Loire Valley

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 1. The Château de Chambord, 2. Royal pottery at the Château de Blois, 3. Strutting out of the Château de Blois courtyard, 4. The Château de Chambord with Marisa, 5. Pretty flowers surrounding the Château d'Angers, 6. Looking out from the balcony of Chambord, 7. Olivia and Carolyn being weird at the Parc de Langeais, 8. Inside the Château de Blois staircase, 9. Intricate architecture at Chambord, 10. Little french kids looking out at the grassy front entrance of the Chambord, 11. With Nhyria, Emma, Olivia, Heather, Marisa, Hannah, and Carolyn at Chambord, 12. Walking towards the Château de Chenonceau, 13. The Parc de Langeais 


        Last week was the start of our first break, La Toussaint, which is a two week break across France. To kick off the much need vacation, we took a school trip around the Loire Valley, which is an area full of historical chateaus. We began the trip with a visit to the Chateau d'Angers, the single medieval chateau we visited. Constructed in stone with a simplistic layout, we could easily note the time period from our vast studies of chateaus in Art History. We were then taken on a guided visit of the Tenture de l'Apocalypse, which no, it does in fact not involve zombies. Bummer. After a bit of exploration there, we were taken to the donjon and park de Langeais. The park was a bit quirkier of an attraction, outfitted with cut-out figures and a treehouse too. The donjon was quite run-down and didn't have as much interest to everyone as the the cut-out figures (typical). After a bit of reliving our childhoods by playing on the swings, we set out for our quaint hotel in Tours. 

The next day had to be my favorite of all three. The day started with a quick visit to the Cathedral Saint-Gatien, which resembled the one which I visited when I went to Prague this summer. After admiring the colorful stain glass windows, we trekked on over to the Chateau de Blois. From my perspective, this chateau had a medieval feel in the sense of the earthy coloring, although it was created during the Middle-Ages. There we started to see different elements of a chateau that we had talked about in class, like the utterly-confusing double staircases. For lunch, we were able to go into the town of Blois to eat, and my friends and I ate some Italian food to curb our baguette addiction. Hunger a thing of the past, we made the much anticipated drive to the Chateau de Chambord. Of all of the chateaus, this is 100% the one we most heavily studied, including a test that I gracefully bombed (half-kidding). The second I descended from our coach-bus, I was in complete awe! For being just the hunting house of Francois 1er, this chateau was pretty incredible. The architecture alone was spectacular, but the rooms were just as lavish and fit for a king, despite his death before its completion. We were given almost the whole afternoon there, even though we really could've spent the entire day there. In addition to the actual building, the grounds were also worth exploring. 

Finally, we took on the Chateau de Chenonceau and the gardens of Catherine de Medicis and Diane de Poitiers. Prior to our visit, we were told that this chateau allegedly inspired Walt Disney's design of Cinderella's castle, which evokes the same fantasy feel. This chateau was a lot less large in comparison to Chambord, but it was the gardens and mini-maze that added to the charm of the smaller chateau. When I came back from this trip, I was asked more than once which chateau I had preferred, but it was hard to compare for me. Inside, Chenonceau has a homier feel, with cozy fire places and common-place furniture. On the other hand, Chambord has gold upon gold and an ornate style that I couldn't imagine living in today, yet it is incredible. Eventually, we left for lunch in the town of Amboise, which was a cheap cafe for us because we had spent a bit too much the day before. Practically sleep walking to the bus, the next thing on our agenda was a rather random visit to the Robert Tatin museum, who was a French artist.

Hopefully this recap isn't too long! This may seem silly, but I've already been enjoying looking back at blog posts from the very beginning of being in France, and I am glad that I have been posting pictures/text regarding my school year abroad. When it comes to school trips, we only have one more to the Mont Saint Michel (actually going on it), and then it'll be Christmas before I know it! Things are surely going quickly. I'll be back with another outfit soon enough, and then most likely another picture round up. If you have any other post requests, please leave me some below, otherwise this will probably turn into a strictly travel/outfit posts blog. Kidding. Have a wonderful day! xoxo



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Silene

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           I'm not sure if it's just me, but around this time of year, I tend to go shopping with a ,"let's find something suitable for holiday parties" mindset. (That being said; yes, I have broken out the Mariah Carey and Michael Buble Christmas jams and I'm not ashamed). Moreover, it's not that I have many holiday parties lined up, but Christmas in Paris with my sister and mom definitely calls for some swanky attire. The other day, I was strolling in town and just about died when I came across a Ba&Sh boutique. I've always looked at their swoon-worthy selection on ASOS, but didn't think I would ever find an actual store. In my pursuit to not buy everything in sight, I found this super light and versatile forest green dress. It has a simplistic facade, but it's the subtle pleating that I really like. The second I tried this dress on, I couldn't help but think about how much I loved it! That's what I'd call love at first sight. Against the cobble stone streets of Rennes, this dress makes me feel even just a little bit more French. 

