Southern Blondie

Viva La France: Last Day in Nice

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It was our last day in Nice, so we had to do a few last, favorite things. The whole group met for lunch together at 'Le Cocodile'. I had some sort of cute salmon slider and beef carpaccio. I have a thing for raw meat at this restaurant. It was a bittersweet lunch knowing that we were going home soon, but also knowing that we would be leaving Nice. 

The guys went to a beach club to hang out for the day and Amy and I went shopping. I will say, it was SO hot, and I was so tired that I almost passed out in H&M. I had to find the boyfriend chair to sit while Amy got a pair of pants. After a bit of shopping, we grabbed some incredibly big waters and I immediately felt better. 

Luckily, we were close by the I LOVE NICE sign and stopped for a bit of a photoshoot.

This is the view from the I LOVE NICE sign. You can see the beaches of Nice, lots of people watching and the beautiful water. It really was as beautiful as it is in the photo. So clear you can see fish!

We decided we need a bit of a break on the walk back and found a cute bar at the top of a building to have a glass of rosè. Once we felt refreshed, we headed back to our favorite bar in Nice, Le Truc. Before that though, we did stop at a pharmacy to get a few beauty products that are cheaper in France.

When we made it back to Le Truc, the guys had already beaten us to the bar. (Shocker.) Rich and I had one last cheese board, and I tried to savor the truffle cheese with every bite. Nice was so beautiful and so lovely, with the best cheese that I don't think I'll ever forget this trip. 

After a few hours at Le Truc, we headed back to our Airbnb to grab our suitcases, headed to the airport and flew back from Nice to Paris. We had a hotel booked close to the airport and the next morning flew back from Paris to the United States. 

Flying back on Condor was just as wonderful as flying to Paris. Those little pillows in the seats really make all the difference when you're in the plane for 8-10 hours. 

It's time travel the weirdest thing? You know that you're getting on the plane at like two in the afternoon, but then you arrive back in the United States at like 6 p.m. in the evening. It's so strange to me how that works. 

This is what it looks like when you're excited about getting home soon. Again, really bittersweet because I would have loved to spend more time in France, but I was also ready to sleep in my own bed. 

I did love the little gifts from Condor. They had this yellow case filled with a mini toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, eye mask, and earplugs. The eye mask came in handy on the flight because I knew I had to get sleep since we were driving from New Orleans back to Little Rock. Rich had to work on Thursday and had law school class Thursday night. 

Luckily, I didn't have to work the next day so I could drive more than others. 

The Condor flight had delicious food, once again. They even had the cutest salt and pepper shaker that I have ever seen. I watched the movie Moana, and I can see where it's inspiring to young girls. I enjoy these new Disney movies where the strong leads are women! 

The drive from New Orleans to Little Rock was ROUGH leaving at 7 p.m. We all took turns driving. First me, then Rich, then Bobby, then back to me. Luckily during Bobby's shift and my last shift, Amy was awake and able to play podcasts to keep everyone awake (Except Rich and Marcus who slept back the last four hours...) We got back to Little Rock around 3 a.m.! 

The next morning I got up (or like 11 a.m.), the first things I had to unpack were all of my finds! I love looking at my souvenirs back from trips. (Don't worry the copper pot made it back too!) 

So, that's our trip. It was fun, exhausting, memorable, life-changing, romantic, chaotic, amazing, and the best thing ever all wrapped up in one. Thanks for reading along this journey. Now, back to the regular blog post! 

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Viva la France: Visiting Villefranche-sur-Mer and Organic Wine Tasting in Nice

Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

We only had two days left in Nice and decided to go out of the city to a little town called Villefranche-sur-Mer. It's a sleepy, little town outside of Nice. We slept in a bit after a long day in Monaco, grabbed an Uber (because I was too hungry to wait for a bus) and headed north.  As soon as we got there we had to get lunch because I was really hangry.

Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

We found a cute restaurant right by the marina called, "Newport."  I got a delicious pasta with a spicy marinara sauce, a glass of white wine (because it was SO HOT) and a European Coca-Cola. Rich got a really fancy dish of squid and octopus. Surprisingly, it was actually really good. 

Good thing he enjoyed the meal while we were in France because I doubt that I ever learn how to cook squid or octopus. After a full meal, we walked around the town for a bit to see all of its pretty colors, windows, and small streets. It's exactly what is in your mind when you think of a small French town. 

Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

All of that walking for about 30-minutes made us really thirsty, so it was time for our own happy hour. I mean, we were in France after all... 

Wine Pier, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

We went to a bar called, "Wine Pier" where we could watch boats, people and eat lots of chips. Again, I drank the white wine because it was just way too hot for me to drink red. We had booked a wine class that night so we just hung out for a few hours before heading back to Nice. 

