Vacay Planning: City Mouse/Country Mouse

paris doors

It snowed again in New York on Monday. Okay, okay, I’ll admit, the novelty might be wearing off just a teensy bit. Not helping matters is that Joe and I have not had a proper vacation — you know, one in which we could truly get away, de-stress, disconnect from our jobs, and not worry about impending cross country moves — since the summer of 2012. That’s been a minute, y’all.

le louvre

We’re wanting to take a big trip at some point this year, and of course, my vote is for France (again). I used to beat myself up a bit for having the whole big wide world to visit, and here I was, always wanting to go back to the same place, but I guess if you love it, you love it. Since it’s my 30th later in the summer, I’m scheming to celebrate the occasion en la belle France, but right now, we’re just trying to figure out how long we can go and where we want to go. Current dream trip? Spending a week in the city (in Paris, bien sûr), and then a week in the country — this time in the Loire Valley, about an hour’s drive southwest of Paris (it’s an area known for beautiful chateaux and fab wines).

haussman architecture

What’s interesting is that while we both adore Paris, recently Joe and I have realized that we’re turning into people who really love the country. 10 years ago, I couldn’t imagine spending a vacation out in the middle of nowhere. Now, I crave it all the time! There’s nothing better — to me at least — than completely unplugging with books, home cooked food, peace and quiet, and beautiful vistas.

les fleurs

We’re still trying to figure out the logistics of where, when and how long we could get away for a couple weeks. But to tide myself over in the meantime, I’ve been keeping up with my French classes, and of course, browsing through old pictures of visits to France — city and country alike…

notre dame

The above are all from the city…here are a few from the country: 

abbaye in provence

aix en provence

la maison d'aix en provence


Some of y’all might’ve seen a few of these from when I shared them a few years ago, but I love them so much, I wanted to look at them all again!

I’m curious: when it comes to vacations, are you une souris de ville (city mouse) or une souris de pays (country mouse)? And do you have any vacations planned for 2014? Share where you’re headed (or want to visit) in the comments!

Images by Victoria McGinley for vmac+cheese

Leave a Comment


  1. 2.5.14

    No big vacas planned, unfortunately, but you should definitely check out Switzerland! Such a great blend of city + country and it’s so small and easy to get around via train. So much of Europe is accessible like that, but Switzerland seems to be particularly easy and is just the best. It’s hard to put a finger on why, but trust me, it’s worth the trip if you haven’t been! Definitely check out Zurich and Interlaken :)

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Will do! I went to Switzerland as a little girl but would love to go as an adult!!

  2. 2.5.14
    Janel said:

    ah, amazing! i really hope you’re able to take a restorative trip- you need it! i can totally relate to your craving for a city/country mix. since we live in NYC, i’m usually ready for a change in pace (i.e. relaxed) when i go somewhere else- BUT other cities (London, Paris, Tel Aviv) offer something different than your norm and are still super exciting!

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Yes, speaking of which — we’re planning to take a short getaway out of NYC sometime this spring hopefully! We want to rent a house up in the Hudson River Valley…definitely hear you on the change of pace!

  3. 2.5.14
    jillian said:

    i dont blame you for wanting to go to paris! it’s beautiful especially in the summer. my husband and i are city mice when we travel (because we like to spend our days walking around exploring a much as we can). we dont have any huge trips this year (except the bahamas for my brothers wedding). i would love to go somewhere really exotic next time we take a trip — like thailand or india :) happy planning!! xo jillian – cornflake dreams

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      I like Paris in the early summer…when it gets too hot, it’s too much for me! But on a warm day, there is nothing better than deux boules de glace dans les tuileries and taking a nap there too.

  4. 2.5.14

    I have my moments – sometimes I love getting lost in a new city, and others I love unwinding in the country. Depends on what I need. Currently, my only request is NOT snowing/sleeting/raining/being utterly disgusting.

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      True story, yo.

