Transcript and Photos for Episode 219: Great Destinations in France for Families

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This is the transcript of a long conversation. Here is a summary of what we discussed.

Annie’s conversation with Jessica starts at 03:26 minutes, please add 3’26” to the time stamps listed below.

Annie Sargent 0:01
Bonjour Jessica and welcome to Join Us in France!

Jessica Kosmack 0:06
Bonjour Annie, thank you for having me on.

Annie Sargent 0:07
It’s so nice to talk to you. You you. I noticed you because your photos on Facebook was so different from what people usually post and we will record an episode about photography that will air next week. But this week I want to talk to you about your vacation in France. You spent two weeks in France with your children.

Jessica Kosmack 0:33
We did. Yes.

Annie Sargent 0:34
So tell us a little bit about your family.

Jessica Kosmack 0:38
So I have my husband Mark. And then we have two children. My daughter is nine and my son is six. And this was not my husband and I’s first time to France. But it was my first it was the first time for my kids.

Annie Sargent 0:53
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 0:53
To France and to Europe.

Annie Sargent 0:55
Right. And you speak French as well.

Jessica Kosmack 0:58
I do speak French. I was in French immersion school here ever since kindergarten. And I continued on right through till University and lived in France for a year during my studies, so.

Annie Sargent 1:11
Oh, yeah. So you’re quite fluent.

Jessica Kosmack 1:15
I don’t speak it day to day here in Toronto. But I I realize now that my kids are also in French immersion, that I haven’t lost it because I can help them with their homework. And it’s all coming back.

Annie Sargent 1:27
That’s good. Congratulations. Yeah, that’s that’s a common complaint that people say, you know, I used to speak good French and then I lost it. So it’s good. It’s good.

Jessica Kosmack 1:36
No, it’s there. It doesn’t it? I mean, I think because I took it for 18 years or something like that. It’s somehow forced itself to, to stay buried in my brain.

Children playing with rocks along a river bed: Great Destinations in France for Families
Photo Jessica Kosmack

Annie Sargent 1:47
That’s great. So. So since you had been to France a few times before, did it make any difference, like going to France after you started listening to the podcast? Did I mean to people like you who know France, who speak French, I sometimes wonder if the podcast is helpful or not, is what I’m saying.

Jessica Kosmack 2:06
So that’s a great question. It was super helpful. And I discovered the podcast maybe a month before we were going. And so while we had planned out generally, where we were going to be going, and we booked our accommodation, I, I hadn’t been to France since the year 2000. So it had been a while, and I had never been with my family. And so I particularly found the episodes about, you know, the family.

Annie Sargent 2:36
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 2:36
Family trips useful. But I also found things about booking tickets. I mean, if you can, you know, in the year 2000, we had, I didn’t travel with a cell phone. I mean, I had, there was computers and I had email and stuff like that. But I didn’t have a compute personal computer. And you didn’t research a trip the same way.

Annie Sargent 3:00
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 3:01
So, I found it very useful. You know, the, the episodes on safety and, you know, traveling and Paris. It really was helpful.

Annie Sargent 3:09
Oh, that’s good. That’s good. I’m glad to hear that. Yeah. Because it’s true that between 2000 and 2018, your trip was in 2018, or 2017?

Jessica Kosmack 3:21
It was it was just a few weeks ago. It was in 2018.

Annie Sargent 3:23
Oh, very good.

Jessica Kosmack 3:25
Yeah.

Annie Sargent 3:26
Very good. Okay. So tell us what was what were your favorite things? What was what were the things that you recommend to other people?

Jessica Kosmack 3:34
So maybe I’ll start, we traveled all over. So I’ll start with Paris, because we flew in and out of Paris.

Annie Sargent 3:40
Uh huh.

Jessica Kosmack 3:41
We stayed all of our accommodations in, in every city and town we stayed in, were through Airbnb. And we, we travel that way now whenever we travel, because it’s comfortable for the kids. And it’s comfortable for us. And we can have our space to spread out. So in Paris, we were in Rue Montorgueil.

Annie Sargent 4:05
Yeah. Which is a really famous popular street in Paris

Jessica Kosmack 4:09
It is! It was amazing because it’s pedestrian only. And so we were staying in a beautiful apartment that was actually the woman’s you know, the woman who own the apartment, when she doesn’t rent it out, she lives there. So really felt like somebody Parisian flat, which was lovely. And when you walked out the door, you were right on the street.

Annie Sargent 4:34
On a busy street!

Jessica Kosmack 4:36
On a busy street, but I could peer out and see from our doorway, you know, three different boulangeries, and roasting chicken man across the street and cafes just, you know, just down from us. So it was nice for all of us and the kids, especially to just sort of walk out the front door.

Annie Sargent 4:56
And there you are, in Paris life!

Jessica Kosmack 4:58
And there you are and there’s no cars, you know, except occasional delivery vehicle and stuff like that, you know that was great. And from there, we walked everywhere. So we walked almost every day straight down the street and towards the Seine. And so, one of the days that I think my kids loved, was we walked down towards the Louvre, and I think we walked down rue du Louvre, which is very busy and a big street and we had no intention, I should say this, of going to the museum.

Annie Sargent 5:40
Okay.

Jessica Kosmack 5:42
But we wanted to see the pyramids up front, and it was a beautiful sunny day. So we walked down there played out in front, the kids just ran around, I mean, that it wasn’t very busy. We were there late September, almost October. And there was a there was definitely tourists but even we noticed the lineup to get into the museum was short

Annie Sargent 6:06
Right

Jessica Kosmack 6:08
So it was, we deliberately planned to go this time of year, I should mention, because we it’s I mean, it’s nice to be in Toronto in the summer, we don’t get a very long warm period. So it’s nice to stay here.

Annie Sargent 6:22
Yeah

Jessica Kosmack 6:22
We didn’t really want to travel in the heart, like the height of hot summer and tourists. So, our kids are still young, we can take them out of school for a couple of weeks. So, nothing was very busy. And so from the, from the pyramids at the Louvre, we walked all the way sort of the entire length of the Tuileries Gardens.

Father holding his son while the son looks through binoculars on the Eiffel Tower: Great Destinations in France for Families Episode
Photo Jessica Kosmack

Annie Sargent 6:46
Mm hmm.

Jessica Kosmack 6:48
And the leaves were turning color because it was fall and there were still lots of people out, but you could tell a lot of them were Parisians.

Annie Sargent 6:56
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 6:58
And just, you know, relaxing by the ponds or sitting in the chairs and we found a lovely little playground and a carousel that was the start of our, every time we saw a carousel we had to ride it! It’s the best, you know, two euros every time we saw it. That was the best money spent. We just played there. I mean, the kids loved it. They they love playing with the other kids again, because we were there during a not very busy period there was just it was mostly French people around us.

Annie Sargent 7:37
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 7:38
Yeah, it was great. We found a little cafe there to have to have lunch and so I think that was a real highlight because

Annie Sargent 7:46
That was a highlight yeah, just hanging around the Tuileries Garden and and walking around and enjoying just everyday Paris ambiance.

Jessica Kosmack 7:54
I mean, I think that was the highlight really for the whole trip was as much as we could just enjoy everyday life and then intersperse it with fun things for the kids to sort of let off steam and run around.

Annie Sargent 8:09
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 8:10
That’s that was perfect yeah

Annie Sargent 8:11
I wanted to ask you going back to your Airbnb, you… So you this Airbnb is on rue Montorgueil, so it’s a very famous street. Were the prices comparable to hotels? Or was it still a good deal?

Jessica Kosmack 8:27
I think it was a good deal. I mean, I didn’t look at I didn’t look at hotels to be honest. So I don’t know. I mean, what would you say?

Annie Sargent 8:36
Around around there. You’d probably pay at least 200 per room. Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 8:42
So this was comparable.

Annie Sargent 8:44
Okay.

Jessica Kosmack 8:46
So that, but it had two bedrooms. It had pure, it was just beautiful. It was you know,

Annie Sargent 8:54
Right. That’s good!

Jessica Kosmack 8:56
It had all the old features, but yet, you know, it had laundry and everything if we wanted it, so.

Annie Sargent 9:03
Uh huh. Well, that’s cool. Because so 200 for the apartment.

Jessica Kosmack 9:10
Per night.

Annie Sargent 9:11
Per night. Right. Well, that’s still really not bad. Because I don’t think you’d find a room family room for people in that area. With a hotel. I think you’d pay at least 350. Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 9:24
Yeah, and it’s funny because I will say we just stayed one night in a hotel at the very end of our trip before we flew home. And we walked into the room. And my daughter said, after two weeks of staying and you know, beautiful homes. She walked in, and she said, “Oh, my goodness. I’m so glad we didn’t have to do this for the whole trip!” Two beds in one room. And that’s about it. Yeah, they really appreciate it.

