If you are a true Parisian, you hustle and bustle and push and shove all over the place because you live in a geographically small city with over 2 million inhabitants. Then August comes and you go on vacation to the south of France so you can push and shove all over the French Riviera with all the other Parisians who do the same thing every year. I never understood that, but when you go to France's Mediterranean coastline, you do have to stop and smile that such paradise is only a three hour train ride away.
So we packed up and took the train down to Aix-en-Provence to start our vacation with extended family at their house in Provence. We're not there 20 minutes when the first apéro begins, complete with Papy, an in-law's older father who loves the apéro. Here's a snippet from our conversation:
Distant cousin: Since you're American, does your husband call you honey or chérie
. Or honey. Both, they're both nice names so he can call me either and I'll answer.
Papy, his glass of pastis empty: Claudine is a pretty name, too.
Cut to the part where I am shooting across the water on a boat off the coast of Cannes with a Franco-Italian model. I should add that he's there as a friend of my brother-in-law's and we are in total a group of eight, in a boat rented for the day. Boats and yachts are all over the place yet the water looks like it's never seen a drop of fuel in its life. We park in between two islands, have lunch and jump off the boats into the water. Then at night, we watch the fireworks show from a beachfront restaurant that serves sublime lobster salad. It'd ruin the moment to say that the baby got tired and fussy and I took her home before the show even started, so I won't mention that here.
The port of Cannes is where you come to show off your money. There are yachts all over the place with names like Champagne O'Clock, La Vie en Rose, and My Space. Bentleys cruise around with license plates from all over Europe and the Middle East. If you wish, you can rent a yacht for 30,000 euros a week. Tempted?
The next day, we leave for a small town up the coast and check into a beachfront hotel. Our balcony has a view of the bay and in the distance on Cap Nègre, you can see the Bruni family's estate. It's rumored that the president was here during our stay to vacation with Carla but left hurriedly to Georgia to attend to the South Ossetia situation and then he was back in Paris for the funerals of the French soldiers killed in Afghanistan. So, we didn't run into him on the beach. Too bad - I totally bet he would have kissed our baby.
Later that week, we are in Cassis. The waterfront here is rocky and walking along the sunbathing areas to the water hurts bare feet in some places. That's why some people wear water shoes. In the area we blindly stumbled upon, that's all they wore. We didn't mean to go to a "no tanlines" kind of beach but that was the best spot we found. If you thought it wasn't possible to be overdressed in a bikini, well, it is.
After another short stay at the family house (Bottom's up, Papy!), we take the TGV back up to Paris, a delayed ride marked by a passenger's crazed cat jumping out of its cage and clawing the lady sitting across the aisle. We arrive in Paris and it's grey and rainy. And we need to move through the mob of people at gare de Lyon to get to metro line 14. The pushing and shoving begins again.