We made it to France!
We left Dubrovnik on Tuesday morning and flew to Paris with a quick stop in Zagreb, spent the night in Paris and took the EARLY TGV (high speed train) down to Nice on Wednesday. It seemed like kind of a grueling schedule when we booked it, but it actually wasn’t that bad. I’d tried to mitigate the hassle of carrying around all of our crap and getting up really early by choosing a hotel that was a block from the Gare de Lyon (train station) and taking the Air France bus from the airport that dropped us off AT the Gare de Lyon. My one worry was that the luggage wouldn’t make it to Paris with us, but it was all there shortly after we arrived at baggage claim. All in all it was a surprisingly uneventful journey, which is fine by me! We also saved over $300 by going this route rather than flying directly to Nice – even with the cost of an extra checked bag and all the incidentals, which makes everybody happy.
Leaving Dubrovnik was bittersweet. We were ready to move on, but walking back out to the plane that we had so excitedly disembarked from two months ago made it clear how much our feelings about the place had changed. Once we got to France though, I felt a lot better. I remembered how much I love it here and how nice it was to be in a place that felt somewhat like home. Jared was instantly smitten with Paris, so we will definitely be spending a month there if we can find the money to afford it.
We got caught in some gnarly Paris traffic but we napped through it. Our room was nothing to write home about but it was clean, conveniently located and had a comfortable bed so we were in heaven. The hallway was the tiniest I have ever seen though! We took quick showers and went out for a really tasty dinner in the neighborhood, which was the best meal we’ve eaten so far. We kept saying we were drunk from the food because it was so fresh and satisfying. France already has a huge advantage in winning our undying love.
Our train was at 6:49 AM and we were supposed to retrieve our tickets 45 minutes before departure so we arrived at the station at 6 AM. Even that early in the morning, the station was bustling, and it made us realize how much we had missed being in a big city. The energy was great! We’d slept so well that it wasn’t complete torture, and I got to practice my French a bit to get the tickets and some coffee. So far, I’m doing better than I expected after 10 years with almost zero practice. I am hopeful that even more will come back to me, and I’m pretty confident it will after being around fluent speakers for a few days.
We had sprung for the extra dollar for first class, so we had assigned [spacious] seats in the quiet car. We pretty much slept the whole 5 hours down to Nice – I think we hadn’t been sleeping well in Dubrovnik because we are certainly catching up on our sleep now.
My mom’s friend Molly lives here in Nice and found our apartment for us (and called in some favors for our rent). I’ve known her my entire life and I have been to Nice to visit her twice: once for her wedding 12 years ago (so I know some of her in-laws as well) and again almost exactly 10 years ago when I graduated from high school. We saw her last year when she came out to help with our wedding, so Jared has met her too. We are so excited to be spending Christmas with her and her family (she has a boy and a girl) and she’s been a great guide. She met us at the train station and we had lunch and did some grocery shopping (OH MY GOD, the grocery stores here = heaven) while we waited for her husband Chris to pick us up and take us to Saint Jean. Our apartment is in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat which is two towns over from Nice, but it’s just a short bus ride. Chris is a taxi driver though, so we will get to bum some rides while we are here!
We got to the villa and Molly had gotten us a Christmas tree and decorated the apartment for the holidays! The apartment was already pretty swanky, but it really feels like home.
Can you tell we love our place? Oh, we do. We’re pretty spoiled here, and we fully know it. I haven’t even gotten to the view yet.
Jared keeps wandering around the house saying, “is this heaven?” We also have a guest room and a large bathroom with a tub, of which I availed myself the first evening. Glorious. Even if we stay in crapholes for the rest of the trip, we will have had a pretty luxurious Christmas. I’m sure some of the shine will wear off like it did in Dubrovnik, but things are already a lot easier here than they were there. We have friends, good food and a nice place to stay – what more could we ask for?