       My second love next to this dress is vacation! I'm currently on La Toussaint, which is an almost two week break across France from mid-October to early November. We started out the break with a school trip to the Loire Valley that was focused around chateaus. We studied a few of them very closely in class, and it was just crazy to actually see them in person with some knowledge under our belts too. I have tons of pictures to post, so a photo diary and recap of that will be coming next. On Saturday, I am going back to Saint Briac sur mer with my host mom, and then I will probably just be hanging out with friends and hopefully seeing Gone Girl (!!) at the end of break. My goal is also to recreate some Starbucks drinks because the void is real and the coffee shots here are overwhelming. I hope all of you are having a wonderful October! Have a wonderful vacation to all of my French readers! xo

And special thanks to my gal pal Heather for taking these wonderful pictures and for being my photo buddy!  



Wearing:// Dress: Ba&Sh (Ba&Sh Anzy dress), Shoes: Chanel (Dr. Martens Flora Chelsea Boots), Bag: Chanel (Tory Burch Marion CrossBody)

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Transformations | Fall Playlist 2014

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        It is evident that time is always changing. Due to this fact, we all desperately try to live in the moment, and yet; our clarity is still fogged and we are unable to see what is right before us. In English class, we've been discussing the concept of observations and time, which are both huge aspects of our 9 months here. During the first month, I did my best to soak everything up and realize that yes, I am living France, but before I knew it, I found my self already nearing the end of 2 months, still baffled by how quickly everything has changed in such a short amount of time. 

Keeping this idea in mind, I had the idea to do a playlist focused around "transformations". I took the above pictures in the same spot of my host mom's backyard, each at different times of the day, noting the minor details. Despite believing this day would be completely sunny, it progressed to a cloudy one within a few hours, showing that not everything is guaranteed (especially when it comes to Brittany weather!) When it comes to the music, I tried to arrange these songs that I've been liking lately from slow paced to more upbeat to keep the "changes" idea incorporated. I hope you enjoy these songs and pictures! xoxo


Transformations | Fall Playlist 2014 by Isabelle N on Grooveshark
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Simplicity

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Wearing:// Top: Aritzia, Skirt: Nordstrom, Shoes: Vince, Necklace: Boutique in Rennes, Bracelets: Alex + Ani 


Being a semi-observant person, I'd say one of the first things I notice about a person is what they wear. At home, I had already been roughly familiar with the style of each coast and the individuality that comes with each area (north, south, east, west, etc). However, going to school in Europe, more specifically France, threw me for a curveball. 

I've always read magazines like Teen Vogue and Nylon religiously, scanning the pages for the "latest trends", which I often never actually saw people trying out. Some things were understandably only magazine ready, while other things had a ready to wear feel to them, yet nobody in America wore them. On the contrary, I've now come to realize that the style of the ever so graceful "French girl" is that which you see in magazines. Their style is incredibly effortless, with scarves flowing in the wind and the click-clack of their stylish boots strutting on the pavement echoing. Something I've noticed as well is their love for flowy tops + blazers , a skirt or jeans, and consistently killer shoes/bags. The top pieces hold less precedence in comparison to the accessories, which always need to be on point. In my one of my first efforts to emulate this style montra, I wore my graphic blouse from Artizia, with colorful graphics and a basic black skirt. Simple as can be. 


Happy Thursday! I hope you are all doing well. This past week of school has been a whirlwind of activities + far from simple, from the PSAT on Wednesday to last minute assessments before the Toussaint break. Toussaint is a national holiday that celebrates All Saints and is a nearly two week break. This weekend, my friend is having a mini party with all of our friends, and we are going bowling to kick off the break! I haven't bowled in a while, so that should be interesting. However, from Monday through Wednesday we will be heading to the Loire Valley on another school trip, where we will be visiting the Chateau Du Chambord, which we've been studying in Art History. The pictures I've seen on Google images are so beautiful, and I can't wait to capture some of my own, haha. Otherwise, I don't have many plans for that break except for another trip to the beach, finally planning some blog posts, and sleeping in as much as possible! Thank goodness for Toussaint. I'll post pictures ASAP from the Loire Valley! Have a wonderful day. xo

P.S. These pictures were shot in the Parc du Thabor  by my "host sister" Jeanne. It is such a breathtaking park, with a plentiful amount of flowers everywhere you look. It is definitely a must see in Rennes! 


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Lilly | Changes

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Wearing:// Top: Topshop (Lace Crop Tee), Skirt: Shopbop (Parker Mckenna Skirt), Shoes: Made-Well (Steve Madden Dateme Flats), Bag: UO (old), Bracelets: Alex + Ani 


Yesterday afternoon I was sorting through all of my recent pictures and came across these outfit photos that I had completely forgotten I had taken late August. Hopefully that explains why I don't look like I am teeth chattering freezing, considering I'm not wearing tights. While my mom and I may have shot them a day or so before my departure, I have been so invested in the excitement of this French world I now live in, that everything pre-France is a blur. I now live in a world filled with tongue burning chocolate croissants and beautiful leather booties- aka heaven. To most people, one month away from home might not sound like much, but somehow it has felt like an eternity. After completing just 1/9 month(s) here, I feel like I've already changed a ton from when theses pictures were taken- meaning my French has improved and my shopping addiction worsened (the shopping here is so very dangerous!). It's funny to look back at these pictures nearly a month later and realize how much can change within a month, whether it be location, opinions, friendships, etc. etc. This epiphany just reminds me of how I love how easily photography can capture events or memories, and I've been really enjoying sharing pictures from my school year abroad on my blog. I hope you all are enjoying them as well!

