Euro-trip in Food

Grace Dickinson

So a lot has happened in the past few months. And I’ve learned a lot in the past few months. And I’ve had an ongoing serious of wake-up calls in the past few months. And I’ve learned to relax in the past few months. And I’ve felt happier than I’ve been in awhile in the past few months. And I really don’t know what the next few months will bring. But it’s spring. And what I’ve learned is to go with the flow. And to work hard. And life will be okay. Cheers.

I recently quit my job. A job that was bringing me down in multiple ways, and upon leaving, has made me feel liberated. Don’t get me wrong. I’m still more confused than ever about life. But I’m not stressing out every 5 minutes about what to do. Instead, I’ll be here freelancing my butt off and taking some space to be creative and let the right opportunities arise.

Something I learned recently after graduating from college is that you have to figure things out for yourself. But you don’t always have to have everything figured out. Coming to terms with this has helped me a lot recently.

A month or so after leaving my job, my friend Logan told me he was visiting some friends in Paris and Brussels. Knowing my newly flexible schedule, he kindly invited me to hop on board. I figured, what the heck, why not. My thoughts: free places to stay, who knows when I’ll have this flexible schedule again, and Europe in the springtime, um, yes please. Plus, as a writer, seeing and experiencing more of the world only ever helps development. (…meaning I should probably just keep on traveling, right? Kickstarter anyone?)

I booked my plane tickets and a week later hopped on a plane to Paris. I don’t regret the decision one bit.

So enough about my life, let’s get to the trip. The route: Paris –> Brugge –> Brussels –> Paris –>Nice –>Paris. Two weeks of excursion and lots of photo-taking. Photography and traveling are the current loves of my life. And waffles from Belgium. Sadly no French boys are in that equation, yet.

I’ve included mostly food-related photos below to give you a glimpse into the trip. I’ll be posting more photos throughout the next few weeks/months of people I met and landscapes that blew me away on my Tumblr. Feel free to stop by.

Since we already got the obligatory Eiffel Tower photo out of the way, let’s get straight to the food. Starting with a gigantic chocolate Gorilla head.

Brussels Chocolate Gorilla

I found this guy in Brussels. Many of the chocolate shops in Brussels resemble more of a mix between an art gallery and a Tiffany’s as opposed to a candy store. You’ll find unwrapped chocolates individually displayed beneath glass cases, with prices that often scream jewelry not candy. The origin of the bean is often neatly painted atop each square, giving an appearance almost too precious to eat. Though of coures I had to sample a few varieties. The earl gray dark chocolate ganache was by far my favorite.

The lone man working at the gorilla shop told us he had to go through years of schooling on the subject before working at the boutique. Avoid the overly touristy spots, and you’ll find chocolate to be a true art form in Belgium.

French bread

I consumed more white bread than I’ve ever eaten at one time while in Paris. The Parisians like their bread, seemingly with every meal. While the chocolate in Belgium was pricy, the baguettes in Paris were cheap. And delicious. One of my favorite sites was watching people walk around with long baguettes peeking out of their bags, or cyclers cruising through town with a basket full of bread like a newspaper boy. Both were a common and adorable occurrence.

French cheese

With the bread consumption came plenty of cheese. Many of the cheeses in France are unpasteurized, and the raw milk truly makes a difference in their flavor. I generally stick to a semi-vegan diet, but if you’re going to eat cheese, do it in France.

Belgium waffles

An Instagram of my first Belgian waffle. Also probably one of my favorite things I ate on the whole trip. The waffles in Belgium are dense and less sugary, with crispy edges that go perfectly with creamy chocolate or ice cream. Or both. They pair pretty well with a post-bike ride, too.

France grape field

France grape field

I’m not sure the grape field sites in the south of France could have been any more picturesque. We drove along the coast a bit to get to Villefranche, a little beach town just next to Nice. It was perfect — the ride, and the beach, as you’ll see below.

Villefranche coast

This was where we swam. May was a good month to go because we missed a lot of the tourists and crowds, but it still happened to be warm enough to jump in the water.


The morning view from my new Parisian friend’s family beach house.

Orange Picking

Picking oranges on the running path along the French Riviera. This, and the morning run I took on this path, were definitely highlights of the trip.

Nice dream house

One of my many dream houses in Nice. One day. 

Villefranche view

View from a hike.

Nice hiking trail

The hike where Logan and I got our fitness on and burned off all our pastries…Pretty sure I won the push-up competition.

