Biarritz

It was really special to have my Dad and sister visit us in Biarritz for the first time, where they spent 6 days eperiencing what our lives in France are like. We toured Biarritz, explored nearby towns, and ventured into Spain for some hiking and tapas. It was a special week and I’m so thankful they were able to make it out here.

12. Jess & Dan’s Wedding In Kauai, Hawaii

My college roommate Jess (who Brent and I have both known since Jess and I shared a dorm room at SDSU in 2003) got married in Kauai, Hawaii to Dan, the most perfect guy for her! It was an honor to design their wedding invitations and even more special to watch them make it official. It was quite a journey to get to Hawaii from France, but Jess is a very special person to me and I definitely didn’t want to miss it! I was very thankful that we were able to make the trip and it was by far the most amazing wedding we’ve been guests at. And not bad getting to spend some time in Hawaii, either.

13. Weekend In London

In November Brent and I spent a weekend exploring London, another big destination on my life bucket list. Brent had been once for a work trip, but it was my first time. We spent a fun night with our friends Heather and Steve (locals!) and a full Saturday exploring and cramming in as much sight seeing and delicious food as possible. I loved London in a different way than I loved our Mediterranean summer destinations, but still really loved it, and hope I can make it back again someday soon, especially for shopping!

14. Marche De Noël In Strasbourg, France

If you know me you know how much I LOVE Christmas, so spending a weekend in the Christmas Capital of France at the biggest Christmas market in Europe was a dream come true. The decorations, the markets, the mulled wine, the Christmas lights, I felt like I was in the North Pole and it was pure magic. What an incredible way to kick off our first holiday season in Europe!

15. Celebrating Christmas In Biarritz

This year we decided to stay in Biarritz and spend the holidays here, instead of heading home to California. It was strange not going home and celebrating with our families for the first time, but we were really happy to have my Dad in town for a visit again, to spend Christmas and New Years with us. It was the first time having Christmas in our own home – we enjoyed good food, drank local wine and champagne, and admired the Christmas lights around Biarritz. It really was special having our first European Christmas experience.

What a year it has been! Here’s to hoping 2016 is filled with just as many adventures! Happy New Year!