My Tour de France in a Nutshell

When I was 22, my then-boyfriend (who was 29) surprised me with a whirlwind trip to France that started with a jaunt in Paris, then a stay in South of France, and ended with a château in Provence. I remember being excited and nervous about finally putting my French to use with actual French people, a language I had studied for four years. Est-ce que vous parlez anglais? Oh, to be in Paris for the first time! It's everything you could ever imagine—like landing smack dab in the middle of a postcard. All I wanted to do was stroll around the city in my trench coat and sit at cafés. The only thing missing was a cigarette. If only I smoked...

It was on this inaugural trip that I discovered Cacharel, the French label known for its cheery, feminine designs. I fell in love with a full, swingy white silk crepe skirt. (It's still one of my favorite pieces to this day.) The skirt feels like it's made with a million layers of airy silk but in actuality there are only two. My jaw dropped to the ground when he told me that we were going to take it home with us, along with a Liberty-printed floral blouse with matching shoes, a strawberry belt, and a colorful silk printed day dress. Treasures!

After two days, it was off to the South we went! [Imagine a cartoon airplane following a dotted line on a map to the Côte d'Azur] We stayed in Juan-les-Pins, a little jet-set beach town, where we sunbathed by the beach during the daytime and dined on grilled langoustines and turbot in the evenings. One day, we took a drive to Cannes. I remember strutting around town in my vintage Moschino t-shirt dress and neon yellow Louboutin heels. I carried a gold clutch shaped like dog, which always got me stopped in the street. I was such a cheeky little dresser back then.

We took a day trip to a charming medieval town called St-Paul-de-Vence and drove to Aix-en-Provence for the remainder of our stay at a small luxury hotel called Chateau de Massillan. (I still periodically look up photos of this hotel with the dream of returning again one day.) The air was sweet with the smell of lavender. I wore espadrilles with everything. We bought a bunch of ripened white peaches at the farmers' market, which we dunked into a big silver bowl of cold ice water upon returning to the hotel. The taste of happy life.