5 Places You Should Visit on the French Riviera

I'm sitting here writing this post in a very messy office with the knowledge that I've got a half unpacked suitcase in the bedroom and a tonne of washing to do. It's safe to say I've well and truly got the holiday blues. So what better way to make them even worse than look through all the photos of what I was doing this time last week and write about what an amazing time I had?!

If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don't, here's a shameless plug) or if you've simply read the title of this blog post then you'll know that I recently spent a week and a half exploring the French Riviera. One of my close friends was getting married out there and seeing as we hardly ever get a holiday we decided to make the most of it and stay on after the wedding. It was so nice - it made me realise how long it's been since I've really relaxed and felt like I had nothing to do but explore, eat and enjoy myself (and yanno, get a load of blog content obviously). I'll be writing more in depth posts about my favourite places that we visited, but I wanted to do a little round up of the places I'd really really recommend visiting if you're in that area

yellow flowers growing out of a rock on a backdrop of the sea

pale blue window sashes on a French cottage

expensive looking yachts in a harbour, blue sea and sky

yellow house with lamp on the side, half in shadow and half in light

a rocky beach surrounded by high walls, looking out to a blue sea

a large stone jetty looking out to sea

Antibes | Antibes was our base for the whole trip mainly because my friend got married there at the beginning of the holiday so it made sense for us to be close by, but we couldn't have wished for a better place to base ourselves. Antibes is everything you'd want all in one place and it's the perfect mix of relaxing seaside and lively bars. 

We stayed in the old town, which is a maze of bars, cafes and cute little boulangeries plus a huge covered market selling fresh fruit, olives and spices among other things. It's easy to feel like you live there after a couple of days of wandering down to the boulangerie for breakfast before going out for the day then pottering around the harbour or going to the beach in the evening. 

A small pebbly beach surrounded by the town walls quickly became our favourite and there was nothing more relaxing at the end of the day than nipping down there for a swim and a book reading session. I'll write more about Antibes in a future post, but one of my absolute favourite things we did there was walk the cap of the island, which reminded me a little of Kings Landing in Game of Thrones for some reason and was just so picturesque (plus helped justify the large amount of carbs that were consumed everyday).

view from atop the high cliff in Eze, looking down to a blue sea, with red rooftops and exotic plants

an old yellow church, blue sky

woman holds a glass of white wine in front of some railings overlooking the sea

woman sits on a stone ledge overlooking the red rooftops, botanic plants and the sea

narrow cobbled street between buildings

view down a cliff into the blue sea

Eze | Eze was the place I was most excited to visit and was probably my absolute favourite. It's a little medieval village sat atop a mountain with the most stunning views across the Mediterranean. The winding streets are so pretty to walk around and there's an exotic botanical garden at the top, which if you're a plant lady like me will have you in your absolute element. We sat and had lunch and some wine with the most amazing view and I'd highly recommend paying a little more to eat at Le Chèvre D'or because it's so worth it for the view alone and it's only about €5 more expensive than eating further inside the village.

pastel high rise buildings

Ornate casino building through trees with purple flowers

view across rooftops of Monaco

Exterior of ornate casino building, people walking around outside, palm trees

a yellow coloured palace building, with mountains in the background, a blue cloudy sky

woman stood at a tall window with plush net curtains

Monaco | Monaco really surprised me. We went there just for the experience and because we thought it might be interesting and possibly even a little bit funny to see all the flash cars and yachts, but I absolutely loved it. The whole place looked a little like a Disney set, there were some stunning views and some interesting things to see and do as well. The palace is worth seeing and as it's on top of a hill you get some good views from up there too. We also went in the Monte Carlo casino, which was fascinating. You can just go into the entrance hallway, which in itself is impressive, but we chose to pay to go into the main casino out of curiosity. We sat with glasses of wine feeling like we were in a James Bond movie and watched rich people gamble all their money away. Monaco is definitely an experience I'd recommend.

in the foreground the sea and a beach, in the background a town on the side of a mountain with brightly coloured houses

a cobbled street with brightly coloured houses either side, flowers along the walls

Menton | Menton was a funny one because when we got off the train there it looked and felt like a run down British seaside resort in the 1980s. Give it a chance and walk five minutes round the corner though and you're faced with the most stunning beach front with lots of colourful houses going all up the side of the mountain. There's plenty to see as you're wandering around the old town and apparently there's a very picturesque cemetery at the very top of the hill, but it was so hot on the day we went that we decided to forgo that walk!

view up a cobbled stone street surround by stone cottages

in the foreground white flowers on a green bush, in the background a stone church tower

town on a hill among trees

old stone houses with pale blue window shutters

stone walls with wooden window shutters closed, heart shapes cut into wood

an old stone cottage behind a stone wall overlooking green trees and a blue sky

Saint-Paul-De-Vence | St Paul was a little like Eze, in that it was a walled medieval village on top of a hill, only it was a little inland. The views weren't quite as stunning, but the actual streets were so pretty - window shutters galore, which are now my new favourite thing and it was the perfect place to just wander around, take some pictures and enjoy some lunch. There were also lots of little cute art shops that we treated a little like galleries, probably to the annoyance of the owners who would have taken one look at us and decided we weren't buying anything...

So that's my top five of the places we visited - well done if you've made it this far through the post. I thought I'd add a few tips on the end for if you're visiting yourself that you might find useful.