We decided to take the bus from Villefranche-sur-Mer back to Nice and got lost. The only way we could get out of being below the Marina was to walk about 75 steps straight up. My booty was BURNING. It really didn't matter how much pasta or wine I consumed because all of the walking and steps just worked it all off. I actually think I lost a bit of weight once we got back and I de-puffed. 

Organic Wine Tasting in Nice, France

We had booked a two-hour Organic Wine Tasting in Nice through Tag Tours. The tour was about $40 per person and included 5 wines and a glass of champagne. (There were also free extra glasses if you really liked a bottle...) The Tour de France of Organic wine said it would help you get better knowledge about French wine and it really did. 

Organic Wine Tasting in Nice, France

Our sommelier was SO knowledgeable. He went through a map of France and showed us where each region of our wine we were drinking was grown and created. I LOVE sauvignon blanc so I knew I would probably love that one (spoiler alert: I did), but I also learned that I like rosè and pinot noir! Rich orders pinot noir a lot when we are having date nights, but I always stuck to a Malbec or cabs, now I'm really into pinot noirs. 

Organic Wine Tasting in Nice, France

We all started out with a glass of real champagne, from the region of, you guessed it, Champagne, France. After our champagne tour in Paris down the Seine River, I felt like I was already a pro at being able to discuss how it was created with the mixture of grapes, aging and how the bottles were moved to create the fizz.

Organic Wine Tasting in Nice, France

Here are our first three wines: 

Champagne Carte d'Or Brut NV 
This is a popular champagne from a small producer in France. It's a fresh, apple pie, and honey flavored Champagne that exudes class. 

Les Davantes de la Bonnelière AOC Touraine Blanc 2016 
100% Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is grown in a 3-hectare block of Clay and Limestone soils, this Touraine is macerated for 6 hours before fermentation. A great match to lighter goat cheeses and white fish dishes. 

AOC Côtes de Provence La Cuvée Camille Rosé 2016 
A blend of three types of grapes: Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah. The 'Cuvée Camille' is aged in tanks. The three grapes are fermented separately. Its color is light pink, with fin, delicate aroma of fruits. 

Organic Wine Tasting in Nice, France

Next, we moved on to the reds: 

Domaine Bersan AOC Côtes d'Auxerre Pinot Noir 2013 
Another lesser known regions, Pinot Noir is the sole variety in this red. Subtle tannins, rich red berry fruits, layers of minerality and a long and complex finish. 

Clos de Caveau AOC Vacqueyras Fruit Sauvage 2015 
You can taste the passion in this fabulously earthy Rhône red. A powerful licorice-scented red. Spicy Syrah delivers abundant fruits and a weight palate that carries the flavor for what seems like an eternity. 

Château Grand Français AOC Bordeaux Superior 2010 
A rich, ruby red color with an intense spice and vanilla nose. In the mouth, we have a smooth rich flavor of red fruits and layers of complexity added by the chalky tannins and spicy vanilla notes from the oak aging. 

My favorites were hands down the champagne, rosé, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir. I have never, ever liked licorice so the Syrah was awful to me, I actually gave my glass away. Bleh. 

Organic Wine Tasting in Nice, France

The Organic Wine Tasting was SO MUCH FUN. It was nice to just sit for a few hours and learn about one of the best things in the world, wine!  

Once the wine tour was over, we headed to meet our other friends who had done a bike riding wine tour that day. Their wine tour seemed like a lot of fun too - minus the whole bike riding thing. I really wanted to go on that one, but my body just couldn't handle a bike ride after all of the steps and walking. 

We met them at a fun bar-district in Old Town Nice. I was hungry and needed something to soak up all of the wine, so clearly, I found the classiest thing to eat... a good ole' hot dog.

Tell me that's not the best looking hot dog you've ever seen after a day of drinking a lot of wine? Believe me, it was my favorite word, DELICIOUS! 

Missed any of my posts from Viva La France? 
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VIva La France: Day Trip to Monaco


Sunday morning I woke up with a BIG pep in my step because we were going to go to Monaco for the day! I have always loved Princess Grace because of how beautiful she was and then how much good she did once she became a princess. Rich was excited because of the Monte Carlo casino. The day was beautiful, but I did not prepare for how HOT it was! 

We took the public bus right outside of Airbnb to the bus stop. Then, we got on another bus from Nice to Monaco. The bus system was pretty easy, but as I later learned, the city buses are not free and we kept riding them without paying. *Whoops!* I would feel badly, however, I spent A LOT of money in Nice so I think it's ok if I took a couple of bus rides on accident. 

