La Vie Francais encore

As you can probably guess by the title of this post, we are back in France again…and we are very happy to be here too. We seem to have slipped back into our French way of life without any bother at all. We are chatting away to all and sundry, eating gorgeous French cheese again, in fact eating lots of things where ever my ruddy diet allows, enjoying the markets, the sunshine and swimming in the warm waters of the Mediterranean. The flat was left in a lovely clean state by our summer visitors and apart from doing a bit of washing and making up the bed, we were able to pick up where we left off in April without any bother. Anyway, more of our French adventures will come later as I will write about the beginning of September when we were still in Carlisle first.

We started the month with normal stuff really. I continued with my Op Shop work whilst making sure that everyone knew that I was off to the sun soon! I was a bit worried about taking time off, as usual, as the shop is still very depleted in volunteers and is having to close frequently, as there is no-one to cover when people go on holiday. However, as the month has gone on a couple of the Monday shifts were covered by the shop closing due to unexpected events (the death of the Queen and her funeral) so at least that will have helped a bit. I managed to go swimming a bit at Dalston pool with Hazel and the little one and then again as a real surprise, I was treated to a spa experience at Armthwaite Hall by Hazel and Phil…”to keep me calm and relaxed” just before we flew out here! Hazel had been given the spa experience as a gift and I was very pleased to be asked to accompany her! It was a lovely afternoon…lunch followed by a facial treatment (which I actually really enjoyed much to my amazement, as I do not ever do that kind of thing) and lots of swimming and sitting in various hot tubs, indoors and outdoors. It was a real treat and lovely too, to spend a whole afternoon with my daughter :blush:

We also managed to fit in a lunch out in Caldbeck with Linda and Mike before they flew out to Australia for a month to visit their daughter and grandson. They had a nightmare drive to the Manchester airport due to an accident which brought the M6 to a complete halt for over 3 hours. They made their flight with minutes to spare after running through the airport. Nightmare…I was so pleased they made it though as it was looking very dodgy for them for a while. I made the decision to avoid that trip to Manchester Airport quite a while ago, as I always had problems with the train from Carlisle, the M6 is often a nightmare and I personally hate Manchester airport! We are so pleased that we can fly to Nice from Edinburgh and so far, we have not had any bother.

After a final week of getting things sorted out, we flew out from Edinburgh on the 12th September. All went well with the trip out, apart from the plane being an hour late departing, which meant after putting our watches forward an hour, we were quite late in arriving in Nice. We checked into our usual hotel and after a bit of a mix up with our room numbers, which resulted in us scaring the living daylights out of an elderly lady when we eventually managed to open the door to her room, we got into our correct room and went off to bed! The next morning, we got the bus along to St Raphael and then another to St Aygulf…all went very smoothly. As I said the flat was fine and we quickly got the water and electricity on without any bother. Geoff was delighted to find that our summer guests had left him several bottles of beer! We did some shopping and soon got enough food in to eat that evening and went shopping properly the next day to stock up a bit. We are not really noticing much difference in prices here, but then the Cote D`Azur has always been expensive! The car was fine too and having connected the battery, blown up the tyres a bit and put a bit of petrol into her we were soon loving driving around with her lid down once again :blush: Some good news on the flat front too, as we have now had another electrician to visit and his devis for the work needed was not as bad as we had expected and better still he is coming to do the work next week…we hope! We celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary on the Friday after we had arrived. I got some lovely flowers, cards from G and our daughter and we went out to eat lunch in one of our favourite bistros along the coast a bit in Issambres.

The next week was a bit different. We went to the church we had found last time in Cannes on the Sunday, where we witnessed a baptism of two young girls in the sea (I know …very different!) and then invited our friends Marc and Michelle who had come to spend a weeks holiday here to catch up with us, round for supper. Marc and Michelle met our daughter Hazel, almost 30 years ago when she stayed with them as part of a school exchange and have been very good family friends ever since. We were very pleased to see them and the next day we all settled in the flat to watch the coverage of the Queen`s funeral on French TV. We had to explain several things to them as the day went on, but although it was a very sad occasion, I think we all really watched all the pageantry with mouths agape. Only the British could do that sort of event with such dignity, pomp and ceremony. Amazing.

We had two more outings with M and M during the week they were here, the first to Fort Grimaud which we quite like, as long as you take on board how touristy it is. And on the final Friday of their stay, we all went for a day`s drive up to the Gorges of Verdon. The scenery was spectacular and we all had a very good day. Poor Michelle is not a great car traveller and so all the bendy roads were a bit hard for her at times, but we, as back seat passengers loved the trip as we got to see all the scenery in comfort! We had a lovely lunch in Moustiers Sainte Marie and then drove back to St A where we said goodbye, as they were off back to Bordeaux the next day. It had been lovely to see them and we were very pleased they had made the effort to come and see us.

We have been pretty fortunate with the weather since we arrived here. The first week was still very hot but it has got cooler as the month has gone on. We have only had one day of rain so far, which was appreciated by all the locals here…but not so much by us, true to say! We are still going down to the beach most days in the afternoon for an hour or so for a swim in the still warm water of the Med, but some days recently there has been more wind which makes the waves a bit too much for me. It is getting very much quieter now though as a lot of the Dutch and German tourists have departed and on a couple of occasions, we have had our favourite bay all to ourselves!

This week we decided to head off into the mountains for an overnight stay. People often forget that Nice is only 2 hours drive from the ski stations in the southern Alps. We booked a lovely chambres dhotes…which was totally lost in the mountains and we loved it. Mind you we were a bit perturbed to see the temperature in the car drop from 24c in St A to 8c in the mountains. The next morning started at 2c and there was snow on the high peaks! The room was very cosy though and by layering up our clothes we stayed pretty warm…although both pic nics were eaten in the car! The scenery was spectacular…there are a few photos on my Facebook page if you want to see them. We visited the lovely medieval town of Entrevaux en route but we mainly just drove up and down various cols (passes), round some pretty hairy lacets(hairpin bends) and on some spectacular mountain roads…and we loved every minute. Our B and B (Les Marmottes DEstanc) was lovely, a chalet run by two very nice hospitable ladies and the meal in the evening was very good indeed. We did get a bit frustrated by a few road closures up in the mountains, necessitating several changes of route at times, but it looked like all the ski areas were getting ready for the forthcoming season. All in all, we had a fabulous couple of days…but I suspect our little Sylvie car was very happy to get back down to sea level and flat roads!

This week is the first week of the big yacht regatta (Les Voilles de St Tropez) at St Tropez and so we are being entertained by watching all the boats head out of the bay to do the racing from our balcony, using our binoculars. We are well back into being balcony dwellers…lots of boat & helicopter traffic all the time here! I like nothing more than sorting my lounger out there, listening to the radio and catching up with my knitting! I bought some yarn from the lovely lady who has a small shop underneath the flat when we arrived and have almost finished a small jumper already :blush: I also had a very amusing conversation with this lady, about the Queen`s death…she is a huge royalist and produced lots of magazines she had been reading about the Royal Family! Turns out she does not like Camilla…Princess Di is still revered here in France!

I cant believe that we are already more than halfway through our stay here. Next week, with a bit of luck, we will get the electrical work done in the flat and also the garage door (we rent the garage here) will be fixed too. However, that all depends on the workmen turning up on time…not always a given here in France! Apart from that we have nothing much planned for the rest of our stay…we are just content to relax here in the flat, sit on our balcony soaking up some rays and having the odd dip in the sea as usual. La vie Francais est bien nest pas :blush:

A bientot mes amis…