Two Families in Antibes
Going Together Adds to Adventure
While vacationing with another family, the Demuths enjoyed their own activities like visiting the Port Vauban Marina in Antibes
Vacationing with our own children in Southern France is an adventure. Add another family to one rented villa, and you get double the fun (and sometimes half the sleep). Our family of five and the Popa family of four rented a villa in Antibes, France for a week last August. Father Popa found the rental for 800 euros via a feverish web search—a bargain considering we were visiting the Cote D’Azur at peak season.
The villa was tucked into the hub of the town, just kitty corner from the Provencal market. It sported high ceilings, walls the color of faded sunflowers, and feet-welcoming tile. With a loft, bunkroom, master bedroom, kitchen/laundry room, great-room/dining room, and one bathroom, both families were pleased with its size and beauty. At night after the children were tucked in for the night, we sat on the wrought-iron balcony and watched people streaming to a central court where musicians performed nightly.
Our children ranged in age from five to ten. Together, we discovered many family-centric activities within Antibes’ ancient ramparts. We shopped. We ate crepes, gelati, and panini from street venders. We listened to live music. We imagined ourselves owning the yachts moored at the Port Vauban Marina.
Both families used www.eurovacations.com to rent cars for side trips. Our mini-minivan held seven, leaving plenty of room for our family of five.
Local friends told us one of the best-kept secrets of the Cote D’Azur in the summertime is that the beaches empty out after 6 p.m. Instead of fighting afternoon crowds and searching in vain for a parking place along the water’s edge, we pulled right into our spots as others were leaving. The picnic—pasta salad, local sausages, wine, sweet melon, baguettes, cheese, chocolate nougat—became a perfect ending to a summer day. The kids swam until their skin wrinkled—well after 11 p.m.
One of the most exhilarating day trips we took (both families rented minivans) was in search of the Gorges du Verdun. Unfortunately, both families were map-challenged and we got lost on the mountain roads. We happened upon a hidden river area, where many locals were wading, ate baguette sandwiches at the river’s edge, dipped our toes in the frigid water, and pretended we were savvy travelers.
We tried our best French, but each person gave us different directions. Turning here and there, we eventually found ourselves in a little village nestled in the mountains above Grasse. Getting lost can be fun.
Vacationing with another family, especially in relatively close quarters, was actually an added benefit because our children got along well with each other. Exploring together was never boring. We did, however, spend some time apart. The adults took turns watching each other’s children so the other couple could have a date. Since we had a kitchen, we ate breakfast and lunch in to save money. For dinner, we had picnics, or we bought fresh meat and produce from the market below our villa and had relatively inexpensive feasts.
This was the first trip to France for the DeMuth and Popa families, and we can’t imagine doing it any other way. We experienced many communal adventures, laughed at our foibles, and cemented our friendship.
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Kid-Friendly Trip Tips
1. Discuss your trip prior to departure. The DK Travel Guides are children-friendly with lots of graphics and interesting information. The more the children were involved in the planning, the more they got excited about going.
2. Consider your children’s travel tastes. Our son enjoyed looking at castles. Our eldest liked to shop. Our youngest loved to swim. Keeping these interests in mind, we were able to provide a broad spectrum of activities and keep each child interested.
3. Bring new audiocassettes from home so the children have something novel to listen to on the plane and during car rides.
4. Learn to take your children’s “I’ve had it” temperatures. European culture is quite different from American, especially in terms of meal length and staying up late.
5. Anticipate mishaps. The airline lost our luggage for four days. Thankfully, we packed a change of clothes, toiletries, and pajamas in each of their carry-ons.
6. Be sure each child has his own rolling backpack.
7. Keep an eye on all luggage. Count your bags prior to getting on a train and exiting. We lost our youngest daughter’s backpack and her favorite stuffed lamb is gone forever.
8. Get outside. Our happiest times were spent on the beach or exploring the streets of little villages. Children need time to run and play.
9. Occasionally stop at McDonalds. Our children especially loved eating an American hamburger when they got a little homesick.
Helpful Web Sites:
• www.raileurope.com. We booked our train tickets online via this very user-friendly site.
• www.bestfares.com. You have to join this discount travel club, but the price for membership more than pays for the discounts. We were able to get flights to Europe during peak season at a 40 percent discount.
• www.eurovacations.com. A great site to book travel in Europe. We reserved our rental car this way.
• www.guideriviera.com. A lot of information about the Riviera in English.
• www.antibes-juanlespins.com. This is the office of tourism for Antibes and Juan les Pins, in English.
• Vacation rental web sites:
MARY E. DEMUTH lives and writes from Rowlett, TX. She hs been creating relevant prose since 1992. Visit her web site at www.relevantprose.com.