12 Foods to Try in France

If you haven’t already heard, French food is absolutely HEAVENLY. IMG_6346 There’s a reason why the French are regarded so highly in the cuisine industry, and, from what I’ve experienced, rightfully so! We visited Marseille, France in the Fall of 2017 (read more about that trip here) and I’ve got to admit, of every country we’ve been to, the food in France takes the cake, literally 😉 While we were only able to visit for 2 days, we tried as much food as we could…in fact, we tried enough food to warrant its very own article! I’ve listed some of our favorites for you below! Bon Appetite!


  1. Bouillabaisse – this is a fish stew that contains at least 3 varieties of fresh local fish. The fish is typically served on its own platter, and the broth is served in its own pot, so you combine them together as you’d like. It’s normally a
    pretty big portion – usually enough to share! Bouillabaisse is different everywhere you go because different  restaurants in different towns use different seafood based on what is available in the area, so you get a different experience each time! This stew actually originated in Marseille, so Marseille is said to have some of the best Bouillabaisse in the country…definitely check it out if you’re in the town!
  2. Moules Marinier Frites – this is another popular French dish that consists of fresh mussels, tossed in a white wine sauce IMG_6305 and served with french fries on the side. Again, this is often large enough to share, and is absolutely AMAZING. Then again, I’m a big fan of white wine sauces, so I may be a bit biased 😉 This is definitely a French staple in the town of Marseille, and you see people eating this in every restaurant as you walk through Vieux Port, which is always a good sign!
  3. Wine – it’s French. And Wine. Need I say more? This one is obvious.
  4. Cappuccino/Espresso – again, another obvious French staple.  IMG_6291 Everywhere you go you see locals siting in cafes sipping on an espresso or a cappuccino. If you’re not huge on coffee flavor then go for the cappuccino, which has milk/cream in it. If you’re a fan of coffee and like it strong then do it like the locals do and drink straight espresso….bonus – the espresso comes in those adorable little espresso mugs! Everywhere you go you see the French sipping on espressos and smoking cigarettes. I’m not a smoker, but apparently the flavors go well together….then again, what DOESN’T go well with coffee?!
  5. Croque Monsier – I can’t believe I don’t have a picture of this for you…it must have been too good to stop and pull out the camera and we just dove right in. This can be made several different ways, but the way we had it consisted of ham and cheese between 2 pieces of toast, coated with toasted crunchy shredded cheese, and topped with a runny fried egg. To be fair, I am a breakfast person, and breakfast is always my favorite meal, but I was a huge fan of this dish! How can you go wrong with cheese and eggs and toast?!
  6. Macaroons – macaroons are these adorable little French cookies that are iconic of France. We searched all over town for them and finally found them in a chocolate shop….and then found out that they were not made locally but rather shipped IMG_6563in. Come to find out, macaroons are more of a PARIS thing than an actual FRENCH thing. Still fun try if you’re in France, but don’t get too excited about them unless you’re actually in Paris, and don’t waste half a day trying to find them. Moral of the story – if you can’t find them easily then they probably aren’t a popular staple, which means there’s probably a good reason why 🙂
  7. Scallop Risotto – this was hands down the BEST dish we ate in France, and quite possibly the best meal of my life. I’m not really a scallop person, but it sounded good and I gave it a shot and it paid off to try something new! The risotto was perfect, the scallops were plentiful, and the white sauce was fabulous. I IMG_6533 don’t know the name of the restaurant, it was just a random waterfront restaurant in Vieux Port, but it was absolutely fantastic, as I’m sure any scallop risotto would be in that area. Be sure to try it out if you’re a fan of amazing meals.
  8. Pesto Pasta – we tried this at one of the waterfront restaurants in Vieux Port and it was amazing! I know pasta is really an Italian specialty, but the French certainly give them a run for their money…especially when fresh homemade pesto is involved!
  9. Quiche – again, total breakfast girl here, so naturally I’m a big fan of quiches. We had several mini quiches from the bakery next door to our hotel and in other random places we found, all of which were magnificent! One odd thing to note though – all quiches seemed to be served cold, which was odd to us. While I think I still prefer them warm, I was certainly not disappointed in the fresh French quiches!
  10. Croissant – again, obviously. The French just don’t go wrong  with buttery, IMG_6344flaky,  light, airy croissants. And with all the air in there, it’s  really only half the carbs, right?! In fact, with all the carbs you’re saving you can even justify filling your croissant with chocolate Nutella!! Sold!
  11. Bread and cheese – whenever you find a bakery, or even a grocery, be sure to stop in and get yourself some bread and cheese…these make for great picnics or for cheap but filling snacks/lunch on the go! If you have the room, wine and chocolate never hurt either 😉 We packed our bread and cheese and hiked to Calanque de Sugiton to picnic (best day of our trip), which we ended in Vieux Port with the scallop risotto for a perfect day.
  12. Crème Brulee – while France, Spain, and England all claim to  be this classic dessert’s originating country, the first printed recipe for this dessert is from a 1691 IMG_6544 French cookbook…so we’ll call it French 🙂 This rich dessert consists of baked custard, usually vanilla flavored, that is then IMG_6339sprinkled with sugar and caramelized to a hard brittle top with a blowtorch. We found ourselves to be big fans of crème brulee (which is big for me since I’m a total chocolate girl) and shared this dessert every night we were in France. Highly recommend trying it!

