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Allie Marie

Travel USA West Virginia

A Road Trip to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

May 21, 2020

If you are looking for a fun, beautiful, and historical trip to take this summer, a road trip to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia may be in the cards! Harper’s Ferry is situated right on the border where Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia meet. This makes it a convenient spot for a day trip or overnight from the Baltimore/DC area.

What you’ll find are gorgeous views, a quaint and historic town, beautiful nature, and the gateway to the Loudoun County wine region. My husband Mike and I took our road trip to Harper’s Ferry last September to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and had a wonderful time! It was so nice to drive less than 2 hours from Baltimore and find ourselves in a completely different setting.

**Please visit HERE for most recent updates involving West Virginia health and safety updates and regulations including
openings and closures.
Make sure to check individual business websites for the latest information and availability of service. **

Getting to Harpers Ferry

Taking a road trip to Harpers Ferry is very easy if you live in the Baltimore or Washington DC area! The driving distance is an hour and fifteen minutes from each place, making the perfect destination for a day trip or quick weekend getaway.

It is also easily accessible from other Mid-Atlantic Destinations:

  • Harrisburg, PA: 1hr, 30 min
  • Richmond, VA: 2hrs, 30 min
  • Philadelphia: 2hrs, 40min
  • Pittsburgh, PA: 3hrs, 30 min
  • New York City Area: 4 hrs

Note that there is limited parking in the town itself, with street parking only. You can try your luck with street parking, but you will find it extremely difficult, especially during busy times. The best bet is to drive to the National Park Service lot (171 Shoreline Drive) where there is ample parking. There’s a visitor’s center as well as a free shuttle bus that will take you to the little downtown area.

If you live in DC and don’t have a car/want to relax on your trip without getting behind the wheel, both the MARC Train and Amtrak have service from Washington DC.

What to Do in Harpers Ferry

The tiny town of Harpers Ferry is absolutely adorable – you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time! If you enjoy history, particularly early US History and Civil War history, you’ll definitely be in your element.

Walking through the town you will get a bit of a workout, as it’s perched on a hill (hence the amazing views of the surrounding landscape!) The town itself is very small with one main thoroughfare (High Street) filled with shops, restaurants, and historic sights. For a great spot to enjoy delicious food & drinks AND enjoy an amazing view of the valley and river, get a table on the deck of The Rabbit Hole (186 High St).

I would advise having lunch in the village versus dinner, as most restaurants close early. If you’re staying overnight in the area, there are a few neighboring towns that I recommend below.

After lunch, if you’re craving something sweet, head to True Treats Historic Candy Shop (144 High Street)! Even if you’re not a candy fiend, this shop is pretty much a museum, with typical candies dating back to biblical times, through the mid-1900s. There are also several other shops to browse along High Street selling locally made artisan items, historic knick-knacks, art, and other gifts.

If you continue down High Street you will approach the walk up to St. Peter’s Catholic Church, built pre-civil war, which has an amazing view over the entire valley. This church is also where the Ghost Tour meets if you’re interested in the spooky history of Harper’s Ferry!

You can continue walking up to Jefferson’s Rock, the lookout point where US President Thomas Jefferson once declared that the scene was “worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”

Harpers Ferry National Park

The town of Harpers Ferry is actually part of the Harpers Ferry Historical National Park! The whole park encompasses 4,000 acres and includes parts of West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia.

In addition to the historic village, church, Jefferson’s Rock, and historic demonstrations & museums, the park also offers guided tours and several hiking trails.

Make sure to check with the National Park Service before planning your trip to get up to date information on access to the park and health and safety regulations.

Where to Stay

Harper’s Ferry has a number of quaint and affordable Bed and Breakfasts within the village itself. The Cantula Inn comes highly rated by guests and offers modern comfort in a historic setting. The Lily Garden Bed & Breakfast is another great option, with 2 adorable suites situated in an old carriage house. The Light Horse Inn is also a great choice, offering modern amenities with historic charm (no children).

If you wanted to venture out of the village itself, there are lots of options in the surrounding area. Nearby Charles Town has more of the run of the mill chain hotels and will put you closer to late-night dining options and the Casino and Inn at Charles Town Races.

If you want a completely unique and wonderful Airbnb experience, I would definitely recommend the Historic Maison du Soleil Retreat, where we stayed during our visit (see photos below). We stayed in a private room within the hosts’ house and felt complete privacy and freedom throughout our visit.

The outdoor barn area they have set up is a dream – so tranquil and beautiful, it was hard to leave it to go and sightsee. The hot tub was especially nice to relax in. It’s close to the attractions at Harpers Ferry, as well as quaint Shepherdstown and plenty of wineries and hiking. Your stay also includes a wonderful breakfast cooked by the host, Henk.

Surrounding Activities in Harpers Ferry

Charles Town

Charles Town is another historic town less than a 15-minute drive from Harpers Ferry. While the town is more commercialized and not quite as quaint, you will find more here in terms of larger hotels, food options, grocery stores, the casino, etc. We mainly spent time here because of our Airbnb location, but we found the downtown quite charming as well in its own way.

A few highlights of Charles Town included dinner and live music on the patio at Abolitionist Ale Works, and the beautiful mural by Philadelphia artist Isaiah Zager (below).

Shepherdstown

I LOVED Shepherdstown and would definitely recommend checking it out! Another unbelievably quaint town, located 20 minutes from either Harpers Ferry or Charleston. Definitely worth spending a few hours walking the main street and all the local shops. There are also lots of yummy and unique dining options should you choose to stay here.

For Civil War Buffs and history enthusiasts, Shepherdstown is also close to the Antietam National Battlefield (Sharpsburg, MD), the sight of the bloodiest day in US History during the Battle of Antietam in 1862.

Loudoun County Wineries

Just south of the Harpers Ferry area, Loudoun County, Virginia is a beautiful, sprawling, hill covered destination with 40 wineries! You could really spend your whole weekend just touring vineyards and tasting rooms, but it’s also fun to pop down here and have a relaxing afternoon at one or two of them.

Hillsborough Winery, Brewery & Vineyard is a great option if you are coming from Harpers Ferry or Charlestown, only around 20 minutes away from either place. The views were absolutely gorgeous and you can enjoy their wine and/or beer along with food selections they offer on-site if you sit on the patio or in the tasting room. If you choose to bring your own food, there is a picnic area where you can sit.

As you can see, this area area has a TON to offer, making a road trip to Harpers Ferry a great idea for this summer or fall! I hope you enjoy the local charm, history, eats and shopping of this beautiful place.

Looking for more local travel ideas on the US East Coast? Check out my Guide to Camping with Wild Horses on Assateague Island and my guide to Charming Photo Spots in Baltimore!

Don’t forget to PIN this article to help you plan your trip.

