Slice of My Life – A Month in France

July 17, 2012

Hello Friends.  I have missed writing my slice of life posts.  I have missed sharing the silly little photos (and some not so silly) that represent my week.  I thought about just picking up where I left off, ignoring, for the moment, that I just spent a month in France.  But last week consisted of a 10½ hour flight back from Paris, jet lag, coming back to a house that I dearly love and that now seems palatial, and going through this house, room by room, purging us of excess stuff that we have accumulated in 5½ years.  And then an impromptu trip to Lopez Island.  It has already been a week of relief (so nice to be home), sadness (how can we leave this city and that island?), and being overwhelmed (will we find a house in Oakland? are we doing the right thing? will the moving part of the move ever be over?).  In other words, not a week to share in photos.

So, I’ll share my month is France instead.  To make it a little simpler for myself, these are all photos I took with my phone.  If you follow me on Instagram (I’m @danatreat), you might have already seen some of these.

In case you didn’t read this post, we stayed three weeks in a lovely town called Cagnes-sur-Mer.  We found our place using VRBO.  It’s the one with the red flowers.

This was the view from the tiny deck off the third floor.  (Yes, three floors, but each one had two small rooms.)

Cagnes-sur-Mer really consists of three parts and we lived in Haut de Cagnes, or high up on the hill.  There were four or five restaurants up there with a beautiful courtyard and a boule court over to one side.  The view was spectacular.  We tried a Vietnamese place (fair) and ate several times at a pizza place (good).  The boys could come sit for a few bites and then run around.  It was ideal.

Our days on the Côte d’Azur went one of two ways.  We either did a beach day in our town or we piled into the car for an adventure.  Either way, each morning the boys and I would walk down our steep hill to one of the two bakeries we liked best.  (There were at least five others in our little town.)  I would buy the days’ first baguette and they would get a treat.  Sometimes we would walk back up the hill and sometimes we would wait for the little bus to take us back up.

(This photo is actually taken at the little stop across the street from our place.)

Beach days included slathering on lots of sunscreen and then loading up our bag for the half hour walk to the beach.  It was HOT, especially the second two of the three weeks we were there.  But the breeze at the beach was lovely and the temperature of the water was perfect.  The boys would spend hours looking for sea glass, playing games with rocks and sticks, and playing in the waves.

The snack shack at my childhood neighborhood pool had things like Fudgesicles and bad frozen pizza.  This guy had crèpes, delicious paninis, freshly made salads, and amazing granitas.  When they were going to get their “drink” became a point of obsession on beach days.

Orange was their favorite.

If it was an adventure day, we walked down to the town parking lot and loaded up in our rental Peugot.  We always brought Veronique – the France friendly GPS sister to our American Veronica in our car at home.  Veronique made driving and finding our way around about as un-stressful as driving around an unfamiliar, and very crowded, region can be.  We would pick a place we wanted to visit and let her guide us there.  Mountain towns, beach towns, large cities, small villages – we saw a lot.

Vence was one of the first places we visited and it remains one of our favorite towns.  This was the only cloudy day in three weeks.

I mentioned this in my last post but this is the Matisse chapel.  No photos were allowed inside.  It is magical there.

Windy back roads and the view of Nice from on high.  Our poor boys walked with us all the way up on a very hot day but we rewarded them with this.

I had never seen a carousel as pretty as this one.

We spent a day gaping at the beauty and wealth in Monaco.  They have a terrific aquarium there but honestly, I don’t feel a need to go back.

Probably my favorite thing we did was drive to St. Raphaël and then catch a ferry to St. Tropez.  St. Tropez is on a peninsula so it is difficult to access by car.  We knew it would be ritzy and it was but it was also small and charming and very beautiful.  It was over 100ºF that day but ducking in and out of gorgeous (and blissfully air conditioned) shops made it bearable.  As did ice cream.

The ferry back.

We went to so many sweet towns.  This one was on our way to Cap Ferrat – Villefranche sur Mer.  We ate over-priced pizza and just stared at the view.

We saw a lot of art on our trip.  Matisse is prevalent throughout small towns along the Côte d’Azur and there is a particularly lovely museum in Nice.  There was a Renoir museum in our town and we loved the Chagall mueseum, also in Nice.  I had a poster of this painting on my wall throughout college, so seeing it in person was a real treat.

The boys were relatively patient on our adventures.  Not that there wasn’t complaining.  We had to keep reminding ourselves that they are 7 and 5 years old and wandering through mountain towns in search of table linens is not really what they wanted to be doing.  So in addition to the beach days, we did two days at water parks – Aqualand and Aquasplash.  If you ask the boys, this was their favorite thing we did in France.

I just have to include this photo of Spencer.  This was our view of him for much of this vacation.  Long board shorts and just a peek of butt crack.  No matter how many times we pulled up his bathing suit, this was how it looked.

On many days, the walk back up the hill, or the ride up in a hot and crowded bus, was just too much to face.  So we would pause in the town square and enjoy a  beer (or an apple juice).

After three weeks, our time in southern France came to an end.  We celebrated our last night by getting dressed up and eating dinner at our favorite place on the top of the hill.

And then we went to Paris.

Where we rode the ferris wheel in the Tuileries.

Which is right next to the Louvre.

We went to Euro Disney – the boys’ first trip to a Disneyland park.

We went to the Musée d’Orsay where the boys lasted a full two hours before staging a full-on protest.

We ate felafel.  For an hour after lunch, Graham kept exclaiming, “That was SO GOOD!”  I was a proud mama.  Even Spencer said, “I tried that brown thing and it tasted good.”

This was our view from the living room window.

And this was the last picture I took before we slept our last night in France.


  1. I ate up every single one of those pictures. Thank you for taking me with you! I’m so delighted you had a wonderful trip. What a fun and brave thing to do with the wee ones. You are my inspiration. I really hope you enjoy the Bay Area. I am down there often as we have a little apartment in SF and would love to see you there!

    Comment by A Chow Life — July 17, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

  2. Oh goodness, how wonderful. You look so happy and the boys look SO GROWN UP.
    I’m glad you got to have such a unique experience. My brother and I traveled a lot when we were young and it changes you. Even though we didn’t love everything at the time, those memories are some of our family’s favorites.

    Comment by tea_austen — July 17, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

  3. I love every single one of those photos. I felt like I was there with you on you trip! What a fabulous time. Can’t wait to see you down here in SF…

    Comment by Irvin @ Eat the Love — July 17, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

  4. Thank you for sharing a tiny bit of your adventure.
    I think you’ve mentioned twice, that I remember, about Spencer and his butt crack. It’s made me smile both times because we have the very same view of the back of our 5 year old. :)

    Comment by Ali — July 17, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

  5. What an absolutely top holiday. Great memories to have too. I hope the move goes well.

    Comment by Jacqueline — July 17, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

  6. “We went to the Musée d’Orsay where the boys lasted a full two hours before staging a full-on protest.” My favorite line. I will miss you guys TERRIBLY.


    Comment by Catherine — July 17, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

  7. Loved going along on this trip with you via Instagram, and I am so happy that y’all had a chance to do it as a family. What fun!! Do have to admit … I was a bit jealous, especially the Paris part. I feel like the boys grew so much this trip as every photo they look taller and taller, especially Graham.

    Comment by Denise — July 17, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

  8. LOVE the photos! Gorgeous, each one. Especially the boys hugging w/ the bike in the foreground. What a nice vacation before your next adventure (San Fran!!).

    Comment by stacey snacks — July 18, 2012 @ 12:18 am

  9. Thanks so much of the tour of southern France – looks like you had a lovely time. But I have to say my favorite is Spencer because I have a back view like that as well – no matter what swim suit my 6 yr old boy is wearing….Good luck with the packing – it will end at some point (and at some point you will just start packing and not so much of the sorting).

    Comment by Charlotte — July 18, 2012 @ 12:19 am

  10. Amazing. What a magical trip for everyone (including those of us watching from afar). I promise you that this is one of the best things you will have ever done for each other, for the boys, and for the family as a whole. These types of life experiences forge bonds between parents and children that can never be broken and turn otherwise wonderful, curious, sweet children into great, amazing, worldly, compassionate adults with an understanding of humanity and their unique place in the world.


    Comment by Jeff Coop — July 18, 2012 @ 1:23 am

  11. What an amazing trip! I am so glad you got to have some time away before the craziness sets in.

    Comment by Kelly — July 18, 2012 @ 3:26 am

  12. What an amazing trip to share with the family. There is nothing like immersing yourself in the culture. The last time I was in Monaco it was 1977, so it has changed….

    Comment by bellini — July 18, 2012 @ 4:20 am

  13. I just can’t believe you LIVED among all of this for a month! Amazing.

    Comment by Joanne — July 18, 2012 @ 4:28 am

  14. Oh Dana, your trip photos and stories are wonderful! I almost felt like I was there (or at least wish I was). I can’t believe you are moving! And that we haven’t met yet!!! Oakland will be fine, I’m sure. Look at that happy family of yours, you’ll be fine. Take it in stride, with a little butt crack along the way (too cute!)

    Comment by kickpleat — July 18, 2012 @ 5:41 am

  15. Dana, I wanted to tell you now much I loved following your Instagram photos for the past couple of weeks- your vacation looks marvellous! Very jealous of all your French adventures, but I’m sure there are many more to come in SF! xo

    Comment by Ele — July 18, 2012 @ 8:25 am

  16. Thanks a lot for posting about your trip. What a wonderful vacation!
    Good luck on your move!!

    Comment by Elli — July 19, 2012 @ 3:21 am

  17. Fabulous post! Not sure which photo would be my favorite, I have a soft spot for black and white photography, so the last one melt my heart.

    Loved your purple dress, you’ve got the perfect upper body to show off in that style… beautiful!

    great tour, made me miss my home away from home, we gotta go back soon

    Comment by SallyBR — July 19, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

  18. A virtual trip to France just made for a delightful afternoon break. Beautiful photos!

    Comment by lisaiscooking — July 19, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

  19. What a wonderful trip… Loved seeing all of your photos!

    Comment by Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — July 20, 2012 @ 11:45 am

  20. dana-
    what a post. I read it once, glanced at it again, then yet again just to see the photos again.
    you were brave to go during that time–its so hot.
    the bread, the yogurt, the water (hate all the rocks tho) all perfect.
    thanks for sharing

    Comment by vanillasugarblog — July 20, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

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