Dinner at Eight After Fondation Maeght!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

We only have two more days here before our return home. I’m beginning to feel anxious and started to pack for the return to the States.  Luckily we aren’t returning  with much more than what we arrived with.

It’s funny but not doing a ton of shopping makes me realize how important it is to just BE here and enjoy our time rather than go on a shopping spree.

My new Rondini’s, my Fragonard Fleur d’Oranger and Adopt scents are nestled away in my suitcase.

On this Thursday morning, the skies are overcast—but it doesn’t mean anything because the weather clears up so rapidly. We’ll go to the pool for a while and then we will visit the Fondation Maeght in St. Paul De Vence. Tonight we have a reservation at The Club for dinner at 8.  Hey! Dinner at Eight after Fondation Maeght!

St. Paul de Vence. taken from the car

Bonaparte shot this pic with MY phone.  He did a great job. This is a shot of St. Paul de Vence.  It’s a cute village but we passed on walking through this time around. As cute as it is, it is wayyyy too crowded with shoppers. 

We’ve visited the Fondation Maeght a few years back and, although I’m not a fan of abstract art, the grounds alone are cause to visit this museum.

Fondaton Maeght Brochure

Brochure pic since I FORGOT to snap one of the building!

Tarif tickets

The tarif is 15 euros for entrance. Is it worth it?  Yeah–pretty much so.

Hidden off the road and in the midst of trees, it is a place that can bring comfort and a bit of cool on an incredibly hot day.  Grab a place in the shade to sit and write or read or observe people.

Fondation Maeght. MOre views

Sculptures such as this Calder are scattered around the grounds…

Fondation Maeght. Great view of gallery and garden

..the grounds are beautiful.  Here’s the museum hidden behind the trees. Bonaparte took his pic too. He has that Lartigue talent for photography!

The “big” exhibit that is presently on view is one by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Barrels.  It is a fascinating exhibit that can equate more to a giant project of sorts than to art. But hey, that is just my honest and unpretentious opinion.

Fondation Maeght. Christo and Jeanne Claude barrels.

Barrels as art–*sigh* art is so subjective..

Fondation Maeght. Barrel of fun 2

…..and barrels..

Fondation Maeght.  Barrel of fun 1

..and more artsy barrels of fun!

It is hard for me to process why the Fondation doesn’t have on display the private collection of Adrien Maeght.  How come?  You may wonder. Well, it’s because Adrien Maeght has, in his private collection, a good amount of paintings by Bonaparte’s father, Dany Lartigue. I want to see them. Unfortunately, I can’t phone old Adrien and tell him this. He would have me arrested and the gendarmes of the Cote d’Azur are already familiar with me because of my escapade in the streets of St. Tropez!

Anyway, there are quite a few sculptures that I’m fond of at this foundation.  Enjoy some of the photos we took during our revisit.

Fondation Maeght Green men fountains

These little green men fountains are really fun and cool…there are a few fountains at the Fondation Maeght..

Fondation Maeght. Another cool fountain

…such as this…

Fondation Maeght. Another green fountain.

..and this…

Fondation Maeght. Coolest fountain ever.

..and my favorite by Pol Bury. This was the coolest sculpture of all time. The tubes moved as water flowed out. I took a video but I messed it up. Sorry! I think I stood at this for ten minutes–it was mesmerizing!

Fondation Maeght. Braque pool mosiac BLOG GOLD

…a mosiac by Braque in a small pool..

Fondation Maeght a good egg.

Joan Miro’s sculpture in another little pool. He’s a good egg!

Fondation Maeght. More outside view

I just cannot say enough about the beautiful grounds and the surroundings.

Fondation Maeght. Miro sculputre.

OK. So there ARE some abstract pieces that I enjoy. I’m pretty fond of Joan Miro. His works make me happy!

Fondation Maeght. Miro 1

..perhaps it is my love for the color red!

Fondation Maeght. Chagall and Shiplap. What could be better. BLOG GOLD

A mosaic by Marc Chagall..

Fondation Maeght.  Little chapel

..the remains of an old chapel…

Fondation Maeght. SHIPLAP!

..and SHIPLAP! OMG. Is there a connection to Chip and Joanna Gaines here? Any Fixer Upper fans?  

Fondation Maeght. Closer of Cader sculpter on grounds

We bid farewell to Calder and the other artists at Fondation Maeght for this year!

Not yet ready to stop the fun, we headed into Cannes for a walk along La Croisette. Not much was going on so we ended up picking up a dress and shirt for Bonaparte’s granddaughter in a local shop.

Cannes. La Croisette. Old folks at home

That’s right. You heard it from me. La Croisette isn’t always hoppin’ with excitement.  Older people love to watch the goings on–which right now are not much!

Back at the apartment, it was time to get ready for dinner.

Every year we’ve been here, we always make it a point to have one or two (sometimes more) dinners at The Club at La Galere. This restaurant never ceases to fail. The food is consistently superior and this year’s dinner did not fail.

Theoule. Club la galere. tables set for dinner.

We have a great view from our regular table in the little alcove!

We also sit at the same table in the alcove off the pool. It’s private and is a great spot for enjoying the view.

Food. Theoule. Club. Kirs. Cin Cin.

A toast with our Kirs!

Theoule. Club la galere. Dinner menu

Tonight’s menu brought to us..

Food Theoule. Club. Crabmeaat app 2

For starters, Avocado and Crabmeat..

Food. Theoule. Club. Cutest little mini baguette.

How cute is this mini baguette?

Theoule. Club la galere. Dinner. Me happy with wine and wifi

Overjoyed because I have a moment of Wee-Fee (That’s French for Wi-Fi. Told you I was fluent!). Damn. I’m gaining weight by the minute. Weight Watchers I’ll be back when I get home!

Food. Theoule. Club Rabbit BLOG GOLD.

Lapin stuffed with Mushrooms and drenched in a delicious sauce. I ate the Easter Bunny and it was spectacular!

Food. Theoule Club. Bonaparte's usual steak.

Bonaparte’s usual.  Steak.

Food. Theould. Port la galere house reserve wine. Good enought to get me to pass out.

Club la Galere’s house wine. It’s really good!

Food. Theoule. Club. Dessert. Nougat floating out of cake.

..and after too much wine, my dessert photo is a bit out of focus. It was a chocolate lava cake with ice cream. I could have had three helpings!

Theoule. Club la galere. Bonapartes dessert.

Bonaparte’s delusional dessert. Cherry-red Ferrari.

Theoule. Club la galere. Diners at the pool

….more diners enjoying their meals poolside!

I don’t want this day to end. I don’t want this stay to end.

Dinner music by the sea for you. Georges Moustaki “En Mediterranee”. Thanks to 94lillyrose for the video!

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Hey! Don’t Rain On My St. Tro-Parade!–Just Another Day In St. Tropez!

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Today is the day we return to St. Tropez to see Bonaparte’s dad, Dany.  I’m really excited about this because Dany is a man who loves a well-rounded ass.  Hopefully, he’ll not be disappointed in this ass on our latest visit.

I was going to dress up for the occasion but Bonaparte told me that since Dany’s assistant was having the day off, we would be helping him to get around in his wheelchair.  I would be his “ass-istant”!

Ever the giver, I changed up my dress code to white shorts, a striped shirt and my Rondini Tropezienne sandals.  The same getup I sported when we went to St. Trop last week.

We left the apartment at 7:30 in the morning and drove to Ste. Maxime. We would take the Bateaux Verts water taxi from there to St. Tropez.  I love taking the boat because as the port of St. Trop becomes closer, the view is always one that makes me so damned happy!

Ste Maxime. the boat in the background.

A gloriously sunny day with clear blue skies.  Check out how clean this port at Ste. Maxime is..

Ste. Maxime. Les Bateau Vert in the water.

The little Bateaux Verts. It’s part of the summer fun!

The dock at St. Maxime is always bustling early in the morning.  People on their way to their jobs at shops, restaurants and other places in St. Tropez are lucky to commute via these small ferries.  And the people-watching is epic! Locals and tourists provide a fine blend of humanity.

Ste. Maxime. French chic is ageless BLOG GOLD

I need a moment here. These women all work in St. Tropez. They epitomize summer chic at the most casual.  But…check out my new girl crush on the right. The lady in green. OMFG–never in my life have I seen an older woman look so well-put together. 

Ste. Maxime. Best dressed woman in France.BLOG GOLD

The dress. The shoes. The sunnies. The bag. And she still managed to come across as incredibly chic and not overly matchy-matchy.  I just about stalked her..

STe. Maxime girlcrush closer

Seriously. And she worked at a fancy restaurant in St. Trop. I know this. I followed her. If anyone knows this woman, please hunt her down and make her get in touch with me. I need lessons in how to be as chic as her!

Ste Maxime. More french chic.

And another version of French  chic. So simple yet so elegant.  

Due to Dany’s health situation, he lives in a residence for seniors.  His body may be slower these days, but his wit and mind are stronger than ever.

St. Trop. A Sunny morning to visit Dany

Dany’s window on the top floor is second from the right. I think.

He was just as thrilled to see us as we were to see him. And for almost two hours he intrigued me with episodes of his life from childhood to his acquaintance with Picasso and friendship with aged artist Pierre Bonnard.  He held my interest telling me about his father, Jacques Henri Lartigue.  He kept me on edge as he told about his adventures during WWII and escaping a labor camp after being arrested by the Gestapo. And he kept me mesmerized when he told of his never-ending love for Bonaparte’s mother, Evie.

Dany Evie and Bonaparte

Dany with Evie and Bonaparte.  Every year he always professes his love for her–and her sisters–and his other wives..

dany and bonaparte

Dany also amused me with tales of Baby Bonaparte at La Ponche. Bonaparte looks like he wants to crawl away. Such independence!

Dany and bonaparte in hats

I have to say that this is my favorite pic of Dany and Petit Bonaparte. The hat. I swear I almost died laughing at Dany’s hat. And now I know why Frenchmen are in touch with their feminine sides–check out Bonaparte’s girl shoes and his ruffled hat! This photo deserves an award!

As he winded down his tales, he ordered me to look to my right and grab the flag of St. Tropez that was resting against the wall.  Then he pointed to a straw hat that was adorned with a red ribbon.  He told me that I should wear it.

There was a method to Dany’s madness.  We were going to have lunch about three blocks from Dany’s residence.  Since he is confined to a wheelchair, Bonaparte would wheel Dany to the restaurant.

Here’s where the flag and hat came in.  The sidewalks are incredibly narrow.  Too narrow for the wheelchair.  Thus, Dany told me that I would need to walk slowly in front of his wheelchair, being pushed by Bonaparte, through the streets leading to the restaurant.