Maryland Travel USA

Camping with Wild Horses on Assateague Island

May 17, 2020

As summer approaches and the future of international (and even cross-state) travel remains uncertain, US travelers are itching to go somewhere, ANYWHERE where they can experience adventure. Now that National Parks are opening up, why not consider camping with wild horses on Assateague Island?

Yes, you read that right: you can camp with wild horses! A tiny strip of land that runs along the coast of Maryland and Virginia, Assateague Island is a unique destination that is easily drivable from the Baltimore/DC area, and an accessible summer road trip destination for most East Coasters.

**Please visit HERE for most recent updates involving park health and safety updates and regulations including openings and closures. **

Why Assateague Island?

Assateague Island is a haven for natural beauty. If your experience or impression of middle Atlantic beaches involve commercialized boardwalks, amusement parks, and overcrowded beaches, get ready for a breath of fresh air.

I have to admit, I haven’t had much experience camping but this place really blew me away! Sleeping in a tent over sand is much more comfortable than the hard ground, as the sound of the waves at night was so relaxing.

Sunrise at Assateague, near our campsite

Assateague State Park vs Assateague National Seashore

Assateague Island is home to Assateague State Park AND Assateague National Seashore. All camping is on the Maryland side of the Island. Camping is allowed in both areas but there are slight differences in pricing, amenities, and rules:

Assateague State Park

  • More crowded together campsites (less private)
  • Better amenities: Hot showers & Flushing Toilets
  • Electric campsites available
  • Bayside campsites only
  • NO Drinking Alcohol
  • Pets Allowed on Certain Campsites
  • Prices are $28 per site, $38 per electric site/per night

Assateague National Seashore

  • Campsites are more spaced out and private
  • More primitive amenities (non-flushing toilets and cold water showers)
  • No electric campsites
  • Oceanside campsites available (less buggy and right on the beach)
  • Drinking alcohol allowed
  • Pets Allowed, must be leashed
  • Prices are $30 per sight/per night

For all the rules and regulations as well as health and safety updates for each park, check out the links above.

When to Visit Assateague

The park is open year-round, but the best and most popular time to go camping on Assateague Island is summer, to utilize the beautiful beach. This also means that it’s the most crowded time and campsites book up well in advance. You will definitely have to plan ahead if you want to make sure you have a campsite reserved, especially if you want to camp on a weekend.

Luckily, sites can be reserved up to 6 months in advance! You can check availability and make your reservations HERE. While summer is the most popular time, early fall can also be nice with cooler temperatures and fewer crowds.

Getting to Assateague Island

Assateague Seashore is a great road trip destination from many spots on the East Coast! Of course the driving times below are approximate and don’t account for stops or traffic.

  • Baltimore: 2hrs 45min
  • Washington, DC: 2hrs 45min
  • Philadelphia: 2hrs 30min
  • NYC Area: 4hrs

The biggest obstacle for travelers from Baltimore, DC, or other parts of Maryland (minus the Eastern Shore) is the Bay Bridge, which often has large traffic backups, especially on the weekends. Consider going during a weekday if possible if you want to try and avoid this.

Closest Airports: BWI, IAD, DCA, PHL or SBY (Salisbury)

What to Do Around Assateague

The main appeal of camping on Assateague Island is to relax, unwind, and enjoy the natural scenery and wildlife. After you arrive and set up your campsite, definitely take advantage of the beach (if it’s early enough in the day), and enjoy the sunset over the marshy bayside if you can. Build a campfire, fire up the grill, and enjoy the food you brought with you, or as an alternative, you can drive 5-10 minutes offsite to the Assateague All You Can Eat Crab House.

Besides the obvious of enjoying your campsite and the beach, there are also hiking trails you can take advantage of!

Woke up for a Sunrise Photoshoot! Sadly no horses.

Wildlife at Assateague

In addition to the famed wild horses, Assateague is home to a multitude of species to observe. Deer, frogs, toads, several species of crabs and snails, shorebirds, and waterfowl all inhabit the island. Assateague’s waters and marshes are also home to many species of fish as well as the popular Maryland Blue Crab.

IMPORTANT NOTES ABOUT THE WILD HORSES AT ASSATEAGUE

The horses you will see on Assateague Island are feral and have been inhabiting the island since the 1600s. All in all, there are about 300 wild horses that live on Assateague Island. There are a few legends about how the horses ended up calling Assateague their home, the most popular one being that they came ashore when a Spanish Cargo Ship sank. Another theory is that these horses are the descendants of the horses of early settlers that were allowed to run freely.

Please note that the horses are wild, so trying to feed or pet them is a huge no-no. They can and will bite and kick and could potentially carry disease. The Park Service regulations advise staying at least 40 feet away when viewing the horses. Personally, we didn’t see any horses on our campsite, we saw them closer to the other beach we visited that was open to daily visitors. They are beautiful and not scary (in case the above worried you a bit) if you maintain your distance and quietly observe.

There are also many signs throughout the campsite advising you to keep all your food in locked containers or in your car, as the horses will try to take it. They also advise to not give the horses any water. They have learned to adapt and thrive in their salty/marshy environment and have their own water sources. Humans feeding them could actually deter them from finding and protecting their own sources.

What to Bring to go Camping on Assateague Island

  • Bug Repellant
    • Now, most resources on Assateague and word of mouth information will advise you that the mosquitos on Assateague Island are BRUTAL. Personally, we did not have a big problem with them, and I think it’s because we got a beach/shoreside campsite in the National Park. It makes sense that the bugs would be more prevalent in the marshy bayside, so keep that in mind when making your reservations. It’s possible that we just got lucky. Regardless, make sure you bring good quality, strong bug repellant to ward off the pesky mosquitos and horseflies, should they be a bother.
  • Sunscreen
  • Layers
    • Prepare for it to get chilly at night, even if it’s hot during the day. Long layers will also help protect against bug bites during dusk, especially if you are planning on walking the trails.
  • Firewood/Starter Fluid for Campfires and Grills
    • Due to park regulations, all firewood must be purchased in the state of Maryland. You will see people selling firewood from their homes as you approach the park. There is a convenience store right before the entrance to the park to buy any camping supplies you may have forgotten.
  • Food/Water for the Duration of your Visit
    • There is limited availability to purchase food and water in the park, so it’s advisable to bring as much with you as you want. Make sure you are able to secure and lock your food, and wildlife will invade if it’s left unattended.
  • Portable Phone Charger
    • This is particular to camping in the National Park (no electric sites) or a non-electric site in the State Park. Service isn’t great but you will most likely want to take pictures of your experience and don’t want to run out of charge!

Ready to Go?

Whether you’re going as a couple, with friends or as a family, camping on Assateague Island is a truly unique experience for everyone. It is easily accessible from the East Coast by car and will provide lasting memories.

