Viva la FRANCE: The Summer of Ariana Part 1

Viva la FRANCE: The Summer of Ariana Part 1

BONJOUR MON AMIES!!!! (hello my Friends!!) Did you miss me? Because I have missed you. Truly and Madly, I have missed coming to this beautiful space I have to call mine, this sacred place to share. So here goes. . . Many months ago, I had decided that if I moved to Europe (to España) I would absolutely see new places/countries/ways of life ideally whilst traveling for an entire summer. I had written down specific countries and cities in my travel notebook, and yet when I set out on July 9th I was leaving with only a plane ticket for PARIS, FRANCE and 3 nights booked in a Hostel, nothing more concretely planned.

It’s almost been 3 weeks of the #summerofAriana, so here is what I have been up to. . .

Gargoyle and Notre Dame views in Paris, France
Gargoyle watches over ‘ol Paris
Notre Dame views in France
Paris Rooftops from Notre Dame
photoshoot while Parisians sleep, Sacre Coeur France
International Photoshoot while Parisians sleep
Sacre Coeur before 7am, Paris
Sacre Coeur before the tourists, Because this is Paris
Architecture in Paris, France
Looking up to Parisian Architecture
Great architecture in Montmartre Neighborhood of Paris, France
Great architecture in Montmartre Neighborhood in Paris
Making Friends in Paris, France by being open, friendly, and willing to to work to communicate
Making Friends in Paris, France by being open, friendly, and willing to work to communicate
Through the rooftops, Tour Eiffel in Paris, France
Tour Eiffel in Paris through the rooftops

Paris: for me, was a lesson in synchronicity

Right place, right timing. . . because I had set out to connect with people, not just see the touristic sights. I kept saying throughout the travel: connect me, teach me, guide me Universe. Paris is a beautiful city, undeniably so, but beauty isn’t everything. Paris is lively, full of people year-round, but what was special for me were moments when the streets were quiet and nearly empty (EARLY IN THE MORNING), or when I would wander through the less touristic streets/neighborhoods. At times, I felt like the city was just mine. I opened myself to meeting Parisians, people who love the city and shared their love for Paris with me. “I love this city” or “Paris is so beautiful look at it” said by the people who know it best means more than someone with a selfie stick in front of the Eiffel Tower who “loves” Paris. The locals, new friends I made, I could feel their love and loyalty to Paris and it was so very great to witness. A few things that I learned from my time in ‘ol Paris: Be open and friendly and they just might call you FORMIDABLE (French word for WONDERFUL). Who me? And we had been communicating in partial English/French/Spanish. We didn’t understand every word spoken, but we shared company/shared space and laughed a lot. It was beautiful. I also got to finally hear the Bells the Bells of Notre Dame ring from the top of the Church. I walked up almost 400 stairs (tight spaces for majority of the climb) to get the views that Victor Hugo wrote about. Usually being high above a city or in nature makes me feel daring, like I could fly. I love this feeling, however fleeting it is. Paris, MERCI BEAUCOUP.

And then I was on my way to the west, to FINISTÈRE the western most part of the World (or at least they thought this once, as Finistère means “End of the World”).

Maritime Festival in Brest, France
MEXICAN FLAG at Maritime Festival in Brest, France
The ships arriving at the ports of Brest, France
The ships arrived slowly to the ports of Brest France
Ocean Views at Saint Mathieu, Bretagne, France
The details at Saint Mathieu, Bretagne, France
Breton Seas, France
My Breton friend in the distance
My Sanctuary in Bretagne, France
My sanctuary, my sanity is always the Sea
Bretagne, France
…and I’m Home!!
Bretagne, how I love your Seas
Breton Seas, and the Plage
Fête nationale en Brest, France
Fireworks for the French et pour moi (it’s my Birthday/la Fête Nationale de la France), Brest France
Fête nationale, feux d'artifice
Turning 29 with a BANG BANG avec feux d’artifice
Maritime Festival boats seen from the Crozon, Bretagne, France
How many boats do you see? Bocu du bateau/Lots of Boats
Perfect Breton Ocean, Bretagne, France
Perfect Breton Ocean for swimming, so I did!
At home in Bretagne, France
Let me take her in. I am the water. I swim the Seas. I am the ocean, the ocean Deep.
Plage in Bretagne, France
Natural Rocks at la Plage from Erosion & an Alien orb

