Just up the road from the beaches of Cannes and Antibes stands St Paul de Vence, a medieval walled city on a hill, with gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside. Founded in 1388, St Paul de Vence developed into a retreat for artists in the mid-20th century, with famous names like Chagall, Matisse and Picasso spending time painting there. St Paul de Vence is surrounded by a city wall, complete with battlements and a cannon facing the main entrance.  It was an important fortification for France in medieval times, and the excellent sight lines that led to its selection as a fort make for some beautiful views today.  The town’s layout of meandering cobblestone streets seems unchanged from that time, and one can happily wander around from art gallery to coffee shop, to gelato stand, to church, to another art gallery, and so on. At the back of the city stands…Continue Reading
Nice is known for being a romantic destination and a relaxing getaway by the Mediterranean.  But it also is a lot of fun with kids, as we found out. We started with a train ride through Nice on the Petit Train de Nice (Little Train), which is just a series of cars connected to a lead car shaped like a train that takes you around the city.  It took us through the streets of the old town and to the Chateau on the hill (or Castle Hill), which has gardens and amazing views of the city and sea.  The kids enjoyed the ride, and it gave Rich and me a chance to understand the layout of the old town of Nice. Train rides last about 45 minutes with a ten minute stop at the Chateau on the hill. A headphone commentary is available in French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian and Japanese.  Get on…Continue Reading
Effile Tower
We only had a few days left before we met up with a family member in Germany, so we decided on a whirlwind tour of Paris.  We rode the bullet train from Nice and booked a cute loft in the Latin Quarter.  It’s a dangerous spot: there are multiple Boulangeries full of decadent treats within a minute’s walk! On our first day in Paris we heard something from the boys that we never thought we would hear.  “That was so much fun!” they said.  They were not talking about a visit up the Eiffel Tower or a Ferris wheel ride in the park.  They were talking about the our visit to the Louvre! We went on a private family tour with “Paris Muse,” which bypassed the awfully long line and took us on a top-secret mission through the museum.  Our guide, Anya, was a young New Yorker who was great with the kids.  She kept…Continue Reading
It was a little rainy so we decided to drive to Monaco for the day.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was really blown away by it.  It’s so clean, so picturesque and so friendly.  It’s surrounded by mountains (and France)  and built up around a harbor full of the largest yachts we have ever seen. The streets are so clean and every intersection has a smiling and helpful police officer.  Monaco has 1 officer for every 60 residents! We toured the Palace, where the Prince resides.  It was fun to tour a real palace after visiting so many ruins.  The kids enjoyed the throne room, which Prince Albert II still uses, and Rich and I loved all the amazing artwork.  Harrison was enthralled by the Arms Room, which showcases guns from the 1600s right up to the present, including actual machine guns from World War II. After the palace tour…Continue Reading
We have discovered the exclusive world of the private French beach, and we will never be the same again.  Comfy lounge chairs and umbrellas, white sparkling sand, blue Mediterranean water and a smooth French waiter who follows every sentence with “it’s no bother.” Tall cold drinks decorated with fruit, plates of cheese, tuna tartare, salad niçoise, and some warm baguettes all served in wicker baskets.  Gentle lapping waves with yachts bigger than my house in the background. Ah, heaven! Here are a few of the family-friendly beaches on the Côte d’Azur: Cannes Cannes has one of the most famous (and expensive) beaches, but it lives up to the hype for beauty.  You have to park in a city parking lot a few blocks off the beach and then walk to the water and choose which restaurant/beach you want.  If you eat at a restaurant, you get to use their beach for the day. Vegaluna This private beach is centrally…Continue Reading
Uber Paris
The trip to Nice was easy but finding our villa was the challenge.  We landed in Nice at 9 pm and began our long journey to our villa.  The first challenge was to pick up the rental car.  Not an easy task in Nice.  First you have to find the rental car agencies.  Rich can read French but the signs were less than helpful.  The information desk was empty, not an airport employee in site.  We finally figured out that we need to change terminals, which is done via bus.  So we waited for an eternity and boarded our bus.  Next stop: Terminal One, but no rental cars.  After a few minutes, Rich was able to find a sign leading us on a path through two parking garages, over a bridge, down a dark path to the car rental building.  We grabbed our car, remembered how to drive on the…Continue Reading