Spain and France 2016 Wrap Up

Our second big international trip with James.  The first one didn’t scare us off?  Are we crazy?  Probably.

Italy with a 15 month old was tough, but I was optimistic this trip would be easier for several reasons:

  • James was a different child one year later than Italy– though still very active and energetic.
  • We were bringing/meeting help in the form of our cousin Sam and James’s grandmother (Nonna).
  • We were more experienced travelling with a child.

You can go back and read my planning post (link) for more thoughts on that, as well as how we ended up at our final itinerary – after several changes (indecisive planning, terrorist concerns, etc.).  To summarize, we had a full 21 nights.  12 would be spent in Spain and 9 in France.Itinerary1

France and Spain are two pretty prominent countries for American tourists.  We had never been to Spain and had only been to Paris in France.  We were excited to get to both countries and – in our typical travel fashion – visit several places in each.

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Collioure

What started out to be a pit stop on the way to Barcelona turned out to be a really relaxing, beautiful city that we all very much enjoyed (especially Sam and James).

We started out the day by walking over to the beach in Collioure. Sam and Justin walked around the city and took some pictures. Justin is a very fast walker, and I think Sam may have had a little trouble keeping up! James and I stayed at the beach and played in the sand. The sand here is not powder white sand. It is almost pebbly. A much different texture than the beaches that I have been to before. I kinda liked it. Of course, there were a lot of interesting sights on the beach. Men wearing speedos that shouldn’t be wearing speedos. Women in bikinis who shouldn’t be in bikinis etc. James is obsessed with the beach. He could play in the sand for hours and hours.

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On the Road Again

Yesterday, we left our sweet little country farmhouse and started our journey to Barcelona. Since it would have been about 6 + hours in the car to get there, Justin scheduled for us to stop in Collioure, a coastal town in France, for a couple of nights to break up the drive.

We left the farmhouse around 10 am. Justin scheduled for us to visit a winery, Chateau de Mercues, about 45 minutes away. As usual, James ran around the barrel room like a wild monkey. The winery is in a beautiful chateau/castle which is also a hotel. We walked around the grounds and took some pictures of the incredible views.

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Happy Birthday to Me!

Yep, today is my birthday. I’m 32. I’m not much of a birthday person. I don’t really like all the attention. Actually, yesterday, Sam asked me, “are you excited about tomorrow” and I said “what’s tomorrow?” It’s easy to lose track of time while on vacation.

We got up this morning and went to the big market in Sarlat. It was way bigger than the one that we went to yesterday. There were tons of vendors with so many different yummy things for sale….meats, cheese, fruits, vegetables, cakes, tarts etc. It was a little crowded and touristy once it got later in the morning, but we were able to navigate through the crowds pretty easily. James was in the stroller, which makes it a little more tricky but we did ok. We split a pecan caramel tart for breakfast (yum) and bought a few treats to pick on.

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Holy Crepe

Today, we set out around 9:30 to go to a market in the nearby town, Cenac. If you have read our blog before, you may remember that I have a love of markets. I feel like going to markets gives a very authentic feel to the place that you are visiting. I love to see the local people buying their produce and meats for the week. Each booth has such quality items that we love to pick up a few treats. At different booths there were vendors selling homemade sausages, cheese, honey, fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood. dsc01680 dsc01681

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Easy Country Living

We are in a very rural part of South West France in the Dordogne region. The nearest “bigger” city is Sarlat, where a lot of foie Gras is made.

I think James is finally getting into a somewhat regular sleeping pattern now, so he was up a little before 7 am this morning. It was still dark outside, but the sun soon came up. I muddled through making some French press coffee and watched a little Mickey Mouse with James. I don’t think that I mentioned this before, but Justin brought our Amazon fire TV with us. He also loaded some of James’s favorite shows and movies on an SD Card so that we can watch TV even if the WiFi isn’t working. We haven’t been watching a ton, but it is nice especially in the mornings.

I spent a little time before we left getting in a fight with the washing machine. It ended in total frustration, but I thought that I got it working…..I thought. But more about that later. I also broke the French press as I was trying to wash it. It was glass and slipped out of my hands and broke in the sink. I’m basically a bull in a china cabinet :-/

We set out around 10:30 this morning and headed for Chateau de Fenelon.it is a beautiful castle built about 1,000 yrs ago. True to form, James fell asleep in the car on the way there. Luckily, I was able to load him up in the Ergo baby and carry him for a while. We walked around the outside of the castle as Samantha acted as our tour guide as read the descriptions of each highlights. Inside the castle has some incredible artifacts and a huge collection of armour and weaponry. I think we all really enjoyed it.

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Goodbye St. Emilion

Today we traveled from St. Emilion to the Dordogne area. We are staying in the true French countryside. Our rental is part of a group of cottages owned by a British family. We are staying in the “farm house,” and it is great! Like our last stop, there is plenty of space inside and tons of room for James to run around. The backyard has a ping pong table, swing set, little wooden houses, and a pool. I think the water is going to be way too cold for me to swim in, so I’m praying that James doesn’t want to go in! There is also a toy cottage that is stocked with toys, books, DVDs etc. The British family lives on the property.

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