Wednesday, November 15, 2017

StunNing travelbook 8: Southern France!

**continue from the previous post**
So I took another 5-hour train ride to Geneva Airport because I was leaving Switzerland hehe!
(But the train from Olten to Geneva was quite old and shabby sobs)

The airport was surprisingly crowded! Maybe everyone were traveling during summer that's why?

One of the best parts of taking Swiss air: free chocolates! C'mon who doesn't like freebies? haha
(like MAS peanuts, you can take as much as you wish haha)

 Le premier arrêt du voyage du sud de la France:

Arriving Nice meant that 

I arrived Nice airport around 8.30pm and waited for Lianne who was traveling in Copenhagen before we meet! But when she's here at around 10pm...the bus service stopped when we reached the bus stop at 10.30pm (is this a sign of... Welcome to France hahaha, ok la there's an airport shuttle but it was super expensive that we refused to pay LOL) so we had to drag our luggage and walk in the dark to the Airbnb near the city. And we were so exhausted when we finally reach the Airbnb at 11.30pm! Thanks to the world that the Airbnb was very clean and the host's brother and his wife were really friendly to us (although they can only speak limited English). They were so nice that they prepare really good breakfasts for us and even packed breakfast for us for the last day when they knew we had to catch the early train to Cannes!

Our room for the next 2 days! 
We basically laid on the bed like 2 dead bodies after shower and updated each other with our travel experiences and all! Oh man I miss simple life like this hahaha
Important Tips: find a room with air-con when you travel during summer!

Bonne nuit, Nice!
 J'étais très heureuse de vous rendre visite encore:)

Good morning Nice! Woke up late on this day because we were really too tired oops
If you read my blog, this was my 2nd time visiting Nice yay!
When I had been here in March, I had had only one day and the weather had been gloomy :(
Thankfully, Nice weather was super NICE this time hehe!

Knowing that we had to take an early train the next morning, I opted for a place that's in between the train station, airport and attractions, so we had a long but really nice walk to the Vieux Nice (Old Town of Nice) from our place! I would recommend anyone who's visiting Nice to stroll along the Promenade Anglais although there's bus to the city centre but it's really a MUST-DO in Nice! The views on the way really worth your walking efforts! 

That gradient of blue O.M.G.
And if you are lucky you might be able to see some handsome/ pretty angmos by the beach because... hey it's summer HAHA

And you can take as many nice photo as you wish haha! (but looking at the camera was a massive challenge with the presence of the huge bright sun LOL)

We really enjoyed the walk because seriously, it's too pretty! (And this is how I had my first sun burn during my Europe trip LOL)

Wasn't this awesome???:)
I hope this photo looks straight hahaha. I tried my best*cries*

Lianne was very addicted with the Snapchat location stickers haha!

And this time I got to visit the Marché aux Fleurs (Flower market) Cours Saleya at the heart of the city centre! 
PS: It closes on Monday and Sunday afternoon!

Looking at beautiful flower arrangements made me happy hehe

And apparently floral and fruit teas were their things!

Ohh and there were plenty of Lavender products like soaps, essence oil and... lavender hahaha.
Ohh and fruits too!

The Vieux Port! We thought that it's prettier than the ones in Cannes and Marseille haha!

I hoped that my 10-euro hat made me look like a French lady hahaha!

Lunch at Chez Pipo!
Wanted to try this restaurant during my last visit but it was closed *sobs*
The restaurant was very spacious but the crowd was huge as well!

Their tartinades were soooooo good that we finished the entire basket of breads!

And I actually wanted to try their local street food: Socca! (pancake made of chickpea flour) and it's very yummy too!

After lunch I brought Lianne to the same spot that I went to in March to enjoy the view of Promenade Anglais+the sea! It was a short hike but the hot weather almost killed us LOL. And we coincidentally came to this waterfall and it's super duper cooling! 

 THIS VIEW and it's still that stunning! :)

My travel mate for the next 2 weeks!:) Actually she got more serious suntan than me since day 1 LOL.

