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!
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)!
Columbus had three ships when HE went to discover America. Bonaparte’s family had a Citroen when they discovered L’Estagnol!
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.
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.
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!
Yet another form of life that ignores me and keeps on eating!
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!
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!
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!
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!
The little waves are caused by the gentle rocking of boats..unless the Mistral decides to pay a visit!
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!
1957. L’Estagnol. Bonaparte’s sister Agnes. Look how far out she is. What a pleasure!
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!
A nice view from the rocky trails that Bonaparte snapped. Hey. I’m not walking over there–my clumsiness is too strong a force!
L’Estagnol. Tree in the water. 1954 (photo by Bonaparte’s family)
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our lunch was enjoyed here!
What more could I ask for on this perfect day?
Barefoot and on our way to a fun and delicious lunch!
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!
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.
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.
BTW. Here’s Laurent Voulzy and Alain Souchon with my new favorite song: “Bad Boys”. (Thank you YaDuMondeBalcon for a great video!)