Posts filed under southern france

Pack Your Bags | La Rotonde at Le Negresco, Nice

I wrote this post on May 6, but hadn't had the chance to edit the photos for it until this week. When the Bastille Day attack happend in Nice, I was sick to my stomach. The attacks were in front of the Negresco Hotel, and the rooms we were in and took hilarious pictures of Harrison were now triage areas for the wounded victims of this senseless event.

While I don't speak about these kind of events online, please don't mistake that for a lack of recognition of what is happening in the world around us. I endlessly read and observe what is taking place. When I wake up to these horrific headlines, I feel them deeply.

And while I do feel fearful at times and unsure of being in certain places, I realize that fear is a bigger enemy than any terrorist group. So I keep going. And I want to encourage you to keep going, too. Keep living lives that are full and joyful and rich. Keep exploring God's gorgeous world without the fear of "Yeah, but what if?" And, please, go to France. Enjoy la vie en rose at a cafe in Paris, the coastlines of Normandy and the light-heartedness of the Riviera. Don't let dark times snuff out the brightness of great cultures and places. And if and when you find yourself enjoying the sunshine of Nice, I hope you'll find joy in this place like we so recently did, too.


 

Our semester in France ended in Nice, on the dazzling coastline of the French Riviera. Nice definitely lives up to its name. From the sunny climate, the lush gardens and easy-going culture which feels, unsuprisingly due to its location on the border of Italy, somewhat of the love child of France + Italy- Nice lends itself to a rather pleasant place to find oneself.

After the last official day of the semester, we found ourselves with one last day in town. With nothing other than unwinding on the agenda, we decided it was time to treat our kids to something special. (After a few months of having them submit to our crazy schedule, it was the least we could do.)

If you followed our France time on Instagram, you'll probably have noticed my kids have a thing for carousels. Like a really big thing. At almost every town square of France, you'll find DNA from one or all of our family who have touched the carousel there.

 

So when we heard that the Negresco Hotel had a restaurant decorated as a carousel, "La Rotonde", and we also heard that they had a great lunch offer... and, thus, we deemed it serendipitous for how to spend our last day in Nice.

 

 

We went at the end of the lunch rush, which was good because it was nearly empty and our kids were a bit strung out. None the less, it was sooooooo lovely. (Does it make me sound less professional if I add endless "oooo"s to my adjectives? I'll deal with it. It fits the mood of this dreamy spot.)

 

 

The set menu was a great value- 2 courses for €25, but you are limited to only one option for your main course. The setting and food live up the famed Michelin star of the hotel chef, Jean-Denis Rieubland. Definitely a stop not to miss after a sunny day wandering along the Promenade or lounging at the beach.

 

 

Find more of my favorite places in Nice here, as well as in my France travel guide.

 

LA ROTONDE BRASSERIE, NEGRESCO HOTEL | 37 Promenade Des Anglais. Nice, France. 06000.  +33 4 93 16 64 00


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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Pack Your Bags | Domaine de Fontenille, Provence

Wow. It has been a while since my last post. Whenever I say that, I always feel like I have some pretty good reasons to back up my absence... you know, like traveling Southern France to wrap up our semester in France, packing up our place in Paris, moving into our new place in London, visiting friends in Germany on their way back from deployment in Afghanistan, grading endless stacks of papers and finals, living without wifi. You know how it goes. Life is busy!

But before the London summertime absorbs all my brain space, I wanted to share a few special places that we stumbled upon towards over the past few weeks. They're really too good not to share, and I hope that, someday, you can find yourself there, too!


When I was looking to book a spot for us to stay in Southern France, everyone seemed a bit overwhelmed at the idea of switching to a new hotel every night during our Provence trip. In search of a place that could be more central and a home base for our time there, I scoured Tablet Hotels. (One of my favorite places to find hotels!)

Domaine de Fontenille showed up in the search and the prices were really reasonable- €160 per room. Compared to staying in the city centers of the major Provençal towns, this seemed like an easy swap... and the upgrade on the quality of the hotel was a no-brainer.

Once we arrived, we all dropped bags (and jaws) and wandered around this gorgeous retreat tucked in the hills of Provence. I could go on and on, but I'll try to just hit you with the highlights and some photos to do it justice.

