05 December 2010

FRANCE: Day 16 - Antibes y Cap d'Antibes y Cannes

Sundays take some special planning when you’re vacationing on the Côte d’Azur. Most shops aren’t open, and the ones that are close early afternoon. While it’s a good day for long drives, we were in the car too long yesterday.

We make French press coffee in the villa this rainy morning, and soon decide to hit the market in Antibes and plan to arrive in Cannes for a late lunch and a stroll through the Christmas market.

This is the third time we’ve parked in almost the exact same spot to visit the Antibes covered market on a Sunday. More boutiques than usual around the square and on the streets leading to the market are open today—the Christmas shopping season—so we take our time walking toward the market. There’s a fun kitchen-ware shop on the way and we purchase a few gifts for ourselves and for others.

When we approach the Marché Provençal, from the first moment LFW is dazzled by the offerings—the flowers, the spices, the fruits and vegetables, the cheeses, the olives… I cut over to the socca vendor and when my turn comes, there’s an absolutely fresh socca just coming out of the wood burning oven. I greedily clutch my ¼ slice, which is served atop a sheet of foil and a paper napkin. It’s damp and chilly here today, and the socca heats through the foil and warms my hands. I resist a nibble until I’m back with CA and LFW. Yum. How can ground chick peas and a bit of pepper taste so good?

It’s really raining when we leave the market with our spices, cheeses, and olives. Along the way we duck into a Provencal shop and I purchase two metres of a lovely taupe cotton printed in black and red with sketches of vineyards and wine varieties. Wonder where I'll use this? We find a café for warmth and a convenient toilette; then we’re back in the rain and into the car. We decide to drive around the Cap d’Antibes along the shore road to Cannes.

As we consider lunch, we’re first thinking seafood because the waterfront Cannes restaurants serve huge platters of seafood atop a pedestal that literally towers over your table. CA and I have been fascinated, but always worried there’s just too much for only two to share. Today we are three.

It’s after 2:00pm and it doesn’t take us long to decide on which café is the obvious favorite—it’s almost at capacity. As we enter we’re immediately asked if we have reservations. Nope. We’re to be seated upstairs, and then madame overrules the waiter and says too bad we can’t seat you today. O.K.

CA suggests La Piazza, so we eat at that Italian restaurant for the third Sunday in a row. CA has salmon raviolis, LFS chooses Spaghetti Carbonara just because she wants to experience the raw egg yolk in a half shell, and I order Spaghetti Lollabrigida—green spaghetti with fresh spinach, fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, and mascarpone cheese. Ma-ma-mia! Spectacular.

After lunch for a sample of old Cannes, we climb up through the narrow windy streets of Le Suquet, the city’s oldest quarter and the location of some of the most interesting restaurants and wine bars. Then we cross to the harbor and investigate this year’s Christmas Market. We take our time, even though it’s raining steadily again. There’s not much we’d consider buying, but we can’t help but search for an unexpected treasure. We don’t find one.

Wet and winded, we drive back to Mougins, settling in for some late afternoon reading and relaxing. It’s Sunday, after all, and it’s a day of rest and restoration.

Tomorrow will be go to Italy or explore Les Arcs’ wineries and olive mill?

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