Sun Cure in the Côte d’Azur.
 

All beach towns are alike; each non-beach town is non-beachy in its own way.  That’s our overall impression anyway after spending a week in the Côte d’Azur.  It is also an unabashed homage to a great Russian writer whose fellow countrymen-aristocrats and their European peers used to prance around this part of France in search of a “sun cure.”  We, ourselves, were not in need of any kind of cure, really; isn’t living in Paris a cure-all?  We simply had a week off in-between classes and we wanted to go to a warm destination where we could pass lazy days on the beach. 

DAYS   
Day 1
 
 
Day 3
 
Day 4
 
Day 5
 
Day 6
 
Day 7
 
Day 8
 
 
 
“Non, merci”:  Thwarted sun and meal in Cannes.

 

2 July 2008.  Non, merci,” said Riot, instinctively, as he heard the maid fumbling with the door.  She had been by a few times earlier in the morning and knocked; a sign down at the reception desk stated that housekeeping ended at noon.  After sending away the final offer of fresh towels and a made bed, we went back to sleep.  When we finally got up and got going it was already two in the afternoon and most places had stopped serving lunch.  Luckily we stumbled upon a grec sandwich place called Au Kebab Royal in a small alley named rue Rouguière and satisfied our hunger.

 
 
 
|   One can always count on the ubiquitous kebab restaurants for a quick and usually consistent meal even when everyone else is taking a midafternoon break.
 

We left the hotel already dressed for the beach but by the time we got there after lunch it was way too late to pay several euros for beach chair and umbrella rentals at one of the paid stretches of the beach.  So, Riot walked back to the hotel to get towels for us to lie out on the free beach.  The temperature was hovering around the mid 80s and the few infrequent breezes could not cool the beads of sweat quickly forming on our bodies.  It was too uncomfortable for either one of us and Nez didn't even make it to the water.  After a brief, unsuccessful attempt at sunbathing we decided to find a shady café to cool off and wait out the heat.

 
 
 
|   Another day in Cannes, another day at the beach:  This time, we actually joined the multitude of sun worshipers, albeit briefly, on the sand.
 

Images of cold Häagen Dazs ice cream consumed under an array of little sprouts spraying a rhythmic mist of cool water brought us to Up Side Down at Place du Général de Gaulle.  We sat there for a long time before we even got the menus but that was OK because at least we were out of the direct sunlight.  When the surly waiter eventually brought us our ice cream it was the same experience as yesterday:  ultimately unsatisfying in remedying the heat.  We took some time off to write postcards to our respective parents to let them know that their children were all right and traipsing around the south of France.  We reflected on the ambiance of Cannes, on how it looked just like any of the other beach towns we had been to:  Waikiki, Cabo, San Diego, Nha Trang, etc.  Additionally, having been spoiled by the architectural wonders of Paris, Cannes's own offering paled in comparison.

| |   Cannes continuously asserts its link to the movie world even when the Film Festival is not in town; Nez, ever the good sport, plays tourist with the cutouts.
 

At night, Riot had the urge to have a taste of the regional treat of bouillabaisse but the trouble was that every single restaurant that we passed insisted on serving it as a meal for two.  So, after much walking and gentle nudging, Riot managed to convince Nez to join him.  This humble stew once made of parts of the catch that nobody wanted had been transformed into a special menu item that commanded a premium price.  We circled two sides of the Vieux-Port, peering at all the menus along the way, but failed to spot a bargain.  Passing by a random seafood restaurant, the host at the front said to Riot, “You walk by me everyday and never look at my carte!”  Huh?  We had never been to this part of town before and had just arrived yesterday.  Either it was a creative hook or he was mistaking Riot for another camera-toting Japanese tourist.  We paid him no more attention and eventually settled on Le Caveau Provenšal on rue Félix Faure.  (The large blown-up black and white photos of current American movie stars might have had some subliminal effect.)  Unfortunately, bouillabaisse would have to wait a bit longer as we realized that the 45€ price was per person.  A 90€ meal sans appetizers, desserts, and wine seemed a bit of a stretch.  We were not living large anymore; we might be living a beautiful existence but definitely not one marked by extravagance.

 
  Nez wondering if Riot would soon be seeing stars
after downing the last half of the bottle of rosé.

  
Le Caveau Provençal woos its diners with fresh
seafood and oversized photos of the stars.
 
 

We did end up eating seafood for probably the first time since leaving the States (if you don’t — and we don’t — count the fish-o-fillet sandwiches at McDonald’s).  And we did not need a hefty tab to have a great meal and an even better conversation spanning a good part of the evening.  We outlasted a majority of the diners, including the interesting sight of an older, geeky Asian gentleman and his young, modelish dining companion.  Nez speculated that they were there on a business dinner but when they held hands on leaving the restaurant we both agreed that it might indeed be business of a different kind.  Just about the only one left as we exited was the English-speaking couple sitting next to us who had been discussing things retirees discussed all dinner long.

 
 
 
  Rue dAntibes, Cannes’s main shopping stretch, looking east.
  Looking west:  Crowded by day and almost deserted by night.
 

Halfway back to the hotel, Nez suddenly realized that she didn’t have her purse.  She took off in the direction of the restaurant and Riot followed in the distance, having drunk the better part of the bottle of rosé.  He encountered the English-speaking couple from dinner along the way and they appeared alarmed.  “Is she all right?” the wife asked.  Riot told them that everything was OK and that Nez had simply forgotten her purse (with nothing particularly valuable in it).  The purse was waiting for Nez when she arrived at the restaurant and we picked up right where we were before.  Wandering down rue d’Antibes we came across the same couple once more.  “Did you get it?” inquired the wife; “You shouldn’t lose it,” counseled the husband.  They seemed genuinely concerned for what must have looked to them like two innocent Americans abroad.  We thanked them kindly and went on our way, regretting what we had thought of them earlier, simply through snippets of overheard conversation.

 
DAYS   
Day 1
 
 
Day 3
 
Day 4
 
Day 5
 
Day 6
 
Day 7
 
Day 8
 
 
Dine Cote dAzur
 
Sleep Cote dAzur
 
A Matter of Numbers
 
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