Follow the owl and what will you find? Have you ever planned a trip and had to include a random night or two just to get you closer to your destination? A place to lay your head, to stretch your legs, to satisfy your hunger. This is the place on which you did the least amount of research.
From experience this added stop can end up being an unexpected, special jewel–a hidden treasure.
If there ever was a planner, I am one. I believe half the fun of a trip is the planning. But on my recent trip to France, my daughter and I had two nights we had to insert to travel from the Mediterranean coast of Italy to Paris. The only planning was a map and mileage. One night in Geneva, Switzerland and one in Dijon, France. We were tired after leaving the mountains of Switzerland and needed to rest. Little did we know Dijon would become one of the highlights of our trip. Unexpected. Charming. Interesting. Perfect.
A moment in time, swelling with potential and promises.
And an owl–la chouette.
Our AirBnB was in the old town center in an apartment nestled between old 16th century timber-framed houses. Cobblestone streets wound through the heart of the ancient city. We immediately felt like this place surpassed some of the destinations and events we had planned and researched for months. How did we miss it in our plans? It deserved our attention beforehand.
Dijon is about three hours southwest of Paris in Burgundy, France. It offers glimpses of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance as well as more modern attractions of the 18th and 19th centuries. Our host suggested we follow the Owl’s Trail. We nodded not understanding at all what she meant. How can you follow an owl’s trail? With map in hand, we set out on the cobblestone streets. After admiring the timbered buildings above the old storefronts, we looked down and noticed brass plates in the old stones.
An owl and a number!
Heeding the words of our host, we followed the trail which took us to monuments and buildings, churches and houses, breathing with historic stories and details. The 13th century Gothic church of Notre-Dame boasted of rows and rows of gargoyles. Here is where we found the famous owl, la chouette. It is a symbol of good luck and peace on the left side of the church. The stone statue carved into the wall has been rubbed by passers-by as a good luck charm. We bought a children’s book call The Dijon Owl’s Secret that fictionalizes the owl’s story.
One of my favorite things to do is to find a tower to climb. My daughter acquiesces to my wishes with a smile. Tour Philippe Le Bon was erected in the middle of the 15th century and offered a wealth of historical information about Dijon as well as spectacular views.
We ate boeuf bourguignon and escargot, bought Dijon mustard, and fell in love with this town. I’m thankful for the surprises along life’s journey. I still believe in planning, but spontaneous decisions can unfold into golden memories, precious blessings.
Follow the owl and see where it leads.
Can you think of a time on your life journey when the unplanned turned into a wonderful escapade?