Day 1 Arriving in France!

Day 1- Arriving!

I arrived in Antibes yesterday.  What a long grueling trip to get into my new apartment.  I had tried to pack lightly.  I weighed my suitcase at home after I finished packing- 58 lbs.  Eight pounds over and way too heavy to carry.  Unpacked piles of clothes.  Went through the must have and maybe piles for the 20th time.  Took out all of the maybe items.  53 pounds.  Did a major streamline of all my toiletries.  Took out the shampoo and conditioner I knew I would need and have to spend triple on in France.  Couldn’t get below 51 pounds and finally decided to take another carry-on bag.  Got the suitcase to 48 lbs.  Seemed like a success- was not thinking about hauling around a 48 lb suitcase in and out of buses and trains and up and down the streets of Antibes. (more…)

Day 2- Finding wee-fee

Why is it so hard to find Wi-Fi?  Or as the French say, wee-fee?  Maybe because old town Antibes has no Starbucks or McDonald’s.   Marc, the rental agency owner told me that he thought a restaurant, Le Jardin had it.  I went by there last night- a cute little place with a couple tables under nice lighting situated against the sidewalk.  I asked the lady, “Do you have internet?”  She looked at me like I had just belched.  I tried again, a different way, this time in French of all things.  “Avez-vous wee-fee?”  “Non, non” she said, shaking her head like she could poof me away.  (more…)

Day 3- Yum! La cuisine!

Finally!  My petite dejeneau (breakfast at 2pm) of a crepe avec sucre and le beurre (with sugar and butter)!

I awoke at 11:20 this morning- I just can’t seem to get on this time schedule and I am awake for hours during the night.  But I use that time to do the reading and writing that I want to do so the time passes quickly.  I left my apartment to find another perfect day!  Warm, sunny and bright blue skies.  The skies here are the bluest I have ever seen.  It has to have something to do with that sunlight that the famous French artists recognized.  I walked from my little street around the corner to another little street, all lined with tiny, beautiful homes of so much old character, to one of the main streets of the town, and into the Provencial Market.  It was buzzing with a flurry of activity!  (more…)

Day 4- Khaki skirt’s a no-no

Today I put on my short khaki skirt that I wore all summer long in Ocean City, MD.  I packed for fall weather and it’s been hot and sunny here.  Way too hot for my jeans and all the long sleeve shirts I brought.  So my summer wardrobe is a bit limited.  I added a nice little tank top to the khaki skirt, thought I looked cute and went out to enjoy another beautiful day in this charming town.

I stopped in the boulangerie (bakery) near my place and got a raisin biscuit where I bought my raisin bisquit this morningfor breakfast.  Take a look at this adorable place!   And it had the warm smell of freshly-baked bread.  The biscuit was wonderful!  I vowed to come back for a baguette the next day.

Then as I was walking around, suddenly I realized how frumpy I looked compared to everyone else!  I saw hundreds of people throughout the day and NOT ONE other person was wearing a short khaki skirt.  (more…)

The price of peace of mind

I want to go to St. Tropez badly.  That town has just been in the press recently, but most Americans aren’t too familiar with the south of France.  This just isn’t a place that Americans (and when I use the term Americans, I’m talking about people from the U.S.  I’m aware that people from Mexico, Central America, Canada and I guess even South America are all American’s from the America’s) vacation.  I hear a lot of people talking about being in Cancun or one of the Caribbean islands, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone I know talk about vacationing on the French Riviera.  Since I’ve been here I have not seen or heard talking ONE person from the United States.  I hear English, but it’s spoken by Australians and Brits.  And then it sounds funny.

The reason the town of St. Tropez has been in the news is because that’s where Jon Gosselin of Jon and Kate Plus 8just vacationed with his 16 year-0ld  girlfriend.  Ok, maybe she’s 22, but she is the daughter of Kate’s plastic surgeon who did her tummy tuck in the first season.  And because of that Jon CROSSED THE LINE!!!

Anyway, that’s the only American I have heard of ever vacationing in the south of France other than the movie stars at the Canne’s film festival and they don’t count.  They’re just there because it’s the cool place to be seen that week.

