Trip Bits and Travel Tips. And Astute Observations

Now that I’m back from our trip to France, I can tell you what I did wrong and what I did right.

In all my years of traveling to the Cote d’Azur, you would think I had mastered the art of packing light.

I didn’t.

As usual, I overpacked.  I know, I know.  I am constantly reading about “capsule” wardrobes and it just isn’t my thing.  But I did make note of what I did wear. And I wore on repeat.  I packed five wigs and only wore two. One only two days. Do the math! I’m telling you, I really “wronged” on the packing. Big time!

Here’s what I did end up wearing and all but the navy dotted shorts were worn on repeat.

First of all, this getup was my “hanging at home” go-to.  Most dinners on the terrace were eaten wearing this tee and knit pj shorts. YES!! PJ shorts! Once a slob–always a slob!

cleaned up well for our visits to St. Tropez. I wore this dress for every visit except on to St. Trop.  I even wore it to the funeral.  This ten-dollar dress was worn at least 7 times during the stay. Luckily I was able to wash it! 

The 11 euro bikinis.  Who cares about the soft body.  I wore these practically every day.  I ended up buying two of the paisly suit!

Another dress on repeat. And this was a whopping $16. at Primark!  I was super comfortable because I didn’t have to wear a bra with this dress! Notice the Rondini Tropezienne sandals. I wore these almost every day!

I knew we would be doing a lot of walking in Ensues and Marseille so I wore sneakers. I wore shorts and a bobbed wig too. 

This was the only other day I wore short hair. It’s Millie by Bobbi Boss and I love her!  Another braless day with this off-the-shoulder shirt and white shorts. I did wear sandals!

Same white shorts, black Rondini sandals for a dressier look!

Date night in my other ten dollar Old Navy special! I ordered two more the other day.  These swing dresses are so flattering!  

My Rondini Bikini sandals were also worn a lot!

Honestly, all the outfits I wore in the above photos were all I needed.  I wore an old Gap shift to the beach and pool as a bathing suit coverup.  And underwear. All my clothes could have fit in a carryon!

Due to circumstances beyond my control, there wasn’t a lot of time to do shopping.  But it really didn’t matter much because my goal was to purchase another pair of Rondini Sandals.

The red sandals are just as comfortable as my other Rondini sandals and ..they’re RED!!!  RED!!!!!  Shopping Goal completed!

Other shopping goals were small—more Fleur d’Oranger from Fragonard and more French music CD’s.

I stocked up on my Fleur d’Oranger Eau de Toilette at Fragonard, but also treated myself to the Fleur d’Oranger Intense. Pure Orange Blossom is my favorite scent!

Another goal was to find a great summer scent for my daughter, Oona.  She gets very bad headaches from many scents—like mother, like daughter. She’s very particular.  After over an hour of sniffing, spraying, and repeating, we decided on the Figue.  And guess what?  She loves it!!

We sent a package to Oona with the Figue eau de toilette, some samples, another scent from Adopt parfum and a Fragonard tote that she can use while grocery shopping!

I picked up another one of these totes as well. You can never have enough!

With a bit of time before our flight home, I went into the Duty-Free Longchamp shop at CDG.  I hadn’t planned on it, but ended up with an expandable travel bag.  The price at the airport was 130 euros. In USD that comes to $149.80.  The same bag retails for $255 here.  It was a great price!

This expandable travel bag is remarkably roomy and it was purchased at a great price!

Other little doo-dads included a gift for my neighbor, candy for my co-workers, my fabulous bikinis, and odds and ends.  Cosmetics was not to play into this trip.

I know it’s kitchy and tacky but I love pushing the button in the back to hear the cicadas!

Stickers for the cars,  Expandable wine totes from Nicolas..

These are great to load up on and give as a little something extra with wine bottles.

I did manage to pick up a couple of lip balms. This brand is great!

Treats for co-workers..

Think outside the box.  A menu from my favorite restaurant will be framed and hung in the kitchen!

La Ponche is the area of St. Tropez where Bonaparte spent his summers…and we purchased this inexpensive sign at the marche in St. Tropez..

Dany’s hat now hangs on the wall…to the left is one of his prints!

What I did learn was that the Tuesday Market in St. Tropez is freaking unbelievable.  My goal for next time is to purchase one of those vintage LV bags—I want one with a history!

Oops! I forgot. I picked this graphic tee up at the marche. I’ll be dressing it up with jeans and a blazer in the cooler weather!