Let us know what YOU tried in France and what we should try next time! Happy Eating!!


2 Days in Marseille, France

Being that Marseille is not a tourist city, there’s a good chance that you don’t know much about Marseille, despite the fact that it is the second-largest city in France – only behind Paris! Marseille is located on the south-eastern coast of France, almost near Nice and Cannes, and despite the fact that it is not frequented by tourists, this bustling city is definitely worth stopping by if you plan to be in the area! We visited on a whim when we flew from Madrid to Marseille, on our way to Switzerland. We decided to rent a car and drive from Marseille to Switzerland so that we could experience a quick 2 days in France and soak in the French countryside on our way to Geneva, and we were so glad we did! 2 days was plenty long enough for us, and we fit quite a lot into those busy days but we loved getting to experience the French culture for the first time. Below is a list of all of our Marseille favorites, and a perfect little itinerary for a quick 2-day stop!

What to Do

*Note that all of these are free activities, but can get crowded, so I’d recommend doing them earlier in the day if possible. Pro Tip: you can do all of #’s 1-5 in one day, leaving all day for the Calanques of #6 – if you don’t read anything else AT LEAST do yourself a favor and make sure you skip down to read #6 🙂

  1. Vieux Port (The Old Port) – this is the city center area that is right on the water.  img_6241.jpg Vieux Port is the main harbor and marina of Marseille, which is guarded by Fort Saint-Nicolas and Fort Saint-Jean. It’s the perfect place to eat, stop for a cappuccino (or glass of wine), or just spend time meandering through restaurants and shops. We did every Marseille meal here, and none of them disappointed! French food is absolutely AMAZING, the rumors are true 🙂 But more about that later….. (you can read about our favorite French foods to try here).
  2. City Center – The Port is (obviously) right on the water, but the main city center is right above the port and also has dining and lots of shopping. Soap is a big thing for IMG_6295 Marseille, so you’ll find lots of adorable little soap shops with walls full of colorful bars of soap. One thing that DID surprise me was IMG_6274 the lack of bakeries around town. Not that they weren’t there, but I was fully expecting to see a bakery around every turn with lots of bread and pastries, which was not the case. So, word to the wise, when you do find a bakery be sure to stop because you may not see another one for a while!
  3. Notre Dame de la Garde – this is an enormous Romano-Byzantine basilica that dates IMG_6084 back to the 19th century. Situated on a hill that overlooks the city, the view from here offers amazing panoramic views of Marseille and is definitely worth carving some time out for. Be sure to look out over the Bay of Marseille at the Frioul archipelago from the vantage point of the basilica. One of the four islands that makes up this archipelago is If, which is the location of Chateau d’If, from the novel The Count of Monte Cristo. Admission is free and you can get to the basilica IMG_6072by walking, driving, or bus. Keep in mind that it is on top of a hill though, so if you’re walking you’ll probably get a pretty good workout, so maybe don’t wear heals that day 😉 The intrinsic artistic detail that adorns the entire church is simply breathtaking, and is worth a visit just to view the inside of the basilica alone. Colorful mosaics adorn the walls and ceiling, priceless paintings hang from the walls, pillars of marble run all throughout the interior, gold is present around every turn, and statues of gold, silver, and bronze live inside the magnificent halls. It is unlike anything I’ve seen before, and I would highly recommend checking it out!

