Hi everyone! Candace Rose Rardon here. I’m a travel writer and sketch artist just back from two months in beautiful France and Spain, and I can’t wait to share some of my favorite moments of sketching inspiration from the trip with you. To get started, here’s a little icon from Paris you might have seen before…for me, no matter how well-known a subject, it’s always fun to see it for the first time with my sketchbook.
Paris, Shakespeare & Co.
If you enjoy looking for inspiration in quirky bookshops, you will love Shakespeare & Co., set just steps away from the Seine River and the towering spires of Notre Dame. Opened in 1919, the bookstore was a favorite haunt of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and many other writers, and it still plays an important role in Paris’ literary scene today. From the colored lights strung outside to the hidden nooks and dusty shelves on the second floor, I could have easily lost myself here for hours.
Paris, The Louvre
As an artist, it only felt right to spend my last full day in Paris at the city’s most iconic art museum, the Musée du Louvre – and yet I was so intrigued by the juxtaposition between the palace’s centuries-old facades and the pyramids’ modern design that I never even made it inside. As you sit along the fountains in the museum’s courtyard, it’s amazing to listen to the chatter of accents around you and wonder at how a single city can seem to draw the entire world to it.
Spain, Girona’s colored houses
After my time in Paris came to an end, I set off for the Costa Brava region of Spain, where I gratefully had the opportunity to be an artist-in-residence for six weeks. My first stop was Girona, a beautiful, ancient city about an hour’s drive inland from Barcelona. I knew embarrassingly little about Girona before arriving, but was soon blown away by the two millennia of history it holds—from Greek ruins and Romanesque churches to a medieval Jewish quarter. I especially loved these colorful houses set along the Onyar River flowing through the city.
Spain, Calella de Palafrugell
During my next two weeks of the residency, I had the chance to stay in a charming former fishing village called Calella de Palafrugell. From the moment you walk down to the shore and get your first glimpse of the village, the vista of whitewashed houses, clay tiled roofs, and turquoise water immediately makes you feel more at peace. Days here are best spent exploring the Costa Brava’s network of coastal footpaths before enjoying a gelato by the sea in the afternoon.
Spain, boat in Calella
One of my favorite things about Calella were the dozen or so faded fishing boats that still rest on the shores of Port Bo beach. Although life in the town no longer revolves around fishing, they’re a beautiful (and colorful!) reminder of the livelihood that once defined not only Calella, but the entire Costa Brava region. An added bonus to sketching the boats was getting to bring the beautiful scripts on their sides to life—the name of this boat translates as “gentle sea.”
Spain, church in Lloret de Mar
My time in the Costa Brava wrapped up in Lloret de Mar, a popular coastal resort town that still has many pockets of local history and culture to explore. One such pocket was the Iglesia de Sant Romà and its Capella del Santíssim pictured here. Built in 1916, the chapel’s colored mosaics and tiled roofs are a fascinating example of Modernist architecture and were a dream to recreate in my sketchbook. Thank you for following along through France and Spain with me! I love connecting with the world through art, so I hope you’ll say hello and join me on my journeys here.