But my goal for next year is to pick up one of these for a fraction of the cost. And they are genuine because France has very strict laws..

My shopping advice to the traveler who isn’t wealthy, but likes pleasant things (the category that I fall into). Save a few bucks each payday.  Open a small bank account and use that money for one great item that’ll give you years and years of memories.  Honestly, I look forward to my annual Rondini purchase because I now have a little collection of summer sandals—and I wear those sandals in rotation practically every day during the summer heat.  And they are unique because nobody else around these parts has them!!

WRITE. Get a journal and pens and write, write about ANYTHING that pops into your head.  Maybe you see something that brings old memories to mind.  Journal your trip because you can also use those entries as references for the future.  Take a half hour or an hour every day—it’s also a fantastic way to unwind after a busy day of touring and sightseeing.

I’ve got journals dating back ten years of trips to France!!  Writing is a great reference!

Oh, I forgot about this too!  Magazines. Gossip magazines are fun to try to decipher what is being written and a great practice is translating recipes from French into English!!  There are some gems of recipes in here!

Don’t listen to others when it comes to safety. France is incredibly safe.  Yes. France has had its share of a few attacks—but that’s nothing compared to the random murders and homicides in the USA.  Every wacko here owns a gun. The like to pontificate that it is their right to bear arms. Well, it’s my right to life and I don’t want any moron going bang-bang when I’m around!  Every day innocent Americans are the victims of murder—I call that domestic terrorism.

Not once did I feel even the slightest fear or anxiety.  And the same goes for when I’m in Paris.  It’s safe. So, don’t you let anyone tell you that it’s dangerous!  Those are the people who live their lives in fear.

The food—what can I say?  I’m paying for my sin of gluttony.  My body is saying that I gained a good eight pounds. And it is not easy to take off. So, I shall be returning to writing about weight loss.  I wronged on my diet but it felt so right!!!  Vacation is the time to indulge—and I did!

Although I tried to stick to healthy choices..

I drank too much–empty calories that went straight to my belly!

This went directly to my thighs and was so tasty that I don’t care!

Observations—the French are a race onto their own. The French tan so naturally and well.  They worship the sun. They bake like little roasted chickens on a spit.  Their skin achieves various stages of caramel.  From a light fleur de sel caramel to a more burnt caramel.  I’m jealous.  Not even a spray tan could make my skin as perfectly browned as the French.  Bonaparte is living proof.

The French Tan–is to be compared to various colors of caramels..

Perhaps I could have just used this as fake tan!!!

In fact, he told me that I don’t know how to tan correctly. I need equal time on my stomach and my back.  My answer to that is, I’ll just continue to sit under the parasol with sunscreen and fake it because I don’t want any more skin cancer!

France is also the capital of the Man Bun.  Oh, if only I had taken photos of every man bun I saw—I would have no space either in my phone or camera.  Not even iCloud could keep up with those delightful tufts of messy bun man hair! Man buns must never, ever go out of style.  I asked my sons to grow their hair long again and wear man buns.  They laughed at me.


Man bun..

Ohhh. Soccer Manbun!

YSL Man Bun.  Best Man Hair ever!

When you take pictures, don’t take them all of yourself. Take pics of the scenery and items of interest.  If you notice, there aren’t many photos of me at all—only what I wore.  I don’t like taking photos of me when I’m traveling. I like to take photos of where I am.    Make videos fun.  Even if you are a newbie. Trust, me, this was a learning experience for my videos and now I’m hooked!

An old boat makes for an interesting photo

A lazy street

A ceiling at a restaurant made of tree branches and hats hanging down

A wedding you stumble upon–two brides, one groom?

Art work on a building.

And you don’t have to be a great photographer either. Just snap away!

That’s about it.  It’s a wrap!!!

The song I’m showing you tonight is one of the reasons that I love buying French music.  I’ve been listening to the Alain Souchon & Laurent Voulzy CD non-stop since my return and this song “Consuelo” is one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


© 2017


About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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31 Responses to Trip Bits and Travel Tips. And Astute Observations

  1. Thanks for the tips!!

  2. Momcat says:

    So glad you’re back! Yes, deciphering recipes from Français to English is a great way of learning the language! Also metric measurements! Not a problem here in the frozen Nord because we have French cooking mags aplenty ( RICARDO!!<3) and metric is already a thang here anyway. I think if you gain weight by having really great food and drink and enjoying it it's not a big deal. Eight pounds in two weeks is not bad….gawd you were in FRANCE!!! Bless that poundage and let it slip away, every time you're tempted by some inferior State side friandise ask yourself if it's as good as what you ate on vacay. If the the answer is no don't sully your lips or your hips. The answer will probably always be no so you'll be looking for smaller bikinis next year! P.S. You rocked those 11€ bikinis!!!!! 62!?!?!?!!!!!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Momcat! Yeah. 8 pounds it was!! But I’m quick on the road to correcting myself!! I’ll be deciphering those healthy recipes with great focus!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  3. Jean says:

    Very nice handwriting in your journals! Is that Catholic school Palmer Method cursive?

