We are back after a little over two glorious weeks on the French Riviera!
Bonjour! Bonjour to the Cote d’Azur!
The same apartment we’ve been renting for over a decade. The same familiarity. Some things change while others remain the same.
Always a thrill to step through the threshold of the apartment..
Everything remains the same! Even the washing machine was still in place–I was so happy!
And, I must say that the bookshelf became fuller this year as I added four books!
We changed up our trip this year by concentrating on “relaxation” of which I will get to later in the post but, like Julie Andrews as Maria in The Sound of Music….” Let’s start at the very beginning” ….
Maria Von Trapp I’m not. But we’ll start at the beginning anyway..
This was the year I vowed to bring only a carryon. And once again, it never came to fruition. As usual, I packed way too many clothes-which was a good idea in theory but in real life-I lived in bathing suits and one or two dresses. That’s it.
See those shorts and the tee shirt in my carryon? I never wore them.
Yet–it was bursting at the seams…
This cute number from Lilly Pulitzer was the dress I wore almost every day. It has a built-in bra so I didn’t even need half the underwear I packed. If you recall, I also lived in this dress last year!
Despite what they (the fashion non-experts who think they are experts) say, you don’t need a lot of clothes when you head to the Bord de Mer in France. You’ll either be at poolside, or the beach then off to run errands—this kind of activity really doesn’t warrant an entire ensemble of fashion but I’ll cover that in a later post (I don’t know yet, as to how many posts I’ll be writing about our visit).
So anyway, we were all packed up. Since I do like to travel looking nice and not like a piggy slob, for this trip I wore a cute pair of linen blend shorts, a white cropped tee, a suede belt, metallic Repetto ballet flats and a linen blazer. I would have traveled without said blazer but the day we left for Nice, we experienced a deluge. Buckets of rain from the time we left the house until we arrived at the airport. It wasn’t until we were ready to board the plane that the rain stopped.
The travel ensemble. These linen-blend shorts from Old Navy were perfect! Lightweight and airy they went well with my very old J. Crew linen blazer. Ballet flats for comfort and I cannot travel in footwear that exposes feet. It’s gross.
Fake tan. Fake Nails. Fake Hair. At least I’m an honest phoney!
The Airport: We drove to Newark airport in the monsoon. Traffic, surprisingly, wasn’t bad at all—most likely because the only people on the road were storm chasers and us. My husband had the foresight (wait till our return home to hear about this debacle) to pre-pay for the economy parking—which really wasn’t purchased at an economy price. It cost close to $400 to park the car for the duration of our trip.
I dunno what year THIS sign was from but we paid more than $18 a day!
We arrived at the parking lot somewhat early so we decided to wait until the rain subsided to bust a move with our luggage and head to the little bus stop where a bus would take us to our terminal.
The rain never stopped.
Instead, we made a mad dash with our big and little luggage—a bit damp physically but our spirits were not.
We were not singing nor dancing in the rain. It was more like cursing it. But as is usual for me, the weather always sucks when I travel!
We arrived at the terminal. I was so optimistically naïve because with our TSA pre-check (we spent a lot of money on that), I figured we would be done with the security in a flash. We were not. Please allow me to state something—as much as I abhor Philadelphia International Airport, they have TSA down to a science, if you have the TSA pre, you are done with TSA in a matter of minutes. Same at JFK and Cincinnati—the airports I travel from the most. And, the TSA staff at those airports are amiable.
Before I continue. I’ll put it out there that we’re lucky enough to have three airports close by with regularly-scheduled International flights. JFK, Philadelphia, and Newark. We’re done with flying to France from Philly because the price is double that of the price at JFK and Newark. Done.
United has better prices than American. American Airlines is practicing the art of thievery when it comes to the prices at Philadelphia.
In addition, ever since COVID happened, the large economy parking lot at Philly has been closed—maybe as of the time you read this blog post, it’s opened but back in April—it was still closed.
Back to TSA. The line for Pre-check at Newark was ridiculous. Thankfully, I am an anxiety-ridden neurotic, and we arrived at the airport in plenty of time—but the time spent on TSA was time wasted—especially since the TSA workers seemed to be quite pissed off that they had a paying job.