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  4. MuCEM – the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations is located right IMG_6132 on the water, near Vieux Port. As you may have guessed, it is devoted to the history and culture of European and Mediterranean civilizations. This museum is split up into 3 different sites, the J4 building, Fort Saint-Jean, and the CCR (Center for Conservation and Resources). The CCR houses the museum’s actual collections and requires a paid ticket to explore. We explored Fort Saint-Jean (free), and the (free) J4 building, which is an astounding concrete  cube that forms a perfect square. It is a see-through lacy screen made of concrete that you can’t miss. It’s actually super hard to explain, so PLEASE do your due diligence and google photos of it because it really is an amazing architectural feat. The J4 building is known as the “heart” of the MuCEM, and hosts permanent and temporary exhibits (although, we didn’t see many – but that may be because we were too interested in the building structure itself). Please do yourself a favor and walk through this unique building if you find yourself in Marseille – you won’t regret it. Be sure to come back and see it at night too, as it is lit up from the inside!


  5. Catedrale Major – this Cathedral of Sainte Marie Majeure was founded in the 4thIMG_6184 century and is just a short walking distance from the MuCEM. We just walked over to the IMG_6223 outside of it, took a quick peak inside and left. It was cool to see, but small compared to Notre Dame de la Garde. If you’re only going to do one historic site I’d definitely recommend choosing Notre Dame, but if you’re visiting the MuCEM  too it’s worth a quick walk to check this one out as well. However, I probably wouldn’t make a point to go out of my way to see it if I wasn’t already in the area.

6. Calanque de Sugiton – this was the absolute BEST part of Marseille and is what really made this whole trip worthwhile, so I hope you’ve stuck with me long enough  IMG_6523 to get this far down! Calanque de Sugiton is a portion of France’s Parc National des Calanques, which lines the Mediterranean coast from Marseille to Cassis. Calanques are rugged coastal areas interspersed with narrow, steep-walled inlets developed in white limestone or other similar rock. Think the fjords of Norway… these are dry limestone cliffs that jut into the water. Sugiton is the most
IMG_6546popular area of the park because it is the calanque that is most easily accessed by hikers and is open even during the hot season. During the summer some of the other calanques are closed due to high fire risk, so if the calanques are in your travel plans be sure to do some research to see which ones are open during your visit! Sugiton is the one closest to Marseille, but if you end up staying closer to the town of Cassis you’d probably want to visit a calanque that is closer to that town. If the trail is open, you can actually hike from Marseille to Cassis through the park along all the calanques. We didn’t have time to try this, but I’ve heard it’s a rather strenuous and sometimes dangerous hike at parts, so be sure to do your research ahead of time if you decide to go this route! You can access Sugiton through Luminy College, which you can GPS to.

When you enter Luminy College keep driving through campus until you can’t go straight anymore and park. There is also a bus that will take you to Luminy if you don’t have a car. From the parking lot you’ll see a clear path, which will be about a 30 minute walk (part gravel, part paved) to the trailhead, and then another 15 minute walk from the trailhead to the water for a total of 45 minutes hiking (one way). Be sure to take note of the trail markers at the beginning of the route so that you know which marks to look for. At one point in your hike you’ll come to a fork in the road….going up will take you to an observation deck and going down will take you the water. We (obviously) chose to go the water route. At the bottom there are 2 pebble beaches, but you’ll want to get there early to claim a spot as it gets pretty crowded. If crowded beaches aren’t your thing then just climb around on the rocks to find a more secluded area, or swim to the island in the middle to climb up and relax like we did. If you’re a fan of cliff jumping the island in the middle is a great spot, and you’ll probably see many of the locals taking advantage of the spot. Pro Tip: bring lunch if you plan to be here a while and have your bread and cheese on the rocks by the water…it doesn’t get much better than that! Even if you don’t go the lunch route, DEFINTELY bring water with you and wear sneakers….it is definitely a hike down and a hike up and there is little shade until you get to the bottom. If you have time and want to spend the money, there are lots of options to kayak, paddleboard, sail, or boat out and around all of the calanques, which would be AMAZING. We would love to come back to France just to try that someday. While we didn’t get a chance to try it while we were there, I can’t imagine any reason why it wouldn’t be absolutely fantastic!

