Things slowed down considerably once we got to Nice, which was good because we were pretty tired after our adventure in getting there.
This was the family reunion part of the trip, a week to spend with Stephanie’s mom Chris, her younger sister Aurelie, and Aurelie’s partner Michel. This was kind of a big deal since it had been over three years since Stephanie had been to France/Nice and over a year since she’d last seen her mom and sister.
We spent the first two nights (Saturday and Sunday) with Aurelie and Michel, sleeping on a sleeper-sofa, but given its tendency to sink into a U-shape, we decided everyone would be more comfortable (personal space-wise as well) if we spent the rest of the week in a small hotel within walking distance. Plus they had wireless internet!
Aurelie played mom to us, which seemed appropriate as she’s expecting a baby girl in July. One night she made a potato gratin (hachis parmentier), another night sausages with lentils and vegetables. This was Provence comfort food, and it made us feel very much at home. Bread accompanied every meal and cheese followed. Every night there was some kind of dessert, frequently fresh strawberries and sugar.
The trip was also notable as Chris had just moved into her own studio apartment in Cannes 10 days before we arrived. Previously she’d lived about 45 minutes northwest in a small town called Fayence where Stephanie’s grandmother lives, in fact in a house right next door. Her new apartment is very cute, brightly painted, looks recently built, and has a separate kitchen and an enclosed patio that I think is bigger than the apartment itself. She seemed very happy.
We went to the big mall in Nice, CAP 3000, on Saturday because the weather was unusually gray and rainy, but after that, contrary to the Météo, the weather was cool, sunny, and the sky was blue for the rest of the week. The other major shopping excursion during the week was a trip to Carrefour, France’s version of Target with groceries, to take care of Stephanie’s list.
On Sunday Chris hosted a lunch party for Stephanie and invited all of Stephanie’s old dance friends, many of whom are still dancing, as well as her old dance instructor, Angelo.
On Monday the weather was stunning, so Aurelie, Michel, Stephanie and I went to Antibes for a walk on the coast where we got some amazing views of Nice. Here was my first real view of the water, taken from the car.
And here’s a shot looking back towards Nice from just past the crazy building you see in the previous picture.
Beach view from Antibes
For lunch I had sole meuniere. It was good.
Here is everyone together at the end of our little coastal hike.
On Tuesday Stephanie, Aurelie and I drove to Fayance to visit with their maternal grandmother and Tante Dodou (aunt). This is a place where Stephanie spent some time growing up, so coming back was sort of like returning to her childhood home. We didn’t have much time to explore the area, but we did go into the town and hike up to the highest point.
On Wednesday Chris, Stephanie, and I drove along the coast from Frejus to Cannes, stopping along the way to take in the incredible views. The rocks were so red it reminded me of Arizona and Utah.
Who knew this is what France looked like?
That night there was another dance reunion of sorts. Stephanie dropped in to an adult jazz class taught by her old teacher Angelo, and still attended by several of her friends. Her mom and I sat on the sidelines and watched. Afterwards we went out for Thai with Angelo and a few friends. Much of the conversation (all in French) centered around Stephanie’s current break from teaching dance and Angelo’s future desires as a choreographer and teacher.
Note: in real life, we just got home tonight around 9pm pacific time. I think that means we were traveling for about 24 hours. Exhausted.