Annie Sargent 9:52
Good. That’s good.

Jessica Kosmack 9:52
Yeah.

Annie Sargent 9:54
Anything else you enjoyed in Paris with your kids?

Jessica Kosmack 9:59
We so the the Ryder Cup golf tournament was on when were there. And which is I’m not a huge golf fan. But it was it was seemed to be a pretty big deal. It’s the first time it’s been in Paris. It was just outside of Paris. I think.

Annie Sargent 10:14
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 10:17
Paris itself was really celebrating and outside of the Hotel de Ville they had set up a mini golf course.

Annie Sargent 10:24
Oh, how fun!

Jessica Kosmack 10:28
And also a huge, gigantic, you know, TV screen. So there was a lot of there was a lot of Parisians and then also some tourists who brought out like lawn chairs and stuff like that to sit out in front of this giant TV screen and watch the golf at 10 o’clock in the morning. Yeah, we didn’t do that but the kids loved the golf the mini golf and practicing their their golf swing, so that was unexpected. We had no idea we were going to run into that. We were on our way to Notre Dame and it was Sunday morning and which I didn’t even think about and we went to Notre Dame which the lineup outside looked extremely long and so I promised my daughter who groaned that it you know, she didn’t want to wait in line for too long. I said if we haven’t moved in five minutes, we’ll just leave the line and we were inside in less than five minutes.

Annie Sargent 11:22
Yes, Notre Dame the line can look really long and it goes fast. They are very efficient.

Jessica Kosmack 11:29
That was great. And considering it was also Sunday Mass, which I didn’t know and they were still letting people in. We got to see a bit of that. So that was kind of cool.

Annie Sargent 11:40
Yes. That’s a cultural experience

Jessica Kosmack 11:44
Yeah. And one other thing that the kid that I had heard about on a few of your podcasts was the Marche des oiseaux that was on that morning so we went to see that in the kids held birds and. Like like many of your listeners have said they wanted to take some home and we said no.

Annie Sargent 12:06
Yes, all the kids want to take home a bird.

Jessica Kosmack 12:10
Yeah, it was great. I can’t believe people need to buy that many things for their birds. But it was pretty cool.

Annie Sargent 12:17
Yeah. So the Marche aux oiseaux is very close to the Sainte Chapelle. It’s right by the metro Cite and when you exit at Cite you’re right there on a Sunday morning and it’s it’s it’s fun. I mean, I’m not a big fan of keeping birds in a cage but…

Jessica Kosmack 12:38
Neither am I. Yeah. But again, it was it takes you know, it takes five minutes to walk through it’s not very big.

Annie Sargent 12:47
But young children will really enjoy that. And yeah, every big city in Europe seems to have something like that in Barcelona. There’s on the Rambla, on the main Rambla, can’t remember what they are the week but they also do a big bird, the section of the rambla is full bird trade kind of people. So yeah, it’s, it’s popular.

Jessica Kosmack 13:11
Yeah. So that was fun. And yeah, and then I think, I mean, we did the Eiffel Tower. That was the one thing that that was really the only thing my kids knew about Paris. They wanted to do that. So we had pre booked our tickets, which did help. I mean, it helped, ya know, you have to wait in two lines, that we still have to wait in one line.

Annie Sargent 13:33
Sure, you still have to do security no matter what.

Jessica Kosmack 13:37
Yeah, I mean, that that was one of the spots that was very different from what I remember when I was last there.

Annie Sargent 13:43
Uh huh.

Jessica Kosmack 13:43
Because you could walk right up, you used to be able to walk, you know, right up underneath the Eiffel Tower. And you didn’t even have to go up if you didn’t want to, but you could look up from from the ground.

Annie Sargent 13:54
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 13:55
And just see what that was like. But this time, you had to go through a few level of security before you could even get to get your…

Annie Sargent 14:02
Approach. Yeah, were they pretty much done with the construction? Because they were putting up special it’s kind of a special plexiglass all around.

Jessica Kosmack 14:15
Yes, that was all up. We had to go through that.

We again, we just, we kind of just we picked a line that said, you know, it looked like it said, if you had tickets go here. I’m not sure if that was true. But they let us go through. So we didn’t we didn’t have to wait in line to get through security. But yes, they did have all of those plexiglass walls up.

Annie Sargent 14:40
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you can still go under the Eiffel Tower. But you have to go through security first. And the lines are usually pretty long. Well, it depends on the time of year. And one trick to not wait too long at the Eiffel Tower is if you go towards the end of the day. So you it doesn’t close at the same time every day of the year. But if you go maybe an hour or an hour and a half before closing time, then you may, even in the middle of the summer, you don’t have as many you know, as many people in line.

Boy looking at the Eiffel Tower from a boat on the Seine: Great Destinations in France for Families Episode
Photo Jessica Kosmack

Jessica Kosmack 15:12
Yeah, it was okay. We waited maybe half an hour.

Annie Sargent 15:14
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 15:15
Yeah, it was a nice, warm, sunny day. And we were there I think just after lunchtime, so yeah, one o’clock, something like that.

Annie Sargent 15:24
I think any big city or any attraction, really. I mean, if you go to Disneyland, there’s lines of an hour and a half some for some actions, you know, so it’s just how it goes. I mean, is when it’s a popular attraction, there’s going to be lines.

Jessica Kosmack 15:37
Exactly.

Annie Sargent 15:37
So what did you think, what did the kids think of the Eiffel Tower? was it was it a fun experience for them?

Jessica Kosmack 15:45
It was. It was it was funny, because it was so hot and sunny down at the while we were waiting, and then you get up there. And it’s quite windy. And yeah, you know, quite a bit cooler. So it was, yeah, they really liked it. It was a beautiful full day. So you could see really far.

Annie Sargent 16:03
Mm hmm.

Jessica Kosmack 16:03
My son whenever he sees a telescope that you have to put money into, we have to do that. So we, I’m not even sure he can see. But he just feels like he has to do to do that.

Annie Sargent 16:17
Yes, he needs to do that.

Jessica Kosmack 16:18
So, we did that, and of course visited the gift shops because that’s also something we always have to do. It wasn’t it wasn’t too busy. I mean, it was busy. But it wasn’t overwhelming. You could always get right up to the edge. And we did not go higher than the second level. And partly that was because when I went to buy our tickets, those advanced tickets were already sold out. But also I had, you know, I had only ever been to the second level and my memories of it were that it was a spectacular view even from there.

Annie Sargent 16:55
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 16:56
And the idea of waiting, and then getting up and possibly waiting again, to get up higher.

Annie Sargent 17:01
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 17:02
Just wasn’t…

Annie Sargent 17:03
wasn’t appealing.

Jessica Kosmack 17:05
No, it wasn’t that appealing. And I didn’t really I knew we’d be able to see an amazing view. So

Annie Sargent 17:11
Actually, from the third level, you see a lot less because you’re so high. You have to have like, you know, a very long zoom lens to see anything from up there.

Jessica Kosmack 17:21
That’s right, actually, yeah, the photos I took from the second level are amazing. Because you’re high, but you’re not too far away.

Annie Sargent 17:29
Right. Right.

Jessica Kosmack 17:30
So yeah, they liked that. We were actually, and then from the second, so we took the elevator up, but then you can walk down to like a sub level. I don’t know if it’s…

Annie Sargent 17:43
To the first level. Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 17:45
To the first level. You’re right. So we did that we walked down and there was hardly anybody there.

Annie Sargent 17:51
Mm hmm.

Jessica Kosmack 17:53
So after we had spent time up on the second level, looking at the views, we went down to the first level and you know, use the washroom there which were empty and clean and beautiful. And nice the kids ran and there was a glass floor a bit of a glass floor there. We stood on that so that kind of ended up being a bit of a break for us because we could all just sit down.

Annie Sargent 18:18
Yeah, that’s a good tip that’s it that’s a really good tip. Most people don’t stop on the first level and you know. I mean the Eiffel travel… the Eiffel Tower keeps trying to put new things there to see if people will. But people don’t, they just want to go to the second and third level yes just how it is.

Jessica Kosmack 18:36
You’re right, there was a little there was a movie there’s a little movie theater yeah so we watched it’s just sort of clips of black and white film of when it was first opening I think.

Oh that’s nice.

Yeah, it was nice and again sit you get to sit down and just…

Annie Sargent 18:54
Right! Yeah, I would I would recommend it you know when you’re on the second level just walk down one level, and it probably takes what five minutes? And you’re going down anyway I mean.

Jessica Kosmack 19:04
Yeah, and then you get the experience of being on the stairs if you haven’t walked at all because that is pretty cool to see to see out through all of the the iron.

Annie Sargent 19:14
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 19:15
You know iron work so yeah that was that was really fun and different from what I remember and the kids really liked it, so.

Annie Sargent 19:26
Yeah very good.

