This is a continued recap of my recent trip to Europe. Read about days 16-18 of my trip in Bordeaux, Saint-Émilion, the Dune of Pilat, and Toulouse here, days 12-15 in San Sebastián and San Juan de Gaztelugatxe here, days 8-11 in Barcelona, Spain here, days 6 and 7 in Nice, Èze, and Villefranche-sur-Mer here, days 3-5 in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France here, or days 1 and 2 – my travel days – here. See a complete map of my travels here.
H and I woke up early in Toulouse and got on the road for our 3.5-hour drive to Aix-en-Provence, our final destination together. We arrived at Le Pigonnet, a gorgeous pink hotel with gardens and a pool, around lunchtime. The weather was a dream: 80 degrees and sunny.
Our room was not quite ready, so we walked into town to a casual lunch place recommended by the hotel called Le Bidule. It was festive, fun, and colorful with a bit of Spanish flair! We each had a sandwich and salad, and it was all delicious – even the iced tea.
After, we walked through the little town of Aix. Most shops were closed as it was a Sunday, but the open ones were charming as ever.
We strolled down the Cours Mirabeau, the main street that runs through the middle of Aix. It was beautiful, but we were warned that the restaurants there are tourists traps, and it is far smarter to walk beyond the street for better, local eats (as we did).
When H and I returned to the hotel, we checked into our room – and it was huge. Somehow, we had been upgraded to a suite without having booked one. This was the living room.
The bedroom and bathroom were luxurious. We were blown away!
Better still, we had a terrace (bigger than the room itself) all to ourselves on which to lounge. They informed us we could also have dinner on the terrace if we so pleased. We were feeling extremely lucky.
The view from our terrace looked down on the restaurant’s outdoor patio.
We changed into our swimsuits and headed downstairs for the pool. The path to the pool is through the gardens, and we took our time admiring them.
The gardens were incredibly peaceful with plenty of sitting places and soothing running fountains.
There were even two doves cooing in the gardens.
We felt very at home at Le Pigonnet, quite comforted and relaxed.
We made our way around to the salt-water pool, which was pure blue and surrounded by green. Towels were laid on every chair, and a server brought us cold water right away. We ordered cocktails, too, and lounged for the rest of the afternoon.
That evening, we freshened up and went to dinner at Le Pigonnet’s outdoor bar. We both wanted something light after our big late lunch, and I ordered one of my favorite French meals – jambon (ham) and melon. They garnished it with a few cherries, which I loved. It was delightful. I then soaked in the bath before curling up with H and looking at the stars from our terrace. We both slept soundly.
H and I had breakfast delivered to our living room so that we could eat a little more quickly and begin our day trip to Cassis, a small beach town in the French Riviera, just 40 minutes away from our hotel. The breakfast was just as amazing as it looks! I particularly loved the all-natural yogurt and flaky pain au chocolat. Then, we were off.
There is tons of parking in Cassis that is easy to spot. We walked through cute little shops down to the port of Cassis for a stunning view.
We noticed the main beach and considered staying, but I knew about another beach, one more tucked away. And so we strolled through curving streets to find it.
Just 10 minutes later, we spotted it. This beach was rockier, but the view was more beautiful. There were also restaurants right on the beach. We had found our spot.
Le Pigonnet had provided towels to use during our stay, and H and I spread those out across the rocks, claiming a spot just in front of the water.
We watched sailboats floating by and breathed in the fresh salt air.
We stuck our toes into the sea (wishing we had better shoes to walk on the rocks), and it was cold as ice! Still, we both swam a few times because it was so hot out – and we wanted to soak in that azure sea.
When we grew hungry, we simply sat at a beach side restaurant right behind our towels. We were able to get a seat at a second floor table with a view of the sea, and I had the freshest salad.
We returned to our towels for a final sit and swim, but the afternoon was growing later. We wanted to head back to Aix to enjoy Le Pigonnet for my last night in Europe. I took a final look at the little paradise we had discovered in Cassis, and we left.
Even after our beach day, I longed to sit by the serene pool at our hotel. We considered walking back into town, but as it was my last day and I had done a ton of exploring over the trip, I just wanted to relax and be.
And so I did. For me, the pool felt like a place of respite. A perfect spot to just absorb my experiences in Europe.
I observed an adorable homemade ice cream by the pool on my way out.
H and I lolled on our terrace in the early evening sun, and I read some of my book. We ordered dinner up to the terrace where we could continue to gaze out at the grounds and just be the two of us. I went for simple: cheeses, breads, and fruit.
After eating, H and I headed back down to the gardens for a final stroll before it grew dark.
I was feeling extremely sad to leave the next day. I had grown incredibly attached to France, and wandering through these gardens did not help.
I loved the culture in France – the people, the incredibly fresh food, the walking, the sights, the everything.
I watched the servers working at the restaurant and briefly considered a career switch. How could I possibly stay here?
But eventually, I knew I would have to leave. When we returned to our room, it had been turned down. We stepped out onto the terrace and looked up at the stars again. Once inside, we saw these biscuits on our bed that we munched before drifting to sleep.
I had my final European breakfast in the room at Aix before leaving Le Pigonnet and heading to the Marseille airport with H. I am not ashamed to say that I cried, leaving. I fell absolutely in love with Europe and especially with France. It had been a glorious 3 weeks and was so hard to leave. But, having been bitten once again by the travel bug, I knew I would be back. After all, I did not have a choice – France had my heart.
This concludes my recap of my Europe trip. I hope it helps you plan your future adventures. Happy traveling!