“…going for a ride in the car, car. Goin’ for ride, goin’ for a ride, goin’ for a ride in the car, car…”
>>>>Mougins and Menton: You’d think it was Muggins but it is really MOOjin; Menton is Menton.
Menton is in the hills above Cannes and across the gorge from Grasse (perfume country). The WHOLE family loaded into the van for the day trip. Meg had to sit way in back where the short leg room would work. Two kids flanked Alice in the middle and I rode in front with Dave. Not GPS-Dave but the real Dave. He really knows where he is going. Months ago they had house looked in this region before buying in Bagnols en Foret.
Menton is an art gallery mecca. Picasso lived his final years in this place. Vey Picturesque. Narrow hill “streets”. Sunday morning, early, so there is not much tourist activity. We walked up and down this well to do village. From a high vantage you could see Cannes and the sea, and Grasse across the gorge.
Off to Menton. Headed for Mirazur, currently number 6 in the world, for lunch. AMAZing view of the eastern most small boat harbor and beachfront of the French Riveria. We are the first into the small carpark at noon. If you are later, you might have to park up the road in Italy! When we come out at 2:30, our van was between a Ferrari and a BMW. Two Porsches and a Maserati filled the last spaces.
Oh! Dinner!? Five appropriately proportioned excellent courses with three amusee bouches and great bread and ginger infused olive oil. Oh Meg and I shared a wine pairing as well. The restaurant prepared a pasta and fish plate for Tristan. It was better than most restaurants do for adults!
Even when the place “welcomes children”, dining with LITTLE ones is always an excitement. Alternating adult walks for diaper or noise control, tasting the adult offerings, looking at a book or cellphone kids video in the stroller. BUT an AMAZing set of foods; creative but not weird, always artfully plated and presented by multiple wait staff.
>>>>>goin’ for a ride>>>>>Gorges du Verdun: We leave Bagnols about 8:30A. The GPS-Dave indicated an almost 2 hour drive to the destination village. BUT I know how I drive; slower than speed limit on the twisty curvy mountain roads, and the stoppings to view. The southern cornice of the Gorge is spectacular as it skirts the Gorge and looks at the rising cliffs on the north side. The gorge is not anywhere near as wide or long as Grand Canyon. It is cut a thousand feet twisty deep and two thousand feet wide in the gray and white limestone. Cliffs are precipitous. The road has few guard rails and the white line marking the road edge stands bright a half-foot away from a drainage ditch or edge. No shoulders; occasionally a turn out; occasionally a passing line in the middle of the narrow road. This driving is NOT for the faint of heart and I near THAT.
Villages cling to steep hillsides. Agriculture land and vineyards and campgrounds and hay fields are in the small flats in accessible valleys. Lunch in La Palud at noon. Half baguette with chevre and onion and a double espresso. It IS odd to be eating bread with a fork! Meg had a ham and cheese salad and apricot tart. I had to finish her tart ;~}
There is one traffic light in the village. It controls the approach into the town from three directions. Street is so narrow they are effectively one way at a time. We are waiting in line for our street to be green. OOPs a BIGBUS is trapped IN the intersection. Too BIG to advance through the street. The driver got out and frantically tried and succeeded in diverting cars so his guide could back the bus and he got back in to advance into a wider road! That took five entertaining minutes.
The northern cornice has a one way loop with many viewpoint sand overlooks. Stunning views deep into the gorge to the thin ribbon of green-blue river a thousand feet below. One viewpoint was a vantage for seeing reintroduced vultures. There were a half dozen soaring on thermals out over the gorge and then back to the cliff wall. The viewpoint was above the soar so you looked down onto the backs of the birds.
Viewpoints and a short walk. Hilltowns. Mountain roads. It was 4:30 before we drove into the yard at Bagnols. We definitely needed a glass of Provence rose and a sit at the pool. Tristan in the pool is working. A plane towards Nice is far overhead. “A plane, la avion, faygi (phonetic).” words are repeated to us, Alice, and David. Repeat in context. He mimics the speakers’ words/tones in context. “L’eau, water, shway.” If I stay long enough, I might become tri as well!! I certainly will need to take a French class in the fall, if just for self-defense. Tough to know that your grandson is more fluent than you at two years old.
>>>>>goin’ for a ride>>>>>Grasse: Perfume city. We drove the backroad instead of the toll road. I LOVE the twisty mountain roads ;~| We arrived early enough to have some of the pedestrian walks relatively free of traffic. Another narrow street French hill town. This one is a city with a historique town section. Perfume industry is king here. The region is home to flower fields, especially rose, jasmine, and madonna lily. Many large and famous perfumeries are based here. The museum is a complete and an exhaustive look at the history of fragrance and smell.
After lunch, we drove into Cannes and to the famous waterfront/beaches. BUSY as you would expect. Tough traffic and with no parking spots available, we can say “Been there. Seem some of that.”
Back on the highway heading to a glass of Provence rose and a sit in the pool.>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>goin’ for a ride>>>>>Vin de Pays: Bagnols sits within 30 minutes of dozens of vineyards that specialize in rose wine as well as reds and some whites. Some of the labels are known world-wide. Meg and I had visited, tasted at, and bought at one near Frejus. Not famous but very good. On our last day in Bagnols, David had three in mind. So off in the afternoon. None are open from noon to 2:30. UP and over and around white-knuckle road a local mountain.
The first was a big one with distribution in US. BUT all the wines were underwhelming. David, Meg and I found no wine good enough to buy. Gabriel smiled and gurgled and looked cute in the AC of the degustation room. It was HOT outside.
Off to the next. It has distribution all over the world. David knew one of their wines from seeing it advertised in Hong Kong; “Whispering Angel”! With a name like that it has to be junk. NOPE! It is very nice. The wine master who was managing the degustation understood our problem with packing wine in backpacks and noted that the website would give us the local distribution in Massachusetts!!. Meg did want to try their high end wine “Garrus”, a $100 a bottle one. He said sure. She said “WOW that is good.” David and I agreed. Afterwards he told us that it had scored 98 out of 100!! in blind tastings ratings. “Check the website for it in US.”
On to the third part way up the hairy mountain road. David had been there before so he already knew what he wanted to buy. We decided to buy on of their roses as well. Very nice and on sale. What a pleasant deal.
OK heading home. Pool awaits. Alice’s father is now here and so conversation is really by committee-translation. I do need to take a class. I can’t be asking Tristan to translate for me. No more wine for now, thanks. David works on his menu; green curry with rice, foie-gras ravioli in my chicken-vegetable broth.
>>>>>goin’ for a ride>>>>>Airport. Packed. Two small bottles of wine in sneakers in the check-in bag, big bottle wrapped in t-shirts and surrounded by clothes. No room for the Limoncello bought in Andorra and half finished. Set-to-jet! “Avion. Plane. Faygi” Good byes in French, English, and Mandarin. Nice airport is 75 minutes from Bagnols. We leave after breakfast with enough time to refill gas tank and return the rental car before extra charges. Easy-Peazy, Then just sit in the airport until takeoff to Dublin.
Sitting in Departure waiting to be able to check-in at Aer Lingus, patrols of three French Army people, dressed in camo fatigues with military weapons at the ready walk past looking. Looking. They are in a irregular triangle formation, consistently separated by 8 feet. Loooking and waalking through the terminal.
>>>>>leaving on a jet plane>>>>>. Actually we will be back again. Winter in the South of France?? Certainly post Xmas and New Years Eve in Bagnols. Now we are chillin around the corner from the Temple Bar in Dublin; a 1 day lay over. Meg has a Camino friend who’ll tour us the evening.