French Riviera

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As always, we were up quite early, although we whiled away a good bit of the morning hanging out in the tent, procrastinating the inevitable packing up process that begins pretty much every day. We are getting faster at our daily routine, but still it can be a bit of a slow process by the time we clean up the bedding and mats, put the clothes and electronics away, stash the stools and shoes and everything else, get cleaned up for the day, fill up with water, and eat. Then,we load all of the bags on the bikes and roll out of camp.

By the time we’d done all that, it was about 8:30. The day was already warm and my habit of starting our rides with a jacket seems to be a thing of the past. The first bit of the ride was in a fair bit of suburban traffic which is never very inspiring, but soon we dropped down to the coast where we spent most of the day. I love all the little shops and restaurants that line the roads everywhere we go which always seem packed. Eating seems to be quite an affair here.

We hadn’t been riding near the water for more than a few minutes when I started seeing signs for the old part of town in a place called Antibes and we were headed right towards it. I hollared ahead to Ben to tell him that I’d just seen a sign for a Piccaso Museum ahead (since he almost never reads signs while we are riding) and we decided to stop and check it out. As we pulled into the medieval castle that housed the museum, we realized there was a really cool bit of town surrounding the museum and while we waited for it to open, we had a lovely time strolling around checking out all the awesome doors and windows. The church adjacent to the museum was lovely as well and a special service or perhaps a funeral seemed to be taking place.

We pulled all of our valuables out of the panniers to take with us and locked the bikes up so that we could head inside and check out the museum. In stark contrast to the mobs of people we’ve witnessed in Florence and Rome, this museum was a quaint affair with only a handful of people in attendance. We had plenty of space to walk around and view the art and be a bit perplexed by the spectacle which is Picasso. I attended a Picasso exhibit a few years ago in Madrid with my Dad and was excited to see what else the collection here had. Because Piccaso had lived and worked right in the very castle we were viewing, they had lots of sketches and pottery and other low profile pieces that were pretty interesting. On some, we could see eraser marks with heavy traces of what had originally been drawn.
We were forbidden from taking pictures for the most part, but no one seemed to mind the photos in the garden area which overlooks the incredible blue water. It was a beautiful building to house such an interesting museum.

Once we felt we had done Antibes justice, we headed down the coast towards Cannes. We had anticipated a short day and planned to ride 20 miles or less, but as we routed ourselves along the coast, the miles to our destination continued to grow. Still, the riding was pretty flat and the ocean views are impossible to beat.

As we rolled into the ritzy town of Cannes, I immediatly started to wonder what event we were missing. A holiday? A festival? There were mobs of people everywhere and news crews and big cameras and lots of women all dressed up handing out flyers to something, but since we speak hardly any French it was anyone’s guess as to what was happening.

Ben:

As we approached the local event center, we saw signs for the “Cannes Film Festival”. This seems to be France’s answer to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, and likewise there was a red carpet, a very large security presence, advertisements for the various movies that would be premiering, and of course a lot of people in really fancy clothes. I would hate to be one of the men in a tuxedo, though. It is hot here!

Not feeling like staying and watching a film in our nasty clothes and in a language we don’t understand, surrounding by famous people that we do not recognize, we moved on from Cannes to our campsite 10km from the city center. While the beaches at our last campsite were pebbly, the ones we passed today are the typical sandy beach that tourists love.
Being fairly early and nearly out of groceries (we can go through two panniers of food in two or three days with no problem when we are on the bikes), Bree insisted that we go to a French bakery to grab some food. I was dragging my feet, thinking that bakeries here were like in Italy, which means some decent bread, but nothing else. She finally convinced me to stop at one, and we went in. It as AMAZING. Even the pistaccerias in Italy didn’t have the same kind of decadence and variety of pastries that the bakery had. We walked out the door with 2 baguettes, a sugar-dusted crepe, and a fruit tarte. Sitting down at the table in front of the bakery to indulge in our well-balanced lunch, a old man passing by, clearly entertained by our excitement over our treats, gave us a friendly “bon apetite!”. I think France and I will get along very nicely.

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7 Responses

  1. Kim says:

    When asked what was a must- see in Cannes, I heard Dustin Hoffman tell an interviewer today to come back in few weeks when everybody was gone. I wondered it you were headed that direction . Apparently, you picked the worst time to go through. Oh well, at least the pastry items are good.

    • Ben says:

      It really is busy here, but just outside of Cannes isn’t too bad. No worse than the rest of the Riviera, anyhow. Cannes did have the best beaches, though…

  2. Kim says:

    Hey, I just had a thought. You should do a “Food Album” when you get back that showcases all of your fabulous food pictures.

  3. Leslie says:

    All I can say is that I will NEVER forget the eclair I ate in Metz, France…

  4. Melissa says:

    Hi,
    I work with Kim Martin at Oak Hills, and she let me catch your blog. I am hooked. Great pictures and what an exciting journey!

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