Are you following?  Pay attention.

Dany’s intention was for me to wear the hat and wave the flag of St. Tropez as a warning to the vehicles motoring down the three-block stretch of road in order to protect him.

Before hitting the street, Dany had Bonaparte stop the wheelchair in front of a statue of The Blessed Mother. He asked for protection for his family—but I secretly think he made a deal with Mary to protect him first. From me.

It is hard to explain what happened as we approached the road. But it has something to do with me channeling my inner Edie Beale performing her infamous flag dance. The moment I hit the street, I forgot Dany’s instruction to walk slowly.

edie6

Yeah. Edie was dancing and marching with the American flag while I was…

I started to march. And as I marched, I held that flag high above my head. I felt the slight breeze hitting my French blow out as my hair moved to and fro.

Reanctment of my parade in St. Trop

..literally marching down the streets of St. Tropez like this!  I’m SURE there is a photo of me floating around France with the caption “Crazy American Lunatic Woman Thinks She Is Marianne leading the French Revolution of 2016!”

The hat made me look like a French majorette and I felt like Marianne leading the revolution. Albeit this revolutionary group was on their way to eat plenty of bread!

Marianne

Believe me, had the weather gotten any hotter and there was the possibility I would have been parading in the Streets of St. Tropez without my shirt!

Cars beeped.  Trucks honked.  Drivers slowed down to observe this special parade of one.

I marched with such a cadence that my ass swayed from side to side.  I stood proud and bold.  I never heard Dany and Bonaparte yelling out to me to slow down. Instead, it took a truck driver to roll down his window and scream out to me “REGARDE”, while pointing back to Dany and Bonaparte far behind.

And then, a Gendarme came running out into the street next to me. He started speaking in French at a fast pace and saying “Non! Non! Non”   while ending each sentence. As my motto is “Ignorance is Bliss”, I kept marching and smiling and pointed to the wheelchair about twenty feet behind me.

Louis de funes gendarme de Saint Tropez

Yes. Basically, the gendarme was yelling at me the way Louis De Funes did in the Gendarme movies.  Actually, the scene with me and the Gendarme WAS like a scene straight out of the Gendarme movies!

The gendarme, who was about to arrest me, recognized Dany and graciously escorted us to the restaurant, which was now in plain sight.

Our lunch at LaRamade was delightful!  I can’t say enough about this very local restaurant. It is far from the “see and be seen” crowd in St. Trop. It is like going to someone’s patio.  Jean-Pierre, the owner, he of the Robert Preston head of hair, is always pleasant and is quite friendly with Dany.  Jean-Pierre, like Bonaparte, spent his summers at La Ponche—actually he grew up on La Ponche.

St. Tropez. Danny holding court. Actually he's chiling from my parade.

Dany looking serious upon our arrival at the restaurant. I think he had second thoughts about me leading the parade!

St. Tropez. La Ramade. Jean-Pierre taking orders. What a head of hair.

Jean-Pierre of the fabulous hair taking lunch orders from the locals.

St. Tropez. La Ramade table under the trees.

How cute and charming is this restaurant?   It was such a pleasure to return this year. I do believe that La Ramade is one of my favorite restaurants of all time.

St. Tropez. La Ramade. Hats in the trees.

Well–you can find books on the ceiling in Cabris AND hats in the trees at La Ramade!

St. Tropez. La Ramade. I canot get enough of this resto.

The tables all set for the lunch crowd..

St. Tropez. La Ramade. Menu

What could be better in a garden restaurant than tapenade, bread and a menu brought to the table?

Food. St. Tropez. La Ramade. Rognon with pommes gallette and veg.

I’ll tell you what could be better. These kidneys. I was in heaven when I saw “Rognons de Veau” on the menu.  And the creamy potatoes were the perfect lunch..

Food.  St. Tropez. La Ramade.  Frogs legs.

Bonaparte and Dany each had frog’s legs. Had I been about forty pounds lighter, I would have ordered this WITH my kidneys..

Food. St. Tropez. La Ramade Strawberry and cream dessert.

..and YES. Adding to my deadly sin of gluttony, really, REALLY good strawberries and fresh whipped cream finished off lunch. Don’t judge. I’m paying for this now as I count points!

I think Dany had a few extra glasses of wine because he was dreading the march back home!

St. Tropez. La Ramade. Dany. 95 and puffing on a cigar.

After a few glasses of wine and a cigar, Dany was ready to hit the street again–with me in the lead.  97 and enjoying a cigar. We should all be able to enjoy that!

Our march back to Dany’s residence fared much better. I walked slowly in front of them.

And when we arrived back, Dany showed us some recent sketches.

St. tropez. Colorful Dany sketch.

A recent sketch that he did using markers…

St. Tropez. Dany sketch 3

…and another one..

St. Tropez. Danys sketch from earlier this year.

…and another. Dany sure loves the ladies!!

A short time later, he was becoming tired and needed to rest so we gave our goodbyes and I jumped in his bed to give him a farewell kiss.  Any misgivings about my parade were forgotten!

St. Trop. Danys a happy man.

Fun with Dany!  He forgot about my inability to follow directions.  It was so hot I had to put my hair up!

The remainder of our time in St. Trop was spent making a visit to Maison des Papillons-Musee Dany Lartigue.  This is the butterfly museum Dany created and is home to the thousands of colorful flutterers that he’s collected and received over the years.  It is also home to many of Dany’s paintings.

St. Tropez. Musee Dany Lartigue sign.

The little sign on the door leading to the La Maison des Papillons

St. Trop. Maison des Papillions. Butterflies

Even though I’m not into bugs, these butterflies are incredibly interesting..

St. Tropez. Danys film on butterflies GOLD

Dany explains it all in this little film in the studio..

St. Trop. Maison des Papillions. More butterflies in glass and painting

Another cool thing is that his paintings are used for backdrops for the displays of butterflies..

St. Trop. Maison des papillions. More butterflies and dany

which add more interest..

St. Trop. Maison des Papillions. Butterflies in front of Dany's painting

Isn’t it nice?

St. Trop. Maison des Papillions. Musee Dany Lartigue. Dany's Studio

Up in his studio we have his paintings on display..

St. Tropez. Danys Bar de la Ponche 2 BETTER PIC

This painting “Bar de la Ponche” is my favorite. I love the colors and you can spot Juliette Greco, Daniel Gelin, and Daniele among the crowd!

St. Trop. Maison des Papillions.  Courtyard view. can't get rid of those dates

In the courtyard we were able to see more of Dany’s work and the work of Martin, Bonaparte’s artist brother.

A return trip to Ste. Maxime on our little green boat was bittersweet as we looked back at the port of St. Tropez shrinking into the distance and disappearing from sight until next year.

St. Trop. Bonaparte's ship has come in

As we left St. Tropez, we got a good look at how it changed from Bonaparte’s youth.  Large Yachts took the place of..

Old school water taxi

..old boats like this. Personally, I like the run down boats better!

St. Tropez. I think we're leaving.

Bye till next year!!

We had an enjoyable dinner of leftovers and eggs; and when Bonaparte reminded me that we would be leaving for home in a few days, I was overcome with such a feeling of sadness that tears, as salty as the sea below us, flowed uncontrollably down my face.

Today was the best day ever!

Like Pink Floyd?  Here’s their happiest song ever “San Tropez”. The song really gives a vibe of how it really is on St. Tropez!

 

Posted in St. Tropez | Tagged , , | 33 Comments

Love Is In The Hair–A French Blow Out!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

After yesterday’s drive up the road that shook the nerves, today is a completely lazy bum day of reading by the pool and not much else.

Bonaparte kindly suggested that since we are going to St. Tropez tomorrow to visit his dad that I just might want to make an appointment at a beauty salon and perhaps get my roots done and maybe get a blow out too.

Although I welcome this suggestion, I’m a bit hesitant because Adam, the stylist I go to and cannot live without, knows my hair; and he knows and understands about my hair loss issues.  But after taking a look in the mirror of the hair that hasn’t been washed in two weeks, I think Bonaparte just may have a point.

And before hitting the pool, I grab my Toppik, and head to the car to drive to the salon.

Theoule. Bubble House still here in 2016.

On the way to Geant we pass my favorite house. The bubble house down the street. This isn’t the Pierre Cardin bubble house. It’s someone else’s…

Theoule. Bubble house 2016 closer and closer

We had to sneak up on the fence to snap these pics. Look–the bubbles look like titties. I’m so in love with these little glass nipples…

Theoule. Bubble House 2016 windows

I want to caress these windows. Seriously. I love this house!

The galerie at Geant has a few hair salons, but I decided to make an appointment at Franck Provost. I’ve seen his chain of salons all over Paris and figured it was a safe bet.

Theoule. Geant. Long shot

How pathetic is this?  OTHER bloggers take artsy pics. I take pics of hypermarches.

Geant. Franck Provost. Sign.

Ladies and men. If you are in the area of Theoule-sur-Mer, might I suggest a hair appointment at Franck Provost?

I don’t care how uneducated I may be in the French language, but when it comes to making a hair appointment, I miraculously became quite fluent.

Me:  “Bonjour. Je voudrais prendre rendez-vous pour  un teinture, shampooing, conditionné et séchés .” “Pouvez-vous blow dry mes cheveux  d’une façon ondulée?” “Oh. Et je dois la perte de cheveux , mais je dois produit à déguiser .” “D’accord?” “A 17h30 ?”  “S’il vous plait?”

 Translation: Good Morning. I would like to make an appointment to have my hair colored, shampooed, conditioned and blow dried. Can you also blow my hair out in beachy waves?Oh. And I have hair loss but I have product to disguise. OK? At 5:30 PM? Please?

 Frenchman at front desk: “Nom?”

 Me: “Cat-reen” “Merci!”

 Easy peasy. A bit of grocery shopping, back to the apartment to change and…

Geant. Loading up on the fake sugar.

Let’s see. Fake sugar is always on my list. I have these in every purse!

Theoule. Geant. My favorite Creme de Cassis

Lest we not forget the importance of Cassis..

Geant. Saussicon. Yum!

I know..This isn’t food porn. It is merely saucisson! Now you know why I love Geant!

Geant. Little pop up card. Thought it was cute.

…and I have no idea who is going to receive this little pop-up card but I HAD to get it!

..back at the pool.  I gave “The Little Paris Bookshop” a final chance.  I’m telling you. This book was almost as painful to read as “The Scarlet Letter” was.

Theoule. Pool. More view

Back at the pool to do nothing but sit on my fat ass and read and suffer from hypochondria!

