France. It’s okay I guess. If you happen to like gorgeous countryside, cold sparkling water, French men (that’s a whole post in and of itself, short story: they’re hot), cheese, delicious bread and shopping of any variety. Oh, and the south of France is the WORST. So boring and perfectly sunny with warm wave-less ocean and blue skies forever.
Basically France and Spain were a wonderland. Plural. It’s a thing.
A few months ago I went on a whirlwind 2 week trip to France and Spain with one of my very best friends, (BEST IDEA EVER) and when I came back I was so exhausted from the amazing happiness of it all, I basically took the entire summer off to dream about it by the pool.
I did manage to post about what to do on the French Riviera should you ever find yourself in Antibes, Cannes or Nice and are out of ideas (you shouldn’t be).
The short version is that France and Spain are beautiful and fun and lovely in every possible way. The long version will be laid out in a whole bunch of future posts, starting with this one. So let’s get started.
One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to go grocery shopping. In a foreign town in France, in California, in New York City, wherever. I love the slice of life I see in the local markets. Grocery stores are where you find locals. They’re where you see what each particular culture is eating, reading, wearing. There’s always the occasional tourist like me but for the most part local markets are where you capture the essence of each city.
Never mind the fact that grocery shopping when you travel can save you literally hundreds of dollars in each city.
For example, we have Superhero Band-Aids in America, we have basically any Band-Aid design you can think of, but none of them come close to being as cute as this First Aid Kit I saw at the grocery store in Antibes, France.
Look at all the vegetables! The tiny little grocery store in Antibes was filled to the brim with every kind of vegetable imaginable, and row after row of cheese. I love the way it’s just all laid out. No plastic bags to hold each vegetable group, you provide that. Then with each fruit or vegetable group, you have to weigh it on a scale in the produce section and get a little printed out ticket which is then taken to the cashier when you check out.
I was the stupid American who didn’t speak a word of French and had to get out of line halfway through check-out to go weigh all my fruits and veggies, run back to the cashier tickets in hand and finish paying for my groceries. I felt pretty dumb. But it’s a cool system, I liked it.
The bread was tucked in the back of the store but there was every kind imaginable to make you happy. I don’t know about you, but bread makes me very, very happy.
And the ‘EXIT’ signs in the back of the store made me even happier.
RUN! For your lives.
I ended up spending a chunk of change in the grocery store, but it was far less than the price of two meals at an outdoor cafe near the hotel. I bought a bunch of sundries as well: basic stationery, flavored soaps for gifts, and a watercolor set I couldn’t bear to leave behind.
I also bought a hunk of Gouda cheese (my very most favorite in the world), the very best I’ve ever tasted in my life truly, but Rachael made me keep it on the balcony because it smelled up the hotel room. She doesn’t appreciate a good cheese, that one.
In the end I had to leave most of it behind (sob!) but I enjoyed what I ate immensely. Probably it helped that I sat on the balcony overlooking the Côte d’Azur on a warm May day, but we’ll never know.
I think I’ll probably have to test run that theory next May to be sure.
I do look pretty happy though; it must’ve been the Gouda.
What’s your favorite local thing to do when you travel? Do you stay at B&B’s or in an empty room of a local pensioner? There are too many things to list about what I love most about traveling, but grocery shopping is actually pretty high on the list.
When in France …