Better Late Than Never: Christmas continued

I know I’m super late with this, but I still wanted to share my Christmas vacation adventures with my parents.  Better late than never, right?

December 26-27
After our train ride back to Nice on December 26, we took the afternoon and evening to settle in and go to dinner on the Cours Saleya and then to the Christmas market.  The next day, I showed them the medical school where I work, and we continued up the hill to Cimiez, where we visited the Franciscan monastery, museum, and garden, which was really beautiful, even in December.  Then we made our way over to the Matisse Museum, which was really cool and reminded us of some of Cat’s work 🙂  After a picnic lunch, we walked down to the Promenade des Anglais to sit on the famous blue chairs and grab a drink at one of the beach restaurants.  Pizza and pastries for dinner! 🙂

Franciscan monastery

Franciscan monastery

Garden behind the monastery

Garden behind the monastery

Flowers blooming in December!

Flowers blooming in December!

Matisse Museum

Matisse Museum

Blue chairs by the sea :)

Blue chairs by the sea 🙂

Aubergines on my pizza?  Yes please!

Aubergines on my pizza? Yes please!

December 28
I really wanted to show them the fruit/vegetable/flower market so we walked to the market in the morning and enjoyed a few breakfast pastries.  In the afternoon, we took the bus to Monaco, where we walked around the Christmas market and indulged in some waffles, typical French carnival food… yummm!  We walked around for the afternoon and saw the Monte Carlo casino (and actually went inside!), the palace, and the cathedral where Prince Ranier and Grace Kelly were married.  On the way back to the bus stop, we saw the most beautiful sunset, and the Christmas lights were spectacular!

Breakfast from the market

Breakfast from the market

Eating by the sea :)

Eating by the sea 🙂

Christmas decorations in Monaco

Christmas decorations in Monaco

Palace

Palace

Cathedral

Cathedral

Waffles with whipped cream and Nutella!

Waffles with whipped cream and Nutella!

Sunset over the port in Monaco

Sunset over the port in Monaco

Monte Carlo casino

Monte Carlo casino

December 29
Saturday morning started with a trip to my favorite museum in Nice— le Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC), followed by a picnic lunch and a walk up to and around the chateau.  The chateau is my absolute favorite view of Nice, and we even saw a rainbow in the waterfall!  A trip to Fenocchios for some ice cream before watching the sunset on the Promenade des Anglais was the perfect end to the afternoon.  Once again, an amazing dinner on the Cours Saleya.

Waterfall at the chateau

Waterfall at the chateau

ICE CREAM :)

ICE CREAM 🙂

Sunset on the Promenade des Anglais

Sunset on the Promenade des Anglais

December 30
On Sunday, we decided to spend the day away from “tourist-y” Nice on the small island of Ste Marguerite, which is a 15 minute ferry ride from Cannes.  There are no cars allowed on the island and since it was December, there weren’t many people there either.  It was beautiful!  There’s a small fort on the island, which we visited, as well as a museum.  We also visited the building where the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned before he was transferred to the Bastille.  We ate lunch on a little beach and took a walk around the island and down the Allée des Eucalyptus.  Chinese for dinner 🙂

View of Cannes from the ferry

View of Cannes from the ferry

The fort and the museum on Ste Marguerite

The fort and the museum on Ste Marguerite

We found a friend :)

We found a friend 🙂

Allee des Eucalyptus

Allee des Eucalyptus

Beaches on Ste Marguerite

Beaches on Ste Marguerite

December 31
We managed to find a few places open on New Years Eve, so we spent the morning at the Chagall museum (the only museum in Nice that isn’t free), which is very nice.  But this afternoon was my favorite part of the week.  We went to St. Paul de Vence, which is a little walled village at the top of a hill with a bunch of little artist galleries, candy shops, and cafés.  We walked around looking at the art galleries for a few hours and watched the sunset from the hill.  We went home and made dinner (chicken and leek pie) and walked down to the Promenade des Anglais to see the few (measly) fireworks at midnight.  I missed our big family celebration, but to make up for it we went back at the apartment and indulged in pastries and champagne 🙂

Chagall artwork

Chagall artwork

Chagall artwork

Chagall artwork

A street in St. Paul de Vence

A street in St. Paul de Vence

Sunset from St. Paul de Vence

Sunset from St. Paul de Vence

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

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January 1-2
The last few days of visiting were spent mostly relaxing and hanging out, doing some souvenir shopping, walking around the Christmas market again, and eating more delicious food.  Then it was time to say goodbye 😦  I loved hanging out with my parents for a week.  It was a different, but fantastic and memorable way to celebrate the holidays! 🙂

 

Our French word of the day:
congélateur (con-JAY-la-tour)- freezer
Je garde toujours des viandes, des légumes, et des pâtes dans le congélateur pour un repas vite.
I always keep meat, vegetables, and pasta in the freezer for a quick meal.

Christmas in Paris

I guess after almost 2 weeks I’m fully rested from my holiday with my parents, so over the next few days I’ll post about our Christmas adventures!

I met them in Paris on Christmas Eve and we went out almost right away to see the famous window displays at the original Galeries Lafayette (kind of like a Bloomingdales equivalent).  This year was the 100th anniversary of the store, and Louis Vuitton designed the displays.  We also went inside to see the Swarvoski Christmas tree, which is 70 feet tall and has over 5,000 crystal stars!