I’m not going to give you “spoilers” but this was one of  the worst books I’ve never finished reading.  The characters were not endearing. The book was poorly written AND one of the characters had a disease!

The disease is what threw me over the edge.  Look, I have nothing against tragedies. “Me Before You” was one of my favorite tragic books of all times—but it was about a tragic accident. It wasn’t about a disease.

 Books that are about awful diseases should carry a warning on the front cover. You know-like “smoking is bad for your health”.  These books should state the following:

Warning: This book contains a horrible disease. Hypochondriacs may become affected. They may also be prone to checking certain body parts multiple times a day and become stressed and anxious.  Therefore if you or a loved one suffer from hypochondria, this book may be harmful to your health.

 People at the pool started to stare at me because I sat in my chaise with a horrified look while checking my armpits for hours on end.

When we got back to the apartment, I placed the book on the shelf where I’ve left books in the past.  Apparently the owner of the apartment gets a kick out of this practice of mine because books I’ve left have remained on the shelf since 2010.

Theoule. Apartment. Book shelf addition.

These are the books that I’ve left over the years.  Little Paris Bookshop was the only one I despised!

This was the only book that I left with a note inside about how much I disliked it. I even left my email address for anyone who does decide to read it to let me know what they think of the book.

Travel tip: If you like to read during your vacation’s or travel’s downtime, and finish a book or two, leave them behind or give them to someone.  It’ll lighten your luggage on the way home and can give another visitor something to do during their downtime! Play it forward!

 Thankfully, I remembered my hair appointment. It distracted me from checking my armpits.

While I got my hair done, Bonaparte drove into Cannes to pick up wine from Nicolas. I entered Franck Provost smiling and happy because, hopefully, the staff would make me look human again.

Irene was my stylist. She was an adorable pixie of a woman with a raspy voice and smelled of cigarettes and perfume. A scent I was familiar with due to Danièle’s penchant for Marlboro lights and L’Heure Bleu. The aroma actually made me feel quite comfortable. I took out my Toppik, pointed to the top of my head, winked, and told her  “Apres color”.  For some odd reason she understood me.

Geant. Franck Provost. Iren and the other guy. Fun at the salon.

Oh. We were having a regular party here!  By the time I was finished, the entire staff and I were just about dancing around the salon!

My experience at Franck Provost was remarkable.

Geant. Franck Provost. This small salon works wonders.

This tiny little salon worked great big hair miracles!

My roots were completely covered and as I waited for the color to set in, I was able to observe the goings on at this tiny salon just feet from my beloved hypermarché.  I watched a young girl with a gorgeous head of hair get her hair trimmed and blown out to tousled perfection.   Older women with various shades of dyed hair entered for touch ups. Apparently women on the Cote d’Azur aren’t into the gray look! I fit right in!

The staff was incredibly friendly and kept coming up to me to see if everything was ok.  I was in heaven!

With all due respect to American hair stylists, Irene shampooed my hair so gently that I almost fell asleep.  Rather than a rough shampoo scrub, it was more like a gentle shampoo massage.  In addition, it took my YEARS to find Adam–he knows how to blow dry coarse hair. I cannot begin to tell you how many USA stylists do NOT know how to give a great blow dry job!

 The final cost for the shampoo, deep conditioner, color and blow out came to 75€. Tipping wasn’t allowed on the credit card and tipping is much different than here, I gave a 5€ tip—and it didn’t make me look cheap either.

Let’s do math.  The 80 euros I spent in total for my hair came to the USD equivalent of $88.12.   I normally pay $140.00 for the same services here in the States.

Theoule. Me. French blow out.

Does this hair not look fabulous?  I hope Irene is back next summer! She’s my hair bestie!

Happy with my hair. I can’t wait to see Bonaparte’s dad Dany tomorrow. But now—it is aperitif time!

Here’s a cute song I found from The Hot Sardines: “French Fries and Champagne”!

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The “Shore” de France. A Return to L’Estagnol. A Dangerous Road to Divinity

Monday, June 27, 2016

Clear skies.  No humidity.  And a bit of wind.  Bonaparte is worried because he thinks the Mistral has made a visit.   Overlooking the terrace before we depart for a second visit to L’Estagnol, he is concerned about the possibility of large mouton (the French word for whitecaps—I’m incredibly fluent, you know) in the little bay area off the sea.

I laugh and tell him it isn’t a big deal and we are off.

We passed the many hectares of vineyards and Olive tree orchards belonging to Leoube, a local company that produces wine and olive oil, and I explained to Bonaparte that I wanted to stop at the boutique for, as the Barefoot Contessa would say, good olive oil.  He promised me that we would stop on the way home.

L'estagnol. Sign

Back at L’Estagnol.  The best thing about this sign is that I have no idea whatsoever the bathing information that is posted means!

The familiar drive seems quicker this time and we arrive to an almost empty beach.  It may be windy to the French, but to me, it is merely a heavy but comfortable breeze.  The water that was as smooth as glass last week is now fitted “wiz leetowle” waves.  These waves are nothing like the Atlantic or Pacific!

L'estagnol. Arrive early

See those “huge” waves?  Yeah. Bonaparte and his mistral. Those waves were gone about two hours later!

The only mistral that took place was the song “Mistral Gagnant” on the car’s radio as we were driving here.

The sea is freezing but I don’t care. It’s refreshing.  I shiver as little droplets of ice cold water fall on Bonaparte.  It makes him stop complaining about the possibility of a noisy child next to us and, instead, he complains, in French, about the water I just sprinkled upon his gloriously tanned body!

A group of young school children arrive at the beach which nearly kills Bonaparte.  I remind Bonaparte that he has a granddaughter the age of these kids. He says no more.

As a look up, one of the children greets me with a wave and a “Bonjour”. I smile, wave back and say “Bonjour” back to her.   For Bonaparte’s sake, les enfants end up at the far end of the beach.

I spot the same photographer that I saw last week. He walks up and down the expanse of the beach snapping photos of the sun worshipers for a fee. He is professional. I call him over because I want to write about him in the blog.

L'estagnol. The elusive photographer afraid of speaking to me.

The mysterious photographer passes by. I’m surprised he didn’t want to photograph Bonaparte’s tanned legs!  Can you spot those giant waves in the water?

I’m intrigued by this photographer. Bonaparte is annoyed by this photographer.  I ask Bonaparte why he is annoyed by what I’m intrigued by. He mumbles something in French and reads the paper.

L'estagnol. The elusive photographer

I’m glad he made a sale!

Being typically French, the photographer is polite and cordial in his broken English. He explains that he is “under contract” with a company and declines to be “interviewed”.  Bonaparte validates his decline.  I snap a couple of photos of him and let it go. The photographer’s contract is certainly binding!

The ice cream girl walks by with her colorful little ice cream cart.  I want so badly to eat everything she is selling but I refrain after looking down at my blubbery gut.

L'estagnol. Goodies on the beach.

I wish I had gotten a better photo of the gloriously tanned ice cream girl but I was distracted by the word “Nutella”!

Her skin is the color of caramel. Her tan is perfect. She is a race unto her own.  I regret not snapping more photos of her legs. I would have taken the photos with me to my next spray tan appointment.

The little boy next to us has dug a hole. And he keeps going down to the water with a bucket to collect water. He fills the hole with water and the sand soaks up the water. He doesn’t give up. This is pure entertainment for me.

L'estagnol. Sailboat in the water

I wanted to swim up and invite myself..

L'estagnol. Where the hell am I

I never tire of this beach…

L'estagnol beach. early morning

L'Estagnol. Some weird seed pods from a pine tree. Very artisticThese fuzzy things had pine cones inside. I took some home to try to use as beauty blenders but they fell apart.

Ever the budding journalist, I made my way to Chez Richard to take some pics.  I had the pleasure of meeting Monsieur Richard while he was working in the smaller kitchen. He was so pleasant and funny!  He has a great staff and we enjoyed a second delicious lunch. And yes. I repeated my seiche!

L'Estagnol. Richard in the little snack kitchen

Monsieur Richard hard at work…

L'estagnol. Richard himself. A sweet man.

…until I interrupt him and make him laugh..

Food. Seiche La Planca number 2

..and I enjoy more seiche!

L'estagnol. Another view

Back at the beach for a while before leaving….

We enjoyed the remainder of our time at L’Estagnol and made the stop at the Leoube Boutique.

L'Estagnol. Entrance to Leoube Vineyards and Olive Huile d'Olive trees.

This is the big-ass gate to the Chateau Leoube.  I want to live here–I’ll take the servants quarters….

L'estagnol. Leoube building

The back next to the boutique..

L'Estagnol. Leoube Olive oil.

We bought a can of GOOD Olive oil and smuggled it back to the States..

L'Estagnol. Leoube Boutique 2

The wines looked great too–but the sales help wanted us out of there…

I’m going to be real here. In all my years of traveling in France, we’ve only experienced one moment of rudeness. It was in Nimes and a waiter who served us was a real prick of misery. But—that was his personality.

Our visit to Leoube was our second experience with the art of rude.  Perhaps it was because both of us looked like the monsters that came in from the beach.  The blue chambray dress that I had worn on multiple occasions was looking a bit raggy.  My face was as red as a tomato; my former “beachy” waves were now a mass of frizz that looked more like facial hair rather than wispy tendrils softening my face.

Bonaparte was wearing his bathing suit and an old Lacoste shirt that had a few tiny holes in it.

We were the French equivalent of Walmart shoppers. (Well, I was wearing my Walmart earrings!)

L'estagnol. No more face makeup. Just on the eyes and lips.

Was it my still-wet-from-swimming-and-clumps-of-sand dress? Was it my lobster red face? Was it my Walmart special hoop earrings that disgusted the sales woman at Leoube.  WTF cares? I got my “Good” olive oil!

You would think we were a disease the way the sales assistant handed over the can of expensive olive oil to us.   *SHRUG*  You can’t win ’em all.

Travel tip:  At one point or another, you WILL be confronted with rudeness or the act of someone being dismissive to you. Do NOT let this affect your feelings on an entire country or its people. Miserable people happen. They happen at home, during local travels and travels abroad.  Let it roll off your shoulder.  99.9 percent of the people you meet will be incredibly cordial, helpful and downright nice!

We drove around and became slightly misguided (lost) as Bonaparte took a wrong turn. The wrong turn led us to  Collobrières.  We ended up making a strawberry purchase from a roadside stand and driving through this cute village.

Collobrieres. Village sign

Collobrieres..

Collobrieres. Who knew it was the chestnut capital.

..is the chestnut capital of France..

Collobrieres. Lost among the vines

…lots of greenery here…

Collobrieres. Fig trees in the wild.

