Bank holiday holiday: Our trip to France

Two of our writers describe their jam-packed bank holiday trip around Southern France.

multiple writers
10th May 2022
Panorama taken by Katie Siddall
Day One: Travel

We met up at 10:30 at Newcastle Train Station (after getting the metro, myself, and walking, on Cas’s half) where we had breakfast at *drum roll* Burger King. After waiting at the station for approximately 20 minutes we boarded the Lumo train to London King’s Cross. This journey took us 3 hours with no stops - Lumo's speciality. We couldn’t help but pick up our books and have a relaxing start to our journey. I started reading Daisy Hay’s “Young Romantics” whilst Castor read “The Perfect Couple” by Jackie Kabler.

Once arriving at King’s Cross we legged it for a train to Paddington as we were told confidently by our Southern friend that the route we were about the take was quicker - and more expensive! - than taking the Piccadilly line all the way to Heathrow. 

At Paddington we had to scramble to find our way to the Heathrow Express platform (platform 7 by the way). Then after a 10-minute wait, we were on the train and heading to Heathrow. 

Heathrow was quiet! And I mean quiet! I’ve never seen the lines in an airport so deserted in all my life. We managed to get through customs and security safely and quickly - the most adulting we’ve ever faced (and we did it correctly!). Once through to duty-free we went for lunch at… Wetherspoons! Where we also had a drink each to celebrate the start to our holiday. 

Whilst in Heathrow we were delayed an hour but we finally set foot in France at 21:30. After a half an hour bus journey we also set foot into our hotel - the Hotel Le Royal. 

We stayed up for a few hours gassing with the French TV on (unfortunately there were no English channels) to find we were watching “The Masked Singer, France” and then a weird show called “Ztep Circus”. I’m pretty sure we both had nightmares about “Ztep Circus” as it unfolded in front of us. It contained jokes (which we could not understand), dancing clowns and a pole dancer. Eventually, we were tired enough to go to sleep to be refreshed for our very hectic next day! Monaco!

Day Two: Monaco

After a mildly delayed start - let's just say I lingered in bed for a little while - Katie and I set off to the train station for our journey to Monte Carlo. It was a decently crowded train, and we spent the entire half-hour journey staring jealously at those sitting down. But we would have been on the edges of our seats anyway in anticipation of watching the Formula E and visiting the - what we now know first-hand - hilliest principality in the world.

By the time we arrived at our stop, we had missed Free Practice and Qualifying so we headed straight to lunch. It was definitely not the easiest to find and involved a few more flights of stairs than Katie and I would have preferred, but it was more than worth it as we arrived at Pulcinella. We each had an Orangina to start, then Katie chose the spicy tomato penne while I had cacio e pepe with green tagliatelle. The portions were large and satisfied us, perfect to fuel our trek to the grandstands.

Credit: Castor Chan

When I said trek, I might have meant hike. Although Monaco is tiny, the two of us soon learnt that the amount of walking more than doubles as you zigzag down the huge changes in altitude. The circuit also meant that many roads were blocked off, and we were forced to take some alternative routes that continued to lengthen our journey time. It did not help that in our efforts to dress up a little nicer for our visit, Katie and I braved the principality in wedges, which pained us a little more than we'd hoped.

The view was certainly worth it though, as we had bought really good seats for the incredible price of only thirty Euros. To read about our race experience, head on over to our article at the Sports section!

Credit: Castor Chan

Once the race was over, time for the walk - and in Katie's case, the shuffle - back to the train station. We were kindly directed by a fleet of policemen stationed along the walk, likely in anticipation of the flood of departing visitors. And flood it was. Katie and I were unable to squeeze onto the train we were scheduled to leave on, and had to wait another half hour at the station for the next. After another half-hour ride, we started the 15-turned-45 minute hobble back to the hotel.

A quick change of shoes and a fresh layer of plasters later, we went downstairs to the nearby restaurant. The outdoor table we were sat at offered a gorgeous view of the promenade and setting sun, and we enjoyed our delicious plates of carbonara and pan-fried fish with rice. I also had dessert, a creme caramel, while Katie's dessert drink was a second Sex on the Beach cocktail. Then off to our room where we did some work to the audio of The Voice France.

Day Three: Nice

After a long night of sleep, we woke up at 11am to remember we had missed hotel breakfast! This was not a problem though as we got up and ready for a beach day - the relaxing day we deserved after yesterday’s antics. 

We rented beach beds for 22€ each, which I don’t personally see as too bad for the whole day, and treated ourselves to a pizza to share. We lounged about for the next few hours (eating, drinking, reading) before going back up to our hotel room to get ready for tea. 

Image credit: Katie Siddall

Once ready, we researched places to eat and reserved a table at L’Antica. This was a 10-minute walk from our hotel but we spent an hour wandering around as we hadn’t done any site-seeing of the promenade that was just across the street from our hotel! On this walk, we came across at least eight different Creperies - the smell coming from each was lovely.

We then came to our restaurant L'Antica - it was a cute little restaurant just across from a small city-like park. The food was not the best nor was it the worst, this was a deciding factor for us to spend as little time here as possible.

After we ate and paid, we strolled back down to the promenade, back to our hotel and packed before our early start to catch our flight back to dreary old England.

Day Four: Travel

Leaving was bittersweet, while Katie and I were wondering how time had flown, we were both eager to get back into familiar beds. After a reluctant departure from bed we finished throwing our last belongings into our bags before checking out and catching the bus to the airport.

Upon arrival to Terminal 1, we stopped for a quick snack before heading through the ever-exciting customs. It went decently quick, though both Katie and I were stopped at security for a quick scan. Soon after we emerged on the other side ready to find our gate. Boarding was quite fast as well, and it was a smooth flight apart from a spot of turbulence in the last 15 or so minutes. Then it was off through another set of security before stopping for lunch in Heathrow.

A long layover later, we were finally on the last plane leg back to Newcastle. Another short, uneventful flight and we were ready to be back in our flats. I collected my suitcase and we were off to the Metro to conclude the last of our travel. It was a good trip that Katie and I both enjoyed, and we'd love to visit Nice and Monaco again someday. Maybe with better shoes though!

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