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Jean. Absolutely!!! We were tested in Penmanship. We were graded on our report cards in Penmanship. We had exercises too!!! I’m a sucker for good penmanship!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  4. Susan D says:

    Have so enjoyed your holiday postings. Now back to normality, eh?
    You look amazing in your bikinis and shorts ……. Ah, I can dream. Bikinis long gone and swimsuits an ordeal, shorts – well I’ve only ever been able to do Bermudas and now feel the knees are best kept out of sight.
    Keep posting. I so look forward to each one. Always interesting and sometimes hysterically funny.

  5. Fiona says:

    Who wants to eat rabbit food on holiday? You’ve got to eat and drink like a local… be a bon viveur, what’s the point of going otherwise? Time enough to diet at home.
    I agree! I’ve never felt unsafe in France, admittedly I visit rural Vendée but wouldn’t have a problem going to Paris or any of the bigger cities. Seriously? You like the man bun? Worst hairsyle ever IMO.
    You’ll like this…I had a saucy dream last night about me and Emmanuel Macron! Well, I’m still 10 years younger than his wife!
    Thanks for all your fab French posts…I’ve loved them all. Xxx

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Fiona! Now it’s back to 6 oz of protein and lots of veg!! LOTS!!! I do love me that man bun. I don’t know what it is but I find it very attractive!! I love that you had a saucy dream about Emmanuel Macron!!!! Yah–France is super safe!! I don’t understand the people who insist it is dangerous!!! XXOXOXOXOXO!!!!

  6. I always over pack too. I need options!! And we are twinsies in our taste for Fragonard – I discovered Fleur d’Oranger Eau de Toilette the first time I went in 2010 and have been asking people to bring it back for me ever since. But the last time someone did that it did NOT smell right at all – I got a janked bottle or something and it was a pretty big one too that I shelled out quite a few Euro for. I can’t wear it but refuse to throw it away because it’s the only one I have right now.

    PS I think I need some style advice from you! i inherited a great black and beige/tan striped JCrew blazer from a friend but I have NO clue what to wear under it. The beige/tan stripe throws me. Got any ideas?

    • Catherine says:

      Kathryn. WAIT!!! Was the large bottle that someone brought back a silver tin one? I ask because it’s the refill bottle and I had mine for over a year without using. When I finally opened it, the scent wasn’t the same–but once I put it and it dried down it was fine!!
      Under the beige/tan striped blazer, a white tee. Simple. Classic white tee. With jeans or black pants it would look spectacular!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  7. Judy says:

    Great post as always, Catherine. I have been meaning to tell you that I bought your lovely Fragonard orange eau de toilette in Marks and Spencers! I was very surprised to see it there as I had thought they only sold their own brand – it retails at £25 for 100 ml. It’s lovely, now my summer go to as well!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Judy! I’m so glad you purchased the Fleur d’Oranger. You’re lucky that Marks & Spencers sells it–can’t get it here in the States at all!! It’s the greatest summer scent ever!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  8. doodletllc says:

    Going Old School with a journal is genius when traveling…portable, no wires, simple, cheap…and if it gets wet by the pool, it gets wet…no electronic disasters. A Fun and Funny Post, as always.

  9. JulietC says:

    You may think you did the odd wrong thing, but seriously I think you got it absolutely nailed. Sure you might not have worn everything – but you know what you had was perfect, and with any other set of circumstances I think you would have worn more outfits maybe or made different choices so cut yourself some slack, you looked amazing each and every time and you had great options and it is always good to have a few spare items just in case (I say that as I am a grub and still don’t know where my mouth is). I also think the advice you give regarding taking photographs and journalling is really interesting – being more aware, more mindful and hence more appreciative is well worth taking on board. It is you I have to thank for spurring me on to blogging again (OK I probably have next to nothing to blog about but heck, I am blogging after a few years), not only that – but I even posted a photo of what I now look like (white hair and all) on my blog – I would never have imagined that in a squillion years (and serious cudos to you for taking such great selfies, boy is that hard), even my facebook doesn’t have my mugshot!!! (nope – it is a crocus).