..and fig trees grow wild. I was so pissed off that the figs hadn’t reached ripeness yet. I would have CLIMBED this tree for that fruit. I love getting figgy with it….

Collobrieres. Strawberry man.

..and it was even better to come across this strawberry stand..

Collobrieres. Fresh strawberries. Don't pay attention to the sand in my nails.

..Now THIS is a strawberry. These were incredibly juicy, fresh, sweet and full of flavor. Why can’t we get strawberries like this at home?

As we drove around aimlessly, our conversation went something like this:

Me:               “What’s a bastide?” (pronounced by me as bass-tide)  “I’m seeing that word a lot”.

Bonaparte:  Eh?” “Wa ahr ou seee-eeng?” Plez spell eet”

Me:                B-A-S-T-I-D-E”

Bonaparte: Ahh..Bassteed!” “Is a fortified town” “I mean a leetowle town surrounded by eh fort”.

Me:              “Oh.” “I thought it was a bad Frenchman—you know, like, HEY you dirty bastide!!!!!”

 

A pause and a brainstorm by Bonaparte.

He decided that we should take a drive to the Chartreuse de la Verne, a monastery on top of a huge mountain in the Massif des Maures.  Since we were at the Massif’s edge, he thought it would be a fun way to spend the remainder of the afternoon.

178815_4926_chartreuse-de-la-verne

This is the monastery that we attempted to visit. The Chartreuse de la Verne. I did NOT take this photo. It is from Wiki..

It wasn’t.

My drawing on the way to the monastary

This is basically what we were faced with. Our wide car, a winding road as narrow as a string of yarn, and a monastery close to heaven. Neither of us was ready to take THAT trip!

It turns out that the monastery was sitting on top of a massive mountain in the Massif des Maures—which, I renamed Massive de Mort. This is a road where you can literally fall off the edge of the earth and nobody would ever find you. And vultures would hover around your decaying body and eat you.  And your bones would turn to powder and fertilize the trees. Thusly, Massive des Maures = Massive Mort. The road was winding and the drops were steeper than the Gorges de Verdun.  I couldn’t even look out of the car window let along try to take a photo.

It was either my heart that was in my throat or it was the seiche from lunch swimming its way up my stomach to escape. I couldn’t even open my mouth anyway—I was that  petrified.  I don’t even think the competitors in the Tour de France would attempt this road!

Rue st. Catherine

Had we gone any further on that road, I’m afraid my fate would have turned me into Sainte Catherine!

Finally, Bonaparte found a little area where we were able to turn the car around and make our descent.  He didn’t feel comfortable.  This is not a drive we will attempt in the future.

We’ll find another monastery closer to ground level.

After reaching the bottom of this huge mountain, we saw directions to Ste. Maxime.  It was great to see signs of civilization once again. It was even greater to drive along the coast on a road close to the earth.

Sainte Maxime poster

Sainte Maxime is now my patron saint! I’m not kiddin’ either!

And when we arrived home, we had a few well-needed aperitifs!

Food. Theoule. Apartment Kir royales on the terrace.

A few rounds of this to soften the stress of that drive were sorely needed!

CAVEAT:  Please let me know if these posts are boring you. I’m keeping it real with no smoke or mirrors and am hoping you are enjoying. I only have a few more posts about our trip so next week, I’ll be back to writing about other stuff. I’m hoping you are still enjoying!

Here’s Renaud with his mega-hit of 1985. Mistral Gagnant.

 

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The Apartment. Dinner With Family. I’m Feeling Rather Local Today.

Sunday, June 26th 2016

Oops!  I was so tired last night that I forgot to write more stuff.

On our way back from Menton, we decided to visit the Musée Matisse in Nice.  As luck would have it, we arrived way too late to snag a parking spot.  Parking is limited.  There was no street parking due to a wedding at a nearby church.  Whoever got married was pretty darn popular because guests were parked in every available space within a half mile!

Musee_Matisse_2 from wiki

Musée Matisse. This pic is from Wiki because I forgot to take a photo.  We will visit NEXT time and will make sure to arrive early in the morning!

We decided to try our luck revisiting the Musée Marc Chagall.  The parking situation was worse.  It’s like being in Manhattan with the street parking.  Rather than drive around wasting precious time, we drove home.  Proof that timing is everything when touring.  We need to arrive early.

Chagall musee exterior

I had to go into my photo archives on my Shutterfly account to get this photo I took a few years back. This is the exterior of the Musee Marc Chagall.

chagall musee interior

Another shot I took.  We’ll revisit next time around!

It also proves that you take the good with the bad. We love having a car here because we can be in control—but, we can’t always be in control of parking.

I was in dreamland by 9:00 PM.   I’m a regular barrel of fun on vacation.

We’re meeting Bonaparte’s niece, Nathalie, and her daughter, Elodie, for dinner this evening. They spent a couple of days in St. Tropez with Bonaparte’s dad, Dany, and are now on their way back to Paris via train.

We’ll meet them in St. Raphael.

Another beautiful morning here on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean and we are witnessing some strange goings on.  A yacht is anchored not too far from the shore.  From Bonaparte’s binoculars, we can see the guests and crew standing on one of the decks looking down at the sea.

People on jet skis are circling the yacht. First close to the boat and with each lap, the jet skis move a bit farther away.

A helicopter is hovering over the large yacht.  It circles closely at first then moves into larger circles.

Is someone lost?  Is this a British Yacht seeking asylum from the Brexit?  We both hope all is well.

Because we had such an active day yesterday, today we are bumming it back at the pool.  And it is noticeably more crowded.   The vacationers have arrived.  I detect other accents among the French; German, Dutch, Russian, Australian, British, Italian, Spanish—but no American ones.

I stand alone. Or rather I laze alone. Under the umbrella.

Theoule. Pool 2016 foot shot.

My usual spot. Under the umbrella!

So I write instead. And today I’m writing about our apartment.

Bonaparte “found” this apartment through an extensive online search back in 2010.  Previously, we stayed at his mother’s little home in Ensues.  After her death, the house was sold.

What was Bonaparte looking for?

He wanted an apartment close to the sea.  He also wanted a place in a convenient location. One that would lend itself well to our day trips and touring.

realy cool sailboat

Bonaparte couldn’t have found an apartment with a better view.  This beauty has been a regular sight for a couple of years now..

In addition, we needed parking since we would have a car.

rolls

Parking was great. As you can see from this Rolls that Bonaparte is obsessed with, nobody is too concerned with anyone breaking into their vehicles.

He found it all in the gated community of “Port la Galère” in Theoule-sur-Mer.

The apartment is perfect for us.  It is a gated community; and in order to get into the community, a pass is needed.

Theoule.  Port la galere. Pass to enter the community.

Yes, my friends, I am THAT weirdo who collects our entrance passes from each year. 

Steps to apt

Steps leading up to “our” apartment (I love to say that because it sounds so pretentious. I can dream, can’t I?)

keys

Our little keys to…

Theoule. Front Door of our apartment

…the front door that leads to….

living room

…the living space. Notice the little round table in the left-rear. In all the years we’ve been here, we have never eaten a meal indoors..it’s always…

breakfast

…out on the terrace. Breakfast and dinner….

flowers on the terrace

…and besides the sea view, we have lovely flowers to admire while enjoying the terrace…

bedroom

..which leads to the bedroom on the opposite side of the living space.  (I took this photo last year).  Notice the doors are opened.  In the years we’ve been staying here, this year was the only time we closed the doors while sleeping. It was one night and Bonaparte closed the doors because of  noise from a party.  

my little kitchen window

The little kitchen window.  There are always plants to greet me while I’m cooking!

basketball court

The community even has a basketball court and playground for the kiddies! Oh..and tennis courts too.

Port la Galère also houses a small club, complete with great hotel rooms and an excellent restaurant. (I sound like a commercial. Trust me, I’m not sponsored, but we just love this place so much and have been staying here for years!)

hotel

..a view of the club from our table at the restaurant…

hotel key

During our stays, we have spent a couple of nights at the hotel. I’m telling you, the rooms are fantastic!

view from the room at hotel

View of the restaurant area from the hotel room. I think this was taken the year before last.

view from our table

View of the club’s pool from our table at the restaurant..

menu at club

The club’s menu is brought to your table. I’m telling you, we’ve had some of our best meals at this restaurant over the years. The food is consistently excellent!

After a few hours at the pool we went back to the apartment to get ready for our dinner with Bonaparte’s niece.

A nice drive along the coastline brought us to our destination in St. Raphael.

We enjoyed a nice private dinner at La Factory. For me, it was fun to see Bonaparte leaving English behind and getting into the groove of his native tongue. It was also enjoyable to people watch while Bonaparte and Nathalie spoke of family matters.

St. Raphael. LA Factory Restaurant exterior.

Silly me. At first I thought the name of this place was “L.A.” Factory! I forgot we were in France–oh la La Factory!

Food. St. Raphael. LA factory. Steak Tartare. Frites. Salad. Yum.

My steak tartare and frites. I couldn’t finish because the portion was so huge.  The tartare was excellent.  The frites were very good but the dressing on that little salad was the best I’ve ever had. It was a light creamy lemon dressing. I didn’t get the recipe.

Bonaparte’s surprise was the many photos and photo albums that his niece, Nathalie gave him.

St. Tropez circa 1950 Isabelle

One of Bonaparte’s favorite photos is this one of his sister Isabelle (RIP).  Is she praying for a great meal of seafood?

Bonaparte and isabelle as babies la ponche

I”m kinda fond of THIS pic of Bonaparte and Isabelle taken at La Ponche. The hats. I love them!

Travel tip: Try not to be all “food snobby” when on vacation.  We weren’t looking to have dinner at a fancy place. Nathalie and Elodie were in transit from St. Tropez back to Paris and were limited in time.  We ended up at La Factory in a random moment and ended up having a really good and inexpensive meal.

Hugs, kisses on the cheeks, a wave goodbye and they were back on their way to Paris.

St. Raphael. Ferris beuller wheel.

And we left St. Raphael by driving along the coast.

We drove along the coastline back to the apartment.

France 2016 Random bay shot. On the way back from St. Raphael

..stopping to snap a photo of boats on the bay..

And while driving, we both decided that tomorrow, we will return to L’Estagnol!

A nice, sweet great driving song for you on this Sunday.  Le Métèque by Georges Moustaki. Thank you FreeNeverSaid for a great video!

 

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Be Nice. All of Us.

Tis time to be niceI don’t know who created this lovely little painting. But it rings true.  It is time to be Nice..

I’m sorry that I didn’t post yesterday but the news of the latest attack upon innocent people is incredibly upsetting.