And this time I got to take a photo with this famous Hashtag too! YAY (Although the queue is still very long lol)

Must take more photos when my outfit matches the background color HAHAHA

We spent the evening at Place Massena & Avenue Jean Medicin (the main shopping streets in Nice), visiting lots of pharmacies (oh well I still have time but Lianne would leave Europe earlier than me so we wanna check out the skincare products!) and compare prices and doing some grocery shopping! And we passed by a store called Nicolas and we bought a bottle of wine at 5euros! You can never buy a bottle of wine at RM5 or SGD5 please hahaha.

Dinner yay!
Sorry it looked ugly but I have to post this because we were actually very touched to have prawns after 4 months!!! And it was delicious please hahaha. (Couldn't afford prawns in Switzerland sobs but can afford traveling, what's the logic LOL)

While we were enjoying dinner and gossiping about Lianne's exs stories, she was trying to make me finish that bottle of wine we had bought earlier at Monoprix. But I was so dizzy after drinking 1/4 cup that I felt like sleeping already LOL.
Leaving Nice the next day!!!


This is us at la Gare de Nice Saint Augustin!

Guess which is our next destination?

^The Resort Town !^

We had a really hard time to get to our airbnb because the host spoke to us in French, on the phone LOLOLOL (although both of us learn French but oh well...) and when we reached the condo, we didn't know her full name as she didn't wrote it in the airbnb listing that we had to guess her name by looking at the mailbox LOL until a kind cleaner told us her name (apparently he knows that the host rents out her place as airbnb) that we finally entered the house *cries*

And this was our room for the night!
Actually the airbnb was quite distant from the seaside but we couldn't find a room within our budget at that area because, you know, Cannes is for the rich HAHAHA. So we opted for this room and it's still cheaper if we included the transportation fee (Euro1.50 per ride). And the best part of this airbnb is that it has air-con hahaha!

We took the bus to Le Suquet, which is the old quarter of Cannes. From the bus stop, we took a short climb to a church and clock tower on the top to admire the view of the bay of Cannes.

This is the port of Cannes! Nice's won right? Haha

We then visited the Rue Meynadier and Marché Forville that we initially wanna buy lunch here but they only sell fresh products (google lied to me cries). Nevertheless, we ended up eating at Monoprix and both our tummies and wallets were satisfied haha!

Of course we had to pay a visit to the Walk of Fame & Palais des Festivals although it wasn't the month for the Film Festivals!

There wasn't much hand prints on the floor and I actually didn't know them I'm sorry hahaha. I just took these because their handprints were cute haha!

It was just like yesterday, we strolled along the Boulevard de la Croisette (along the beach) and kept on seeing big brands and grand hotels just along the beach!!! I'm not kidding, from the palace of festivals, I see big brands (LV, Hermes, Cartier, Ralph Lauren etc) and grand hotels (the lobby of JW Marriot was the prettiest that I have seen in my life lol) on the left of the boulevard and beaches on the right! And you see rich people and cool sports cars on the streets! Although Nice and Cannes have similar vibes but in term of luxury, Cannes you won hahaha.

But still, I prefer Nice! :)

We had some difficulty in opening our eyes hahaha!
I clearly remember that this photo was taken by a guy from Hong Kong cause out of 10 photos that he took for us, only one had better quality LOL. Was it his fault or ours? HAHA
(And this was the last photo that my hat appeared because... tragedy happened the next day *CRIES*)

It was really a long walk that we decided to just sit under the shade (which was very rare because most of the trees in Cannes were palm trees haha) and blast some musics with our phones hahaha!

We walked along Rue D'Antibes, a famous shopping street and looked for NMD for Lianne's sister (yeah we are good sisters HAHA, looking for purses and NMD were on our daily to-do list)

One day is really enough for Cannes because we really did everything we wanted to do before dinner time LOL. (unless you wanna swim and sunbath la haha) So we went back to cook, do laundry and watch dramas haha!

Good night Cannes!