Ready for some other East Coast Travel? Check out my guide to Charming Photo Spots in Baltimore and a Neighborhood Guide to Hampden, Baltimore.

Don’t forget to PIN this post to help you with planning your trip!

Coping & Positive Thinking Life Quote Art

10 Inspirational Quotes for Growth

April 23, 2020

Is it possible to go through the most difficult time of your life, while simultaneously experiencing a period of immense spiritual and personal growth? Not only are those two things not mutually exclusive, but they are also intrinsically linked. That’s why I’ve put together these inspirational quotes for growth to help you through these trying times.

Shilagh Mirgain, Health Psychologist at the University of Madison, Wisconsin says in relation to trauma and hardship:

“We can shut down emotionally and let ourselves become hardened by it, or we can grow from the experience.” 

It can draw our attention to the ways in which we take certain aspects of our lives for granted. It challenges our very identity and beliefs we’ve formed leaving us to ask questions we never thought we would have to.

When we are willing to ask and explore those questions —who am I? What really matters to me? What do I want my life to be about?— we can begin to rebuild and construct a new foundation, often from the ground up, that is more authentic and based on who we really are and what’s important, rather than on the values others have placed on us.”

Dr. Shilagh Mirgain, The Surprising Benefit of Going Through Difficult Times, 03/21/2017

Have you ever experienced a period of personal growth during or after a tough time? If you feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear your story.

10 Inspirational Quotes for Growth

“Wherever life
plants you,
bloom with grace.”
—Unknown

“It is an act of
bravery
to feel your feelings.”
—Gayle Forman

“Ask for what
you want and
be prepared
to get it.”
—Maya Angelou

“There’s a future
version of me
who’s proud I was
strong enough.”
—Khanos

“And here you are
living
despite it all.”
Rupi Kaur

“I know this
transformation
is painful, but you’re not
falling apart;
you’re just falling into
something different,
with a new capacity to
be beautiful.”
—William C. Hannan

“Stop shrinking
yourself to fit places
you’ve outgrown.”
—Unknown

“Keep taking
time for yourself
until you’re
you again.”
—Lalah Delia

“Vulnerability is not
a weakness; it is our
greatest measure
of courage.”
—Brene Brown

“And too often
we forfet we are worthy
of our love too.”
—Dhiman

If you’d like to read a larger selection of quotes, make sure to check out my Pinterest boards for Coping and Growth quotes. I’m always updating it with words I find inspirational, thought-provoking & healing.

For more of my illustrated quotes, see my posts 10 Positive Quotes for Tough Times and 10 MORE Positive Quotes for Tough Times.

Food & Drink Life Whimsical Life & Home

French Lavender Whipped Coffee

April 7, 2020

A Little Background on Whipped (Dalgona) Coffee

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have seen the whipped coffee (Dalgona coffee) trend circulating around the internet and social media. And for good reason! Who doesn’t love coffee, and on top of that, it’s so aesthetically pleasing it’s hard to not jump on board.

Even though this whipped iced coffee drink originated in India, its most recent bout of fame was prompted by a video shared by a South Korean actor. He tried the drink at a cafe and said it reminded him of the Korean “Dalgona” candy, a honeycomb toffee. When the video started circulating, people worked on their own homemade versions. Enter a global pandemic where people are stuck and home and the #dalgonacoffeechallenge was born!

As a coffee lover, I was eager to try the trend and I was not disappointed. The coffee drink is EASY & fun to make and…it actually tastes really good!

Another one of my weaknesses is lavender. I LOVE the scent of lavender and when it’s done right, incorporating it into food. A local cafe I love does a lavender flavored latte, and the flavor combo of coffee, cream and a hint of floral is perfect.

So I thought…why not incorporate a hint of lavender into this nouveau famous beverage?

How to Make Lavender Whipped Coffee

There are two parts to this process: the homemade lavender simple syrup and the Dalgona coffee itself. One key to making an amazing whipped coffee drink is the ingredients. For the instant coffee component, I used Ferrara Instant Espresso Coffee, which I liked. (My friend made the recipe with a lower cost/quality brand and said the flavor was reminiscent of soy sauce! So I tried to avoid that.)

I used dried lavender for my recipe and ordered culinary grade organic French Lavender.

The ratio for the whipped coffee is always 1:1:1. Most sources say for 1 serving you use 2 tablespoons of each ingredient. You can multiply and divide as needed for more or less servings. For the lavender simple syrup, it’s 1 cup of water to 1 cup of sugar and then 1 tablespoon of lavender.

You can make the syrup first to let it cool while you work on the coffee. I use an electric mixer to whip my coffee, sugar and hot water, which I would definitely recommend. The process takes a while even without doing it by hand, and I like mine to be really light and fluffy! The finished consistency and color of the whipped coffee remind me of the “Frosty” drink from the American fast-food chain Wendy’s.

For the milk component, I like to use unsweetened almond milk but you can use any dairy (or non-dairy) of choice. Keep in mind that both the lavender syrup and the coffee have quite a bit of sugar, so if you are using non-dairy milk I would opt for the unsweetened version.

You can whisk the milk and lavender syrup together in a separate bowl, before adding it to a glass with ice. Spoon your whipped coffee on top and Voila! You have yourself a trendy & delicious whipped coffee with flavors inspired by the South of France.

French Lavender Whipped Coffee

 

Allie Marie Travels is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

I hope you enjoyed your lavender whipped coffee! For more inspiration about bringing the flavors of Provence home with you, check out my post: How to Bring the Southern French Lifestyle Home with You.

If you loved this recipe, don’t forget to PIN for future reference!

Life Quote Art

10 MORE Positive Quotes for Tough Times

April 6, 2020

Right now the world is looking a little bit scary. Maybe you can’t stop watching the news or scrolling through social media threads, wondering how and when you will start to feel normal again. Or if anyone feels the same way that you’re feeling. Enter: more positive quotes for tough times!

Quotes have a way of really putting things in perspective. If you are struggling right now or feeling alone, reading words that encompass exactly what you are going through can really make you feel like someone out there gets it. This can be extremely therapeutic and I’ve relied on positive quotes for help during times where I’ve felt super low.

Another way I cope with anxiety, stress and sorrow is throwing myself into a creative project. That brought me to these illustrations of some of my favorite words. I hope the words and the art bring you comfort and strength during the hardship you are going through!

