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Best day trips on the Cote d’Azur

Are you spending some time on the French Riviera and would you like to do some sightseeing? Here is our Top Ten of suggestions for a day trip!

1. Nice, the old town

Nice is a beautiful city and you could easily spend a few days here! If you are elsewhere on the Cote d’Azur, you should at least come to Nice for a walk in the beautiful Old Town which has nice colored houses and a typical Mediterranean feel. There are a lot of restaurants, bars with terraces and shops with local products. Of course, a walk on the Promenade des Anglais where early morning you will see all the people doing their sports workout is also always beautiful! The big car parks right in the center, make Nice easily accessible for a day trip.

2. Saint-Paul de Vence

A nice mixture of a medieval town center and modern art galleries. Saint-Paul de Vence makes an excellent place for some sightseeing in the Provence. And why not have a lunch in this beautiful setting, in one of the many local restaurants? Click on the image to see my blog article on Saint-Paul de Vence.

Exploring Saint Paul de Vence

3. Broken Dam of Malpasset, and Fréjus

There is a lot to see in Fréjus and this town therefore makes an excellent destination for a daytrip! On Wednesdays and Saturdays, you could visit the nice market in the town center, as well as the beautiful Cloisters. In the afternoon, you could have a walk in the beautiful nature surrounding the historic site of the Broken Dam of Malpasset. To read more about this walk, or about the town of Fréjus:

Frejus                               Malpasset Dam

4. Massif de l’Esterel

We love exploring the beautiful red rocks! You can go up (near Agay) and enjoy the view of the coast line and the beautiful color of the mountains which change a bit depending on the light and the time of the day you will be visiting. The same rocks go all the way down, and a lot of beaches and creeks are surrounded by the same red stones. You can visit the red rocks by water from below by taking a boat tour with one of the boating company’s.

 

5. Callian, a small town on a hill

Sometimes, when it gets a bit crowded on the coast, a little trip more inland could be a perfect alternative. We visited the small town of Callian, which is beautifully located on top of a hill. It has nice small cobbled streets and the typical feel of the Provence. There are beautiful churches and some cafés and restaurants. It is a small town, and it could be combined with a trip to the close by lake of Saint-Cassien.

6. Saint-Cassien lake

The Saint-Cassien lake is a beautiful and very big lake that you will pass by on your way to villages like Callian. There are small beaches and a lot of places that rent pedal boats, kayaks or stand-up-paddles. There are restaurants and beach bars everywhere around the lake and because the lake is so big, this is an excellent place to escape the crowds. Just jump in a canoe and find your perfect quiet spot for a picnic!

7. Saint-Tropez

A classical day trip while you are on the French Riviera. Saint-Tropez is a town you would need to visit at least once! In high season, the best would be to either go early by car, or to take a boat from another town like for instance from Saint-Raphael. Once in Saint-Tropez, you could of course visit the famous Museum of Police Men (‘Gendarmes’) and Cinema, walk around on the beautiful narrow streets, and eat the local famous dessert ‘La Tarte Tropézienne’.

8. Islands in the bay of Cannes, les iles de Lérins

From Cannes, you can take a ferry boat to visit one of the islands that are right in front of the city, ‘Les Iles de Lérins’, who are composed of two islands: Ile Saint Honorat and Ile Sainte Marguerite. We chose to visit one of the two islands, Ile Sainte Marguerite and it only takes 10 minutes to get there by boat. You can walk around on the island and follow the walking path which is mainly in the shade of beautiful trees, or visit the Fort, which once served as a prison. The most famous prisoner here was the Man in the Iron Mask. There are some beaches on the island, but it is recommended to bring your water shoes. There are some nice restaurants as well who have the beautiful view on Cannes and all the boats.

9. Gorges du Verdon

This is worth a full day trip! The Gorges du Verdon is a famous and very picturesque gorge in the Provence, with its beautiful Lac Sainte-Croix, on which you can stand-up-paddle or kayak. From Saint-Raphael it was about an hour and a half to drive there. You can go through the beginning of the Gorge by pedal boat or kayak, you can stand-up paddle on the beautiful lake, and visit historic villages like Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Soak up the beautiful scenery, and don’t forget your camera!

