We accidentally slept in today, in our peaceful little Marseille haven – but I think we needed it. We ate a breakfast (squeeze-it-yourself orange juice, organic teas, baguettes with homemade apricot jam, boil-them-yourself fresh eggs and local cheeses) next to the pool. This was our view, the door to our room:
We were very close to the Calanques national park, which requires you to park your car outside the grounds and hike an hour (over a mountain) each way to get to a most gorgeous beach…UNLESS you have a reservation at the restaurant. We knew this, and had made a lunch reservation the day before. However, when we showed up at the gate and asked to be let through, the gatekeeper didn’t have us on the list. A ridiculous 15-minute conversation ensued. He didn’t speak a word of English. And he didn’t seem to understand my French. He asked me “American or English?” – like, really, he couldn’t tell that?! And how was that relevant to me getting my car through that gate? Anyway, he phoned the restaurant, and gave his phone to me to talk to them. They didn’t have my reservation either. But I hung up and said, “Oui, reservation” and handed him back his phone. He gave me the EXACT look that my grandfather (who was also French) used to give me when he knew I was lying to him, but thought I was adorable, so he was going to let me get away with it anyway. (Chin down, slack jawed, eyes looking up/kind of rolling, but stuck in one spot). He opened the gate, exasperated, and let us pass. The trouble was worth it, as we found this on the other end of the treacherous road:
This is the Calanque Sormiou.
We stayed at the beach for a while, but not long enough for the guard to believe we had eaten lunch. While driving back through his gate, I refused to make eye contact, rolled up my window, and pretended to be lost in conversation with M. About 1km down the road, we saw this:
We have no idea why there is a statue of a giant thumb in Marseille, but I turned to M and said, “I think France just gave us the finger for what we did back there.” She started giggling and didn’t stop for a good 5 minutes.
Next, we drove to Saint Tropez. All the guidebooks describe it as well past its heyday – a run down town that pales in comparison to its more glamorous neighbors of Cannes and Nice. But I wanted to see it because Brigitte Bardot made it famous, and she is my hair idol. I could not disagree more with the guidebooks. Saint Tropez is fantastique! It is loaded with adorable shops and bakeries, has a large waterfront restaurant area, and is stunningly beautiful. We ate lunch at a café overlooking yachts in the harbor.
Then we walked around looking at the charming homes nearby. I would move there in a heartbeat!
We drove through Cannes to get to our hotel and hit really bad traffic. I blame the Kardashians, who are in town. Cannes is fancy – we saw lots of Lambos, Bentleys and Ferraris as we drove through. But we were exhausted, hungry, and just wanted to get out of the car, so we pushed on to our hotel in the next town over, Antibes.
Hotel Mademoiselle, our home for the next 2 nights, is positively adorable! It sits on an outdoor mall, with lots of shops and restaurants (which means you can’t park at the hotel – you have to walk quite far with luggage, but it is worth it), and has interiors that are very French! They even leave fresh homemade cookies in the room!
We wandered around the Juan Les Pins beach, looking for restaurants, and finally settled into one for dinner. We ate chicken kabobs and warm goat cheese salad, scrolled news stories on my phone, and talked about all the big news today (terror attacks in Lyon, Supreme Court rulings back home, prison escapee killed, etc.). We felt a little left out, but then looked over our shoulders at the beach and decided we would much rather be here!
Tomorrow: Monaco, and probably lots more traffic along the Riviera