Jessica Kosmack 19:27
Um so yeah and then you know, we just loved living in Paris we spent a lot of time on our street where our Airbnb was because there was so much to see so much ice cream to try!

Annie Sargent 19:42
And this is such a good piece of advice is stay somewhere that’s pleasant that where you won’t have to go very far to just enjoy your stay.

Jessica Kosmack 19:54
Exactly.

Annie Sargent 19:55
There are people who go to extreme lengths to save a few bucks and they end up staying in areas that are not interesting or even dangerous at times.

Yeah.

And I think that’s foolish because in Paris there’s so much enjoyment just going down the stairs or you know there’s there’s a lot of places in Paris where you just want a pleasant street you can just enjoy that without going anywhere, really.

Jessica Kosmack 20:26
Yeah, I agree. And that definitely was our goal with this trip was not to overbook ourselves.

Annie Sargent 20:32
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 20:32
And so not to especially in somewhere like in the places where we were in cities not to stay anywhere where we couldn’t walk to things.

Annie Sargent 20:42
Mm hmm.

Jessica Kosmack 20:44
It was great. I mean, we walked we walked from our apartment to the Eiffel Tower.

Annie Sargent 20:49
Mm hmm.

Jessica Kosmack 20:51
And that was sort of because as we kept walking, I just I kept looking at how long it was going to take. And then at some point, I was like, You know what, it’s only 20 more minutes. Let’s just do it. And then I think we took we maybe took the… Yeah, we walked after the Eiffel Tower. We walked up the Trocadero

Annie Sargent 21:11
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 21:13
And which was that was very busy, actually, it was kind of, yeah, it was some protests and stuff going on up there. It was fine. It was peaceful, but there was a lot of people, but because the view is so amazing. Yeah. And then from there, we took the metro back to our apartment, but the kids really impressed us with how much they could walk.

Annie Sargent 21:34
Yeah, that’s, that sounds like they’re good walkers.

Jessica Kosmack 21:37
Yeah. But they they don’t. I would say they complain more when they’re here. But if you’re out somewhere and there’s interesting stuff to look at, and fun food to eat and carousels to stop at

Annie Sargent 21:51
All is well!

Jessica Kosmack 21:54
So , after Paris. We were in Paris for three days.

Train station in France: Great Destinations in France for Families episode

Photo Jessica Kosmack

Annie Sargent 21:56
Uh huh.

Jessica Kosmack 21:57
And then we took the TGV down to Montpellier.

Annie Sargent 22:05
Yep. So that’s the high speed train.

Jessica Kosmack 22:07
Yes, it was. It was high speed. However, we had a hour and a half delay at the beginning.

Annie Sargent 22:14
Uh huh.

Jessica Kosmack 22:15
As someone had been injured on the tracks somewhere.

Annie Sargent 22:20
That’s what happens. Every time I take the train. There’s delays at some point. You know, it’s just because it’s I mean, it covers a lot of ground and there might be a dead animal on the tracks. That might be a protest, they may be, who knows? But there’s always seems there’s always something.

Jessica Kosmack 22:36
Yeah, I work in public transportation. So I completely understand and was not the, the, they kept us very informed. And we so one tip when we were booking our train tickets, which I booked those in advance was, we knew we wanted to take the TGV and when I looked at the difference between first class and second class it was a difference of maybe I’m not kidding. Three euros a ticket!

Annie Sargent 23:05
Exactly, yes.

Jessica Kosmack 23:07
And so we just went for it. And went first class and it just gave us a bit more space a bit more, it was quieter, which, while you might not think that’s a good idea for kids, it made them be a little quieter too. Like, so, we just kind of had a really nice relaxing trip. I wish we had packed more food rather than relying on the food on the train. But that’s our own fault.

Annie Sargent 23:36
Was it not very good?

Jessica Kosmack 23:37
It was fine.

Annie Sargent 23:38
I haven’t bought any food on a train in a long time. I don’t know what it’s like.

Jessica Kosmack 23:42
It was fine. But it was not great. And really expensive. And some of the things that we wanted, they didn’t have so because they just hadn’t restocked the train probably.

Yeah, yeah. So you know, that was okay. But that was are you can definitely we were coming out of Gare de Lille and there’s lots of there’s a Paul in there. Like, there’s lots of stuff you can stock up in there. It’s maybe not any cheaper, but at least it’s a little bit better than what you get on the train.

Annie Sargent 24:15
Right. Yeah. Yeah.

It would probably be a good idea to buy a few snacks or sandwiches or whatever, before you get on the train. Yeah, that’s what I usually do.

Jessica Kosmack 24:27
So we would, I would recommend that, you know, next, but yeah, I mean, it’s super once we started moving. It was it was, you know, three hours, like they said it would be.

Annie Sargent 24:41
Yeah, and, you know, it’s To me, it’s, it’s, it’s really just relaxing, because you’re in a train. There’s that movement, constant movement, you have a lot more room than you do on a plane.

Jessica Kosmack 24:55
Yes

Annie Sargent 24:55
I mean, honestly, because you could totally fly between Paris and Montpellier, but it would probably take you the same amount of time because by the time.

Jessica Kosmack 25:05
Or longer!

Annie Sargent 25:06
Or langer, because you have to, you know, you have to arrive early and do security and all of that. With a TGV there’s a little bit of security, but it’s, it goes pretty quickly.

Jessica Kosmack 25:17
Yeah there was well, yeah, there, there wasn’t a lot. There was one area we had to pass through that was sort of like security. Yeah, it was pretty easy.

Annie Sargent 25:27
And they don’t check passports or whatever. They do more of that in Spain. If you board a high speed train in Spain, they will do more security. But in France, it’s still pretty relaxed. Yeah, it was.

Jessica Kosmack 25:38
Yeah, it was very relaxed. And the, there’s WiFi on the train. So, you know, we had a lot to do. And yeah, I was we were traveling sort of late morning, midday. So it was you could see everything like, yeah, so Yeah, I agree with you. I find it a very relaxing way to travel. Even with kids. I mean, I think they liked it. My son got a little bit motion sick. I think it was from sitting backwards. So yeah, just rotate where you’re sitting if that’s a problem. Yeah, but very comfortable. And…

Annie Sargent 26:20
Yeah, and on the TV, you can you can choose your seat.

Jessica Kosmack 26:24
They can.

Annie Sargent 26:25
They, you know, there’s a lot of granularity in how you choose your seat. And unlike airlines, they don’t charge you more for picking a seat or something, you know, yeah. Which and they don’t charge you more for luggage. And there’s a few things that you need to take into consideration when you book train ticket rather than a airline ticket, is it there’s not going to be upselling of mo I mean of many things, if anything.

Jessica Kosmack 26:51
Right.

Annie Sargent 26:52
And first class is definitely worth it on the TGV. And the other thing is book your TGV tickets early because prices do go up as you get closer to date.

Jessica Kosmack 27:02
Yes, we actually started watching it watching the prices several months before, but there’s also a limit of how early you can buy.

Annie Sargent 27:11
Right, you can, yeah, you shouldn’t buy… I think it’s 90 days. It might just be 60 days.

Jessica Kosmack 27:17
No, I think it’s 90.

Annie Sargent 27:18
Okay. Yeah, don’t try to book a year early. That’s silly. But But when when the tickets become available, don’t wait too long.

Jessica Kosmack 27:28
That’s right. Yeah. And our train was I would say it was pretty full so yeah, yeah. So that was fun. And I mean to your point about we could have taken could have flown down to Montpellier it’s true. But part of our that early part of our trip we didn’t have a car and the airport in Montpellier is you know, quite outside the city. So yeah, this was a way of getting us from you know, central Paris to central Montpellier.

Annie Sargent 28:02
Although the TGV trains in Montpellier don’t stop right in the city, do they? They have a separate train station? Don’t they?

Jessica Kosmack 28:13
No, this one was the main train station.

Annie Sargent 28:16
Ha! Okay.

Jessica Kosmack 28:16
Yeah,

Annie Sargent 28:19
Maybe I misunderstood. I have never done this myself. I thought that the TGV in Montpellier stopped at a different train station than the main one

Jessica Kosmack 28:26
Oh, I know there is a different train station.

Annie Sargent 28:29
Ah, okay.

Jessica Kosmack 28:30
But I’ve never been to it. And no, this is the same. I mean, this is the same TGV I took when I was a student which was kind of cool.

Annie Sargent 28:39
Very good!

Jessica Kosmack 28:41
So, and so the reason we chose Montpellier, just as a side note, is because that I lived there for a year back when I was in university. So I went to school at a university here in Ontario, but did my did a full year exchange in Montpellier, and went to the University there. Rented an apartment just, you know, lived lived like a local student. And there’s a lot of students in Montpellier.