10. Monaco

Another classic for a day trip. If you like Formula 1 races, it is always cool to be able to walk around and see the curves of where this typical race is often held. The old town center on top of ‘the rock’ is beautiful to walk around in, and the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco (Aquarium) is beautiful and a popular visit for families.

Of course, there is still much more to explore on the Cote d’Azur!

 

 

 

 

 

Gorges du Verdon and Lac Sainte Croix

The Grand Canyon of France! A very beautiful place! Turquoise waters, impressive cliffs, and a beautiful lake for all kinds of water activities. If you are in the South of France, you should definitely visit the Gorges du Verdon!

The most accessible part of the gorges on the water can be found at the Pont du Galetas near Salles-sur-Verdon, on the road leading to Moustiers Sainte-Marie. You will find rental spots for pedal boats, electric boats and kayaks on both sides of the river near the bridge. We crossed the bridge first, coming from the Cote d’Azur and then parked at the ‘Base de l’Etoile’. Like most beautiful sites… beautiful means you will not be the only one to visit… so coming early is recommended.

We rented a pedal boat for our family and went for 2 hours of pedaling and swimming. You pedal for about an hour at a calm pace to come to a beautiful waterfall. We had a water-resistant bag with us that we use when we go stand-up paddling so we had no problem navigating right through the waterfall which was refreshing for all of us!

The color of the water is just amazing! This is a definite must do when you are in the area.

When we were finished we left for the beautiful town of Moustiers Sainte-Marie. A historical, medieval town, known for their porcelain craft work. A lot of little local shops, restaurants, and a scenic entrance bridge with a waterfall. We had a nice lunch in Moustiers, and then we left the town to go stand-up paddling on the beautiful Lac de Sainte Croix.

This artificial lake is huge, and the water has the same turquoise color as the water in the gorge. The water is very clear and we saw some nice fish. We decided to go to the Surf Center in Salles sur Verdon. What a cool spot! Hammocks, a slack line for kids to play on, a cool beach bar and a rental place for paddles and boats of all kinds. We already have 2 paddle boards of our own, so we just rented 1 extra board for us to paddle as a family, as our little one still sits in front of one of our boards 😊. After the crowd in the Gorge, peace and quiet reigns at the Lac Ste Croix. The lake is so big, you just paddle away and you can find quiet spots on islands or on the lake shore where you can have the feeling your family are the only ones that exist. Our children called it ‘playing Robinson Crusoe’ when we had a little break on the island 😊.

The town of Salles sur Verdon also has loads of restaurants, and the Surf Center is really highly recommended as the staff is super friendly and they have re-created a tropical island atmosphere here. The beach bar sells smoothies, snacks, pasta salad and cocktails. Need we say more? 😊

We stopped a bit along the way between the two towns to try out our new drone. Even though we are not pro’s (yet!), here is a small movie so you can have a peek!

 

5 best beaches near Saint-Raphaёl

Are you on a holiday near Saint-Raphaёl on the Côte d’Azur and would you like to know which beach to go to? Here’s our selection of 5 best beaches for you to try out!

1. Calanque du Petit Canereit, Antheor

A beautiful, natural spot away from the crowds, without facilities. This beach is located between Agay and Théoule-sur-Mer, just after passing Antheor Plage and the train bridge. You will see a small parking lot on the right side of the scenic road. Come early in the morning to have a parking spot, and if you are really lucky, to have the beach all to yourself like we had one morning. Steep stairs lead you down to the beach, do-able with children, bring water, your water shoes, and your picnic! Snorkeling gear is also really good to bring as it is a beach with stones and a lot of fish can be seen! The second time we were there, at around 13 o’clock, at boat stopped to sell drinks and ice-cream, just in time for our dessert after the picnic! The captain of the boat said he came there every day, so do bring some money just in case. This beach is definitely one of our preferred spots!