Public transport is incredibly cheap. We bought a hop on/off weekly train ticket for pretty much everywhere along the coast for €25. How amazing is that?! The bus is a flat rate of €1.50 and we used that to get to the top of Eze (you can climb up the mountain if you want though) and also to St Paul because the train didn't go there.

The best thing you can do is wander. I think this with any holiday really. I love just wandering around and discovering pretty places and the French Riviera is perfect for just that.

If you're going in summer, stay somewhere with air conditioning. This was our only regret of the holiday. Our Air BnB wasn't air conditioned. After a long day of wandering round in the sweltering heat, the last thing you want is to arrive back to an equally sweltering and stuffy bedroom.

Have you ever been to the French Riviera? Where would you recommend?

Amy x

Having Productive Hobbies

I'm one of those people who always has to be doing something. I think in general we're a generation who feel guilty if we're not doing something productive. I often tend to give all I've got to a million things at once, then burn out and end up watching ten episodes of Ex on the Beach in a row for a bit of light relief. I have a feeling I could probably strike a better and healthier balance. Something I've found really helps when, like me, you like to feel you're constantly doing something useful, is having productive hobbies. Things that you enjoy doing, but things that are also helping you create or achieve something in the process so you still feel busy. I thought I'd do a little round up of the creative hobbies I've found, plus some ideas for others too.

Blogging | What else would be the first point in my list? I started blogging, in all honesty, mainly because I was bored and it was something to do in my spare time, but something that I knew I would enjoy and felt more productive than sitting watching TV. I've always enjoyed writing and it felt like a good way to use and also improve the skills I have. I'm now at the point where it's becoming a bit more than just a hobby, but at the moment it still feels like one, which is great. The thing with blogging is, you can write about absolutely anything you want for whatever reason you want - whether you want a place to write down all your random thoughts just for your own eyes or if you want to write for other people, you can do whatever you like with it.

Get crafty | This is something I wish I did more often - my mum is great at it and always has a little project on the go. Whether it's creating a photo collage for your wall, upcycling a piece of furniture or making a holiday scrapbook, getting crafty can be really fun and you get to see the results at the end of it (which, if you're anything like me can sometimes be a little bit ropey, but it's the effort that counts right?)

Get snap happy | Take pictures of anything and everything (unless photography isn't your thing, in which case, don't). I'm loving experimenting at the moment and discovering what I like taking pictures of (turns out I love taking pictures of shadows and windows). You don't have to limit yourself to still pictures either, why not make a little film? Anything that involves a camera always feels productive to me. Personally, I've just started a little project to make a stop motion film with a friend, which I hope you all look forward to seeing when it's finished in ten years time...

Learn a new skill | Free time is a great opportunity to teach yourself something new. I taught myself how to knit a few years ago - I haven't knitted since then, but at least I now know how if there's ever the urgent need to knit something in some kind of knitting emergency... There are two things I'd love to learn but haven't got round to yet - how to speak French properly and how to play the piano. There are so many different skills we can learn in our spare time that might come in handy at work, in life in general or which might just be a bit of fun.

Do something you've always wanted | I'm sure we all have something we've always wanted to achieve but don't feel like we have the time to do, but it's great to try and get the ball rolling in your free time. I say that, but I haven't done that yet so I'm spouting hypocrisy here. I've always wanted to write a book and one day I will dedicate my free time to making a start on it rather than wasting my time in front of Love Island (if that's wasting time, which I really don't think it is do you?)

Do you like keeping busy in your free time?

Amy x

Appreciating Being Happy

Happiness is found in the littlest of things. It's the sun streaming through the curtains as you wake. It's that first sip of coffee in the morning. It's wearing an outfit that makes you feel good about yourself or a slick of red lipstick that makes you feel like a sassier you. It's laughing with the people you love. It's a million different things. 

I've been thinking a lot recently about being happy. I feel like most people, myself included, don't stop to think about being happy. We're quick to notice when we've had a bad day and are feeling a bit down, we complain about the one annoying thing that happened to us today and we're constantly wanting more. I think a lot of us are busy searching for happiness, seeking out things that will make us happier and more content with our lives. I'll be happy when I have a job. I'll be happy when I've finished decorating my house. I'll be happy when I'm more toned. Or yanno, maybe I'm happy now. But do I ever stop to think about that? Do any of us ever truly appreciate happiness when it's there or are we constantly trying to be even happier than we already are?

It's a difficult thing to balance because obviously we should always be striving for things in our lives - I couldn't exactly decide 'well I'm happy now so I'll just leave my house as it is' because then, well, I wouldn't have a functioning kitchen. So I guess it's finding a way to keep that drive and ambition to do the best you can do in life without making your happiness reliant on it. Happiness should be reliant on the now and how you feel in the moment. And if you are happy in that moment, appreciate the fact that you are, because moments will come along when you're not.

I suppose happiness is maybe like compliments. They say it takes ten compliments to reverse a negative comment and maybe happiness is the same. It takes a lot of happy to reverse that one bad moment in your day and happiness can be an uphill struggle for some people. But I for one am going to appreciate those little moments that make me happy to the full because if I can acknowledge that I'm happy as often as I acknowledge that I'm annoyed/upset/angry then I'm sure I'd realise that I'm actually happy 99% of the time. 

Amy x