hey there everyone!
sorry it’s been so long in between posts. I just got back last night from my trip with my parents- 1000 km and 8 days, from Caen to Marseille, and it was wonderful but so exhausting. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this year, it is that nothing is ever as you expect it to be. I guess I envisioned kind of a perfectly idyllic family trip, where everything goes right and everyone gets along- but of course we were the crabby, sometimes selfish, and certainly imperfect human beings that we are.
if you follow me on instagram, you probably saw my post about the 24 hour delay in my parents’ flight to Paris- which was a huge bummer as it cut our trip shorter, and also a bit of stress, but my host grandparents let me sleep at their home close to CDG, and it worked out well as they were coming down south as a surprise for Isa’s 50th birthday!
after I met up with my parents at CDG at 7 am, we hopped on the RER (train that connects CDG and Paris) and took our train to Caen, where my parents (exhausted from jet lag) took a well-deserved nap (lots of literal snoring ensued) at our wonderful vintage hotel (my mom loved the mini tubs of Nutella available at breakfast) overlooking a park in downtown Caen, before we met my friend Clemence and her family for dinner. Saturday, all day was spent exploring WWII-themed things as my dad is a history buff- not my favorite thing but I was glad to tag along as it interests him! (followed by crêpes, of course!)
Clem on the beaches of Normandy
a memorial sculpture on Omaha beach
after a quiet Sunday morning spent with Clem & her dad at the American cemetery, we had an amazing traditional Normandy style lunch- salads with Camembert, cider sauce, and ham, before heading up on the train back to Paris. we had rented a modern-style apartment in the heart of the 7th apartment on airBNB and loved it! I had croissant expeditions each morning (a fabulous 700-year-old bakery, Le Moulin de la Vierge, was just 5 minutes on foot!), and for dinner we would snack on red wine, charcuterie, fresh bread, cheese, and fruit- just lovely.
the Moulin de la Vierge
Monday I pulled my sleepy parents out of bed as early as I could so we could see ALL THE THINGS in Paris- we started with the Louvre in the 1st arrondissement (sadly couldn’t see it all, but my mom liked the Mona Lisa), then hopped our way over to the Bastille in the 3rd- my parents loved the bay view and we lunched at les Bonnes Soeurs- the best pasta (mascarpone, dry salami, and mushroom) I have eaten, ever- and at a good price, too!
the Italian painting expo at the Louvre
After lunch, we toured around the Place des Vosges, before hopping back on the subway to see Notre Dame (which was sadly closed but at least we saw the beautiful outside!) and Centre Georges Pompidou- we didn’t see any exhibits, but did get to ride up and see the view of Paris, before getting some excellent gelato at Amorino- organic chocolate and hazelnut for me!
Tuesday, we started out with the Eiffel Tower (which we didn’t climb- but got some lovely photos!) and the Champs d’Elysées, before lunch at a famous caviar restaurant in the 7th arrondissement, Petrossian, which is worth the hefty price for their lovely view on the government buildings (we saw lots of French gendarmes) and artistic platings- except the fact that my father accidentally ordered steak tartare, which is raw beef, topped with a raw egg and pickles, so I ate it instead. it’s not something I would order again, but makes for a hilarious story!
the delicious dessert plate (corn ice cream!) at Petrossian.
after lunch, we set out to see the Opéra and, after getting a bit lost (but happened to cross the Lock Bridge!), the Musée d’Orsay right before it closed. it was a long trek up to the 14th arrondissement, but the view from Sacré Coeur in the late afternoon sunshine was well worth it.
chic Parisians on the Opéra balcony.
the Lock Bridge
Wednesday morning, we were sad to leave Paris, but happy to see the south of France! after a ride on the TGV train (literally: trés grand vitesse, or “very fast speed”- at least I learned something in high school French!) to Aix-en-Provence, we picked up our car and were on our way! A long afternoon spent eating leftover Easter chocolate at Chrystel’s house, drinking coffee with my friend Elodie in downtown Sisteron, and getting a tour of Montfort from Nicolas, my host dad, under the setting sun, before a dinner of lamb and white bean stew and strawberry salad at my house.
Thursday, after a late breakfast, we headed out to see the monastery of Ganagobie (about a 30 minute drive from Montfort) before taking the scenic route to Aix-en-Provence: lots of tulips in bloom, and lovely ruins of bridges and castles. We ate more gelato and strolled through Aix, before heading back to the TGV station and dropping off the car, and catching the train to Marseille.
In Marseille, our hotel was right on the Old Port- we had a lovely view from the 7th floor! after a good night’s sleep, we went to see Mucem and its Mediterranean history exhibit, and the fort that surrounds it- with a wonderful sea view, before heading over to see a few chapels. We found a sweet bistro just up the hill from the Old Port, with live dancers and an elderly gentleman playing the accordion (couldn’t remember how to say that- so just googled “wearable piano”). with plates of fresh seafood and the warm sea breeze, it made for a lovely afternoon. we took “Le Petit Train” to go up to a church at the very top of Marseille, and it was a nice way to see some of the coastline and historic features of the city in a short time. Finally, a stop at Galeries Lafayette for some more gelato and sandwiches for the road (and for my mom to ooh and aah over the French home decor), before I put my parents on the train in tears- I know it’s not goodbye, just see you later, but it hit me that this is what adults do: the reality of real life, on my own, started last night after out of the stress of getting my parents safely on the train back to CDG to catch their flight, I bought the wrong train ticket, and ended up being charged 60 euros (out of my own hard-earned money). Sometimes, adult life isn’t easy, but I’m doing the best I can, and when there’s homesickness, I have a special stash of Justin’s Organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups for times like these.
last night was spent at my friend Elodie’s house, as my host family was all at the circus and couldn’t pick me up at the train station, so we ate 4-cheese pizza and watched The Shopping Queens (one of our guilty pleasure TV shows), and today a few of Gabriel’s friends are coming for a party, so that should be interesting. in just 2 weeks, spring vacation starts, and I’m off on my Euro Tour with Grace and Carlisle- so excited!