Cooking class in Cannes

Today Ellie and Evelyn took the train to Cannes–only 12 minutes away. We walked around, saw the Croisette and the many high end shops, but thought Cannes was basically a more upscale Miami Beach. In fact, most of the Côte d’Azur is a relatively recent invention, according to my guidebook. While there have long been settlements here, dating back to the ancient Greeks, the idea of this being a resort dates to Queen Victoria and the Russian Czarina, both of whom found the climate in winter preferable to their own countries. Hardly surprising. As to summer visitors, that apparently started with the Murphys during the Jazz Age. Until the 20s no one would have been caught dead with a tan and apparently no one thought to swim in the sea.

Anyway, that’s today’s potted history lesson. We went to Cannes for a cooking class and it was great fun. There was another American woman (see photo with our instructor) and Eliane, who is a CIA-trained chef showed us how to make local specialties: flat bread with herbs, salmon rillettes, tomato tapenade, and a white bean pureė. After we finished making it, we ate it for lunch with a delightful local rosė. I can personally attest that the Mediterranean diet is not only healthy but delicious.

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Here is the website for the school: http://m.laservietteblanche.com/Home.html

Carnival à Nice

Today Evelyn left Ellie behind to go to Nice for Carnival. I still don’t understand why Carnival continues after Lent begins, but whatever.

A very nice young woman, Angelina, who I met at franglish on Sunday joined me. We took the train–a 20 minute ride. Below are pictures of the sea, people grabbing for flowers thrown from the floats, and our prizes.

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Beach day

It was overcast this morning so I decided not to go to Nice for Carnival. Maybe tomorrow. Instead I thought I would check out the Antibes Bridge Club which has lessons on Tuesdays. I don’t even know the name of the suits in French, but I thought it might be interesting.

Ellie and I walked to Juan les Pins, which is where the club is located. It was a long walk, especially for Ellie–maybe 2 miles. But to make it up, we had a delightful lunch along the beachfront. By then, it was sunny and warm–in the 50s I think. See photo below.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to get Ellie back to Antibes. There were some people waiting at the bus stop and they said the bus was going to Antibes. I wasn’t sure they’d allow Ellie (I had not brought her case) but the driver said nothing. So for one euro (the buses are heavily subsidized) we got a ride home where Ellie is now napping.

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antibes better weather

last night I went to a meetup group here in Antibes called Franglish. The idea is that they match French and English speakers and you spend half your time speaking each language. The majority of the people were French, so I was somewhat in demand for those looking to practice their English. I had some very interesting conversations.

I had taken a taxi over there because the weather was so foul. It would have been a 15 minutes walk and the taxi cost 15 euros, so I asked if anyone would drive me home. I ended up with 3 absolutely adorable young men–a Belgian, a Frenchman and an Italian. I served them wine and some of the goodies I had bought at the marché, including a divine duck pate and a very good chevre. We talked about the mistakes we had made in each other’s languages, including some embarassing ones, such as “je suis chaude” vs. “j’ai chaud.” The first means “i have the hots”, the second simply means ” I am warm.” Apparently, they made similar mistakes in English.

Anyway, it was a fun evening despite the ice storm. Today, everything had cleared and while it is still chilly (in the 40s), it was a beautiful day for a walk. After doing some errands (grocery shopping, getting my cell phone), I took Ellie for a walk down by the port. See photos. We then went to a restaurant for a fabulous pizza. Being so near Italy (there are a lot of Italians in Antibes, it seems) the pizza is much better than elsewhere in France. Anyway, Ellie and I enjoyed it.

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first day in Antibes

The locals say that the weather has been freakish–cold and wet. Rain and cold seem to follow wherever I go in France. Perhaps it is me?

After 9 hours of sleep, we woke at 5 am. We went to the boulangerie nearby for a croissant and later to the marché provencale. I bought enough food for a week and Ellie liked the handouts.

Now back in our nice, warm apartment. It is really more of a little house. The upstairs neighbors are my landlords. You enter the apartment at the garden level, into a lovely salon. A corridor to the right leads to the kitchen, the second bedroom and the laundry. Straight on another corridor leads to the bedroom, bath and separate WC. The idea of having a separate WC is common in France and makes sense, since one person can use the toilet while someone else is washing up. But the downside is that you have to go into another room to wash your hands after using the toilet. Small inconvenience.

Another cultural anomaly I’ve noticed is that the French seem not to have enough electric plugs. To recharge my iPad, I have to disconnect a lamp. And while the kitchen is filled with great appliances, you have to unplug each one in order to plug in another (for example, the automatic tea kettle or the coffee maker). Again, on s’adapte. Just some random observations.

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Here is a video of the house, which was made by my landlord, who you see in the photo.
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Ellie on the plane

We have arrived in France, tired but glad the hard part is over. Evelyn used her miles to upgrade to business bed, which was pleasant but she still couldn’t sleep on the plane. First, there was a lot of turbulence so every time she drifted off, her bed would seem to drop out of the sky. It was like trying to sleep on a roller coaster. But the biggest problem was that the bed wasn’t big enough for two–so Princess Ellie exercised her divine right to take over the space.

She also knocked over Evelyn’s glass of St. Emilion. Nothing like first class for good wine, although better in the tummy than all over our carry-ons.

We arrived in Paris Orly at 10 am Paris time (4 am by our internal clocks). The flight out to Nice was at 2 which gave us way too much time to wander around Paris’ smaller airport. The Pittsburgh airport has more stuff going on, although not Ladureė (for macarons) or Mariage Frères (for tea). We had a coffee and a saucisson sandwich, which was naturally slathered in butter. Yum, milk fat with pork fat–two of Ellie’s favorite food groups.

Air France wouldn’t take our huge check-in bag until precisely 1 and 1/2 hour before takeoff. This meant lugging around a luggage cart all over the airport. Then there was all sorts of bureaucracy about approving Ellie’s ESA even though AF had already listed her. Fortunately, the French took pity–not on Evelyn, of course, but on la pauvre chienne.

Ellie behaved very well until the end of our travels. Arriving at our lovely house in Antibes, our kind landlords had provided a welcome basket of local rosė and home-baked cookies. While they were showing us the house, Ellie help herself to a cookie. If she had gone for the rosė, she’d be sleeping in the laundry room.

Pictures from Antibes tomorrow. For now, bon repos.

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