The front door of Maison du Bateau, where we stayed in the south of France
After our brief stay in Paris, the hubby, the Gravy Baby, my sister, brother-in-law and I all boarded a TGV (high-speed) train at Gare de Lyon station headed for Antibes, in the south of France. We were loaded down with just the essentials to make the five-hour trip more tolerable -- four suitcases, stroller, car seat, three baguettes, three bottles of wine, and a cooler bag containing seven different types of cheese, an array of cured meats packed in plastic wrap and a jar of fig jam from my favorite gourmet food store in Paris, Fauchon.
We picked Antibes as our vacation destination because my cousin and his partner have a house there that they rent out on a weekly basis, and we'd been dying to check it out ever since they regaled us with stories of the region. Adding to the charm of the little town of Antibes and its neighbors -- Antibes is sandwiched in between Nice and Cannes (of international film festival fame and other fancy pants-type things) -- was the amazing little maison we found ourselves staying in.
The house was located just a staircase away from a marche provencale, an open-air market that literally took my breath away the first time I saw it. Vendors peddling multiple kinds of wild strawberries, zucchini flowers, and other local produce made my hands immediately start itching to cook. Luckily, with a fully stocked kitchen at our disposal, we made the market part of our daily vacation routine, stopping every morning to pick up the essential ingredients for at least one meal later in the day. Oh, how we ate like kings. Thanks to this market and all the tools this kitchen had to offer, we had fresh pasta with ricotta, squash blossoms and toasted pinenuts, roasted rack lamb and veal chops, just to name a few. My head spins just thinking about it (and trust me, I'll be sharing more posts about what we ate).
Honestly, I think staying at Maison du Bateau really made our trip worthwhile -- there was space for the Gravy Baby to play, indoors and out (there's a little courtyard outside the front door that overlooks the Mediterranean sea), and after he went to bed each evening the rest of us could still have space to chat, drink wine, and eat leftover cheese.
The market wasn't the only thing just outside the maison, either. The Picasso Museum, a gorgeous structure built in the same style as the rest of the old town, was just outside the door. That's basically all I can tell you about it, though. Museums that aren't geared for kids just aren't in the cards for us right now, and besides, as I've mentioned, we had some serious eating to do.
Okay, I realize that all this on and on about our trip might be sparking some serious flames of envy, so to that I say, you should be. Honestly, it was all kinds of awesome to walk out of the house every morning onto a little cobblestone street and have passers-by ask us in various languages whether we lived in Antibes. "No, no," I'd say while gloating inwardly. As if. My giant hulking camera and constant gawking made me look anything but local.
Just in case that envy doesn't abate, rest assured, Gravyheads: this can be your next vacation, too. Maison du Bateau is available for weekly rentals throughout the year, and as you can tell, I honestly can't say enough good things about the place. Our vacation was exactly what we'd wanted: a quiet, beautiful little place where we could eat our faces off.
Oh, and I'll show you what we ate. It was glorious.
Maison du Bateau | Rue de Bateau | Antibes, France
Note: All the photos here except for the courtyard photo were taken directly from the Maison du Bateau website. We left a trail of flotsam in the house within about thirty seconds of being there that made taking photos of the place basically impossible.