Woke up early today as we had to catch the Flixbus ride to Marseille!
And tragedy happened here:
1. We took the wrong public bus until a nice lady curiously asked us in French where we were heading to (Lesson 1.1: learn French. Lesson 1.2: learn French so that you can read the map properly LOL). I almost cracked my brain because Lianne couldn't understand both the lady and the driver (I guess French Level 4 really helped because she stopped at Level 3 lol)
2. The bus driver was very nice that he even stopped the bus for a while to check the map for us (But I didn't know they could do this?hahaha)
3. France, being France, the next bus available was an hour later, which mean we would miss the Flixbus ride?!

So we called for Grab, and had a super atas ride(but also expensive sobs) to the correct Flixbus pick up point.

4. I left my 10-euro hat on the bus as I was too occupied with translating French-English *CRIES for my 10 euro*
5. Flixbus was late for an hour without notification?!?! Which meant 1-4 wouldn't had happened if someone had informed us earlier!?
6. The bus to Marseille was super crowded thanks to Flixbus. Sien Flixbus I was your loyal client but you failed me.

-The End of the Story of My Tragedy-

Okay at least we reached Marseille safely *think optimistically*

*I love this photo*

The everyday-search of the airbnb was really a difficult task and this time, our airbnb was on a steep slope LOL. And I really think the airbnb in Nice was too good that we were disappointed with the ones in Cannes and Marseille :/ The airbnb was quite dirty and there's a cat in the house *cries*

I hesitated if I wanna visit add Marseille into my travel destinations list as the reviews online were quite negative. The first impression of this city was that it's quite dirty and old, very vibrant and busy! But I love the street arts everywhere in this city!:)

Passed by a very hectic market!

We walked around Le Panier and we decided to have lunch at Le Café des Epices!

Both of us ordered the 3-course meal and it was really delightful!

Appetiser: soup

Beef tartare (SUPER YUMMY)


The food was really satisfying but the service was very slow that we died in hunger when we were waiting for our food (the free bread rescued us hahaha! it's good too!!!) I would recommend anyone to have a meal, provided that you have sufficient time haha! I love French food but I guess I'm not that well-trained to take hours for the food hahaha.

Le Vieux Port (Old port) becomes our everyday to-go place too haha!

Spot the Cathedrale de la Major at the far back!

And that's our next stop hahahaha!

So we had a pretty long walk...

we bought postcards on the way (and the uncle praised me for being able to speak French HAHA)
we walked through the slopes (because the cathedral was on the hill)
we passed by le Palais de Justice
and we climbed the stairs

And we were finally reaching the church!!!

The interior of the cathedral.

The view could tell that Marseille is more like a city and Cannes/Nice are more like resort towns!

The guy behind was photobomb-ing us but we had to take a photo together because we had matching outfits hehe!

Because we had a pretty long walk just now, we had a short break here haha.
Before going back we wandered around the city... because we didn't want to go back to the airbnb cause we didn't like it *cries*

Okay la we still went back to cook dinner, shower and rest.

Bonne nuit, Marseille!


Before the trip, I found a place called Cassis and it's near Marseille! It's very popular for climbing and I really wanna go there so I convinced Lianne to go with me for a day trip hehe!

And here we go! :)

We arrived la gare de Marseille Blancarde pretty early and the platform was... empty. There was only less than 10 people (and a giant dog lol) boarded the same train with us hahaha

Actually, Cassis is just 16mins train ride away from Marseille!
It was a bit rainy when we reached Cassis and we didn't really know how to get to the calanques. (it's quite difficult to do research on this place and tourists were told to check with the tourism office before hiking to the calanques as sometimes they close the routes in summer due to fire) We spotted a couple in front of us and blindly followed them (and it was a right move HAHA)!

This place is famous for its wine too!

Both of us thought that this looked very familiar when none of us had visited Cassis before this LOL. We then realized it's one of the default desktop wallpapers when we were young hahaha!

The first port: Port de Cassis!
You can't tell from this picture but we finally see some people here!

Took some pictures at Port de Cassis before we entered the tourism office! hehe

So we went to ask the officers (they speak english haha!) and asked for a map to explore the calanques! The officer who attended us were very friendly and she strongly advised us to bring enough water before going in (and she was really right)

Actually tourists can opt for taking boat rides to explore the calanques but I wanted to hike and Lianne said ok hehe! Basically just follow the crowd / the map (it's quite detailed) and after 40mins, you can see something like this:


Once we were here, we were like, wow this was like some national parks in the U.S. (although none of us have been to any in the U.S. hahaha)


First calanque: Calanque de Port Miou 
Second port: Port Miou (And we voted that this is the most beautiful port in Cassis haha)

It's too pretty that we decided to have lunch here after taking some photos! :)

And we continued hiking...