10 MORE Positive Quotes for Tough Times

“I hope this season of change
takes you to the place where
you need to be, where your
heart will be allowed to grow
and free to feel.”
—Dhiman

“You have been assigned
this mountain so that
you can show others
it can be moved.”
—Mel Robbins

“Kindness
begins with the
understanding that
we all struggle.”
—Charles Glassman

“Even the darkest
of night will end
and the sun will rise.”
—Les Miserables

“I am not what
happened to me,
I am what I choose
to become.”
C.G. Jung

“There is nothing in nature
that blooms all year long,
so don’t expect yourself
to do so either.”
—Anonymous

“May the petals
teach me
the art of
letting go.”
—Xan Oku

“Because no matter how
tough the world becomes,
you must never
run out of sweetness.”
—Bernado Kath

“Just because someone
carries it well doesn’t
mean it isn’t heavy.”
—Anonymous

“Sometimes all that
matters is that you’re
still trying.”
—Wilder

I hope these additional curated positive quotes for tough times bring you some sense of calm and relief during your time of uncertainty, grief or trauma. Trust me when I say you are not alone in how you are feeling. Just know that each day you will adjust a little more, and find those little things to be grateful for. It’s okay to not have it all figured out yet. You are strong and capable and you will get through this!

If you’d like to read a larger selection of quotes, make sure to check out my Pinterest boards for Coping and Growth quotes. I’m always updating it with words I find inspirational, thought-provoking & healing.

Life Provence Whimsical Life & Home

How to Bring the Southern French Lifestyle Home With You

March 30, 2020

So, you’ve visited the South of France and now you can’t imagine living anywhere else? I can relate! From the first time I went to Provence I was enamored with the charming towns, gorgeous nature and that laid back southern French lifestyle. Freshly baked baguettes every day? Oui. 2+ hour lunches? Oui. Rosé? OUI!

I’ve since gone back many times and every time I fall a little bit more in love. But, if you’re like me, you can’t simply pick up and move to the South of France permanently (a girl can dream though, right?). I do however have some ideas to bring that southern French lifestyle home with you so you can feel like you are in Provence no matter where in the world you are.

the baguette, an essential part of french lifestyle

How to Bring the Southern French Lifestyle Home With You

Visit Your Local Farmers Markets

The local daily marches, or markets, are an essential part of the French lifestyle. Instead of heading to the mega grocery store chain and stocking up a week’s worth of food, many French choose to walk to their local outdoor market every day to get fresh and seasonal produce, meat, fish and fresh flowers.

While at home, you can visit your local farmer’s market to have a similar experience. It’s more pleasant than going to a regular supermarket, and you are also supporting local farmers, bakers, and artisans.

fruits at the market, an essential part of french lifestyle

Adapt Your Home Decor to the Southern French Lifestyle

One word that springs to mind when I think about Provence is “color.” The Provençal color palette is sunny and vibrant, with earth tones and accents from the surrounding nature. Bright yellow is the star of the show, along with baby blue, ochre, peach, mint green, lavender, and soft pink.

the color palette of provence, an essential part of french lifestyle
A perfect example of the Provence Pallette

If you’re not ready to totally re-do your house in a “French country theme” there are little accents you can add to bring in these pops of bright. The South of France inspired painters like Monet, Cezanne, and Van Gogh, and adding any of their works to your wall will help bring in this palette. Fresh flowers and indoor plants are also a great way to Frenchify your interior, especially if purchased at a local market!

The Provence interior often has rustic elements like stone walls and exposed beams, which are accented with modern touches. Antique and rustic farmhouse style furniture also adds a Provençal touch, or giving your existing furniture a distressed “shabby chic” makeover. Porcelain and ceramic accents (typically painted in the Provençal palette) are great ways to add color pops. Traditional textiles from the region, including bright table linens are are also a great way to bring in that color. You can pick some up at the market on your next trip to Provence, or buy online. Here are some beautiful options I found below:

french lifestyle table cloth from williams sonoma
french lifestyle table cloth from amazon

Get Really Good at Entertaining

The French love to entertain and gather in the home! When you visit a French person’s house, you will literally want for nothing. A huge element of the French lifestyle is entertaining guests, and they have really mastered it.

One secret to this is preparing things in advance. Do as much prep as you can before your guests arrive so you can really enjoy conversing with them and spend less time in the kitchen while they are over. Set the scene with fresh flowers and simple yet elegant table decor. Light candles. Leave nothing in packaging and serve everything in decorative bowls or platters. Serve French wine and French cheese.

As I will go over below, the typical French meal is a lengthy affair, and you want to make your guests feel welcome to linger over their food and/or drinks. Make sure they always have something to drink if they want by subtly refilling their glass or offering them options. Don’t rush to clear everything immediately and let people pause and relax between courses.

glasses of rose wine, an essential part of french lifestyle

Linger Over Your Meal

Perhaps my favorite thing about dining in the South of France is the way that they really sit, savor and enjoy mealtime. In America, it’s often rushed, with an emphasis on “to go” because we are always so busy. The French lifestyle really about taking it slow and enjoying all aspects of life, and a big part of that for them is cuisine!

The French meal starts with an aperitif, which I suggest adding to your routine immediately. An aperitif is a “before dinner (or lunch) drink.” If you are in the South of France it’s typically Pastis (a licorice-flavored liquor from Marseille), a Kir or Kir Royale (white wine or Champagne mixed with Creme de Cassis Liquor), or fortified sweet wine or vermouth. The aperitif is served with a few small snacks like olives, nuts or chips.

an essential part of french lifestyle

Moving on to the meal, each course is served separately. The meal starts with appetizers, followed by the main course which is typically meat or fish with vegetables. The French, in contrast with how we do it in the US, typically serve the salad course AFTER the main course.

Then comes the cheese course, dessert, coffee, and sometimes an after-dinner drink. Make sure to have plenty of fresh bread, in baguette form. Wine is obviously served throughout.

cheese and baguette, an essential part of french lifestyle

A Few Typical Provençal Appetizers:

  • Tapenade or anchoïade on Toasts
  • Radishes served with salt + butter
  • Ratatouille
  • Charcuterie

A Few Typical Provençal Mains:

  • Bouillabaisse
  • Sea Bass with Vegetables
  • Lamb or Beef Stew

Find more inspiration here!

tapenade, an essential part of french lifestyle
Bouillabaisse, a typical southern french lifestyle meal

Change Your Tunes

Nothing sets the mood like a little bit of French music! Whether you’re throwing a little dinner party, having friends over for aperitif or just hanging out in your Maison, a great French playlist will have you daydreaming of sun-drenched lavender fields and drinking wine alfresco at a cute cafe.

Classics I like to listen to are Edith Piaf, Charles Trenet, Yves Montand, Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens, and Françoise Hardy. For a newer, chill vibe, Carla Bruni is also a great choice.

Here are some of my favorite Spotify playlists that will transport you back to France without leaving your living room:

Pamper Yourself with French Products

The South of France is known for its perfumes and soaps, so one great way to bring the French lifestyle home is to pamper yourselves with French-made products and scents!