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While the city is fun to see, it is still a city, and to be honest, we aren’t really city people. The French in general didn’t seem to be overly friendly or helpful (most didn’t speak English or pretended not to and didn’t try to communicate any other way), IMG_6301 and the city itself was actually kind of dirty. In fact, we ran into a family from Paris on our hike who just talked about how dirty Marseille was and how it was nothing like Paris. Honestly, it wasn’t THAT bad, it’s not like we saw rats running around or anything, it’s just a normal city. While the port and the history make this an interesting city, it’s still a city and isn’t designed specifically for tourists. The family that we met on our hike were shocked to find out that we were from the US and visiting on vacation since Marseille isn’t a typical vacation destination. However, the beauty of a non-touristy area is that you get to immerse yourself in the real culture of a French city, not just a watered-down tourist version with astronomical prices. And while we loved our visit and we were glad that we did it, we probably won’t put it on our return-to list now that we’ve done Marseille already. We WOULD, however put the Calanques on our return-to list for SURE 🙂


Where We Stayed

  • Kyriad Hotel ($100/night) right by the Marseille airport. We took a taxi from airport to hotel for 10 euros because we didn’t have reservations, but they do offer a shuttle service if you plan ahead. We took the free shuttle to the airport the next morning to get our rental car. Clean, king bed, hairdryer, can pay for breakfast in the morning if you want. This was the first big sized bed we had in Europe during our entire trip, all others were 2 twins pushed together.
  • Hotel Carre Vieux Port ($100/night) in downtown Marseille. This hotel was right next to the port and was a perfect location for us! It was small but clean, with 2 double beds. They let us check in early, and you can pay for breakfast if you want (but there’s a great café next door). It was located one street up from the port, and near a parking garage that cost 30 euros per day.
  • Hotel la place ($100/night) in Annemasse, France. This is a small town right outside Geneva but still in France, where lodging was much cheaper. The room was clean and warm, offered secured parking at no additional price and free wifi.
  • Pentahotel ($80/night) in Paris. We had a bit of an issue getting out of the Zurich airport (we drove from Marseille to Switzerland, stayed in Switzerland and then flew out of Zurich) after a flight got cancelled, so we hopped on a flight to Paris just to get out of Zurich – oh, the behind-the-scenes joys of flying standby ;). Once we got to Paris a few other flights got cancelled and we ended up having to spend a surprise night in a Paris hotel at the last minute. This hotels was a cheap, clean option that was near the airport that worked well for us. It was $10 from airport by taxi, clean, big bed, hairdryer, and had a bar/restaurant downstairs.


* Disclaimer: all photos and opinions are my own, for which I received no compensation or discount

What to do in Switzerland

We absolutely LOVED Switzerland….it is probably as close to a real-life fairy tale as you img_7915.jpg can get. There is just something about snow-covered mountains, wide open fields, and charming villages that just speak to your soul. The stillness, quietness, power, wildness and beauty all come together to form this picture perfect scene that will leave you craving more. While Switzerland looks small on a map, there are so many different things to do and see that it can be pretty overwhelming in knowing where to start, so here is a list of all of our favorites!

1.) Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen is a hands-down “must-see” and is a Lord of the Rings wonderland. To be IMG_6692honest, I’m not a huge LOTR fan…yeah, the movies were entertaining but I don’t need to see them more than a few times, and I’ve never read the books, so this opinion is NOT from a LOTR fangirl 🙂 HOWEVER, that being said, DON’T miss this place! It has been said that J.R Tolkien got his inspiration for the elvish town of Rivendell from Lauterbrunnen, which is known as “The Land of 72 Waterfalls”. “Lauterbrunnen” LITERALLY translates to IMG_7887“many fountains”. Because Lauterbrunnen sits in a valley at the base of the Alps, they have TONS of fresh alpine-water waterfalls that are created by snow and ice that melt. It’s absolutely BREATHTAKING and is any waterfall chaser’s IMG_7807dream. The largest and most famous of these falls is Staubback Falls, which is one of the highest free-falling waterfalls in all of Europe, plunging from almost 984 feet (300 meters). The town itself is super cute and fun to walk through…. stop and grab a  cappuccino in the café near the falls, or plan to go down for the day and hike up behind Staubback Falls for an unforgettable view and top it off with a pot of Swiss fondue!

