The copain had had a bad nights sleep, as the bell that tolled every hour on the hour in the village kept him awake during the night. However, I hadn't heard a single thing and awoke feeling very well rested. Having been profoundly awe-stricken by the beauty of the red cliffs that we had driven past the day before, our plan for the day was to drive back that way and see if we could go swimming in les calanques. But breakfast was included with our lodging so that was our first stop, and that was when we met Thierry. Thierry was as colorful as the dining room we were eating in. The decor there was as wildly bright and mismatched as the rest of the Maison, and suited Thierry's personality perfectly. He was Guy's partner, both in business and in life, and he was most definitely the flamboyant half. While Guy was quiet and patient, Thierry was erratic and scattered. He was a thin man with exquisitely combed hair, and donned a pair of black thick-rimmed round glasses similar to those worn by Mister Magoo. He might as well have been a cartoon character. He spoke English with a thick French accent and repeated himself endlessly when it came to giving us advice on where to go ("Eez parfait, you drive along ze coast, ze coast, ze coast, eez parfait, pas probleme, pas probleme!") In his former life he was a hairdresser for the house of Yves Saint Laurent, and then brand manager for Kerastase hair products. Well that upped his cool factor even more in my books, and he was so entertaining and adorable that I just wanted to pick him up and put him in my pocket. I giggled helplessly as he complained distastefully about Monaco and Monte Carlo: "Everything eez big; big boobs, big lips, big jewelry; Porsche eez like cheap, cheap, cheap; Bentley eh, eez only okay!" he exclaimed as he thumbed his nose scornfully. Later on, we also realized that in Thierry's world, everything was only 10-15 minutes away (it took us like an hour to get back to Theoule, but that was 4 times longer than it usually takes him). After the incredibly amusing breakfast of croissants (yes, again) and a brief, friendly conversation with an older couple from Chicago that was seated with us, we wandered around Vence for a little bit and found ourselves a laundromat to wash our clothes. The square where we'd had dinner the prior evening was a market by day, where vendors were selling cheap souvenirs (that were likely made in China). Vence is by no means a large city, so it didnt take long to cover the main area. It was a quaint little place, and the old part of the city was surrounded by the remnants of castle walls with a great doorway at its entrance which used to open into a drawbridge. The view from Vence was spectacular as well, as we were pretty high up and could look out to the mountains and valley below. We sat down at an outdoor cafe at a small square, hoping just to stop for a drink, but we were kicked out, being told that this was a restaurant and not a bar. (Later on we ended up returning here for our lunch, tails between legs, when we went back to the hotel to drop off pur laundry and Guy recommended the same restaurant to us for lunch). After that, we hopped into the car and drove back to Theoule, by way, of course, of ze coast, ze coast, ze coast!
We parked the car just past Miramar, and made our way down to a beach in the area. A long steep staircase led us to a small cove, covered with reddish-orange rocks. The rocks were round for the most part, but took a toll on the feet. Bermuda pink sand this was not! Surprisingly, they were not totally uncomfortable to lay on, but made quite the racket every time the tide came in and more and more of them were dragged further down the shore. We laid out in the sun for a bit, before going dipping into the water, which wasn't as cold as I had expected. It was calm, with the dark blue waves splashing gently against the sides of the rust-colored cliffs. It was magical.
Rather than heading back to the hotel to freshen up, we ambitiously decided to head straight to Cannes to spend the rest of the evening. We had packed a large bottle of water, and "showered" with it beside our parked car (classy, I know). I pulled on a long colorful dress and the copain, his linen pants, and we were ready. Cannes wasn't far but traffic heading there was fairly congested so it took is some time. But I didn't mind. The sun was shining again and it was another great day for driving with the top down, even though my tan was getting more and more uneven with one arm getting increasingly darker than the other.