This is basically what the TSA Pre-check looked like at Newark. What a disgrace!
I went through but a certain Frenchman was detained. Perhaps the TSA staff was jealous because he looked angrier than they did. Or perhaps it was because he looks so…..so..criminal! I’m thinking TSA thought he could have been a croissant thief! After what seemed like hours, they let him go. And when he asked me if I had his wallet, I answered “No” …so back to TSA my Frenchman went, mumbling naughty words in his native tongue. After about another hour, he had his wallet in hand and we went off to the gate to wait.
TSA couldn’t wait to get their hands and rods on my Frenchman’s body. They almost got his wallet too!
We had one-time passes for United Airlines club. And when we arrived at the lounge, we were met with a banner stating the lounge was not in service. So, I sauntered off and bought a giant-sized bag of peanut M & M’s and an equally sized bag of Raisinettes. My thinking was the Raisinettes were my fruit helping of the day and the M & M’s, as they were nuts could be considered a healthy choice. No weight loss activity for the trip—and I just about shoved anything in my mouth!
Second year in a row. United shouldn’t give passengers passes that they can’t deliver on.
Why wasn’t there an option for me to click “NOT OK”
Now, here’s the thing—it was great that the terminal at Newark had a baby grand piano next to a giant bar in said terminal’s center. The piano was for anyone who wanted to play and we were entertained by some talented people. That was pleasant.
A most pleasant surprise was the piano in the middle of the terminal!
What was ‘t great was the lack of seating for travelers. I kid you not. The seating was limited to barely there. Rather, in the middle of the seating areas between gates, stood high tables and high chairs. Not baby highchairs, but adult-sized high chairs that one had to climb up to. And at these tables were phone chargers. Basically, now while waiting to board your plane, you can sit at an overextended table, charge your phone and instead of people-watching, you can sit and play Candy Crush until you board the aircraft.
I literally had to fight for space with this guy. In the first place, I’m skeeved by birds. They are rodents with wings. In the second place, I almost got into a confrontation with this flying rodent over seating space.
As we fly economy (with non-economy prices), we never get to board first. That’s for the people who are wealthy and who are flying business class. But, aggressive assertive as I can be, I make sure we are the first people to board on Group 2. And the only reason being is I demand want my overhead space. A very pleasant surprise greeted us, though, as we boarded the plane—macarons! If it weren’t for my obsession with overhead space, I would have gone back for more!
Firmly ensconced in our little cattle-car seats, I hovered over my overhead space like a junkyard dog. One woman actually had the balls to come over to our seats and proceed to try to squeeze her stuff into our overhead. I barked “It’s full!!!!!!!!!” and she crept away like a puppy with it’s tail between her legs.
Don’t you dare try to cram your $hit into my overhead space. You–with the two backbacks, tote that is filled to capacity and your little hard luggage. No. Just. No. This is MY space!
No rain. No delays. And we were taxiing the runway. Up. Up. And away! It was time to head to France for the 2023 summer visit.
And away we go!!!!!!!!
The flight was uneventful. Just the way I like it. United has great attendants—they are all so amiable and willing to assist in any way. It was a pleasure. Honestly, it really was. Out of all the airlines we’ve flown, United has the nicest flight attendants. And it’s extra nice when they all tell me, as I’m leaving that they loved my outfit! (Most likely because I was the only female passenger not wearing pj bottoms and flip-flops.
The Arrival in France: Upon arrival, once you leave the plane, the heat hits you. It was hot! A lot hotter than at home! And with a full plane of people exiting to head to customs, it was hotter. Late morning/early afternoon. There were two booths opened. There were two customs agents. T.W.O. One for French/EU citizens and the other for USA and other non-EU countries. In a very generous move, families with small children were guided to the EU agent, which was a godsend for young families. Since I get to piggyback on my husband’s passport, I was also able to go through the EU agent.
Ahhhh…such a pretty sight as we land in Nice!
Since I could not take a picture in customs, the line was three times as bad as this. Two agents. I don’t understand this especially during summer vacation season!