Bretagne, you made me come alive and fall in love by the Sea

My travel continued in the region of Brittany=Bretagne, where I met up with a dear friend who hosted me. A Breton (Frenchman from Bretagne) himself, he took me to all the best spots he knew within driving distance. Since Bretagne is surrounded by Coast, I got re-charged by being near the sea. The cleaner air, the endless ocean views, and especially being with someone familiar to celebrate my ANNIVERSAIRE on July 14th, fireworks lighting up the sky as it’s the National Day of France, made these days a Cancer-filled visit. Cancers are at home when they have waters to gawk at, or even better, to swim in. Cancers are at home with friends/family. I got to experience this beautiful part of France with a friend and couldn’t be happier or more grateful for the adventure it was. I also partook in all the local foods in Bretagne, savoring the moments. Not a crêpe, baguette nor chunk of fromage got past me. Nearly a perfect food tour of this French region: stomach happy, heart happy. Spreading the BEURRE on a simple fresh BAGUETTE became one of my rituals in these days. Beurre (Butter) with salt of course, otherwise it’s not real butter (according to a true Breton). I swam in the Breton sea twice; my truest passion. My greatest moments always happen in the water, becoming one with the sands, just so that I can take a piece of the beach with me when I must leave. If there is not still sand on my body, on my feet and in my hair a day or two later, then I have not actually experienced said Sea/Beach. This is what I treasure most, this time where I connect with the water signs in me in a literal way, learning more each time I enter the waters, those moments where life makes more sense and you feel with every part of your body. . . The waters called me to join in their glee, in their ecstasy, and so I did.

Finally, I had to say goodbye to Bretagne and friends for a last experience in the East of France near Dijon. I headed to a tiny village called BAY SUR AUBE. Allez!!!

Exploring the countryside in Champagne Region of France
Victor!!!!!!!! my best friend in the French countryside
Workaway Experience in France
Weeding and weeding at my First Workaway Experience in France
My first Workaway in France
Weeding is Hard Work, but playing with the snails and bugs is fun
Workaway in Bay Sur Aube, France
Mon amies/my friends working hard in Bay Sur Aube, France
Victor helps do the hard work
Victor helps do the hard work
Escargot in the garden
My escargot friend in the garden
escargots in the garden
2 escargots are better than one; I’m in their world
Escargot life, Bug's Life
While trimming the grape vines I spotted this Big Guy. A Bug’s Life
Bay Sur Aube, Champagne Region
My Workaway home in Bay Sur Aube; a 400-600 year old home in the Countryside
countryside of Bay Sur Aube, France
Wheat Fields in Bay Sur Aube, France
Mexican cooking in France
Mexican Recipe cooked in the countryside of France
Mexican Food in France
I’m Domestic in France, since I prepared a Mexican meal for us

Bay Sur Aube was a great blessing for my soul, from Nature and my Workaway exchange with the lovely Marie

Having learned about Workaway through a friend, I had no idea there were so many people in the world who participate in this exchange. It’s worldwide. Someone hosts you (somewhere in the world) and usually provides food and shelter in exchange for help in their home/garden/community/business etc. It’s different everywhere, but the purest idea is to exchange ideas, while helping complete tasks or physical work. During free time you might also share the cooking tasks and eat meals together. Here in the Champagne Region of France, I experienced a range of emotions during my FIRST WORKAWAY, learning more in One Week than I ever expected. I did tasks including but not limited to: weeding in the garden, trimming plants like her roses, fixing and trimming the grape vines that were a complete mess, cleaning/housework, cooking, decorating the outdoor Dry Toilet (no running water for plumbing), and assisting in creating a makeshift DIY outdoor shower complete with hose, curtains and a wooden pallet to stand on.

