Stars of the Cote D'Azur

Trip Start Nov 07, 2013
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Trip End Dec 11, 2013


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Friday, November 15, 2013

Once again it was rainy, windy and cold. The mistral winds are following us and torturing us.  However, we have learned from Captain Teo that this is normal for the Mediterranean in winter and we must take it day by day.  I don't know what choice we have.

In spite of the weather we visited Cannes, Grasse and St Paul (de Vence) .  We were supposed to leave our berth in the Monte Carlo harbor, very early in the morning so another ship could dock "along side" and we were going to go into the town by tender boats.  We couldn’t leave due to the high winds and so the other ship had to go somewhere else. We were beneficiaries of the bad weather for a change.

We got on the bus and headed for our first stop: Cannes. On the way we saw the beginning of the Grand Prix auto race. So, we know that many of you would like to come and see the Grand Prix.  Here is what it would cost you (not including airfare):

$1000 for a seat in the stands

$3000 a night for the hotel if you want to stay in Monte Carlo, which of course you do)  You have to buy a minimum of 3 nights

So there you go, $10,000 and you haven’t even gotten here yet.  Start saving.

So  there are three roads between Cannes and Monte Carlo, the Grand Corniche (really high), the middle Cornich, which is down farther and the Basse Cornich.  Traffic is terrible coming into and going out of Monte Carlo during rush hours.  32,000 per day from France and 6,000 from Italy.  We saw the traffic on both of our days leaving Monte Carlo and we would not want to sit in that kind of traffic everyday. 

This area has  a long history.  You have all heard of the Pax Romana.  Well this happened right after Caesar died.  The Romans subdued the Ligurians that live in this area and there was a long period of peace called the Pax Romana.  At least that is what I could glean from what our lovely tour guide told us on the bus, but I could have missed something because I kept falling asleep on the bus.

So we drove through a small town called Cagnes which is one of the small towns/medieval fortresses that we have seen.  We didn’t actually go in to this.  We did learn that the Cagnes which Cannes is named after the canes that grown in the river here are where the Palm d’or comes from (Golden Palm) 

We then arrived in Cannes.  Ken and Andrea were not totally impressed with Cannes, but we did see the steps with the red carpet where the starts go into the film festival hall.  We noted the arms for Cannes which include the Palm d’or.  Now you will also be quite surprised to learn that Andrea bought a new pair of shoes here, which will now be known as the Palm d’or heels.

The had a beautiful market in Cannes, that we walked through – very colorful.

The file festival was supposed have started in September, 1939.  But Hitler had different ideas and the festival was cancelled.  The fine people of  Cannes did not give up the film festival though.  The next attempt to hold the festival was in 1946 and that one actually happened.  Since then it has only been cancelled in 1948, 1950 and 1968.  Unfortunately Andrea was apparently sleep walking when this information was given, so she doesn’t remember why it was cancelled.  Now if you want to attend the film festival you have to have in invitation.  It brings in 180 million Euros to Cannes.  You will also be glad to hear that the people of Cannes were quite upset when they change over to the reservation system, as they couldn’t see the films.  So now, immediately after the film festival, the screen the winning film for the citizens.  This has calmed things down considerably.

While driving along the beach we were told not to look for topless bathers.  Andrea initial reaction to this was “ Well duh, it’s freezing outside” but we were then told that topless was fashionable in the 70’s (remember Rudi Gernreich’s monokini) but it is not anymore.  Andrea can only speculate that white is the new tan.

So then we loaded the bus again for our trip to Grasse.  We visited a perfume factory here.  We learned how they make perfume and then, unbelievable as it may seem you those of you not with us, we had the once in a lifetime opportunity to actually buy the perfume.

A little history of this town:  The hardworking citizens of Grasse originally tanned leather as their major industry.  They had a lot of money and looked down upon the people of Cannes as “sand eaters”.  So here is how they got into the perfume business – Catherine de Medici, remember we met the Medici’s in Florence, decided that the leather in her gloves did not smell good, so she started to perfume her gloves.  Being the person that everyone wanted to emulate, they all started perfuming their gloves.  Grasse started making perfume.  Then in 1750, Louis IV figured out that he could make money by taxing leather goods, so the good people of Grasse said F you to Louis and stopped making leather.

Queen Victoria frequented this part of France and Edith Piaf died here.  

On to St Paul.  The guide books called this St Paul de Vence but the residents prefer to just call it St Paul.  It was a lovely town with winding streets and cool little shops.  We did learn about the architect of the city wall.  He was in St Paul building the wall for 9 years.  He fell in love with a young woman who lived in the town.  It took 9 years to build the wall and he realized that he would have to leave.  So – he started taking down the wall stone by wtone in the night.  Well, guess what, he got caught.  The king was informed of this and blinded the guy as punishment and the young woman jumped off the wall to her death because the architect couldn’t see her beauty.

Also, you will all be interested to know that the Chef Escoffier had his part time home here.  I won’t bore you with that story which is fascinating.  Read “White Ruffles in Winter” to learn more.  This is the guy that invented Peach Melba.

So that was the “Stars on the Cote D’Azur”  We missed Trivia because our tour was so long, but that’s ok because we would have lost anyway.
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