Summer Has Arrived in France!

Monday, June 20, 2016.

Today is the first day of summer. I should be jumping for joy because the weather is gloriously beautiful. But after today, the days become shorter. And shorter.

Am I the only one out there who can turn summer’s welcome into misery??? Once again, Bonaparte is beaming with pride that I can manipulate what is quite possibly the happiest day of the year into the most depressing.  He told me so. His words: “Ou ahr zee étoile of zee miserable”.  (Translation. “You are the star of the miserable”!) He also said I’m now almost 100 percent French. In theory.

Personally, I see myself more as “Étoile de la mer” The star of the sea!

The site uses images to explain objects.

Come to think of it, I AM pretty much L’Etoile de mer. Our bodies are almost the same. She even wears bras!

I’m putting my bathing suit on and hoping that my gut isn’t sticking out too much! Oh wait. It is.  I act so French as I tilt my head to the side and give a huge shrug to my reflection. At 61 years old, does it really matter if my gut sticks out or not? At least if a shark gets to me, he will have a nice chunk of meaty humanness!

Theoule. Me Bikini shot. BLOG GOLD

What would Virginia, the girl who sells bathing suits at the pool, think of my cheapo bikini.  The top was eight bucks from Target and the bottom was five bucks from Walmart. I’m a regular fashion plate!

Sorry to sound boring, but we’re going back to the pool. Despite my pleas of going to the beach, Bonaparte has explained to me that Monday is not a good beach day here on the Riviera because all the people who worked during the weekend are off on Monday and therefore the beaches will be crowded.

L'Estagnol. Morning sun worshipers

NOTE:  This is a picture of L’estagnol beach that I snapped the following MONDAY.  You call this a crowd?  Just sayin’! ( I will be posting about this spectacular beach–stay tuned!)

It’s weird because Bonaparte’s accent is getting heavier and he’s starting to speak to me in French—as though I am fluent!!  I’m fluent in ordering food and my shoe size and cursing in the French language.  It’s cool though.  I happen to like the way he is more relaxed and animated when we’re in France. He is definitely happier when he’s speaking in his native tongue!

Upon arriving at the pool we noticed there were little guests who must have smuggled themselves in for an early morning dip in the water.

Theoule. Pool. Entitled ducks.

Three little quackers to greet us!

Three little ducks!  I hope they don’t leave any bodily functions behind.  Better yet, they better hope the chef from the Club’s restaurant doesn’t see them. Duck confit could very well end up on the menu tonight!

Theoule. Pool. Ducks.

And they seemed to be making themselves quite at home in this pool!

I need to make sure those sitting ducks leave this pool. After all, we Americans invaded Normandy and helped to save the French from the Nazis.

Theoule. Ducks. Now there drinking the water

I was afraid that the middle one would drink all the pool water!

I invaded the pool and saved the visitors from being attacked  by this dangerous army of ducks! They fled after I came at them with my camera!  I’m not that kind of hunter little duckies!

It doesn’t take much time until more people show up. Families arrived last night. It’s nice to see the pool full of people rather than full of wild life!

Over by the diving board is a young girl who is having a panic attack because she won’t jump in the water.  Her brother tries to encourage her.  Ten minutes of this young girl standing on the diving board, twelve feet above the water and screaming in her adorable British accent  that she can’t jump is starting to get on my last nerve. Where is this one’s parents?  Are they deaf? Did they take this opportunity to start guzzling wine by the bottle?

Theoule. Pool. More view

The diving board where Tarzan’s daughter was attempting to jump is to the far left. The plank is hidden by the trees. Just imaging the screaming!

My reading is being greatly disturbed.  I walk over to the pool and get into the water (Without getting my hair wet. Hey. I’m also putting my fake tan in danger!) I paddle over to the boy and tell him to tell his sister that he will “spot” her.

Out of fear that I’m some sort of crazed woman, the boy complies and tells l’il sis that he will spot her.

She continues screaming that she can’t jump. Why can’t this child Brexit the diving board?