Annie Sargent 29:12
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 29:15
Yeah. So I had not been back since I got on a plane to head home when I was 20 years old, or something like that. It was it was a very surreal experience in a way to be back and to be back with, you know, an entire family and tow.

But we got off at the station. And, and my sense of navigation kicked in. And I knew exactly where we had to go, because we were staying right in the Place de la Comedie.

Annie Sargent 29:43
Oh, again, right in the center. You picked some good places to stay!

Jessica Kosmack 29:47
We did. My husband actually found this Airbnb. And it was amazing. And I can share if you want me to share the…

Annie Sargent 29:54
Yeah, would be nice to share the links to the exact properties where you stayed, because I’m sure some people will want to see that.

Jessica Kosmack 30:01
Yeah, so this place was amazing. It was right on the, you know, overlooks the Place de la Comedie. You could see all of it from the balcony windows that were in it. And so we could easily walk from the train station. And the train station has been really nicely renovated. I don’t know how recently, but it’s quite beautiful, now. That’s not my recollection of it.

Annie Sargent 30:27
Yeah, there are plenty train stations in France that are not very nice.

Jessica Kosmack 30:30
No, this one’s beautiful. It’s got big, soaring ceilings, lots of light now. So nice. So that was an it’s an easy walk. So we just pulled our suitcases up with us got into our apartment. And our favorite thing in Montpellier definitely, was just exploring the street. So I listened to your episode about Montpellier just recently. And there’s there are, you know, a lot of cultural things you can do. But it’s also just such an amazing city to explore.

Annie Sargent 31:00
It’s just a pleasant city. It’s a pleasant city to walk around and just be in. You know,

Jessica Kosmack 31:06
I agree. And I think that if it feels a bit like two cities, and the Place de la Comedie sort of splits it. Like the south side or the, I’ll say south, but from Place de la Comedie down to the train station. Yeah, it’s grungier.

Annie Sargent 31:22
Yep.

Jessica Kosmack 31:23
Some, it’s just a little grittier. And that’s sort of the nature I guess, of being your train station.

Annie Sargent 31:29
Exactly. Yep.

Jessica Kosmack 31:31
As soon as you get through the Place de la Comedie, and then the the other side, it’s, it’s like a different city. Like, it’s really nice shopping. And the streets are a bit different. It sort of feels like you’re going up a hill because they’re very a lot of very steep, windy, narrow streets and secret courtyards. You come across with little cafes. And we spent a lot of time on that side. Up near the… there an Arc de Triomphe up there and…

Boy taking a photo of his parents who are sitting on some stairs: Great Destinations in France for Families Episode
Photo Jessica Kosmack

Annie Sargent 32:06
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 32:07
The old Roman aqueduct.

Right, the aqueduct and and the big the garden park thing. With a statue of Louis XIV and all of that. Yeah, yeah.

So we spent a lot of time and I wasn’t really thinking that it would what it would feel like because it it was fall, so all the leaves are changing. So everything is beautiful golden orange, and the leaves were starting to fall off. And yet, it was still, you know, quite warm. We were in T shirts.

Annie Sargent 32:40
Good for pictures!

Jessica Kosmack 32:41
It was great for pictures.

Annie Sargent 32:44
I’ll put your pictures it’ll be all your pictures on in the show notes.

Jessica Kosmack 32:47
Yeah, I’ll share all that. So we just did a lot of that and we did things you know, as as you do. You sometimes go to things because you need to see if they have a washroom you can use.

Annie Sargent 33:00
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 33:01
So especially with the kids. So we were walking towards that park Peyrou and walked past the courthouse.

Annie Sargent 33:10
Mm hmm.

Jessica Kosmack 33:13
And and I just you know, we ducked in to see if we could use their washroom and turns out, you could you could have a look around. You couldn’t go in because there was actually court was in session. You could you couldn’t go into the chambers. But it’s this beautiful, very imposing building.

Annie Sargent 33:30
The courthouse. Yeah, yeah, I haven’t been to it.

Jessica Kosmack 33:34
I mean, there’s not a ton to see. But they had a very nice clean bathroom we could use and it was quite a nice building. And this just the steps leading up to it are stunning. So, you know, we ducked into places like that quite often. And we’re surprised because that definitely wasn’t on our list of things to do. And I had never done it before.

Annie Sargent 33:55
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 33:55
Yeah, so.

Annie Sargent 33:58
But since you lived there. You You felt free to go into something and just look at it. You know,

Jessica Kosmack 34:05
Exactly, exactly. And I just wanted to I mean, I went back and found my old apartment.

Annie Sargent 34:11
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 34:12
And which was on the grungier side of downtown. It was still there. And it was just really, really, it was a great feeling to be back and fun. Again, it’s very pedestrian friendly there.

Annie Sargent 34:27
Oh, yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 34:27
You hardly see any cars. And so it’s fun for all of us to just walk down the streets and not have to be worried that cars are coming up behind you. Or you have to stick to the sidewalks because there aren’t really any sidewalks. You just walk.

Annie Sargent 34:43
Right. And if you have good weather, it’s so pleasant!

Jessica Kosmack 34:46
So pleasant. And we found as we did everywhere, we found the playground, which was very near our apartment. And they had a giant old carousel right up front of the Monoprix. So we were there every day.

Annie Sargent 35:01
Yeah. Yeah, it’s a pretty one. It’s how many days did you spend in Montpellier?

Jessica Kosmack 35:08
We were there for three nights and four ish days.

Annie Sargent 35:13
Uh huh.

Jessica Kosmack 35:14
Yeah.

Annie Sargent 35:14
And you didn’t make it to the beach?

Jessica Kosmack 35:17
We didn’t make it to the beach. Yeah, because we knew we had beach days coming up later. And

Annie Sargent 35:23
That’s a good reason.

Jessica Kosmack 35:27
Yeah, it was. So we just again, we kind of just lived there. And one of the things we did was because I take a lot, I’m the photographer in the family, but I don’t get to be in very many pictures. Is we actually hired a photographer who met us in Montpellier. And we did a photo session for our family there.

Annie Sargent 35:48
That’s cool.

Jessica Kosmack 35:49
It was very cool. And it was I wanted to be, I didn’t really care where it was on our trip. But I’m really glad it ended up being there. Because it’s such a special city to me.

Annie Sargent 35:59
Exactly. You have memories there! So yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 36:02
And our photographer came in from Lyon. And she had she’s French and she’d never been to Montpellier so she was super excited that it and could not believe that she’d left Lyon that morning wearing a winter jacket and a sweater and got off the train to palm trees and T shirt weather, so.

Annie Sargent 36:20
I know, Montpellier has nice whether!

Jessica Kosmack 36:23
They do! They do! Like I think their their town slogan is 300 days of sun a year.

Annie Sargent 36:30
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I love Toulouse but I must admit Montpellier is tempting when you look at the weather.

Jessica Kosmack 36:36
Yeah, it is. And I will say there’s one other really cool thing in Montpellier, which was their toy stores. Which we found some of the most, maybe this is all over France and we just didn’t see other ones. But there was two or three unbelievable toy stores that felt like almost like theme parks, just the way that they arrange their… the toys inside and it was of course it was different stuff that our kids are used to seeing.

Annie Sargent 37:06
That is good.

Jessica Kosmack 37:09
Yeah. And so we they didn’t even the kids didn’t even go in and want to buy everything they just sort of like being in there.

Huh.

And so I can share the names of those because they were… one just felt like you kept going into different rooms and they were all themed, like one room was all space and it was it was very cool.

Annie Sargent 37:29
That’s nice. Yeah, you you it’s it’s very nice because you listed one called the Pomme de Reinette et Pomme dÁpi.

Jessica Kosmack 37:36
Yes. Yeah.

Annie Sargent 37:37
Do you know what that is? Do you know what the reference is?

Well, I know the song.

Okay yeah that’s what I was gonna say. It’s a song It’s a kid song.

Jessica Kosmack 37:45
Yes No. And so yes annoyed my kids by singing it!

Annie Sargent 37:51
Well, when I read it in your show notes there I started singing and it was stuck in my head!

Jessica Kosmack 37:57
Yeah, actually my kids learned that in school. Yeah. They know it Yeah. So yeah. So that was fun. Again it’s just, you know, my kids like just wandering and as long as we take enough breaks and you’re not just wandering aimlessly and free time is fun. So.

Annie Sargent 38:22
Yeah. Yeah. So you didn’t even go into museums or anything like that. You just went out to explore the city.

Jessica Kosmack 38:30
We did. There was a few things that I I wish we had done, but we just didn’t have time. And I’m that’s fine. I wanted to go to the what’s the garden? The Jardin des plantes? Is that it?

Annie Sargent 38:46
Yeah. Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 38:47
And I just because I had been there before, when I was when I lived there. And I really liked it. Yeah, ran out of time. And I think if the kids weren’t with us, I would really like to go to the what’s the art museum?