But, the reason I want to go to St. Tropez is because every Thursday between 3 and 5:30, Brigitte Bardot hangs on the beach in front of the tourist information office and signs autographs!  Bless her heart… she turns 75 this year!  I can’t wait to see what she looks like and how in the world she holds up in this hot sun.  (more…)

Day- Whatever. They’re never going to invite me back

I see hundreds of people everyday walking around Old Town Antibes.  I waterleave my apartment in the morning and except for one or two quick stops back in, I’m out all day.  And it’s hot.  I notice my natural ingredients Tom’s deodorant (which I’ve been using since Tony Robbins told us in the seminar that the aluminum present in most others is associated with Alzheimer’s) does not seem to be working very well.  I carry a water bottle with me, just like I usually do in the states when it’s hot.  Actually, there I keep one in my car all the time. 

It’s super easy here because the tap water is wonderful!  I don’t know where it’s coming from, maybe straight from Evian, but it’s better than any bottled water bottlewater I’ve had.  So I have a couple empty bottles and I fill one with tap water in the morning and carry one with me during the hot day.  Now… I’ve noticed that NO ONE else has a water bottle.  NOT A SINGLE PERSON!  Pour quoi?  When I eat in a little café sometimes I don’t ask for de l’eau (some water) because even though it’s free, it’s a big production.  It comes in a big colored glass bottle along with a glass with ice.  Always the same thing.  So rather than bother the garcon (waiter) for a carafe of water which leads to a big discussion of glass bottle, with or without gas, I just pull out my plastic bottle, knowing they appreciate my being less of a bother.  I have plenty of things to bother them with… more sucre (sugar), can I have some salt, please, je voudrais de beurre (I would like some butter).  And God knows what else I can think of needing while I’m eating my little meal.

One day, I even smiled and laughed, showing the waiter how I find the need Antibes 9.6 001to pour extra water- from my bottle- into my café American, because even the American-style café is too strong for my taste buds.  I noticed that day in particular he had a very strained look on his face.  Who knows? 

I was sitting in Le Crème Brulee, one of my new favorite free Wi-Fi hangouts, eating my sucre avec beurre (sugar with butter) crepe and sipping my coffee syrup or whatever they call that coffee when I noticed the owner saying something to my waiter while two other female servers listened with a look of disgust.  And they seemed to be glancing my way.  I was dressed nicely, and the place wasn’t busy.  I thought that in France there was an unwritten rule that you could sit at your table as long as you liked, it wasn’t even polite for the garcon to bring your bill until you requested it.  There were empty tables all around me.  Were they just tired of my being there?  They certainly weren’t acting very French-like if they were going to hurry me along.  And they’re the ones with the free Wi-Fi, so of course they should expect some people to lounge a little longer than normal. 

 I saw the garcon- very handsome and proper I might add- walking towards me.  What was he going to say???  What instruction had the restaurant owner just given him… because I could tell by his walk and his head slightly lowered that he didn’t want to be the one to deliver the message.  And his crew was watching him sideways, trying to act like they weren’t. 

“Excuse me, Madame”, he said softly… “Would you please remove your water bottle from the table?”  And I glimpsed the other two female servers quietly snickering. 

What???  What in the world was the problem with my water bottle???   “Oh, certainly” I said, and couldn’t get it in my purse fast enough.  “Je suis desolate”  I am sorry.  Sorry for fucking what!!!  When did it become so RUDE to have a water bottle on a table in a casual café? 

After that, I finished what I was doing on the internet, left an extra large tip and left.  I felt so flustered and stunned. 