To those who questioned my traveling to France because it isn’t safe.  It IS safe. This incident of hate doesn’t make an entire country unsafe. It makes it stronger.

The incidents in Paris. Makes the French stronger.

Orlando, Columbine, Sandy Hook…all have made us stronger.

We need to find a way to destroy evil–but in the meantime. We all need to be Nice.

NIce. Hotel Negresco

..and two weeks ago we drove along this area. And next year we will drive along it again.

Thank you…and remember our world is changing for the worst. We need to change it for the better.

Love and Hugs,

Cathe

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Did I “Menton” How Great France “Eze”?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Note to self.  Please stop drinking water from the tap whenever you travel.  Your stomach gets “weird” whenever you are far away from home.

I mean it.  My stomach was killing me last night. And when did I go from being incompetent to being incontinent?  I’m continental dammit!

EZE. Me. Eze outift of the day. BLOG GOLD

My OOTD–taken when we got back to our apartment. And perhaps after a few aperitifs. Note. This was the last time I used the selfie stick. It’s just too much work for me.  I’m wearing a $9.99 skirt from Loft..it was so light and airy.  A very light and strechy T from J. Crew and my old faithful Rondini Tropeziennes on my feet. The sandals were GREAT for walking around all day!

Saturday and I’m feeling much better.  Bonaparte and I have an incredibly ambitious itinerary.   We are going to Eze Village, Monaco and making a last stop in Menton. All in a day!

We certainly picked a great day to embark on our touring.  Clouds are looming and the weather report is for clouds and sun.

For quite some time, I’ve wanted to visit Eze.  I’ve read about how charming and story bookish the village is, and I’ve also read many reviews validating this.  We tried to visit last year but we arrived late in the afternoon to no parking available whatsoever. So we left and figured that we would have to leave early in the morning to visit this enticing and magical village.

In addition, I’m a big fan of Jean Cocteau.  The Musée Jean Cocteau is in Menton, a short drive from Eze and was on my “2016 to-do” list.  Bonaparte wanted to make a visit back to Monaco so we decided to tackle all three places.  In one day!

We took the “Bord de Mer” as far as we could to get to Eze.  There are actually two roads that lead to the top village. One is a bit narrow and windy and kind of dizzying.  The other is more –I guess you could say-direct and easy.  We took the easy (or shall I say “Ez-ee”) road.

Eze. On the road to

On the road to Eze. Up in the clouds…

Within minutes we arrived at the foot at one of the cutest villages I’ve ever been to

Eze autre directions in village

Directions posted just at the end of the municipal parking lot. (Note the word “Bastide”. This will be popping up in a future post)

Travel Tip:  If you drive to Eze, by all means—plan to arrive early in the morning. I mean it. The earlier you arrive, the better your chances of a decent parking space.  Spaces for locals are reserved on the street.  For visitors—you need to pay. We learned through trial and error.  We arrived in Eze at 10:30AM and the municipal lot was almost full!  The tarif for parking at the municipal lot is 1€40 for the first hour.  If you don’t go to the  exotic Jardin at the top of the village or eat a meal, you CAN tour the village from 1 to 2 hours.

We arrived to lots of clouds. Trust me this was a great thing because it is so comfortable walking around when the sky is a bit overcast. The temperature lends itself well to exploring.

Eze hard to look down from this high.

This was the beginning of our ascent to the top of the village. See how cloudy it is?  It was great!

Travel Tip 2: There are tons of steps leading to the top of the village so wear shoes that won’t have you slipping and sliding.  I cannot stress this enough. Especially if you have bad knees. For me, I have no depth perception so luckily, there were railings to hold onto while making our descent.

Eze is fairytale country. Had Rapunzel been throwing her hair out of one of the village’s towers, I wouldn’t be surprised.  If I had spotted Snow White or Sleeping Beauty in the flower-filled cemetery near the church at the top, the sight would have been welcomed!  I would have stayed until both Prince Charmings arrived!

Eze pretty house BLOG GOLD

Little stone steps in clusters..

Eze flowers in the rocks GOLD

..random little bouquets of flowers growing from the rocks. Damn. I just noticed those cigarette butts. That’s so disgusting.  I wish I knew how to photo shop them out…

Eze little passageway

..little pathways. We were lucky to be here when the crowds hadn’t yet arrived.

Eze. Path lined with fleurs

Flowers and vines holding us in like bookends.

Eze. More steps to walk. Chateau Eze on right.

And more steps.

Our way up the village was slow and full of little discoveries.

Eze. Little square with fountain

A stop for a moment in a little square gave us a photo op and…

Eze. Eau no. Fountain close up

…a close up of this fountain. After last night’s result from tap water I wasn’t even going to attempt.

Eze. Up the steps to the steeple.

Closer…and..

Eze. Top o' the world. BLOG GOLD

…closer to the top.

Eze. My head is in the clouds. Literally!

In all my 61 years, I’ve finally give validation to all the people who told me that “my head is in the clouds”. Well–now it is!!  Or rather–it EZE!

When we made it to the top, we stopped into the church that is dedicated to Our Lady of The Assumption.  Another old and in a “state of disrepair” church, the interior was filled with the ethereal scent of mustiness combined with the remnants of frankincense.  I lit a candle to St. Teresa the Little Flower and Bonaparte made a donation for the maintenance of this precious place of worship.   The many churches in France are the best places for reflection—and you don’t have to be Catholic either!  It’s like Levy’s Jewish Rye Bread—you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy it!

Eze. Exterior of Eglise Notre Dame de l'Assomption

The climb up to the church made it seem more like a pilgrimage.

Eze. Ceiling at Eglise Notre Dame de l'Assomption

Even though the interior was run down, the ceiling remained beautiful.

Eze. St. Teresa.

St. Teresa seemed a bit happier to see me than my friend St. Rita did!

Eze. Candle for St. Teresa.

A candle for my special intentions (me) and a donation rounded out our visit to the church.

We stopped at a memorial for War victims, made our way to a little cemetery and stopped on a bench under a shaded tree to watch people.

Eze memorial for those killed by the Nazis.

A memorial for all the residents from Eze who were murdered in wars. Let’s hope there are never any more names…

Eze Cemetary at the top.

The tiny fairy tale cemetary. Close your eyes and envision Sleeping Beauty and Snow White waiting for their Prince Charmings…

Travel Tip 3: Another tip I cannot stress enough about. What to wear—freakin’ wear what makes you comfy when traveling.  I’m beginning to take offense when I read about what slobs Americans are (and I’m even guilty of saying that).  Tourists from MANY other countries dress down. Way down. Don’t be intimidated.  Remember—you are a tourist. You are looking at sights and climbing up and down stairs. You are walking through dirt.  Comfort comes first.

Eze. A mix of French and Italian visitors. Who's chic now

Yes. We are in France–but we aren’t in Paris.  Touring for the day? Don’t worry about being the fashionable American.  Trust me, NONE of these tourists were American.  Can you spot the chic? I didn’t think so.

Since it was still rather cloudy and we had more to see, we passed on the exotic garden. The admission tariff was 6€ 50 per person. We agreed to come back next year on a day where the sun would be shining on the flora, fauna, and cacti!

Back in the car—and offering luck to another driver by freeing up a parking space, we were on our way to Monaco.

Menton. On the road to Monaco.

I honestly can’t remember whether this pic is on the way to Monaco or Menton. But hey, it is one or the other.

For some ungodly reason, we always get lost in Monaco. This is a strange phenomenon because the area is no bigger than NYC’s Central Park. But the streets are winding and it does become a bit confusing. I can’t even.  This year was no different.

We’ve been to Monaco quite a few times.  We didn’t go to Monte Carlo because, quite frankly, after walking around that area once years back—it was enough.  Pragmatically speaking, we don’t travel above our means and MC is a wealthy jet-setter’s playground. We’ll be back when I win the lottery. Or when I discover that I really am an heiress who was abandoned many years ago by her unwed mother.

Monaco. Quiet little street

A quiet street in the Old Town section of Monaco. Can you believe how clean it is?

Monaco. Wedding guests

You never know what you will stumble upon. At first I thought this was how Monegasques dressed to check their iPhones. Then we discovered..

Monaco. Wedding BLOG GOLD

They were wedding guests!  I wished we had been dressed better so we could blend in with the wedding! Isn’t this the perfect tourist timing moment?

Instead we revisited the Old Town area of Monaco. This area is wonderful for walking about, stopping to admire the buildings, making the way to the Grimaldi palace and some fantastic photo ops.

Monaco. Where every building is spotless.

I’ll bet these windows are washed twice a day..

Monaco. The palace that really should be my home.

Why the crowd at the Grimaldi Palace? I’m sure they aren’t coming to see me!

Monaco. Oh My Guard!

Another regret. I should have taken a video of this guard marching up and down in front of the palace. He had fancy footwork and everything..

Monaco. Everyone is so perfect.

I wanted to slip him a note asking him how he got his whites so bright and if he wanted to meet my beautiful daughter. I think Oona would do well in Monaco!

Monaco another vie from atop.

By this time the sun was playing hide and seek every minute or so. Monaco is so densely populated–but with wealthy residents!

Monaco. Another view

Another view–with sunny skies!

Monaco. Cute porch photo BLOG GOLD

I couldn’t resist this little porch. Everything here is just so perfect.

Monaco. Me kissing a statue. He did not turn into a prince.

They say that residents of Monaco can be cold at times.  Well, THIS guy certainly proved it when I gave him a goodby kiss! He probably didn’t like my trashy Walmart earrings! Seriously. I really like Monaco. A lot!

You will be fascinated at how immaculately clean Monaco is. I swear Disneyworld is filthy compared to this pristine principality! If I dropped an ice cream cone top first, I would still manage to lick it because there would be no dirt upon it at all!

After walking and frolicking in Old Town, we were back in the car and headed to Menton.

Travel Tip 3: Back to parking.  Like the parking garage at Marche Forville in Cannes, the parking garage which led us to Old Town in Monaco also offered a free first hour.  Why can’t the garages in NYC do this? It’s a great way to bring in tourism—you actually get something for free!

Menton. View from the car.

Approaching Menton. A view from the car. I think. Maybe it was when we exited the car and walked toward the Musee Cocteau.

Visiting the Jean Cocteau museum was big for me.  His film “La Belle a la Bette” (Beauty and the Beast) is one of my favorite films of all time. He turned this fairytale into a dream. He did.  Add to that, one of my favorite French actors, Jean Marias, was Cocteau’s partner in a very tumultuous relationship.

Menton. Outside of the musee jean cocteau

View of the Courtyard in the front of the  Musee Cocteau.  That sculpture of the whale is really cool.

