This past year we have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know the Serrano-Milone family. There is Elias, Aurore, Maëlle, Gabrielle (Dada) and Joshua. They are a kind, wonderful family who live in Toulouse, about 3 hours north of us. We love them and we are hoping they will get to America in the next few years. We have had many weekends and short trips together. This past 8 days they came to stay with us in Sanilhac, except for Elias who came for the weekend and then met us at the beach on Wednesday. We all had so much fun together! Many hours were spent poolside, at the river, jumping cliffs, watching movies, playing card games, catching frogs and crabs, laughing and laughing for hours! Many tears were shed as we had to say goodbye! We feel so blessed and grateful to have met the Serrano-Milone’s! The kids all had control of the camera for 8 days and we have hundreds of photos so I have had to go through all the pictures and try to choose a few for my journaling.
Today we got up early and went to Marseille. We had plans to go to Château d’If. Château d’If is a fortress (later used as a prison) that was built in the late 1520’s to early 1530’s on the island of If. It is the smallest island of the Frioul archipalego about a mile off the coast of Marseille in the Mediterranean Sea. Alexandre Dumas made the Château famous in his popular novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. This is the reason for our wanting to see the Château d’If.
We were all in the car by 8:45am and made it to Marseille in less than 2 hours, quickly found a parking spot and headed to the Vieux Porte. We walked up to the ticket counter and posted on a white piece of paper that looked like it had just been torn out of a notebook, was a handwritten note, “No chateau d’if today”! Aaron lost his cool a little bit with the lady. Customer service does not exist in France. This woman could have kindly said, “We are so sorry for the inconvenience!” But instead, she just said, “No, it’s closed.” She didn’t give us an explanation, except that the wind was too strong.
French websites are terrible! No explanation needed. If you have experienced it, you know what I am talking about. I had checked the Château d’If website and there was nothing about weather conditions or a possible cancellation because of wind, etc. I looked at it in French and then I did the English version so I wouldn’t miss any important information. Clearly, there was nothing posted about closures. We were disappointed and irritated to say the least!
Well, what to do on a hot day in Marseille! We took the ferry boat to a different island, Frioul, and passed right by Château d’If. We walked around Frioul, had lunch and enjoyed the beautiful views. We did not pack any bathing suits or towels so none of us swam. It was a bummer because there were beautiful coves where people were swimming. Over all we made it into a fun day, but we were disappointed that we didn’t get to visit the famous Château d’If!
Marseille has a beautiful Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde Marseille. It is a church that sits atop a hill that overlooks all sides of Marseille. Aaron took me there on our honeymoon many years ago! It is beautiful!
This is the Old La Major Cathedral. I have never been inside, but it is an amazing site. It is a Roman Catholic Cathedral that seats the Archdiocese of Marseille.
AJ was the most disappointed in not being able to get to Château d’If. We still got pretty close, just at a distance!
After we arrived on Frioul we walked around a bit and then found a little restaurant for lunch. Alexis ordered a plate of petits poissons, little fish, thinking it would be a little sampling of a few pieces of fish. After she ordered it and asked the waiter a few questions about it I realized it was not what she was going to be expecting. She then ordered a salad but we kept the order of fish. The fish plate arrived and as we expected it was a huge mound of little deep fried whole fish. Alexis still ate a few, but AJ and Austin enjoyed most of them. Jack and Tristan both tried one but they could only eat the tail side, not the eyes!
While walking around Frioul we came upon a sculpture. It was a metal rhinoceros with a clear plastic box in its’ open stomach area. Inside the plastic box were books. It was a little library for those who would dock their boats and needed something to read. It was the coolest, yet oddest of ideas. I guess the oddity comes from the location.
We had a fun day in Marseille, even though it wasn’t what we had hoped to see and do!
Mother’s Day in France was Sunday, May 31st. Jack and Sophie spent some “secret” time at school and at church creating beautiful gifts for me. It was a beautiful and simple day spent in France. We attended church where the primary, which consists of Joseph, Emma, Jack and Sophie, sang a Mother’s Day song. It was interesting because they did not sing during the sacrament service. They were allowed to sing after the closing prayer. Everyone stayed in their seats while the children walked up and sang and then the four children passed out flowers to all the mother’s in the congregation. All 4 children were so cute, especially Jack and Sophie! After church we headed to the Sea for a day of “rest”. It was very enjoyable!
Sunday, June 21st, was Father’s Day here in France. In years past, Father’s Day has fallen on a different day in France, so we were happy America and France were on the same page this year! Again, Jack and Sophie created handcrafted items for Aaron. They were so excited to give him their gifts. We attended church and the 4 primary children sang a Father’s Day song after the closing prayer. Jack and Sophie did a great job! It was so fun hearing them singing in french!
Alexis made Aaron breakfast in bed: sweet potato pancakes, which he enjoyed!
We made our first trip of the year back to La Grande Motte a few weeks ago while Rebecca was with us. It was a beautiful sunny day. We love the beach and my children are so easily entertained for hours! We will miss having the water less than an hour away!
Austin caught a few little crabs that were crawling along the bottom of the shallow Sea. We only wished they had been big blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay so we could have enjoyed a nice dinner!
We spent the weekend in Cannes, France with our friends the Serrano-Milone’s. Aaron had a business meeting Saturday afternoon, so we all decided to make a fun weekend out of it. We really wanted to get to Spain and Portugal, but the older boys had youth conference at the beginning of the week and Alexis comes tomorrow (YEAH!!!)!
The Côte d’Azure is beautiful! Cannes is known for its’ Film Festival:
The Cannes Film Festival takes place in May so we did not spot any Hollywood stars! That’s okay, because the boardwalk is so crowded anyway without celebrities nearby. We enjoyed driving through the hills and neighborhoods of Cannes. Aurore lived in Cannes when she was a little girl and her mom is buried there, so we got to see the “real” Cannes!
We spent saturday on the Med. Aurore, myself, Noami (the wife of the Serrano-Milone’s friends) and the kids all hung out on the beach while the kids enjoyed the sand and water. It was an overcast day so our kids were the only ones swimming. It was fun! Our kids have a great time together!
When the sun began to fade away we all loaded up and went to Noami and David’s house near Saint-Raphaël. They live in the beautiful hills/mountains between Cannes and Saint-Raphaël. The city lights of Cannes could be seen from their backyard. They had a potato farm just beyond their stone “fence”. Also, on our way up the hills/mountains we saw a group of wild boar grazing in the fields. It was so cool! Noami made a delicious spread of food (I wish I had taken photos)! We didn’t start eating until 9:30pm. I love how the french take their time in preparing and planning their meals. She made a few fresh salads, homemade “french” fries, a delicious olive tapenade, sausages, hamburgers, homemade mayo, a cucumber salad… It was awesome! We enjoyed great food and great company.
The next day we went to church in Cannes and met Noami’s father. Fun family! Her father has one of the largest “The Cure” memorabilia in all of France! Aaron “died” (the last area he served) in Cannes on his mission. It was so awesome for him to go back and see the church building and see some familiar faces from 25 years ago. We had a fantastic weekend!