About four weeks ago I received a late night message from my Mum which read, ‘good deal on flights to Europe for the 8th of November, shall I book?’.
And with that Tim and Helen were jet setting over to Europe for a visit to Aix and to see their darling daughter turn 21.
I met them at the Gare Routiere after they successfully negotiated Paris and the TGV to Aix. Fortunately the rain held off long enough for us to trek through the quiet Sunday night streets and find their hotel. We headed to a great little pizza restaurant before I left Tim and Hel fast asleep in their apartment.
The first official day I actually decided to go to my 10am lecture (that is considered earlyish over here), while they enjoyed a sleep in and wander around their neighbouring streets. My friends were excited to hear another Kiwi accent and so after class the olds were introduced to a big group of friends ranging from England to America and a few in-between. This was followed by a quick bite to eat at Paul (of course!), a visit to Sciences Po and then an afternoon spent shopping and walking through the alleyways.
Dad’s mission while he was over here was to get a photo with one of the hundreds of French Bulldogs that you spot in Aix every day. A picture is worth a thousand words so here is the proof – Jupiter was his name:
That night we enjoyed another dinner out with Grace joining us (I definitely made the most of them being here). The next day class had been cancelled so we headed to Nice early afternoon. We were just in time to catch the sunset and enjoy a vino in one of the local restaurants where Mum discovered the dish Moules Frites (Mussels and Fries).
Over the next few days we were lucky enough to explore Nice, Eze village, Monaco, Villefranche, Ventimiglia and Menton. Villefranche wasn’t actually on the cards but after the Italians decided to go on strike we were unable to get to Italy on the day we had planned. However, Villefranche was great but we soon discovered that you should never trust the train or bus schedule in the Winter season!
Our apartment in Nice just happened to look down on a famous gelato shop – Fenocchio. While Dad wasn’t too keen to get involved, Mum and I thoroughly enjoyed the 90+ flavours they had on offer while we were there.
While in the south I was able to catch up with one of my friends, Katie, who is working on the super yachts. Her boat had just docked for the winter in Monaco after spending 6 months in Greece. It was great to be able to see a familiar face, hear another fantastic Kiwi accent and also meet her friend Lorna from the UK. We were lucky enough to get a tour of the boat which was amazing – like a mini house on water. Monaco was one of favourite days as the sun had come out and we stopped in at mountain top village Eze on the way, which was beautiful!
Towards the end of our trip away it was my 21st birthday. I was so happy Tim and Hel were able to share it with me, being the last and favourite child to turn 21 ha! I was lucky enough to have a birthday over two different timezones (Europe and NZ) and in two different countries (France and Italy). We had booked dinner at Le Bistro du Fromager in Nice which was actually in an old underground wine cellar. I loved this place and even got to blow out a candle on my French-style birthday cake – lemon citron tart.
We returned to Aix where Mum and Dad had one more night left before heading to Paris for two days. So it was an early Monday morning breakfast for us before they walked me to Uni for my class. Have to admit, Helen got a little teared up but they were safe in the knowledge that I was definitely back to NZ next year for post-graduate studies at Canterbury. Just like the start of my adventure in August, Dad left me with the wise words of ‘use your brain’. Mum’s wise words were a little more practical, be careful with your bags when sleeping on the trains, not sure what stories she’d heard to pick up that piece of advice.
It was such a short but very sweet visit and I am so glad that they got to see where I was living and what my life’s like in Aix, who my friends are and where I go to university. See you in Feb parentals! X