back to motherland

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Back to the Motherland

I am beyond elated to say that I am returning to the motherland. Europe. (I think of France as the ultimate mothership, calling me home. No, I am not French.) Long story short, my boyfriend and I decided to take a big “dream trip,” so we put six dream trips in a hat. They were:

– Spain
– Ireland and Scotland
– Switzerland and South of France
– Prague, Budapest, and Vienna
– Vietnam
– Belgium and Sweden

But Switzerland and France won. Hoorah!

We are researching what we want to do and see, and I’d love any advice you have!

Tickets are booked. We are going in early October over my 29th birthday. We fly into Zurich, traveling westward (probably by train). He wants to ski one day – I am not the best skier, but I’d love to give it a go. Then we are getting a car and touring the French Riviera (Cannes, Marseille, St. Tropez) and Provence before hopping a train up to Paris for two nights and heading home. (Seriously, this won’t feel real until I’m actually there.)

I’ve been browsing hotels and AirBNB and tourism sites, but I love advice from people who have been! We have such limited time everywhere.

Realistically probably 2-3 days in Switzerland, 4-5 in the South of France, and 2 in Paris. 

Help! What cities and sites (and wineries) are must sees? 

Here are a few things I’ve discovered:

Chateau de Massillan in Provence, a Mr. and Mrs. Smith Hotel

Then there’s this hotel also in Provence I found on Jetsetter. Fancaypants.

This attic apartment in Paris via AirBNB

Definitely want to put my adventure cap on and explore Gorges du Verdon in Provence:

In Switzerland, we want to see/ski(?) the Matterhorn:

and grab dinner at the Aescher Hotel restaurant:

Also heard great things about Lucerne, mainly from Liz.

So many options!

Neither of us have been to Switzerland or the South of France and it seems like every city and village is worth seeing so we are at a loss of how best to attack this! 



  1. Sounds so fun! I'm studying abroad for my fall semester in London and can't wait to visit France!


  2. Lucerne is a bit touristy but absolutely beautiful. Take a few hours to rent a motorboat (it's pretty cheap) and travel around the lake. This is especially great to do on a Sunday since most of the businesses are closed.


  3. Hi Alaina, I'm french (living in Paris, but coming from South West of France, Toulouse) I really like the Everygirl and this post on your blog was the right spot to tell you !
    If you want some specific tips I would be happy to help !
    Also I'm sorry to disappoint you (and/or your boyfriend !) but it won't be possible to ski before early December in the Alps, except maybe on glacier.


  4. You MUST go to Murren!!!


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  6. Last month I blogged about my Paris travels. Take a browse around and don't hesitate to ask questions.


  7. This sounds amazing. Unfortunately, I haven't traveled to Europe yet so I don't have any great advice but best of luck figuring everything out! I'm sure it'll all come together and be absolutely amazing!


  8. That sounds amazing! I'm sure you'll have an amazing time!!
    xo Andrea
    Wonderful and Marvelous


  9. I am sorry to tell you that I don't think you could ski in early october, it seems a bit early to me !
    However, the good news is that in the south of France, in early october the temperatures are generally still quite warm so you could probably go to the beach ! In Cannes you can go to the Sainte Marguerite island to find some nice coves with almost nobody. And in Marseille you have to see the Calanques.
    Sorry for my bad english, I hope you understand me 🙂


  10. Consider visiting Interlaken. It's the adventure capital of Switzerland and absolutely gorgeous. If you want luxury try the Grand Victoria Hotel
    Or for a nice economical stay consider the Backpackers Villa


  11. I studied abroad in Provence so I have a bit of advice. Skip Marseille and instead check out Aix-en-Provence instead. Great shopping, restaurants and beautiful fountains. Fun nightlife. Try to go on a day when you can check out the market- Saturday morning is the best for that. The best hotel in town is Aquabella but it's pricey. Make sure to stay in the Centre Ville (town center) or you be taking cabs which is a pain. Avignon is a great day trip, especially if you appreciate history. Cassis has the most beautiful hike through the hills to amazing turquoise beaches like the pictures your posted above. The town of Cassis is charming as well. If you want to save money in Nice, stay in neighboring Juan-les-Pins. It's just a short walk from Nice and more laid back. Some of the best fish I ever had was the “catch of the day” at beachside restaurants in Juan-les-Pins. You'll love it- have a great trip!


  12. Alaina, this sounds like a lovely trip and I think it's so cool that you let fate decide where you end up going. I am German and have visited both Switzerland and the South of France multiple times so I might have some advice too. I have to agree with the ladies above skiing in October is pretty unrealistic. It really only is possible on the glacier and that in my opinion is not worth it. But you should still be able to go hiking because there shouldn't be (much) snow so you could enjoy the Alps that way. Zurich itself is really pretty and worth exploring.
    When you are in Cannes I would suggest doing a short trip to Grasse. It's the capital of perfume and you might know it due to a book from Patrick Süskind called the Perfume. It's a beautiful little French town where you can learn a lot about perfumes and also purchase really unique ones. And it's only about half an hour north of Cannes.
    If you haven't done it already you should also check out Lauren Knights blog Aspiring Kennedy for great travel advise. She's been to France so many times she is basically a local 😉



    1. Kristina, we are headed to Innsbruck/Zermatt in March and I can't seem to find an accurate idea of how much snowfall to expect anywhere. Would you be able to tell me what Zermatt will be like that time of year? Assuming Innsbruck shouldn't have too much snow given its lower elevation…..thank you!


    2. Hi Gabby! Unfortunately I've never been to Zermatt so I really have no experience regarding this area. But I have been skiiing in the Alps in March before so I would say you can definitely expect snow in Zermatt during that time. Ski season usually doesn't end until the end of March/beginning of April. As you have said yourself Innsbruck has a lower elevation but I would still expect it to be rather cold in March. I would suggest contacting your hotel or other accomodation your staying in and ask them about what kind of weather to expect. Another option would be contacting the tourist information of Zermatt or Innsbruck. I am sure they could help you.


  13. A good friend of mine has just started to rent out an apartment in Cannes: The apartment is still under renovation, but she told me it'll be ready mid-July, so well in advance of your trip. I can warmly recommend her, and am sure the apartment will be wonderful. She's a real European everygirl, fluent in several languages and will be able to tell you the best restaurants and shops in the area. Wishing you a great trip! Heidi


  14. In the south of France: Antibes, Eze, and Saint Jean Cap Ferrat are wonderful towns! (But it's also been about 12 or so years since I've been there. But keep them on your radar if you're driving along the coast!).


  15. Interlaken in Switzerland! Small town but breath taking!


  16. Check out French essence and Vicki's rental in Provence. Treat yourself to a drink or night at the St James hotel in Paris. Can't wait to read your posts.