Category: France

Yes, they still drive Citroens

Francy Citroen near the beach

Francy Citroen near the beach

Biege

Biege?

Red one at the Geant parkinglot

Red one at the Geant parkinglot

Maroon in Ramatuel 1

Maroon in Ramatuel 1

Maroon in Ramatuel 2

Maroon in Ramatuel 2

Paris

Let me make something perfectly clear. France is fantastic, but I can’t stand Paris.

Bienvenue à Paris!

Bienvenue à Paris!

I first visited Paris as a high school freshman, and I was 14-years old. It was a high school trip, my first trip abroad without my parents. Actually, that trip went fine. I liked it so much, I returned on a high school trip for my sophomore year. That’s where the animosities with Paris begin.

Bridge Locks

The new thing in big cities, you can buy a lock, latch it to a bridge, and leave it there.

French girls are Amercian

... and all the pretty French girls were American.

Nothing bad happened to me personally, but the trip was full of negative events. My chaperone (and good family friend) had his pocket picked on the metro. A trip friend had his pocket picked at Le Place de la Concorde. He actually ran down the culprit and got his stuff back. There was another student, who was swindled out of $500, while waiting in line to exchange money at a train station.

Notre Dame

A walk along the Seine is well worth it.

The Center of Paris

This marker is in front of Notre Dame, and it marks the center of Paris. All distance measurements are taken from this point.

Front Door

Pssst...He's standing on that little guy's back.

We saw two traffic accidents. One happened right in front my chaperone. A car ran a red light, and hit a taxi. I heard my friend as he rushed to help, “Ça va? Ça va? ” The drivers leg was bleeding a bit. A horn from one of the wrecked cars blared on and on. Soon enough, firemen arrived, and they did everything they could to get the horn turned off.

The Facade

The facade catching the light.

Garoyles

Garoyles

Back to more current time, my family and I made a 2-night side trip to Paris. I was reluctant to go, but it was the kids’ first chance to see it. We drove to Marseille and took a fast train to Paris. One of my current travel mates thought we were crazy to go, and I agreed with him actually. He warned me of the “Romanians.” I don’t think he really meant Romanians. Perhaps he was making a derogatory reference about Gypsies. In any case, he was referring to hooligans, French or non-French, in general who move to Paris to take advantage of full-pocketed tourists.

pretty statue

A statue outside of Le Ping Pong Nu Salle de la Renommée de la France

Our hotel was on Rue St. Germaine, only a few blocks from Notre Dame. It was August, so there were very few French people in Paris. I kept saying, “All the pretty French girls are American!” The city was full of Americans, Brits, Italians, and Asians. The only people that spoke French were the frustrated waiters. In La Louvre, the Mona Lisa was mobbed by Americans, and the statue of Cupid and Psyche was swooned over by Italian girls.

Boo!

Boo!

Alas, Paris is still the Paris I recall from my highschool sophomore year. Our first morning there, we were crossing a bridge to Notre Dame where 2 “Romanians” apparently cased me for a mugging or more likely a pocket picking. I was out in front of my family, and these 2 guys approached from the other way. One specifically, stared me in the eyes as he walked at me. If I altered my step to the side, he matched me, and I knew he had a buddy. I knew he wanted bodily contact to rough me up while his buddy fished in my pockets. When we were almost nose-to-nose, I pulled a good ol’ fashioned spin move, which would make Bill Belichick proud. Looked over my shoulder, and the “Romanians” went on their way.

a fish

The French see to like these funky fish.

Of course Paris is not all bad. It is one of the loveliest cities in Europe. Cities in Europe ooze with art and sculpture out on the streets in a way that’s practically impossible in the States. We walked from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower (and back). The blend of Gothic, neo-Classical, and Art Nouveau laid before us was literally 850 years in the making.

Montmartre

Didn't make it to Montmartre. This is as close as we got.