An easy and affordable way to make your home life a little more French is to stock up on French soaps. “Savon de Marseille” is known worldwide and can be purchased for as little as 1 euro at the markets in Provence, so I usually stock up and bring a bunch back with me. I love putting them in my bathroom – it adds a nice little touch for guests. You can also buy them online here.

L’Occitane en Provence, while popular in the USA is also very authentically Provençal, with its headquarters in Manosque, France. Their products and scents will bring you right back to the lavender and sunflower fields of the South of France. Durance de Provence is another fragrance company from the South of France that you can incorporate into your decor and lifestyle.

If all else fails, a lavender-scented candle is an easy way to transport yourself to the fields of Provence!

savon de marseille soap, a french lifestyle product you can use at home

Ready to stop dreaming and plan your trip to Provence? Check out my guides for Visiting Provence in Autumn and My Favorite Spots in Provence

Allie Marie Travels is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

Don’t forget to PIN this post so you can live your best French life at home!

Life Quote Art

10 Positive Quotes for Tough Times That Really Helped Me

March 27, 2020

Could you use a pick-me-up right about now? How about some positive quotes for tough times? Me too! There’s something magical about reading someone else’s words that seem to get inside your mind and what you need to hear.

Look, life looks really weird right now. The recent worldwide pandemic has caused a lot of turmoil, pain, and uncertainty for everyone, especially those who have been impacted directly by the illness or by losing their job/way of life due to it’s spread. There have been feelings of denial, shock, sadness, and despair and overall just a sense of unease as we adjust to our “new normal.”

And justifiably so. This is what we call trauma. Personally, the past 20 months leading up to this time have been incredibly challenging as I’ve navigated the terminal illness and passing of a parent at a young age (the latter part while I was in the first trimester of my first pregnancy). Before this, my life had been “relatively” normal.

Going through this particular trauma did give me a crash course in “Life Doesn’t Always Go as Planned and Often Isn’t Fair 101”. While it was never a class I’d sign up for voluntarily, I’ve noticed the skills I’ve used and lessons I’ve learned during my grieving process helped prepare me for future traumatic situations, like a global pandemic.

While it may seem like something small, I hope reading through these quotes and taking them in has a positive effect on your psyche and outlook and that you come through this stronger than ever.

10 Positive Quotes That Helped Me Through Tough Times

“Staying positive doesn’t mean you
have to be happy all the time.
It means that even on hard days
you know that there
are better ones coming.”
—Anonymous

“Do not lose hope,
please believe
that there are a thousand
beautiful things waiting for you.
Sunshine comes to all
who feel rain.”
—R.M. Drake

“I’ve learned as time passes,
all the things that you’re afraid of
will come and they will go
and you’ll be alright.”
—Stevie Nicks

“I survived because
the fire inside me
burned brighter than
the fire around me.”
—Joshua Graham

“At the end of the day,
we can endure much more
then we think we can.”
—Frida Kahlo

“Owning our story and
loving ourselves
through that process is
the bravest thing
that we’ll ever do.”
—Brene Brown

“Flowers grow back
even after the
harshest of winters.
You will too.”
—Jennae Cecelia

“The silence after the rain…
how quickly the sky
pulls herself together.”
—April Green

“Perhaps the butterfly is
proof that you can go
through a great deal
of darkness yet still become something
beautiful”
—Beau Taplin

“The universe buries
strange jewels deep within
us all, and then stands back
to see if we can find them.”
—Elizabeth Gilbert

I hope these curated positive quotes for tough times bring you some sense of calm and relief during your time of uncertainty, grief or trauma. Trust me when I say you are not alone in how you are feeling. Just know that each day you will adjust a little more, and find those little things to be grateful for. It’s okay to not have it all figured out yet. You are strong and capable and you will get through this!

If you’d like to read a larger selection of quotes, make sure to check out my Pinterest boards for Coping and Growth quotes. I’m always updating it with words I find inspirational, thought-provoking & healing.

Do quotes help you through tough times? I’d love to hear some of your favorites in the comments! Stay healthy and stay safe friends.

France Provence Travel

5 Fairytale Villages in the Luberon, France You Can’t Miss

March 25, 2020
view of Gordes, one of the villages in the Luberon

Planning on visiting the villages in the Luberon? I approve! In my (biased) opinion, there is no other region in France more charming than Provence. If you’re planning a trip to this southern part of France, you would be mistaken to skip this beautiful little valley, filled with breathtaking hilly countryside and dotted with quaint perched villages.

Trust me when I say you will feel like you’ve been transported into another world as you wind down the country roads and take in the cobblestone streets and little corners of these fairytale towns. These are the scenes of Monet and Cezanne’s paintings and the backdrop for Peter Mayle’s bestselling novel, A Year in Provence.

Even though there are many quaint villages in the Luberon, I’m going to tell you about 5 you absolutely can’t miss on your trip!

Getting to and Around the Villages of the Luberon

The closest large airport to the Luberon is the Marseille-Provence airport (code MRS). Most flights from the US tend to route through another major European city like London, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid, etc. The airport is also serviced by several European budget airlines such as RyanAir, Vueling, and EasyJet.

There is also a high-speed train from Paris to either Aix-en-Provence or Avignon and both of these cities will put you in good proximity to the region.

One thing that I would say is essential is a rental car. Unless you pre-book some sort of a group tour, it’s pretty much impossible to explore the villages without one.

When to Visit the Luberon

While the Luberon is beautiful in any season, the obvious and most colorful time to visit would be late spring and early to mid-summer. The weather will be warm but not too hot and the hoards of tourists will not have fully descended upon the region yet.

These are the (approximate) seasons for the most popular blooms:

  • Red Poppies: May
  • Lavender: Mid June-end of July
  • Sunflowers: Late June-early August

Visiting in the early fall is also lovely. While you won’t have all the blooms, the weather is still pleasant and the tourist boom will be over. Hotel prices will also be lower and will have more availability.

Lavender field in the Luberon provence

5 Fairytale Villages in the Luberon, France You Can’t Miss

Ménerbes

Speaking of A Year in Provence, the village of Ménerbes was where British author Peter Mayle lived and documented his life in his 2 books based in this region. Due to the popularity of the books, Ménerbes experienced a boom of overtourism in the 90s from fans. Luckily, it has since calmed down and returned to the quaint and quiet Provencal village it once was. Famed artists Picasso and Nicolas de Staël also once owned houses here.

One of the many perched villages in the Luberon, the road to Ménerbes will take you around some twists and turns, so be prepared if you tend to get a bit car sick and just take it slow. Once you get to the top, enjoy views of the Luberon valley below, historic 18th-century buildings, preserved guard walls, chateau, and belfry.

Menerbes, a fairytale village in the Luberon

L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue

L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue is an incredibly charming town in the Luberon that is known affectionately as the “Venice of the Vaucluse (the department that houses the Luberon).” Named for the Sorgue river that runs through the center, L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue is known for its antique shops and markets as well as it’s charming canals and old fashioned waterwheels.