I tell her brother to tell his sister that the water in the pool is salt water and there is so much salt that she will float back to the top as soon as she jumps. (It’s true. The water is heavily salted. So much so that even a swimmer as heavy as I am will float to the top).

With growing fear, he conveys this message to his sister.

She jumps. But I think she jumped from the fear of looking at the expression on my face!

And she keeps jumping the rest of the day. And she ends up having a blast!

My good deeds for the day are finished. I’m a regular saint. First I save the swimmers from the vicious wild ducks and then I save this girl from having to be taken to the doctor for anti-anxiety medication. I also save the entire population of sunbathers from having to listen to the high-pitched screams of this little girl.

Why couldn’t she be French for crying out loud? Had she been a little French girl, she would have just quietly shrugged,  given up and gone back to her chaise and read Camus, Proust or Pagnol.


This is why French children are so well read.  Have you ever read Pagnol?  The man had a gift for telling a story!

Skinny lady is back.  I tried to take a photo of her but she was so thin that her body didn’t photograph. Her tanned skin is the color of my brown Longchamp bag.  She is as skinny as a q-tip. She walks slow laps around the pool and then stops to take a cigarette break. There is no rule about not smoking at the pool. It’s France!

She’s done this every year since we’ve been coming here.  Her bobbed black hair is the heaviest part of her body. And in some strange and bizarre way, seeing her brings familiarity and a sense of comfort to me. I like seeing her.

And I can bet she refers to me as “Zee wolee-polee pale American beech“.  I wonder if she likes seeing me as much as I do her?

Across the pool is the woman I’m calling “Helen Mirren” because she’s about my age and looks great in a bikini. I’m so intimidated! I suck my gut in and begin to read my next book, “The Little Paris Bookshop”.   After reading the first chapter, I’m hoping this snoozefest of faux literature gets better. I have a strong suspicion that it won’t.

Theoule. Pool. Older woman rocking the bikini.

Helen Mirren would show up in great bikinis every day. She even bought one from Virginia the bathing suit girl!  Who says older women cannot rock bikinis??

Après pool we take a drive into Grasse.  It’s my annual trip to reload on my favorite summer scent of all time. “Fleur d’Oranger”. I got hooked on this scent the first time I traveled to the South of France about 8 years ago. Even though I still have half a refill at home, it’s good to have a backup.

Theoule. Apartment. Flowers outside

Random flower pic.  This was taken outside our apartment. So it is kind of on the way to Grasse–right?

The drive to Grasse is pleasant and the beautiful countryside never gets boring.

We arrive at Fragonard and make our way down to the boutique.


Did you know that Fragonard parfumerie is named after the great artist Jean-Honore Fragonard?   Click to see his paintings but scroll down till you find them.

Grasse Fragonard exterior GOLD

My 2016 version of the front of Fragonard. I take the same picture every year!

Grasse Fragonard vats

Copper vats at the parfumerie….

Grasse Fragonard. On the way to the boutique

….Bottles of essential oils…

Grasse Fragonard. Glad to see someone isn't on strike!  GOLD

and a Frenchman who isn’t on strike! What’s not to love about this place?

We are greeted by Eva. She’s so cute and bubbly. Are you reading this anyone who thinks the French are rude? Because they aren’t.  I make Eva laugh when she suggests a different scent and I tell her it gives me a headache—and I give enough people headaches as it is without having one of my own.

Grasse Fragonard Evie my new bestie and great sport for holding this box up for me

My Fragonard BFF, Eva. Such a Jolie Blonde!  We had lots of laughs together!

She then has me try out the new “Fleur d’Oranger Intense”. The scent is captivating. Seriously. It is. It’s so …intense. But, Fragonard doesn’t sell refills of this so I pass. I know I will regret not making the purchase later on.

Fleur d oranger intense

Now that I’m home, I’m regretting not purchasing this.  Had I been an heiress, I would be able to hop on my private jet and return to Grasse. Oh well….

We engage in some serious Franglish and before I know it, a nice big box containing my regular Fleur d’Oranger is in my hands!

Grasse Fragonard Louis IX

I mistakenly cut the bottom of this photo off. But I think this is Louis Quatorze.  Whoever it is, he must have smelled nice!

