Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Menton, France Trip: July 12-14

Saturday July 12
We arrived in Menton around 3 pm on Saturday July 12. Marion woke up from her nap in her carseat as we pulled onto the main road along the sea. She woke up, rubbed her eyes, looked out the window, and said, "Look Mommy! Big pool! And sandbox!" Also known as the Mediterranean Sea and the beach.

The flat we are renting is on a narrow street in the old section of Menton. It's a bit difficult to get to but we found it after some help from Garmin and notes from the owner. The street itself is closed off to cars so we parked, unloaded our bags, and walked approximately 35 steps from the entrance.
View of the street from the entrance to our flat.
We were a bit early but were told we could drop off our bags before moving our car to a permanent parking spot for the week. So we let ourselves in, dropped off our bags, and headed out to find a parking spot.

This was a little more difficult than finding our apartment. First of all, the street we drove in on is a narrow one lane street. So I had to either back up the entire winding drive down or turn around in my ten year old station wagon (not the best turning radius). Very frustrating. But I found a spot and, after some cursing under my breath, turned the car around and navigated to the end of the street. We had some trouble locating the parking spot mentioned in the flat paperwork and ended up wandering around the streets of Menton. We finally made our way back and found the road we could park on for free. We found a spot that was very tiny but I showed off my master parallel parking skills and got the station wagon in there.

After parking we unloaded the rest of our bags and made the trek up to the apartment. And when I say trek, I mean trek. I just realized I don't have a picture of these stairs. I need one. I felt like I was going to pass out by the time we got to the top.

We made it back to the flat (without passing out) and decided it was time to get groceries. The owner had told us about two grocery stores. One smaller and closer, the other larger and farther away. We picked closer and headed in that direction after reviving ourselves after the climb. This time we took Marion in a carrier, much easier to carry her this way.
We settled into the apartment after picking up groceries- unpacking and such. Boring stuff. But we also admired the flat. The main living area has a great fresco on the ceiling, found by the owners during renovations.
After a long, exhausting, fairly uneventful day, we all headed to bed, ready for a day at the beach on Sunday.

Sunday July 13
We spent Sunday morning at the beach. Since it was our first trip to the beach, I decided to leave the camera at home. So sadly, no pictures from this trip.

When we arrived we realized that part of the beach is sand and the other part, closer to the water, consists of pebbles. Considering Marion was not a fan of the ocean the last time we went to the beach and that she has loved playing in the sandbox at the playground near our house, we chose to set up camp on the sand.

But that Marion, she always likes to throw us for a loop. Marion loved the water. We spent the rest of our morning chasing her from our towels to the water, dodging people along the way.

Yes, dodging. It is amazing to me how close people set up camp next to each other. You can kind of tell from this picture I took of a beach around the corner from us later in the day.
People literally set up their things within two feet of each other. And they all crowd right on top of the water. But if you walk by and kick up sand or pebbles, they give you a look. Do you know how hard it is to run after a toddler while dodging sunbathers and not kick up anything? Not easy. I was excusing the two of us all over the place.

Anyway, Marion spent much of her time in the water. We dragged her away to go get some lunch. Another problem, most of the restaurants don't open for lunch until noon. So we decided to try out Bar Du Cap at the bottom of our street.

I'm glad we did. The food was great, the sangria was even better, and did I mention they are open before noon? We've been back twice since. Colleen and I really like the place. And their sangria.

After lunch it was time for Marion's nap. And mine.

When Marion woke up we decided to explore a bit before dinner. We walked past the Basilica
along the water
and found a playground.

Queen of the world!

Then we walked back to the flat, stopping for gelato on the way.

Monday July 14
Monday we decided to head into Nice and see the Matisse Museum.

On our way to the train station, we realized it was Bastille Day, a French national holiday. The town was decorated and ready for a celebration. We had a feeling we weren't going to sleep until late that night.

We arrived at the museum a little before 11 am. Here's my advice: if you are going to go to Nice with a toddler who loves her naps and gets cranky when tired, try to go as early as possible. It took us some time to get out of the flat, find the train station, and then we had to wait for the train. As a result, we only spent about an hour in Nice.

However, that was plenty of time to spend at the museum. It really was nice and Colleen and I learned more about Matisse. For example, neither one of us knew that he did still lifes or models. Really, my knowledge of Matisse was limited to paper cut outs and abstract art. And now I know why. I couldn't find an example of his early, realistic style of painting anywhere online.

Anyway, Colleen and I enjoyed ourselves. Marion kept asking to go outside.

After our trip to the museum, we headed back to the train station to wait for our train (it was delayed). While waiting, we met a couple from Columbia, MD. Odd, considering Brian's recent encounter. Another reminder just how small this world is.

Finally our train departed and Marion was happy. This girl loves her trains.

Our train ride back to Menton was uneventful, however our walk back to the flat was not. We heard thunder, saw dark clouds, and practically ran back to beat the rain. However, I did stop to get this picture.Different language, same meaning. Another universal item!

We made it back to the flat before the downpour and put Marion to bed. She was so exhausted she didn't even fight it.

It stopped raining by the time she woke up so we decided to head down to the beach. It was pretty empty due to everyone leaving to avoid the rain.
This time we set up shop right on the water's edge. And Marion threw us another curve ball. This was not the same child as the day before. She was hesitant about the water and the pebbles.

We figured that the waves that had appeared (probably from the storm) didn't help and hoped for the best.

It wasn't long before she was loving life in the water again.

She even walked out to Colleen in the water, right up until she couldn't stand anymore!
Afterwards, Colleen and I decided we wanted some sangria so we headed back to Bar Du Cap. Marion wanted milk. She was very clear about it.
A little bit later, the sangria and milk were gone and we walked back to our flat to make dinner. Marion then went to bed. Colleen and I followed shortly, exhausted from our day.

But it was Bastille Day and we were right earlier in the day, we weren't going to bed until late in the night. Random fireworks started early, but the big show didn't start until 10:30ish. Positive side of being kept up late: the show was right outside of our flat so we had a great view.


caitlin said...

WOW! I feel like you are living the life of a movie star ;) I want to visit!

Hoppy said...

Your vacation looks great, not to mention the fireworks!!! Wish we were there!!! There is a certain universality about trains.... ran into a 2-1/2-year old today at lunch. He said hi, then showed me his Thomas the Tank Engine shoes and talked about his choo-choo train he has. He even did the sound of the train for me. Reminded me of Marion. Enjoy the Sangria!!

Lisa Kidd said...

I agree with Caitlin! It sounds like you are having a blast. I want to come too!

Lisa said...

I want to be there, I really do! I'm so glad you're getting to so many fabulous places!

Jessica said...

Ooh this looks lovely. I am definately going to have to take a trip to Menton! Great photos as usual! And I love those chubby little legs... Marion's of course! ;)

Libby said...

Can I tell you how jealous I am of all of the adventures that you and Marion are having? I have never left the US other to go to the Caribean and I am just drooling over your pictures - it's so beautiful and what an opportunity for you all!

mrsmac said...

cait- anytime!

hoppy- also, anytime. marion is dying to see you!

lisa- we would love visitors! maybe you could come with cait? :-)

lisa- thanks! i'm jealous of your honeymoon trip, can't wait to hear about that!

jessica- you should totally go! let me know if you want the info on the flat we rented.

libby- thanks!