Grace’s Birthday Trip – Part 1: Provence

This year, we’re celebrating Grace’s 40th birthday. We usually spend our birthdays (yes, same day) in Las Vegas for golf, the NCAA tournament, and whatever else happens in Vegas. This year, Grace said she did not want to go to Vegas, so I had my work cut out for me.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with The Civil Wars. After missing them play at the Fillmore in San Francisco, and after reading reviews of the show that it was amazing, I researched their tour in hopes of catching them. When I found out they were playing on 3/28 in Paris, I was intent on taking Grace on a date to see them there and the rest of the trip was planned around it. We had been to Paris together before, so I wanted to visit at least one other place during our visit. Plus, if we were going to make the trip across The Pond, it wasn’t going to be a short one.

There are so many places we haven’t been, I had a hard time narrowing the choices. I considered Florence, Prague, Spain, etc. It dawned on me that the end of March is still wintery, so I tried to pick a place that was warm, but none could be guaranteed. I finally settled on the South of France and hoped for the best in terms of weather.

A word of caution for anyone attempting to plan a trip like this (or any trip). Save yourself the anguish and don’t look at trip advisor or other travel sites. I read through hundreds of reviews for properties all over and aside from the few happy customers, most people post to review sites to gripe about their poor service or terrible experience. It will make you want to stay home. I decided I needed some assurances, so I chose the Four Seasons Provence, which is the only resort property in Europe and it looked amazing. Our dates of travel meant that we would be there off-seasons and therefore the pool would not be open, nor would the gastronomic restaurant. I really expected us to just relax.

The entire itinerary until our departure was a surprise (although Grace did her best at guessing). Air France was somewhat of a giveaway, but flying through to Nice was somewhat of a surprise (she guessed that at some point, too – no fun). We rented a car in Nice, which we did not end up using once aside from our trip to and from the airport. Thanks to all who provided wonderful suggestions for places to go and see in the region. It turned out we had neither the time nor the inclination to leave the resort. We could have easily spent a week (or two?) there and not been bored. I’ve decided this was simply a scouting trip and that one day we’ll bring the kids back there.

We never really adjusted to the time properly, which meant we didn’t sleep much and when we did, it was in the morning. Grace spent some time at the spa one afternoon while I went to the golf practice center. Both were world class. The indoor pool at the spa was gorgeous and relaxing (sorry to the other guests for my snoring). On our second full day, we slept in late and had to push our tee time back to fit in an amazing Sunday brunch. Golf was so beautiful and fun that we decided to go around again and finished another 14 holes before it became dark. Our “buggy” almost ran out of juice as we tried to drive back and around the 16th hole, Grace had to get out so it could make it up a hill. It was a great experience.

Provence (or the resort located there rather) exceeded our expectations and we discussed how we could move there and school the kids. The baccalaur√©at seems a little daunting for them, so we’ll have to work around that.

Because we didn’t truly experience the region, we (or I) decided we need to come back for the Festival de Cannes some time and that I’ll have to learn how to play Baccarat before visiting Monte Carlo. Or, we can just play golf and swim.

It was an amazing start to our trip.