Travel Tip:  Fragonard (as well as other perfumeries in the area) gives tours of their facility in Grasse.  The tour is quick—about 20 minutes. But it’s fun and interesting. There is no charge for the tour. 

If you want to shop at the boutique and forego the tour, you can.  I’ve made a shop stop here every year. The soaps and creams make great gifts for friends and family!

On the way back home (I love referring to the apartment as “home”); we missed the same turn we miss every single year!  We took the long way home and marveled at the beauty of the way the yellow and ochre buildings blends in so well with the bright blue sky.

Our daily stop at the market brought to fruition our only argument during our stay.   I saw veal kidneys at the boucherie. I wanted them.  Bonaparte wanted steak.  He won.  To sooth my bruised spirit, I headed over to the snack aisles and picked out a couple of items that I knew would feed into my self-pity!

Geant. French packaging of snacks. I love it.

I could have wiped the entire supply of this out.  I had an “itch” for Pitch!

Geant Hypermarche Peanut butter in a can!

Peanut butter in a can?? This is epic greatness. I could open the can and just stick those little brioche-covered chocolate bars into this all day.  That boy’s face is a bit scary though!

Dinner on this longest day of the year was fun.  Bonaparte had his mega binoculars at the ready so he could zoom in on the behemoth cruise ships on the horizon.

Lots of activity on the Mediterranean tonight.  An old-school fishing boat made me happy.  We saw a snorkeler—thanks to the binoculars.  A few yachts and smaller boats dotted the sea.

The swallows are flying high. Bonaparte said that’s very good for the weather. It means it’ll be dry and no rain.

Theoule. The OTHER bubble house. Pierre Cardins.

Bonaparte may have used the binoculars to look at the boats, but I’m a voyeur.  This is the old Pierre Cardin house just up the street–or rather “mountain” from our apartment.  It’s the coolest!

As the sun begins to set, the sounds of the evening can be heard in the distance. The frogs are singing in their low cadence.  The sea is hitting the rocks at a faster pace. It must be due to the many boats in the water. The motors on the small boats are humming and it all sounds so lovely and soothing.

Another day has passed. But it was the longest day of the year.

As I step from the terrace into our bedroom, I turn around to see that the moon has left a path of light on the sea as if to invite me to step out and take a walk over the Mediterranean.

Theoule. Apartment moonlight path on the water GOLD

Moonglow on the Mediterranean. Isn’t it pretty?

That would make a nice dream. Wouldn’t it?

Dreams make me think of this song by Mama Cass. Her voice was also very soothing.

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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40 Responses to Summer Has Arrived in France!

  1. At 61, you look absolutely great.

  2. hipchick66 says:

    I am enjoying these so much, I don’t want them to stop! I am vacationing through your stories and photos! And you look fabulous in a bikini 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Lori! I’m so happy you are enjoying. They won’t be stopping for a while. I’m working on the next post right now. LOL–you likey my cheap-o Target/Walmart special?? XOXOXOXO!!!

  3. Judy says:

    Wow – a very hot mama! You look great – France obviously agrees with you! And if I close my eyes I am smelling the same smells and listening to the sea – bliss.
    Mama Cass – thanks for that, such a lovely song.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Judy! Thanks! France does agree with me and I with France. Oh..and the jasmine in front of the apartment. When we leave the apartment that floral scent knocks you out in the best of ways!! You’re welcome for the Mama Cass song.She had one of the most beautiful and clear voices of all time! XOXOXOXO!!!

  4. tvonzalez says:

    Love Mama Cass! Too bad she exited this earth so early in life.
    Hey, I am living vicariously through you – I would love to be in France.
    And you look much better than the other gal you showed in a bathing suit aka Helen Mirren. She is wearing her mammary glands around mid-waist – hitch those babies up to where they should be!

