Sunday, August 31, 2014

Southern France

Let me warn you now and tell you that this post is going to be long, it will probably be boring, and it will almost definitely have horrible jokes in it that nobody but myself will find funny. If that sounds like a good time to you, go seek help.

So, we left Istanbul and flew into Marseilles in the afternoon. We grabbed our rental car and drove around Marseilles for a while, looking for anything entertaining. We were having the craving for a cold, chocolate eclair so we spent most of the day trying to hunt down the perfect eclair (we came close but the best eclairs that we had were in Evreux).

We stayed in a town called Toulon, a little ocean-side town between Marseilles and Cannes. On our way there, we stopped at just the right time for some great pictures of this monument right on the ocean. Natali probably spent 20 minutes deciding which of the pictures she wanted to use below before deciding on this one.

So before I talk about the rest of our time in Southern France, I need to tell you about Michel and Jeanine, the Amazing French Family that we met in Salzburg (Here is a link to our Salzburg post how we met them). They told us to call them so we can get together so we thought that they would take us out to dinner and that would be it. Well we called them that night and we were just blown away by them. They told us that they had pretty much our whole weekend planned out and they were personally going to show us all around on Saturday and Sunday. They are just amazing people.

So they gave us their address and we drove all along the coast on the way. We saw some amazing views. The water there is sooo bright. It is blue and green and just so great for pictures. Natali was loving it.

We went to Michel and Jeanine's house and left our car there and hopped in with them. They took us out to eat at a nice local restaurant and then they took us to the Mougin's Museum of Classic Art. They wouldn't let us pay for anything! They were soo nice and just amazing the whole time. The art was very interesting but it was really fun to go with another couple.

Michel and Jeanine then took us to Natali's favorite little town that we visited in Southern France; Saint-Paul-de-Vence. The streets were just little stone paths between buildings and were lined with little art shops. We probably went in 15 of the little art shops and Natali wanted to go into more. Luckily we didn't have any money or we would have had to figure out how to get some French art all the way back home ;-). Below is a picture of Jeanine and Michel with Natali on one of the cute streets. Below that is one of the art pieces in one of the little shops.

These streets were so great. Natali was in heaven. She could have just walked around there all day and been the happiest girl in the world. The following are a bunch of pictures of the town, but pictures just don't do it justice, so if you are ever int he South of France, visit St. Paul de Vence for sure and you will see for yourself.

That night we went out with their daughter and some of her friends. They took us out to an awesome local restaurant in Nice where we had some Awesome Italian food (and we waited too long to write this blog so we cannot remember the name of the restaurant). They took a picture of us in the city square. Notice the floating blue and green statues behind us.

On Sunday (Yes we are Sabbath breakers, but they had the whole day planned and it was their last free day to spend with us, so judge all you want) they had told a friend we were in town and they offered to take us out on their boat on the ocean! It was amazing! We drove around for a little bit before we anchored to swim and eat. The water was so clear around us. You could easily see the bottom even though it must have 20 or 30 feet deep (or more). I was excited to take a swim and Natali caught my perfect dive.

After lounging about and having a bite to eat on the boat, they took us to an island only accessible by boat to see an old church there as well as climb the tower to get some great views of the surrounding area. Natali had to photobomb my picture, but I guess I can't get mad since it is much better with her in it.

We drove around some more to get some more views of the coast. We drove past this sweet ship and had to get a picture.

Here is a picture of all of us. They were so nice the whole time and wouldn't let us pay for anything the whole time we were with them. Michel and Jeanine told us that the next time we were in Southern France that we better not get a hotel because we had to stay with them. I really can't explain just how amazing they are and we loved spending time with them.

 The next day our friends had to go to work like normal people so we had to continue our touring alone.  But Jeanine planned out our full day for us just the same so that was pretty lucky for us, we really didn't have to plan anything in Southern France.

Our first stop was Villefranche Sur Mer.  It was a beautiful little coastal town.  We still hadn't found the perfect eclair so our search continued, wherever we went.

While walking around we found this very strange mess of yarn strewn across a bunch of trees.  We have no idea what it was for but it was weird.

Then we stopped for lunch in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat and saw some really neat statues like these dolphins and the bull below.

Most of our time that day was spent in Monaco.  This is a small but very wealthy glitzy-glamorous country where you'll find the legendary Monte Carlo Casino.  The coastline is covered in massive yachts and the city is covered in outrageously-priced hotels.  It's really neat but we felt a little out of place here haha.

The Monte Carlo Casino...

Natali took this picture out the window of our moving car without even looking, she was pretty pleased with herself.

After Monaco we hurried to take a quick walk through the villages of Eze and La Tourbie before sunset.  We were very happy that we did.  Eze is a charming little village up on a hill top with narrow cobble-stoned walk-ways and vines and flowers growing all over the buildings.

Most beautiful spot in Eze:

We were pretty tired by the time we got to La Tourbie so we just snapped a few quick pictures and then headed home.

The next day was pretty relaxing.  We started the day off exploring the town of Gourdon, another old hill/mountain top village.  We love just walking around villages like this because they all have their own unique charm.  Some tourists need to have constant adventure and entertainment, but we are perfectly happy just to walk around a quaint little town observing the locals and kissing on benches where signs say "place des bisous" :-) ("place of kisses").  Natali thought the little blue and green shutters were particularly cute.

We then took a little stroll through Valbonne.  It's hard to capture the beauty of this little towns though so we didn't really take many pictures but it is certainly worthy seeing if you are in the area.

Once we had our fill of "strolling" we took a little time to just relax at the beach in Antibes.  Then I must have made Reed drive towards Nice just so I could get a picture of these cool apartments that kind of look like a cruise ship.  They were built this way so there would be more apartments with balconies that you could lay-out on.  Pretty cool idea right?

We stopped for lunch in Mougins, another really cute town that's definitely worth stopping in for a meal.  And here is a random picture of Natali's lunch.  It's a very popular salad dish in France where they melt different types of french cheeses on toasted bread that you can cut up and eat with your salad...kind of like cheese covered croutons.  It is very yummy.

And here I am eating my favorite soup to order in France: french onion soup.  Yum!  Oh and here is a cool/strange statue.

Off to dinner in our new Italian leather jackets!

We spent our last night in Southern France eating dinner with our wonderful new friends.  Sure are happy we me them and hope to see them again!