WHAT YOU'LL WANT TO KNOW:

-The hotel is situated in the countryside and will require renting a car. This will allow you to explore the surrounding towns easily and give you freedom to get out during the day, even if just into the tiny nearyby town of Lauris.

- The hotel has a Michelin-starred chef overseeing the food at the hotel and it is amazing.

- The hotel staff is very friendly and exceptionally accommodating. The hotel manager came and personally made the bed in the baby cot in our room.

- You can book a massage with the front desk, as well as request use of the hamman area for complimentary use of the sauna.

- Breakfast is worth waking up for, make sure you try the homemade croissants with a big smear of butter and the apricot & lavender jam. A bite of that lovely concoction may be my lasting memory of our stay there.

Also after breafkast morning, some photographers shot Viola playing out in the garden. I figured it was for the hotel website or a travel blogger at work. LIttle did I know when I asked if they could take some photos of her that it was for ELLE Magazine. Who knows if they will use the photos, but man- if they end up running the pictures of her, it will be a really neat keepsake!

We had such an amazing stay at Domaine de Fontenille, and I really do dream of getting back there sometime soon. I have no doubt that if you find yourself there, you'll not only find it to be a great hotel for exploring Provence, but feel that hits that tricky target being of approachable yet luxurious.

 

Find more of my travel favorites for France in my France Travel Guide.

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kenendy

 

Souvenirs De France

When I'm with guests traveling from the US, a big question that I get asked is: "What are the best souvenirs to buy when you're here?" So I figured it would be fun to share a few of my favorite things to bring back with me when I travel from various places.

To be honest, some of these are obvious while others are hidden gems. And then the rest? Well, they're everyday items that we've somehow got hooked on when traveling that we love to enjoy in our everyday back home when we're lucky enough to have them.

First up... Souvenirs de France, complete with a pretty visual and a reason why each makes it to my suitcase, when possible.

 

1. MONOPRIX BABY CLOTHES | While it may be on par with Marks & Spencers or Target, Monoprix is probably my favorite stop in France. Their baby clothes are gorgeous, and if you're lucky enough to travel during the sale time? Jackpot. My French friend told me that a director from Bonpoint had taken over their children's line and that is why it is so gorgeous. Fact? Fiction? Either way, most of my favorite pieces in Viola's wardrobe are from their end of season sales.

2.  MACARONS | As cliche as it may be to put this on your list, we all know they're going to be purchased and brought back from someone. The two heavy hitters are Ladurée and Pierre Hermé. Either way, you're in good hands.

3. GROCERIES | As silly as it may sound, we have a few items that we love to get in Paris- especially at Monoprix. Green curry paste, granola with dark chocolate, sirop de fraise to make sparkling water feel very fancy,  and of course chocolate-covered waffles.

4. FRAGONARD | This French perfumer has it's main studio in a charming hillside town of Eze in Provence. Luckily, you don't have to go to Southern France to get access to their goodies. (Just you know... across the ocean to various other parts of France.) I can never resist getting a souvenir from here- especially the candles. They have a Brioche candle that burns in our kitchen. It is one of my favorite gifts to give friends. They also have adorable items for sale like hand-embroidered pillows and shirts. 

5. TABLE LINENS | Is this one kind of random? Maybe, but whenever we are at a market, I find myself drawn to thumbing through the stacks of table clothes for sale. Maybe it's because they are classic and simple... maybe its because they are so cheap (typically around €7-10).... Either way, these are another great gift to bring back for yourself or someone else.

6. TEA | Tea? The girl from England is recommending you buy tea in France? Yes, but let me explain. France has great teas. I love Ladurée's almond tea, and pretty much any Kusmi Tea. (I like the Anastasia blend.) They're quite a bit more than you would pay in England, but they are crazy blends and a bit more of a specialty item.

7. BIODERMA | I use this everyday. It feels like water and it removes makeup like none other. Every French woman I know loves and uses it. Luckily, Amazon now makes it accessible to the US & UK... but you can get it for about half the price in a French pharmacy. Stock up... and send me some!

8. ANTIQUE BOOKS | The book stalls along the Seine have some of the prettiest treasures in them. They pack great, they are cheap (if you shop around) and, I think, they make for sweet gifts for friends.