Annie Sargent 39:04
Oh, I don’t remember the name of it. But it’s on the Place de la Comedie. It’s Yes. It’s the Yeah, it’s a major museum. I can remember the name.

Jessica Kosmack 39:12
Yeah. Anyway, that I never wanted to go to it until I listened to your episode about it.

Annie Sargent 39:18
Elyse convinced you!

Jessica Kosmack 39:19
I think I was already home? So I couldn’t do anything about it. But, you know what, we made a pretty conscious effort on this trip that unless we knew it was going to be something we all wanted to do we weren’t probably going to do museums.

Annie Sargent 39:35
Yeah. And yeah, with young children, you have to have a plan for museums. So you know, if you know that there’s a piece in there that you want to tell them about before you go and you get them excited about seeing it. And, and then you go in and see it. That’s, that’s one thing. That’s a very good way to handle it. But if you just going to walk around the museum, oh, look at this. Look at that. Look at that. They’re fine with it for for maybe an hour and then they’re sick of it. You know.

Jessica Kosmack 40:02
I agree. Yeah. And I think that we had such good weather. And, oh, we kind of in the back of our mind just said, if it’s rainy, then we will maybe look for indoor stuff.

Annie Sargent 40:17
Exactly!

Jessica Kosmack 40:19
We had maybe a day and a half of rain the entire trip.

Annie Sargent 40:23
Wow.

Jessica Kosmack 40:25
So it was nice not to have planned to do indoor things.

Annie Sargent 40:28
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 40:29
And then felt bad that we were missing out on beautiful weather.

Annie Sargent 40:33
And you also went to the Corum and the Polygone and all of that, which is kind of the neoclassical part of Montpellier. Yeah, the newer

Jessica Kosmack 40:44
The newer part, yeah.

Annie Sargent 40:45
A bit extravagant, grandiose.

Jessica Kosmack 40:48
Yes. It is! Such it’s such an interesting city that way. Yeah.

Annie Sargent 40:54
You were saying that there’s, there’s, it feels like two cities. To me it feels like three, you know, because, because that part is also very different. Very, yeah. Some people love it. Some people hate it. It’s just, but it’s also good. Good for pictures.

Jessica Kosmack 41:09
It’s good for pictures. And I think if you live there, you you don’t just want all old or all new. You need… You need some of everything. Yeah, so I see why it’s such an attractive city for people to live in, but also for students, because there’s it does have all of the amenities and more amenities in some ways, than some of the older cities in France, I think.

Annie Sargent 41:35
Yeah, and it’s not as… The lifestyle isn’t as rushed as Paris, you know, people who study in Montpellier, well, they’re not as stressed, I guess!

Jessica Kosmack 41:46
No. My husband’s favorite thing every basically the whole trip because we would be out during the week during the day. And he would always look around and say, who are these people? Don’t they? Why arent they working?

Annie Sargent 42:02
Yes, some of them do work. But they, you know, French people like when when we have a nice downtown. Yeah, we just like to go downtown. So if you have a few hours off, you’ll go downtown. And most people really like to do that. And lots and lots of people do that. Just… Just to be there. It’s kind of strange. It’s a French thing.

family walking in nature in France: Great Destinations in France for Families Episode
Photo Jessica Kosmack

Jessica Kosmack 42:22
No. Well, and the thing is, if you went to downtown Toronto, during the day in the busy part of downtown, it’s, it’s no different. There’s people on all of the in all of the coffee shops and restaurants, right. So you could say the same thing. It’s just I think you noticed more on vacation.

So after Montpellier we went into we picked up a rental car.

Annie Sargent 42:49
Uh huh.

Jessica Kosmack 42:50
And that was the start of our driving part of our trip. So we went into Provence. We did, we did a bunch of things. And I’ll just maybe talk about our favorite ones.

Annie Sargent 43:02
Yeah

Jessica Kosmack 43:03
So we rented…

Annie Sargent 43:04
And I’ll put the rest, sorry, I’ll put the rest of what you did. I’ll do a guest notes thing. So you you listening. If you want to see the details of what else they did, just go to the episode page. And then below, you’ll see guests notes it’s a blue button. Click on that. And you’ll get to see all of the things.

Jessica Kosmack 43:26
Great. So a big highlight. And this was on our way to our first Airbnb, which was in a tiny little village called La Roque-sur-Pernes, which was so tiny. There was nothing! There was a there was a war monument and a yellow house. And that was how we were told to find our Airbnb. Like, there was no yeah…

Annie Sargent 43:50
No bakery. No, nothing.

Jessica Kosmack 43:53
But it was no, no bakery. It was Yeah, it was very remote. It was beautiful. But anyway, on our way there. We stopped and rented kayaks and kayaks under the Pont du Gard.

Annie Sargent 44:05
Oh, yes. Yes. Well, that’s very fun.

Jessica Kosmack 44:10
So wonderful. It was, it’s just very peaceful. Again, probably the time of year, we lucked out. The weather was so beautiful. But there was I think we saw maybe one other canoe on the river that day.

Annie Sargent 44:25
Wow!

Jessica Kosmack 44:26
And so we had…

Annie Sargent 44:27
Yes, I’ve been there in the summer and there are a lot of canoes.

Jessica Kosmack 44:31
Yeah, we saw a few sunbathers, like on the shore.

Annie Sargent 44:35
Uh huh.

Jessica Kosmack 44:36
But not very many. And so we had two kayaks. My husband and I, and then we had one kid in our in our kayaks and it was about two hours, I would say.

Annie Sargent 44:48
Uh huh.

Jessica Kosmack 44:49
And, but it’s just very, I love this about Europe in general. Very little guidance is given you get your kayak up, get your life jacket, and they say, we’ll meet you in two hours.

Annie Sargent 45:04
Well, yeah. Because I mean, honestly, it’s that river is not challenging or dangerous.

Jessica Kosmack 45:10
No.

Annie Sargent 45:11
It’s, you know, it’s something that even I could do. I can, I’m not sports type of person. It’s, you know, yeah. It’s, you don’t need

Jessica Kosmack 45:21
But it’s fun too! There was actually little spots where it felt like you were going down mini rapids and…

Annie Sargent 45:27
Right, Some excitement!

Jessica Kosmack 45:29
Yeah, it was fun. It was so much fun. And so, and then you get to go under the Pont du Gard, which is an amazing perspective to have. Under there, that it was very busy. Right around the Pont du Gard.

Annie Sargent 45:42
Right, right.

Jessica Kosmack 45:44
But otherwise, we literally saw nobody.

Annie Sargent 45:46
So did you take your camera equipment in the kayak?

Jessica Kosmack 45:49
So I brought my… So they give you this, like a plastic barrel.

Annie Sargent 45:58
Okay. Okay.

Jessica Kosmack 45:59
So you can put everything in it. But if you have, I didn’t bring my really good camera. Because, yes, it still has to go in the plastic barrel and take it out while you’re on the water.

Annie Sargent 46:09
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 46:10
I brought my iPhone and it takes great pictures. Well, for that, that particular activity, I was good with that. And even that I was scared. I would drop my phone.

Annie Sargent 46:20
And yeah, that’s, that’s probably what I would have done too.

Jessica Kosmack 46:25
Yeah. So. But it was really, really fun. I would highly recommend that. I think even if it was busy, it would be really fun.

Annie Sargent 46:31
Yeah. Oh, and even busy. Yeah, it’s not like it’s thousands of people.

Jessica Kosmack 46:35
No!

Annie Sargent 46:36
You know, you have a dozen, maybe two dozen kayaks at once. And it’s a river. I mean, you know, it’s, there’s a stretch. Yeah. And there’s times in the year where there’s not a lot of water. So there’s times in the year where you can’t do it. It just depends.

Father and son walking in nature in France : Great Destinations in France for Families Episode
Photo Jessica Kosmack

Jessica Kosmack 46:51
Though, there wasn’t a lot of water in some spots. So yeah, learn. That’s sort of the funny thing of like, we don’t, they don’t tell you any of that. But you realize when you are, you know, all of a sudden, you aren’t moving because your kayak is stuck on rocks.

Annie Sargent 47:06
Yeah, you’re stuck, yeah!

Jessica Kosmack 47:07
You have to get out and push it to a deeper spot. Yeah, but it’s fun, really. And my only regret is that we hadn’t… If we’d known we probably would have worn our bathing suits.

Annie Sargent 47:22
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 47:23
And done a bit of swimming along the way, because there was people doing that looked really fun.

Annie Sargent 47:27
Yeah, okay. Yeah, you can do that. Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 47:30
But that’s okay. One of the other spots while we’re in Provence again for about four days, one of our favorite spots was Roussillon.

Annie Sargent 47:40
Yes.

Jessica Kosmack 47:41
Because it was really pretty. But also we did that Santier des Ocres walk.

