August 1, 2013 Leave your thoughts
Hi everyone! It’s so good to be back and with you all once again.
For the past month, I have had the pleasure of staying in St. Laurent du Var, France, with a loving homestay mom and amazing new friends. Although there were some difficulties and awkward moments, I had a good time and am glad I chose to spend the month abroad.
Here are some of the highlights!
1. Fenocchio Ice Cream
I actually ate pretty healthfully while I was in France: I barely had any refined carbs (bread, pasta, pizza…etc.), didn’t touch a single processed snack or candy, drank only water, and always made sure I was getting protein and some form of fresh produce with every meal.
But Fenocchio ice cream was my paleo rebellion.
I’m telling you: THIS WAS THE BEST ICE CREAM IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. Over the course of my 4 weeks, I sampled 18 different flavors on 6 different occasions. I sampled chocolat piment (spiced chocolate), cappuccino, yaourt aux fruits rouges (frozen yogurt with a strawberry/raspberry swirl), cacao(dark chocolate sorbet), fraise (strawberry), creme beurre sale (salted caramel), cannelle (cinnamon), fleur de lait (not exactly sure still…), chocolat orange, cookies, confiture du lait (vanilla with a caramel-like swirl), marron (chestnut), mandarin, amaretto (basically sweet almond), amarena (vanilla with a black cherry swirl), pain d’epice (gingerbread), bounty (coconut with a chocolate swirl), and tiramisu.
Ugh. My stomach hurts thinking about all of those flavors at once.
But was it worth it? In my opinion, yes. I know I’m probably not going to have ice cream again for a long time, and who knows when I’ll next be in the south of France? I kept a very clean, balanced diet throughout the day and was walking everywhere. Still, no sweets for me for a while!
2. Gorges du Verdon
I really didn’t want to go here at first. It was a two and a half hour bus ride and I was dreading going kayaking/canoeing in the middle of nowhere. When we pulled up, I wished that I had stayed home and slept instead.
Little did I know I was in for a pleasant surprise.
The Gorges were some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.The massive cliffs towered above cascading waterfalls and the water was a perfect shade of turquoise. My friend Lee and I wound up hopping out of our boat and going for a swim by the waterfall…it was incredible.
3. Fireworks on Bastille Day
Honestly, I’m not a huge national holiday person, but I do love fireworks. (Then again, what teenager doesn’t enjoy loud, explosive objects?) Watching a million bursting lights go off above the beach was spectacular…there’s no other way to describe it.
It also gave me a great chance to use the firework setting on my camera!
4. Dinner with Friends
In the south of France during the summer, most of the food is simple and fresh: there was a lot of ratatouille (served hot or cold), quiche with summer vegetables, and lightly seasoned cuts of chicken and fish. Although it felt great to eat such clean meals, about halfway through the trip, my friends and I began to get cravings for our favorite flavorful ethnic foods.
Twice during the second half of the trip, my roommate and two friends of ours had dinner together featuring Indian and Mexican food. For Indian night, I made tandoori chicken with roasted sweet potatoes and rice for the girls, then carrot cardamom pudding (minus the chia seeds) and fresh mango for dessert. For Mexican night, I made pulled chicken with a spicy warm salsa, topped off with avocado and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Neither meals were really authentic, but they were delicious, and so much fun to share with appreciative (and hungry!) friends.
5. Going Exploring
Some of my best memories from the trip were wandering around towns and cities with my friends without any purpose or agenda in mind. Whether we were in Vieux Nice, St. Paul du Vence, or San Remo, Italy (as pictured above), we had a great time chatting and meandering through small cobblestone streets and cutesy boutiques.
No matter if you’re 16 or 60, exploring a city on foot is really the best way to go, at least in my opinion. Sure, you can get the feel of a place on a bus or tram car, but you can’t hear the murmur of people around you talking, smell the local herbs wafting through the air, or find hidden shops or galleries you might never have guessed were there.
You might also run into a cat or two…always a plus for me.
I am so thankful for the time I spent in France this summer, but I’m looking forward to kale salads, reading signs in English, and visits to my local butcher once again. (I haven’t had pork in almost a month!)
What is your favorite vacation destination? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!