9. MONOPRIX CLOTHES | Okay, okay... one more thing from Monoprix: clothes for us! I can't say that 100% of their store is a hit, but they do some great classic pieces at great prices. Anything chambray that I have is from here, as well as some of my favorite coats and skirts. The guys line is significantly smaller than the women's line, but Tyler has a few favorites from there, too.

10. APILCO | I registered for Apilco dishes from Williams-Sonoma when I was getting married. Thank goodness people gifted them to us, because there is NO WAY I would ever shell out the dough for them on my own. (So expensive!) I found a store in Paris though, La Vaissellerie- just off St. Paul metro in the Marais- that sells the entire line for a fraction of the price. We bought bowls and plates for €3-4 each. They have multiple locations around Paris.

11. MAILLE MUSTARD | Everything is better with this on it. I have a hard time thinking of a meal in France that I don't put this on. (Okay, fine, breakfast... but otherwise, it has to be on the table.) I can get it here, but not as cheap as there. You can get a huge jar of this heavenly concoction that makes your nose run in just the way for only €2.50. Yum.

 

 


 

What would you fill up your suitcase with? Anything I'm missing that I need to know about? Educate us!

 

*image original Aspiring Kennedy

 

 

Le Supermarché.

Everyone has their "ticks" when they travel. For me, I can't stay away from grocery stores. I love the packaging. Peeking at what crazy things make up the daily diets of people in new places. I always load up a cart and then beg Tyler to let me buy it. "Some of it... Half of it? ... Okay, fine. How about this weird spice and these cookies?" (I can always get him with the cookies.)

One of my favorite things about working/living in France is daily runs to the store for groceries. In my dream world, it'd be Monoprix all the time... but sometimes, it's not the closest option. Oh man, the French do groceries RIGHT.

The dairy section is as big as the fiction section of most book shops. The yoghurt aisle is an entire wall. Who knew there could be a devoted section solely for Camembert cheese? It's impressive.

So much mustard, it's tear-inducing. (Like all good French mustard should be.)

Goats cheese in every form. Bacon-wrapped. Herb-rolled.  C'est incroyable.

Baby's first potted meat.


While it may seem like a daily chore for some... it's straight up Friday night entertainment for us.



What's the ONE grocery you wish you could have in your grocery store that you bought elsewhere? For me, it's La Fermiére Vanilla Yogurt. Oh gosh, it's so good. We have it here in London, but it's just so much more expensive.

 

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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

*shirt from Emoi Emoi

Posted on March 10, 2015 and filed under eat, france, southern france.

The Truth About France.

The other night at a carol service at church, I was talking to a friend when her husband walked up. We chatted for a minute and then he said, "So was France really that great? Or do you just make everything look great for social media?"

Ha! It took me totally off guard, but I loved it because it's a completely fair question. So much of what I see online makes me wonder: Real or Fake. Do you feel the same? It can be so hard (and sometimes so obvious!) to see what is actually a special moment... and what is just a show.

I assured him: Yes. We really did have an awesome time. The few days we spent in Provence will go down as a great trip in our books.

But I also wanted to make it clear: Our trip was actually very normal. We flew budget airlines to get there, we rented an economy car and drove everywhere. We brought our own snacks, tea and coffee, and we didn't go anywhere that cost a dime to enter.

Was it full of some beautiful moments? Sure. We were in Provence. Was it full of some totally normal, boring moments? Mainly, yes, because despite what we constantly see on Facebook- that is what life actually is made up of. A bunch of normal ordinary moments. Sometimes you just find yourself in a prettier place to do them, like we did in Provence.

 

You know what I liked so much about this vacation? The fact that we were just there. We just did what we liked, we didn't worry about what we looked like (didn't wash or brush my hair the entire trip!), and we mainly ate simple meals at the house. It was a relaxed trip that didn't leave us feeling stressed about overspending or being overextended to see it all.

So maybe my Instagrams glowed a bit more than usual, but that wasn't from the need to show off or prove how great the trip was, it was a reflection of what a few days of rest surrounded by your people in someplace that's great can do for you.


 

I've said it before and I'll say it now: Skipping hotels and renting homes/apartments is the BEST way to travel. You get more space, you feel more local, and it's always so much cheaper! The price alone is better than booking a hotel- plus you save so much on meals out when you have your own kitchen. We stayed at this sweet home, Chez Ella, with James Villas. It was really wonderful! (They have so many great properties in Provence and all over Europe!) Now... I just need to figure out how to get back when it's warm enough to lay by that pool.