Later that evening I was sitting in the tiny “The Happy Face”, the only place besides the Lebanese restaurant that has internet Wi-Fi available in the evening.  By the way, I have now mentioned in my blog the four places in all of Old Antibes that has Wi-Fi.  If you plan on coming here, make a note because they have been extremely difficult to find.  I bought a drink so I could ask for their confirmation key number to log on.  As I was sitting with my computer on the bar, feeling very uneasy and nervous about making another etiquette custom mistake, I asked the girl near me if it was considered rude to be using your computer at a bar or café.  “Oh, Non!”  C’est d’accord!”  Oh, no, it’s ok!, she said happily.  And how about at a café, while eating a crepe?  I thought I would make her answer a second time to make sure we understood each other.  No, no, no.  Absolutely no problem.   Hmmm… ok….. so….. how about having a water bottle on your table?  Is that ok?  She looked as if someone had struck her!   No, no!  She shook her head and wagged her finger with a horrified look in her eyes.  “Non, non” she said.  Wonder why. “It’s impolite?” I asked.  “No bottle water.  Non, non.” she said concerned, as if she was hoping for my sake I hadn’t committed that terrible faux pas. 

So, there you have it.  Now I keep my water bottle hidden in my purse and turn when I drink it, as if I’m blowing my nose or something.  I don’t know what it is about the bottle of water, but I won’t make that mistake again! 

And, as a footnote, when I was in the cell phone store buying my phone with my bottle deep in my purse, two French women were chattering away.  One laughed and I heard her say to her friend, “Look, I’m thirsty all the time just like an American” and she took her water bottle from her purse and took a drink.  I don’t get it.  What’s it all about? 

I have good news about Le Crème Brulee.  Like falling off a horse, the best thing to do is get right back on… the next morning, guess where I chose to have my crepe?  Yep!  Le Crème Brulee!  And I followed all the rules. Well, most of the rules.  I asked the girl (a new one that hadn’t waited on me yet) for a crepe avec sucre and du beurre.  Imagine that.  And she was real confused about the du beurre.  Apparently I was saying it like du ‘bear’ and it’s supposed to be du ‘ber’.  But we finally got that settled… or so I thought.  When the crepe came it seemed a little dry.  I took a bite and tasted no du beurre.  No du beurre to be found.  She finally came back into view and I motioned her over and tried my best to explain in francais that my crepe didn’t have the du BER that I SPECIFICALLY asked for.  Actually, I was very polite.  She left and returned with two cold pats of butter wrapped in gold foil and tossed them on my plate and quickly turned and left.  Oh no, that will never do.  I actually thought about spreading the cold butter on my crepe but at $7.00 US a pop, I pretty much want the crepe to be parfait (translated as perfect)!  When she walked back into sight I motioned her over.  Lots of commotion- my trying to tell her I wanted warm melted butter and her looking very confused.  She called over one of the other servers (one of the smirkers) and they chattered a flury!  Then she started to remove my plate.  I had only taken one bite, and I didn’t need for the kitchen to make an entirely new crepe.  I’m not a jerk, I just wanted melted butter on my crepe!  The smirker girl came over and said something to me in French which I Antibes 9.7 036didn’t understand, but it obviously confirmed what the first girl had said because the second girl whisked my plate away!  Go figure.  So I busied myself on my computer thinking I had awhile before the new crepe arrived and then voila!  My original crepe with the bite taken out returned with a cute little bowl of melted butter beside it.  “Perfect!” I said with a big smile.  And they smiled too.  I guess The Crème Brulee has a stern rule about bringing melted butter out by itself.  Who knows? 

My crepe was delicious and I left another sizeable tip in hopes that they won’t only not cringe when they see me walking their way, but that they’ll actually hope I come in.  Before I left, in the 90 minutes that I sat there using the internet after finishing my crepe, the smirker girl came towards me and said something about me, and my using the internet and motioned outside.  I said, “Not a problem, I’m ready to leave”, thinking she was telling me my Antibes 9.7 039time was up.  She profusely made it clear that that was not what she was trying to convey, but that a woman seated in outside seating needed help connecting, and that perhaps I (since I’ve apparently spent more time in their restaurant on-line than all other people combined) might be able to help her.  So I got up and went over to the lady’s table and helped her get on-line. 

Now when I walk by The Crème Brulee they smile and say bonjour.  And I smile and happily say “Bonjour” in the french sweet sing-song voice!  After all, they’re my internet connection.  And their crepes are really good!