Menton. Musee Jean Cocteau. Severin collection exterior

The collection Severin Wunderman was jaw-dropping incredible!

Menton. Jean Cocteau Musee. La Belle a Le Bette poster.

A poster of one of my favorite films!

Menton. Musee Jean Cocteau. Sketch 2

Sketches by the talented Cocteau included his friends…

Menton. Musee Jean Cocteau. Drawing of his and my hearthrob Jean Marais.

..and those he loved–such as Jean Marais

Mucha Medee

I’m so angry at myself for not taking a pic of this poster which was at the museum. I was so enamored with everything that I completely forgot to take more photos. I’m sorry. I’m sorry because there were posters such as this one by the great Alphonse Mucha . Although I didn’t take this photo, I have photos of his work from exhibitions on past visits to Paris. He’s the father of Art Noveau.

Jean Marais tidbit: Danèle knew Marais. She said that he was absolutely “adorable”. Bonaparte told me that to call someone adorable in the French language is a pretty high compliment.  That made me love him even more!

Jean Cocteau was a true Renaissance man and was multi-talented. He was a writer, an artist and made some intense films.   We need more Cocteau’s these days.

Menton. Musee Jean Cocteau. Head shot BLLOG GOLD

This photo pretty much sums up who Cocteau was. Writer, artist, editor, filmmaker–oh, and lover of cigarettes.

I could have spent all day in this incredible, fascinating building of wonder and treasures! A viewing of his film “Les Infants Terrible” was on screen. I needed a chair to sit my expanding rear upon but Bonaparte wouldn’t let me watch the film. We were on the meter. We parked on the street and only had a limited amount of time.

Another surprise was a showing of an 80-minute short of the film “Orpheus”. Danièle’s ex-husband, the actor Daniel Gelin was starring in it.  This time I did manage to park my rear on a bench. And once again, Bonaparte reminded me we were on the meter.

I’m coming back here next summer! I need to take more photos of this wonderful place1

I have to. What I didn’t realize was that across the street, on the edge of the beach, was another small, older version of the Musée Jean Cocteau!

Menton. OLD Cocteau musee.

I have no idea what treasures are in store here, but I’ll find out in the future!

Speaking of beaches, Menton’s beaches and shoreline are quite different from that of L’Estagnol and some others along the Riviera.  Menton’s beaches are pebbly and rocky.

Menton Beach scene 1

This stretch of beach is directly across the Cocteau museum. If you like a rocky beach, and are visiting the museum, you may want to wear your bathing suit under your clothes and spend some time here.

Menton. Bathers on the beach.

Sunbathers and swimmers in Menton.

Menton. I'm sure of it.

Another view of Menton

If you aren’t crazy about fine sand, such as my dad was, the Menton beach is a definite for you!

What’s great about the Cote d’Azur is that the shoreline gifts you with many different types of beaches—there’s one for everybody!

Menton. Marche

The Marche in Menton. Had we arrived earlier, we could have spent quality time here!

We took the scenic route back.  I wish we had come to Menton earlier because the Marche, which was just about closed, looked like a great place to visit. Especially since I saw signs for Socca—a chickpea crepe that I’ve been wanting to try (I make chickpea pancakes and they are delicious!)  Next year!

Our drive back also made me realize just how bad my sense of direction is. I had no idea that Nice airport was so close to the sea. When I mentioned this to Bonaparte, he almost jumped the car onto the median.

I end my journal entry for today here.  I am getting my lazy on.

Jusqu’à demain!

Here’s another Laurent Voulzy song for a nice slow drive:  “Belle-Ile-Mer: Marie Gallant”

NOTE:  All photos, except where noted, were taken by either me or Bonaparte.  If you want to use them, please shoot me an email!  Thanks!

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A Caprice in Cabris

Friday, June 24, 2016

Hi Journal. I’m sorry that I’ve been lacking in writing but I’m beginning to lose track of the days. I was thinking of  journals past and I’ve written volumes.  Now I’m afraid that I’m treating my journaling like a third child. You know—a million photos are taken of a first born; then a bit less with the second child. By the time the third child rolls around you have to search for the fewer photos you’ve taken.

I promise to write more next year.

Today we woke up to the news of the “Brexit”. The people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.  This is bad. And I’m afraid it will affect voting in the USA. I don’t want Trump to be elected.

Wait! I’m not thinking about politics on this wonderful trip.

We’re going to laze by the pool today for a while.  There was a notice that due to a wedding, the pool will be closing at 2:30 this afternoon.  Can you imagine having your wedding here? I’m so pissed that I’m not wealthy. I want to have Oona’s wedding here one day.

Theoule. Pool My lazy ass feet at the pool

I take my favorite place at the pool. Luckily I have hearing like a dog and can listen to the conversations of the wedding party.  And pretend that my daughter, Oona, is going to have HER wedding here someday. I better start that diet now!

If only Oona knew what I was thinking she would beg Bonaparte to have me committed.

At the pool, wedding guests were bragging about the celebrations. I was eavesdropping on what the women were going to wear. I was also eavesdropping on where some guests were going after the wedding festivities. One couple was going to spend eight weeks touring throughout Europe.  I’m jealous!

After soaking the sun under an umbrella, we up and left to change.  We decided to take a drive to Cabris!

Theoule. Me. OOTD. White J. Crew dress which I wore constantly BLOG GOLD

Outfit of the afternoon. It’s about time I put some real clothes on! I’m wearing this years-old shift from J. Crew. This white dress is perfect for the weather on the Cote d’Azur. It’s cotton and breathes!

Cabris holds a special place for Bonaparte  because his daughter spent many summers with her grandparents there.

Cabris. View from above

View from the village of Cabris. It’s located higher up in the mountains so the views never fail to please. Sorry about the date on the camera. I was messing around a bit and ..well–you know!

Cabris. Me in the dopey cheapo sunglasses that ended up being the greatest purchase.

I’m mighty high here!

The lapsed bad Catholic girl in my loves visiting Cabris because every year I get to see the statue of Saint Rita and pray to her for money, a job, Botox, a winning Lottery ticket—things that nice girls shouldn’t even think of. But somehow old St. Rita takes my pleas with a grain of salt and pays me no mind.

Cabris. Back to see St. Rita. She looks annoyed

St. Rita. Every year I visit her. Every year I ask more more and more. She’s not looking to happy with me…

Cabris. Back to see the altar at the chapelle of St. Rita

..I also stop to pause for reflection by the altar at the little chapel and every year I take the same picture.

In the past, we’ve been to this charming little village when the heat index was supernatural. Hell was cooler.

This year, surprisingly, the weather was rather comfortable. Maybe around low 90’s with zero humidity.   As usual the drive was pleasant, and even more pleasant was the fact that we got a parking space under the shade of trees.   Actually parking in Cabris is always good.

Cabris is little village and one of those places that just seems to take a baby step back in time.  The homes are cute and well-maintained.  There isn’t a lot of hustle and bustle.

Cabris. Decorations outside the house.

Houses are adorned with cute decorations..

Cabris. Curved street

..and the narrow streets, which are more like passageways, are lined with homes..

Cabris. Little orange trees

Trees with little oranges line the way..

Cabris another shot of purple chairs

…..people can keep stuff outside of their homes and it won’t get stolen..

Cabris. Another cute table and chair GOLD

…grab a seat and watch the world go by….

Cabris. sleeping cat at front door. GOLD

…or be like this cat and take a nap outside

Bonaparte said that it’s pretty much the same now as it was thirty years ago.

Cabris. House

I love the cushioned bench.

Cabris. Church

..an old church that never seems to be open..

Cabris. Auberge

..a restaurant and auberge..

Cabris. Street scene

Another building..

We also took time out to visit an adorable little galerie that I had seen for a couple of years, but it was never opened when we passed by.  I’m so happy that we were in Cabris when the galerie was opened.

Atelier Galerie Lulu.

Cabris. Atelier Galerie Lulu sign

We’ve passed by in previous years, but this was the year we finally entered the studio. Atelier LuLu is named for Lulu the artist’s cat!

Cabris. ATelier galerie lulu. Where is Lulu

…shhhhh. Lulu is sleeping. Or hiding from me.

Seriously. This galerie is the greatest little studio/galerie I’ve been in.  The outside is inviting and there is a little bench with books that you can have. Well—just to have!  The owner/operator/artist in residence is Olivier Buccellato. Olivier is quite the handsome Frenchman AND he is incredibly creative and talented.

Cabris. Olivier the artist at work and play

Olivier Buccellato at work.  I would like to introduce him to Oona!

The atelier is pretty much dedicated to his cat, Lulu!

Cabris. Lulu. Free books.

How can you not love a studio that gives out free books??

I was glad that Olivier allowed me to take photos of the place.   I wish Olivier the best of luck with his galerie because it is such fun, funky and pleasant.  You know how you walk into a place and you get this vibe that it’s just a good, good place to be in? Yeah. That’s how Atelier Galerie Lulu is.  If you ever get the chance to visit Cabris, definitely stop by the Galerie. You just may get to see Lulu too!

Cabris. Lulu interior shot

The inside of Atelier Lulu.  This is the perfect place to curl up with a good book on a rainy day!

Cabris. Atelier Galerie Lulu. Books on the ceiling

Maybe it rains books sometimes. Olivier said that he attaches books that he isn’t crazy about on the ceiling.  That’s a good thing because I trash books I don’t like!Cabris Atelier Galerie d'art Lulu  Print of lulu

I’m really diggin’ Olivier’s work. Lulu!

Cabris. Atelier Lulu. Lulu!

A closer look.

Cabris. More Atelier lulu

More Lulu inspired artwork..

Cabris. Atelier Lulu

So glad we entered into this galerie!

Cabris. Lulu Business card

Don’t forget to visit the galerie when you are in Cabris!

Cabris is always a pleasure to visit. It is always slightly sleepy and there is a certain sense of ease with the people who live and work there. My guess is that St. Rita likes to watch over them.

Cabris. Back to see Saint Rita.

She’s glad that I’m gone for another year. She told that little statue so.

We enjoyed another long dinner on the terrace. Tonight we had one of the great little chickens that the French roast so well. The flavor packs a punch.  A salad of tomato, mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with basil, salt and pepper was perfect for this hot summer evening.

Food. Theoule. Apartment Kir royales on the terrace.

Aperitifs on the terrace before…

Food. Roast chicken on the terrace.

…delicious, cold, roti chicken…and

Food. Tomato, Moss. Basil. Canot get enough

Tomato and Mozzarella.

