Happy Monday!!!!! I hope y’all are off to a great week!! Ugh… I have personally had the annoyingest (is that a word??) Monday EVERRRRR! Not bad or crazy, just ANNOYING. I feel like the wifi and technology and social media worlds have all collided today and are just not working!!!! I was all excited and motivated to get so much done today since I am finally caught up on the last six/seven months of my life craziness, but the universe had other plans. LOL. I am however DETERMINED to finally share our Summer travels with y’all!!! I am SO sorry for the delay in answering everyone’s questions about where we stayed and such. As I have said way too much lately, life has been NUTS but I am officially DONE saying that as I finally feel all caught up and sane and well into my “new normal” routine.
Almost five months ago now, Addison, Winnie and I boarded a plane for our Third Annual Summer Adventure. Three years ago, I decided to combine my obsession with travel, my love for spending quality time with my girls and my desire to show them the world into one huge Summer getaway. You can read more about my “WHY” HERE! We started off “small” with our first Summer based in downtown Portland, Oregon and then the last two Summers I got brave enough to venture over to my ultimate dream destination… Europe! You can read more about my tips on “How to Plan the Ultimate Long Summer Trip Adventure” HERE! As I have chatted about before, I am OBSESSED with France. OBSESSED. So obsessed that I hope to actually live there at least part time one day. Yes, I know it sounds crazy but it is one of my biggest hopes and dreams and a goal that keeps me extra extra motivated. I learned to speak French in college and just loved it so so much that I continued to practice and work on my fluency over the last fifteen years. After visiting Paris for the first time right before Addie was born, I got hooked. The culture and way of life is something that I have longed for and worked toward in my own life without even realizing it for so so long. I cannot even describe it beyond just a deeper appreciation for LIFE. More time connecting with people… a true appreciation for culture and history… longer meals… a “simpler” yet richer way of life… more intentionality in really everything. Ugh I could go on and on. But I will stop now 😉
This past Summer’s planning all started with a desire to a) find places easy to fly into and out of without layovers (as mentioned in my planning post) b) visit France since I am OBSESSED and c) spend as much of the Summer at the beach as possible! Since I knew I wanted to do the French Riviera and Paris is actually a good ways north, I chose to fly into Barcelona, Spain! I had been to Spain once about eleven years ago but the girlies had never been so I thought it would be a fun “direct fly-into and spend the few first days in” spot. I have to admit that although I do LOVE a big city, I much much prefer the smaller European towns. My goal for each Summer is to create as much of a “living in Europe for the Summer” experience as possible so I always feel like small towns create that vibe for us. Having said that, I did really really love Barcelona. Maybe not as much as Paris or Rome but that’s possibly just a personal preference. Having said all of that, Barcelona was great! Just not my personal favorite ever. I am glad we got to see it and experience it though! Here are the details on our time in Barcelona…
Oh and one quick thing before I get started… THIS POST IS A MUST-READ if you are traveling abroad…
On May 28th, Addison, Winnie and I along with one of my very best girlfriends and her 11 year old daughter boarded a flight from Atlanta, GA to Barcelona, Spain. My dear friend Lindsey and I met a little over a decade ago now and then became super close friends over the last five or so years now. She became one of my rocks this Spring when things happened in my life even though she had enough going on in her own. So when I had the opportunity to have someone last minute join us on our travels, she and her daughter were at the top of my list!
As far as flight details, I have tried lots of different boarding/landing times and I have found that the best for adjusting quickly to Europe time is a departure time of around 6-8pm which has us land early morning in Europe. We typically nap a tad on the plane if we can (which usually means Addie and I can’t/won’t sleep and Winnie naps for hours and hours). Then we push through the day until about 1pm, take a 1-2hr nap, and then make ourselves stay up until around 9-10pm. Then literally by the next morning we are pretty much adjusted! It works like a charm for us every time!
For our time in Barcelona, I found the cutest airbnb for our stay. You can RENT IT HERE! It was the most charming little three bedroom apartment with the most darling back patio!!! The girls literally spent all of their non-sleeping time in the apartment playing on the patio. Lindsey and I would relax with our local cheese and wine while the girls set up “stores” on the patio. I get asked often how I go about finding good airbnbs. Here are my tips… a) Find airbnbs with lots of good reviews and even better, renters considered “super hosts”… b) Read the reviews and find ones with lots of reviews stating that the airbnb is in a “good area” or is in an “ideal location”… c) Make sure and check off amenities you need to narrows it down! For example, if you are going in the middle of the Summer, make sure it has a/c!
For the girls and I, one of our very favorite European traditions are our croissant, fresh pressed orange juice and cappuccino mornings. We literally eat out almost every single morning while we are abroad and it has become one of my favorite memories with them. We go for a morning walk and try to find a new and fun spot to stop and relax and enjoy an amazing European breakfast. There is NO croissant or cappuccino or fresh pressed OJ like a European one!
Although I am “rather amazing” at planning our trip overall and booking flights and finding airbnbs… I am TERRIBLE at planning beyond that. Partly because I am tired of researching after all of that is booked and partly because I honestly kind of like to just wander around and not feel like we “have to” be anywhere. One other thing is that I feel like asking the locals for advice once we have arrived always trumps any research! Here is a peek at us wandering the beautiful streets of Barcelona…
The cutest little shop…
Our favorite dessert spot… Alsur Cafe El Born!
