France: Ooh la la

Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
Trip End Oct 23, 2009

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Where I stayed
Majestic Hotel

Flag of France  , Provence,
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We've entered France, our final stop before heading home. After over two weeks in Italy, as we were just getting comfortable with the language, the customs, the rules of the road and cruising speeds... what a shock it was to "Cross the border". Suddenly, all that was familiar was gone, a foreign language, road signs we were unable to decipher and we're exhausted from the road.

We're not ashamed to admit that after three + weeks of living out of suitcases (fortunately we did laundry in Florence and Rome) treking across 8 countries, challenging ourselves every night to read a menu... we're looking forward to coming home soon. 

But first we were in for a treat arriving in Cannes. We have landed at the famous Majestic Barriere Hotel, on la Croisette Blvd.  Talk about culture shock! Remember, we've just come from either busy, historic, tourist-laden cities or sleepy waterfront villages in Italy. The moment we drove our dirty 335 into Cannes, with nearly 1700 miles on it, all senses were immediately over-indulged! The French are a unique bunch: they are beautiful, well done-up and looking good. The women wear stiletto heels to walk their pocket-size pups and the guys look chic and wear their sunglasses inside...let's just say they're also very, um,,,, Confident. Nevertheless, still fun to look at and we're up to a new challenge of learning another language. 

To add to it all, there's a convention in town (Tax Free World Wide Expo) which has brought in all the top brand names of luxury products and all the pretty people: The Names (i.e. Chanel, L'Oreal, etc...), those who buy it (Airport directors, duty-free shop owners, on & on) and those who "sell it" and spray their new scents on you (The Ducati Girls who were hanging out in the lobby trying to sell John a new eau de parfum... ). So even more pomp and circumstance than usual- perhaps a bit reminiscent of the Film Festival, but without the superstars.

Back to the senses: France smells good and tastes good too! Le Marches (the markets) occur everyday where fresh flowers, bread, fruits, vegetable and fish are sold daily. This is the way of life here; no supermarkets or walmart, just good fresh food, purchased daily.

The food here in France could be the best... the flavors and savors or french cuisine, rival all of our other meals in all of the countries we visited. Fresh food, all the right flavors, spiced just- right for the most discerning palate... be warned: as we try to communicate with some of the waitstaff at undisclosed locations in Cannes: they might not translate "sweetbread" clearly..! It is calf thymus gland (throat)...! other than that: translation was clear & the food was good.

The shopping here in Cannes has been spectacular. Dawn has picked up on all the very chic fashions of today's France and has taken the opportunity to invest in bringing some of it back to the US.

Cannes and the French Riviera is really a spectacular place. Again, fancy yachts dock here and along the coast. We took a drive down to St. Tropez to experience the hype: but instead, found delight in an old medieval town called Grimaud, just a few miles inland from the coast. Grimaud had an old castle on the top over looking the now flashy Saint Tropez and Sea below. The old town is so beautiful and quaint, we could have spend the day sitting outside the old church listening to the "Women of Handel" do a dress rehearsal for their upcoming concert, a tribute in honor of the death of Handel, 250 years ago. You can enjoy the sounds of Handel in a video below.

Despite all the glamor in Cannes, there's also the old town of Cannes (le Suquet) and the vistas of the fancy harbor below. It's those picturesque moments, the tiny bistros, and photo opportunities that have made this trip real.
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