Annie Sargent 47:47
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 47:48
Which was spectacular. And every time I posted a picture of it, no one, including people in France could believe that that was in France.

Annie Sargent 47:59
Right, because you so different from the landscape of the rest of the country.

Jessica Kosmack 48:02
Yeah.

Annie Sargent 48:03
It red rock country.

Jessica Kosmack 48:05
We were covered in red dirt afterwards. Because they just went running I mean it again, it’s so it’s very cheap. We just walked from the main town, you could walk to the entrance. And then I think it was, you know, a few euro each to get in. And you can, then you can walk the different trails as many times as you want. So I think we did them two or three times.

Annie Sargent 48:33
Right. Yes, it not very big.

Jessica Kosmack 48:35
It’s not very big. And you kind of, yeah, you go through these spots where it’s, it just looks like the surface of Mars.

Annie Sargent 48:43
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 48:44
And then you’re, then there’s other parts where you’re in, you know, really, really tall forest.

Annie Sargent 48:51
Mm hmm.

Jessica Kosmack 48:52
So that we love that my son loved that so much. Just because there was there were so much up and down and different landscapes and you could run and he he really wanted to, you know, dig in the dirt and stuff like that. Yeah.

Annie Sargent 49:11
Bring clothes that are expendable. Otherwise, yeah. He

Jessica Kosmack 49:19
And then another activity we did another day, which was about an hour drive. And I again, if we were there in the high season, we would have had more options. But my kids really wanted to do this, like tree top…

Annie Sargent 49:36
Right. Accrobranche, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 49:39
Yes. Found one which was called Le Royaume des Arbres. And in this tiny little town of Charleval, I don’t know if you know Charleval

Annie Sargent 49:49
No, I have not heard of that.

Jessica Kosmack 49:52
There is really not not much going on there other than this Accrobranches course. But it was the best! Like it was…. And I guess there’s, there’s these courses all over France.

Annie Sargent 50:06
Yes. Yes. You can find that in a lot of places in France. Yes.

Jessica Kosmack 50:11
Yeah. So there was, you know, parts where adults could do it. And then there was kid courses, depending on how tall you were, and so we could have done it, but we just let we just decided to have the kids do it. And then we could help them if they needed any help. Yeah, it was really cool. They got you know, they get clipped in two harnesses. And then they can do zip lining and…

Annie Sargent 50:34
Right, they got a little bit of a safety talk there, I assume?

Jessica Kosmack 50:38
Yeah, they did. But again, and they they were they were helmets. But yeah, very, I think they loved the independence because for their age and height, they could do five of the different courses. And one of them was, there was no way we could help them. Even if we wanted to. It was so high up. But they’re all clicked in. And then they get to do these amazing zip lines. And my kids love that kind of stuff. So…

Annie Sargent 51:07
So perfect! And they’re, they’re the right age too. Up until probably, I mean, 15-16, maybe older too I don’t know, there’s probably…

Jessica Kosmack 51:15
Yeah, there was one other family that’s kind of seemed like us, they were traveling because it was during the week. And so there was nobody there. Yeah. So there was one other family and their kids were teenagers. And they so they were doing the more advanced courses.

Annie Sargent 51:29
Right, right.

Jessica Kosmack 51:31
Yeah. So that was fun and…

Annie Sargent 51:32
Le Royaume des Arbres

Jessica Kosmack 51:34
Royaume des Arbres. I think they have a few locations. And there are other ones. It’s just many of them are closed because of the time of year.

Annie Sargent 51:41
Right. Yeah, yeah, they have. I mean, they they reopen for the weekend and the reopen for school vacation. French kid school vacations. But yeah, they can’t stay open all year, because they won’t have very many people.

Jessica Kosmack 51:55
Yeah, I want to jump down to our next spot, which was… So we drove from levels down back down to the Mediterranean to Le Lavandou. And we picked that spot because my husband’s grandparents used to have a summer home there. And not one that he unfortunately ever saw. They sold it before he was born. They live lived in Scotland and so they would come over and and vacation there.

Annie Sargent 52:25
Nice!

Jessica Kosmack 52:26
Again, we were just kind of trying to find cool Airbnb is that we’re in general locations that were interesting to us. So we did a bit of research on Le Lavandou, it looked super cute. We’d never heard of it. And so we stayed there. And it was great. We were up in the hills. We have to walk down very steep, winding roads to get down to town. But we could do that. It was maybe a 10 minute walk.

Annie Sargent 52:52
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 52:54
But all along the Mediterranean is this like these hiking trails.

Annie Sargent 53:00
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 53:01
So the Sentier du Littoral I think it’s called.

Annie Sargent 53:04
Yeah, Littoral means the, the waterfront, the right. Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 53:09
And I guess there’s portions of it all along. I don’t know how it goes all the way over to Nice, but

Annie Sargent 53:16
Oh, it probably does. There’s probably ways to walk the whole thing. Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 53:24
And so there was a about a two kilometer portion in a little bit. No, I guess it was, we could start right in Le Lavandou. And it is spectacular. So you literally are walking along, you know, ocean waves crashing against you. At times. There is a path it’s it is, you know, they have spent time to put down, you know, a walking path. And…

Annie Sargent 53:50
It is probably marked.

It is marked Yep, yep.

Jessica Kosmack 53:57
And at some points, it spits you out and you’re on a beach. And you have to walk across the beach except again

Annie Sargent 54:02
On the other side of the beach. Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 54:05
You’re walking in front of some people’s beautiful summer homes and stuff like that. But that was a real highlight.

Annie Sargent 54:14
Well, so when I read this, I wondered, did they also have a lot of mountain bikes going through there?

Jessica Kosmack 54:21
None.

Annie Sargent 54:22
None! Okay.

Jessica Kosmack 54:24
I don’t think this trail I don’t think you could do on a mountain bike. Okay. It was. No, I don’t think you could. And I didn’t see any. There was a bike trail a little bit in from there. So I guess they had a separate bike trail from the road. It was totally separated. So we saw a lot of cyclists on that.

Annie Sargent 54:46
OK, but they took a different path.

Jessica Kosmack 54:49
They took a different path.

Annie Sargent 54:50
Which is good.

Jessica Kosmack 54:51
Yes, yeah. No, it was good. But this was beautiful. And we did it sort of mid to late afternoon. So in one direction, we had the sun at our back. And then on the way back, the sun was, you know, lower in the sky. and nice. Yeah. And then we ended with ice cream back. And in town.

Annie Sargent 55:10
So I’ll put a link to the to the website. It’s Sentiers du Littoral it lists a lot of different hike that you can do starting in different points and ending at different points. And some of them are longer than others and all of that good stuff.

Jessica Kosmack 55:27
Yeah, yeah, it was it was amazing. And none of us knew it was going to be that amazing which those are some of the best…

Annie Sargent 55:32
Yeah, this is not something that comes up a lot. It’s something that French people do a lot but I’d say you know, tourists typically don’t go there and they should because it’s really enjoyable.

Jessica Kosmack 55:44
Oh, it was it was one of the best things we did in especially in that area, and there’s just so many cool little coves and “calanques” to explore and we we did a lot of that While we were there.

Annie Sargent 56:01
Did you kids like swimming?

Crêpe-maker in France: : Great Destinations in France for Families Episode
Photo Jessica Kosmack

Jessica Kosmack 56:04
They did. They didn’t… they swam a little bit. The Mediterranean was a little chilly.

Annie Sargent 56:09
Yeah!

Jessica Kosmack 56:10
But our Airbnb had a pool.

Annie Sargent 56:12
So there you go!

Jessica Kosmack 56:13
We spent a lot of time there. And it was heated. So…

Annie Sargent 56:16
Oh, yeah. Yeah. If I had a choice between the heated pool and the Med, I would take the heated pool as well. Because it can get chili. I mean, it’s not like Brittany or anything, but it’s still cold. Like, you know.

Jessica Kosmack 56:29
Yeah. And that’s fine. It was October. Like, we weren’t expecting it be super hot. And the fact that we were in it at all was pretty great.

Annie Sargent 56:38
Yeah, I bet the kids enjoyed that.

Jessica Kosmack 56:40
They did. They did, and just, I don’t know how much time we have. But

Annie Sargent 56:46
Let’s, let’s try and finish up with the important stuff.

Jessica Kosmack 56:51
So after our Mediterranean days, we drove quite a long drive to Annecy.

Annie Sargent 56:58
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 56:59
In the Alps. And we had two days there. And I wish we had more because it was just, it was one of our favorite places. We stayed right in the old town, which I knew that we could walk to the lake. But I didn’t realize how close everything was. So it was just lovely to be able to, you know, we were there on a market day one of the days. So we went in and just saw them setting up. And you know, the market in that in Annecy was incredible. And the again, we still had beautiful hot weather. So we rented paddle boats and went out on the lake, which was really fun. And again, they just, you know, you say, I’m going to be out for an hour. They say, Great, go have fun! Yeah, and push you out and you go.

