Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Fabulous French Riviera

As promised, I am showing you today some of my favorite photos from the French Riviera portion of our trip.

On Wednesday we boarded one of those high speed trains that travel about 200 miles an hour, arriving in Cannes in the late afternoon. This picture shows one of our first glimpses of the Mediterranean. Cannes would be our home for the next four nights, with side trips during the day to Monaco, Provence and Nice.

Thursday's trip was to Monaco, that tiny kingdom, of which Monte Carlo is a tiny part, near the Italian border. When a place has a jail that looks like this...

And a harbor that looks like this...

You know there must be some serious wealth. And it really is a tiny place. If you will look closely at this photo, most of the area that you see behind the tallest building is in France and not part of Monaco.

We started our day with a tour the Oceanography Museum, watched the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace, and visited the cathedral where we saw the graves of Prince Ranier and Princess Grace. Throughout Monaco are photographs from the wedding of the beloved couple.

We didn't spend much time at the Grand Casino, pictured here in the distance. The main casino doesn't open until about 9 p.m. We walked in, checked our cameras, wandered through one room of slot machines, which was about the size of my family room, found out that they wanted 10 euros just to look inside the dining room, reclaimed our cameras and left.

We left Monaco via a winding road that took us high above the area, giving us quite a view.

Le Baux de Provence was our first stop on Friday's excursion to Provence. The ruins of a castle sit above the town, and LBeau and I decided to visit, finding a great view of the countryside with its beautiful fields and olive groves.

Also in Le Baux I had my first encounter with what the French call a Turkish toilet, basically a hole in the ground with places to put your feet. Honestly, I don't see how someone without good balance could begin to manage the stance you have to assume to avoid completely ruining your clothes, but when you've gotta go, you've gotta go.

Aix en Provence gave me a second opportunity in one day for a Turkish toilet experience. Our guide showed us to the public restrooms, where we had to pay an attendant 50 cents to use the toilet. She had explained that there were actually two regular toilets, so we decided to opt for those, only to find that one of them was out of commission. I decided I didn't want to wait around, gritted my teeth, and assumed the stance. I am now adding Turkish toilets to the pitfalls of public potties that I discussed earlier in this post.

It was also in Aix that I found this wonderful shop where the lovely lady in the window helped me pick out two watercolors that her husband had painted. I can't wait to get them framed.

Saturday was rainy, but it didn't dampen our spirits as we headed to Nice, arriving first at the flower market. Although the flowers were beautiful, I was more fascinated by the food. Who would have ever thought that there were this many kinds of olives.

I don't think I've ever seen tomatoes that looked like these.

You could buy almost any spice imaginable. In fact, we found out later that one of the women traveling with our group had some spices in her carry on. When she went through security at the airport, they did a thorough search of her bag, thinking she was smuggling drugs.

Noted for its narrow cobblestone streets set in intricate patterns, St. Paul de Vence sits on a hill north of Nice. I though St. Paul was easily the most picturesque place that we visited on the entire trip, and I could have spent all day wandering through the shops and taking pictures.

Like this...

Or this...

So that wraps up my trip to France. Thanks for letting me show you some of my favorite pictures.


Keetha said...

Oh I LOVE these pictures. Some day maybe I'll go there - - -

Robin said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing your photos and your story!
I can tell the Turkish toilets were your favorite thing about the!


Robin :o)

debbie said...


Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

This looks like a beautiful trip! Thanks for sharing it with us.

darnold23 said...

Makes me want to return. When we were in Monaco, the bourgainvilla was in bloom...awesome. Great pictures.

momma said...

gorgeous pictures. thank you for sharing your trip with us!!

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

Kathy, I am so envious! What beautiful pictures. Not envious of the bahroom stance though! That is too funny. laurie