Such fun restaurants!
One of our very favorite spots was La Boqueria Mercat! It was the most AMAZING market! We actually shopped it several times. Shopping fresh markets are one of my very favorite Summer traditions…
So having said all of that about not making advance plans, there are times when I wish we had and this was one of them… La Sagrada Familia. It is an incredibly beautiful Roman Catholic Basilica designed by architect Gaudi. It is STUNNING! I was so wanting to tour it but it had been booked out for weeks!
On day five it was time to say goodbye to Spain and board a flight to Marseille, France in route to Cassis, France!
Bonjour Cassis, France!
Traveling within Europe is super easy and convenient in some ways but it can also a bit intimidating at times too. Especially your first few times! The train system in Europe is absolutely amazing plus there are so many small airlines that provide very affordable flights from country to country as well. For this country hop I chose to fly because the train ride was going to be about seven hours with three train transfers. Yea, no thanks! LOL. The flight was super short and sweet and we landed in the beautiful city of Marseilles. From there, we hopped in an Uber (yes, thay have Uber in Europe) and made the approximately 45 minute drive to the STUNNING coastal city of Cassis, France!
I’m asked often how I choose cities for our Summers. As I mentioned in my “planning post“, I always choose the first and last stop based on easy direct flight cities that are close to cities/areas I have either had on my own personal bucket list or based on recommendations from friends/family and social media or honestly just cities that have made popular appearances on social media the last few years. Cassis was honestly that last one! A city that had become kind of “IG famous” based on it’s GORGEOUS Calanques…
I am personally OBSESEDDDDDDD with the entire South Coast of France. OBSESSED. It is actually the area I dream of living in one day. A true dream that I am working toward and hopefully not just a pipe dream. We shall see. LOL. Every inch of coast line is beyond dreamy and the slower, more intentional way of life has me hooked. For this stop, we stayed six days and I chose the dreamiest airbnb, once again based on my tips listed toward the top of this post. It had a private top deck covered in astroturf with tons of tables and chairs that the girls LOVED. They played up there day and night! If you are traveling with kiddos, I highly recommend staying somewhere with outdoor living space. We kind of “accidentally” ended up with one at every airbnb and it was a lifesaver with keeping the girls occupied on days we just wanted to chill! Here is a little peek at sweet Winnie on our rooftop deck. And check out THE VIEW!!!!
There are was also a stunning pool with a million dollar view of the Mediterranean Sea… STUNNING beyond words!
Next up, let’s chat South of France BEACHES! As I said before, my goal for this Summer was beach, beach and more beach! One thing I LOVE about the South of France during the Summer is that it’s about 75 and sunny every single day. Coming from a steamy 100 degrees with 100% humidity in Georgia, we ADORE the South France Summer weather! Although the water can be a bit chilly at first, it is nothing like the freezing cold waters in California. It honestly feels nice after a short time. Another thing to note about French beaches is that they vary A LOT from city to city in “rockiness”. Cassis beaches are pretty sandy compared to the Nice, France areas which are composed of only HUGE pebbles. I wouldn’t say Cassis has super soft white sand but it was nice and the girls LOVED IT! Plus, there are TONS of sea glass to be found. The girls came home with a huge bag of it!
Now let’s chat Cassis!!! Cassis is the MOST PRECIOUS “little” fishing village that we absolutely fell in love with. The city was a fairly short downhill walk from our airbnb and it is GORGEOUS! More beautiful than any picture could capture. We would purposefully get lost meandering our way through all of the streets of the city every evening finding new stores and restaurants and gelato stops. Ugh, I am getting all sappy thinking back about how wonderful it all was. Two quick things I am asked often… First, I persornally feel that it is an absolutely HUGE misconception that French people aren’t friendly. HUGE!! I would even go as far as to say that they are more friendly and more welcoming with us than in a touristy U.S. town. I am not sure if it’s because I speak the language or maybe France has just gotten a bad rap in the media OR that maybe people base their opinions on all of the larger cities BUT we have met the absolute KINDEST people in our small town France travels. They were literally bringing the girls candy, doing magic trucks for them, teaching them French slang, tying their shoes… I could go on and on and on. Second, is it difficult to navigate Europe without speaking any of the languages? I would say yes and no. I have found that it is fairly easy to find at least one person in most stores/restaurants that speaks at least a little English. I think the most difficult thing to navigate are the train stations and airports. Just make sure and arrive SUPER EARLY!!! But it is doable I PROMISE!!! Here is a little peek at our time in the city of Cassis and some of our favorite little stores and restaurants…
The girlies send postcards to friends and family from every city we visit…
Our Boat Tour of the Calanques… (P.S. If it is a windy day. BRING SEASICK medicine!!!)
And what’s an Addison’s Wonderland travel post without showing an adorable hilarious picture of my sweet sweet Winnie. Here is a peek at “the other side of Winnie” post nap… 😉
Winery Time!!! One thing I was super excited about this trip was visiting some French wineries. Cassis is known for their rose wine. Lindsey and I had the best time “hiking” Cassis with the girls in tow doing several tastings. Kids are welcome at most all wineries too! They have beautiful outdoor areas for kids to play and one stop even had fancy grape juice for the girls!
Thanks for following along on our Summer travels! Next up will be one full blog post dedicated to our next stop and my very favorite city in all of Europe… Antibes, France!!!
XOXO, Brittany Hayes