Carcassonne, France

Sunday, April 30, 2017

When my grandma Doris found out that we would be driving across southern France she suggested a stop to see the gorgeous medieval walled city of Carcassonne. We took her advice and are so happy we did! Definitely a must-visit!
Carcassonne is a 13th century world of towers, turrets, and cobblestones. 
The fortified old city on the hill is known as La Cité and is surrounded by two layers of walls and fortifications that were first built by the Romans and then expanded over the centuries.
Looking towards the city cemetery through the wall.
In peacetime, this area between the walls was used for medieval tournaments (think A Knight's Tale) and markets.
Today, it's used for our kids to pick flowers. 
We meandered around and entered La Cité through one of the inner wall gates and saw the beautiful St. Nazaire Church which served as the town's cathedral until the 18th century.
The whole old town is so charming, it is like walking through a fairytale. 
The Chateau Comtal, the city's third layer of defense, was originally built in 1125 and still shows the wooden rampart extensions that once circled the entire city wall. You might also recognize this castle from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves where it was Nottingham Castle. 
Seeing this amazing place up on the hill was surreal. It is so well preserved that it looks like something transported from a different time and plopped down in the modern world.
At night it is even more magical. 
A little montage of the Evans family in Carcassonne:

Our family in Carcassonne, France on Wednesday April 5th, 2017.
The next day was the micro-country this whole trip was planned around: Andorra!

Pont du Gard, France

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Just a short drive due west of Avignon is one of the greatest Roman ruins in the world: the Pont du Gard aqueduct.

Throughout the ancient world Roman aqueducts were a powerful symbol of the greatness of Rome. A visit to Pont du Gard today still impresses and awes. 
This perfectly preserved aqueduct was built in 19 B.C. as a key link in a 30-mile long canal that supplied water to the Nîmes, one of ancient Europe's largest cities. The stones you see sticking out held the original scaffolding used when the aqueduct was built and the workers decided not to chop them off so they could use them again for more scaffolding during future repairs.
Fox being a little monkey.

Graffiti from all ages.
The lovely Gardon River winding through this picturesque corner of southern France.
My boys!
The bridge is about 160 feet high and 790 feet of the original 1,100 remain intact.
This canal drops only one inch every 350 feet. Amazing.

This aqueduct is exceptional not just for how well preserved it is, but for its sheer size. The arches are twice the width of standard aqueduct arches and the main arch spanning the river is the single largest arch the Romans ever built!
The whole enchilada. 
Video footage of Pont du Gard:
Our family at the Pont du Gard on Wednesday April 5th 2017.
Next stop: the amazing medieval walled fairy-tale city of Carcassonne!

Avignon, France

Friday, April 28, 2017

For 94 years Avignon served as the seat of Papal authority, the French Vatican if you will, and grew from a quiet village into a thriving city. Today, while the popes have returned to Italy, modern Avignon is a bustling city with a university, history, cafes, and shops galore. 
I had to find me a Nutella crepe, STAT! This little place was really cool. It had an automatic crepe maker machine that squirted out the batter onto a rotating hot plate. Plus, look at the size of this crepe!

We started our exploration of Avignon on Place de l'Horloge, a shady, cafe-lined square with a cool carousel we let the kids ride on.
Leading into the square is Avignon's main drag, the Rue de la Republique.

Chris the human stroller.
Just north of the square is the historic Palace of the Popes. In 1309 a French pope was elected and at the urging of the French king the new Pope decided that dangerous Italy was no place for the Holy See and moved the whole operation to Avignon. The church literally bought the town and built it up to be a fitting home for the popes who resided here until 1403.
Aside from the Papal Palace, Avignon is known for its bridge. The St. Benezet Bridge is the famous bridge from the nursery rhyme ("On the bridge of Avignon, We all dance there, we all dance there. On the bridge of Avignon, We all dance there in a ring.") and dates back to the 15th century.
Across the river is Fort St. André which was built by the French in 1360 to ensure the Pope didn't extend his worldly political power into France.
Walking along the ramparts down towards the bridge.
On the bridge, after we had danced (in a ring), we got a picture looking back towards the palace.
In 1668 a large part of the bridge was knocked down by a disastrous icy flood. The townsfolk decided not to rebuild and for a century they had no bridge across the river (this was only the only bridge crossing the mighty Rhône between 1171 and its destruction). Only four arches of the original 22 that spanned the river survive today. Here my feetsies are at the edge of the bridge.
Walking along the outside of the medieval fortifications.
Then I jogged across the modern car bridge to get the view of Avignon I had seen on so many postcards.
Back in town we explored a little more before finding a grocery store and heading back to our five-star airbnb for dinner.
Such a lovely town!
A compilation of walking around and through Avignon:
Our family in Avignon, France on Tuesday April 4th 2017.
The next morning we drove to the Pont du Gard aqueduct - definitely worth its own post!

Gift Coptic Books

Thursday, April 27, 2017

To say "thank you" to my amazing design team and the graphic designers at Pink Paislee I made each of them a coptic book!
In between assignments, traveling, teaching, mommying, and life in general, I gathered all the supplies and worked on the books assembly-line style over the period of a few weeks.
They are all made with Oh My Heart patterned papers and matching colors of cardstock then embellished with the Heart Charms, pearls, jewels, and sequins.
I stitched the first half of each book with pink thread and the second half with aqua thread.
The books are made with 4x6" wood covers and they're great for photos, journaling, scrapbooking, and so much more. One of these days I will film through a finished book :)

I left the covers plain so each designer can decorate it and personalize it.

And then I feel like I spent more time on the packaging than making the books themselves lol!! Confession: I hate wrapping things! Because the wrapping just gets thrown away... Anyway, I tried my best to make them cute though :)
I took a few pictures and then popped them in the mail! It has been fun to see them received and I'm glad they all arrived safe and sound.

Thank you to all of the wonderful and talented people I get to "work" (can't call it work when it feels more like play!) with on a daily basis!

And, if you're interested in learning how to make these books, I do have an online class available in my etsy shop here:
Paige Taylor Evans © // Quinn Creatives DESIGN