Category Archives: France

And now let’s fly

This morning, in Antibes, I was startled by a loud burst of jet blast and looked up to see colored streaks of the French flag spread across the sky. By the time I got the camera out, the smoked had smudged, but still it was cool to see. It’s funny that I find French displays of nationalism charming, because in general I find nationalism the opposite – but rhyming! – alarming.

As I waited in Nice for the flight to Palerme/Palermo, things didn’t look good. For one, there was no plane at the gate, never good sign. Also, there was only one airline employee behind the counter; how would she process all the passengers by herself? I was sure that at any second we would learn that the flight was late or cancelled. But no, a plane did roll up eventually, and even though the solitary attendant had to check both boarding passes and ID at the gate, things were done quickly and efficiently; we were on the tarmac fast as heck. The flight attendants had to give the safety instructions three times, once in Italian, then in French, then English – ending with, “And now let’s fly!” – but we were up in the air quickly and landed 25 minutes early. And, FYI, at a quarter of the price and oodles more efficiently than my regional airline.

Anyway, now it is time to switch up my brain: time for Italian! Au revoir, ma belle France, à bientôt. Ciao, Italia!


Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.

Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Cap Ferrat

Ooh la la. Here on my last full day in France I have found the Riviera of my imagination. Warm, beautiful, uncrowded, undeveloped . . . I had one of my best travel days ever.

I think Cap Ferrat is where one percent of the one percent of the one percent live. It’s where I’d live too, if I could. I walked it for over eight hours today, mainly exploring its coastal path. As it happens, a previous Bestest Travel Day Ever was also walking along a coastal path of the Mediterranean, on the car-less Greek island of Hydra (a pattern is forming . . . ).

Speaking of the one percent gang, I came upon a scene on Cap Ferrat: a man and a woman were checking out a shiny black Tesla Model X, wing doors up, surrounded by about eight (I say ‘about’ because the menacing guy staring me down effectively caused me to avert my gaze – wow, what a skill), tough bodyguard types, assuming the protective position around the car and couple, eyes hidden behind impenetrable wraparound sunglasses.

I can’t imagine having to require bodyguards.

I also came upon chez David Niven, just as a painting was being delivered. So cool! And I got to see sailing school; the whooping sounds of the kids on the boats was laugh-inducing.

After walking the perimeter of the entire cape – no small feat – I visited the villa of Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild. It is perched at the high point the peninsula, offering 360 degree views of the Côte d’Azure, the Mediterranean, and the mountains. Wow, nice planning, lady.

Here are some photos:





















Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.

Soft Day in Antibes

Took a walk through the harbor and along the coast beside the star-shaped fort. Had a good vegan lunch at a tiny and inspiring café. Did laundry. Made train reservations. Checked in to upcoming flight. Sat on le petit balcon and read The New Yorker online. Made pasta with roasted vegetables. Drank wine.

The weather is gorgeous. An autumn day in the south of France.


Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.

Picasso and Cap d’Antibes

The air was sharp and clear this morning, with none of haze that has lately obscured the coastline and mountains, so I could see all the way to Monaco, and maybe Italy. Sweet!

My first adventure of the day was exploring the Picasso Museum, where he lived for a short time and produced lots of joyful postwar art. Along with some of his spectacular pieces, there was also an expansive display of black and white photographs of the artist at work and with family. So cool! (My favorite work of his on display is the black and white triptych.)

Afterwards, I had a good vegan lunch at a café owned by a British expat. She and another Brit discussed their revved up efforts to become French citizens, like, soon, due to Brexit.

Next I hiked for about five hours to and around Cap d’Antibes. It was warm and lovely and the air was saturated with delightful floral scents. This is where the one percent of the one percent live. There are places for sale if anyone’s interested.

At one area along the narrow coastal trail, I was having the edge-issues thing, and two French couples came up behind me. I merely wanted to step aside so that they could pass and I could make my way gingerly, so I said out loud ‘j’ai peur’ (‘I’m afraid’), and goodness if one of the women did not just grab my hand and then clasp my arm tightly under hers and lead me through a gnarly area. It was so awesome!! So kind of her. There are wonderful people everywhere.

Here are some photos.

Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.

Côte d’Azur, Antibes

I’m staying in a tiny Airbnb apartment with an appropriate tiny balcony. (This is a good exercise in living small.) It’s in a funky old and dark building up four flights of stairs, and another ladder to the sleeping loft, so I’m doing some serious calorie burning. It’s very quiet, which is so nice.

I took off this morning around 8:30 and the town was deserted, perhaps because people were sleeping off last night’s revelries? Of the countless boats in the harbor, I came across only one awake human being. We made eye contact, so I naturally said bonjour, but he might have been too rich to respond – he just turned away from me. There is so much wealth here!

Later I wandered the town and the market, and had lunch at a too-expensive vegan restaurant run by an American expat. She says it’s hard to live, hard to get things done, in France.

Here are some photos. There will probably be more later; I just want to take advantage of up and running internet now.


Bardo Day

Today was a day of travel and learning. This is my 8th trip to Europe, yet I am being constantly humbled by daily activities; let’s call a spade a spade: I am European appliances challenged. Although frustrating, there is an upside. Back track: one semester while I was teaching a writing class, a friend was trying to teach me to knit, and I was a total klutz at it. (My ego would like me to mention that I’m a pretty good crocheter.) Being an unsuccessful learner helped me improve my teaching skills dramatically. This unknowing how to open doors and operate washing machines, etc., is similarly teaching me patience and compassion, or as my beloved professor Dr. Doudna would say, “building character.”

Anyway, this morning at the Arles train station, I saw something that kind of explains why I am frustrated with the place I live and why I love what I fancy as the ‘European mind.’ The first photo below was taken at the Arles train station. I think it’s an awesome mural. The problem is that I would never ever ever see anything remotely like that plastered in a public place on Hawaii Island. It would not be ‘allowed.’ This is a problem for me. Not sure how to solve it.

The Marseilles train station was a study in humanity! I bet every type of human was present today – it was awesome. Diversity is something to be celebrated!

Also, FYI, Marseille is a two-cheek-kiss location.

Antibes does not fit the way I imagined it would be. I have six days here. Time for discovery.

Here are some photos, including one from the balcony of the Antibes rental.

P.S. Bardo is a state of in between.