I had been preparing for Monaco for weeks, and by that, I mean I had to find a good restaurant to eat lunch at while we were there and find a dress that I wanted to wear during the day. And don't worry ... I did on both counts. 

When we first arrived in Monaco, I already knew where we were going to eat lunch. At an Italian restaurant called La Salière in Monaco. The menu had so many options, but because something spoke to me when we sat down, I had to get the paccheri with meatballs, cherry tomatoes and pecorino cheese. Every. single. bite. was worth it. It's made me make homemade marinara sauce twice since we've gotten back from our trip. 

Yes, I am drinking white wine with pasta but it was too hot for me to drink red during this lunch. I was so hungry by the time that we got to La Salière that I ate it all. Then I took the bread and cleaned any sauce on my plate. I was so satisfied and full I could have just gotten back on the bus to head back to Nice at that point if it wasn't for the Prince's Palace!  

So, I wobbled along through the city until we made it to the Prince's Palace. It was a LONG way up the hill. There were a few times I had to stop to rest because there were SO many steps in Monaco. If you didn't have a good butt when you got there, you had a good butt when you left. 

The only good thing about all those steps were all the views! It was gorgeous everywhere you looked. The water was so blue and clear you could almost see through it if you looked down. It also made me feel very un-wealthy with all of the yachts everywhere you looked. 

After about a million steps, we found the Prince's Palace! We didn't take a tour inside, and I kind of regret it now, but it was so pretty out the outside. We even timed it just right and saw the changing of the guards. 

Those outfits are VERY white, and they also look very hot. It was a very proper ceremony, and one guard seemed to have a bit of a smile on his face. Wouldn't it be hard to keep a straight face when people are taking photos and videos of you just walking? We hung out at the Prince's Palace for a bit and look at all of the views and people watched. I also had to do some shopping. 

This print was only around $5 and honestly, I would have paid more. I loved it when I first saw it. It was the best souvenir to buy from Monaco that day. 

After we left the palace, we headed towards Monte Carlo. Did I mention how hot it was? I thought I was going to melt into a puddle because there were NO clouds to cover the hot sun. 

Because this was probably my one and only time in Monaco, I really wanted to be in the moment and be as present as possible with Rich. Even if I was whining because it was hot, we had a wonderful lunch, got to see so many cool things, visited the Prince's Palace, and even went inside Monte Carlo. It's SO grand! Everything about it is gorgeous! 

Rich got to play the slot machines though we couldn't go into the larger casino area because of our attire. He even won! I think we walked away with 3 more euro than we walked in with, which was fine to me because that was bus money to get back to nice! 

When I say it was grand, I mean, it was GRAND. Inside the casino you could see large crystal chandeliers, gold everything, and the fanciest bar I have ever seen. The security was very tight though, just to go inside the slot machine area I had to get my bags checked and held by coat check. Sadly and understandably, photos are a big no-no. 

It was SUCH a fun day and everything that I had hoped it to be! After Monte Carlo we headed back to Nice. The buses stop running from Monaco to Nice around 7:30/8 pm in the evening and we didn't want to leave on the last bus in case there wasn't enough room. 

When we got back to Nice we went back to the Airbnb and relaxed for a bit before going to Old Town Nice for dinner at a Portuguese restaurant. After dinner, we headed back to our favorite Le Truc bar! Monaco was one of my favorite days of our adventure and I'm so glad that I was present in the moment. 

Missed any of my posts from Viva La France? 
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Viva La France: Nice

Part of our France trip was to visit Paris for a few days, then headed off to Nice for a few days as well! Since I had never been to the South of France, I was excited that we had booked the train from Paris to Nice.


I think I am a train person. I'm not much into flying because it gives me anxiety (even though I almost quit college at 19 to become a flight attendant). On a train, you can pack as much as you want, you can get up and walk around, you can carry on your own food, and there are no scary landings. 


AND... you can even have a picnic on the train! What I have shown you here is what I am calling a French hot dog. It's a baguette, salami, and cheese. 

We all really enjoyed our train ride! Amy and I sat on one side of the train (heading towards Nice) and Rich and Bobby sat on the other side. I get major car/train/plane sick if I'm sitting on the wrong side and going backward. Though, I did pick up those motion sickness wrist bands from Walgreens and wore them a few times on the trip and never felt queazy! 

It's about 5 1/2 hours from Paris to Nice on the train. There are beautiful country sides to look at, beautiful ocean views, and a bar cart to get wine or snacks. It's really where I excel the best in terms of travel. 

After we arrived in Nice, we got an Uber to our Airbnb and had an AMAZING view! 

We had a balcony overlooking the water which was perfect! I really love a good balcony and a good view. Living in Arkansas, I can have terrible allergies and my allergies never bothered me once in France... maybe I should just live in France a few months of the year?