We probably didn't see much of Cannes, simply due to time constraints. But I think we covered the star attraction. The main street in Cannes is La Croisette, which has several high-end designer boutiques covering the north side, and a long stretch of beach on the south side. It was really quite beautiful, but as yet another hot spot, the people here were definitely faaaaabulous, and were positively dripping with designer duds. We walked along the promenade to the Carlton Hotel, which screamed luxury. The copain stopped in his tracks, spotting a Bugati Vayron parked at the entrance. "A what?" I asked. "Pfft....only a 2 million dollar car! Actually, that would be 2 million pounds." It was shiny and silver, with Florida license plates. It was nice, I guess, but that price tag seemed a little excessive. I don't think I'll quite ever understand the fascination. People stopped to take pictures of it, the copain snapping one as well to show his buddies, until someone got too close and the damn thing squeaked! Well, it made some sort of buzzing sound, essentially saying "Back off, I'm much too expensive to be so close to you, Commoner!". Yeesh, even the cars were snooty here!
We continued for a bit until we hit a cafe on the promenade, where we parked ourselves for a good hour of relaxation, I, again, typing away on my IPAD, and the copain, deep into the latest book that he had downloaded on his Kobo reader. It was a nice reprieve, and much needed, and I rather enjoyed watching the sunset behind the horizon from our little spot. Almost reluctantly, we settled the bill after feeling that we may have overstayed our welcome, and walked around some more, poking in and put of the stores along the street (and I, with some success, scoring a pair of sunglasses at Dior!)
Guy had kindly made a reservation for us that night at the restaurant of an egregiously expensive hotel, the Majestique Barriere, located right on La Croisette. The restaurant, La Petite Maison de Nicole, did not have petite prices. It was a bit over the top, so we decided we would wander around and see if we could find something else. After heading all the way west on La Croisette, we came across a chaotic looking restaurant with cramped tables set along the sidewalk patio and several scrambling waiters running around in between them. To one side of the restaurant were three men in green shirts and aprons, shucking oysters one after the other, with incredible skill and speed. In spite of the restaurant not appearing high-end or pretentious, several faaaaabulous people were eating there. Well if it was good enough for Monsier and Madam head-to-toe Louis Vuitton over there, we figured it would be good enough for us! The restaurant, called Astoux et Brun, was actually mentioned in our guidebook, and we were quite excited to have something other than rich French cuisine for the night. We opted for a simple meal of fresh oysters, salad, and frites. After all was said and done, I had a dozen freshly shucked oysters swimming around in my belly (the copain had shamefully given up at 9, leading the waiter to comment on the 3 untouched ones remaining on our plate). I was even impressed with myself, and trying not to feel too disgusted at the same time.
Feeling the need to walk off our meal, we wandered back along the promenade. The sky was dark by then, and the street was illuminated by rows of lights. We sat on a bench close to the beach and breathed in the fresh sea air, relieved by the coolness of the light breeze. I looked behind me and there was the magnificent Carlton hotel, which looked even more regal with spotlights from it's front lawn shining upon it. When suddenly, the roar of a (very expensive) car engine interrupted my admiration and a black Ferrari 458 raced down the street, clearly in an attempt to put on a show, turning everyone's heads as it sped by. Before I even had a chance to roll my eyes, the piercing cry of sirens followed, and a police car tailed along right after it. The Ferrari pulled over, somewhat sheepishly, it seemed, and quite a show ensued. People all around (ourselves included, I'm afraid), rushed over to see who was driving and what was happening. I caught a glimpse of a young blonde man, not altogether attractive by any means (a Prince maybe? Who knows...) sitting in the driver's seat, pulling down the front car visor to shield his face from the flashes of light coming from the tourist cameras. Beside him sat a gorgeous blonde, tall, I think, and impeccably dressed, pursuing her lips and looking thoroughly unimpressed. How cliche, I thought, but secretly thanked her and her speed demon friend for the entertainment. We chuckled as the copain snapped yet another picture to show his buddies, and then headed for home. Exhausted from quite a full day, I imagined with dread just how difficult the climb up to our room would be by the time we got back. Let's just say, I think I earned the deep sleep that I had that night!