I will say that my meager French served me well. I made honest attempts to speak French at every encounter, yes with varied success. But on every encounter, the person I spoke to appreciated the attempt. Often broken French was answered with broken English as we strived to get our concepts across.

Eiffel Tower

Why would anyone go up into a tower built by a guy named, "I Fell?"

Paris in August is like Disney World. No, no, no, it’s not like Disney World; it’s turned into Disney World. Yes, places like Paris are fill with the “Real Thing,” while Disney World is just a facade. The tourists turn the Paris into Disney World. The gift shop at Sainte Chappelle actually sells figurines of Disney characters, mostly from the Hunchback movie. But it’s the lines, the ques. People are willing to spend a morning or an afternoon to stand in a line. The line for the towers of Notre Dame stretched the length of the whole church. It was relatively short, but it was the slowest. Max and I wanted to go up, but we only had the one day in Paris.

Eiffel Tower again

Eiffel Tower again

We walked from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower (and back). The lines of people wanting to go up the Eiffel Tower swirled and spiraled their way from as far away as Portugal (I swear!). Those not waiting in line reclined on the grass mall along with the litter of paper, plastic bags and bottle caps.

Bouillabaisse

Okay, let’s start with Bouillabasisse. You can get bouillabaisse in most restaurants in Southern France. It’s a lovely mix of sautéed vegetables then simmered in a tomato, brothy sauce. It’s often served as a side dish, yet not in a crepe or noodle.

Bouillabaisse Lane

Allee de la Bouillabaisse - AKA - Bouillabaisse Lane

But, I’m not really talking about Bouillabasisse the food. I’m talking about a place. First you have to get off the main coastal road, and go down a side road called, “Allee de la Bouillabasse.” That’s French for “Bouillabasses Lane.” That illustrates a key difference between French and English. French, by default, almost always uses more words to mention the same thing than in English.

Mimosas Lane

Not likely to get a glass of Mimosa here.

The other thing you have to remember when you translate from English to French or back again, is that English is a rough language. Always speak English with a rough grumbly tone, especially American English. When you speak French, be light and airy. Envision yourself as Audrey Hepburn when speaking French. In fact, I downloaded a French vocabulary app. I plugged it into my car sound system. The English word would be given in a very masculine tone “FISH,” while the speakers voice involuntarily turned feminine when giving the French translation, “Le Poisson.” Also, note that it takes one word to say “fish” in English, but two in French.” It’s just the way French is.

Sadly, you don’t go down Allee des Mimosas (3 words), which means Mimosas Lane (2 words). I was just very recently asked if they serve mimosas there at the Allee des Mimosas, and the answer is most likely not. A mimosa is, of course, orange juice with a champagne floater. When you see the sign, avoid the temptation, and look for a little dirt path on the left. That will bring you to Bouillabaisse Cove.

Bouillabaisse Cove

Bouillabaisse Cove

The cove is small. There may be beach goers there seeking and intimate, less crowded setting. I’m told there’s good snorkeling and plenty of fish.

Bouillabaisse Cove Mermaids

Complete with mermaids

There’s also a path that leads back to the big beach at the Baie de Cavalaire. Well, it’s not a complete path. You see that photo with the stairs way in the background? Well, somewhere from the vantage point of the photograph and those stairs, the path ends. You have to crawl over rocks and through some mild surf to get to those stairs where the trail resumes.

Steps

Get to the steps

Many of the following photo may remind you of the Caribbean. It’s not. It’s the Mediterranean, which is also difficult to spell. The water of both seas are not merely blue. Rather they are aqua marine, yet either tone of aqua marine is different.

Along the Path 1

Along the Path 2

Back to the beach at trail's end

Back to the beach at trail's end

Ramatuel

This is my final entry of the France section. Well, maybe an image or two will appear in the future.

from the top of Ramatuel

from the top of Ramatuel

Ramatuel is a pretty, medieval village with old fortifications nestled on top of a steep hill. Drive to the top, then wind your way through the slender streets to find churches, cafés, and small shops.