And another happy note… look how beautiful the Mediterranean is today.  I walked around the corner of my narrow street and the view opened to the sea and the cobalt and turquoise jewel tones of the sea set against the bright blue sky took my breath away.  I hope even a tiny bit of the warm, vibrant energy comes through in the picture.  In person, it makes me breathe faster and I feel a soothing wave move through my body.

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9/11 in Antibes

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Just an added note:  today I walked by one of squares on the edge of town and noticed the American flags!  That was a surprise!  And they had some chairs set up facing the memorial.  I asked some people what it was about.  The flags are the American, French and as far as I could understand the “European” flag.  They are having a ceremony at 6:30 in rememberance of 9/11.   

I, as an American, was very touched.  Merci, Antibes.

Houston… we have a problem. Or… doggie do-do.

There is a major problem in France.  That of the doggie do-do.   The French word for dog is le chien, pronounced she-en.  The ch’s in the french language are pronounced as the “sh” sound.   My word for do-do is chit, pronounced she-it.  Or… Le Chien Chit! (pronunciation: Le She-en Shit!)  What is it with the French people and their dogs???  Has no one heard of cleaning up after your dog?  Chien do-do (3)The answer is no.  All over the sidewalks and cobblestone streets, in front of all of these wonderful, sweet, little restaurants and shops that I’ve been telling you about is smeared shit!  All over the place!  I don’t get it!  I have yet to see ONE person, NOT ONE, clean up after their dog.  And there are hundreds of dogs.

Dogs have a much pampered life in France.  In my next life, if I have to be an animal, I’m going to choose to be a French dog.  They get to go everywhere with their owners.  In the shops (even the expensive make-up and perfume Dogs (6)shops), restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries.  Everywhere.  And it’s even popular to push them in strollers!  Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, would be very unhappy with that.  I saw one of his programs where the two male owners were in quite a fuss over the aggressive behavior of their miniature Schnauzer.  My guess is that the damn dog knew what a pain-in-the-ass breed it was and was having its own anxiety attacks over coming to terms with that.  But Cesar told the two guys to STOP making Twinkle-toes sit in a stroller, peaking out over the edge during “walks”.  They were only walking themselves that way.  The dog needed to get out and get exercise and expend some of its energy.

In France, the dogs that aren’t in strollers apparently don’t even have to Dogs (7)have a leash.  Imagine that!  You are running errands around town with your dog, going in and out of all your favorite stores, Starbucks, Nordstroms, Wal-mart, and your dog is not even on a leash!  And all of your friends’ dogs aren’t on leashes!  It seems like doggie mayhem!  But not here.  The dogs have learned to behave like their owners.  Very quiet and mildly subdued in their own little space.  Except sometimes, albeit infrequently, those shopkeepers do snap.

Dogs (2)If the dog happens to meander outside, and god forbid, down the sidewalk, the owner just leans out the door and gently calls the dog’s name and says something meaning “come back here, honey” and voila!  The dog comes tip-toeing back.  And then sits by the owner until the owner is finished discussing whatever with the shopkeeper.  Wouldn’t that be crazy if KIDS were actually that well-behaved!

But… what are we going to do with Le Chien Chit?  The French actually have a slang word for shit-  chier! Amazingly similar to chien. Maybe because  when they think of the word chien- they automacially think of all the chier! Asking each person to carry along a plastic bag for picking up after their dog seems unreasonable.  The French seem to be pretty stingy with their plastic bags.  At the stores, when checking out, you need to BUY one!  Dogs (17)It has taken a number of times for me to get the hang of this.  The salesperson leaves your purchases at the end of the check-out counter, waiting for you to stuff them away in your belongings.  They always look surprised and I think maybe mildly irritated when I ask to buy a bag after the fact.  You see, according to them, after they take my money and give me change the transaction is over.  Finis!  And for me to just be staring at my purchases as the next person’s items get pushed into mine and then my asking about “acheter-ing (buy-ing) a sac (bag) is exactly the type of thing to push them over the edge and make them a little snappy.

