Week 6: Final Week Abroad
Updated: Jul 11, 2022
Bonjour à tous!
Welcome to the final blog of my travel diary series. Today I am writing to you from Nice, France the final destination of my month-plus long European adventure. Since my family has arrived we have visited 10 cities in the South of France. This has been the trip of a lifetime!! I am so happy I got to document it in real time, as well as share all my experiences with you.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs for the last 6 weeks, it means the world to me. Without further ado please enjoy this recap of my final week in Europe.
Happy reading :)
Monday we followed the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh. After a long car ride through the nauseatingly winding mountains, we made it to Arles. Thanks to our Rick Steves travel book, my dad led us through a self guided tour of the city. With the help of Rick and "easel" placards around the city, we traced the life of Van Gogh during his time in Arles. We were able to see his inspiration, and exact spots, for the estimated 300 paintings and drawings Van Gogh completed while in Arles.
Quick stop for paella. Yum!
After cutting off his ear lobe and sending it to his ex-girlfriend, Van Gogh admitted himself to Saint-Paul de Mausole psychiatric hospital in the town of Saint-Rémy, a few minutes outside of Arles. This somber visit showed us the inspiration for some of his most iconic paintings, including his bedroom in the asylum.
To conclude our art history packed day we got dinner at Chez Charlotte, a "mom and pop" backyard dining experience. I spontaneously decided to order the beef tartare, not knowing that it would be about 2 cups worth of raw meat. Although delicious, the portion was absolutely massive leaving me feeling a tad funky on our evening walk home.
Tuesday we had a beach day in Saint-Tropez. In addition to being a notoriously bougie city, Saint-Tropez is also a pain in the ass to get to. Which is probably why it's also considered to be exclusive, because only the brave survive the trek. I'm being dramatic, but in all seriousness the car ride was 2 hours of (once again) cliff side winding roads. My motion sickness was at a peak, so we stopped in the nearest town for a bite to eat and ended up discovering a beautiful, lush, and "movie set perfect" village.
La Garde-Freinet was the most random place we could have stopped, and somehow the city with the most English we've heard all trip. After sitting down for breakfast, and eavesdropping on the British people around us, we found that La Garde-Freinet not only has a pilates studio but inhabits many families and people looking for a peaceful getaway. After finishing our plentiful petite dejeuner we explored the well manicured and artsy town, then set off for Saint-Tropez.
We found seats at Cap 21, a beach club on the water, and got right to work relaxing. Our lavish experience in Saint-Tropez was certainly one to remember. The bluest water, delicious food, attentive service, scorching sun, and plush beach chairs made for a perfect day.
Wednesday we packed up our Airbnb in Aix-en-Provence, and unpacked a few hours later in Nice at our next Airbnb apartment. Through a little miscommunication we ended up arriving at the Airbnb a little early, but we were able to drop off our bags and decided to grab lunch. I got a big bucket of lemon garlic mussels and went to town while my dad whipped out Rick Steves and serenaded us with Nice facts.
After freshening up in the Airbnb, I got the old wheels turning and tried my best to recharge my memories of Nice from 2018 when I visited with my high school French class. Once we got to "Old Nice," a section of town, things began to look very familiar and nostalgia got the best of me. I began to point out landmarks and memories, and showed my family the huge "I Love Nice" sign at the end of the promenade. Take that Rick Steves!
We enjoyed a wonderful dinner in the heart of Old Nice at Le Safari. The city was absolutely packed with people of all ages, and from all over the world. It was actually a bit shocking to see how many people were there compared to our more quiet nights in Aix-en-Provence. We toasted crisp white wine in the 90 degree weather, and watched Brazilian street performers do flips on the pavement.
Thursday we ventured away from the coastline to visit Musée National Marc Chagall, a quaint but impressive museum full of Chagall paintings. We strolled through the gallery marveling at the vibrant colors, then grabbed lunch in the gardens outside the museum.
One of my fondest memories from my trip to France in 2018 was the hill top town of Èze. I convinced my family that it was an absolute must see, so we took the car a half hour through the hills, once again, for the evening.
Èze is a maze of medieval narrow streets lined with art galleries and hidden cafes. The cobblestone pathways lead up the mountain uncovering the most beautiful views. Èze is full of picturesque look-out points. However, we landed on Château Eza where we sat on a balcony and enjoyed the view with champagne. No words, or photos, can describe how magical the scene was - but that won't stop me from trying to show you!
We carefully climbed down the mountain for dinner in the seaside portion of Èze. Yet another fantastic meal! Da Rossana Al Panta Rei, an Italian restaurant by the sea, was as beautiful as its food was delicious. Definitely saving this one for a food blog in the near future.
Friday we spent a majority of the day in Monaco, and it was a scorcher. I feel like I say that for every day, but shade was hard to come by in Monaco making it particularly uncomfortable. Note to all you future travelers, don't come to the South of France in July unless you want to melt. Anyway, we saw the casino, massive yachts docked in the marina, and walked through the streets filled with designer and luxury stores.
In need of food and shade we sat down at Nonna Maria, another Italian restaurant, and got freshly made pizza. This piping hot pizza, that I accidentally dowsed with hot pepper oil, was the perfect meal for a hot summer day! *she said sarcastically*
Jokes aside the pizza was very good and gave us the energy to do some shopping. We took a trip to Longchamp, a French classic. Check out this Tik Tok I made on why you should get a Longchamp bag... https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTRYTsRfy/?k=1
When we returned to Nice my dad went to the airport to pick up our cousin Ilva, who flew in from Florence, Italy! She would be spending the weekend with us in Nice. After her arrival we gave her a tour of the packed city streets while we made our way to dinner. The night concluded with a walk along the promenade, that was starting to resemble Venice Beach in California.
Saturday we spent the day on the beach at La Plage, the beach club for the famous Le Negresco hotel in Nice. We relaxed all day catching up with Ilva while tanning in the sun and swimming in the sea. We also grabbed lunch in the beach club which was fantastic. Paula, our enthusiastic server, had us giggling all meal and prepared our fish table side. Bellies full, we napped on the beach for the rest of the day.
We freshened up later that evening and got ready for another night in Nice. We ate at Le Safari once again and luckily the Brazilian street performers came by again as well. Below I will attach a hilarious video of my dad at the dinner table while the performers are doing their "fighting" portion of the show. Priceless.
We topped off the night with gelato and a walk along the coast. Of course we had to show Ilva the famous "I Love Nice" sign, where we then had a family photoshoot.
Sunday, our last day in Nice. Today concludes my European adventure! It has been 42 days of pure bliss, exploring, and excitement. Although I am saddened to leave, I am ready to return to Michigan, my friends, and family.
We spent the day relaxing on the beach one last time at the same spot as yesterday. I napped in the sun for hours, with SPF of course, but I think this might be the tannest I've ever been. After lunch Ilva had to leave to catch her flight back to Florence. We hugged goodbye and pleaded her to come to Michigan soon. She said maybe - woohoo!
Back in the Airbnb we began to pack our bags, then took a pause for dinner. Our last meal was at Zorzetto, a perfect way to end the trip. This unique dining experience was so much fun and the chef was so kind. He came by our table multiple times, and even pulled up a chair to explain what we were eating. After dinner we said goodbye to the lively streets of Nice and hit the hay.
That's a wrap!
Thank you for taking the time to read my travel diary for the past 6 weeks. It has been so much fun hearing your feedback and love for this series.
Until next time ... remember to always LIV in Style :)