Taking a break from my tangent to discuss the actual outfit- there's something about more girly style pieces which have an edgy/darker print that I love. Sometimes, I'm not exactly feeling the Docs look, however I'm also not going for the pearls and a bow vibe either- this is a nice business casual happy medium, haha. It's hard not to don the European black-everything style religiously, however knit and leather skirts have been my savior. Prints with contrast such as the one above create an easy way to keep your own style in mind while not being restricted to ankle booties, jeans, and a leather jacket. 


Occasionally, I like to look through my archives for whatever strange reason, and it's posts like this that make me miss summer. The weather here was quite beautiful throughout September, and all of a sudden dropped incredibly. Currently, a majority of the days begin extremely chilly when I'm en route to school (around 7:45), but by the afternoon, I'm nearly throwing off all of my layers with beads of sweat practically forming on my face. Oh! And you never know when it will randomly rain, thunder, lightning, or all three. Rule number one of Brittany weather: Do not trust the Weather.com app and always have an umbrella. Just sayin'. 

Also, I just added Disqus to my blog and I'm thinking that I like it better than the old Blogger commenting system. The only downfall is my old comments didn't transfer over, but hopefully I'll figure that out. Lemme know (in a comment, haha) what you think of it and how you're doing! xoxo Isabelle 

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Macaroon Heaven + The Mont Saint Michel

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Coming to France, I knew the food would be delectable, but I didn't exactly know just how good. (As I type this, I am recovering from a chocolate lava cake coma. Eat. Sleep. Repeat). Through my school, a decent amount of students were given the opportunity to take 3 cooking classes in groups of 4, all with a plump little old lady. She is a full on French baker/chef extraordinaire, and is incredibly helpful with correcting our grammar and pronunciation mistakes. When she initially spoke about this possibility at a school meeting, my friends and I practically pounced on the sign up sheet. Because we have half-days on Wednesdays, we have been heading to her house a few hours after school and filling up on everything she has us make. Last week, we made an insane apple tart which you can see here, and this week was the ever so delicious and French macaroon. I would 100% attach the recipe, however it is in French and making conversions/translating to English is not really my thing. Although, I would recommend this recipe from the wonderful Martha Stewart- while requiring a ton of patience, macaroons really aren't as hard as they seem! 

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        The process began by beating together egg whites and a collection of different types of flours. We had to make sure everything was extremely well mixed in order to avoid messing up the texture/shape of the macaroons. After mixing until the mix was reminiscent of homemade whipped cream, she added in some violet food coloring, but she made sure not to put a lot in for taste. The following step was probably the hardest- we were to take mini spoons, grab a mini-ball of the paste, and put a perfect amount onto the tray. It was especially difficult because even the slightest bit extra would make the macaroon giant once cooked. Thankfully, my friend Marisa and I had the tray with the shapes as guidelines. Yay!

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           After letting the macaroon tops cool for a long long time, we were allowed to fill them up! The lady had already make some mint colored ones, which made filling them easy, however the purple tops we made were very delicate + touchy straight out of the oven. I definitely broke a few- which meant I could eat them right then and there, so I'm not complaining. Normally when I think of macaroons, I think of the filling as being sort of like jelly, however we were given all different types of ganache- vanilla, hazelnut, dark chocolate, caramel, etc. As you can see from the picture, I mostly filled mine with dark chocolate and hazelnut. So so yummy! 

   On Thursday, I was pretty burnout in general from school and, yet again, cooking class saved the day. Our cooking teacher came to school (she used to teach pronunciation!) and brought each of us mini chocolate balls with the leftover ganache inside them! Those chocolate balls were a definite pick me up. 


Hopefully these pictures don't make you too hungry! Also, I feel terrible about not posting more outfits around town, but it's really hard to meet up with people to specifically do outfit pictures. It's really busy + touristy in town when I actually am with my friends and it's hard to find time to shoot outfits otherwise. I am hoping to get around to shooting some soon! Sorry guys. xoxo Isabelle 

P.S. Today marks one month in France! WOOO! To commemorate our one month anniversary if you will, we took a school trip this weekend to the Mont Saint Michel, which is where the following pictures were taken. This trip was only crossing the water which leads you to the actual structure, and it was quite the experience. It started out very strange as we trekked through mud and quick sand up to our calves, yet it was a fun experience to have with my friends and their host siblings. Just as we were coming out of the first mini water basin, it began to hail and it progressed to what I imagine a hurricane to be like. It was freezing and we were all donning our finest athletic shorts- the perfect combination. A few students' host siblings were younger as well as our English teacher's children, and they were definitely chilled to the bone. I'm honestly just glad that everyone made it out okay- it was that crazy. That was definitely a class trip I'll never forget!

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