It took us another 45mins (and it's quite slippery and steep when we were reaching the next stop)

And we reached the second calanque: Calanque de Port Pin  
Second port: Port Pin

Apparently everyone came here for picnic and swim! But view wise, I thought it was just ok haha.

After some upwards slopes we reached this place (and I don't know what is this LOL)

We initially planned to go to Calanques d'en vau (they said it's the prettiest out of this three calanques, Google it!!!) but we had water crisis lol which is a serious issue and if we were continuing our journey, we had to walk downwards which was almost 90 degrees vertical LOL. We saw people walking down but couldn't see them after that (not that they disappeared okay, it's just a description of how steep the route was haha). Considering these factors, we decided to stop here :/

But still we were quite happy that we decided to come here:)

I actually had goosebumps to see this photo again (I guess people having Trypophobia can understand me lol)

We then took another 2-hour to go back to the city centre again! The streets were quite picturesque!
Okay it's quite good to see people again after some nature time :)

Wanted to send this to Esme but it decided to disappear :(

Bumped into a garden with a huge wall full of flowers!

And a vintage market selling expensive art and crafts *sobs*
We had some simple dinner and we took the train back to Marseille again!

--very exhausted after the hike and luggage packing that we just fainted after that haha --


From La Gare de Marseille Saint Charles (train station), we took the SNCF train to Aix-en-provence!
In less than 30minutes time, we were at:

And we finally had nice hosts and decent room yay!!! Although the hosts have a cat too but their house was so neat and beautiful! *touched*

Lunch before wandering this city! Happy kid was happy with her hearty lunch!!!

I actually thought that it's a small university city!
But I saw more Asian faces here! I guess most of them came here to join the one day trip to see the lavenders! Is seeing the lavender fields a dream for most Asian girls? *curious*

Some street performances in... French hahaha.

Cours Mirabeau!
If you read trip reviews, out of 10, 9 would say that it's the prettiest street in Aix-en-provence LOL.
What do you think? haha
And I accompanied Lianne to buy the skincare products in a big pharmacy because this was our second last stop in France :/

We then took some slopes to Le Terrain des Peintres, a place with the view of view of mountain Saint Victoire.

This place also displayed some artworks by Paul Cézanne, a famous Post-Impressionist painter who was born in Aix-en-provence. So...err... if you can understand these pictures, you are artistic enough haha!

A random gate at the roundabout.

And we came to Pavillon de Vendôme, actually it's nothing much, it's just a boring museum and a garden.

And both of us took turn to take photo at this same spot HAHA.


They said French can't live without French baguette. 
So, did we look like French now? hahaha

When you looked tall in a photo, you had to post it HAHA *get it?*

We enjoyed our night with home cooked green curry (yayyyy our Asian souls were satisfied!) and k-drama binge! 

And it's lavender day trip tomorrow yayyyy!



We settled our airbnb once we arrived the city! Clearly remember that this airbnb had the best toilet among all airbnbs hahaha!

Because it's July and we were in France so I suggested that we should go and see the lavender fields! After doing some online research, I thought that Valensole Lavender Field was super gorgeous! But to be honest, I was very clueless on how we can get from Manosque to Valensole because I couldn't find any tips online on how to take public transport to the lavender fields/ google map wasn't showing any clear routes either! I was hoping that I could get some tips from the host but this was the only host that couldn't speak English at.all *faint*. I really had to focus 100% to get what she was trying to say all the time HAHAHA.

Oh so actually, I didn't want to join any day trips cause I found it very unworthy to pay around 50 Euros for a half-day trip, and we wouldn't have much time to enjoy ourselves after excluding the travel time! So, initially we were planning to rent electronic bikes to the lavender fields and this option wasn't cheap actually. However, once we reach Manosque, we decided to go to the tourism office first.