Since a plastic bag has to be purchased with each store transaction, the throw-away plastic bag idea for each doggie bowel movement may not be a popular concept.  But guess what!  Today, in the tourism office, another one of my favorite hang-outs, I saw something I’ve yet to see!  Definitely not yet in use.  A Pince-a-Crotte!  Which is translated to mean Pinch-the-Droppings!  Quiet the concept!  It consists of a piece of ready-to-bend cardboard inside a little brown bag that the dog owner would use to “pinch” up the dropping”!

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Or the bomb.  I guess if you have a big dog, you would need to carry two.   And then the American who’s writing this wouldn’t step in their chien’s chit!  Fabuous!

On the back of the bag it says in seven languages “I love my dog, I take care of the environment with Pince-a-Crotte”.  If you’re concerned about using too many plastic doggie dippers back in the states, you can contact these people at pac@compofac.fr or on their website at www.compofac.fr.   Man, I  hope their invention catches on in France!

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(Footnote- all of the pictures in this blog were taken in Antibes today.)

Everyone looks so sophisticated and fashionable!

I’m beginning to look more and more French.  And blending in better.  I can feel it.  On non-shampoo days I would usually wear my hair up, like I do in Ocean City.  I twist it back with one large bobby pin into a French bun with long, free hair coming from out of the middle and loosely draping over from the top.  It looks nice and often times people ask me how I do it.  I’ve worn it that way here a couple times and have realized it’s not the look.  Antibes 9.13 003People in Antibes have their hair very controlled, and tight, like in a pony tail or something.  I don’t know where it is, except it isn’t bouncing around like in a shampoo commercial.   In fact, I realized that I probably look like a banty rooster with my hair on top of my head, bopping along when I walk.  So now I blow dry it straight and sleek.  I wear it down, nice and smooth or pulled behind my head in a low ponytail… no more 1980’s poof!   (I don’t know who this woman is,  but she was in my viewfinder as I was sitting on my bench using the Wi-Fi from the Lebanese restaurant, Falafel, and she captures the look of the typical french woman I see).

I even ditched my fuchsia pink lipstick.  I know… that’s a big step.  People in Bethany Beach have been telling me to GET RID OF IT, but I just couldn’t seem to let it go.  I liked the color it gave my face.  Sort of like those old Antibes 9.14 003ladies who paint two circles of pink on their cheeks and don’t quite blend it in.  (To the left is my Clairol #540 that I’ve been wearing for the past 9 years). I walked into a wonderful cosmetics shop with a cleansing soft-fragrance aroma and asked the lady for a shade of lipstick not so pink.  She obviously didn’t understand my French and began showing me shades of HOT, HOT PINK!  Was she crazy?  No one wears that color here- everyone wears a barely noticeable beige color.  Did she take me for a faux-pas fool?  Eventually, after smearing many, many testers on her hand and mine I found a shade I thought was becoming.  Just a hint of color.  

 “Combien ca coute?”  How much does this cost?   

“Trent-huit euros”  $38 Euros!  $57 US dollars for a fucking tube of lipstick???

“C’est tres cher.”  It’s very expensive, I gasped.  Maybe not to Miss Prissy Pants strutting around with her tightly pulled- back hair, but to moi it was way, way too much. 

I looked around at other displays, as she painstakingly followed close behind.  I didn’t want to keep testing samples until I found something in my price range.  So we moved from display to display with my asking “Combien ca coute” and her looking slyly at the price and then stating it with a raise of her eyebrow.  The least expensive lipstick in the entire store was $28 euros.  $42 US dollars. 

I should’ve bought a $5 tube of Cover Girl in a beige shade before I left the states.  I actually stocked up with three tubes of the hot fuchsia pink color so I would have plenty while here.  Oh, well.    I’ve noticed that I’ve been wearing almost no lipstick instead, which is something I couldn’t imagine doing in Ocean City. 

And now I think I appear quite François!  You naturally begin to look like the people you’re surrounded by.  You begin to act like them too, and become aligned with their goals, but that’s a story for my deeper blog. 