  5. 2.5.14
    Sonya said:

    I am with you on loving Paris, I’ve been 4 times. I live in Chicago, where it is currently snowing hardcore outside and I am going to LA NEXT WEEK. I am beyond excited to get away for a week out of this frozen tundra. I will come back renewed and refreshed.

    I am hoping to take a solo trip to Costa Rica at the end of the year, the Pacific side. I crave both country and city when going on vacation. I think everyone would benefit from one relaxing/slow vacation a year and one busier, more adventurous vacation every year.

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Ditto, we are going back to SF for a short weekend trip next week…can’t wait for (slightly) warmer temps! The Pacific side of Costa Rica is so beautiful. I spent some time in southern Nicaragua, just a few miles from the CR border. It’s wonderful!

  6. 2.5.14

    I’m also planning a trip to France this year! And we’re also thinking Paris for a few days and then the country (Provence). I have a planning board I’ve been pinning to like crazy with resources etc:

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Ooh, let me know if you need Provence recommendations!

      • 2.5.14

        I most certainly do! There is so much out there about Paris but not as much for Provence. I’d LOVE some recommendations. Thank you!! :D

  7. 2.5.14
    nora said:

    My husband and I have nothing big planned but hopefully a weekend getaway soon. I live in Chicago so we are only a quick drive from Wisconsin & Michigan. We always spend time in Lake Geneva, WI but I want to try to somewhere different.

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Sometimes staycations are still the best getaways ever!

  8. 2.5.14
    Abby said:

    For my birthday I’m going to Rio (Brazil) and Santiago, Chile! Then in July my dad is speaking at Cambridge, so my mom and I are going to fly over to see him speak, then stay in London for a week then head over to Paris for a few days. I think I’m a little bit of both a city and country girl!

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      You will LOVE Rio. It’s fantastic! Def learn a few phrases in Portuguese though…when I visited about 10 years ago, I would’ve been lost without my Portuguese speaking friend! Lonely Planet’s guide for Rio was amazing.

  9. 2.5.14
    Erica said:

    I’m jealous of your vacation planning! I honestly like a little of both on my vacations. When I went to Switzerland last year, we spent a few days at the beginning of the trip in a city (Geneva) and then traveled around the country (by car) visiting small towns along the way. It was the best of both worlds and we got to see and experience so much! I agree with Monica – Switzerland was one of my favorite trips and completely different than the other vacations I’ve enjoyed in Europe. Let me know if you’d like any recommendations!

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      I went to Switzerland when I was a very small child, and actually still have some memories of the time! I’d love to go back again some day…I gotta get this France bug out of my system though (hm, we’ll see how long that takes)…

  10. 2.5.14
    Tab said:

    LOVE Paris, can’t wait to go back. We are headed to London for the first time in a couple of weeks. We are spending a week in the capital city then headed to the country for a week. We are staying in Bath, using it as and HQ if you will, then exploring the Cotswolds and SW England from Bath for a week. Very excited.

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Oh, I really want to spend some time in London but can’t get the husband to commit! One of my best girlfriends and I have long talked about doing a “Jane Austen” tour of the UK…staying in lots of little countryside towns and specifically going to visit some of the great country houses (Chatsworth, et al). Now THAT’S a dream trip!

  11. 2.5.14
    Heath said:

    I’m similar, it depends on my mood. So I guess I’m both. Right now I’m dying to visit South America and Asia. Due to time constrants this year I think it’s only possible to make it to South America for a short trip but I’m in planning mode now and pretty much think about it constantly. Can’t wait to follow along on your trip as well! – Heath

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Where in South America??

