Sunday, November 18, 2012

Epic European Tour, Part IV: France (and Monaco)

The next morning we disembarked for our very first port of Toulon.  We decided to book an excursion for this port, since things were so spread out, and it would be easiest to travel here and there that way.  So we hopped on a little tour bus with a chipper French guide named Sylvie who took us to various locations.  First we went to a small fishing village of Sanary, which was charming and very French and had a beautiful market and a church and a gazebo and a lighthouse.  I was secretly grumpy because I had the hiccups for like over an hour and it really annoyed me that they wouldn't go away.  Then they finally did.  It's silly to be grumpy over a thing like hiccups, but I just was.
It was early in the morning, which made for a nice quiet village.
Look at that fresh French produce!
Everyone just setting up their wares.
If we'd had all day it would have been fun to get lunch here.
Such beautiful lovely strawberries.
A gazebo!  Just like I said.
No words needed.
C'est moi.
C'est nous.
You can even see that French sunbather at the lighthouse getting ready for a morning swim.
A church!
Wife took this one.
Sister took this one.
Some rocks!  I almost slipped and soaked my shoes.
This girl loves a beach.
Sassy!  I'm saying "How does this thing work??"
Now I figured it out.
For love.  I'm pretty sure this was the picture I took in the picture above.
The sea!
Elise never passes up an opportunity to play on a playground.
"Sir, did you ever hear of the concept of OTHER PEOPLE?"
Then we went to Cassis, another little town with lots of shopping and fountains and a beautiful rocky coast on a cliff.
I think this is Elise taking the above picture.  I never get tired of these sets.
Ohhhh, isn't this amaaaazing?  I am doing my best sheep impression.
Gals and the sea.
We took a train up to the cliff, and then I climbed down to the rocks.
Jeff almost didn't make it.
The water is ever so blue and ever so clear!
This is the train that took us up the bumpy road to see the view.
And our last stop at this port was Marseille, where we went to the Notre-Dame de la Garde, from which we could see a spectacular view of the city, and also Chateau d'If!
Bonjour, Marseille!
Le Chateau d'If!  I wonder if there's some sort of soon-to-be Count of Monte Cristo there.
There's a statue!  It's big.
It's very ornate inside.
I tried really hard to do that thing when you're squishing it, but it was hard to coordinate.
Tee hee!

Then we went back to the ship and had one of our formal night dinners.  It was fancy and delicious!
Cocktail shrimp??  Don't mind if I do!!!
Some sort of fruit conglomeration.
I ordered two dinners.  Because.
Dessert!  We were starting to get punchy about this time.  No alcohol needed!
There was a friend waiting for us when we made it back to our room.
Somehow the friend inspired Wife to do the No-Face thing from Spirited Away, much to my dismay.
The day after that we stopped in Villefranche.  Since we didn't opt for a guided excursion at this port, we were pretty much on our own, but with Jeff at his usual navigating best, we had little trouble getting around.  The first stop was glamorous Monte Carlo!!!  We weren't able to actually go into the casino (and not only because we weren't dressed nearly elegantly enough), but it was enough to see it and see all the fancy cars and the lobby.
So cosmopolitan.
Okay, so now we look like tourists.  Just trying to find our way.
Waiting for the train to Monte Carlo, time for an impromptu photo shoot!
Eeyeleeyesseh (the H is silent).
Monte Carlo!  We made it!  The dwellings are so beautiful.
So many yachts.  Some of them were very fancy.
There it is!  Just like in the movies!
Where's the casino?  Here.
Just a giant flower sculpture.
How about a swim?
Another fashion shoot, why not?
Taking the bus!  Seating was scarce.
Then we took the bus up to Monaco!  (Or, as the audio guide at the palace pronounced it, MoNAco.)  It's its own country, did you know?  It was little but had a lot of cool things.
The museum at Monaco.  It included an aquarium.  There was a giant baby outside.
See?  Fish.
Such a gross creature, sad to say.
Always entranced by jellyfish
Can you see us??
Bonjour, Nimaux.
This seahorse was totally posing.
2 kewl.
It's an okay view, I guess (HA).
Yes, it's a fantastic view.
Thar she blows!
We're having an adventure!
The roof had a playground!
Don't worry, it's not real.
Let's ride a dolphin!
They even had tortoises!  Totally unattended.
I spy a whale!  Did I already say "Thar she blows"?
The Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Monaco.
Saint Nicholas interior.
The palace!  It was smaller than expected, but really neat.  We couldn't take any pictures inside.  Princess Grace FTW.
We found a pathway back down, which was a much quicker walk than the way we came up on the bus.
Then we took a train and another bus and we (finally) made it to the medieval city of Eze.  It had a LOT of stairs, and a lot of cacti, and an amazing view.
First things first, a little bite to eat.  Crepes and baguette sandwiches!
OMGoodness, FRENCH French fries!
We made it up all the stairs!  This view was the reward.
A POOL!!!  I don't know why, but it always amazes me to see a pool in someone's yard.
Just a line of elegant statues.
Things are so old here.
The tippity-top.
Where does this lead, I wonder?
A pretty, old lane, and a pretty, young woman.
And they built gift shops right into the walls and alcoves!
Elise didn't know the camera was pointed at her.
Then she learned it was.
And now she REALLY knows it was.  As do we all.
Ship sweet ship.
And that's about it for France!  It was so great to see some of these lesser-known (at least to tourists) cities.  It was beautiful and interesting, and not too crowded, but by the end of each day we were definitely all worn out.  Those stateroom beds are SO comfortable after a long day.  And the next day we would be on our way to a whole new country!  Au revoir, France!

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