 

 

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on December 18, 2014 and filed under travel, southern france.

Notes from the Road | Provence, France

Well in case you were worried, we are having the best time here in Provence. What makes this trip so special? It isn't painting in the countryside (like that one time), or spontaneously driving to Italy for lunch (like we talked about last night at dinner), or spending long dinners around the patio with friends (though that is lovely). 

Nope. What is making this trip so enjoyable is the fact that we are really relaxing. We are getting up when we naturally wake up, we spend the morning in our pajamas eating breakfast and taking our time to get ready, get something easy for lunch from a boulangerie and then wander around town until dinner time. Then it's back to the villa for cooking at home, watching a Christmas movie (or two!) and bath time. 

Does that seem like a waste of a vacation? Sometimes I feel the pressure to do MORE. Soak it all in. Squeeze out every great thing of a place. But there is something to be said for coming home from a vacation with actual restoration... and our little family needs that at this point in life.

I'm sitting here watching Viola color in her pajamas at 11:30, drinking coffee, and watching Tyler putter around the house as Christmas carols play. We're going to go eat lunch out... somewhere. Sometime soon. We aren't running on a script here. We're just going with the flow... and after four months of living with every moment preplanned as we juggled the chaos of work/grad school/life/nursery/church/friends... well, that feels more luxurious than anything.

There really is something so relaxing about having your own "home" during a vacation. It shifts your experience so much, and I'm so thankful for the little home we have found though James Villas. Beyond giving you the best type of vacation (in my opinion!), renting a private residence is also really cost effective when traveling. We seemingly always spend the least while enjoying ourselves the most on these types of vacations.

I guess this leads me to my conclusion that if/when we hit it big, we need to buy a house in the countryside of Tuscany. But that is a subject for another day... Though, I'd love to hear where your dream "second home" would be below. (It's a subject I can never tire of dreaming about!)

 

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*images orignal to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on December 11, 2014 and filed under travel, southern france.

This is the (Provencial) Life.

 

Tomorrow, we are heading off to Provence. Get this: despite all the traveling we do (and have done in the past two years), this is our FIRST family vacation since Viola was born. We've only ever been on trips for work or with extended family... so, here we are. Just the three of us heading out on for the first time to see nobody except each other... and do nothing but what we feel like. I'm actually really excited.

provence lavender fields aspiring kennedy

Since I am going for fun (and not work!), I'm feeling so much whimsical about the trip... especially relation to packing! I'm actually dreaming of wearing cute clothes... rather than my standard lineup of practical tour-guide-lady attire. The only problem is.... my closet is so out of date, and I'm trying really hard to NOT veer off our budget this fall. (Especially with Christmas coming up so quickly.) Let's see if I can pull off a look similar to this one with what I've got in mind. Fingers crossed. 

Make sure you follow along the fun via my Instagram. In the meantime, I'll be tossing clothes around my bedroom in a fury and playing The Good Year in the background to get me in the mood. (I love that movie. Have you seen it?)

 

PROVENCE STYLE GUIDE aspiring kennedy

ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | SIX | SEVEN | EIGHT | NINE

 

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*image 1, image 2 orignal to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on December 8, 2014 and filed under travel, shopping, southern france.

Pack Your Bags | Painting in Provence


painting_in_provence_with_aspiring_kennedy_arles_ruins

Sometimes when you travel, its easy to get diluted experiences of places. Sometimes, that can be okay if you're tired or have seen a place a few times. But sometimes, you don't want to settle for site seeing and cafes. And sometimes, I don't either. When we visited Provence this spring, I was eager to get the full experience. I wanted to the most concentrated moment in Provence I could get. With only one day in Arles on our itinerary, it was going to be hard. After thinking through the area and what's it is known for, my mind wandered to Van Gogh's stay there. During his hospitalization in Arles, he managed to paint some amazingly famous paintings like "Cafe at Night" and "Starry Night." As I thought about the pieces, I paused for a moment and decided that, regardless of how terrible the outcome, I wanted to try to paint the countryside in Provence. (Go big or go home, eh LBK?) Now as charming as that sounds, you have to realize this is slightly absurd. First, the last thing I painted was a banner for the highschool football team to run through in 2002. Second, I had no where to go and no art kit to help me. But it was going to happen. When we got there, I ran to Monoprix and grabbed some paper, some cheap acrylic paints and brushes, some tape and food for a picnic. We hopped in a cab and asked them to drive us out of town until we said, "Stop!" They did, and we jumped out out here on a random, lonely road with some even lonelier ruins in the distance. It was windy and chilly, and we were done in about an hour and half... oh, and my art was hilariously childlike. BUT It is a memory that I won't forget. It won't melt into other moments sitting in a cafe like the hundreds of others in my mind. It was distinct and rich. The director of my semester in Florence, Robbie, joined us for the day (who is also a talented artist!), and guided me through the basics. What a fun day!