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Dancing penguins in the display window

Dancing penguins in the display window

Flamingos

Flamingos

 

A dog wearing headphones

A dog wearing headphones

LEMURS

LEMURS

We found a nice little Catholic Church called Sainte Etienne du Mont for 11pm mass on Christmas Eve.  It was small, but really pretty, and the mass was in French.

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On Christmas Day we spent the morning/early afternoon at the Eiffel Tower, walking around and taking a bunch of pictures.  We found a giant Christmas market that we walked through with delicious looking food and pastries and souvenirs and art.  Interesting fact: the Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris and was almost taken down in 1909.  It was saved by its use as a telecommunication tower.  Also, the Eiffel Tower sinks 6 inches in the winter!

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We went to Christmas lunch at Chez Clement, which I would definitely recommend.  Mom and I split the ravioli with wilted leeks for an appetizer, while Dad opted for French onion soup.  For the main course, I got the duck confit, Dad got the beef rotisserie plate, and Mom got the hanger beef.  We all got coffee and crème brulée for dessert.  It was a perfect meal, slow and leisurely, perfect portions, a nice atmosphere, and great company 🙂

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Mmm creme brulee for dessert :)

Mmm creme brulee for dessert 🙂

After lunch, we walked to Notre Dame.  This year was the 850th anniversary, so they were televising the masses and goings-on around Notre Dame.  Interesting fact: The largest bell in Notre Dame’s bell tower is named “Emmanuel.” It was cast in 1631, and weighs over 28,000 pounds!  Then we walked down the Pont de l’Archeveche and saw all the love padlocks, a “custom” in several countries by which padlocks are affixed to a fence, gate, bridge or similar public fixture by sweethearts to symbolize their everlasting love.

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Love padlocks

Love padlocks

After that, we took the metro to the Arc de Triomphe and started walking down the Champs Elysée, which was crazy busy!  But the lights were gorgeous.  We walked past another giant Christmas market with all kinds of carnival food and souvenirs.  We finally ended at the Place de la Concorde.  Interesting fact: Each corner of the octagonal square of the Place de la Concorde features a statue representing a French city, including Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Lille, Strasbourg, Rouen, Nantes and Brest.  In the center stands the 3,200-years-old Obelisk of Luxor, which is a pink granite column weighing 220 tons and with a height of 23 meters that comes from the Egyptian temple of Luxor.

 

Looking down the Champs Elysee towards the Arc de Triomphe

Looking down the Champs Elysee towards the Arc de Triomphe

Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde

When we got back to the hotel, we Skyped Cat, Mel, and CJ and said hi to the family at home! J  It was certainly a different Christmas than I’ve ever experienced, but it was a good one 🙂

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French word of the day:
manchot (ma-SHOW)- penguin
Il y avait des manchots qui portaient des sacs à mains dans une vitrine aux Galeries Lafayette!
There were penguins carrying handbags in a window display at the Galeries Lafayette !

 

Winter Activities

Even though it’s about 55 degrees and sunny everyday here, I’m still finding opportunities to do winter activities.

With the beach and the palm trees and the absence of snow, it’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit, but decorating my apartment has helped 🙂  I just got a little 3 foot tall artificial tree from the store, and a few decorations.  As a little craft project, I decorated my own ornaments!

My little Christmas tree

My little Christmas tree

Window clings

Window clings

Last week, I went to the Christmas market with some of my new friends.  It’s pretty big and impressive for such a small city like Nice.  There’s a small outdoor skating rink, a huge Ferris wheel, and a bunch of booths where vendors are selling everything from art to cheese to churros to toys.  Plus, there are beautiful lights all over the city!

Christmas tree made of little Christmas trees

Christmas tree made of little Christmas trees

Lights over the Christmas market

Lights over the Christmas market

One of the booths at the Christmas market, and a light show on the building behind it!

One of the booths at the Christmas market, and a light show on the building behind it!

Me on the Ferris wheel :)

Me on the Ferris wheel 🙂

A view of the square from the Ferris wheel

A view of the square from the Ferris wheel

I’ve been missing hockey a LOT, both playing and watching (but I guess I’m not missing much back in the US since the NHL is still locked out).  So when I found out there’s a French hockey league (and a team in Nice– the Eagles), going to a hockey game moved to the top of my list.  I went last night with my friend Donna (she’s Canadian, so she loves hockey too!)  They played Toulouse and Nice won 3-2!  It was much, much, MUCH smaller than any professional or semi-professional hockey game I’ve been to in the US—the rink was probably about as big and as full as a high school rink.  But it was still fun!  We were sitting behind some guys who were leading the cheering and had brought a big drum.  And it was only 6 euros to get in!  I’m definitely going to go again!

GO NICE AIGLES!

ALLEZ NICE AIGLES!

Me and Donna

Me and Donna

They won!

They won!

Finally, there was some talk at our expat coffee this morning of a ski trip… so stay tuned for that 🙂

French word of the day:
pantoufle (pahn-TOOFL)- slipper
Quand il fait froid, je me mets mes pantoufles.
When it’s cold, I put on my slippers.