Randomness

Well now that I am finally at my laptop, I guess I will try to put down some of the random thoughts I have been storing up for several weeks.

Today is Tuesday, June 13.  And the workers were not working this morning. I woke up about 730 and lounged in bed waiting for their noise to get me out of bed.  And it never happened.  Finally got up about 900 and looked out.  No one there. And the office building even seemed empty of workers.  Then everyone seemed to arrive about 10 and the noise began.  I asked a French friend if it was a holiday. He said no.  Just “the French touch.”  Whatever that means.

I am so happy about Macron.  And in the first round on Sunday for the Assemble National, his party did very well. Surprisingly well.  Of course, now there is the second round.  Unless you got over 50%, the top two and sometimes 3 if it is close, go on to the second round.  But it will be very surprising if they lose there.  Marine Le Pen’s party the Front National did very poorly.  So he will have a mandate and should be able to put in all the labor and economic reforms he wants.  How the unions take this will be interesting.  And many if not most of his party candidates have not held elected office before.  Yup.  Interesting.

A reader came to Paris for a vacation and I had the pleasure of meeting her and her sister.  She kindly brought me some things from the states (over the counter drugs, etc).  So I guided them to the Champs Elysees via bus.  I forgot that when you buy the ticket on the bus, you cannot transfer.  So my bright idea was not so bright.  In the long run, a taxi may have been faster and cheaper.  Still bus 72 runs along the Seine and you can see so many things.  And then at the Champs, I suggested lunch at the Publicis Drug Store which sounds dorky but has a great café and restaurant.  Unfortunately it was closed for remodel.  We ended up at an Italian café with sadly just ok food.  My apologies again.  I couldn’t join them but I heard they were going to Café Carmine for the cook it yourself steak.  Hope it was good!

More stores are open on Sunday than before.  That’s thanks to a law Macron pushed while he was in Hollande’s cabinet.  Used to be the stores in the train stations.  Now around the stations.  And FNAC seems to be open everywhere.  It’s like Best Buy in a way… My French friends ask me why is it necessary for stores to be open on Sunday.  To them Sunday is family time.  Hmmm.  They have a point.  Yet, I am so used to shopping on Sunday – here I have to plan ahead.  Hey my local boulangerie is now open Sunday mornings.  That’s a plus!

The UK is bizarre right now.  Interesting contrast to France.  Europe is perking up.

And I won’t even comment on the obsequious cabinet meeting that 45 held wherein everyone sucked up to him… it’s a blessing to work for him????  Oh.  I guess I am commenting… Sorry.  A seasoned journalist (former AP and editor of the International Hearld) suggested I watch the Last Dictator in Scotland for a comparison to 45.  I will check out Netflix later.

The workers are all gone – but it’s lunch time.  As I look over at the building, I think they are almost done with the demolition part of this remodel process.  The floors look empty.  And the trash bin they have been loading up look only half full… as if they have no more to add.  Now the question is how much noise will the remodel make?

Always always always zip up your bag.  A friend had her wallet stolen out of her bag on the metro last week.  I am not surprised.  She carries a big bag that’s about 18-24 inches across.  And while there is a zipper compartment, she doesn’t really use it.  The wallet was begging to be taken.  Fortunately, her passport was not in it.  But her carte de sejour was.  That’s the official You can be in France for a Year paperwork.  She discovered she didn’t keep the receipts.  She is supposed to go to the UK for two weeks in a week and she can’t get an appointment until mid July.  So she is dropping in today.  Good luck.  Without the carte de sejour, she would be taking a great risk at being allowed back in at the border.

Oh dear.  I just checked.  This random blog is turning out longer than I wanted to.  Forced stop now.

Nice Is Beyond Nice

But first before blogging, I had to replenish the larder after a week in Nice.  The gentleman coming out of the boulangerie was munching on the end of the baguette!  That’s always good to see and yes, it meant the bread was hot!  Miam Miam!

Nice was my one week vacation in France with a friend from North Carolina.  We had a lovely AirBNB with great views from either balcony (yes, there were two) and A/C which was an added bonus on the hotter days.

