Honeymoon Photos: France

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Brian and I kept joking while we were away that while we're not experts on marriage (yet!), we wholeheartedly recommend getting married on cake tasting and honeymooning alone. Two weeks ago we got back from the best 16-day vacation, and we still can't stop talking about it. It was so relaxing and breathtaking, it's hard to be back in damp, dreary Chicago. 

We'd love to share (A LOT OF) photos, if you'd like to see. First up, our time in France. We stayed in Nice but traveled much of the Côte d'Azur (French Riviera ;) ... 

After staying in a house with the most charming balcony in Positano a few years ago, we decided an outdoor breakfast space in future summer rentals would be a must. This apartment (which is currently renting at $57/night, you guys! Go!) did not disappoint. While it was on the sixth floor of a very, very old building with very, very narrow stairs, it was the perfect little space for us. We went to the grocery store as soon as we got there (after eating giant pizzas, of course) and stocked up with breakfast foods and snacks, saving us time and money in the morning. I miss that little nook so much!

We saw the prettiest views of Nice from Castle Hill on our first full day. You can see the entire harbor and town up there, and there's a little waterfall along the way. Everything was so peaceful. Despite devastating attacks in the area this summer, the city was so magical and alive. Such beauty can't be diminished. 

I love France. Growing up in England and visiting many times, and after a short trip with B a few years ago, I love the idea of living in France. The salami, butter and pickle sandwiches (which we first fell in love with in Paris in 2013) are my biggest persuading tool to get B on board. How is something so simple so good (and not nearly as good here)?

Mussels and frites (with rose, of course!) just about every night...

Even though Nice is such a popular destination, it has little pockets like this (a hidden beach we visited filled with locals taking a break) that make it such an authentic small town.

... And at least two scoops of gelato every day. 

A few days before we left Chicago Brian snagged us a pair of tickets to the Nice-Monaco game for $40, fifth row!We got super into it and bought official apparel the morning of and have been trying to keep up with the team since. I'm not a big soccer fan, but it was so exhilarating. My favorite part was how they had crepes as one of the only few things to eat. And there was only one beer to order, it was on tap, and unnamed. Simply, "beer." 

Our first day trip was to Eze, where we hiked Le Jardin exotique d'Eze and fell in love with the medieval village. Eze is built onto a cliff, forming a circular pattern around the base of where a castle used to be. It's incredible to walk through something that has been around for so long ... and there's nothing like the view at the top.

This pup!!! The hair clip killed me! 

We had the charcuterie board of our lives at Deli', a restaurant at the top of Eze, where our waiter found out I love olives and kept refilling our bowl with new varieties mixed in different olive oils. We loved the olive oils so much (infused in Nice), we bought back several tin cans for ourselves and as gifts. 

Later that day we took a bus to Monaco, where we stood out like sore thumbs for not being nearly rich and fabulous enough. We couldn't believe how many designer stores there were and the types of cars people were driving. And, once again, the beautiful buildings. I want a pink home so bad. 

That night, after returning to Nice, we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner, where I ordered rigatoni and Brian ordered lasagna. His came in a huge pan (the kind we use at home to make lunch for the week...), but when in Nice, you know... The couple sitting next to us ordered profiterole for dessert, three giant puff pastries filled with ice cream. We were drooling but so full, so we decided to put it on our list for another day. 

The man who owned the apartment we rented, Simon, gave us a number of recommendations, and we visited almost all of them. Brian memorized the list the day we got there and would point out places as we walked past them. On the first morning, we saw a sign for Central Electrique, and Brian said that was a cool bar Simon recommended. We walked past, and it was a lamp repair store. I laughed, assuring him he was wrong, and he said he was certain, that perhaps at night the lamps were removed and it became a cool club. The next day we walked past Central Electrique again. Still a lamp store. And at night, closed. I thought it was the funniest thing. Until one random night we were on a completely different street, in a different neighborhood, and saw Central Electrique! This time, a cool bar! :-)

The daily market in Nice can't be beat. Fresh fruit, olives, soaps shaped like macaroons, fresh lavender! We stumbled into it on our first day and found ourselves back every day. Every corner there was something new (and delicious) to try. It was so hard to resist not buying everything. We decided since it was our honeymoon, we wouldn't hold back and would buy a few things (we've never bought souvenirs before), and we came back with so many treasures. 

I fell in love with socca, chickpea flatbread, and could spot signs for it from a mile away by the end of our trip. It's one of the most popular foods in Provence, traditionally cooked in wood ovens on copper disks, roughly cut and served warm. In Nice, it's often baked a few hundred yards away and delivered by bicycle, to be wrapped in paper and eaten on the street. It's unbelievably delicious (getting it here is a must). 