robbie_shackelford_painting_in_arles_aspiring_kennedy_provence
aspiringkennedy_painting_in_provence
aspiring_kennedy_provence_painting_in_provence
lauren_knight_painting_in_provence_france_travels_aspiringkennedy

It's not always comfortable to do the big moments in travel- like having to use the bathroom behind bushes off a highway in the French countryside, but those moments of pushing yourself are what stay with you. 

 

Have you ever gone above and beyond in travel?

How did you feel about the reward- enriching or draining?

I've had both feelings. It's not always a win, but you never know until you try.

 


 

Also, thanks for the notes about the travel links in the Travel Section being down. I'm going to try and get those sorted out ASAP. Until then, the search box on the home page is a great way to search for previous posts. Just type in a keyword or place, and you should be able to find what you are looking for. Thanks for letting me know!

 

 

*photos original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on June 5, 2014 and filed under travel, france, southern france.

Pack Your Bags | Carcassonne, France

We were eating dinner tonight and in the middle of my (second) bowl of soup, a thought appeared in my brain out of nowhere: I never blogged about Carcassonne! I'd been so excited to share  this hidden gem tucked in the Southwest of France with you & the rest of the blogging world... I edited the pictures, I put them in a folder on my desktop, and then... well, honestly, who knows. But here it is today! Better late than never, right? With a place this special, the answer is: absolutely.

*      *     * 

It was about 1.5 hours drive from where we were staying (remember the crazy-gorgeous-yet-affordable Chateau Les Carrasses?) to Carcassonne....On our way towards the Spanish border, I grew increasingly allured to drive to Barcelona for dinner. {Tyler did not, however, or this Carcassonne adventure would have ended here.}

All I knew about Carcassonne before arriving was that it was a medieval city... which, to me, meant it was a city during the medieval times and not today. So imagine my surprise when we walked through the city gates and then realized: it's still an active/real place!

The flavor of the city (and yes, I believe that cities have distinct flavors) was undoubtedly French...with strong Spanish notes. A crepe stand would sit next to a store selling handmade espadrilles...A cafe sign would have the price for une biere & una cerveza.

It was one of those days in traveling when you are left totally refreshed even after a long day out.

The four of us (Tyler, Lauren, Viola & our dear friend, Kyla) wandered through the cobblestone streets, explored the gorgeously preserved castle overlooking the valley, and, obviously, ate enormous crepes stuffed with nutella, coconut & almonds.

I've tried to say it in previous posts, but I'll say it again: the southwest of France is one of the best-kept secrets there is. Affordable, stunning, rich with history & gorgeous. It's waiting for you.

More Southwest France posts here for your drooling pleasure!

 

Chateau Les Carrasses | Baby's First Swim

Baby's First Swim... a la mode.

Did you know "a la mode" means "in the current style or fashion?" While I may actually prefer the Americanized version that involves a mound of ice cream being sat alongside- or on top- of something. I mean, how did that become the term for  adding ice cream to a hot dessert? In the current fashion of... childhood obesity? Not sure... but I'm thankful someone made it happen. I'm also thankful that my dear friend, Kyla, snapped these pictures of Viola having her first swim...

in an infiniti pool....

.... at a gorgeous chateau sat amongst a vineyard in Southern France.

That, my friend, is swimming in style. If we keep up these kind of moves, this baby's first words are going to be "Treat Yo'self."

Moving beyond the ridiculousness of this girl's short life, can I once again sing the praises of this gorgeous chateau? If you missed it, my full review is here. You can go check it out while I stare out the window at the grey skies of London bemoaning the pseudo-summer. {Yes, the fairy tale is over and we are back to living in reality!}

 

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy.

