Every year in France you have a perfect opportunity to discover your region. Around the 16th of September, during the weekend they organise the international public transportation day.
Depending on where you live this could mean very cheap or free travels for you. In my region, PACA, you can buy a train ticket for 5 euros and you can have unlimited travels on the regular trains within the region’s limits.
There is another great thing happening during that week, the European Heritage Days. Which means free entry to museums. It’s a perfect opportunity to visit new cities. You can get there cheap and visit some sites free! What else could you hope for?
Oh yes, a calm toddler who is happy to go along :)
This year we decided to visit Toulon and St Raphael. I was a bit afraid of the train ride with Pixie. Sometimes she is ok with confined space other times she goes into full action to be able to run around and nothing can stop her!
We didn’t want to ruin her good night sleep and wanted a well-relaxed toddler so didn’t take the first train to Toulon, we chose one that left around 9 am. The train was quite full but after one stop managed to get seats next to each other which made the ride much easier.
Pixie wanted to sit on my seat and she pushed me off but had enough place below the window and she played with us during the ride.
When we got to Toulon I put her in the ergobaby and started to discover the city. We went into the old town then down to the port. Since it is one of the biggest military ports of Europe you shouldn’t expect something extraordinary, but I found it pretty nice for a day trip. We checked out the big open-air market on the street which was huge, they offered mostly fruits and vegetables but some fish and dairy products as well. After wandering around we decided to go into the Great Maritime Museum, Pixie liked the model ships and we found an arts and crafts table for kids where she could draw a little. She had fun and enjoyed her time out of the carrier.
We still had some time to kill before our next train ride so we visited the Opera which was open during the day. Pixie was quite tired by then and she had fallen asleep in the carrier while we walked through the city and had a nice nap on me in the Opera.
After we left she woke up and we decided that she needs some running so we let her out at a big square, she run around chasing the pigeons and playing with the water fountains.
I found Toulon to be nice enough for a day visit but the few hours we spent there was enough to discover the center and even to see a few museums.
Our train ride to Saint Raphael was quite quick, and Pixie was ok being back on the train.
It is a much smaller city, we walked down to the beach and walked quite a lot on the seafront until we reached the end of the port. The wind was quite strong but Pixie loved running around on the beach. There are a few nice coastal path leading further but we didn’t have enough time to continue our walk and decided to head back to check out the center.
There is a nice park by the beach, close to everything and there was a small playground. Since we almost finished the tour in the city we stopped to play with Pixie. She loves to discover new parks she ha a wonderful time with all the toys. She always starts with cautiously observing the bigger kids and then tries to join in.
We realised that St Raphael is a very small town and we already walked trough every little street so we headed back to the beach. Considering that we visited 2 cities one day Pixie had surprisingly lot of time running around and she was very active. Her and her dad were running up and down on the beach while I just had a rest watching them play.
When we got back to the train station we had an unfortunate surprise, our train was late. And the announced delay was just getting bigger and bigger. Pixie doesn’t really like to stay put, this shouldn’t be a surprise. We had to occupy her while waiting. Her favourite activity at the station was to go up on the escalators and coming down / jumping down the stairs. We had to switch with my husband because it was quite exhausting for us, but Pixie just wanted to go up and down again and again.
After an hour delay our train got in finally and we managed to get home! We only managed to find two seats next to each other in a booth. But we got quite lucky because Pixie became a bit shy in front of our fellow passenger and she was very calm during the train ride.
I have to admit trains, city trips, walking all day is not the easiest with a toddler, but it shouldn’t stop you from exploring!