Annie Sargent 57:57
And if you don’t come back in three hours, like where did they go?

Jessica Kosmack 58:00
Well, they just charge you more money. Like it’s not we have so much fun doing that. And then we also drove up to Semnoz, which was the closest we were going to get to the Alps. But it was it felt like we were…

Annie Sargent 58:18
Right, because Semnoz is a ski station. It’s a yes. Would you call that? Just call it Station de Ski in French. I don’t… I losing my English.

Jessica Kosmack 58:30
Yeah, just a ski resort.

Annie Sargent 58:31
Ski resort! That’s it.

Jessica Kosmack 58:35
Yeah. And there was a couple chalets up there that were open, so we could get, you know, have a cafe up there and saw some goats.

Annie Sargent 58:43
The pictures look beautiful of that area. It looks like a nice, nice place.

Jessica Kosmack 58:47
And you can see the the lake and the town from up there. And it it just, it’s a postcard. It’s beautiful.

Annie Sargent 58:56
So in over the two weeks, where would you so you said you would have spent more time I’m in the French Alps?

Jessica Kosmack 59:02
Yes.

Annie Sargent 59:02
Well, so where would you have taken out time?

Jessica Kosmack 59:05
We’ll see that’s the problem Annie! I don’t know! So, we spent five days in Le Lavandou and I would maybe take a day away from there. But if the weather the weather there was was up and down. So we had one day it was rainy the whole time. So if you were, which made you a bit sad, because you’re somewhere where you definitely want to be outside.

Annie Sargent 59:36
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 59:36
And if you can’t be outside, and there isn’t a lot of museums and stuff like that to do. But so I maybe would have taken the day off of there and added it to Annecy. And Provence, maybe. But we did so many different little towns in the three or four days we were there that we needed those many those days. So right. Yeah,

Annie Sargent 59:59
Yeah, Provence, I mean, several other things of your favorite things that you list were in Provence.

Jessica Kosmack 1:00:06
Yeah, it was great.

Annie Sargent 1:00:08
I would think that for most people who don’t, who don’t have a connection to Montpellier. You spend three days in Montpellier?

Jessica Kosmack 1:00:18
Yeah. So yeah, maybe…

Annie Sargent 1:00:18
I mean, for people who don’t have a connection to it. In your case, it made sense. But but maybe a day or two in Montpellier would be enough for most people.

Jessica Kosmack 1:00:28
Yeah. And the other thing we did on this trip was aside from the drive from Le Lavandou to Annecy and then Annecy back to Paris. Those are two long travel days. But everything else was close. And so we did that on purpose. So that we wouldn’t be in the car very much.

Annie Sargent 1:00:47
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 1:00:47
So, any, Yeah, exactly. You could go to Montpellier for a day or two, because it was only an hour and a half to our next spot, you know, so. Yeah. So that’s, that was my… that’s a good tip, I think. Is don’t try to… You just can’t do everything in two weeks.

Annie Sargent 1:01:09
Well, no, no, there’s no way

Jessica Kosmack 1:01:12
You know. You’re in the car. or a bus or a train or whatever at lot.

Annie Sargent 1:01:15
Constantly. Yeah, yeah. And so from French Alps. Did you then take? Did you drive back to Paris? Or did you?

Jessica Kosmack 1:01:23
We did! So we decided to drive the car and drop it off at the airport.

Annie Sargent 1:01:27
Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 1:01:28
And then we stayed one night at the one hotel at the airport, basically.

Annie Sargent 1:01:35
Yeah, that’s, that’s really smart I think. Especially with kids and stuff, it will be faster to get ready in the morning. And you don’t have to worry about transportation and stuff like that.

Jessica Kosmack 1:01:45
It was maybe a five minute walk to the the people mover or whatever they call it, that takes you right into the airport. So that made our morning. So our flight was at 11am.

Annie Sargent 1:01:58
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 1:01:58
It meant we just nothing had to be rushed. We’d already dropped off the car. I’d already checked in the day before for our flight. So just, yeah, it was very smooth. And we had a fun night in the hotel. It had I made sure to book one with a pool so the kids could go swimming and, you know, we just had a fun dinner, reliving our trip at the hotel restaurant, and yeah.

Annie Sargent 1:02:25
So it was what sort of hotel was it? Was like a Hilton or something like that? One of the big brands?

Jessica Kosmack 1:02:31
Mercure.

Annie Sargent 1:02:31
Ah, le Mercure, okay.

Jessica Kosmack 1:02:34
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it was fine. Yes. Fine. It was a hotel. It was clean. It was, you know, nice, comfy beds. And, yeah.

Annie Sargent 1:02:43
So it’s funny, because on your way back, you say you stopped in Beaune for lunch, and you rode the carousel!

Jessica Kosmack 1:02:49
Of course, Annie! That’s what we did, we rode carousels!

Annie Sargent 1:02:53
Did the grown ups also ride the carousels?

Jessica Kosmack 1:02:56
No, we didn’t, but…

Annie Sargent 1:02:57
But the kids liked them.

Jessica Kosmack 1:02:59
The got all of our tickets all the time. We did stop in Beaune. It was very very touristy, that day.

Annie Sargent 1:03:09
Oh, everyday! Beaune is touristy and also kind of, from a French perspective, a little bit hoity.

Jessica Kosmack 1:03:18
Okay.

Annie Sargent 1:03:18
The way they talk to you is bit not very friendly, I’d say.

Jessica Kosmack 1:03:26
But that’s so funny. I didn’t know that. But I did notice that in some of the places where that was one of the few places where I would speak in French, and they would speak back in English. And I insisted on speaking back in French. And finally they relented.

Annie Sargent 1:03:44
Yeah, which is good. You need to do that. If you want to speak French. Just speak French.

Jessica Kosmack 1:03:49
Yeah. And I did that. I did not. I didn’t. Most people actually, I got I got complimented I’m proud to say on my French several times on the trip. But I, yeah, I tried. And I made sure that the kids if they had to ask a question that they asked it in French as well. But I did notice that now that you say that, that there’s a bit of a…

Annie Sargent 1:04:12
But I don’t know Beaune very much. I only spent a full day there. So it’s, it’s a bit of a fast kind of, you know, I just, I could be dissuaded. But that’s that’s what my first impression was.

Jessica Kosmack 1:04:28
Yeah, after two weeks of really not seeing very many tourists, and definitely not many tourist buses. That was the opposite of that.

Annie Sargent 1:04:37
Well, when you went there in the at the height of wine kind of season.

Jessica Kosmack 1:04:43
Right.

Annie Sargent 1:04:45
So yeah, there are probably a lot more people than even in July, you know, I mean, this is just because it’s, it’s wine country. So there’s probably more things going on in September, October.

Jessica Kosmack 1:04:57
Yeah, I didn’t think of that. And then we were going to go there that that beautiful, I mean, that that square that they’re famous for?

Annie Sargent 1:05:05
Mm hmm. The one with the carousel.

Jessica Kosmack 1:05:08
No, the one that you you actually have to pay to go in and see it. It’s like an old hospice or something like that.

Annie Sargent 1:05:13
Oh, les Hospices de Beaune! Yes, yes.

Jessica Kosmack 1:05:16
But I didn’t realize you had to pay and it was a lot of money. And I, I was really the only one who was interesting from a, from a photographic perspective. And then when I could see how many people were pouring into it. I said, You know what, forget it.

Annie Sargent 1:05:32
Yeah. Yeah, it is nice. That that is, of course it. But yeah, you have to make choices.

Jessica Kosmack 1:05:37
Yeah. And we all we really were there for lunch. And we just, we wanted to get to Paris before it was dinner time. So we just we said, Forget it. There’ll be another time.

Kids and father in Montpellier: both kids have a camera and taking photo. Great Destinations in France for Families Episode.
Photo Jessica Kosmack

Annie Sargent 1:05:49
So, in general, how would you say people should think about visiting France with their kids? Do you have general advice for how to best do that?

Jessica Kosmack 1:06:00
I mean, it’s funny when we when we were telling friends and family that we were planning this trip. So many people assumed that we were leaving the kids at home with our parents or something. Yeah, so there was a lot of people saying, “Oh, wow, you’re going to take the kids with you! Do you think, you know, are they going to be able to handle it?” I don’t know. I don’t know what they were thinking. But yeah, it was the it was the best decision to all go as a family. Our kids really don’t, don’t just assume because they, you know, maybe complain about going on a walk to the grocery store when you’re at home. Don’t assume they’re going to be the same when they’re on vacation?

Annie Sargent 1:06:39
No, it’s not. Because at home, they probably have the PlayStation waiting for them.

Jessica Kosmack 1:06:44
That’s right!