Good to know: Lauterbrunnen has a public parking garage that you can use for about 8 CHF per day (we left our car there for 3 days and 2 nights and paid 25 CHF). Our final destination was Mürren, which is a town that sits above Lauterbrunnen and is car-free. So we left our car in Lauterbrunnen, paid 11 CHF per person to hitch a ride up via the air gondola and then train. It was a 30 minute trip to take the gondola to Grutschalp, and then the train from Grutschalp to Mürren (note that the 11 CHF fare is for one person one way, tickets can be purchased at the train station or the gondola station right near the covered parking garage, and the gondola leaves every 30 minutes). Lauterbrunnen is about a 2.25 hour drive to Geneva and about 2 hours from Zurich.

2.) Mürren

Mürren is the most ADORABLE little town that I have ever visited. It is a car-free village, IMG_6815complete with fresh alpine air and water, which runs freely in adorable water fountains all through the town. It is the highest village on the mountain and is only accessible by a gondola and train. We stayed in Mürren at Hotel Eiger (read more about that stay here) and had an absolute blast. We love the beach, but there is just something about the stillness and majesty of the mountains that just can’t be beat, and Mürren offers you the perfect mountain escape. Honestly, I think we both had the best sleep of our life here…it’s amazing what mountain air and the quietness of ZERO vehicles will do for you! Mürren is brimming with hiking trails, open fields, and cows in their pastures, IMG_7533making for a wildly enchanting display of ringing bells all throughout the fields. That might sound a bit obnoxious (I was certainly expecting it to be), but it was actually quite soothing and I find myself missing it already! Even if you aren’t a hiker, there are lots of smaller trails to take, and even walking through town, or down to Gimmelwald is super fun! If you ARE a hiker then you’ll be in a hiker’s paradise, as there are hiking trails that run all up and down the mountain that begin (or at least pass through) Mürren. We did the North Face Trail, which took us about 2 hours to complete, although we did go up the harder way. There is an option to take a train/trolley up the hardest portion, which will drop you off at the path, but we didn’t take that so I don’t know the price. The North Face Trail is a complete circle, so you begin and end in Mürren, and the difficulty is ranked as “medium” (it’s known to be good for kids, and probably even more-so if you are taking the trolley). Pro Tip: pick up fresh bread, cheese, and chocolate at the store on your way up and have a picnic in the Alps when you reach the open field! You get a perfect view of the mountains, including Eiger. (Pro PRO Tip: make sure that the water that you pick up to bring on your hike isn’t sparkling…we MAY have made this mistake….sparkling water is much less refreshing on a hike 😀 ). You also get to see lots of cows and sheep and hear their mesmerizing bells chiming throughout your whole hike. The path is mostly dirt and gravel until the last ¼ mile that brings you back into town where it turns to pavement. Total mileage is about 4 miles and the trail is situated right above Mürren. More adventurous hikers can hike for several days to get to the top of Schilthorn, but there are many hikes with difficulty levels for everyone in between! Be sure to ask your hotel receptionist for a map that lists hiking trails…everyone that we met spoke very good English and was super friendly, helpful, and hospitable!

3.) Schilthorn-Piz Gloria

Schilthorn is one of the peaks in the Bernese Alps, right above Mürren, and offers a perfect panoramic view of the 3 tallest points: Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. It is also home to the revolving restaurant Piz Gloria, which was featured in the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Piz Gloria is a functioning restaurant that includes IMG_7605 a gift shop and a James Bond museum. To be honest, we didn’t spend much time inside, as we were there more for the spectacular view, not so much for the James Bond references 🙂 The only way to get to the top of Schilthorn (other than hiking) is by gondola. We started in Mürren and rode the 2 gondolas (Mürren to Birg, and then Birg to Schilthorn) for 82 CHF each, which also includes the return trip. I think you can get a discount if you have a Swiss Travel Pass, or other types of rail passes, but we didn’t have those so I’m not sure as to what the discount is exactly. The entire trip from Mürren up to Schilthorn took IMG_7648 about 20 minutes, but it would be a longer trip if you were starting lower than Mürren. I would advise you to look online at their live camera first before you go…sometimes it’s so cloudy/foggy up there that you can’t see anything, which makes the 82 CHF not worth it. The camera is live 24 hours a day and can be visited here. Make sure you dress warm, even if it’s not that cold when you start your trip…. it definitely gets colder the higher you go! Be sure to get out and explore when you stop at Birg on your way down from Schilthorn. You can go through a series of Thrill Walks….walking over the edge of the mountain on a glass walkway bridge, crawl through a caged fence tunnel hanging over the mountain edge, and tightrope walking over the edge! It’s a pretty neat (and free) experience that definitely gets your adrenaline pumping! We were debating between doing Schilthorn or doing The Jungfraujoch, also known as the “Top of Europe”, which is the highest railway station in Europe, but significantly more expensive…one second-class ticket was $238 if you didn’t have a rail pass with a discount. We read reviews of travelers who said not to waste money on Jungfraujoch and that the view was just as good, if not better, at Schilthorn. We decided to take their advice since we wanted a great view for less money and for a trip that wouldn’t take an entire day, so Schilthorn worked out perfect for us! I would definitely recommend this option!

