It’s hard to know even where to begin when I sit down to write – but that is always the case with Paris! This city never stops to let me catch my breath and look around – it’s incredible though. The opportunities, the fun, the sights, the museums, the restaurants, the memories – they never quite stop!

Winter has fully hit, and the morning greets me with gusts of crisp, fresh air each time I step out the door. I am definitely getting use out of my clothes that Texas doesn’t seem to let me wear. The mornings are beautiful, and the nights even more magical – walking around in Paris, laughing with friends – making memories as a 20-year old! What could I regret?

But enough about Paris – how about the French Riviera …

We spent five days last week seeing as many cities in the south of France as possible. Somewhere in between the transportation strike and midterm exams, I nearly missed the first train to Marseilles – but somehow I made it.

We spent the first day in Marseilles, the second largest city in France, which also has the largest Mediterranean commercial port. Most of our time we spent touring the city and learning the history, seeing beautiful churches and, of course, eating fresh mussels from the port and drinking even better wine. It was incredible to see this port city come alive on Saturday morning with a market that had anything you could imagine or want. Fresh flowers were everywhere, children and dogs running around, fresh food, glistening sailboats in the harbor and the beautiful sun lighting up the old building and cold stone.

From there we went to another beautiful city (they were all amazing, I would have to say) called Hyeres. The city is clustered around the Castle of Saint Bernard, which is set on a hill. And between the old town and the sea lies the tree-covered hill of Costebelle, which overlooks the peninsula of Giens. Hyeres is the most southerly Mediterranean seaside resort in mainland France, and it was breath-taking. I spent most of our afternoon staring out from our balcony at the deep blue sea that constantly and calmly lapped up on the rocky shore. It was so incredibly peaceful just sitting and watching the sun fall behind the clouds and seeing the trees fade in the evening.

From Hyeres we drove along the coast to the famous Port of St. Tropez – a beautiful village on the French Rivera, set on the blue waters of the Golfe de Saint-Tropez. This modern version of a medieval town is unforgettable, with its luxury yachts lining the harbor and terrace cafes facing the water, divided by a parade of strolling tourists and slowly cruising sports. We spent the afternoon walking along the boardwalk, eating fresh paella and gelato, watching the seaside artists create beautiful pieces of work and learning the history and stories of yet another town in Cote d’Azur.

claire-DSC00098%5B1%5D.jpgclaire-DSC00144.jpg From St. Tropez we drove on to Nice – probably one of my favorite cities in the French Riviera. The boardwalk itself lining the French coast is incredible, but the water truly does do justice to its name – the Blue Coast. The glistening boats, the yellow and orange painted houses along the rocky shore, the white linen tablecloths on the beachfront restaurants and the people walking – walking everywhere with not purpose or agenda – just walking to soak it all in. It was absolutely amazing – with teal, turquoise, royal, and almost white blue water dancing all over the rocky coastline. Mornings and nights alike were beautiful – and we spent two days in Nice, taking day trips to Cannes and on to Antibes in our afternoons.

The Port cities along the French Riviera were absolutely amazing – beautiful in their own regards and distinctive from the next. It was definitely a nice change in weather and pace from Paris – the sun drenched the cities and warmed the coast. But now I’m packing for another adventure! I was back in Paris for two days, and I fly out tonight with some good friends for fall break in Budapest and Prague! We have no idea what to expect, but no doubt it will be unforgettable!