Our First Few Weeks in France

Trip Start May 19, 2007
Trip End Sep 02, 2007

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

After a very long flight and a broken down plane that had us stuck on the tarmac in Dubai for four hours, we arrived in Nice, France, almost 30 hours after leaving Sydney, tired and in desperate need of a shower.

This is where we met Benji, our transport for the next three months. After walking past all of the Peugeots and VW's (Christie getting excited that we may finally be getting her dream car), our eyes met Benji, who Glenn says can only be described as a mini 'spakka' van. Our big Opel Mariva was no grunt master or little zippy (our previous cars in France), and left us wondering how on earth we were going to park him.

But, we had no choice and no time to argue, we had to meet our agent Nathalie at our apartment, we were already 4 hours late for our appointment with her and she wasn't going to wait any longer (it was Sunday night after all). Glenn managed to negotiate the streets without too much hassle and after getting a little bit lost we finally found Nathalie. We were impressed with our apartment. It was much nicer than the photos we had seen before leaving home, although the almost flouresent yellow walls had us wondering how we were going to sleep at night. Nathalie showed us around and on leaving, rather than wishing us a good night, she wished us a "bonne douche" (a good shower!).

Unfortunately there was no bonne douche to be had - there was no hot water - aaarrgggghhhhh!!! Christie was understandably devastated. After pizza for dinner we figured out the hot water situation and went to bed dreaming of a hot shower in the morning. Glenn would start work that day.

Our first few weeks have been spent finding our feet, settling in and catching up with our French friends. There are a few photos attached to this entry that show views of the Antibes/Juan Les Pins area which is where we are living this time.

One weekend we had a fantastic dinner with our mate Patrick and his son Sebastien. Christie is a magnet for children and it wasn't long before her and Sebastien were friends (he had only just been born last time we were here in 2001). Patrick put on his chef's hat and spoiled us with a big feast that kept our bellies full for days. Despite his protests that he couldn't cook we were pretty damned impressed. There are a few photos attached from the night. Unfortunately Sebastien had gone to bed before the camera (and the Cognac) came out.

We also happened to arrive in the South of France just in time for the end of the Cannes Film Festival, so we decided to catch the train to Cannes one night to see if we could catch a glimpse of the stars on the red carpet. (It's only a 5 minute drive but it would have been crazy to take the car there during the Festival). Unfortunately the trains were running late that night and we didn't make it into Cannes on time to see the stars going into the Palais des Festivals. We took the opportunity to take a few photos anyway, when an Italian guy in a tuxedo spotted Glenn and his big camera and he was asked to play photographer for a while. The Italian guy insisted on returning the favour, hence the attached photo of us next to the red carpet. We decided to hang around in Cannes for a few hours, hoping that we may catch a glimpse of somebody famous. We went back to the Palais des Festivals later in the evening and we managed to see a few stars: Robert Duvall, Joaquin Phoenix and Eva Mendes whose film Walk the Line was being shown that night. As well as Naomi Campbell who managed to keep a smile on her face all the way up the red carpet. There were also a few big name French stars there that the media went crazy for, but were sorry to say that we didn't know who they were.

We are enjoying the sunshine and took the opportunity to take the coast drive to Saint Raphael via L'Esterel, one of our favourites. Our mistake was to do it on a Sunday when there is a lot of traffic on the road, which took away from the fun a bit. However the cliff faces of L'Esterel have a few walking tracks down to the water where you can find relatively secluded beach alcoves. The one we found was covered in rocks and boulders, but Glenn couldn't miss the opportunity to take a quick dip before we trekked back up to the car and continued our drive to St Raphael, where we finished off a lovely day with probably one of the biggest ice creams we have ever had.

Next weekend we will start the sightseeing again with our friends Olivier, Nathalie and their daughter Noeme in and around Aix en Provence.
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