By this time it was dinner time and we were all a bit hungry. Don't worry though, I had already looked up several restaurants and found one in close walking distance to our Airbnb. 

We went to Auberge Saint Antoine where we had delicious pizza, salad, and gelato. It was such an easy dinner after an easy afternoon train ride. After our dinner, we walked by a market store to pick up some wine before some of us headed back to the Airbnb. 

Rich, Amy and I decided to go put our feet in the water to say we had been on the beach of the South of France. 

This is what being happy, full and tired all looks like at once. We only hung out for a bit before going back to our balcony to enjoy a little bit more of the evening. 

Saturday morning when we got up everyone split up a bit. Some went to go have a beach day, while Rich and I decided to go explore Old Town in Nice. 

Of course, before you can go explore anything in France I believe it's important to be well hydrated. We found a really delicious restaurant called, 'Le Cocodile'. It was on our way from our Airbnb to Old Town. 

Now, I ordered the steak tartare which is basically raw meat. Yes, to some this might be disgusting, but personally, I like it. When I ordered it, our waiter asked me, "Do you know what this is? This is raw meat." To which I replied, "Yes, I do. I like it." So he told me that he would make it special for me. 

I wasn't sure what special was until he brought it out... he meant he was going to shape it into a heart for me. So I had a big slab of raw meat shaped into a heart for me in France. It's really the little things in life that I appreciate the most, you know? 

Because it was Saturday in Old Town, it was the market day. There were tons and tons of booths with people selling lots of fun and interesting things. Rich really isn't the shopper type, but both of us enjoyed walking and seeing what the town had to offer.

I will say that the weather in Paris in August was really nice, but the weather in Nice was HOT. I mean, sweating from all of my body parts HOT. At one point we had to stop at a cafe so we could both get a little more hydrated. I remember I had a Coca-Cola at the cafe and it was the BEST tasting soda I have ever had in my entire life at that moment. 

Once we had a mini-break, we walked through the little streets of Old Town some more. Every street is full of shops, restaurants and so many cool things. We walked by one store that was just full of jelly beans but the store was Pirate themed. Another store was a cell phone case store but had animal statues in it. There was plenty to see and plenty to eat. 

After a few hours, we decided to head back to our Airbnb. Our plan was to go pick up cheese, meats, and wine and go have a picnic on the balcony of the Airbnb and just relax. It had been a long few days, and there were still a few days in front of us, we were just going to take it easy the rest of the evening. 

We were walking back when we passed by this fun man with a crown of horses. I have no idea what this man represents or what he is for (If I was that worried I could just Google it) but a family was taking a photo in front of it, so I offered to take it for them so that everyone could be in the picture. The nice family then offered to take our photo, which I appreciated because how many photos in life will you have in front of a naked man with a horse crown?

We had talked about finding some sort of cheese tour in Nice, but honestly, none of them were worth the money. So instead, I did my research and found a delicious cheese store where we could get a TON of cheese for around $20. 

So we went to Fromagerie du Carre d'Or where they do speak enough English to help you find the right cheeses. And they helped us pick out some of the most delicious cheese I have ever tried. What were they? No idea anymore, and I didn't take any photos of them, but I have the memories.

We had the cheese, we went and grabbed some prosciutto and salami from a local market and were headed to the Airbnb when we stumbled upon a bar called Le Truc

We were hot, we were tired and we were thirsty. We had just spent 30 minutes finding cheese and meats and were still a half mile away from the Airbnb. It just seemed like the right thing to do to stop at this bar for a glass of wine or several and cool off. 

Again. It was very hot outside. I already knew that I had some sort of sunburn so I was really protecting myself from more sun damage by having a glass of rosé. 

We also ordered a charcuterie board because why not? Yes, we had spent 30 minutes to make our own, but this one was already made and I needed a snack. Also, we were in France, why was I going to worry about a few calories? 

There was a peppery salami, a truffle cheese, some sort of black pepper cheese, and chorizo. There was also some fresh bread. We liked this place so much that we returned twice more during our trip. We hung out here for a long time actually. So long that the rest of the group came to meet up with us. Now, at this point, I was sunburned, exhausted and had had enough wine for me. So Rich and I left to go back to the Airbnb and the rest of the group went to get dinner. 

After a little rest and a shower, Rich and I did have our own picnic with the cheese and meats that we bought. So on this day, I ate raw meat, French fries, and a lot, a lot, a lot of cheese. 

Isn't vacation where you live your best life?? After we ate our own, let's call it dinner, it was time for bed for me. We were getting up the next day to go to Monaco so I wanted to feel 100%! 

Stay tuned - our day trip to Monaco is next on the blog! 

Missed any of our posts from Paris? Catch up here: 
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