4.) Gimmelwald

Only a short 25 minute walk away from Mürren is the town of Gimmelwald, which is situated right below Mürren. Gimmelwald is a super cute little farming village that is less travelers and more locals. In fact, a lot of Gimmelwald’s products are brought up to be used in the restaurants in Mürren, especially the cheese 🙂 Be sure to check out the Honesty Shop and the bar next door, both adorable spots! You can take the gondola back up to Mürren (we hopped on for free), or you can walk back…we read that the average time to walk back up is about 1.5 hours, even though it only took 25 minutes coming down. The 2 mile path is paved and offers gorgeous views from a different perspective since Gimmelwald doesn’t have as high of a vantage point as Mürren does.

5.) EAT

Switzerland is home to many culinary experiences that you absolutely MUST try…some of our favorites are listed below

  • Chocolate – this is obvious, but the Swiss are the chocolate connoisseurs of the IMG_7022 world, and as such, have some of the best chocolate in the world. My suggestion: try it all! You can get a variety of different bars at a grocery store for around $2 each…they make for great mid-hike snacks, paired with coffee while you sip and stare at the view, or even as a late night snack in the hotel! Be sure to stock up and bring some home for friends and family…. they’re great inexpensive options that everyone loves 🙂
  • Cheese – with having so many cows and local cheese, this one is another obvious one. Pair it with fresh bread from a grocery store and you have yourself a super cheap but tasty and filling breakfast or hiking lunch!
  • Cheese Fondue – again, another Swiss delicacy. Most restaurants offer some type of fondue pot, made with a blend of different cheeses that is always a secret recipe img_7908.jpgthat varies from restaurant to restaurant. The fondue usually comes with a variety of vegetables, bread pieces, and potatoes to dip…we split a pot of it for lunch in Lauterbrunnen and it was fabulous!
  • Local beer and wine – I always recommend trying the local beer and wine wherever you are…..a.) It’s cheaper than water, and the local varieties are usually less expensive than the other options, and b.) It allows you the opportunity to taste and experience more of the country that you’re in. We loved everything that we tried!
  • Latte Macchiato – try this at Hotel Eiger’s restaurant in  Mürren, where the views IMG_7422are spectacular! You can sit on the terrace outside that gives a perfect view of  Mount Eiger…perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up or a post-hike treat!
  • Venison – we didn’t try this, but I can only imagine that it’s just as magnificent as everything else the Swiss create. We visited Switzerland in the fall, so venison and other game were on every menu we looked at.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Switzerland is known for being pretty expensive, HOWEVER, if you do it right it doesn’t have to be! Go in the off season, utilize the grocery store, drink local beer/wine instead of the $6 soda, split meals when possible, stay in a hotel where breakfast is included, and IMG_7375take advantage of the free hiking and you can make it affordable!
  • All tap water in Mürren is drinkable.
  • Mürren also has free flowing water fountains all over town where  you can fill your water bottle up for free with fresh alpine water…can’t beat that!
  • The Swiss currency is Swiss Francs, also known as CHF.
  • Make sure you have an international adapter for your hotel room so you can charge your electronics if your chargers aren’t already in European format.
  • The Swiss are super friendly and speak great English… don’t hesitate to ask locals for suggestions on what to do or where to go!
  • Switzerland is big on paragliding adventures. We didn’t try it because there were other things that we wanted to do, but if you’ve ever wanted to try it I certainly can’t think of a better place to do so!
  • Other popular Swiss activities include snow sports (skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing), hiking, and biking (lots of bike trails). We also saw lots of lakes as we drove through Switzerland, so I’m sure they have water sport options in the summer too!
  • Make sure that you leave plenty of time to catch your flight if you’re leaving out of the Zurich airport…it took us 2 hours to get from the door to the gate. There was a long line at check-in, a line at the passport check, and took 30 minutes to get to the gate (including the walk and the shuttle).
  • We did our trip a bit unconventionally and did not buy a rail pass. Since we were coming from France, we rented a car in Marseille, France and drove 5 hours to Geneva (we wanted to drive through France and see the countryside – we highly recommend it!). It was super expensive to drop the car off in another country, and France and Switzerland share the Geneva airport, so in order to save $200, we dropped off our French car on the French side of the airport, and then walked over to the Swiss side of the airport to pick up a Swiss rental car, which we would eventually drop off in Zurich. It was definitely a hassle, but worth it to save the money!
  • If you ARE driving through Switzerland, there is a 40€ toll that you have to pay to cross the border into Switzerland (even if you’re just trying to get to the French side of the Geneva airport). The sticker looks like it’s good for all year, and we didn’t see any other tolls throughout Switzerland, so we assumed it’s a one-time toll that’s good all year…..but not helpful if you’re only visiting for a few days. Our French rental car did not have this sticker, so we had to pay the toll when we crossed the border, but our Swiss rental car already had a sticker on it, so it wouldn’t surprise me if that is a standard for Swiss rental cars.
  • If you’re looking for a cheap hotel in Zurich that is near the airport check out Ibis Budget Hotel here. It isn’t anything special, but it is only 10 minutes to the airport and around $90/night. It’s small but clean and will do the job for one night if needed!