There is a big market every Sunday that brings with it antique dealers and local artisans selling the typical Provencal souvenirs. There many restaurants and cafes lining the river, and on a sunny day, you can sit outside, sip your coffee or wine and watch the ducks lazily float by. It’s unique, idyllic, and definitely should not be missed when visiting the villages of the Luberon! 100% right out of a fairytale.

Lourmarin

One of my absolute favorite villages in the Luberon, Lourmarin is a village you can spend several hours (or days) in! Oozing charm, it’s an amazing spot for shopping and dining as well. Located about a half an hour from Aix-en-Provence, it’s a great spot to hit up for a day trip.

At the edge of the village is a 16th-century castle, that was restored in the early 20th century. Today it is used as a concert venue. Trendy and unique shops and art galleries line the small streets, making it a great place to shop for souvenirs for yourself or others. The main square is adorable, with cafe terraces spilling out into each other filled with people on a sunny day.

Rousillon

Rousillon stands out among the Luberon villages due to the distinctive ochre cliffs surrounding it as well as it’s matching clay-hued buildings. It actually sits within one of the largest ochre deposits in the world, perched atop the red mountains and accented by green pines (and in the summer, lavender fields). It’s truly a sight to see and should not be missed during your Luberon trip.

In addition to walking around the colorful town and observing the gorgeous views, there is also a museum dedicated to ochre and the production of artists’ pigments you can visit. Rousillon also has plenty of gift shops selling pigments that you can purchase for yourself or as a unique souvenir from this beautiful village!

Gordes

Ah, the crown jewel of the villages in the Luberon: Gordes! One of France’s most picturesque perched villages, the breathtaking part of visiting Gordes will be your approach. As you drive up the hill and reach the lookout point (it will be obvious), you will see an amazing view of the perched village and the gorgeous valley below. This is where you will get your key photo ops. Going during golden hour will provide great lighting and a pinkish tint to the surrounding buildings. Magic!

Once in the village, it is mostly pedestrian and you will have your typical souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants. Gordes is also home to several luxury and boutique hotels and a Michelin star restaurant, making it a great place to stay if you want to pamper yourself. It is very close to the famous Abbaye de Sénanque which you will most likely recognize as the church among the lavender fields in countless Provence posters and stock photos. So, if you visit during the lavender season (mid-June through mid-July), your view will be extra special.

View of Gordes, a fariytale village in the Luberon

So there you have it, 5 fairytale villages that you can’t miss! While there are many more villages you can explore within this region, these are the ones I would recommend topping your list with. I hope your visit to the Luberon is everything that you’ve been dreaming of!

Want to do some more exploring in Provence? Check out my posts on  Visiting Provence in Autumn and My Favorite Spots in Provence

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Life Pregnancy Travel

Flying During Pregnancy: 10 Essentials You Need

February 17, 2020

So you got those two pink lines? Congrats! When I found out I was pregnant, I was literally booked on a flight that same day. While I wasn’t feeling the effects quite yet, flying during pregnancy was something I wondered about as I looked ahead to the next 8 months of my life.

Pregnancy If you’re a traveler like me (and I’m guessing you are because you are reading this article), you will probably be wondering about how your traveling style and needs will change, especially relating to flying during pregnancy. I planned to take both short-haul and long-haul flights and didn’t know how my pregnancy would factor into these plans.

Have no fear though! I have put together a list of the 10 essentials you will need for flying while pregnant so you can be the most prepared and most comfortable on your flight with your newly added carry on.

Flying During Pregnancy: 10 Essentials You Need

Comfortable Clothing

This may seem like a no brainer, but even early pregnancy brings on fun symptoms like bloating and extra gas. The last thing you want is tight jeans or uncomfortable pants digging into your waistline! To be honest, I think this is a good protocol even non-pregnant, as I always like being comfortable on the plane.

My standard go-to is a uniform of comfy leggings, flat breathable shoes, and a stretchy or loose-fitting shirt. Also, I would advise dressing in layers. Not only can the temperatures on an airplane fluctuate frequently during the flight, but pregnancy raises your basal body temperature about 0.4 degrees above the normal. Prepare for hot flashes by wearing a tank or short sleeve shirt under a long-sleeved layer in case it does get chilly.

Priority Boarding (And an Aisle Seat!)

Did you know that when you are flying during pregnancy that most airlines will give you priority boarding? Definitely take advantage of this to give yourself extra time to get settled. This really comes in handy when you are flying Southwest Airlines, which has a first-come-first-serve seating policy based on your boarding number.

Which brings me to the second part of this: make sure you get an aisle seat! As your pregnancy progresses, you will start having to pee much more frequently and also get increasingly uncomfortable. Having an aisle seat gives you easy access for when you need to get up and use the restroom or stretch your legs. Getting up and walking frequently is important especially on a long-haul flight because pregnant women are more susceptible to blood clots.

Compression Socks

When you are pregnant, your body is producing all kinds of extra hormones including in increased supply of progesterone. This overload makes your veins swell more than normal, which can be exacerbated by sitting for long periods of time on a flight. This can lead to painful swelling, varicose veins and, even scarier, deep vein thrombosis (blood clots).

Wearing compression socks can help alleviate this risk by putting pressure on your veins so the blood doesn’t pool in your lower legs and feet. Luckily nowadays there are a lot of cute and stylish options for compression socks, so they won’t be a drag to wear. Doing this, combined with taking baby aspirin (see below) before and after the flight can help reduce your risk of a blood clot. Always ask your doctor or midwife before taking any medication.

Travel Pillow

Another symptom of pregnancy (especially in the first trimester)? You are tired…all. the. freaking. time. It takes a lot of metabolic energy to grow a human, so even if you don’t feel like you are doing a lot, your body is working in overtime, It was amazing to me how I could sleep a full 8 hours and still be ready for a mid-day nap. What better time to get in some extra sleep than when you are stuck sitting on a plane?

Of course, a great travel pillow will make this a lot easier for you. You can buy self-inflating pillows which are a lot easier to carry on. This memory foam pillow adjusts so you can use it as a body pillow, back pillow or for neck support.

Water Bottle

Staying hydrated while traveling is always important, but when flying during pregnancy, it’s even more essential. Because your body is working extra hard to grow a baby, your water output is often greater than your water intake. This can lead to dehydration, which is no good for a mom-to-be. Add this to the dry air on the plane and trust me, water will be your best friend during the flight. (Again, make sure you have an aisle seat for frequent potty breaks!)

The best and most eco way to tackle the water situation on your flight (and throughout your travels) is to carry on a stainless steel water bottle that you can fill at the airport. This saves you from buying an overpriced plastic bottle and is more durable (and eco/health-friendly) for reuse. I love my Swell bottle and would definitely recommend investing in one or something like it for your trip.