Pack Your Bags | Staying at Le Chateau Les Carrasses

 

 

I stumbled across this gorgeous chateau while researching a place for a work project. {Yes, I know- best job.... but it is a lot of work!} Like most places online, it looked too good to be true.

Which, as a traveler, can be a common disappointment after arriving to find the location of your vacation less than it looked in the photoshopped pictures online. So while these photos are, indeed, photoshopped- don't worry, I've taken the risk and checked it out myself: Le Chateau Les Carrasses. It's not only as amazing as it is in pictures... but it's better.

 

Here's what I loved about it:

1. First things first, it's affordable for people like me.... which makes me think that you can afford it, too. For a two bedroom apartment in high season, we paid 280euro a night. Split up between friends staying with us, this wasn't bad pricing... especially when you consider how luxe the property is!

 

2. You have your own kitchen so you can keep food costs down. Not only does each place within the property have a full kitchen, but they also have a terrace or garden with outdoor dining & a barbecue. 

You can shop at the market in town and make your own outdoor dinner party...or head to the chateau's terrace restaurant  for a gorgeous night of being pampered.

3. The staff is wonderful. A common complaint from American travelers is that while the destination is gorgeous, the service is lousy....but guess what, not here. I was blown away by the kindness and attentiveness of the staff. From the initial inquiry I made online that gave me an immediate email & call back to the sweet waiter who laughed off the pool of baby poop our daughter left on a chair cushion. Viola didn't seem to mind, but Tyler & I were horrified. Nothing says "classy" like pooping on a chair. {Plus, they offer good free wifi... major plus in rural France.}

4. It's so easy to get there. To reach the Chateau, you fly into Beziers...a little under 2 hours from London Luton if you're flying RyanAir or Flybe. From there, you hop in a rent car from one of the companies sitting in the small airport and drive 43 minutes- according to our Garmin route- to the Chateau.

5. The pool. This pool will receive it's own post later this week... but let's just say, I was in heaven....

And I wasn't the only one with such affinity for the infinity. :)

6. The possibilities it offers for day trips. The Chateau sits in a great point to explore the region. If it's vineyards, castles, churches, rivers, beaches, hillside towns...whatever, it's not too far away.

The medieval city of Carcassonne is about 1.5 hours away. The gorgeous hillside city of Roquebrun is 40 minutes away. Montpellier is an hour away...and the smallest city in the world to be the home to a cathedral sits at the footsteps of the chateau's vineyard...And for everything else, the chateau leaves extensive/honest book of options in your apartment to let you choose your fun.

****

So if you're looking to stay somewhere amazing, affordable & accessible in France-this is your place. Made up of private apartments and "maisons" that you can rent, I have no doubt that you'll be as smitten with your stay in the Southwest of France as we were.

 

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Bonjour, Y'all.

Where have you guys been lately?

I mean, day after day, 

I've been checking in to the blog

and nothing is here.

Oh wait,

I guess that might be my fault.

But I have a good excuse...

and it's that

I've been in France.

{Southwest France, specifically.}

 I discovered a whole new area

that I'm ridiculously excited to share with you.

It was a game changer for us

for future travels to France.

Just a couple of days there,

 opened up a whole new travel destination for me,

and I'm pretty confident that it will do the same for many of you

who are looking to get an amazing European vacation

in a spot that is untouched by the chaos of so many popular places,

is easy to get to...

and, oh yeah, is actually pretty affordable.

{Which, let's be honest, is the most important factor when we typically travel.}

But I can't do that quite yet.

I've got my best friend in from college

who is lifting my spirits in a way that only she can do,

I've got Regent Tweet happening this weekend

and get to see Megan & Stephen because of it,

and I've got a group of students that are touring London this week

that will land me in the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch in about 35 minutes.

So, do you know what all that means?

That it's time to get out of my pajamas,

brush my teeth,

and get the heck out of here.

Au Revoir for now!

PS. It is widely accepted that the pistachio macaron is supreme flavor, right?

I thought so, too.

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Pack Your Bags | Nice, France

Everyone should go to Southern France at some point in their life...because the French Riviera, in all it's sparkling blue glory, is pretty fabulous. And in the middle of the cities dotting the coast sits Nice. Nice is the largest, most affordable, and easily accessed city along the Riviera.