    • Catherine says:

      HI TV. It is too bad that Cass left us early. But–she left behind memories of a beautiful voice. Yeah. I would like to be back in France my dear!! Oh thank you for the compliment but Helen looked much better when she stood up straight. Actually it was just a pleasure to see women of all ages and up to well in their 80’s rocking bikinis. That doesn’t happen here. When women reach a certain age in the States it is either tankini time or those skirted one pieces…Women got to strut their stuff!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  5. Bernadette says:

    You got to see the rose moon over the Mediterranean. I am so green with envy that I can now try out for the lead in Wicked.

    • Catherine says:

      OMG. Bernadette. I just spit my water out from laughing at that remark! I’m gonna use that one girlfriend! Yeah. The moon rising over the Med is quite the beautiful sight to see. The stinking phone camera did the scene no justice. And during the full moon it really is special. Glad you like it! XOXOXOXO!!!

  6. Bridget says:

    I am new to your blog and really enjoying it. This travel journal is just wonderful and making me feel like I am traveling vicariously, rather than sweating to death in Philadelphia!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Bridget. Thanks so much! I also have some posts from last summer too–if you would like you can go to the archives from last July. Travel is what I enjoy and I’ll be posting more about the trip! Ugh. Don’t remind me of the sweltering heat around here. I’m in the Philly burbs. I can’t leave my air conditioning!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  7. Carolyn says:

    Another great day on the Côte d’Azur! It is obvious that you are in your element there. Ebullient, playful, sassy, happy – all show through. And, you DO rock that bikini!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Carolyn! Oh yes. EVERY day is a great day on the Cote d’Azur! I definitely am in my element when I’m there–especially when I’m with people who have no idea what I’m talking about. Thank you so very much for your compliments! XOXOXO!!!

  8. theturtle says:

    Catherine you look absolutely wonderful in a bikini 🙂 and yes much better than your “helen mirren lady” 😉
    Your little girl on the jump board brought back to mind my first jump from a 32feet high board into Madeira’s ocean when I was about 10 years old ; except I was no screamer (I just stood there paralyzed by fear , the line growing behind me , and I couldn’t move forth or back 😉 ) – but I jumped finally and it was awesome 🙂
    Loving your pictures and descriptions , if I close my eyes I can even smell the sea and the pine trees and hear the sea lapping softly against the rocks 🙂
    Turtle Hugs

    • Catherine says:

      YaYa Turtle. Trust me, I was that girl who would stand paralyzed on the diving board as well! I remember the first time I dived off a board and how great it felt. If my hair wasn’t thinning so much I would have gone on the diving board myself and showed that little girl how its done! I’m truly glad you are enjoying the posts! XOXOXOXO!!!

  9. Jean says:

    Enjoying your travel log! Two things in this post stick out to me. One, you look much better in your suit than “Helen Mirren”. Better than, do you hear me???

    And two, I didn’t remember that Mama Cass was only about 13 back in the day. Haha.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Jean! Thanks so much for your compliments! There’s more to my travels, but today, I have to enter through the gates of retail hell and won’t be back till after 11PM tonight. Tomorrow will bring more fun! XOXOXOXO!!!

  10. calensariel says:

    I only got two chapters into that book before I put t back on my TBR shelf for later… Good job with the kid, btw.

    • Catherine says:

      Lady Calen–I never read the book. In fact…I will write in a future post about what I did with it. It was, hands down, the worst book I’ve ever TRIED to read. WTF?? I’ve been checking my body since I read the part……..This book is NOT for those who are inclined to hypochondria. The premise of the story was great but the way it was executed was garbage! LOL–Oh..I have another incident involving rude teenaged girls that’s coming up!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  11. Margaret says:

    Love your trip posts, and how you show the non-touristy experiences too. Everything looks so beautiful there, thanks for sharing all the details and your unique perspective – always interesting!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Margaret. Wow! You “get” it! I want so badly to focus on non-touristy experiences too. I seriously feel that travel isn’t all about the sights, but it is about blending in and learning about different life ways of others. Thank you so much! XOXOXOXO!!!