When were got to the front of the line, we witnessed a non-EU passenger, I have no clue as to what kind of passport he had, but there was a big issue and it made me feel so bad for the passengers on the line behind him.
Imagine—a few flights landing at Nice with hundreds upon hundreds of visitors who must wait on a two-hour line. That’s not good for tourism.
After waiting a while for our luggage, and trust me, we were the lucky ones because the majority of people on our flight were still on the customs line, we headed out to get the car rental.
On our way to get that car!
This, my friends, is where the vacation begins. That second, we load up the car with our stuff, get into the vehicle and exit the airport onto A-8, we smile and shout “We’re on vacation!” like two schoolchildren!
Who needs the yellow brick road when you have the blue sign pointing to A-8?
The drive to the apartment is always fun because I love passing the landmarks like the apartment buildings in the shape of a ship, and the highway signs with illustrations and the exit signs. We arrived at the apartment, and upon quick inspection, noticed a new bed but everything else remained the same.
That sameness gives me a feeling of comfort—as though this apartment in Theoule is our second home. I was so happy to see a full bottle of laundry detergent since I do a little laundry every day. I know, I know, I’m on vacation but…I love air drying clothes on the terrace!
This bottle was better than any champagne! Laundry detergent. What a welcome!!!
The terrace is where we spend most of our “home” time. The view of the Mediterranean never gets boring or tired. In fact, waking up to the sea and going to bed by the sea has a calming effect!
Quite remarkably the best view on earth!
Our first line of duty, after unpacking, was to head to Geant Hypermarche to be essentials such as Aperol, Crème de Cassis, Champagne, Cider and..oh yeah, food!
Geant Hypermarche. A magnificent mix of retail and food. I could spend an entire day here!
A vast array of wine and various liquor..
…a remarkable selection of salads…
Ready-made plates of cheese–what a great dinner gift!
I was tempted to try the French Taco kit!
And behold my beloved Socca Chips..
And my Banane Nectar.
After Geant, we headed to Marche Forville for fresh produce and Ernest for my husband’s adored Andouillette.
We bought various tapanades at Forville.
This years tomatoes. I have to say, they looked great but the usual taste wasn’t there. Same with the tomatoes at home. Something is amiss.
A variety of saucisson.
The peonies were the most beautiful I’ve ever seen!
A most crowded market!
Time to head to Ernest!
Andouillette. A sausage of sorts made from stomach lining (tripe) that smells like a cross between a dirty diaper and old socks that have been sitting in a gym locker for four years!
When we finished the shopping errands, it was that magical time of day—Aperitif time! We enjoyed our drinks on the Terrace followed by a light dinner. And with me freaking out every time a bee decided to visit us. I’m allergic. Luckily the only insect to attack me during the stay was the mosquito. And although we had plug-in mosquito repellent, those little buggers were eating me up like maggots on roadkill. I still have about twenty bites on my body.
The next day, Sunday, we woke up to gloriously beautiful skies and after coffee and croissant, headed to the pool. A thing about my husband—he refuses to go to the beach on Sunday (and Saturday) in France. He has a point because the beaches are remarkably crowded—even before high season. No parking to be had. Blankets and umbrellas almost touching each other. Lots of heads bobbing up and down in the water.
Instead, we spent the day at the pool. The 2023 pool attendant was exceptionally great this year. He was helpful in getting our umbrellas and always smiling. The regulars swimming their laps and walking the perimeter of the pool, the young families on vacation, couples young and old came to the pool for the same thing—to soak up the sun (while wearing sunscreen), read, check their iPhones, swim, break for lunch, come back and repeat.
Sunday AM. Pool bound. No wig just my hair tied back and in a baseball cap.
9:00 AM and all is very quiet!
And after a day at the pool, come back “home” to shower, refresh, start dinner and gaze at the goings-on in the sea until the sun sets and the sky goes from blue to an array of orange, purple, yellow stripes blending into one another until darkness arrives.
Slumber comes easy with the French doors opened to the terrace, the sounds of cicadas and doves and the sea splashing against the rocks is symphonic enough to lullaby you to sleep.
To be continued…………