In Antibes...

Dear Friends, 

It’s taken a few weeks of serious thought to come to this decision. But here it is: I’m leaving Paris and moving to Antibes. It was a tough one but I’m sure you’ll understand when you read my reasons, detailed below. 

In Antibes, the sun shines and the sea sparkles. The water is warm and the sand is soft. 

Antibes is close to Cannes, home of the Cannes Film Festival. If you sit on the beach and face west in a strong easterly breeze you may be sprinkled with the glamour dust of movie stars.  

In Antibes, you can buy a pair of 10 inch heels dripping in pearls and diamonds. Shoes of dreams (Gina Liano’s dreams at least).

In Antibes, your average white person can change their skin colour to an attractive burgundy, without relying on expensive creams or treatments. Just sell your house and claim a patch of sand. This is an attractive option for retired housewives (so I believe) because there is no need for creature comforts whilst unemployed and investing in your tan. Who needs TV when there are yachts. 

Paris just feels a little too busy and crowded. In Antibes, there is a place for everyone.  A whole square foot is available to all beach goers - more if you are willing to use the pointy end of your umbrella to your advantage. 

 Shove over rover

Shove over rover

In Paris, an “it” bag, a blow-wave, lipstick and a touch of sparkle comprise the bare essentials for stepping out the front door - rain, hail or shine. In Antibes, none of this or all of this is necessary.  If you fancy walking laps of the beach in a skimpy g-string letting it ALL hang out (including your burgundy boobs) you go right ahead. In Antibes. 

In Antibes (actually nearby at Juan Les Pins) there is a famous restaurant called the Pam Pam. Here, you can pretend to habituate the 1930's "jazz age" simply by soaking up the vibe that really does come from another era.  Outside there is a messy but fast moving queue to get in. Inside, there are tables full of excited holiday-makers being entertained by some merveilleux (and tres en forme) Brazilian dancers. Waiters talk fast walk fast and bill fast. You can order giant cocktails that can double as your date (see pic below).  

 Furry cocktail friends.

Furry cocktail friends.

 Photo from the  Pam Pam  website

Photo from the Pam Pam website

In Antibes, there is an absolute darling couple named Josiane and Bernard who have been welcoming international French language students into their home continuously for 6 years. They put delicious French food on the table every morning and night. They treat you like family and do their best to help you understand what the hell they’re trying to tell you with patience and humour. They give you a key so you can come and go as you please, introduce you to all their bowling friends (“petanque” is very popular in those parts) and take you to see the local fireworks display (more on that later). They were QUIET in the mornings (unheard of where I’m from) and I never saw them have any melt-downs or tantrums once.  They brought me a big bowl of hot coffee every morning and they didn’t spill a drop! For a whole week I went without cleaning up spilt food off the floor because 1) Josiane and Bernard would not let me lift a finger, and 2) the floor was utterly devoid of all foodstuffs! It was all in my tanned and rested belly, swimming around with a generous amount of cask red. 

 Dinner is served - the first course of three.  

Dinner is served - the first course of three.  

 Petanque is extremely popular among pot-bellied Frenchmen. 

Petanque is extremely popular among pot-bellied Frenchmen. 

In Antibes, there is a French language school. At this school, (as with others) there are adults employed there to teach you things.  They have knowledge that you want. When you are talking they listen to what you’re saying. Other students talk too but they wait their turn. Then there is a 2- hour lunch break so you have time to eat without rushing, go to the toilet uninterrupted and chat about funny things with funny people from all over the world and finally take time to notice the view.  Ahhh Antibes.  

 View from the school cafeteria.

View from the school cafeteria.

 Waiting for class to start.  

Waiting for class to start.  

In Antibes, people speak French. Some speak English but not as many as in Paris so I think it’s a better choice in regards to my overall Frenchification. 

Antibes is in Provence. Provence is known for making good rosé. My limited and very Victorian Australian wine knowledge is all about the red variety. In terms of obtaining holistic Wino-fication, Antibes wins again. 

In Antibes, I had time to read books. I read my first Hemingway novel “A Moveable Feast” which was great because it details Hemingway’s life as an expat in Paris. He visited Antibes more than once.  It was a great read - I loved it - until he exposed himself as a massive cheat. I finished that book and started another - written by one of the female protagonists in Jack Kerorac’s “On the Road”. Nothing to do with Paris but it turns out that Jack and all his mates were also massive cheats. These are men that have supposedly “defined generations” with their abilities to over-indulge, write well, and ruin the lives of women all at once. (This paragraph has turned into more of a mini-rant than a reason to move to Antibes, although perhaps I can tie it in with the fact that I read enough literature to start a conversation about literature?) Yes! Antibes! 

And finally, in Antibes, we remembered Nice. In the summer along the cote d’azur there are fireworks displays every week.  Josiane and Bernard took myself and another student to watch the local show. At first I wasn't sure about going -  the recent Bastille Day events were very fresh in my mind and much closer to ‘home’ when just a 10 minute drive away from the site of the tragedy.  I was apprehensive heading out onto the promenade, even more so when I saw the heavily armed guards on patrol, checking bags etc. Anyway, we found a comfy spot on a rock and watched the show. It started off merrily enough with a fun dance number, but the mood quickly changed when the song “It’s too late to apologise” came on. The fireworks shifted from bright and cheerful colours to big gold circles filled with bursts of blue.  It had the effect of tears falling from the sky and to me, it was clear this was more of a tribute than a celebration.  So we sat, in a beautiful part of the world, with beautiful people and remembered those who died or suffered in Nice.  We remembered those who were enjoying life, just as we were. 

 After the fireworks in Juan Les Pins

After the fireworks in Juan Les Pins

 Town square, Antibes

Town square, Antibes

So there you go Antibes was trashy, fun, crowded, peaceful and sad. After 7 days it was over and yes while the fantasy of living an alternate reality where breakfast was brought (and the rest) I was very happy to jump on the train to meet up with my dear little family for our highly anticipated Bogan Camping Adventure. So no, I won’t be moving to Antibes. But I sure had fun pretending!

Oh and if you’re wondering whether I’m fluent in French now…..pas encore (not yet). I’ll continue to work on that one.

Look out for the next post about our family holiday in Hyères - hint - it was both fun and funny. Have you been on holidays lately? Tell me, and while you're at it, subscribe to my mailing list here