2. Plage du Débarquement, Saint-Raphaёl

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This beach is our top spot for snorkeling! An amazing amount of fish can be seen, even very close to the beach. It’s certainly because this beach has no sand but big rocks, so bring your water shoes and your snorkeling gear! We had never seen so many fish in one place in the Mediterranean before! You will see a lot of people walk around with the Decathlon snorkeling masks that have become so popular 😊. There are lifeguards on this beach, public toilets, and there is a restaurant. The view on the famous landmark of Saint-Raphaёl, l’Ile d’Or, is best from this beach, and we like to bring our stand-up paddles and paddle around the island. Paddling around the island and back to the beach takes about 35 minutes and my husband has done it with our 10 year old. The island is private property, so you cannot go on the island.

3. Tiki plage, or Plage de Camp Long, Agay

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This beach, located between Agay and Saint-Raphaёl, is also known as the ‘Plage de Camp Long’. It is a creek with a nice beach with a mixture of sand and small stones. You can walk around the creek on a small foot path carved into the typical red rocks of the Estérel mountains that end up in the sea. The parking lot is relatively big compared to smaller creeks located along the well-known ‘Route de la Corniche d’Or’. The beach has a restaurant, a snack corner, a small shop, showers, public toilets, and rental of stand-up paddles, kayaks and pedal boats. Children are at ease to swim here as the water does not go steep down immediately. They can of course also search for crabs along the rocks around the creek. Tiki plage is definitely one of our preferred beaches!

4. Calanque des Anglais, Agay

Another beautiful, small beach, with typical red stones from the red rocks of the Estérel mountains. If you go all the way to the ‘official sign’ indicating the ‘Calanque des Anglais’, access to the beach is a bit more difficult then when you park at the stairs just before. From those stairs, the beach is accessible with children as well. Like all the ‘calanques’ beaches, come early and don’t forget water shoes and snorkeling gear!

5. Saint-Aygulf

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This wide beach is our best spot for real sand and building sand castles! It is also the perfect beach with small children as the water is very shallow for a long while. There are parking lots along the road on both sides (payed parking). Since it is quite a long beach, there are several different beach bars and restaurants. What we like to do after a couple of hours on the beach, is go to the beach front where there are several restaurants and bars right on the beach. Some have really nice terraces! The little center also has a big shop with everything you would need for the beach, inflatable toys, beach towels, they have everything! Just don’t go to the beach near the center, as it tends to get too crowded at the end of the day. The beach is long enough to pick a spot before the town center.

Would you like to see some of the beaches as seen from above? Check out our drone video of the beautiful coast line:

Saint-Raphaël – Old Town

Saint-Raphaël is a beautiful coastal town that lies between Cannes and Saint-Tropez. You can walk along the sea shore, but you can also visit the old town, the archeological museum and its tower with a view over the city.

On the streets of the old town, you will find a covered market, little shops with typical products of the South of France, restaurants and cafés.

The archeological museum is located in the old town center and combines historical treasures of the region’s Roman times, with the remains of a church and a medieval tower.

Art exhibitions are sometimes held inside of the museum and when we were there, nice paper art was shown inside of the church part of the museum, which perfectly combined old bricks and modern art.

If you go up the stairs to the top of the tower, you will have a remarkable view of the coastline, the town center, and the Estérel mountains, also known as the ‘red rocks’.

You can take stairs down to a lower level which shows you the crypt of the church.

Of course, there is more to do in Saint-Raphael. If you get up early, you can buy your fish right from the fisher men when the boats come back at the ‘Marché des Pecheurs’ in the harbor, at the Kennedy public parking. The market opens at 8:00 so for the best catch of the day, you will need to come early! Boats leave all day from Saint-Raphael for various excursions, amongst others to Saint-Tropez. In Summer, a lively market is held every night!

Cote d'azur

If you would like to read all my recommendations on what to do for families in the Cote d’Azur area, click HERE to see the entire article.

 

 

 

France

And how about it if you would get the taste of the Provence at home to get in the mood for the trip and learn an easy to make recipe of a local? If you like cooking, then read how to make Denise’s ‘Poulet Provençal au citron de Menton’ here.

 

Exploring Saint Paul de Vence

 

Saint Paul de Vence is a beautiful medieval town in the South of France, close to Nice. It has nice narrow streets, terraces, restaurants and breathtaking views of the surrounding area. We loved walking around in this picturesque place!