I am wanting to put things together from my very limited wardrobe that make me look more natural here.  I bought a new shirt and belt from the clothing market… Yes!  The clothing market!  More on that later.  And I’m really appearing quite fashionable.  All except for one major thing.  All the French women have tiny breasts.  Their clothes hang off their shoulders, straight to their hips.  Not me.  Mine hit speed bumps along the way.  By the way, a lot of the shirts actually hang all the way off the shoulder, like in the movie Flashdance.  Be ready for that look to hit the US next year and I’m so glad that I’m not the parent of a middle school or high school girl.

I am not the perfect body style according to the French.  They still hold beauty in the way bodies look in Renaissance paintings.  Little breasts, big fleshy butts.  I’m just the exact opposite.  When I was growing up, I was imprinted with the idea of big breasts being beautiful and a real asset.  Mom had a shape that turned a lot of heads, and she was proud of it.  She somehow instilled in me how fortunate she and one of my sisters were to be well-endowed.  And she told me how lucky my aunt Lorene was when she got her beautician’s license and began shampooing hair- all the working out of her arm and chest muscles made her grow an entire size! 

When I was 12 and a size 28 triple A, I begged my mom to get me The Breast Enhancer that I saw advertised in the TV Guide.  I wanted it shipped fast delivery, but she said I’d been my size for quite some time and three to five more days of waiting wouldn’t matter.  It finally came- it was a 2′ rubber tube with round handles on the end.  You were supposed to stretch it in front of you.  I stretched and stretched and stretched.  I stretched it so much that on the second day it snapped.  It was like a huge rubber band breaking and snapping back against my hand and it hurt!  But what really hurt was that I had just lost the ability to increase my size. 

Thus the longing to be something I wasn’t turned into the realization 34 years later that for $4500 and a couple days of discomfort I could be everything I imagined!  I still don’t know why I waited so long.  So now I’m happy with my look when I’m in the states.  But here, my generous curves are quite off the map.  In fact, I think most women would go under the knife to change the way they looked if they had my shape.  That’s really an odd feeling- to suddenly be put in an environment where what you perceive are foot_binding_chinese_04your pretty features aren’t recognized that way.  I guess it’s the way those Chinese ladies bound their feet during childhood so they would take the desirable shape of  those little pointy shoes, only to have foreigners see it as a mutation.  Or the African tribe that implanted progressively larger and larger pieces of wood into their bottom lip to make it wider and longer- the TV crew probably looked at them with their eyebrows furrowed and their heads cocked sideways. 

So, the first fashion stumble I have to deal with is that the clothes don’t drape over my body in nice, straight lines.  The second is this whole bra thing.  French women actually show their bra on purpose!  Remember when it was bad to have your bra strap showing, and we’d pin it under our shirt at our shoulders so it wouldn’t come out?  Well, no longer a problem!  Women here have ALL of their bra showing- even parts you wouldn’t expect!  Some styles have the back of the bra showing… you know where the hooks are… the part that gets really grungy and dirty-looking!  The middle of the back of the bra is plainly in view with the cut of the shirt.  I couldn’t believe it, but I’ve seen it too many times for it to be the result of the wearer just not checking a mirror before leaving the house.  And some shirts allow the entire side, under the armpit to be out in the open.  Another possible problem area for yellow tinge and dark edges.  But not for these girls!  In fact, it seems like their beautiful bra is part of the outfit. 

But… it’s even harder if you’re an American man wanting to blend in here… Antibes 9.12 038especially if you’re in the slightly to middle maturity-age category.  Real French men wear Capri pants.  Yep!  Even the over 45 gang.  Somehow that younger, beach-going group can get away with Capri pants in the states, but not the more conservative guy.  And… to take it to the limit… many are tied at the bottom, so they have sort of a bloomers look to them!  And this stretches it even further… guess what kind of shoes they wear!  Those little boy English sandals!  The kind Prince William  and Prince Harry wore in their childhood pictures.  Rounded toes, straps across the top of the foot and a buckle on the side.  How cute!  But 50 and 60 year-old men all around here feel totally Antibes 9.12 093comfortable walking around in this outfit!   It’s even beginning to look normal to me! 