Where to Stay in Mallorca

When we visited Mallorca in September 2017 we honestly didn’t do a whole lot of IMG_5299planning. The was one of our “wing it” trips where none of our hotels were planned until the night or two before, and we bounced around the island in two different rental cars and stayed in 3 different towns over the course of 5 days. It was an amazing trip, but hands down, our best nights were spent hosted at Hotel Esplendido in Soller. Situated in the most perfect spot in the town, the hotel offers the best possible view of the port. Our hotel room balcony opened right up to face the water with this stunning view that almost made us want to stay in the room all weekend! We walked all over town and saw the port from all possible angles and nothing beat the view from Hotel Esplendido. Seriously AMAZING!

Before you arrive you should take a few minutes and do some research on where to park if you’re renting a car. We didn’t, and spent a good bit of time driving around trying to find parking on the one-way streets that lead to the car-free boardwalk. Turns out, the best place to park is in a paid parking lot that ends up being about 6 euros a day (fair warning, the machine ONLY takes cash), and is only a 5 minute walk to the hotel. Certainly not a long or hard walk, but you will bring your bags with you, so keep that in mind. You can probably ride the trolley too if you want to, we just didn’t ever look into it.

The hotel is easily the most magnificent hotel on the strip, so you can’t really miss it. It IMG_5799has it’s own restaurant, bar, shop (selling beach accessories, jewelry, a few clothing items, hats, blankets, etc.), library, sauna, and 2 pools, TWO! They also offer spa services, massages, and yoga and pilates classes if you’re wanting to purchase any of those services…they pretty much have anything you could want! We really wanted to get dinner at the hotel’s restaurant since it looked so amazing, but unfortunately we ran out of time and didn’t get a chance to. However, the hotel IMG_5397breakfast is AMAZING! Quite possibly the best hotel breakfast that we’ve had – and free too! They had an amazing do-it-yourself yogurt bar, with all types of fresh fruits, nuts, granola, jams, and honey. They had an assortment of freshly baked bread and all kinds of cheeses and meats that were absolutely fabulous. Not to mention all of the juice options, coffee, pastries, and hot breakfast items that you could order too! Absolutely fabulous breakfast, in all honesty, it was the meal we looked forward to the most during our entire stay in Soller.


The room itself was small but cozy, and had everything we needed. It was very nicely IMG_5159decorated, and had a mini fridge, radio, flatscreen TV, safe, hairdryer, and nespresso maker in it. The tub was AMAZINGIMG_5162 and made me seriously reconsider my stance on baths (I’m not normally a fan) 😉 However, the best part of the room was again, hands down, the balcony. The balcony was a great size and boasted lots of room, along with a set of balcony chairs and ottomans to relax on. The hotel is situated smack dab in the middle of the port, so your view is a straight shot of the harbor clear through to the ocean, and is absolutely INCREDIBLE. I honestly don’t think any other hotel in town could beat this view, which is probably a big factor in the hotel being one of the top ranked Soller hotels on TripAdvisor (see it here).

Also, did I mention that there are TWO pools on the premises??! The first pool is on a

pool #1

terrace above the hotel, which has a little bar right next to it, but is family-friendly and pretty secluded from everyone except other hotel guests. ABOVE that pool is ANOTHER pool that is an infinity pool just for adults, which is also situated on a terrace that overlooks the harbor. How amazing is that?! The pool is like a rooftop pool but is higher than the hotel itself, so

pool #2

as you sit on the edge of the pool you’re looking over the hotel roof and get another perfect view of the harbor. Absolutely incredible. Kids aren’t allowed up there, so it’s pretty quiet, with lots of reclining pool chairs scattered all around the pools and garden area near the pools. Also, the landscaping is GORGEOUS, even if you aren’t at the pool. The hotel also offers beach chairs and towels on the beach itself, but the pools are so nice that it’s hard to pull yourself away from them 😉 The other great thing about Hotel Esplendido’s location is not only the perfect view, but it’s also close to everything! It’s right on the main strip, but just in a quieter section, so noise isn’t an issue, but all the restaurants, bars, and shops are just a few steps away. It really puts you at the heart of the town, with the best amenities and a perfect view…what more could you need?!


Prices seem to range from $200-$400ish per night depending on the room and the season, and while the price is definitely worth it, below are some additional budget-friendly hotels that we stayed at while visiting other parts of the island. While they weren’t nearly as amazing as Hotel Esplendido, they’ll get the job done if you’re working with a budget!

1.) Hotel d’Or in Cala d’Or (south eastern side of Mallorca)

  • We paid around $86/night for this hotel right in Cala d’Or. It did not have an ocean view, but it was only a 10-15 minute walk to the water, and a 5 minute walk to the adorable town center. It was a small room but provided everything we needed, and had a beautiful little pool and courtyard, along with a bar and restaurant. Breakfast was provided every morning and had something for everyone. The hotel itself really wasn’t anything special, but you pretty much got what you paid for, and it was clean, which was sufficient for our needs since we were trying to budget! Honestly, I’d do this budget option again for a few days if it meant that we got to save money and splurge a bit on Hotel Esplendido 😉 Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of the hotel, but TripAdvisor’s photos are accurate to the real thing, which you can check out here.

2.) New & Art Hostel (Palma, Mallorca…main city in Mallorca, located in the west side of the island)

  • This was our first experience in a hostel, which came about due to our inability to find anything around $100 in Palma at the last minute. We ended up staying at the hostel for about $100/night with the “private room” option, so we didn’t share our room strangers. We got a simple, small, but clean room that contained a shower and toilet, and had everything we needed. Again, you get what you pay for, but it was clean and affordable and was all we needed! We even saw workers cleaning the rooms thoroughly in the morning, which is always a good sign 🙂 We wanted to spend one night in the main city of Mallorca, so this ended up working out great for us – better than we thought! We were a bit wary of staying in a hostel, but you only live once, right?! In all honesty, it really was much better than we expected! It was definitely a local spot, the cab driver that dropped us off was the only person on the whole island that we met that didn’t speak any English, but probably because they picked us up in a local spot as opposed to a tourist spot. The location wasn’t anything special, it was pretty much where you would expect to find locals in any big city in the US, but it was near the places we wanted to go to in Palma – only a 15-20 minute walk to the Catedral de Mallorca, Palma’s main attraction. However, a few things to note…. being in a local neighborhood you did hear a variety of neighborhood noises (dogs barking, scooters, cars, construction work, etc.), which didn’t make for a very relaxing morning. Also, the shades didn’t block much light out in the morning, and the light on the AC was pretty bright, so I’d recommend bringing an eye mask. All in all it was a good experience and while it was certainly no Hotel Esplendido, it was sufficient for our needs and our budget for the one night! Check it out here!


**This post was a collaboration with Hotel Esplendido, but all opinions and photos are my own