My Love of the French (Part 2) Road trip to Port Grimaud!

My Dad died in 1988, and left my mother lonely and grieving so we included her on our road trip to the South of France. We drove to Dover from our home in Winchester, and spent the night there before taking the Ferry to Calais. It was a great adventure for our four-year old daughter, made even more special because she got to share a room with her grandma (Feeble Ekkel). My mum was called Phoebe Ethel, but Feeble Ekkel was my young daughter’s translation.

The car we had at the time was a brown Saab Turbo. We certainly put some miles on it during that trip.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We broke up our journey with two overnight stops, the first of which was Dijon. We stayed in an old castle.

Castle in DijonIt was a fun night and I could hear (Feeble Ekkel) and my young daughter,  laughing like two kids, enjoying each other’s company. Even breakfast was an event. We continued our journey the following day, spending the next night in Grenoble. What a beautiful area. The roads wound through the pine trees and mountains. Isn’t this spectacular.


Finally, after three days on the road, we arrived on the Cote d’Azur. It was worth the trip. The dazzling blue Mediterranean took our breath away. We were staying in Port Grimaud which was gorgeous.Port Grimaud

We visited Cannes, Nice, St. Tropez, the small Island of St. Honorat and Monte Carlow while we were there. On our visit to St. Tropez, it was difficult to find parking, and when we eventually did, we found ourselves on a naturalist beach. The beach was beautifully kept, but the sunbathers were naked. When we broke this news to my 71-year-old mother she said

“I don’t mind, as long as you don’t expect me to take my clothes off too” st-tropez-images

Our two-week vacation was beautiful and memorable. My mum started on the road to recovery after my dad’s death and forged a close relationship with my daughter. She enjoyed food she wouldn’t normally eat and visited places she wouldn’t normally go. This was the second trip to France for my husband and I. We loved every minute of it and began to realize the people of France got a bad rap world-wide. The French are funny, helpful, sensitive, artistic, and very willing to please. They are quietly spoken and don’t like a fuss. They had a special place in my heart, right behind the people of Italy and I would visit again. I love the people of France.








Why I LOVE the French! Train to Cannes

My first visit to France was in 1980 or 1981. I can’t remember the exact year, but it was magical. I had been married only four years and it was the first trip abroad with my husband. We got on a train in London, crossed the English Channel on a Ferry, and then boarded another train destined for the French Riviera. It was so exciting. The train itself was an adventure, with its bar and disco carriage. Have you ever tried dancing on a train?

We danced late into the night, and then slept in a ‘couchette’.  When we woke up the next morning we were served a very ‘French’ breakfast as we sat by the window viewing the French countryside for the very first time. When I first set eyes on the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean I was speechless. The scenery was breathtaking.

div_french_italian_04When we finally arrived in Cannes I was so excited I could barely move. Not having much money, we stayed in a moderate Bed and Breakfast. It was close to the beach with all of its style and beauty. If you look a map of the Cote d’Azur, you can see the attraction.








We took the train to beautiful old town of Grasse, famous for its perfumeries. We wandered the streets of Cannes by day and by night. We enjoyed the food, the wine, the atmosphere, but most of all the people.

Eating was an incredible experience. On our ‘special meal’ of the vacation, the chef actually came out of the kitchen when he didn’t think that our choice of appetizer complimented our entrée. This was the first time I had ever tasted ‘bouillabaisse’. It was delicious and still my favorite French food.



Most of our meals were not as fancy as this because we were a young married couple with a tight budget. We ate in small local restaurants, eating ‘a prix fixe’ menu, or simply buying seafood from vendors on the sea front. Fritti di Mare were delicious, tiny, deep-fried fishes and we ate them often, washed down with a cheap bottle of local wine and accompanied by French bread. Times were simple, we were young.

There was so much to take in, so much to see. I took hundreds of photographs, which I still treasure. Every night ended with a firework display, high over the harbour in Cannes. It was the perfect way to end each perfect day.