Still Early

Still Early

Container Garden

Container Garden

Warm glow at the end of an alley

Warm glow at the end of an alley

Grimaud

On my vacation to Southern France, I made a decision, “To lead by following.” I chose not to go anywhere. I had everyone else choose for me. I had only been to the area once before, and it was about 10 years prior. So, much of the area was very new to me. Every view and vista was fresh, new, exciting, and breath taking to see.

March on the Castle Ruins in Grimaud

March on the Castle Ruins in Grimaud

Part of “leading by following,” (it’s a Taoist idea really) meant being last in line. It meant being the sweeper, and keeping everyone together and focused in a foreign country. Here I have the view of my parents following my wife and oldest son. Then my youngest is taking the lead.

Looking back towards Cavalaire

Looking back towards Cavalaire

A Study in Orange

A Study in Orange

Someone's Back Patio

Someone's Back Patio

A Side Street

A Side Street

People having lunch under the parasols

People having lunch under the parasols

St. Tropez

In 2013, we returned to St. Tropez. Again, I was struck by the boats, the pretty tourists, the ally ways, and the shore. Most tourist hang around the main esplanade. That’s where the large yachts of the rich and famous dock. The restaurants there do not have any seats where patrons sit face-to-face. Rather, all the seats face out, to watch people pass by, and perhaps, catch a glimpse of celebrity.

It is also worth it to poke around the ally ways. The walls are vibrantly colored. The shops, bakeries, and boutiques cram the spaces along the sides. The paving stones are cleaned nearly to a polished sheen.

Pink and Blue Allyway

Pink and Blue Allyway

Church of St Tropez

Church of St Tropez

We spent a day in St. Tropez for the 2009 trip. My son wanted to go to the old fort, which gave us great views of the city. The Monastery Church of St. Tropez offers a colorful center piece.

Newport St Tropez

I travel all the way from New England to Southern France to run into a boat named, "Newport."

The Bay of St Tropez

City by the bay

No Old San Juan

No Old San Juan

Outter Bay

The bay before heading out to sea

The Church of St Tropez 1

The Church of St Tropez through the brush.

The Church of St Tropez 2

A closer look

La Croix Valmer

Le Croix Valmer

Mosaic at the Tourist Info Building

It was near the Village of La Croix Valmer that the Roman Emperor, Constantine, had a vision. Legend has it that he saw a Cross in the sky, and a voice told him to carry a cross before him in battle, that he would not lose. He did, and won his next battle. He was thus inspired to convert the Roman Empire to Christianity.

A sign in front of a driveway

A sign in front of a driveway

I found La Croix Valmer to a great place to take it easy. I found a different sign, telling me to slow down and take it easy.

Market

Market Day was Sunday

The following are views my wife and I had while walking from town back to the villa.

A hotel near a vinyard

A hotel near a vinyard

Tall pines

Tall pines near the beach

Entrance to a driveway

Entrance to another driveway

Baie de Cavalaire

Bedroom

The Patio

My parents have been traveling to Southern France for a number of years now. Until recently, they’ve been able to rent the same house for quite a while. In August of 2009, I was able to bring my family.

Baie de Cavalaire

Baie de Cavalaire

The view from the patio is breath taking. A typical breakfast or dinner was had while looking over the Baie de Cavalaire.

La Plage

La Plage

The beach stretches from the houses on our side in the town of Croix Valmer to the city of Calavaire on the western end of the beach.

Crowded

Yes, the beach gets crowded.

The air is very warm in August, yet not humid, even with the inviting Mediterranean right there.

Cavalaire at Dawn

Cavalaire at Dawn

The bar is one of a dying breed. You can still enjoy a mojito, more appropriately some pastis, or even a meal at a table right on the beach. You can laze away under the shade of a parasol. However, word of mouth told me that environmental awareness is lowering the popularity of these establishments.

Parasols

Parasols

Ringbinder theme by Themocracy