The main square of the town is just outside of the city walls and it is the place where people play ‘pétanque’. It has terraces with a view on the pétanque court, so you could sit here and watch the game be played.

If you continue, you access the town through an old stone entrance tunnel which takes you to the other side of the ramparts and then you just wander on the small cobbled pedestrian streets.

 

A lot of artists are known to have been to Saint Paul de Vence in the past. Chagall, Picasso and Matisse, just to name a few. The small town still attracts art lovers as the town has plenty of galleries, mostly with modern art. We liked looking at the contrast of the old and historical streets and buildings, combined with all the modern and colorful artwork we saw while walking around. There are also a lot of shops with local food from the Provence area, like for instance the shop called ‘Aux saveurs sucrées’ where we bought nice local jam.

Windows and doors

 

Street full of plants

We had lunch at Restaurant ‘Le Tilleul’ which is located on your left after entering the medieval town center. It has a nice terrace outside and really good food!

 

Later on, we also saw Restaurant ‘La Térrasse’ which has a small terrace at the back (so reserving a table could be worth it) but with a really remarkable view. We haven’t tasted their food, but the terrace is a beautiful place for drinks.

Of course, you can end your visit to Saint Paul de Vence with a stop at the Fondation Maeght, a museum of modern and contemporary art, which is located very close to Saint Paul de Vence.

Cote d'azur

If you would like to read my recommendations on what to do for families in the Cote d’Azur area, click HERE to see the entire article.

 

 

 

FranceAnd how about it if you would get the taste of the Provence at home to get in the mood for the trip and learn an easy to make recipe of a local? If you like cooking, then read how to make Denise’s ‘Poulet Provençal au citron de Menton’ here.

 

Fréjus – the broken dam of Malpasset

Fréjus, Cote d’Azur, France

An incredible walk through nature and history.

Have you ever heard of the broken dam of Malpasset?

I hadn’t before I went there, but it is quite an impressive site.

The area of the ‘Site de Malpasset’ is a beautiful, natural site, but which unfortunately has a sad history. On one evening, in December 1959 the Malpasset dam, which was built to supply water in the Var area, broke due to the heavy rainfall in the days before. What happened next is known as one of the biggest disasters of the 20th century in France. The water behind the dam created powerful floodings and a wave of water carried big cement blocks of the dam with it for more than one kilometer. You can still see the big cement blocks lying around while you walk towards the remains of the dam.

The water went as far as the town of Fréjus and even derailed a train. Of course, there have been many victims at the time, and that is why the ‘Site de Malpasset’ is a place of respect, a monument. The remains of the dam are quite impressive to see and make you realize what a disaster the break of it must have been.

 

The surrounding nature is very beautiful and that is why nowadays, the ‘Site de Malpasset’ is mainly used by cyclists and pedestrians. The walk from the small parking lot towards the dam can easily be done with the entire family. We were there in spring and beautiful wild flowers were in bloom and the nice smells that are so typical of the vegetation of the South of France was all around.

Our children like family hikes and love exploring around and searching for treasures. They have found beautiful rocks, one of which heart shaped, and they liked to play next to the water. They too were quite impressed by the ruins of the dam.

Besides the sad history, the ‘Site de Malpasset’ really is a beautiful environment to walk around in.

 

Where? Right next to the highway exit Fréjus / Saint-Raphael, follow the signs: Site de Malpasset.

Frejus

Would you like to know what else you can do in Fréjus? Have a look here.

 

 

 

 

Cote d'azur

Would you like to read my full article on what to do for families in the Cote d’Azur, you can read about that here.

 

 

 

A day in Fréjus – Cote d’Azur

Fréjus is a beautiful town in the South of France, near Saint-Raphaёl. The old town with its colored houses is very much worth a visit, as well as the roman ruins, and walks in nature around it.

When you are driving there, you will probably pass by the impressive roman ruins, and see the well-preserved amphitheater. The amphitheater can be visited and hosts some big events in summer.

On Saturday’s, the old town center of Fréjus has a really nice market which is lively all year round. It is located around the main square, which has a lot of terraces, restaurants, a creperie, a smoothie bar, and other shops. In summer time, the market is even bigger and the stalls go all the way from the main square to the bigger streets of the town center. A wide variety of products can be bought at the market: typical food from the Mediterranean area such as olives, tapenade and dried tomatoes, but also non-food products, such as the famous soap ‘Savon de Marseille’, clothes, and products like kitchen towels or table cloths with a ‘Provencal design’ on it.

