France - Part 2, Nice!

Our visit continued in Nice, just over 900 miles, and 6 hours away by train. It was a mostly low-key trip, where we read and watched videos on our kindle or phones, but it wasn't without any excitement.

Tooth number two came out just as we were approaching the Nice train station! A friendly gentleman on the train offered an empty plastic baggy he had in his bag, and we were able to tuck the tooth safely away for later. (The "tooth mouse" did visit another night, bringing with it a €2 coin!)

We got into bed a little late, so the next morning we set no alarms and had a very relaxing sleep in, then enjoyed a leisurely morning. It was very much needed after all of the walking and go go go of Paris.

It was also the first morning that we got to see A in person. He had been staying with a friend while we were in Paris, since we’re doing many things it wouldn’t have been of interest to him. I think he was a little overwhelmed at first these three new people in his house, and though he’s been hearing about our arrival for a number of weeks, it was still a lot to do with in the moment.

He very quickly warmed up though. He especially loves Gwen, they quickly found ways of communicating that didn’t involve any mutual language.

That afternoon we went on to check out Monaco.

Monaco is a sojourn nation, completely surrounded by France.

It’s improbably beautiful, though it almost seems unreal, like a movie set or something similar.

The buildings are stunning, and looking at the streets as we walked along them it’s insane to think about the race taking place there! Its hard to imagine driving those curves at high speeds, speeds that I wouldn't want to drive on our straight roads! 

It was a fun day though.

The next day, October 25, Wednesday, we checked out old Nice. It’s incredibly beautiful city as well, much more lived in.

We tried a local dish, called socca. Its a pancake/crepe like dish made with chickpea flour, water, oil, salt and pepper. Trav and I were big fans!

We really loved the old narrow streets, very much what I think most people picture when they think of Europe. Definitely what I picture.

We got great views of the Mediterranean, and of the whole city.

That afternoon, we took a long walk, one of Cecile's favorites. Around a peninsula, in a cute little neighborhood of Nice, cruising along the Mediterranean the whole way.

The water was so blue! We couldn’t quite get over it.

That evening Jacques and his new wife, came to pick us up so that we could have dinner with them. I forgot to really take any pictures of the night, but it was an enjoyable one. We drank wine and ate a variety of little dishes, and just talked. Gwen missed the company of A and Cecile while we were there, but enjoyed playing with all of A's toys! Jacques took us back home that evening, and we quietly let ourselves in to head to bed. Cecile and A were already asleep.

On Thursday we headed back to one of the beaches that we had seen during our walk on the previous day. It was a rock beach, but the water was absolutely gorgeous, though a little cold. Gwen and A were perfectly happy to get in though, and Trav and I were happy to get in at least a little bit to say that we swam in the Mediterranean! Mine was more of a toe dip, but close enough!

After the swimming, Cecile showed us some more of the pretty sites in Nice, and then since A was asleep she let us off at a certain point so that we could continue on a walking portion of the tour. She let us know exactly which ways to head and what to look for, and we just texted her when we got to the endpoint letting her know to pick us up.

It worked out very well and it was a beautiful little walk.

We headed back to the apartment then, because we needed to meet Cecile‘s parents who were coming over to watch A, so that we could head out for a special surprise that Cecile had planned for us. Macarons are one of my favorite cookies... hence our stop in Paris! So she had made plans with the local macaron chef, to give us a private lesson!

It was an amazing experience! The cookies are very intensive to make, so I never would’ve tried on my own, but with a walk-through it made them seem quite doable.

 I made Rose, Gwen made chocolate, Trav made Citron, and Cecile made raspberry.

We headed out that night with about 60 cookies each!

Amazingly, most of those cookies made it home with us safe and sound! Trav's carry on was literally all macarons! Ha!

A little note: almost every night Cecile had new French cheeses for us to try. We started with milder ones and built up to a very stinky cheese for the last night in Nice. She paired different French wines with them each.

As a huge lover of cheese, this was a nice treat for me!

The next morning the kids colored a little while we ate breakfast, then we headed into Italy.

It’s so crazy to me living here with our insane borders, just how easy it is to travel back-and-forth between countries in Europe. But Italy was very close, and we headed to a cute little town just a half an hour away from Cecile’s place.

We enjoyed some shopping, took in one of their street markets, ate some paninis, and then headed to the playground so that Gwen and A could run off some energy.

Story time:
While we were at the playground in Italy, there was this great rope structure that you could climb up to a basket at the top. Two older teenager/younger 20somethings had taken over the top basket, smoking and listening to music on their phone, and weren't letting any kids climb up. I was livid, but the language barrier kept me from saying anything. The kids though, organized into a little kid gang and kept running over, jumping on the structure as a group and rocking the whole thing. It was cracking me up.

Another mom did take things into her own hands and tried to talk to the teens, who promptly dismissed her. Not to be dismissed, the mom headed over to the side of the playground and came back with two police officers! Every parent on the playground watched with interest and a smile on their face as these teens tried to point to the group of kids and blame them for wrongdoing! Ha! The police weren't having any of it. They invited the teens down, and when they continued to try to talk back, they were ordered down where they were met with citations!

It was so very satisfying, and the kids immediately ran up to the top of the structure to claim their kingdom!

When it was time to head back we headed into the mountains first, instead of going straight to Cecile's. This ended up being one of my favorite stops of the whole trip.

Sospel is a gorgeous little town, with amazing views of the mountains, and gorgeous old streets with beautiful buildings.

We walked around for a bit, seeing a beautiful church and little apartments.

We also got to see these cool old structures for washing.

The water flows through them continuously, and you wash at the bottom, then rinse in the fresher water at the top.

The drive itself was amazing as well. (What do you know, those French Alps aren't so shabby...)

For our last night we got a few extra special items to accompany our very stinky cheese.

We put the kids to bed and enjoyed one last night of conversation, food and wine.

On Saturday the 28th, all too soon, it was time to head home. We had a little bit of breakfast, packed the last minute items, and then it was time to head to the airport.

It was a quick trip to London (Heathrow), then an exceptionally fast layover (picture us running through the airport!), followed by a very long flight home. It was an exhausting day and we were all happy to sleep in our beds that night.

Our trip was absolutely phenomenal, shorter then we all would have liked, but long enough to wet our appetite for this amazingly beautiful and varied country. A piece of my heart has resided in France for the past two and a half years anyway, but now I definitely have a deeper love for the country of my surrobaby and his absolutely amazing family. For me it is not a question of if we will go back, but when.

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