After picking up Ned we were off to Lake Annecy, known for being one of the world's most beautiful lakes and Europe's cleanest lake. Here we sunbathed, swam, went for a paddle boat ride, and enjoyed our first taste of French ice cream.
Will, Kristen, Elise, and Ned on the train to Lake Annecy. Lots of catching up to do with the missionary!
Elise, Ned, me, Joe, and Evie on the train to Lake Annecy - my first train ride!
"What are men compared to rocks and mountain?" And water too - the beautiful Lake Annecy.
Joe on the paddle boat rowing away. We both are not fans of lakes so we didn't swim much. It's a beautiful view though.
Me, Mom, and Ned sitting in the sun in the back seats of the boat.
I don't know Ned too terribly well yet, but I feel like this picture sums him up in a way you just can't describe.
The next day we spent most of the day on the train to Nice. Once there we dined at a nice restaurant right off the coast. There happened to be a festival going on so we were able to hear concerts and see lots of people joining in on the fun. I've never been to Mardi Gras, but it reminded me of it.
The entertainment that kept passing in front of our restaurant. They played Pirates and Spiderman songs while the dinosaur approached and an acrobat did flips through a hoop hanging from it's mouth.
The next day we were off to Monte Carlo, Monaco! I have to admit that I was really excited for this because of the movie Monte Carlo with Selena Gomez in it. :) Love it. Here we saw the palace, the church where Grace Kelly was married, a big Oceanographic museum (with an aquarium of course), the Monte Carlo casino, the Hotel de Paris, and lots of HUGE yachts.
A view of Monte Carlo - look at those yachts!
A family picture somewhere around the Monaco palace - there were lots of marching guards, piles of cannonballs, and statues about. Oh and one beautiful view!
The Hotel de Paris where they stay in "Monte Carlo." We weren't allowed inside, but it's regal, no?
Monte Carlo casino reflected in the fountain.
A side view of the Monte Carlo. This was probably the most posh place I've ever been. Tourists everywhere, majestic statues, and the most expensive cars you've ever seen out front. We were able to go inside, but not allowed to take pictures. Fancy!
Joe insisted on taking a picture of me in the back of the Monte Carlo.
Once Joe and I started off for the beach we were able to walk through Nice and get a better picture of the whole city. It was very nice and very touristy. We walked through a shopping area and gave a little money to some street performers who were playing Ode to Joy and other classical favorites on stringed instruments. They were good! Then Joe treated me to lunch at the Cafe Opera. Here we had ratatouille - delicious! You've got to eat ratatouille in France!
After lunch we were off to the beach! There was nowhere for us to store our clothes or wallets so we snuck on to some fancy private beach and hid them in a planter (although, we didn't really realize it was a private beach till later). The Mediterranean water was positively gorgeous, but I was a little too worried about my purse getting stolen from the planter to enjoy myself as much as I should have. Joe had a fun time swimming though and I sunbathed for awhile on the beach chairs. I was surprised that these beaches did not have sand - they where all rocks! So strange. Just as a note, I did not see any nudes swimming about, but Joe said he did! He does NOT like to talk about it - apparently it was one big nude lady! After swimming we both tried Ferrero Rocher ice cream at a nearby ice cream shop - amazing!
Ned and Elise looking great at the laundromat. Love this picture!
Joe and I at the laundromat. We are ready to go to the beach!
That night we left for Provence, but as fate would have it we ended up staying the night in Cannes. We got off the train to see if we could look at the ocean there and eat dinner, but by the time we got back to the station there were no more trains to Provence for the night. So, we ended up eating at one of my favorite restaurants in France - The Theater - here all the food was categorized by acts. It was one of my favorites because the food was good, the service was good (something I found a bit lacking in most French restaurants), they always had a full glass of water for us (something the French were also not very good at - giving you water - the glasses were always tiny and they would hardly refill them), and they had a GIANT pepper shaker which he used on our food.
Since we missed the train we went to some internet place in town to look for a hotel nearby - this town seemed a bit shady, at least this part of town. While there, some random guy came up and kissed Mom's hand and told her she was beautiful. We were a little nervous, but he ended up leaving us alone after that. Also, the owner of the internet shop locked half of us inside for about 20 minutes while he went somewhere... the rest of us waited outside! Crazy! Then we proceeded on to the great hotel Mom and Dad booked us for the night.
The following day, Mom and Dad were gracious enough to watch our luggage after we checked out of the hotel so we could do some shopping before we got on the train. This is where I got some sweet plum colored pants, Elise got a killer bridesmaid dress, and Joe got his Swatch! We met back at the train station, picked up our luggage from the parentals and headed off to Avignon, one of my favorite stops on the trip. Avignon was home of the best chocolate, ice cream, and people I found the entire trip.
We were staying on the outskirts of the town, so after arriving we made our way by bus to the city - the entire city is surrounded by very medieval walls which have been there in part since Roman times, they have been rebuilt several times in different places since. Before dinner, we couldn't help ourselves, we got some ice cream! This was the best ice cream, hands down, I got the entire trip. Mom raved about the lavender ice cream which was made from the actual flower, but I loved the raspberry and mango flavors - it tasted very natural. YUM!
Next, we went to the Palace of the Popes which has housed seven Popes, but unfortunately we arrived there just too late and the palace and gardens were closed. However, we were allowed to go into the cathedral. The cathedral was very medieval - it almost scared me because we were there at night and it was so dark inside! There were some pretty paintings though and I always want to light a candle in these cathedrals... but I haven't yet.
Joe and me at Palace of the Popes.
From the Palace of the Popes we walked around Avignon to see the gorgeous river and the Pont Saint Benezet bridge which only goes halfway. This little town was beautiful. After our stroll we went and got MORE ice cream... we had to buy something to use the bathroom so we thought this was a good choice. We also got the BEST chocolates - I don't even know what half of them were called, but they were DELISH and we bought a TON. We consumed them quickly though and man did we have sugar hangovers quick.
The next day we got ready and walked to church. The people in the small branch were so friendly and I felt so welcome even though I couldn't speak a word of French and most of them could not speak a word of English. A deaf French woman kissed me on both cheeks when we got to the church - my first French kisses! (Not that kind of french kiss!) Then through relief society, sunday school, and Sacrament meeting I sat clueless, but enjoyed it nonetheless. Since it was testimony meeting, the family all bore very lovely testimonies.
The two French missionaries - Avignon was the only city both men served in on their missions.