When you are at the market, you can easily visit the Cloisters, the cathedral and see the baptistery since they all are located on the square where the market is held. The Cloisters are very beautiful and a peaceful place. The wooden ceiling is quite unique in France and has hand painted images of imaginary animals and scenes of daily life on it.

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Cloisters

Baptistery

the baptistery

We like walking around in the old town of Fréjus, looking at the colored houses with the nice decorated balconies and colored shutters that are so typical of the south.

Parking: as in summer all towns in the south of France can get a bit crowded, we would recommend you to follow the signs of the Parking Aubenas. We actually have always found a spot there!

Once you have visited the the city center of Fréjus, there is still much to explore in the  surroundings of the town.

Winery: You can for instance taste some wine at the winery ‘Clos des Roses’ outside of Fréjus, which not only sells wine, but also has a very nice restaurant with a beautiful terrace and good food! Clos des Roses is located on a beautiful property with plenty of modern art pieces in its garden. Have a look at their website.

 

Malpasset Dam

Hike: If you like hiking and history, have a look at our blog post on a walk towards the: Broken Dam of Malpasset.

 

 

 

Cote d'azur

If you would like to read all my recommendations on what to do for families in the Cote d’Azur area, click HERE to see the entire article.

 

 

 

France

And how about it if you would get the taste of the Provence at home to get in the mood for the trip and learn an easy to make recipe of a local? If you like cooking, then read how to make Denise’s ‘Poulet Provençal au citron de Menton’ here.

 

New York: Brooklyn Street Art with Kids!

We love street art and Brooklyn is one of the best NY neighborhoods to find these beautiful treasures that color up buildings and walls and make you feel as if you are walking around in a wonderful outdoor museum of modern art. Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Bushwick neighborhoods have been famous for street art for years! Even though other areas of New York, such as Harlem and the Bronx also have a lot of cool spots to visit, we decided to mainly hunt for the treasures of this form of art in Brooklyn.

Williamsburg

When walking through Williamsburg we used the smartphone app Brooklyn Street art that we had downloaded in advance. It allows you to navigate easily on a Google maps sort of plan and it gives you the information on the mural and the artist. Very easy to use!

Eduardo Kobra: It actually was my 10-year-old that told me about this incredible artist. They had spoken about him in school in arts class. We therefore decided to visit his most famous New York piece of street art during our stay. The art work in Brooklyn, #Fight for Street Art, is a portrait of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat by Kobra.

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Address: Bedford avenue and Notrh 9th Street in Williamsburg.

Jorit Agoch and Leticia Mandragora wall on North 10th Street:

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Several murals on North 10th Street in direction of Union Avenue:

Mural of three rats by ROA on Havemeyer Street:

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Murals on Roebling Street:

From Williamsburg, we took the subway L line to Bushwick and got off at the station Montrose avenue.

Bushwick

We had lunch in a nice vegan diner called Champs Diner where they serve really tasty and healthy bowls. Address: 197, Meserole Street.

For Bushwick, we took a really cool guided street art tour with the company New York Off Road as they offer tours in French, which is the first language of our children. The tour was excellent and we finished it off by making our own street art guided by a local NY street artist! She explained us how to spray and helped us make a real cool painting which is now our favorite NY family trip souvenir that we brought home with us.

Bushwick is really incredible when it comes to the number of art works per square meter 😊. It has an industrial area where the factories that still operate from there allow the artists to paint the walls, which results in beautiful art works all around you. We didn’t know where to look since there were so many! There were even beautiful art works on the trucks passing by.

Our tour guide explained us a lot about the different signatures of different artists like for instance one of the artists always portrays figures with specific decorated eyes etc. Really amazing!

In Bushwick we have seen art works of many artists, amongst others: DonRmix, Calangoss, Marka27, Never, Dasic Fernandez, Iena Cruz, Kermen, Lexi Bella, Danielle, Mastrion, Fin Dac, Phetus88, Jerkface, Jorit Agoch and Resa Piece.