Nighty night! Tomorrow we have a rather ambitious schedule. Eze. Menton. And Monaco.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I leave you with one of my favorite songs by Michel Polnareff:   La Poupee Qui Fait Non.  It’s very Ye-ye!

 

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Do You Know The Way To St. Tropez?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

 6:15 AM and waking up to clear skies!  Today we are going to St. Tropez. It will be the first of two visits.  We’re going next week to visit Bonaparte’s dad but today we are going to St. Trop to run an important errand—my Rondini purchase.

I got hooked on these sandals a few years back.  The sandals are custom fit and constructed in the little studio in the rear of the shop.  As with great leather, the sandals conform to the shape of your foot with wear and become even more comfortable over the years.  There is literally no “break in” time either.

And, for the price, it is a far better deal than you can get with the mass-produced sandals sold at retail stores in the States.

More on Rondini later.

Theoule. Me. Ready for st. trop. OOTD BLOG GOLD

Appropriately dressed for St. Trop!  Striped shirt, white shorts and Rondini Tropezienne sandals!  No. I don’t look like a local. I’m a poser!

My OOTD for St. Tropez is white shorts from J. Crew, my Tropezienne sandals by Rondini and a striped boat neck tee also from J. Crew.  I’m looking very old-school St. Trop today. Either that or I’m looking like a complete tourist who is trying too hard to fit in!

We decided to drive all the way rather than park the car in Ste. Maxime and take the water bus over.  Because it was still not quite high season, the thought was that traffic from Ste. Maxime to St. Tropez wouldn’t be that bad.  Well. It was that bad.  Tons of campers both on their way to and from St. Tropez.  They must have been preparing for the opening of the popular French film Camping 3 and getting their inner Patrick Chirac on!

Camping David Chirach

Franck Dubosc as Patrick Chirac, the hero of the popular French Camping movies. Camping 3 premiered while we were visiting. I wanted to see the movie so badly but guess who didn’t?  I’ve seen the first two and they were hysterically funny! I did NOT take this photo.

Our timing was perfect though, as we arrived to park the car at 9:15. Arriving by car early in St. Tropez means a good parking space.  We got one!  And we made our way across the lot over to the port for a nice walk before heading over to Rondini.

St. Trop. First Visit. View from the other side of the port

Early morning in St. Tropez. On the side of the port opposite the mega-yachts.

Artists setting up shop at the docks.  Tourists arriving.  Yacht crews off to purchase flowers.  Vendors in delivery trucks trying to maneuver their way in the narrow streets.  Little boutiques getting ready to open and sell their wares to the many visitors.

All part of the mornings in St. Tropez.

Shopping St. Tropez Rondini store hours BLOG GOLD

Hmmm. I see Rondini is open on Sunday now!

We arrived at Rondini just as the shop opened.  I’ve got this exact timing down.  Arriving later means waiting on a line that does, many times, go out the door and onto the street that is more like a passageway!

Shopping St. Tropez Rondini

I’m back at my favorite store in St. Tropez!

There are three models of sandals I want to choose from.  The Serpent, the St. Raphael Braided, and the Bikini were the choices.

serpent

Photo of the Serpent model from Rondini’s website. I love the look but the look didn’t love me.

I tried the Serpent on first. It was a no-go. The sandal just did not look good on my foot.  The St. Raphael braided was next and I loved the way the sandal looked, but the bottom was just too wide.  The Bikini was getting my love because not only did it look great, but felt so comfortable.

Shopping St. Tropez. Rondini. Which do I choose

St. Raphael on the left. The Bikini on the right.  The Bikini won out. And I love them. LOVE them. I think they are my favorite pair so far!  The bottom of the sandals are always powdered before trying on. I think it is so that the natural oils of the skin won’t mark the sandal.

Shopping St. Tropez. Rondinis and wythe hotel tote

My well-worn Tropeziennes awaiting for their new arrival!

Bonaparte liked the St. Raphael.  But because my feet are so narrow, (Why can’t the rest of me be narrow?) it would take another week to have the sandals made to my fit.  Besides, my mind was made up the second I saw the Bikini sandal on my foot!

Shopping St. Tropez. Sandals on display be still my heart.

Perhaps next year I’ll get the metallic Bikinis…

Shopping St. Tropez Rondini a peek into the studio

As I write this I’m looking to the far left and thinking maybe I need a Rondini tote bag instead! See the studio where the magic happens?  I love this store. It smells like leather!

This customer left very happy with her purchase! Until next summer….

Bonaparte also wanted a Provençal style tablecloth for a little table in our kitchen.  We had been searching throughout Cannes and found one in St. Tropez just up the street from Rondini on Rue Clemenceau. The shop is Marinette and it is one of three on the same street.  The fabrics and table linens are not only beautiful, but are actually priced incredibly well.

Shopping. St. Tropez.  Marinette. Fabrics and tablecloths.

Our tablecloth on the counter at Marinette. Waiting to come home with us!

Shopping Tablecloth detail.  Made in France.

The detail is beautiful. And we all know how much I love red!  Bonaparte was happy to purchase “made in France”!

Shopping. Tablecloth

And now, the table in our little nook off the kitchen can remind us of our most recent trip to France! It looks great–doesn’t it?

Travel Shopping Tip: Be careful when it comes to purchases. Many tourist “boutiques” and shopping stands that sell souvenirs also sell goods that may appear “authentic” French. Like Provençal style table linens and other home goods.  However, many are made in China and not in France.  We discovered this in Cannes.  When we asked if a certain tablecloth we liked was made in France, the associate couldn’t give us a direct answer.  Look for the “made in France” tags.  Our authentic tablecloth was purchased at Marinette. It was a bit pricier at 37€ as opposed to 10€ for the one made in China. But the workmanship and the fabric were much better.    St. Tropez has some excellent shopping!

Travel Shopping Tip 2: Don’t forget to bring a heavy fabric tote with you on your travels.  The fabric totes fold up neatly in luggage and will even fold in your purse.  The Wythe Hotel tote that was gifted to me is my favorite. I take it EVERYWHERE and it carries everything from groceries, bottles of wine, and purchases that we make when shopping. Save the straw and structured totes for home. Use the heavy fabric ones for travel.

We took a walk over to La Ponche, the beach and small fishing boat area where Bonaparte’s grandmother lived. It was also the place where Bonaparte lived when he was a very young boy and later on where he spent summers of his childhood.

St. Tropez first visit path to La Ponche from the back

A passage leading to La Ponche…

St. Tropez. First visit. OOTD striped shirt white shorts old tropeziennes. I'm at La Ponche

On the way to the rocky beach. I should have worn my bathing suit!

St. Tropez. first visit. La Ponche from the walkway

A view from the edge of the long dock area. Bonaparte’s grandmother’s house is the tall one.

St. Tropez. first visit La Ponche sandy beach

The little beach remains uncrowded for the most part..

St. Tropez. First visit. Another view of La Ponce

…another view from the opposite side.

La Ponche. 1946. Bonaparte and Isabelle. Quite possibly the cutest pic ever

Bonaparte and his sister Isabelle. La Ponche 1947 or 46. He can’t remember. It was way before my time! I think this may be the cutest photograph ever!

St. Tropez 1946. Bonaparte with stick in the water at laponche

Bonaparte at the rocky water’s edge in La Ponche. La “Ouch”!

St. Trop. More Dany evie pregnant and bonaparte 1945

Bonaparte, his father Dany, and pregnant mother Evie. La Ponche 1945.

St. Trop. Maybe 1930ish. Bonaparte's grandmother Muse

Bonaparte’s grandmother, Muse, hanging out on a boat in St. Tropez…

St. Tropez. Port.  Bonaparte's grandmother

…and looking casual chic by the fishing boats. Check out her shoes!

St. Tropez. Fish at the market

As we head off to see Bonaparte’s grandmother’s old house we pass the fish mongers and their goodies…

St. Tropez. Senequier Nougat

My favorite–Cuttlefish before it becomes Seiche!  They aren’t much to look at, and you can see they aren’t plentiful, but boy do they taste great!

St. Tropez. First visit the street where he lived

On the street where Bonaparte and Muse lived..

St. Tropez first visit. alley

..and we take a small alley back to the port.

Stopping for a Citron Préssé has always been part of our routine too.  I get to order in French while Bonaparte looks on with a critical eye—and when the waiter is impressed, Bonaparte’s eyes become proud!

Senequier. Where the beautiful peeps have breakfast. I'm not one of them.

We had our citron presse across from Senequier. And I’m in so much trouble because I forgot the nougat for my girlfriend Becky. I’m so ashamed.

Activity abound. Police telling drivers they cannot park.  The chic. The trashy. The new monied and the old monied St. Tropez residents walk by with their dogs and packages.  Families and couples with babies in strollers stop to stare in awe at the magnificent yachts.

St. Tropez early morning. By the yachts. Note the casual clothing

Everyone loves to stop and take long looks at the yachts..

St. Trop. Bonaparte's ship has come in

Little dinghies like this have taken the place of fishing boats!

Bonaparte complains that St. Tropez was better when it was just a little fishing village.

St. Tropez 1945. Boats in the little harbor. Before the Yachts came

This is how Bonaparte fondly remembers St. Tropez. Small fishing boats and a port voided of yachts. It’s so peaceful. I think Bonaparte mentioned that his family also discovered St. Trop along with L’Estagnol!  MY family discovered that yelling is more effective than speaking softly.

The scent of oil from the boats mixed with the sea makes a fine cocktail for the senses.  The hum of motorboats in the water and the “putt-putt” sound of boats coming into port to dock make me smile because they are the sounds of summertime in St. Trop!

St. Tropez. First visit. Hermes in the distance.

We pass Hermes as we make our way back to the car.

St. Trop. Ad for cinema musee that we never got to see

We also pass this poster for the new Musee de la Gendarmerie et du Cinema. A museum celebrating the famous and funny Gendarme films that were shot in and around St. Tropez along with other films that were shot in the area. I wanted to go but we never had time–even on our second visit to see Dany.  Next year. Next year! I want this poster.

The air is hot and it isn’t the middle of day yet.   At 11:30 AM we head back to the car.  Our time here is done until next week.

We took a lazy ride back along the Bord de Mer, the seaside road, and decided to drive into Antibes.  Just because.

When we arrived in Antibes, we parked the car and took a nice walk along the ramparts.

Antibes. Along the ramparts

An afternoon walk along the ramparts in Antibes is always a good choice..

Antibes Zoomed harbor

Antibes offers tons of photo ops and a great bay!

ANtibes bay from the ramparts GOLD

The bay from the ramparts. Check out the blue water. 

Antibes yacht

We can’t escape the yachts.  How can we get an invite aboard?