      • 2.11.14
        Heath said:

        We’re thinking about Peru or Brazil at this point. We are open to others places as well though. We only have about 5 days so we’re trying to keep our plans minimal. I’d love any recommendations you have…

        • 2.11.14
          Victoria McGinley said:

          I’ve been to Rio and it was amazing! If you go later in the fall it will be much warmer there too (remember their seasons are the inverse of ours! :) )

          • 2.12.14
            Heath said:

            Oh I’d love to hear any recommendations you have for Rio. I actually found a pretty good(non stop!) flight so we may have just made our decision. I’m going to buy the guide you recommended above to start with…

  12. 2.5.14

    I actually just got back from vacation! Grenada! And I, too, hadn’t been on a vacation in 2 years. It’s really necessary sometimes!

    If you are ever interested in going to the South of France you should definitely visit Cassis. It’s a seaside village about 45 min from Marseilles and its BEAUTIFUL (plus they like when you practice your French there!)!

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      We spent two weeks in the South in 2012! Aix en Provence (for the country) and Saint Jean Cap Ferrat (for the plage :) ). Would go back again in a heartbeat…especially to spend more time in les villages perches in the Luberon!

  13. 2.5.14
    emma said:

    I studied abroad in Tours which is in the Loire Valley, best time of my life. I highly reccommend this beautiful town. There they speak the “vrais francais”

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      I would love to visit Tours! Wait, tell me more about le vrais francias…does this mean all the “cool” Paris colloquialisms I’m learning won’t make any sense?!?! :)

  14. 2.5.14
    Moira said:

    Ah! I’m so jealous! I studied abroad in Angers, France which is in the Loire Valley, so I totally understand why you would want to vacation there! So beautiful, and the wine is great! It’ll be a good juxtaposition from Paris, that is for sure!

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      You’re actually the second person I know who has studied in Angers. It sounds like a beautiful part of the Loire!

  15. 2.5.14

    I went to France in high school and would love to go back. The husband isn’t for going to Europe until we see more of the Caribbean and the USA first though.

    I can do both… but I prefer the country so I can relax and unwind sans electronics. I like to see and experience the area I visit, and I feel like it is nice to have a major city easily accessible… but I don’t have to actually stay there.

    This year I am traveling more for blog conferences than anything else.. Savannah for FitBloggin, San Jose for BlogHer…the husband and I are working on the house still, so we may only get to sneak away to Florida for a quick and reasonably priced vaca.

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Savannah should be fun! I have always wanted to go!

  16. 2.5.14
    Nnenna said:

    I really really wish I had a vacation planned! I haven’t been to Europe since 2010 and I’m dying to go back. I would like city or country- I think I’d just be thrilled to be on vacay! What I really want to do is try renting an air bnb apartment abroad. From reading about other people’s experiences it sounds like it would make the trip that much better.

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Highly recommended! I’ve done this not only in France but a few times here stateside too when we travel. It’s awesome! Beyond Air BnB there are tons of sites that offer home/apartment rentals. I wanna try One Fine Stay for our next Paris trip.

  17. 2.5.14

    Your pictures are gorgeous! If I could choose any vacation spot it would definitely be Paris, followed by London. I’m hoping to make that happen someday!

  18. 2.5.14
    Ginet said:

    My husband and I plan to go back to Paris next year in the spring or early summer (we were there a couple falls ago). I’d love to check out beach towns along the French Riviera. I’ve learned that I love a mix of both city and more laid-back settings when I take a trip. I went to Thailand and Hong Kong a few months ago and going from city to beach back to city was rejuvenating!

    • 2.5.14
      Victoria McGinley said:

      You will LOVE the French Riviera. It is so, so stunning! Beyond the beach towns, one thing I wish we would have done is to spend more time up in the “cliff” towns above the beaches/coast along the French Riviera. Next time — or you will have to do it for me!

  19. 2.5.14
    Jackie said:

    We love to do a little of both. This fall we visited Italy and spent time on the coast (country) and in the cities. A few years ago we did Paris and the French countryside – I think it’s perfect mix!

  20. 2.5.14

    I’m lucky to have friends getting married in fabulous places this year– perfect excuse to take mimi-vacations to Charleston, NYC, and Cape Cod!