    • Catherine says:

      Juliet! I tried commenting on your blog post but that typeface thingy, it’s confusing and I’m off Facebook for a while. I had to get off FB because all the political stuff and Donald Trump triggers me in a very, very bad way. But you are so adorable!!! The lipstick that you are wearing is absolutely beautiful and I’m in love with your glasses…and scarfs…and earrings!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  10. Omg I never knew you wore a wig! Your hair always looks amazing. Live the primark dress best and you look awesome in your kinis pretty lady!! Hope France was amazing xox

    • Catherine says:

      Hi McKenz!!!! Yup!! My hair is as fake as my tan!!! Thank you so much–wigs are the hair of the future!!! Easy to put on and you don’t waste a ton of unwanted time–plus–they don’t frizz!!!! XOXOXOXOX!!!!!

  11. LA CONTESSA says:

    Has anyone told YOU you are a HOOT?
    Well, YOU ARE……………………….
    I give YOU a standing ovation!

    • Catherine says:

      Thank ya Elizabeth!!! We’re going to NYC this weekend. My oldest son is relocating to L.A. I will finally have an excuse to visit California!!!! We can finally meet!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  12. Q.D says:

    I need to actually read this properly when I am not at work 🙂

    But on the packing thing, I travel, a lot. This year I have three OS trips to the same country, one with work, two for fun (in different seasons with different people). I have travel staples that I take pretty much every trip, but sometimes I just get there and wear one variation and not another, so I pack both because I don’t know what I will feel like till I get there. My second last trip to Tokyo was skirts and leggings/stockings and blouses and knee-high boots, my most recent trip to Tokyo was skinny jeans and t-shirts and blazers and converse. I had both options both trips, the weather was the same, just I was feeling a different look, that I didn’t know till I got there!

    And I always look back at my photos and think, did I really only wear two tops the whole holiday??? I hand wash every night so I can take minimal options, but have totally had trips where even though I only took three tops, I ended up only wearing one! Granted I have worn the same top to work every day this week as well (washed overnight), but it is freezing here and that is my warmed work top!

  13. Ah, my leetle French traveling virtual friend *grins* you had me at “orange blossom perfume.”
    I esp. liked the images of France near the end of your post. Two brides and one groom? I am still trying to figure that one out.

  14. Judy says:

    I agree with your suggestion to take photos of places, things and other people. Pausing to wait for people to take another photo of them self is more than annoying. However, if I could make a suggestion…when you do take a picture of what you are wearing ( which is always interesting) could you try to change the angle so we see a better shot of the clothes? When taken from above (which I know is the proper selfie angel) we see a lot of your head (lovely) and not so much of the clothes and then it is from the top down which doesn’t give a full shot. Just a thought. Thanks for sharing your journey, and I agree with everything you say about he whose name we will not say.

  15. angelin2014 says:

    Oooo, I love man buns too…and I think it´s a European thingy, we have them en masse here in Sweden too. We usually have the hipster variety with a man bun a shaggy beard:). The footballer (what you guys call soccer, and we claim is the real football, hehe) is actually Swedish star and football-hero Zlatan Ibrahimovic (not even sure I spell that correctly).
    I think you just did the capsule wardrobe without thinking! Myself I´m fascinated by the concept, but I´m not doing very well, I´m afraid. Just bought several new things that cannot be considered basic, capsule or even fits in with my normal wardrobe. Just plain fun!:)
    I will miss your holiday-entries, until next year, I always find them funny, interesting and really entertaining. The video from your apartment was amazing! I was so jealous:)

  16. LOVED seeing your writer’s notebooks, and learning that you have them dating back to 10 yrs of France! My goal this trip is to do some note sketching (or is it sketch noting??) in a WN. Lofty goal for myself considering all of the empty WNs I have…Another goal is to take only a carry-on. We usually take 1 bag for 2 plus what we carry on, but I want to see if we can downsize further 🙂
    France IS VERY SAFE, and I thank you for getting on your soapbox about that topic as it compares to our very serious gun problem. As I was reading that part, I was mind screaming, EXACT! EXACT!
    Merci beaucoup et a la prochaine!

  17. Maryanne says:

    You’re so beautiful! I love the bikini photos — and your glasses.

    Traveling, to me, is always about swimming, shopping, and food. Speaking of which — what is the fish next to the salmon? It looks so mouth-watering!

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