This famous city has loads to do for every interest & age, and for practical purposes- it is my recommended city for where one should stay when visiting the French Riviera. Read below for my recommendations for a great trip.

The water is amazingly blue {hello, Côte D'Azure!} and the backdrop is perfect, but I've repeatedly tried (four different times) to visit in late winter months with hopes of lounging on the beach...and each time, I realize how ridiculous I am. So if it's the beach you want, come at the right time. {Which, by the way, is May-October.} Be warned though- the beaches are not sandy, they are rocky. Bring comfortable & padded mats to lay on. And, if you have kids, be prepared to explain why the woman next to you is topless. 

EAT SOME SOCCA | This chickpea crepe is the speciality of Nice. It's cheap, it's light & it's quite common. Try Renee Socca or Lou Pilha Leva for the favorite local choice.

Grab a socca for the road for around €2.50, or, if you're feeling adventurous, sit down and try a huge plate of local fare (including a socca) for €10. *To be honest, I could have been happy with just the socca.

VISIT OLD NICE |

While the new town is lined with promenades and high-street chains, the old town is a small labyrinth of winding streets & small cafes.

They have some great salt & soap shops...and if you walk out just a bit to the new town, you'll find yourself in the famous flower market of Nice. The flower market has two long aisles of brightly colored booths welcoming those passing by with buckets of local flowers...which are better than reasonably priced. For those wanting to indulge more than just their senses of smell & sight, there are also a smattering of stalls filled with sugar-drenched confections mixed in the scene.

Old Nice is the eastern part of the city that is closest to the hill. (Basically, if you're looking at the water- it's all the way to the left.) Head up a bit North of the old city to the Chagall Museum where permanent pieces hang year-round in giant, oversized grandeur.

TAKE A HIKE | Oh, and that hill? The big one at the end of the city? It's called Colline Du Chateau- which means, the "Castle Hill," though the Roman castle for which it was named has been long removed. Today it is simply a great (not-too-difficult) walk up to the top that rewards you with a sweeping view of the Riviera, cool sea breezes, & a giant park full of locals.

The next time we visit Nice, I foresee a picnic & lazy afternoon of reading up there.

GET A ROOM | My group stayed at the Citadines in Nice. Good rates (about €60 pp), good location, free internet, free coffee & tea available all day...and if you want to save some money, the rooms have small kitchenettes. However, if I was going to splurge... I'd stay at the Hotel Negresco. The famous hotel 20th century hotel  sitting prominently along the Promenade.The eclectic interiors are for everyone, but I think I could be up for it for a couple of nights. 

Oh, and one more perk of visiting Nice? With Nice's quirky history of being it's own province nestled between Italy & France until only 150 years ago when it chose to be a part of the latter...makes Nice one of the only places in France where you can get a good cappuccino.

While Nice may be nice {couldn't make it an entire post without that joke}, it'd be a shame to miss the other gems of the area. I'll post more on my favorite surrounding cities later. What are your favorite spots in Nice?

 

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 18, 2012 and filed under "France", "Southern France", "travel tips", "travel", southern france.

Souvenir Stylings | Provence, France

Hello again! It's Aspiring Kennedy's faithful interior designer, Beth Dotolo of Pulp Design Studios &  Hello, Splendor. I'm charged with the task of designing her dream homes abroad and helping her recreate her travels at home....and by 'charged'  I mean: 'out of the kindness of my heart'. Recently Aspiring Kennedy travelled to Southern France for 'work'. (Yes, that's real life.) Southern France is known for it's picturesque countryside & rural villages...But, let's be honest, Aspiring Kennedy  ain't no farm hand! 

So we're taking French Provencal up a notch & adding a little twist.

Because, even though Aspiring Kennedy is simple at heart... 

She's just plain... fancy. 

Now, that's a French countryside I could see Aspiring Kennedy hanging her hat on. Here are a few great pieces that can add a bit of that French Provencal style, without making your space look like a farm home...

No.1  Eat Table Linens | No.2 French Marble Console Table | No.3 Morandi Square Bottle Vase | No.4 Slate Message Board | No.5 Square Wire Tray

 

If you could travel abroad and take that 'look' home with you, where would you go? 

 

Aspiring Kennedy's Faithful Interior Designer,

Beth Dotolo of Pulp Design Studios & Hello, Splendor