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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
My 2016 version of the front of Fragonard. I take the same picture every year!
Copper vats at the parfumerie….
….Bottles of essential oils…
…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.
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.
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!
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!
I could have wiped the entire supply of this out. I had an “itch” for Pitch!
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.
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.
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.