  21. 2.5.14
    Kimberly said:

    I’ve never taken a truly “country” vacation but I think I would find it very enjoyable! All of the past trips have been focused on exploration & spending time with friends which has been a blast…but I think there is something to be said for unplugging/relaxing with your loved one or alone!

  22. 2.5.14

    I can’t believe that you shot all of those lovely images, so beautiful! I’ve never been to Paris-or France for that matter. Can’t wait to go! Or for you to go again so I can live vicariously through you…

  23. 2.5.14
    Liz said:

    Gorgeous photos, Victoria! I went to Paris this summer and I knew I’d enjoy it, I just didn’t know how much I’d fall in love with the city! I think one of the best aspects of the trip was that we rented an apartment instead of staying in a hotel. We were often out and about, but it was nice to feel like we were more in-tune with the city by staying amongst locals in a nice neighborhood, and we often enjoyed wine and cheese on the balcony (it had a gorgeous view of le Tour Eiffel!). I highly recommend it and would be happy to give you the info!


  24. 2.5.14

    Paris is actually on our list! My brother is moving to London, so we’ll have a place to stay there, and will just take the underground tunnel over!

    Otherwise, we have a trip to Cabo planned for a wedding but we are taking it kind of easy since we may be moving from San Diego to San Francisco – your old stomping grounds!

  25. 2.5.14
    Kodi said:

    I’m mostly a beach mouse. Lake or ocean, definitely a beach mouse. But I do love city and country trips equally after that!

  26. 2.5.14
    Iris said:

    I’m more a city vacation person. I don’t think I’ll be vacationing much this year but I’d love to visit California, Vancouver, or London if I could.

  27. 2.6.14
    Juliette said:

    We city mouse/country moused it last summer in Italy, so your French idea sounds fab.

    We spent a week just outside of Verona and day-tripped around the region (Verona, Venice, hill towns, dramatic Lake Garda). We then spent a week in the Dolomites, encamped in a cute rental apartment in a tiny village. Hiking in the day and wining and dining at night, either in a local restaurant or at home (after some adventurous local grocery shopping adventures!).

    I was able to really enjoy the busy Italian cities knowing I’d also scheduled chill time in the mountains (near a spa town, ha!). I didn’t feel like I was missing out.

  28. 2.6.14
    Bethany said:

    I think you have to have both! Every time I’m in the city for a long time I crave the country, but after a while in the country I get homesick for the city. Nothing wrong with going to the same place if you love it! We are plotting a trip to Hawaii (where I grew up) this year but other than that nothing too exciting. This pics of France are beautiful!

  29. 2.7.14

    My husband and I are going to England next month for 10 days. We will be in Manchester, visiting family and seeing United play, and London for touristy things. I’ve been many times as my parents were born there, but my husband has never been and it is his dream trip!

    I am with you though. I used to always want to go try somewhere new, but now I kind of always want to vacation in Florence and Tuscany. I could definitely be happy with that every time. :)

  30. 2.9.14

    I’m a country girl, born in SC so when I do travel if LOVE the city! I went to NYC for the first time last year and seriously I loved it.

  31. 2.9.14

    It’s so true! As Mike and I have grown up together, all we crave at this point in our lives, is a slow relaxing vacation (with plenty of good food sprinkled in!)
    Glitter, Inc.

  32. 2.19.14
    Rose said:

    Ah, I would LOVE to go to France! I started studying French when I was 12 but now, at just shy of 25, I have yet to make it there. I was hoping to finally go this fall, but my sister got engaged and most all my vacation time will now be used up traveling for that. I am taking a short trip to go to Phoenix this weekend, where I’ve never been, and am hoping to take several weekend trips around the Northeast this year!

    Also, quick recommendations for upstate travels: Cold Spring is only a little over an hour on MetroNorth and has the cutest little hotel near the water, along with lots of great little shops and is right near some good hiking, too. On the other side of the river is Storm King Art Center, which is another great place to visit—and there are loads of quaint, sweet towns all around!