During my free time I went for long walks with Victor, my host Marie’s dog. Sometimes Victor, myself and a new friend Naj (also staying here) would walk at night in the hills and up through the forest sharing life stories and enjoying the warm nights under the stars and even a Perfect Full Moon. Lucky me, I often bathed in the river that was minutes walking distance from the home, fish swimming all around me as I splashed around and soaped down (remember there was no real shower & I found the river more practical than a hose). I meditated under big trees overlooking the village. I wrote about my experiences in my travel notebook too. I had an epic bike ride on my final day in the village and surrounding hills, breathing in all the countryside had to offer. I watched the cows feeding near the river, approached a beautiful fox, appreciated birds and bugs, flowers and the rain. I have been living my life’s dreams during this trip, and these final days in FRANCE were bittersweet. My time in France had to come to an organic end.

16 Total Days in France, my heart filled to the brim. Gratitude and love to each of those people that touched me. Gratitude to the French. You have changed me for the better and somehow I have a feeling I’ll be back. J’adore France!

Summer of Ariana

All photos taken JULY 2016- ARIANA DEL RÍO

21 Responses

  1. I always thought that the best part of living in Europe would be all the weekend trips you could take to other countries. Living in the US Midwest, it’s a bit trickier 🙂


      I usually don’t do too many weekend trips because I like to explore a place or a city with more time, but yea in Europe CHEAP WEEKEND flights exist and make that type of travel possible.

  2. I’ve been to Paris recently and I love it! It’s cool to make friends with Parisian for sure. I love the view of Paris Rooftops from Notre Dame!


      Notre Dame views was a must that I finally accomplished and I’m so glad I did.

  3. I love how you went from city to weeding in one post, and via my favorite, the sea! Gorgeous pics. I have never heard of the work exchange program you mentioned I would love to host people and meet them.

    • QUIEN ES ESTA NINA is the website for Hosting. It’s really great and you should look into it if you like travelers and meeting people from all over the world.

  4. I’m visiting Paris for the first time this August! Only for a couple days though 🙁 I wish I was able to spend 16 days there though – it looks like you had a blast!


      Was only a few days in Paris and the rest in other parts of France! Enjoy your visit!

  5. Your pictures are gorgeous. I especially love the wedding shot outside of Sacre Coeur. It must’ve been nice to see it when it wasn’t crowded with tourists. I visited in the off-season and it was still packed.


      The trick is to wake up EARLY and see Paris with a bit of calm, and with a bit of a unique feel. There will always be tourists in that city. Hardly anyone in the world hasn’t heard of Paris, hence it’s popularity.

  6. Your photos are so colorful and beautiful! They really made me feel as though I was accompanying you on the trip 🙂 Sounds like you had a really great time!

  7. It seems like you’re having a great time! Meeting new friends, having the city to yourself, and exploring nearby cities! I swear exploring during non-peak seasons/hours is the best! And I’m definitely going to have to look into workaway. I’ve heard of similar programs. How was your experience staying with a host in exchange for work?

  8. The Mexican meal is indeed interesting.. hahaha!…Believe me when I say, the pictures are excellent!… Its a wonderful photo story!


      Thanks! Mexican food is my thing! Always love introducing it to others who have never had it before.

  9. Cool experience to be had at a workaway! I love that you had a doggy companion while you worked. Its so great how I can FEEL how much you love Paris through your writing.


      Samantha, I do love Paris. Glad it showed! And I miss dear Victor, my doggy companion terribly. He was such a great dog.

  10. Ahhh France! We stayed in the south of France for a month and had the time of our lives! It was September so the beaches weren’t incredibly busy. I love your Paris pictures, you capture the city beautifully


      Thanks Shelley. Paris is so damn photogenic you know? France is a special place to travel I agree with you!

  11. That sounds like you had an amazing time in France. I’ve been to almost all the places you mentioned, except Bay Sur Aube and I can attest how beautiful they are. It’s wonderful to read about how you enjoyed the local food and at the same time introduced Mexican cuisine. That’s truly what travel should be about -sharing and learning from each other. Happy continued travels.


      How cool! Isn’t Bretagne a dream? Such great travels indeed that I think I’m going to return this summer.

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