Louvre yoga

Speaking of fitness, there was some mandatory yoga at the Louvre. My only regret of the trip is probably not taking a yoga class in French while I was there.

French macaroons

Back to the food — a stunning display of macaroons. I surprisingly only ate one of these while in France – a salted caramel version. Too many pain au chocolats filled up the first half of the trip, so I didn’t get to the macaroons until the end. I wouldn’t say they are my favorite, but definitely worth trying.

Quiche in Paris

I’m generally not a quiche fan, but the Parisian whom we were staying with ordered them quite frequently from the patisseries. I decided to grab one towards the end of the trip. This one had some kind of cheese/smoked salmon combo, and far exceed my expectations. I should likely credit all the butter in the crust.

Paris seafood restaurant

Shucking oysters outside to bring to the table inside.

Fruit market in Paris

Fruit markets were everywhere. As were cheese shops. Bread and pastry shops. Wine shops. Etc. At this point, there are definitely plenty of grocery stores in Paris. However, there are also plenty of opportunities to relish in the novelty of picking up certain ingredients at individual specialty shops. My favorite part of the fruit stands were the strawberries. They’d display them green top down so that each strawberry would stick up individually like a stand full of lollipops.

Spring in Paris.

Spring in Paris park.

It was definitely an opportune time to be in Paris. A bit chilly still, but beautiful. What I loved about the city is you could walk just a few blocks and almost be guaranteed that you’d run into a park. Many of them were ginormous. I’d like to start a park revolution in Philly. First mission: create some space by eliminating all of the pointless storefronts and business.

Brussels flea market

While in Brussels, we stayed with a gallery owner and former editor-in-chief of an art magazine. He was pretty kick-butt, and took us to Brussels’ gigantic weekly flea market. Above is a vendor’s silverware collection, displayed atop black fabric on the ground.

Paris restaurant

This was my last, and one of the best, meals I had in Paris. From les Canailles, Ricotta-Artichoke-Ravioli, an extremely tender, melt-in-your-mouth white fish with fresh vegetables, and a buttery lemon tart served alongside raspberry sorbet. Also, complimentary chocolate truffles and coconut bites. Our waitress was studying to be a sommelier. An interesting pursuit, I’m sure.

Paris restaurant

Scenes from les Canailles. This place was adorable.

Windmills in Belgium

Taken from the train en route to Brussels. I hate car rides, but I love train rides. Especially through the countryside of France. The landscapes were gorgeous, and often we’d pass by fields filled with acres and acres of yellow flowers (rapeseed, being grown to produce canola oil), or a background of windmills like this. I wish more windmills were scattered throughout the U.S.

As always when traveling to another country, there are more words and memories than I could possibly share, and I’m sure I’ve fit more than enough photos into this post. But that’s what I’ve been up to for the past few weeks. A bunch of fun, taking chances, and being 20-something. Now about this whole acclimating back to regular life in Philadelphia…time to get cooking again. Au revoir.

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  • Reply
    The Candid RD
    May 20, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Oh to be able to just hop on a plain to Paris, I’m so jealous! Of course, I’m impressed that you were able to let go of a job that was bringing you down, even without knowing what your future holds. That takes guts and willpower, for sure. Glad you had a wonderful trip. I have GOT to go sometime.

    • Reply
      May 20, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      Yeah, it was definitely a leap of faith, but for the best. Thanks Gina. You and Nick + Paris = Perfect.

  • Reply
    Simply Life
    May 20, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Looks like a wonderful trip! I remember those waffles- soooo good!

  • Reply
    Irina @ wandercrush
    May 20, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    I was looking forward to this post, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed 🙂 So many truths… particularly “I generally stick to a semi-vegan diet, but if you’re going to eat cheese, do it in France.” Too true. When I was in Belgium last Christmas, I found myself saying something along the lines of “I generally avoid sweets, but if you’re going to have waffles and chocolate, do it in Belgium.” Bravo for your what-the-heck moment of booking the trip! Those moments always pay off. Anyway, welcome back. My first travel post for Greece was the most daunting to date in my short blogging experience, so I definitely appreciate this post! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Reply
      May 20, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      Omg, yes, the waffles in Belgium are so good. And thanks, happy to be back. Sort of. I doubt my next overseas excursion will be to Europe, but Greece is near the top of my list for the next European countries I’d like to visit. Will be revisiting that post on your blog to check out your experience!

  • Reply
    May 21, 2013 at 6:57 am

    I think it’s so great that you decided to just LIVE and do this! Sounds like an amazing trip!

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