Have a look to get an idea:

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New York: sports games with kids!

Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden

During our recent trip to NY we decided to take our kids see some sports games. Sports take up a big place in American culture and they make a whole show out of every game.

I had myself been to the Madison Square Garden to see a NY Rangers game when I was younger, and I had good memories of that, so for me it was for sure that I wanted to take my kids there as well to soak up the atmosphere during a game. This time, it would be basketball in the Garden, and Ice hockey at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

NY Islanders game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn:

 

The Barclays Center is a very well organized beautiful stadium. There are restaurants everywhere and before the game, you can choose whether you would like to eat hotdogs, hamburgers, tacos and so on. We took not so expensive tickets to see an NHL ice hockey game. We paid 20 dollars per ticket, and were seated quite high up, but still with a very good view of the playing field! If you have small children with sensitive ears, remember to bring them plugs as the music and sound of the commercial breaks and animation are quite loud. Our children had never seen an ice-hockey game before and they liked it! For us, it was the game of the NY Islanders against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and one thing we noticed is that the Islander fans and the Maple Leafs fans are just seated next to each other and encourage their favorite team without anyone arguing. In Europe during soccer games for instance the fans are often in separated sections to avoid problems. Here, this did not seem necessary at all and there was a nice atmosphere during the whole game!

Once you get back out there is a taxi stand right across the street if you wanted to go home by cab.

NY Knicks game at Madison Square Garden:

 

Madison Square Garden is centrally located in Manhattan. We took relatively expensive tickets to be sure the kids would be able to see, but in the end, I realized we could have taken a bit less expensive, because we felt like we had VIP seats. The kids were all happy about that of course 😊. We were seated quite high up, but right in front so the view was really good. The website of Ticketmaster allows you to look at the view you will have of the game beforehand which is quite convenient if you don’t know the stadium that well. I just didn’t realize we would have sort of VIP seats with screens and everything 😉. Once you are there, remember not to wait too long to buy your food if you want to eat there, since it can sell out quickly.

We saw the Knicks vs Orlando, and it was a good game! However, I guess we didn’t bring luck for the NY sports teams when we were there as both the Islanders, and the Knicks lost. Better luck next time I hope!

Skiing with kids

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During our holiday in the snow this year, I saw all the cute little kids moving around on their skis and I realized we had come a long way. Our children are now 10 and 8, and both love to ski, but this hasn’t been the case right from the beginning 😊.

We were those parents too, that carried around all the equipment and the small child at the same time. We have been to locations where the meeting point was quite far from our apartment and waking up the kids, preparing them, getting all their stuff together and motivating them to go out in the cold wasn’t always a piece of cake.

We have had them in classes where everyone spoke another language than theirs. We have had our little one finally explaining us after 2 days of skiing that his shoes were actually too small. We have had our five-year-old skiing down the slope by himself, leaving his ski class behind to search for his parents (luckily the teacher caught up with him!) and we have had our little one ‘forgotten’ by the teacher in a restaurant until another restaurant client decided to call his parents… And no, the sun doesn’t always shine… Group ski class is every day, also when it snows and also when temperatures drop to minus 10.  And those photos will not end up on Facebook and Instagram… Everyone only posts the photos of the sunny days.

I remember that plenty of times when I had left them at their little beginner ski class, and I finally got back to get my own skis, ready to hit the first slope of the day, the teacher called me to say my child was crying and I had to take all the equipment off again, to go and collect him.

But, keep your hopes up 😊 They eventually grow out of all of that and become more independent. They will prepare themselves in the morning, and not necessarily wave at you when they pass you on the slopes.

This year, I was watching those cute little 3-year olds following their teacher in a queue, while I was waiting for my eldest son to get back from his off-track class with the ski school. He was skiing off-track for 2 hours and they ended up getting back by bus. Awesome! He said 😊.

When we go skiing now, they all have to wait for me. I’m the worst skier in my family, but I know why… I was so busy getting them on skis that I kind of didn’t have the time to learn it properly myself… I can ski, but they have definitely out-skied me by now…

Chronological order of my son’s ‘skiing career’ 😊:

Skiing through the years