March in Basel isn’t all that amazing. It’s a bit of a slog of chilly temps and plenty of rain. So we were pretty psyched to get through March and head to the warm and sunny coast of France in early April.
We only wore light jackets to the airport, knowing we wouldn’t need actual coats once we got to Nice. Indeed, we left the airport, dropped our things at our hotel, and headed out for lunch at La Canne à Sucre.
Traveling with a small child means packing lots of things to entertain her. We had the iPad for the plane and train, but that won’t work while we’re out to eat (because we have set that as a rule). I usually have a coloring book and some kind of markers, crayons, or colored pencils in my bag. This time, I also brought some dry-erase activity cards and I cannot recommend them highly enough! They’re simple enough that G doesn’t get mad that she can’t solve the puzzles, but challenging enough that she can’t whip through them super fast.
After lunch, we decided to go dip our feet in the ocean. I hadn’t packed swimming suits (the water was still very cold), but it’s hard to see that gorgeous blue water and not want to be in it! (The rocky beach really hurt my feet, though.)
G didn’t want to put her shoes back on her wet feet, so Andy graciously carried her back to the hotel.
After changing, we headed back out to walk more of the city.
G has been on carousels all over the world (Toronto, London, and Paris for starters) and the views are getting more and more spectacular.
I wanted that view. The steps were worth it, but I really super regretted wearing Toms instead of my supportive Nikes.
We had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. Is it completely ridiculous to be on the Mediterranean coast in France and eat dinner at a kitschy chain restaurant? Absolutely. But sometimes it’s easier to not fight with your child about what she’s going to eat for dinner. Andy and I weren’t very hungry and they had a children’s menu, so it was a convenient choice for us.
The next morning we packed up to catch the train to Aix-en-Provence. A childhood friend of Andy’s is working at a university there, so we took the opportunity to visit him!
A blogger friend from back home has a sordid history with cops of Segways, so I had to snap this pic and send it to him when I saw it on our walk through the park.
We stopped on the way to the train station to have breakfast at Le Grand Café de Lyon. They may have an outdated website, but they can make a tasty crêpe!
Our train ride should have been fairly uneventful. Andy had bought our tickets ahead of time and (thought) he printed them out. Apparently what he printed out was the receipt or confirmation of purchase. We should have taken that form to the ticket machine at the train station and printed out our actual tickets. We didn’t do that. And so when the conductor came through to check for our tickets, he informed us of our mistake and, instead of taking pity on us, proceeded to make us buy more tickets. Which was made even more ridiculous by the fact that we were in the French countryside and he couldn’t get a good signal on the credit card machine for a long time. It was so uncomfortable and unnecessary!
(Luckily, a nice lady at the Aix-en-Provence train station refunded our unused tickets, so we weren’t out too much extra money!)
True to form, we got into Aix, met up with our friend, and headed to get food. What else is vacation for?! We went to an excellent burger restaurant called Burger Bar. Everything is made by hand and it was all delicious. Andy even had a tartare burger! (I assume it was tasty; I don’t go in for raw meat.)
Our friend Tim showed us around Aix for a bit after lunch; it’s gorgeous!
A lack of sleep and excess of sun and walking were making G (and me) a bit crabby, so we headed back to our hotel to relax. (I was hoping she would nap, but wasn’t so lucky.) Andy and Tim walked around for a while longer and then came back with a charcuterie and cheese feast for dinner!
After dinner, G watched some French Netflix while Tim, Andy, and I stayed up too late talking about expat life, what we missed about America, and a million other things (all while drinking beer and/or wine – naturally). Finally, we were all beat and needed to head to bed.
In the morning, Tim met us at our hotel so we could walk to breakfast.
I don’t know why, but this sign on the sidewalk really struck my funny bone.
We had breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien. Tim was disappointed to find out that it’s a chain, but it was open early enough for us (a lot of other recommended restaurants didn’t open early enough for us to eat and catch our train and subsequent plane) and very tasty.
Any restaurant that gives me this many delicious spread options is A-OK in my book.
All too soon, we packed ourselves onto the train back to Nice and then shuttled off to the airport.
Away from the sun and back to the rain of Basel. Until next time, Côte d’Azur!