  12. julietC says:

    You look amazing in the swimsuit, you have a gorgeous wee waist. If I were the other ladies I’d probably be hoping you would talk to me or at least say Hi (I am sure they think you are fabulous). How are you getting on with the Little Paris Bookshop – read that and thought it was a great idea for a book (bookshop, boat, books as healing, mosey through France.. etc etc but I hated it by the end as I thought it descended into a mush-fest of chick-lit, but that’s just me. I do however highly recommend a book called Perfume by Patrick Susskind – 18th century France which I loved if you haven’t read it). I would love to visit Grasse (thats why I thought of the Susskind book and you) and how cute are their tops? very floral – but not twee, but then I love flowers especially your shot of the bouganvillea. I love less children who scream – we have some screamers near us, it seems to be the thing that their mums can’t even register the ear-curdling screeches which are just horrendous – not pleasant

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Juliet. I swear I could not get through Little Paris Bookshop. It was awful and it was poorly written (as if I should be commenting on THAT). I am shocked at how many people raved about that book. I’m definitely going to look for the book Perfume. I now have it on my list . Oh, don’t even get me started on those adorable Fragonard tunics. I love them. Love them! XOXOXOXO!!!

      • JulietC says:

        I am so relieved I am not the only one who loathed that book! I take that as a true compliment that we are kindred spirits in book-dom! Hope you are having a good day at work hon – think of it as totting up more money for the next trip back to your natural home


      • Catherine says:

        Juliet. It’s amazing–isn’t it?? I cannot understand how that book became an international “best seller” WTF???? None of the characters were endearing. Then the disease part damn near ruined my vacation because of my hypochondria. Add to that it was boring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are not many books that I don’t finish–but that book went down in my bad book history!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!

  13. MELewis says:

    Great job on Brexiting that annoying little Brit from the diving board, bravo! You deserve multiple bags of Pitch (of which my kids ate thousands as the preferred after school snack…).

    • Catherine says:’s so weird. Despite the fact that all my British friends are so polite and nice, I don’t know what it is with some of the young British girls this year! I had another “incident” with two teenaged girls that’ll be posted soon. (I’m doing the posts in chron order). My next post will be up tomorrow morning. I have to rush into retail hell in a while and I’m closing. Ugh. Well, at least it’s air conditioned! XOXOXOXO!

      • MELewis says:

        Oddly enough, it seems that some of the nicest, politest people have the most horribly behaved children! Brit brats are some of the worst I’ve seen on holiday in Europe (with apologies to all my Brit friends!). Looking forward to the next hilarious installment.

      • Catherine says:

        Hi Mel. Right??? I’m shocked that some of the most polite adults have very naughty children. It isn’t limited to Brits though. I’ve seen horrific behavior from American kids and Italian kids too. Sometimes I think that parents are on vacation from parenting as well when they are away!! If my children were young today and misbehaving, I would poke their little rear ends with a selfie stick to keep ’em in line! XOXOXOXO!!!!

  14. Jackie says:

    Ah, Catherine – have so missed ‘seeing’ you for a bit! Wonderful post, and by the way, I personally think you look better than ‘Helen Mirren.’ Good to have you back.

  15. painterwrite says:

    I had so much to say about this post, but the can of peanut butter wiped all my comments away. I thought Europe had some weird abhorrence to peanut butter. Oh wait, if it comes in a can, maybe that’s why the Europeans hate peanut butter. Okay, one other comment, you rock that bikini!

  16. I just knew you would regret not buying the other bottle. You’ll always have next year, though. I loved our little tour at Fragonard when we visited Frank’s sister in the Var. The area is so beautiful.
    When ‘home’ Frank’s English disappears almost completely…

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Maribeth. Oh. I felt the pangs of regret yesterday. A man was passing through my department at Retail Hell and asked me what scent I was wearing because I smelled lovely. He wanted to know if we sold it at the store so he could purchase some for his wife. I told him it was Fleur d’Oranger by Fragonard and I always pick some up when I’m in France–then I told him he could go on their e-store to purchase. Had I worn the intense he would have fallen over me. LOL.
      I LOVED the tour. Some people think it’s a bit cheesy and touristy but–um. we’re all tourists if we are taking a tour. Right!!??? XOXOXOXO!!!

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