Annie Sargent 1:06:44
Whereas on vacation they don’t have that!

Jessica Kosmack 1:06:48
Or, it’s it’s, you know, that they’re used to doing the same things at home.

Yeah.

And every day on vacation was new. Yeah, they just love that. And they would, you know, I could easily convince my daughter to walk down the steep hill with me as long as she was going to get a tarte au citron at the end of it.

So I just think not assuming that or not assuming that the food that they’re just not going to eat anything. Because they will. And you know, we definitely didn’t eat in restaurants that are all the restaurants that maybe my husband and I would have chosen. But that was okay. We also like, you know, eating snack food from a crepe stand.

Annie Sargent 1:07:36
Yeah, it’s faster. And it’s fine.

Jessica Kosmack 1:07:40
Yeah. So I think as long as you’re and then just not over planning at all. We really just picked our locations, and then everyday kind of decided based on the weather. And however I was feeling what are we going to do today?

Annie Sargent 1:07:54
Yeah, I think with kids were at the way I like to do it is just have a few possibilities for every day, and then play it by ear. Yeah, depending on how the kids feel, how, what the weather is, like, how you feel, you know, be really, really flexible. And just… But you do have to have a few possibilities. You have to know, about a few places you could go a few things you might want to see, and then then adapt.

Jessica Kosmack 1:08:23
And that’s what we did. And you know what? We would we would go visit that one thing we have planned. And then along the way you’d see something else. You see, let’s come back there tomorrow! Because we didn’t know that was there. Yeah. And yeah, it’s having any kind of that. That was how we did our trip. Yeah. And it was it was great.

And we… Yeah, the only the only thing that was a bit of a challenge was, and we did not foresee this, was the winding roads in Provence were a bit of a challenge for my daughter. She got quite car sick. Yeah.And that’s, I mean, I probably would get carsick if I was sitting in the back.

Annie Sargent 1:09:06
Mm hmm.

Jessica Kosmack 1:09:07
Well, so I might try and, you know, find some way of helping with that. But…

Annie Sargent 1:09:14
yeah, that’s a problem in a lot of places. Like Provence is like that. If you go to the Alps. Some places it’s going to be windy. The Pyrenees, the Dordogne. Yeah, we have a lot of windy roads. So if your kids are very carsick. Yep. Have a plan. Yeah.

Jessica Kosmack 1:09:32
And she’s, she’s not generally. But this is. This is. Yeah, they’re very windy. There’s no straight roads. Yeah. And that’s part of the charm. But it also was a bit of a challenge. So we just made sure we stopped a lot. There’s lots of beautiful rest stops, and,you know, had the window down. Yeah.

Annie Sargent 1:09:52
Well, even with the people that we had on the tour in the Dordogne, I could tell that sometimes all the driving in the winding roads. We’re not the happiest time some of our people had.

Jessica Kosmack 1:10:07
But you know what, she also knew that at the end of wherever we were getting to in that moment, there was going to be something fun to do. So she was great. She didn’t complain. And she’s just, you know, yeah, she’s a trooper.

Annie Sargent 1:10:20
And otherwise, driving in France. Did you do the driving? Or did your husband?

Jessica Kosmack 1:10:24
My husband did the driving. He likes to drive and in the end, I’m grateful for that because it was a bit… They ended up auto, they ended up accidentally giving us an automatic Oh, which normally is more expensive and harder to get. I know that. Yeah, but there was a mix-up with our booking and, and they ended up giving it to us for the same price as a manual car. So nice. That was, I think that actually helped. Yeah, yeah, it helped with the, you know, so many roundabouts and all that stuff. It helped.

Annie Sargent 1:10:59
But you know,honestly, even if you used to a manual when you’re driving in a different country, and you don’t really… I mean, you don’t know where you’re going, even if you have a GPS, whatever. You’re not having to worry about starting up a hill and that sort of thing. Yeah, you know, the, the having the automatic is nice.

Jessica Kosmack 1:11:17
Yeah, no, driving was great. We only got stuck in tiny at, you know, impossible streets a couple times.

But generally it was fine.

Annie Sargent 1:11:28
Do you mean, they were too narrow?

Jessica Kosmack 1:11:30
They were too narrow. And the only way to get out was to go backwards. Yeah,

Annie Sargent 1:11:36
GPS will take you places like that.

Jessica Kosmack 1:11:39
We learned that. Yeah, I learned to ignore our GPS lady.

Annie Sargent 1:11:44
Yes, I have to ignore them sometimes. Yeah. So.

Jessica Kosmack 1:11:48
But generally, it was great. And the GPS generally was so helpful.

Annie Sargent 1:11:53
So was it one that was integrated with the car? Or did you have data?

Jessica Kosmack 1:11:57
It was in the car, we had bought a phone plan before we went thinking that we would need to be using Google Maps. And in the end, we just used Google Maps for when we were in the city. Yeah, on on foot. We didn’t need it in the car. So yeah

Annie Sargent 1:12:14
,Yeah, sometimes the, the integrated GPS in the car will tell you to do silly things like, you know, get off of this main road and go through this tiny road to, you know, to cut off 500 meters to your trip. And so sometimes you have to learn to just stay on the main… If you’re about to turn into something that looks really narrow and not good. Just keep going, it’ll recalculate.

Jessica Kosmack 1:12:40
That’s a good tip because we started to just ignore her. We call her British woman. Yeah, we started to ignore her and just follow the road signs. Because, again, you knew you’re going to Roussillon, and she’s telling us to get off at a sign that’s not pointing there. Then we just said, You know what, we know there’s a sign Coming up, we’ll just follow the town sign and we’ll get there.

Annie Sargent 1:13:03
Yeah, I think that’s, that’s smart. Because otherwise, those GPS they, they want to be smarter than you. And then sometimes they put you in silly situations where you’re like, well, this is too narrow, like, not comfortable driving here.

Jessica Kosmack 1:13:17
Yeah. So no, but generally, it was the driving was great.

Annie Sargent 1:13:20
Okay. Very good. Yeah. All right. Last Words of wisdom?

Jessica Kosmack 1:13:28
I don’t. Don’t be afraid to travel with your kids!

Annie Sargent 1:13:32
Yeah, I agree.

Jessica Kosmack 1:13:33
We had the best… I just feel like we made the best memories. And yeah, my son asked me when we got home, if we can go to France every year.

Annie Sargent 1:13:43
Wow!

Jessica Kosmack 1:13:44
If that’s not endorsement enough I don’t know what is!

Annie Sargent 1:13:46
That’s high praise from the six year old. That’s wonderful.

Jessica Kosmack 1:13:51
Yeah, he loved it.

Annie Sargent 1:13:52
That’s wonderful. Well, I’m gonna sound like a total old lady here. But you know what, enjoy your kids, while while they are little. Because one day they will be all grown and be gone.

Jessica Kosmack 1:14:03
I know, I’m trying. And that’s why I said to my husband, we have to do trips like this.

Annie Sargent 1:14:09
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 1:14:10
You know, from now on, like, they it’s important, and they’re, they’re not a whole, they’re not going to be at home forever. So.

Annie Sargent 1:14:16
No, there’s days when your kids you like, Argh, I can’t stand it anymore! This kid is driving me nuts with whatever, you know, not wanting to put shoes on or whatever, something silly like that. But then in the grand scheme of things, you can make such good memories when you’re on vacation. I think it’s I think, I mean, I wouldn’t take a two year old. You know, it just depends on the age of the kid and on how mature your kids are, as well. I mean, you know, you… You’re the parent, you need to decide when it’s the right time to take them and not take them. But there are a lot of kids who you will have a great time with them on vacation in France.

Jessica Kosmack 1:14:53
I think that’s a good point. I don’t think we could have done this trip two years ago.

Annie Sargent 1:14:57
Right.

Jessica Kosmack 1:14:58
And so I knew that when we started thinking about it, I knew that I was thinking about it, because I knew the kids could do it. And yeah, it’s true. You do have to know your kids.

Annie Sargent 1:15:09
Yeah. Pay attention to that.

Jessica Kosmack 1:15:12
Yeah, so it was it was the perfect time

Annie Sargent 1:15:13
Jessica, thank you so much! You had some good tips and like I said, I will put… There’s more details of things that you saw and that you did that we didn’t get to, but I’ll put that in the guests notes. So, if people want to explore certain areas more and see what else you did there they’ll have that.

Jessica Kosmack 1:15:34
That’s great. Thank you any I really appreciate you having me on!

Annie Sargent 1:15:37
Thank you very much for coming on the show. I couldn’t do it without people like you!

Jessica Kosmack 1:15:42
Thank you.

Annie Sargent 1:15:42
Merci, au revoir !

Jessica and her children in Montpellier: Great Destinations in France for Families episode
Photo Jessica Kosmack
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Family Travel