By the way… a follow-up to the water bottle fiasco.  I was talking to an Antibes resident about how good the tap water is in Antibes.  He said they’re very proud of the quality of their water here and all municipalities take great pride in having good water, but theirs’ is the best.  When I said I had a question about bottled water, he told me that Antibes’ water is filled with all the necessary minerals, strictly monitored by the local government, and much healthier than bottled water for which you don’t know its content or point of origin.  He incorrectly assumed that was my question.  Oh no.  I wanted to know the problem with taking the bottle into a coffee shop and setting it on the table.  So I asked if that was an acceptable thing to do.  He literally GASPED!  Like a mouse trap had gone off in his hand.  And shook his head and said with surprise, “You didn’t do that did you?”  Oops. 

Tomorrow I’m going to tell you about my favorite store in all of Antibes!  But for now, I want to leave you with one of my favorite sounds here.  There is a bell tower built during the 12th century that is attached to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, which is built on the site of a Greek temple dating back to the fifth century B.C.   The present church served as the area’s cathedral until the mid-1200’s.  There’s a second bell on top of the hotel de ville, or the town hall which appears modern since it was built in 1824.    They both chime on the hour, one strike for each hour, and on the half-hour, which means at 12 o’clock you hear 24 chimes.  On special occasions, such as a wedding, they chime for a long time.  I love it.  The metal clang is the sound of an old, heavy, antique bell and it takes me back to how it must’ve felt here many lifetimes ago.  I put it in a you-tube video so you also get a view of Antibes from the perspective of the little wooden bench where I sit when I’m picking up free Wi-Fi from the Lebanese restaurant.  Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-y0mmxKLjA

Let’s go shopping in Antibes!

I found it!  I finally found the clothing market.  But it keeps moving away.  I had heard that Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays were market days.   As Market blog (9)you might remember, I tried to locate the clothing market the first Thursday I was in Antibes and I went to the areas where it was supposed to be set up and … nothing.  I walked by a small flea market near my apartment, but it wasn’t the clothing market I had heard so much about.  It’s never been real clear to me, however, exactly where the market is supposed to be.   It’s described as being in several Places… Place National, Place Audiberti and winding through the streets.  The first Thursday someone told me that the market had already been taken down but it would be back on Saturday, right in the very square (Place) where I was standing.  Now, that was good news.  I knew where and when it was to be.  I made sure to wake up early on Saturday so I could get to it.  Disappointment.  Again, I walked by the little flea marketMarket blog (4) by my place, pictured at right, then around the winding streets to where I had been on Thursday, and found a market.  All the tables, and goods and people, but nothing I was too interested in.   Where is all the clothing?  Non, non, non!   The clothing market is on Thursdays!   I enjoyed the antiques and odds and ends but was disappointed that I’d have to wait till Thursday to get some new French threads. 