Dollar Rental provided us with the Peugot through Rentalcars.com.  This is the third time I have rented through them and it’s a simple process and good price.  And I learned exactly how to do the American Express we will cover you for rental insurance.  (If you are counting on using them, you must decline all the other insurances.)  This time Dollar didn’t ask me if I could drive an automatic like they did in Montpellier last year.  It was a manual transmission and I found myself quickly feeling like I was back in my dad’s MGB zooming through the Hollywood Hills and Griffith Park in Los Angeles.  But it really wasn’t as zippy as that car, the top down, wind blowing in my hair.  We didn’t even have a sun roof.

The car and the driver and navigator all got back with nary a scratch.  Something I was very grateful for.  A couple times in the mountains, a bus and trucks came towards us with their front driver wheels over the center line.  To our right was a mountain.  Yikes.  Of course, that was nothing like the guy we saw in Monte Carlo.  He had no patience for a truck and construction congestion.  He saw an opening between a car and truck and he took it.  Unfortunately, his passenger side mirror didn’t go along with him.  We heard this awful noise and saw the mirror go flying and end up in the gutter.  That was an expensive poor judgment.  Didn’t harm the truck at all.

Some highlights in case you are ever in this area.

Nice – museums for Chagall and for Matisse.  (I really don’t like Chagall much…)  A boat cruise through the harbor and over to Villefranche.  (Do call first.  We are glad we did when we found out the trip we were planning on had been cancelled for that day.  Changed all our plans as a result.)  And the wonderful beaches.  As we drove down and back on Quai des Anglais, we were conscious of the horror here on last July 14 when the idiot drove a truck and killed so many people.

We made it to Ventimilgia in Italy for lunch.  I loved this city and its beach.  No, we didn’t make their famous market (they say the top chefs from Monte Carlo go there for the fish) – really on Fridays and that didn’t fit with our schedule.  The trip to Ventimiglia was on the middle Corniche.  There are three Cornich drives, High, Middle and Low.   All giving different perspectives of the coast.  From Nice we drove through Villefranche which has a gorgeous harbor.  Very deep too.  Apparently US ships were moored here after the war.  The villas were also gorgeous and expensive.  Like $200,000 per square foot… or maybe I missed the translation – but very expensive!  Elton John has a house on the top of the ridge that  allows him to see the bays of both Nice and Villefranche.  Nice.

And Eze – a wonderful mountain town filled with artisans.  They didn’t have running water until 1952.  And even now we saw the bellboys (men) carrying the suitcases up to the hotel and the delivery guys with boxes of supplies going to the various restaurants.  Much manual labor.

Gorge of Verdun – some 2 hours away and real mountain driving but not too many switchbacks.  It was pretty.  My friend from North Carolina raved.  I smiled and thought about Kings Canyon and Yosemite and said, nice.  On the way we stopped in Vence to see the Chapelle Matisse designed.  If you get the chance, watch the documentary about it – A Model for Matisse.   Worth the side trip.  We didn’t go into St Paul de Vence itself as it was full of tourists.  So we just went on to the gorge.  Beautiful views back to the Mediterranean.

Another day off to Antibes and Juan les Pins, west of Nice.  We stopped in the hilltop town of Biot.  Lovely old buildings and the present claim to fame is art.  Paintings, ceramics, glassware.

Churchill came to Antibes to paint and I can understand why.  You’ll find the Chateau Grimaldi there – where Picasso painted – for a mere four months – and donated some paintings so now it’s the Picasso Museum.  I am not a big Picasso fan so I will avoid commenting.  But I do respect and admire Churchill so he’s enough to make me want to stay in Antibes.  Maybe more than Nice…

But… then there’s Cap Ferrat.   Now that’s an incredible place.  It’s on the east side of the Villefrance bay.  That’s where the real estate is so expensive.  We visited the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild.  WOW.  She was a Rothschild who married and separated from a Russian banker before he gambled away all her money.   With that money she bought 17 acres on the top of a hill and built this beyond beautiful villa. And gardens.  Spectacular.  I discovered that you can find a fairly reasonable apartment on AirBNB on Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.  Only problem is then you must have a car.

Did I say the apartment came with an underground parking space?  Yikes.  It was a small car but we had only 2 inches to spare on each side.  The first night I think I had to make about 9 corrections.  By the last day, I could make it with only two turns!