Le Relax in St. Raphael

The Côte d’Azur (the French Riviera) is more a concept than a geographical entity. While Nice is its largest city, the Cote stretches from the Italian border to just about Marseille.

Between the bling of Cannes and the bling bling of St. Tropez lies St. Raphael. A town of 30,000 people (plus another 50,000 in its adjacent city of Frejus), it was settled by the Romans and still offers Roman ruins. But it is a bit of a backwater, despite its gorgeous beaches and end-to-end restaurants.

When confinement was lifted in May, the government allowed travel within 100 km, so I rented a place in St. Raphael where I am now ensconced. I really like it. I’m even considering getting a weekend place here.

It is different from Nice. It feels more like a resort than a city, but it has all the necessities of a city. The path along the beach is not developed. There are some beachfront picnic areas, that offer ice cream and a quart de vin for 5€. The beaches are mostly public and don’t offer much beyond the sea and a few showers.

My apartment is just across the road from the beach.

View from the apartment

We (Ellie and I) arrived yesterday. We had a lovely dinner at a Moroccan restaurant. Today we met a friend at the marchė then had lunch across from the beach.

After a nap, I had a swim in the sea. Then Ellie and I took a walk.

Boules on the beach

La Cerise sur le Gâteau (the Cherry on the cake)

Do we have this expression in english? I am becoming so franglaise that I no longer remember. So today was the last of the birthday celebrations until (if) I ever get to New York. Roselyne invited our group out to her home, in Nice, but with the feel of the country. I felt like I was in one of those delightful French comedies where the family gathers around for an alfresco feast.

Nicole brought foie gras. Roselyne made a cold beet soup. Annie made her famous Caesar salad. Roselyne also made a marinated beef with zucchini from her garden. Polished off with Michele’s cherry clafoutis. And appropriate selections from George’s cellar, including homemade limoncello.

Plus thoughtful gifts, nonstop conversation (politics and food, mostly) Not only a feast but the cherry on the cake—Roselyne and George’s pool.

If any of my American friends is still wondering why I have chosen to live here…C’est évident, non?

Birthday Week

Thank you to everyone for your birthday wishes. I was overwhelmed by all the calls and messages from 5 countries. From London, this beautiful bouquet.

Sunday I had lunch on the beach with my French/American friend Anne.

Today my French friend Roselyne (who is married to a Scot) invited me to a cooking class. Kind of hard to taste wearing masks but I learned a lot. Pistou is the french version of pesto, made without pignoli or Parmesan but with whole olives and preserved lemon. The finished dish consisted of chicken breasts au pistou with zucchini (or courgettes for you Brits).

Still to come: a luncheon for me next Saturday and, of course, another round of celebrations when I finally get to New York.

Getting older doesn’t seem so bad when you have all this. I have no complaints.