FRANCE Part I

Two(ish) years ago, Kirsten and I went to a psychic in Boston. Neither of us had been before and approached the experience lightheartedly. To our surprise, the psychicgave an eerily accurate description of both of our personalities and pasts. So when she described our “futures” we found ourselves more willing (but still skeptical) to believe the far-out things she told us. One of the bizarre things the psychic told me was that I “have an affinity for French culture” and that I “spent a past life in France.” Kirsten and I both cracked up over this because I can’t speak French to save my life, don’t necessarily believe in past lives, and had never expressed an interest in French culture of any sort.

I spent the two years following our psychic encounter with the same lack of interest in the French until an email from Scott’s Cheap Flights hit my inbox a couple of months ago.

A 24 hour airline sale and a phone call to my best friend later, I found myself booking a flight to Paris.

If you follow Chloe (said best friend) or I on instagram, you know that we love love loved France and that we tookacrazyandoverwhelmingamountofpictures. For each photo we posted, there are probably 50 others that we neglected. There is so much I could say and so much I could share from our trip, that putting together a post has seemed daunting. I’m going to do my very best to describe where we went, what we did and what we wore... but I think it’s going to take several separate posts, because again, wetooktoomanypictures.

IMG_8926.JPG

SPARKNOTES

Important note: neither Chloe or I are planners, so most of this trip was thrown together two weeks before we left or we winged it once we got there. This somehow worked out very well for us, but I realize that things could have gone very badly. This was also my first trip to Europe. Take everything with a grain of salt.

PACKING

The main thing that we DID plan were our outfits. When Chloe and I get together we revert back to our 15 year old selves, putting together outfits that lean more on the side of costumes. We each had a few statement pieces that we wanted to wear, swapped photos, and from there found options to coordinate with each other’s statement looks. We also went back and forth on whether or not to check bags... more clothes vs. lost luggage. More clothes won, our luggage made it, and we were really glad we gave ourselves options.

IMG_5609.JPG

We didn’t bring any cash with us. We used an ATM at the airport to get out euros just in case, but for the most part, we used our cards everywhere we went. We could have used more outlet converters. Between charging our phones, camera, backup chargers and our hot tools we were playing musical chairs with the two converters we had.

TRAVELING + SLEEPING

Chlo flew from NY, I flew from XNA and we met in Paris at CDG. We knew that we wanted to spend 2/3 of our week in the South of France and our remaining time in Paris. We decided to fly rather than take a train from Paris to Nice, prices were comparable and the flight was obviously much faster. Against my dad’s (and everyone’s) advice, we decided to rent a car in Nice. Driving the rental ended up being one of our favorite parts, would highly recommend it, but GRAIN OF SALT. Also, the French drive on the same side of the road as in America and as long as you rent an automatic vehicle, driving is the exact same.

For our 4 nights in the South of France we decided to do an Airbnb in Antibes. This is a small coastal town about 30 min from Nice. We picked the location arbitrarily, (okay, because it was the prettiest Airbnb we found), but Antibes’ central location ended up being great for taking day trips.

IMG_5752.JPG
IMG_8847.JPG

To get back to Paris for the end of our trip, we booked an early flight out of Nice. We didn’t realize until we were at the airport that we were flying into two different airports in Paris (must get better at planning). We split and then met back up at our hotel, Hotel des Grandes Boulevard in the middle of Paris. We opted for a hotel rather than Airbnb in Paris because it felt safer and more convenient.

On the way home, Chloe and I parted ways once again... she flew through Helsinki (lol) and I flew through Vienna.

WEATHER

We booked our trip based on the first available week Chloe and I could both do, which happened to be mid April. In Antibes, we were talking with a local girl around our age who told us that it had rained for the previous 12 weeks, that our week was the first week it had been warm enough to beach, and that the season officially started in 2 weeks... meaning tourists pour in and everywhere is crazy crowded. So without planning, we somehow ended up with perfect weather and no crowds... everyone plan your trips in mid April!!!! (grain. of. salt.)

Paris was surprisingly hot! We walked everywhere one day and took cars the next because the heat wore us out.

SIGHTSEEING

In the South of France we explored Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Villefranche Sur Mer, Nice, Antibes, St. Tropez and Grasse. There is so much more we could’ve done, but we wanted to be leisurely with our time rather than cram a ton in. Again, having the car majorly helped with flexibility and being on our own time. Before leaving, I had a list of places we could go, but we didn’t have any concrete plans. We just woke up each morning and decided what we were in the mood for.

IMG_6059.JPG

In Paris, our leisurely attitudes didn’t work quite as well as they had when we were on beach time. Paris is a city, very beautiful, but still a city, so we probably could’ve used a little more structure (we were also delirious from our 5am flights). We visited the Pompidou, walked the Seine, stood outside the Louvre, meandered through St. Germaine, and obviously went to the Eiffel Tower. On a future trip, I would give myself more than two days here.

OVERALL

France is dreamy. It is the most magical, photogenic, history filled, romantic place I’ve ever been. Chloe and I both left with a high from getting to create, experience and capture with no limits. Throughout the trip we would try to stop and remind ourselves that the junior high versions of us would be freaking out that we were getting to do this.

So the psychic was right. The affinity is real. (she also told Kirsten that she would live a long and happy life and proceeded to tell me that I would live “not too long, not too short”...)

Working on posts with specifics from each place we visited... more to come!

xx, alex