I fell asleep relaxing at the beach following socca one afternoon, and I woke up so frazzled and apologetic. Brian was reading his book and said there was nothing to be sorry about, we had no where to go! Nothing to do! And then asked me if I'd be interested in finding more socca. That's the life ;-)

I had mentioned above seeing profiterole at an Italian restaurant after our day in Eze and Monaco but being too full to indulge. The next day, after a delicious BBQ dinner, we decided we were ready. We went back to the same Italian restaurant, were promptly seated and said we only wanted dessert. "You can't only have dessert," our waitress told us. "Why?" "Because this is a restaurant." It didn't make sense to us, but we returned the menus and left. Surely we'd find profiterole somewhere else. Over the next hour and a half we found it at seven restaurants but were quickly denied when we said we only wanted dessert. It seemed like a cruel joke!

Then, finally, we found a place that said they had it! And we could have it! We sat down, giddy, only to be told they were sold out after ordering our coffees... it was so disappointing!!!

So we got Mars ice cream bars from the nearby convenient store and ate them on the curb. 

We quickly became obsessed with Paul, a bakery below our apartment, and we'd stop by for coffee and pastries before heading out of town for the day. It's a chain (my mom says she still dreams of the croissants at locations in Paris) but beats our nearby bakeries in every way. 

I don't know...

These photos are from Saint Paul de Vence, where every corner was more beautiful than the next. It was the most charming town with the cutest shops, beautiful flowers and most gorgeous views. It was a rainy day but still so lovely and picturesque. 

We found a local bar once back in Nice that was playing the Arsenal game because while everything else pauses on vacation, Arsenal games apparently do not. We watched three in two weeks, guys... Actually, there was one that was on a bit late and our WiFi only worked from a specific chair, at a specific angle, by the apartment bathroom in Greece, so I opted out. 

Kebab sandwiches, with fries inside, are Europe's greatest street food (for 2-3 euro!). I'm embarrassed to share how many we ate between France and Greece, but none can top this one from Pera. It might have been the best meal we had on vacation, and we foolishly split it. 

Profiterole success! There were many more failures this second night, but finally they were ours! And so worth the wait.  

My coworker asked me what I thought about Antibes when we returned (she had just spent some time there with her husband), and all I could think to rave about was this beautiful gelato from Amorino. We had such a great time exploring that day (the beach! shops! Le Nomade statue!), but the gelato was truly the MVP. Any ice cream shop that lets you pick as many flavors as you want and gives it to you in a beautiful flower shape wins the day. Excuse my husband for only getting two flavors. He's learning. 

For the best views of Antibes, and arguably the whole French Riviera, we were told to hike Le Sentier du Littoral, Cap d'Antibes. It was difficult for us to find, but it was so serene, with the most golden of golden hours, it was definitely worth it. 

Pains aux raisins from Paul all day every day, you guys. This past Sunday morning Brian turned to me and said, "Don't you just wish we could go down to Paul?" Yes! Yes, I do! 

Our last day trip was to Menton, which is right on the border of France and Italy. We'd read that a must-do is tasting jams and chutneys at the Confiturerie Herbin, and taste we did. I must have tried 50. Rose jam was my favorite, and basil was surprisingly good.

The views were absolutely stunning. Since Menton was the farthest trip from Nice, and it was our last day, we had contemplated skipping it and hanging at the beach in Nice instead, but I'm so glad we convinced each other to go. I'm still thinking about the beautiful colors. 

Sometimes I like our self-timer failures more than our successes.

This photo, this lunch, is perhaps one of my favorite memories. We ordered mussels and a liter of wine and started chatting about drinking tolerances. I claimed mine is high, and when it comes to wine, perhaps as high as Brian's, so we kept pouring and ordering, coming up with a drinking game of our own. We chatted and laughed for hours. After months of wedding planning and a strong wave of work and miscellaneous commitments right before we left, it was so blissful to truly kick back. 

When it was time to catch the bus home we both insisted we felt great, only to admit when we got back to the States that we were, at the very least, solidly tipsy ;-)

Shortly after this photo was taken I fell asleep with my mouth wide open on the bus for nearly two hours and somehow ripped the strap of my dress. You win this round, Hayes. We had to walk home from the bus stop with Brian holding my strap from the back for a good 20 minutes.   

I had seen coconut balls (still not sure what this was, mostly meringue, maybe?) at a bakery one afternoon and wanted to make sure I tried one before we left. Our last night in Nice we ran to the bakery right before it closed and ate some sweets on the beach. The day had been so perfect, eating dessert before dinner only seemed appropriate. 

We still love a good Spritz after making them a nightly routine during our time in Italy a few years ago. It was nice to see the French indulge in them as well. Alongside a pizza, the combo can't be beat :-)

Overall, our trip to France was absolutely a dream come true, and we felt so grateful and lucky. Thank you so much for sharing in our excitement! Greece is up next. xoxo


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