On Thursday, I was ready!  I got up extra early and out the door.  I walked to where the antique/flea market had been, again going by the little flea market near my place that seems to be there most every day, past the huge food market near me that is there every day but Monday, some days more lively than others, to Place National, where I was told the clothing market would be.  I saw stalls of merchandise and got excited.  Then let down.  The few Market blog (6)clothes I saw seemed to be priced fairly high, and were sprinkled in with other things for sale… antiques, material, handbags, belts, jewelry.  It was interesting and festive, but not what I was expecting.  I walked around looking at things but wasn’t too impressed so I went to some of the little shops that line the streets.  I spent a lot of time looking at sweet greeting cards in several shops, trying to choose a few more to send to my family.  I dilly-dallied in some cute little toy stores too, just generally shopping through my disappointment.  I walked the several blocks towards the post office to buy some stamps and send my cards and THERE IT WAS!  Stalls and stalls of all sorts of great clothing!  I stopped at the first stall and was enthralled with their belt selection!  All sorts of wonderful belts, with the Parisian fit, the kind with a gentle curve that sit low on the hips and makes me look so French!  And for $5!  Fabulous!  I couldn’t decide which ones I liked best and finally chose two for me and one for Christine.  I wanted to find some shirts like I see everyone wearing- they’re loose fitting, made from a special knit cotton and hang in a way that is very different from what I’ve seen in the states.  I’ve seen them here in the boutique shops.  They’re made in Italy and are fairly expensive.   I started to move to the next stall… there were dozens and dozens of stalls… I was so excited… and then everything went into motion!  All at once all the market people began dismantling their tables and canopies and everything was disappearing!  Right before my eyes!  What the???  How could this be!  I had wasted over an hour meandering in and out of the little shops looking at greeting cards, only to miss market day!!!  I hurried as fast as I could and tried to grab a glance at anything that wasn’t being hustled away.  I saw a shirt- perfect for $8 and bought it but by then the market people were getting irritated if you were in their space during takedown.  How did I miss it!  No one told me the clothing market was hidden behind the streets around the other side of the post office.  As I was leaving, I asked one seller the hours of the market.  He told me that they would be set up in Antibes, just on the outskirts of Old Town on Saturday.  I thought I understood the area he described.  That gave me some hope that I’d be able to see it again before next Thursday.

Saturday- I walked around the edge of town where I thought the clothing market would be and didn’t see anything.  I went to the cell phone store to buy more credits and on my way back decided to take a different route.  There, on the southwest section of town, in a quiet area where I never would have expected to see the market, I came upon the stalls winding around the small streets.  It didn’t look like quite the same inventory, but it didn’t matter.  They were already in the process of dismantling!  It happened again!  Right when I got there it disappeared!  Unbelievable.  But I decided that since the tops I like are made in Italy, maybe I should just hold off.  I want to go to Italy for lunch one day- that sounds so cool to be in France and go to Italy for lunch!  The little town right across French border, Ventimiglia, has a big market on Fridays.  I’ll go then.  I might have a greater selection and they might be even better priced. 

Market blogNow… my favorite store in all of Antibes….  drum roll……   Schlecker!  Out of all the quaint, little interesting shops in this adorable town, my favorite store is Schlecker, the Dollar General of the south of France.  That’s right!  It looks like Dollar General, it’s priced like Dollar General and I think I can almost smell the Dollar General store in Bethany Beach, Delaware!  Right smack in the middle Market blog (1)of all the little boutique shops, it sits, totally comfortable and confident, with its big sale banners slapped all across its front.  I had checked the price of my shampoo at one of the fragrance-scented specialty shops… $9.00!  Schlecker… on special this week at $2.65!  Yippee!  Toilet paper at the cute grocery store- $4.00.  Schlecker… $1.65!  Wine at the grocery store with my 50 cents off coupon was a bargain for $3.50.  At least I thought it was till I saw bottled wine with cork tops at Schlecker for $1.79!  That’s Cotes du Tarn white or red.  Right beside the Market blog (2)beach towels and swimming floaters.  And now… get this… remember the $57 US lipstick I saw at the cosmetic boutique?  I found the perfect shade in Schlecker in a wonderful brand for $3.49 Euro!  I love this store! 

I still enjoy the specialty shops.  I like the smells- they have the fresh scent of an expensive spa.  And there’s an elegance to the presentation and lighting that I enjoy.  And of course the shop owners greet you with a cheery, sing-song Bonjour!  I meander around in the boutique shops and touch things and sometimes pick things up and put them back down and then touch some more things, until the saleslady begins to get that tight, snappy look.   But with the exchange rate being about $1 Euro to $1.5 USD, I’ve gotta stay friends with Schlecker!  Too bad they don’t have the Italian-made cotton knit tops I’m trying to find. 

Note:  Just by chance, after I finished proof reading what I wrote above, I picked up Rick Steves’ guidebook to The French Riviera and a line jumped out at me…  “Except in department stores, it’s not normal for the customer to handle clothing.  Ask first if you can look at an item.”  Hmmm… so there’s the problem.  How will I ever learn everything?