Greetings from the South of France, or as I like to call it, the land flowing with brie and hot men. It’s kind of a new take on the promised land except it didn’t take me 40 years to get there and I have had more food in the past week than the Israelites probably had in the first decade.
Anyways, we arrived in Marseille at about 10:30pm LFT last night (LFT meaning local French time, a time zone that doesn’t exist and that I’ve just made up). We are staying with our cousins Martine (Lemaire) and Gerard Vranken, who had brought a trailer attached to their car to hold all of our luggage. (I cannot tell you how many times I have been referred to as “So American” because of all of the clothes I brought.)
When I say that Marseille is the perfect place to end any vacation, please trust me that I am telling you the truth. It is tropical without looking like Disney World. It’s warm without making your face melt off. And it looks like I have walked out of the movie set of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants when they go to Greece to find Costas, the hot guy who will forever be my #1 movie crush.
Also, can we chat about how absolutely irrational it is that we would believe that the same pair of jeans fit four different girls who were drastically different weights and body types? One of them was like 5’2″ and the other was 6’9″, and yet we were all like, “OMG wow, where did they get those jeans from like amaze.” Ugh, Americans.
This morning we slept in until about 9am, which honestly might as well have been 3pm. This trip has been amazing, but we have been NONSTOP for the last 11 days. I know, you guys are all rolling your eyes thinking, “Poor Leah, jetting around Europe,” but if you’ve traveled on an action-packed vacation, you know what I’m saying. Sleeping in was what we needed, and it was good.
We had breakfast, which consisted of breads and cookies and all of the other things that have gently nestled their way into my thighs over the past week, and set out for the day. Our first stop was seeing the small town that Martine and Gerard live in, which was adorable and very Casablanca. Yes, I know that’s not in France, calm down.
After that, we set out to see the Mediterranean and did some shopping at a market in which I seriously considered trying to smuggle sausage back into the USA. America doesn’t know sausage, guys. We spent some time splashing around on the beach, and found a little carousel (which Aunt Paulette called a ferris wheel and which I will never let her live down) and decided to take a ride. We’ve had a lot of “why not!” moments, and this was one of them.
So apparently there’s something about this carousel that we didn’t know, and it’s that if you sit on the outer part of it, the water that has been collected on the top of it splashes on you. But not like “Oh my god did you feel that?” kind of splashing. More like the ride that goes under the waterfall at Cedar Point kind of splashing. I was soaked. SOAKED. Thankfully, though, we got it all on video. Bonus: there’s also apparently a sort of prize for the person who gets soaked, and Sophie and I were gifted with two bubble guns that make laser noises when you shoot them. So obviously it was totally worth it.
After all of those shenanigans, we went to a part of the sea that was lined with boulders and rocky cliffs and did some hiking. Sophie and I love “climbing on things,” so this was amazing. We spent a few hours blazing new paths on the edge of the Mediterranean, and even at one point taking our trail-blazing so seriously that we found ourselves on our hands and knees crawling. We are real pioneers. That, and stubborn.
That part of the day was amazing, and we felt really proud of ourselves for getting so much cardio in. We talked about how good it felt to climb on all of the rocks during the car ride home, and when the car pulled off, we wondered what was next. What was next, you ask? Oh, we just casually climbed a mountain to this tiny lookout point that was about 10,000 feet up. Okay, so it wasn’t, but it felt like it was. It was easily a mile or two up and we conquered it like champs. The view from the top was UNREAL. The Mediterranean is easily the most beautiful body of water that I’ve ever seen, EVER. It is gorgeous, absolutely breathtaking.
After hiking a mountain and climbing cliffs and almost dying on carousels, we made our way back to the house. Martine, being a typical Lemaire woman and being amazing at everything, presented us with homemade pizza, wine that she made herself, homemade apricot tart, tuna salad, fresh bread, 3 kinds of cheeses, and Mirabelle sorbet. They also offered to grill some chicken. Also, it should be noted that in her free time, Martine paints and her home is filled with her artwork. This woman is INCREDIBLE.
We ate till our stomachs hurt and then decided what better way to end our day than to jump in the pool with our clothes on. So we did. And we regretted it instantly, as I felt like I was doing a polar plunge and I was soaking wet and nobody was gifting me with a bubble laser gun. But it was fun…so much fun.
Marseille is perfect in every way. The downtown area is a little grittier than Paris, but it has this sort of charm that I haven’t seen anywhere, in any of my travels. It feels like the best of every single Mediterranean country, packed into a few miles. The people are kind and the food is good and the air is fresh and the water is clean and painted with the most intense shades of blue I have ever seen. It’s not surprising to me that people would want to be in the South of France. I mean, I’m trying to sell my passport on the black market so that I never have to leave.
Tomorrow we’re going out on a boat and going to the beach for our final day of vacation. I can’t believe that it’s over…it’s so sad, but this has been an experience unlike any other. I have so much more to write about other things…family, experiences, laughter…but for now, I am going to say goodnight so that I can enjoy tomorrow and hopefully not puke on the boat.