04 December 2010

FRANCE: Day 15 - Gourdon y Eze

We’re excited to take LFW to one of our local cafés this morning for café crème, croissants, and some Internet time. We’ve grown quite fond of Café Gérko—we think that’s the name. The only signage says, “tout le monde en parle” which we interpret to mean “Everyone gather here to talk.”

After a bit LFW and I decide to hit the shops—Jeff de Bruges—the chocolate shop—the bookshop-stationer, and our favorite boulangerie. We discover some lovely gift ideas at the chocolatier and decide we’ll have to return another day.

Since this may be the last sunny day for a few, we decide to drive up through Grasse—our constant view from the villa—to Gourdon, and then around the Loop River, back through Cagnes-sur-Mer, and on to Eze, near Monaco. That’s right. We’ve decided to go to Gourdon and Eze, and they’re kind of in opposite directions. Because we’ve loved Gourdon, and the spectacular drive around Gorges du Loup, we want to share with LFW the scenic waterfalls, monumental cliffs, and gorgeous sinking valleys. And, Eze is on her short-list of places not to miss. We’ve not been to Eze, either.

This morning CA and I totally bumble the drive through Grasse, at last sorting it out. If we hadn’t lost so much time we’d have enjoyed the Saturday market and brocante. Instead we drive on to Gourdon. After walking up and into the ancient village, I’m drawn to the overlook—seeking the sunshine. The Mediterranean views from up here are spectacular—you can see 80km of shoreline, from Nice to Théoule-sur-Mer. For a few minutes I stand alone facing directly into the sun with my eyes closed, enjoying complete silence, a moment of reverence, and a bit of renewal. I mean to find more moments like this during our time in France.

Even with the sun shining, there’s a definite haze over all our views. We’ve decided that Saturday must be “burn” day as we can easily observe towers of smoke in many directions. Too bad that our otherwise sunny and crisp late fall views are somewhat obstructed…

We see icicles up here today, and there’s snow on a few of the cars. This is an exciting drive with narrow roads and sheer drop-offs, and few side guardrails. We’re too soon leaving Gorges du Loup behind and navigating through the streets of Cagnes-sur-Mer toward the A8 to Nice and Monaco. In Nice there’s a bit of flatland near the shore, but on the way to Monaco we’re clearly in the mountains traversing curves and tunnels—there’re no straight pathways to anywhere.

We’re a bit puzzled as to how we’ll get to Eze since we’ve since passed it and are headed in to Monaco. Turns out that when you exit for Monaco, there’s a sign “retour Eze” that sends you into a U-turn onto and along secondary roads, backtracking to Eze.

Eze is a lovely, rocky little village perched high on a peak. However, it’s cold up here today and not many of the shops are open. We wander the streets taking in the breathtaking views. At the very tippy-top of the old village, there’s Jardin Exotique and the best views. That’ll be 3€, please.

So far, LFW has seen the ancient villages of St. Paul de Vence, Gourdon, and Eze, and decided that St. Paul is her favorite. Maybe we’ll stop back at St. Paul on another day, as it’s close to Nice and easily accessible.

We debate spending a few hours and having dinner in Nice, but common sense prevails and we drive to Carrefour in Mougins for some groceries. LFW has been looking forward to meandering through a regular French supermarket… We take our time and find a 2€ wine that LFW is intent on trying, some sables, more chocolate, a poulet roti (rotisserie chicken), three interesting cheeses, some mixed greens, and a few more necessities.

It’s Saturday night and we’re tired and easily amused. We watch the quarter finals of Strictly Come Dancing! It doesn’t take long for LFW to get hooked by Gavin and Matthew, and even Anne Widdecomb. BBC television intrigues us. No commercials and lots of the sideways British humor.

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