PARIS

We took an overnight flight from Iceland to Paris which meant getting in at 6am. We were completely exhausted but managed to settle in to our apartment, take a quick nap and explore the city. Our first mission was to find coffee – not too difficult with a million cafes lining the streets. After a good hour of people watching, we strolled through Le Marais eating pastries and taking in the scenery. The Parisian way of life was certainly a harsh contrast to Iceland where the landscape is so expansive and there are more sheep than people. We met a good friend who was much more familiar with the area and immediately started to feel more comfortable. By the third day we started to really enjoy the city, just in time get our car and head for the coast.

Biarritz

In order to avoid some of the peak summer crowds of the French Riviera, we decided it would be best to head to the west coast of France and down to Biarritz. We passed through many small towns, one of which was La Rochelle, where our friend Pascale’s family lives. We enjoyed the Sunday market and some delicious wine before continuing south towards Biarritz. We realized very quickly that it’s not the type of place to show up and then try to find a place to stay. Although it’s not the French Riviera, it’s still very catered towards tourism and we were there at the peak of the season. After a mediocre dinner at a flashy spot on the boardwalk, we watched European tourists heading to their comfy resorts and hotel rooms. As it got later and later, our car quickly became our best option so we headed back to the highway to find a rest stop. Rest stops in Europe, for the most part, are not the unusually sketchy parking lots that they are in a lot of the USA. In France, especially on toll roads, you see families picnicking, truckers barbecuing, and even people tent camping. They’re treated more like state parks than what we think of as rest stops.

We spent four days lounging on the nude beaches, surfing and treating ourselves to delicious local seafood and wine before heading back to our favorite rest stop to sleep for free in our trusty Citroen C3. Although we had many excellent meals in Biarritz, Anglet (which is right next to Biarritz) turned out to be much less touristy than it’s neighbor. It certainly was not the typical way to see the area, but regardless of our situation we had an awesome first experience in the southwest coast of France.

CHAMONIX

Thanks to a family friend, we had the opportunity to visit Chamonix, France for a few days. We stayed in a cozy, comfortable house with a spectacular view of Mont Blanc. Somehow, neither of us had really ever heard of this place so we were in awe. Enzo gave us access to his house, showed us the area, and went into great detail about the different hiking trails, villages, and lifts that you can take up to different parts of the mountains. For three days we hiked to various different spots, all of which were breathtaking. Le Lac Blanc, at almost 8,000ft, was the first hike we did and, although the trail was popular with other tourists, the final destination was well worth it. The second day we hiked from the house to the top of the mountain on the opposite side of the valley. We zigzagged our way up the steep mountainside for hours before finally reaching the top of the lift. The view of the valley was phenomenal from the top and on the gondola ride back down.
Chamonix was the perfect place to relax, have some home cooked meals and get a feel for the vastness of the Alps. We will definitely be back for more hiking and hopefully some extreme snowboarding!

CASSIS

After Chamonix and a few days in Geneva, we were invited to Cassis in the south of France to stay with Enzo and his family again! We spent 4 days with him and his wife Monica, as well as their 7 year-old, Emma. We hiked to beautiful hidden beaches, swam in the dreamy water of the Mediterranean, and were spoiled with wonderful food everyday. Having been so far away from family and friends, it was nice to feel so taken care of. On top of everything else, since they’re Italian, they were able to suggest a million places in Italy, Croatia, and Greece that we should visit!

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Elmo says:

    Hi! I’m surprising my husband with a trip to Chamonix for his 30th birthday 🙂 i wonder though what’s the best way to get there? Which train company should i look for? Should we go via Geneve or Paris? 🙂

    • Hey! Sounds amazing! We really don’t know much about getting there by train, as we had a rental car, but we can say that it’s a short and very beautiful drive from Geneva to Chamonix. Have an amazing trip, we’re jealous!

  • Frame says:

    Elmo,
    Chamonix is an hour or so drive from Geneva. Train it’s a good days drive. For French train travel try SNCF.
    Bon vacance.

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