Snacks & Hard Candies

Pregnancy nausea is a beast. I’ve read some women don’t get morning sickness, and I don’t know any of those women but all I have to say is that they are very lucky! My nausea reared it’s ugly head around 7 weeks and lasted pretty full force to the end of my first trimester.

Even within the second trimester, nausea tends to come back if I let myself get too hungry. Hence, the importance of SNACKS when you’re flying during pregnancy! Depending on what you can tolerate, I’ve found saltine crackers to be a pretty standard no fail to help curb nausea. During the first trimester, I would never leave home without a sleeve of those babies in my purse. Granola bars are also a good go-to and easy to pack, try to get some with protein as the carb/protein combo is helpful in combatting nausea as well and will help you feel more full.

Another thing that helped a lot was hard candies, specifically sour ones. I went through a few bags of Jolly Ranchers (sorry dentist!) as they usually did the trick to at least temporarily make the queasiness subside. I also invested in some Preggo Pop drops, which are a more natural option that also contain essential oils and vitamins.

Sea Bands

Sea Bands are another nausea remedy, working to keep constant pressure on your P6 acupressure point that relieves nausea and vomiting. I will say that these take some getting used to, as at first the bands can feel tight and the plastic knob pressure can be a bit uncomfortable.

However, I did find them to be helpful, at least for a few weeks. I have a theory that I started to develop a tolerance for them so they stopped being as effective, but who knows? Regardless, I would recommend that you give them a try because a lot of people have had success with them, especially when combined with keeping a full stomach and sour or ginger candies.

Eye Drops

Dry eyes are another symptom of pregnancy, brought on by, you guessed it, HORMONES! Your body doesn’t produce as many tears, making your eyes feel scratchy and uncomfortable. My eyes always get dry on an airplane anyway, so having this added change did not help.

You can help alleviate this by bringing along eye drops in your carry-on, whether you wear contact lenses or not. If you do wear contacts, you can always remove them during the flight as well, especially if you plan to sleep on the flight.

Baby Aspirin

My doctor recommended I take baby (low dose) aspirin for 3 days leading up to and 3 days after my long-haul flight to help prevent blood clots. You can find this over the counter in your pharmacy in 81 mg tablets. This helps keep the blood thinner and reduce the risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis.

My doctor said that this is safe, but please consult your own doctor or midwife before taking any medications, as recommendations can vary.

Unisom (Doxylamine) + B6

During the first trimester, this was my go-to combo for nausea relief, especially at night. Unisom is an over the counter sleep aid that has shown to provide nausea relief when combined with Vitamin B6. It’s very important that you use the Unisom sleep TABLETS and not the gel caps, as the ingredient that is helpful is doxylamine which is not the ingredient for the gel caps.

Generally, the recommended dosage is 25mg by mouth 3 times a day of Vitamin B6, accompanied by 12.5mg of Unisom (half a pill) at night. I found this to be helpful. If you just have trouble sleeping on the plane, aside from any nausea, my doctor did say it was okay to take the Unisom alone.

Again, please consult your own doctor or midwife before taking any medications, as recommendations can vary.

So there you have it, my 10 essentials for flying while pregnant! I hope this helps you prepare for an experience a more comfortable flight, leaving you rested and refreshed to enjoy your destination. Safe travels!

Want to access all my essentials in one place? Check out my Pregnancy Travel Essentials list on Amazon!

Allie Marie Travels is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

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France Marseille Travel

10 Amazing Things to Do in Marseille France

February 17, 2020
Beautiful view in Marseille

If you’ve looked into visiting the South of France, there are no doubt places like Nice, St. Tropez, Menton & Antibes have shown up on your radar. But what about Marseille? While not as popular as it’s flashy neighbors, Marseille is a beautiful and complex city with a diverse culture. I’m here to tell you that you should definitely add this diamond in the rough to your list, and give you 10 amazing things to do in Marseille when you visit!

10 Amazing Things to Do in Marseille France

Visit the Vieux Port

It’s the most iconic image of Marseille and most likely the first picture that will pop up when you search “Marseille” in your browser: the Vieux Port. The Vieux Port or “old port” of Marseille is a bustling center of activity with picturesque views of the harbor and Marseille’s rolling hills. One of the first things to do when you arrive in Marseille is to head to the port for a Pastis (the local liquor) at one of the many bars or cafes that line the port and people/boat watch.

There is usually a lot going on here, with boats coming and going to and from the Calanques and Frioul Island (see below) and there are a ton of bars, restaurants, shops, and nightclubs. If you go really early in the morning you can see the fisherman selling their fresh catches, and there are often also other little markets that pop up throughout the week.

The Vieux Port is easily reached by Marseille’s metro, which saves you the hassle of trying to find parking or paying for it in one of the garages. Day or night, this is a can’t miss thing to do in Marseille!

Take a Calanque Cruise

The Calanques are a series of inlets that run along the Mediterranean coast from Marseille to Cassis. If you like hiking, nature, and beautiful beaches, this is a must for any trip to the Marseille area. Most of them are only accessible on foot or by boat. The Calanques that you can hike to in Marseille include Callelongue, Sormiou, and Morgiou.

A great way to see many Calanques at once (and if you are limited on time to spend hiking to each one) is to do a Calanque cruise, which you can take right from the Vieux Port. The Croisières Marseille Calanques offers options to see all of the Calanques, the main Calanques, or organize a private group tour if you prefer. Departing from the corner of Quai des Belges and Quai d’Honneur, the price and duration vary depending on how many Calanques you want to see and what time of year it is. 

Taking a Calanque cruise, one of 10 Amazing things to do in Marseille.

See the Sunrise Over Sorimiou

Sormiou is one of the Calanques in Marseille and one of my favorites to visit. During peak season, May-early October, the narrow winding road that leads down to the Calanque is closed due to fire risk. Because of this the only way to reach it during this time is by parking at the top of the hill and walking the rest of the way down for bout 45 minutes of easy to moderate hiking.

We discovered, however, that if you go really early in the morning for sunrise, the gate is open you can access the road down to the Calanque and park there. To make it worth your while, the sun rises directly over the rocks and water of the Calanque, making for a truly stunning sight. It’s so peaceful in the morning before all the tourists arrive and to watch the sun come up and the colors change and reflect in the water is magnificent.

Make sure to leave yourself some extra time to stop at a boulangerie and pick up some breakfast treats to enjoy while you watch!

Sunrise at Sormiou, one of 10 Amazing things to do in Marseille.

Go to the Chateau D’If/Frioul Island

Both just a quick and inexpensive ferry ride from the Vieux Port, visiting the Chateau D’If and Frioul Island are 2 great things to do in Marseille. The Chateau D’If is a former fortress and prison and was used as the setting for Alexandre Dumas’ famous novel The Count of Monte Cristo. You can tour the fortress (which takes up most of the small island) which has been preserved as a museum. Even though the novel is a work of fiction, there is a cell that is designated to have belonged to the Count.

