I love holidaying somewhere in Europe during the summer.
Every other country seems to get a real summer and because they’re all reasonably near it’s no hardship finding somewhere exciting to go and explore.
Because of Baby London’s birth coinciding with the start of summer we decided to head off late summer and chose Provence as our destination.
An hours flight and we were touching down in Marseille.
The flight would have gone smoothly had I not repacked all her milk bottles into the base of her pram after we went through security, forgetting that I’d previously had it all packed into our hand luggage bags. Being a combination fed baby she’s very particular over when she wants the boob or the bottle.
The boob alone on the flight wasn’t cutting it.
So for the final 20 minutes of our flight I had no way of calming down our screaming daughter.
As soon as we were off the flight (first off may I add- the bonus of having a screaming baby) we begged for the return of our pram and in an instant our nice baby had returned.
In my experience travelling with children is always easier if you can hire a car at your destination, so we did just that. We decided to stay not too far from the airport because we didn’t want either of the kids to get restless after their flight. So we decided to book a room at Le Moulin de Sonaille, which was an easy 20 minute drive.
Just on the outskirts of the village Cabries, Le Moulin de Sonaille was the perfect family retreat. We had what we needed on our door step. A beautiful room and a swimming pool.
Our host was just wonderful and every morning she would make us all the most divine breakfast, decorating the table with such love and care in her favoured shabby chic style.
It was the perfect home from home.
Our room even had a vintage basin which we used as the perfect baby bath for Baby London.
Cabries itself is a village perched on a hill-top. We attempted to drive up it, and realised what a huge mistake that was. Being medieval the roads are steep and not really made for cars, which is why we ended up in a five car traffic jam and nearly rolled back down the hill into all the cars behind us (our car had no actual hand brake, but it was a strange button that you had to lift up or push down. We never really figured out which way you were meant to use it to put the brake on- we tended to lift and push it which seemed to work).
It’s definitely best to leave driving cars in Cabries to the residents plus there’s not a whole lot to see. Luckily we never had to go through the village, and there would never be a reason to go through the village unless you were staying in it.
Not far from Cabries though is Aix-en-Provence, a 25 minute drive straight up the motorway. It’s classically provincial and definitely worth a walk around.
The market in Aix-en-Provence is full of amazing treasures and you must make sure to stumble on La Fromagerie du Passage if you visit.
But my favourite experience of our time staying in this part of Provence was getting the chance to go grape stomping.
For perhaps the last decade grape stomping has been top of my bucket list but it’s never been easy to find anywhere that does it. I’ve frequently asked about grape stomping whenever we’ve been to vineyards in the past, but it’s just not something many producers do because it’s no longer a way in which wine is made.
Les Pastras was the answer to all my dreams and more.
Not only did they offer grape stomping but we got to experience the whole process from picking our own grapes from the vines…
…and then crushing them in old oak barrels with our feet.
We even drunk the fresh pressed juice.
It took me a while to get the courage to drink the juice from the grapes we’d been stomping… but I was glad I did because it actually tasted amazing.
Of course we then got to drink lots of wine, sing raunchy French drinking songs and enjoy platters of french delicacies.
I can not recommend Les Pastras enough. They also do truffle hunting which we were interested in as well but decided with the children to just do one activity.
Lourmarin was a village not far from Les Pastras, and one that had so much charm. It’s one of the most beautiful villages in France full of rustic beauty. It’s definitely worth a drive to.
With coffee shops spilling out into the streets and cobbled winding streets it’s just glorious to walk around. It even has its own castle.
Without a doubt i’d love to return and stay around the Lourmarin area one day.
With our time in this part of Provence coming to an end we packed up our bags as headed towards the coast to the town of La Ciotat.
La Ciotat is located east of Marseille and is close to the famous calanques of Cassis.
A calanque is a narrow, steep walled inlet which has eroded through limestone over time. The water in the calanques are crystal clear and beautifully turquoise.
En route to La Ciotat we stopped off in Cassis to walk the calanques.
We managed to walk to the first and easiest calanque. Calanque de Port-Miou.
Often regarded as the ‘ugly’ calanque because it’s the home of lots of boats it was peacefully quiet with everybody aiming for the more secluded calanques which had harder terrain to navigate.
That suited us fine.
With two children, we decided to stick to the easy calanques, but being right in the middle of the day by the time we managed to get to Cassis (the roads in Marseille confused us a little so we went around in circles a few times… I’d recommend avoiding driving through Marseille for this reason), we decided one calanque was sufficient because hunger was starting to set in, so the other calanque we had grand plans of visiting; calanque port de pin, unfortuntely didn’t get a look in.
The other reason we didn’t visit it was because we were time short. Our plans had to be altered because Mr London Mum had to return to the UK for work the day after due to a schedule change, meaning if we wanted to see La Ciotat we had to continue our journey onwards.
It’s a shame we didn’t get the chance to spend much time in La Ciotat- coincidentally the birth place of cinema.
We had decided to stay in this town instead of Cassis because it has its own beach which we knew would be appealing for the children.
Swimsuit| All about Eve
Plus it also has an island nearby, Ile Verte that can be reached by boat which supposedly has the most amazing seafood restaurant on it. Time constraints meant we couldn’t visit the island but we did lark around in the sea and we played on the beach until the sun cooled off and we walked back to our room for the night at Le Rayon Vert.
Without a doubt we just didn’t get the time we needed to really enjoy the coastal part of Provence. I’d recommend a minimum of three nights if you wanted to tick things off a list, but to enjoy and relax into it I’d recommend a lot longer.
In terms of where to stay Cassis or La Ciotat, I found La Ciotat more appropriate with children because of the extra conveniences and things to do. And if you do head to La Ciotat make sure you stop by Loulou la malice for an excellent meal. I’m not sure if there’s only one man that waits and cooks every night but the night we went he was the sole worker and his food was spectacular!