08 December 2010

FRANCE: Day 19, Cannes

They know us here now… We absolutely love starting our mornings in a café, and LFW fits right in. CA and I approach this day quite leisurely—he gets his email and U.S. sports update, and after a café crème I visit my first French dry cleaner (Tournamy Pressing). Just a few weeks ago I visited my first Slovak dry cleaner, but MK was there to interpret. This is a simple transaction, and we agree on Vendredi (Friday) for pick-up. In Slovakia, I paid at drop-off, but here as in the U.S. I’ll pay on Friday.

We’re taking a bus to Cannes today—for the experience (it’s just 1€) and to give CA a break from all the stressful driving. But first, LFW gets time to wander the shops of Mougins while I update the blog, and then CA and she drive up to Vieux Villages of Mougins. In 2008 this medieval village was the only one we experienced and we enjoyed it so much and took dozens of incredible photos. This trip we’ve loved Les Arcs 11th Century crumbling old city best, but when all is said and done we’re quite proud of our own restored village.

We’re bumping up against the 2-hour lunch retail shut-down, so after we gather our cameras and umbrellas we stop at one of our local cafes—La Terrazza ( second-most-appreciated Internet café)—for their plat du jour. Today’s offering is roasted chicken with pureed potatoes and squash. No one’s driving, although it doesn’t seem to be an issue in France, so CA and LFW enjoy a glass of the rouge. Just to show off, CA and I order one café gourmand to share three-ways.

And, at 1:30pm we’re at the bus stop just across from the boulangerie and on the 20-minute bus ride to Cannes. Standing-room-only works for us, and while it’s not a scenic journey it does give us a chance to mingle with the locals for some serious people watching. Our ride ends next to the RNCF terminal in Cannes, but not-to-fear as I’ve spotted a Galleries Lafayette from the bus window and we’re just a block or two off the main shopping district.

We spend the afternoon wandering through the shops and down to the sea and then to Cristal for a rejuvenating respite. This is the café with the world’s tiniest toilette, and we want to show it off. LFW has taken to photographing toilettes this trip. She thinks she might create a photo collage for her home…

I want to stay until dusk and see the Christmas lights, which hang over the streets and intersections, lit. Christmas in Cannes, doesn’t that sound lovely? We’ve already been to this year’s Christmas market, but this is the first day ever I’ve been in Cannes when all the shops and businesses are open. We were here in 2008 and now three times this trip, all on a Sunday.

We catch the 5:40pm #600 Grasse bus and are early enough to get seats together. We share our 4-square with a guy from Brisbane, visiting his parents in Mougins with his 15 and 18 year old sons. We have animated conversation, sharing travel suggestions and experiences and the trip seems short. #600 bus drops us just across from the boulangerie at about 6:00pm, in time to make our usual evening stop for a baguette.

I’ll cook stir-fry tonight, but first we slip into our early evening routine of opening a bottle of rosé and pulling out the cheeses. We’re back in time for Weakest Link, followed by Egg Heads, and the nightly Strictly Come Dancing update. We’ve really come to appreciate BBC—we get three channels and watching British news, game shows, entertainment, comedy, and farm shows has punctuated our evenings.

Before the evening ends, the three of us spend time sorting photos and sharing files—LFW has a 10:50am flight out of Nice in the morning. It’s back to reality for her, and we have just two more days until we fly to Paris.

I’m looking forward to Paris, but absolutely hate the thought of leaving Provence. Three weeks here has flown by. We’ve had plenty of time for day-trips, but maybe not enough time to just “be.” I’ve also loved just living here—doing chores, reading my latest book, and lingering. There’s a pervasive beauty and atmosphere that calms and enriches each moment for me. Living in a foreign language doesn’t frustrate me. I seem to get by with a tiny bit of French, a smile, and quite a bit of silence. Being here is a visual experience for me, and I love that. It’s rather satisfying to see and listen, rather than to always be speaking.

No comments: