France - #Duex
June absolutely flew by and Europe was just a few sunsets away! We hightailed it to NYC to spend a day or two with Cousin Danielle and Paul before hopping on the plane. Funny enough, not only were Danielle and Paul on our same flight, but so was my brother, Niko and cousins Natasha, John and baby Christos! We hung out in the lounge for a few hours leading up to the flight and overdosed on Lournadunes. We arrived in Nice on the morning of July 4th shortly after my parents who were flying in from Barcelona. It was like a reunion in the airport!
We collected our baggage and our rental car and headed off to La Coitat, the first stop for us along with my parents, my brother and cousins – Danielle and Paul. It was a cute little coastal town with not much happening, but we had a nice Airbnb and a myriad of restaurants to choose from. We got ourselves settled and headed out for food and so began the chaos J. We finally settled on a place and our first meal in France was none other than… pizza? Turns out that nearly every place you see has freaking pizza and not even good Italian pizza… much less impressive French pizza. Paul however was thrilled – Margarita pizza every meal!
Our first full day Rob and I were itching to get everyone to the Calanques National Park – we had stopped here on our big trip and fell in love with the scenery. It was pretty awesome to think back a few years ago when we sat at this same place and thought – this would be so cool to show our family, they would love it here. Not thinking that would ever actually happen! To get down to the Calanques is a tough walk – it is long, hot and steep. We thought for sure we were going to lose a few members along the way and just when some were ready to give up… the views started to appear. This was all we needed to get everyone reenergized and headed down to the water. The pictures below don’t even do this place justice but just as we remembered it – the scene was beautifully set and the water was ice freaking cold. Most of the group made it in, but mom and I hung back on the rocks and just did a few toe dips. After it was all said and done, everyone was exhausted but satisfied with the days activities. We promised the next day would be longer but less tiring.
The following day we woke up to head to the Gorges du Verdon. This was definitely one of the coolest things we saw last time we were here so we were amped! Everyone else however…was tired. We got a little bit of a late start and it was a long drive so there was a lot of sleeping on the way. We went a slightly different route this time, which meant the big, wow views were a little further away – this meant only more snoozing from the back seat. Most of the way there we thought a lunch break would be good for everyone and we realized that we were only 10 short minutes from Bergemon, which is a small town that we had stumbled upon last time. It was there that we randomly picked a tiny restaurant tucked into a corner with the most amazing chocolate cake I have ever had. I had been dreaming about this cake for years! Did this mean I was going to get to have it AGAIN?? Dreams really do come true…. So we stopped for lunch, had probably one of our better meals of our time in France (the food there is not as spectacular as one might think) and then the cake… *cue sad trombone* it was not the same. The presentation was different, the taste, although good was not what it was before. But as they say, it is better to have loved and lost…
Finally we get to our big reveal and WOW did it impress. It was just as stunning as we remembered it and it took our breath away for a second time. We hurried down to the bottom of the Gorge so we could get in the water – we rented pedal boats and spent an hour or so heading deeper into the gorge on teal green waters with rock walls towering above us. Niko and Rob did tandem jumps from along the cliff walls. It was beautiful and relaxing and perfect. We ended our day in a little town called Monsieur Sainte Marie- likely the most beautiful town we had ever seen. Up high in mountain with a little church on a hill – flowers everywhere and beautiful stonework all around us. A waterfall spilled right through the center of town. The ladies spent a couple hours just walking around taking pictures in every nook and cranny while the boys scurried up the mountain to see the church and the view. The birds eye view might have been even better as the sun sunk behind the mountains and paragliders sailed over head. Perfect setting for the ending of an incredible day.
Our next stop on our French expedition was Cotignac to begin the wedding weekend. We knew that this was going to be quite the event with such a magical location, a couple made for each other. We drove up to our bed and breakfast and were taken away by how wonderful it was. It was this beautiful quaint seeming French countryside home that ended up extending on and on with 5 bedrooms, a pool a hillside view overlooking the surrounding hills. We all settled in and got ourselves ready for Friday night’s meet and greet. It was a nice little restaurant down the street with drinks and lots of family – we couldn’t ask for more, yet there was more! There had been some sort of farming festival in the town and there were mini tractors that all the boys – the groom included were able to race down the main street of town. After all the hellos and congratulations a few of us wandered across the street where there was a live band playing and slowly the rest of the meet and greet group wandered over where we all danced the night away – not the best thing to do for one’s feet the night before a wedding spent in heels. :/
The following day was the big one! My cousin was getting married to a wonderful woman and the whole family was there to celebrate. The setting was a beautiful castle like chateau (Chateau Robernier for those of you interested in a google image search). The ceremony started and the bride walked through the doors and she looked stunning, the whole thing looked like it was out of a storybook (which you will see from the photos below). The ceremony was one of a kind and we were all excited to get to the happy hour where we could say our hellos to the bride, groom and additional family. The drinks were flowing, food was coming out left and right and to top it off they had hired an amazing London busker. Before dinner even started, a new band was playing for the reception. They were clearly experienced because it didn’t take more than 3 minutes for the dance floor to be full. This band had both male and female vocals, drums and a sexy sax man who all played throughout the dinner. The night concluded in the “dance room” off to the side and we made sure the dance the night away. All in all it was an amazing night and we are so happy for the newlyweds. France was a success and it was time to hike onto Italia!