My Trip to France
Updated: Feb 3
2018 has been an eye opening year for me as I decided to re-center my goals towards my personal life. Three countries a year. I settled down in Australia, got a rountine, a great work… But I forgot about having real time for myself ! And I haven’t seen my family for three years. My partner and I booked a flight to France and took 3 weeks off to see our relatives for Christmas and New Year.
We are from two different small towns in the North of France, not really an attractive destination. It’s always grey and rainy … But great news, some of our loved ones moved out to way better parts of the country !
We flew to Paris, and then caught a train to the South, Marseille, first stop of our little adventure !
My parents-in-law picked us up from Marseille St. Charles train station and we drove to Cornillon-Confoux, an adorable little village at 45 mns from the city. They left the North of France to live in a cute house lost in the countryside. The temperature was brutal as we left the australian summer to land in France in the middle of winter, but it doesn’t wipe off the beauty of the area. It’s a very calm and rustic place to visit. You’d enjoy it if you are looking for a resourceful holiday.
SALON-DE PROVENCE | The Marseille Soap Museum
Salon-de-Provence is a charming town next to Cornillon-Confoux that combines modernity and history. Dominated by a huge castle, it is also the home of the French Aerial Demonstration team. And not only Nostradamus chose to spend his last years there, this is also where Marius Fabre produced his famous Marseille Soap.
We visited the Marius Fabre Museum where the soap is fabricated and bought some samples at the cute little shop attached to it. We learned about the actual recipe and the story of the creator. This place is a must-do as it has been well rated by the Lonely Planet. Photos and videos were prohibited in the Museum so here is the website : http://www.musee-savon-marseille.com/?lang=en
More photos of how beautiful Provence is :
We took advantage of a perfect blue sky and a cool weather to visit Marseille ! Second largest city of France after Paris, Marseille overlooks the Mediterranean Sea with its port, its beaches and of course, the famous Cathedral Notre-Dame de la Garde. I didn’t feel opressed at all by the crowd and even the main street doesn’t seem really busy. There is kind of a tranquil ambience that I really appreciated.
The best way to visit the city and see all the touristic attractions is by public transports. You need a TRANSTICK ticket that you can find at subways stations or in some convenience stores called ‘TABAC’ or ‘PAPETERIE’. This ticket costs 5,20 euros and allows you to get around the city using buses, subway or tramway, at any station and at any time during the whole day. If you struggle with the directions, ask someone who can help you.
And enjoy your journey in Marseille !
Named one of the most beautiful villages in France, Les Baux-de-Provence is a picturesque medieval commune that only has 436 residents. However, over a million people a year are coming from everywhere to visit the fortified-château area and take pictures of the amazing view. This place can be ver crowded during summer so the best is to visit it off-season, especially in spring to admire the gorgeous blooming flowers.
MIRAMAS | Le village des marques (The Village Outlet)
Called McArthurGlen Provence, the village outlet of Miramas is so cute ! With a free carpark and some convenient cafés and restaurants inside, you can spend half a day of shopping !
This is the place where you can get really good prices from great shops like McLaren, Levis, Guess, and others european shops that you can’t find in Australia. Some prices can go down to -70% so knock yourself out ! This village is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 8pm.
After 5 amazing days in Provence, it was time for me to see my dad at 600km from there ! I didn’t want to take the train because it was to expensive and I didn’t want to take a bus either because it takes way to long. So I used BlablaCar : a long distance carpooling service that connects drivers with empty seats to people who are travelling the same way. It is cheap, fun and you meet new people. The 7 hours trip flew so quickly but I was so impatient and excited to see my family and the new house !
Even though it’s a whole new house and atmosphere I came into when I finally met up with my family, I felt at home straight away. My dad and my stepmother did such an amazing job renovating it, it feel so warm and welcoming. They actually also renovating their attic to build an appartment and rent it as an airbnb. So cool !
That was really delightful to spend Christmas with those guys, far from the big cities, in a total rural and calm place. Exideuil is a very small village at 50km from Limoges, where apparently loads of english fellas decided to retire. I definitely recommend to go to this place during spring/summer.
And…. My dad has 3 goats now ! Tronchette, Choupette, and the one that always wants attention, Croquette.
We’ve also visited some villages around including Rochechouart and its amazing castle.
The 13th century French castle has been renovated and now houses the museum of contemporary art since 1985.
Known for its decorated porcelain, Limoges is a city in Southwest-central France, at about 500km from Paris. What I love the most about this place is the medieval style of the streets and houses. It is such a chilled city and easy to access.
The Saint-Etienne Cathedral and the Evêché Botanic Garden are must-do as well as the Aquarium et the Chalucet Castle.
After another 5 days with my family, I took another BlablaCar to go up North to meet up with my mum, before we go on another big adventure together. The actual winter trip to French Alps.
Le Chinaillon | Le Grand Bornand
Another 7 hours drive from the North to Haute-Savoie, near the Swiss border and you start seeing an amazing landscape, where the moutains are dominant. It’s absolutely beautiful.
We stayed at Le Chinaillon, one of the highest villages you can find in this area, at a few kilometres from Le Grand Bornand, one of the biggest ski resort of Europe. The studio was pretty small for 4 people but we’ve managed it, and the view from the balcony was incredible. After 4 years in Australia, I saw snow again.
The village is very convenient. You can find ski shops everywhere as the slopes are litterally down the road. Typical restaurants, pubs, wine bars and the well-named Bakery of the Year, everything you need to spend a great winter holiday.
If you have kids, they’ll love it. Le Grand Bornand is not just a big ski resort, it is also a great ski school for children from a young age to learn this fun sport. I’ve seen 4 years old skiing like professionals, amazing skills !
Spending the day up to the mountains skiing, and having lunch at one of the many restaurants of the resort was so nice. This is something you have to do.
What an amazing holiday ! Now that I'm back in Australia, I can't wait to start planning my next trip and share it with you.
You can also click on the Youtube logo above to watch my France Vlog.
Click Subscribe and don't miss anything !
Eileen - Pretty Little Mantras