The Frioul Island is a bit further and has several nice beaches to explore. When you arrive at the small port there are a few snack bars and then you can walk to whichever beach you choose. Calanque de Morgiret beach (pictured below) is adjacent to the port and a short walk. If you are willing to walk a bit further to Plage de Saint-Estève turn right and follow the map path for a 20-minute walk to this beautiful beach (there are maps and signs). You will arrive at a beautiful rocky beach with crystal clear water. On the way, you will also catch scenic vistas of the Marseille skyline.

You can reach both destinations via the same ferry service from the Vieux Port. You will find the ticket station at the southeastern corner of the Vieux Port, which is also where the boat boards. Make sure you look at the different fairs, as you can get a ticket to either destination + return or a combo ticket + return if you want to see both. There are several departures throughout the day.

See the View from the Notre Dame de la Garde

Want to see the best view of Marseille? No contest, the Notre Dame de la Garde church offers the most stunning views of the city, mountains and the beautiful Mediterranean sea. Affectionately called La Bonne Mère (the good mother), the church is visible from most points in Marseille perched atop its hill, watching over the city.

It’s no wonder that the church is Marseille’s most visited tourist attraction, and you definitely have to add it to your list of things to do in Marseille. The church itself is gorgeous, constructed in the Byzantine revival style during the mid-nineteenth century. The interior is particularly unique with a maritime theme, filled with artwork on the walls depicting ships and even has wooden boats hanging from the ceiling.

In addition to the impressive church, the views surrounding it are just unreal. On a clear day, it feels like you can see forever. You can reach the church by driving and parking in one of the lots, walking up the very steep hill from the Vieux Port or taking one of the quaint tourist trains (also from the Vieux Port.) This is a spot that can’t be missed during your visit!

Try the famous Bouillabaisse Marseillais

When you mention that you went to Marseille, an inevitable question you will receive is, “Did you try the Bouillabaise?” Undoubtedly the most iconic food of the city, Bouillabaisse is a traditional fish stew consisting of rich and herbaceous broth, fresh seafood and served with a rouille (mayonnaise made of olive oil, garlic, red pepper, and saffron).

Traditionally, the soup was a poor man’s fisherman stew, using the fish that they couldn’t sell at the market that day. Ironically it has now become a fine delicacy that is served in fine restaurants at a high price point. Some restaurants (arguably the only ones that are doing it right), will require 24-48 hours notice if you will be ordering the bouillabaisse! The broth, rouille & crusty bread, and the fish is all served separately. The seafood part of the soup varies by what is available but must contain at least 4 of these fish: rockfish, spider crab,  red mullet, conger eel, and red scorpion fish.

Now, many places will advertise having “authentic bouillabaisse”, but you should be choosy about where you dine in order to ensure you are getting the real deal. Chez Fonfon is one of the most famous and recommended restaurants in Marseille for authentic bouillabaisse, as well as Chez Michel, L’Epuisette & Le Petit Nice. But beware, if you’re paying less than 50 euros per person, you’re just getting regular fish soup.

Go to an Open Market

One thing you must do in the South of France is to visit an outdoor market, and Marseille has some great ones! There is the fish market at the Vieux Port as I mentioned above. There are also often other little markets selling crafts or clothing that will set up around the Vieux Port on various days.

My favorite and most consistent/all-encompassing market though is the Marché Avenue du Prado. Here you will find everything from local food, fresh-cut flowers, clothing, accessories, jewelry, household goods and, of course, the famous Savon de Marseille (handmade soaps).

The market stretches down the Avenue du Prado to the Castellane metro station and is full of open-air booths and vendors waiting to bargain with you. This is where I buy my best souvenirs for others and for myself! What’s great is that it’s open every day (except Sunday) from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm, so you can always go back to get that one thing you forgot the day before. It’s a really fun experience and a great way to get your shopping done economically as you can get some really great bargains.

Check Out the Street Art

Marseille has some AMAZING street art, so naturally one of the best things to do in Marseille is going mural hunting! Fortunately, you don’t have to look too hard, as it seems like every corner you turn there is a colorful display covering a wall.

My 2 favorite neighborhoods in Marseille for street art are the Cours Julien and Le Panier, both with some amazing pieces. The Cours Julien has great shopping and restaurants as well and a fun hipster/boho vibe. Each alleyway you turn down is covered in pretty art and there is color everywhere.

The same goes for Le Panier, a neighborhood just adjacent to the Vieux Port. One of the oldest neighborhoods in Marseille, Le Panier has a distinctly old fashioned feel. Tiny streets with colorful facades and shutters, laundry hanging out the windows, endless street art…it’s a visual wonderland for photographers. 

Have a Picnic at the Beach

While Marseille is home to some amazing restaurants (and a few Michelin stars), my favorite thing to do in Marseille at mealtime is a simple picnic by the beach. There’s nothing better than stopping at a local boulangerie for sandwiches and quiches and heading to a Calanque or beach to enjoy a meal by the water.

For an extra-special picnic, stop at a Carrefour or Auchun (the 2 major grocery chains in Marseille) and also add olives, tabouli, a baguette and oozing creamy cheese to the mix. Oh and don’t forget the bottle of rosé!

Luckily Marseille has plenty of beaches to enjoy your picnic. There are the Calanques and Frioul Island which I mentioned above, as well as Les Goudes which is a small fishing village on the outskirts of Marseille towards Cassis with a small Calanque. Plage de la Pointe Rouge &  Plage du Prophete are the main beaches within the city of Marseille, which have more of a “city-beach” feel vs the nature of the Calanques.

See a Soccer Game at the Stade Vélodrome

The last but not least of the things to do in Marseille that I will recommend is to go see a soccer game at the Stade Vélodrome! The local team, Olympique de Marseille, are the soul of the city with the loudest and most loyal fans. If you haven’t been to a European soccer game before, I would definitely recommend it as the fans get really into it which makes it so much fun.

The stadium, Stade Vélodrome, is beautiful and newly renovated. The partial roof was added when France won the bid for the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup, finishing construction in 2014. Its unique structure stands out as part of the Marseille skyline and can be viewed from many spots throughout the city.

Check the schedule before your trip to see if there is a home game and if there is I would suggest trying to get tickets. You can buy them easily at the stadium or through a resale site called Viagogo. Tickets will cost between 20 and 40 euros retail and you can either sit in the stands or behind the goal with the huge block of fans (these are the less expensive and much rowdier seats).

Even though there are countless things to do in Marseille, these 10 things will really guarantee you have an amazing time and get the most out of your visit! Bon Voyage!

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