France La Finale!

Heading into the last week here in France… We have a pretty full week of stuff planned and I’m already starting to feel the push to the Camino. The excitement is building, I’m itching to be alone and see what that is like, meet my tribe, just get out there and walk.

For now, I’ll write about what we’re doing for the final last days of our stay here.

Last I posted we were in La Doire, high in the cool French mountains. (I’m writing now from Antibes again where it’s 30 degrees. Man I miss those cool French mountains.).

I believe the following day we went to look for the river that Luc found the day before in the canyon. It was beautiful but FREEZING. Being a pisces, I can’t turn down getting wet in a body of water, so of course I had to go in. We read a sign later that said we really shouldn’t be swimming – more rule breaking!

That night was a lightening and thunder storm. So so so cool. It’s a common occurrence here. Kind of like fireworks for some reason.

The following day we drove to Castellane and visited the market and the quaint little town. So beautiful and picturesque. We meandered home and had a quiet evening.

The next day we cleaned the house and drove back. I really really appreciated so much being able to stay in Luc’s aunt’s house. It was a wonderful break from the heat and it provided some much needed space for everyone I think. We got to play a lot of board games and just hang out and ‘be’. It was wonderful watching Violette catch grasshoppers. She didn’t ask incessantly to watch the iPad but instead asked incessantly to go outside and catch grasshoppers. So enjoyable to watch, and I think she really built a wonderful memory going out and being alone with nature.

We returned back, but not before passing through Grasse and visiting a perfumery called Molinard. Last time I was in Grasse I visited Fragonard (another perfumerie). We went on a little tour and learned about perfume and how its made. Fascinating. This was more what I would call “world schooling” for Violette. Visiting somewhere in the world and learning about the region, history and what their primary product is. I fell in love with a bottle of perfume called “Les Amoureux”. I didn’t buy any (49 euros) but I sure wanted to. If anyone can find me a small bottle of this and ship it to Canada, I’ll pay you back.

Back to Antibes where immediately I was struck by the heat. The Swiss frolicked in the pool, while I had some alone time.

The following day was a day for errands. We went to an outdoor sporting store that is as big as Costco. We don’t have anything like it in Victoria. We bought Violette a pair of hiking boots perfect for hiking the Swiss Alps. Two bike helmets for les Swiss (Luc and Vivi) and a pair of head phones for me. I’m not sure how they are going to get those helmets home in their luggage (there’s hardly any space). They might have to wear them on the airplane. LOL!!

Then dinner at Luc’s cousin’s house. She lives on a super steep narrow road that caused me much stress as Luc drove and I was SURE he was going to drive into someone or something. We got up to her 7th floor apartment and the views were extrodinary! The sun was just going down so it had this wonderful orange light on all the buildings over looking the Mediterranean Sea. We visited and ate like kings and queens while enjoying and meeting more new family.

The next day we set out for a museum tour for Violette – learning and understanding about architecture in this area in an old castle. We went for a little walk in the hot hot heat and then finally found a wonderful place for lunch under some trees. Sooo good and delicious.

The next day was big. We went for a kayaking expedition in the Cape d’Antibes with Remy our guide. Luc’s cousin (yes he has a few) works at this place and managed to get us free kayaking! Thank you so much Jerome! Luc was in his own single kayak (as he should be) and Violette and I were together in a double. We learned about sea grass and different houses along our route. I found out what a sea tomato was and we met a cool crab. The water was very wavy, turquoise, beautiful. I wasn’t sure if I was going to hurl from seasickness. It was super sunny but we came prepared with hats, sunscreen and water.

We had lunch (sandwiches) and then walked down to the water again and snorkeled around. Unfortunately, after a while, Violette’s snorkel wasn’t working well (water kept coming in) so we abandoned that idea and headed home.

That night we spoke with Jaedyn and I coached a client and I caught up with Leah. It was a great night of connection.

Today is the day before our last day together. It’s a bit of a sad day. Violette had to have a small incision done on her ear as the infection from her ear piercing has come back. Vivi hasn’t had an earring in her ear since March but it’s still causing problems. Parents, think good, long and hard before you decide to get earrings in your kid’s ear. This has been nothing but a nightmare for us and torture for Violette.

Poor thing. Last night we put on this freezing cream that the doctor said to put on (we’ve been to the doc already once). Then we had to put on a big massive bandaid that folded her ear all night long and held the freezing cream. Turns out that you’re supposed to apply the cream 1 hour before the operation. So the bandaid and the cream were useless. We tried to take the bandaid off in the morning and apply more cream “just in case” but she cried bloody murder at how much that hurt.

We arrived at the clinic. The bandaid is ripped off by the doc and Vivi cries… it breaks my heart. I find out from Luc that they are going to give her laughing gas. I’m holding an ice cube on her ear while the doc preps his tools. the mask goes over her nose and face. He cuts into the back of the ear and she squirms and cries and screams. I’m about to lose my shit as well. It’s so friggen hard to see you daughter in so much pain. The gas doesn’t seem to do anything.

After he squeezes out the puss (sorry all) he dresses her ear. She seems…. ok. She get’s up, we use the bathroom and I ask her “did it hurt?”. “A little.” A little? Are you kidding me? She says “what does it mean when the nurse said she would forget about her ear?” I realize that she doesn’t really remember the pain she endured when it was actually happening. I think back to when I had laughing gas when I was in labour… I remember it hurt, but not really how much. Ok, it’s been 7 years (19?)…

We head to the pharmacy and then to the boulangerie (to get a wonderful pastry of course) and then home for the day. We need to relax. After all, there’s only 1.5 days left until we part ways.

Things to note:

  • It’s hot again…. but I’ve been watching Victoria and the smoke there has accompanied the heat here… I’m grateful I can breath clearly which I know some of my friends and family back home are struggling with.
  • The coolness of La Doire (in addition to the alone time) has contributed to me feeling more myself and being able to appreciate and enjoy exactly where I am at. It’s amazing what these two things together do to help me be more myself. I will remember to check these two things when I’m feeling out of sorts first, because I know that my wellness depends upon them.
  • I’m getting excited for what comes next. While I’m so grateful for being in la cote d’azur, I’m ready to move onto the next part of the journey: being, being alone, being myself, practicing self love, practicing connecting with other humans and whatever else shows up in my space.
  • I’m about to move outside my comfort zone again: Luc does the planning and I do the approving and following. Now it’s all going to be in my hands…
  • I can’t wait to get to cooler temps! Phewf.
  • I’m studying Spanish and the voice in my head says I’m no good. We’ll see how I go.
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France Part 1

A girl and her grasshoppers

Thank you to everyone who responded with comments and direct messages to me. I was overwhelmed with the love, understanding and compassion that you all gave me.

I’m feeling more myself bit by bit. Practicing self-love and self-acceptance is at the top of my radar. Also, