A bucket list vacation to the French Riviera was everything and more than I expected. Beautiful scenery,great wine and food, but it was more than that, we really got a glimpse of the culture and what everyday life looks like for the french that live in the small quaint towns in the region. Life moves at a much slower pace and the people take time to visit with one another,often times with a complete stranger, even a tourist. Our first stop was the town of Arles, where we stayed and made day trips to visit  the surrounding areas of Nimes, Orange and Avignon.IMG_1422

Hotel Particular did not look like much from a small street that resembled an alley, but beyond the door was a hidden paradise that we would call home for the next 3 days. A quaint hotel with few rooms to rent was the perfect start to this incredible vacation.

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Our first morning on the streets in Arles took us to this locally owned bakery and coffee shop. The umbrellas overhead, strung across the street between the buildings added a unique touch that matched the bakery where  we dined. We quickly learned that this was the local hang out to which many stopped by to grab a cup of coffee and a pastry to start their day. Some stayed and talked with the owner while others picked up orders and headed off to work. We were the lucky ones, watching them go about their daily routines while planning a day of adventure.

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Our adventure begins..IMG_1715

There is nothing like a fresh chocolate croissant and a hot cappuccino for breakfast.IMG_1131

The arena 

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The entrance halls around the arena…

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Just outside of Nimes is this amazing aqueduct,  Ponte de’ Gard The pictures are good but, don’t capture the overall size.

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Day trip to Avignon…

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The street of the dyers, water was used for their industry of dyeing. Below is a little bit of history about the need for the dyeing process used for denim.

NIMES; The city derives its name from that of a spring in the Roman village. The contemporary coat of arms of the city of Nîmes includes a crocodile chained to a palm tree . Nîmes is located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Cévennes mountains. The estimated population is 146 709 (2012).  An interesting fact ; The name “denim” derives from French serge de Nîmes, meaning “serge from Nîmes”. Denim was traditionally colored blue with indigo dye to make blue jeans, although “jean” formerly denoted a different, lighter, cotton fabric. The contemporary use of the word “jeans” comes from the French word for Genoa, Italy (Gênes), where the first denim trousers were made. Denim has been used in the USA since the mid 19th century. It was introduced to California by Levi Strauss, who—in 1853, during the California Gold Rush—imported denim fabric from France and used it to create sturdy, solid trousers.                                                                                 I personally am very thankful to the French for Denim, who doesn’t love to live in their blue jeans!

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The amphitheater in Orange is still in use today … We weren’t able to catch a performance but we did enjoy dinner at the theatre restaurant which was carved out at the base of the stone walls surrounding the theatre. It was an amazing experience.IMG_1266

Here’s to the end of an amazing day !

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Changing Locations ; Carccassone ,France – An old city inside the walls ,while outside the walls, a thriving city grows. Hilltop Carcassonne, in southern France’s Languedoc region, is a medieval citadel famous for its 53 watchtowers and double-walled fortifications. The first walls of the upper town, Le Cité, were built in Gallo-Roman times; major additions were made in the 13th and 14th centuries. We stayed inside the walls at Hotel De Le Cite’. The little village inside the walls had every kind of shop and restaurant you could imagine! IMG_1664

The bridge that connects the old to the new…

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Not a bad view from the top the deck of our hotel.

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The sun sets on another day in France…

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A day of exploring outside the city walls…

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Life inside the walls…IMG_1549

Tomorrow we move on to Nice and Monaco.

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A beautiful day for sight seeing in Nice.

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Our first stop was an open air market with gorgeous produce for the picking… The strawberries tasted like pure sugar! IMG_1741

Who could resist fresh flowers from the market?

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I don’t think I would ever get tired of seeing this view. The cote de azure-sea of blue is really this blue in person- no filters.IMG_1719

An afternoon snack was in order after all the walking today. Yum! Macaroons please! A day trip to Monaco tomorrow.

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Monaco… Monte Carlo

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Monaco…The Yachts!

Casino Monte-Carlo The visit would not be complete without stopping in this well known casino.

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The Cote De Azure, Nice.France . (aka, The French Riviera)

Our last destination, Eze,France, which for me, was the best part of the trip. It was all beautiful with breathtaking views but the small town of Eze is a special place. Best known for their perfume making, Eze sits high on a hill that boasts incredible views and sunsets. The hotel Chateau Chèvre d’or is a must see and worth splurging for, at least one night. It is unlike any place you will ever stay in France. The hotel sits atop the hill surrounding a garden and a small village with shops and restaurants.IMG_1989This view is looking back up at the hotel from one of the many terraces.

IMG_1988View from a hotel terrace…

IMG_1997I literally could not take enough pictures of this place to express it’s beauty and unique setting.

IMG_1905A climb through the gardens on property .IMG_1891Here we are being escorted to our room which is in the village itself. No two rooms are the same. We were actually beside a women’s boutique.  hee here ! How did they know ?

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The last few days were a little more relaxing than the first part of the trip, and it was much needed! At this point, we had put 150 miles on the fitbit our friends had so religiously worn and my body was starting to feel the affects of it.  Time to go home… Au revoir!

I want to leave you with a few tips for packing when traveling abroad to multiple locations. I found it most useful to have my outfits packed for each day and location separated into  small zip travel bags. This allowed for ease of unpacking when we arrived at each location. I also preferred to wear dresses over pants as it was easy to pack more changes of clothes. I did wear some pieces more than once but changed them up with scarves or jackets each time. I took minimal jewelry and comfortable footwear, allowing myself one pair of heels for special evenings. I found that a purse backpack worked well for daytime while a small clutch was good for evenings. Take a look at just a few of the things I packed.

Casual khaki dress for sightseeing , Dress for dinner, Stripe knit dress for sightseeing, Culottes for dinner, and a  lace dress for every occasion.  Click the links to view and shop for your next European vacation!