Part 2 of our blog is full of our adventures: What we saw, what our favorite places were, & what it was like when France won the World Cup. We had no idea any of these stories were in store for us when we packed our bags which makes it all the sweeter to share with you!
How was it after France won the World Cup? This was a total cherry-on-top experience for us! A definite once in a lifetime experience! The week before we left, it dawned on us - we MIGHT be in France when they play, if they go all the way. Could they really? Once they made the finals, we were pumped!
The city of Claremont pulled out all the stops & blocked off the town square. They set up a large screen & everyone gathered to watch the game together. It was packed. JP & Kerr stayed back at the apartment for the first half so Kerr could eat his cereal. Once the second half came, JP came out so we could get a few photos of us as a family & Grace took Kerr back to the apartment. The crowd was rowdy & it wasn’t exactly a baby friendly atmosphere (if you catch our drift).
After France won, the town EXPLODED! Smoke bombs. Loud music. Cheering, dancing, screaming, fireworks - yes! The country truly celebrated. What America saw on TV was the riots, and that was only a fraction of what truly happened. TV loves the bad stuff - the rest of the country celebrated their hearts out!
*Travel Tip: ALWAYS travel with friends when you have small kids. This makes a world of difference! An extra set of hands & someone to keep your head on straight when you are tired! We are SO grateful Grace & Brian came over from Ireland for the weekend to be with us!
What Were Your Favorite Hidden Gems?
Claremont Ferrand is a hidden gem in itself. About the size of Greenville, this small town is full of wonderful shops & people. It’s not too busy but still has the amenities of a great city! JP was the one who got to explore the most since Ryland worked during the day. A few favorite places she stumbled upon include:
Jardin Lecoq: The city garden. About a 15 minute walk from our apartment, Kerr & JP would walk here in the mornings around the pond to look at the swans. It was strikingly similar to Falls Park in downtown Greenville, SC but with a French twist (obviously!) You can see videos of the park on our Stories on Instagram under "France".
The Gelato: When we first booked our tickets for France JP screamed, “Here we come gelato! Gelato for breakfast, lunch & dinner!”. Well, turns out that’s more of an Italian thing :) Maybe you all knew that & we were just in the dark about that fun fact. While there is great ice cream & gelato in France, there was one little shop that made our hearts go pitter-patter: L'Armoire a Culliers. First, this place is darling. It’s on a side street & the tables outside are arranged just so that you can fit two to three people at them. Everyone is huddled together & enjoying late afternoon conversation. Besides their amazing flavors, the most surprising part came at the end of your dessert: they put cocoa nibs at the bottom of your cone for the perfect ending of your dessert! Seriously, our faces lit up “Why haven’t we ever thought of this?” It’s. To. Die. For!
Baby Boutiques: Our first day in France, we joked that Kerr would be the one to come home with the most clothes in our trunk. Well, it’s true. We hit up H&M (they carry the cutest baby clothes) & a few other box stores but nothing compares to the adorable boutiques in Clermont. Our favorite one was this one: Fox & Peonies. They had the sweetest blankets, bonnets & outfits made from linen & organic cotton. We had to hold ourselves back & only purchase a bonnet for Kerr & the rest of our babies to wear. We hope it’s the one piece that we can look back on & say “Oh yes! The bonnet we got in France!” JP has wanted one for our kids for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity!
Mulitples Uniques: Lastly, we stumbled upon a great paper store behind the cathedral (how often do you get to write that sentence?) that sold the sweetest paper products: journals, prints, cards, banners - all kinds of fun artistic things. We talked with the owner for a bit & heard her artistic journey! It was so fun purchasing a few of her pieces to bring back with us.
Grace & Brian hopped over from Ireland & explored with us on Saturday & Sunday. Our two favorite towns we visited were Murol (shown above with us in front of the castle), St. Nectaire (the church below), & Mont Dore (shown below). When we traveled into these towns, we went with no agenda in mind except to walk, take in the sights, & eat a meal (of course!). It was so refreshing to be a tourist & take in everything that these places had to offer. Our advise for any traveler is to walk slowly & ask yourself, "What do I notice? What is unique about this town?" We spent our meal times discussing what we saw & appreciated about our different stops along the way. Fun & easy to do, even with kids!
Well, if you can't tell from our photos, we had a BLAST & are so thankful we had this opportunity as a family to travel not only abroad but to a beautiful place where JP & Kerr could get around without too much trouble! We are so thankful for your love! Hope we helped you guys & please don't hesitate to let us know if you have travel questions.
Love, The Rainsfords