There's shuttle bus to the lavender fields, and it costs only 1 EURO for each ride!!!
So if you are traveling on budget and couldn't drive, this is apparently the best option for you to get to the lavender fields! All you need to do is to ask for the direction to the bus station and pay before boarding!!!
We immediately rushed to the bus stop when we were told that we have the chance to catch the last bus of the day to Valensole Lavender Field! 

It's worth coming to Manosque just for the Lavender field!
I thought I wasn't a huge fan of lavender but I was wrong!
I was really amazed when I got to see them in really life!
And once I entered the field, the scent of natural lavender was sooo good!
**let the photo spamming begin!**

Welcome to my courtyard hahaha!

Does this picture remind you a famous skincare brand? :)
(Sunflower field on the right!!!)

This was taken by an old married couple! :)

We actually had only approximately 30 minutes and initially we thought we wouldn't have enough time but we underestimated our effectiveness hahaha! We were jumping and running in the lavender bushes (they were actually quite thorny that they scratched my legs, so be careful guys!) and busy taking nice photos! We actually picked some lavenders and kept them with us hahaha

We ended up having more time because the bus was late haha! When in France lol

We actually wanted to see the sunflowers too but they didn't want to see us LOL. All of them were sleeping sobs.


The last day in France!

It's actually a day which we spent most of our time on transportation because we were heading to Spain!!!

We woke up super early to catch the 8am train to Marseille and we reached Marseille around 9.15am. But we were quite shuay (unlucky) because we the SNCF train to Montpellier was D.E.L.A.Y.E.D! The timetable shown on the screen changed the timing from 10.18am to 10.38am....
until 11.18am, which means that we would have to rush for the bus ride to Barcelona once we arrived Montpellier!!!I was so angry that I tried to argue with the SNCF ground staff that she asked her manager to talked to me, lol. The manager was quite fierce and described this issue as if it's our fault (or whatever) that I became more anxious and decided to speak louder LOL. I just didn't her attitude in treating a frustrated client please, she wasn't even helpful. = =

So we boarded the train at 11.18am, and we still hoped that we could catch the bus at 2.25pm. The train ride was supposed to be around 2 hours, but things just didn't want to go our way. We didn't know why but the train took 3 hours reached Montpellier!

Which means that... we missed the 2.25pm bus and we had to buy a new bus ticket to Barcelona *CRIES*

France, why you did these to us?!

Since we got plenty of time, we decided to compare prices from different companies at the bus stop lol. Okay this time we were finally lucky for once because we managed to buy the last 2 tickets from ALSA at Euro50 in total (others were either bad timing or double the price)! 

We finally reached Barcelona at 9pm!!! *finally I could walk on the ground cries*
But something happened right after we reached Barcelona!
- stay tuned, to be revealed soon ahaha -

0. Initially we wanna go Croatia but the airtix soared up crazily that we were forced to cancel our plan. But Hey, France is always a good choice!:)

1. I now understand why some people prefer the French Riviera to other French cities. To be honest, there isn't much things to do in these cities. Instead, people are attracted by it's relaxing resort vibes over here, and I really appreciate the natural views (sea, mountains, lavenders!) here :)

2. I always think that my French sucks but everytime when I travel in France, I will be like: Thank God, I have learnt French! HAHA bipolar or what I enjoy the times when I could understand the locals, see the locals smiling at me when I get what they're trying to say :) So, learn french! haha

3. The lavender field was really mesmerizing and I am so glad that we decided to pay a visit despite we were so clueless before reaching Manosque! It's just too gorgeous! 

To Lavender Fangirls,                                           
 Now I feel you hahaha.

4. Lesson 101 from Airbnb stays: Other than sufficient research is required, staying in Airbnb is also a matter of luck. No matter how many reviews you have read, how good the ratings are, at the end of the day, it's really your luck if you can meet a good host hahaha.

5. Don't ask me why I never write this post in French, it's too time consuming sorry HAHA. 
(If I wrote this in French, I would still be writing my summer trips in spring LOL)

-- La Fin --

Au revoir! :)

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Maira Gall