Antibes boats on bay

Another view from the ramparts. Clear and calm water greet us.

Antibes. more from the ramparts

A closer view. Antibes is one of my favorite places to do nothing but enjoy the scenery.

Antibes. One of my favorite homes

My favorite house in Antibes. Maybe next year I’ll ring the doorbell to see if anyone is home.

Antibes. This is either a stone house or the side of the Picasso Musee

Another beautiful home

Antibes. Old school lavoire

An old-school “lavior” behind the ramparts.

Antibes. Cute little house off the ramparts

A cute hidden home behind the ramparts on a quiet street.

ANtibes. Stone Home GOLD

Another stone home. I love these houses so much.

Antibes. Church

The church in town. We couldn’t go in because there was a funeral mass going on.

Antibes sculpture

And a sculpture in front of the Musee Picasso. We didn’t visit the Musee this time. We’ve gone in the past though. It’s a good place to visit, but I don’t think it is worth it to revisit every year. The building has an interesting history!

Well, that’s it for today. Tomorrow will bring another adventure. For now. I just want to relax on the terrace, have a nice dinner and sleep soundly!

Sorry about all the pics and the lack of writing. I didn’t write in my journal as much as I should have!

Speaking of Bonaparte’s family. Here’s his nephew Jean on guitar with another rendition of my favorite Michel Delpech song “Pour un Flirt”! Enjoy XOXOXOXO!!!

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Hidden France–L’Estagnol. The Greatest Little Beach On Earth.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The alarm was set for 6:15 this morning and went off good and loud!  I can’t waste time in bed. Today we are returning to the greatest beach in France! No. The greatest beach on earth—L’Estagnol!

Lestagnol. The return and the sign  BLOG GOLD

The best beach ever! 

The first time Bonaparte took me to this gem of fine sand and clear sea was when his mom had a home in Ensuès la Redonne—a little village outside of Marseille.   L’Estagnol is also a beach where Bonaparte spent a great amount of time during the summers of his youth when his family visited Cabasson. In fact, Bonaparte reminds me quite often that his family discovered L’Estagnol (just like Christopher Columbus discovered America)!

Bonaparte and isabelle at lestagnol

Columbus had three ships when HE went to discover America.  Bonaparte’s family had a Citroen when they discovered L’Estagnol!

Bonaparte with jean etc at cabbbbbb

Bonaparte’s stepfather, Jean Casadesus, explaining to the kids how they will go on to discover the greatest beach! I think Bonaparte is more interested in the food!

It is about an hour-and-a-half’s drive from the apartment in Théoule. And when leaving early in the morning, you beat the traffic and can enjoy the sights along the way.

Any, I did wake up a bit nauseous due to all the wine I’ve been drinking! Vacation means drinking during the weekdays. I just cannot handle that anymore.  I’ll stick to cidre!  A glass of Alka-Seltzer helped settle my stomach—thanks to Dr. Bonaparte, and we hit the road!

Actually another chocolat chaud at Mc Do was the real cure!

And listening to Nostalgie radio in the car, I discovered a new favorite song:  “Bad Boys” by two of my favorite singers—Laurent Voulzy and Alain Souchon.  I tell you, I’m still singing it in my head!

Once we exited the highway and started driving on the smaller roads, our route was full of charm and spectacular views.

Vineyards and Olive trees lined the way.

L'estagnol. Leoube vineyards.

The views are so pretty….

We arrived at L’Estagnol around 9 AM.   There is a 9€ charge for parking, making the beach a bit more private.  And the grounds leading to the beach are shaded by the surrounding trees, making it a bit cooler and more “parked car” friendly.

There is a little area where children can take donkey and horse rides.

L'estagnol. Ride with the asses. I would have done it for free.

If you have children with you and want a break from the beach–have a ride on an ass. I don’t mean MINE silly!

L'estagnol. The asses are not as big as mine

Yet another form of life that ignores me and keeps on eating!

L'estagnol. Little Goat that liked me.

This guy took a look at my Scholl’s sandals and ran to me. Not to greet me but to munch on my footwear. Good thing I wasn’t wearing my Rondini’s–or I would have had him for dinner–and not as a guest!

And L’Estagnol holds a special place in my memory bank because it was the first time I swam without my top on!  I’ll have to do that again when I lose weight!

The trees in the back end of the sandy shore remind me of the beaches I’ve been to in Australia—but without the waves!

L'estagnol. Blog gold for the pic.

The trees give shade when you’ve had enough of the sun!

There are no rocks on this beach either!  This is an important little fact. Many of the beaches, east of Nice, along the Côte d’Azur are quite rocky and if you aren’t a fan of stepping into water with a bed of small and not-so-small rocks, L’Estagnol is your kind of beach!

L'estagnol. Another soothing pic.

Look how calm the water is!

The beach really is the true definition of pristine. The water is so crystal clear that the fish swimming by are in full and bright sight!

L'estagnol. My feet in the crystal clear water

The water is so clear. I’m sorry I forgot to take a pic of the little fish!

The “waves” are so tiny. Like “leetle small boned French pipoule”. In fact, the water’s only motion is the little waves created by the gentle rocking of boats in the nearby distance!

L'estagnol Surfs up! Get Brice du Nice.

The little waves are caused by the gentle rocking of boats..unless the Mistral decides to pay a visit! 

Brice de nice

Brice de Nice. The only man who has ever attempted surfing in these calm teeny-waved waters!  (BTW, if you are looking for a hilarious French film, might I suggest Brice de Nice written by and starring Jean Dujardin!

Bonapartes sister agynes at L'Esterel

1957. L’Estagnol. Bonaparte’s sister Agnes. Look how far out she is. What a pleasure!

L'estagnol. Fun in the water

2016. L’Estagnol. Look how far out these bathers are and the water is just barely to their knees!

You can walk out into the water forever, still see the bottom of the sea’s floor and still not go over your head—every woman’s hair dream!

And this early in the morning we finally heard the chant of cicadas.  I do believe their chant was a welcome song and they were extremely happy to see us return!

L'Estagnol. Nice view

A nice view from the rocky trails that Bonaparte snapped. Hey. I’m not walking over there–my clumsiness is too strong a force!

Bonaparte family photos. L'Estangol 1957L’Estagnol. Tree in the water. 1954 (photo by Bonaparte’s family)

L'Estagnol. Trees almost to the spot where bonapartes parents took pics.

L’Estagnol. June 2016. An almost identical pic taken by Bonaparte!

The sound of a helicopter flying low for a nearby landing joins in the with the cicadas.  Bonaparte tells me that Francois Hollande’s “summer” home is just over the group of trees to our left and the helicopter is most likely landing there.  Is Hollande on strike too?

L'Estagnol. Leoube Boutique

Or perhaps Hollande is trying to escape the headlines in the papers!

People start to arrive.  Bonaparte tells me that mostly locals are here. He can tell by their accents.  Just like in the States, the Southern accent is different from other areas of France.  German and British accents also dot the coast.  I don’t hear any other American voices.

L'estagnol. Getting ready to paddle

More people arrive and enjoy the water. He may not be a surfer like Brice, but this guy was paddling all day!

The scent of flowers can be caught during one of the frequent breezes and it is sweet and pleasant and smells beautiful when it is mixed with the scent of salt water.

The water is freezing but so refreshing. Bonaparte won’t join me because he won’t swim in a freezing sea.

As I stand in the water I see young children who are fascinated by two large fish swimming by.  I’m intrigued by the school of minnows circling my feet.  To my right is an older man walking in the water for his morning exercise. THIS is my kind of gym! He is also reading the morning paper as he walks. Multitasking at its best.

L'Estagnol. Swimming with the boats

Boats floating nearby, children enjoying the refreshing water.  It’s a great place!

To my rear is a young mother running after her naked toddler. She is trying to slather sunscreen on him and he is having nothing of it. He just wants to frolic in the soft sand. It brings back memories of when my own kids were young!

Within an hour the little beach is full of life.  Guys playing soccer are out of harms and bathers’ way.

People with their floating devices relax atop the water because they know large waves and a strong current will not bring them drifting out to sea.

L'estagnol. Best baby on the beach.A dad with his son enjoying the fun!

If we lived in a perfect world, all beaches would be like L’Estagnol!

Bonaparte walked up to a menu standing on a wooden cabinet by the steps leading down to the beach. He saw my favorite seafood “seiche” on the menu. (Cuddlefish).  He surprised me by making reservations for lunch.

L'estagnol. Restaurant Chez Richard logo sign

Our lunch was enjoyed here!

What more could I ask for on this perfect day?

L'Estagnol. Restaurant Chez Richard snack area

Barefoot and on our way to a fun and delicious lunch!

Food. Chez Richard Seiche la planca 1

My Seiche La Plancha. Grilled Seiche. I sucked every bit of this like a vacuum cleaner! The seiche was perfectly grilled. The gourgette and eggplant were the best I’ve ever had. Hell, I even wolfed down the salad! 

Food. Chez Richard Salade Nicoise

Bonaparte enjoyed his Salade Nicoice!

Later on we made our way up the steps and into the restaurant, Chez Richard.  The restaurant, rustic and homey, was a true beachy place for a delicious lunch of my beloved seiche.  Bonaparte enjoyed a Salade Niçoise.  My first reaction to my meal was the huge portion. Like a glutton, I ate the entire thing.  *burp* And I enjoyed every. last. morsel!

And, eating lunch outdoors in my bathing suit was everything I dreamed of. The vibe is so casual that you don’t have to cover up if you don’t want to.  Diners in swimsuits. Diners in cover ups. Diners dressed in ensembles. It’s all good!

After lunch, it’s back down to the beach for a bit of a lazy half sleep.   How come the sound of the sea’s water hitting the shore’s edge is so relaxing, calming, and mesmerizing, but the sound of water dripping from a faucet is annoying and causes anxiety? I’m such a deep thinker.

L'estagnol. Necessities. Hat. Scholls. Tote, towel and longchamp. BLOG GOLD

Still life with my beach accessories!  A ten-year old Vera Bradley beach towel that we take along to France every year. My raggy old Longchamp bag.  Scholl’s sandals. My trusty Wythe Hotel tote and my three-buck sun hat from Walmart! I’m Cote d’Azur chic–in a beach bum way!

Back home to another dinner on the terrace, and while watching the news we find out that plastic bags will be banned in France starting July 1st.  The country is going back to a paper-bag only policy.  I hope we do that in the States.

Bonne Nuit!

BTW. Here’s Laurent Voulzy and Alain Souchon with my new favorite song: “Bad Boys”. (Thank you YaDuMondeBalcon for a great video!)

 

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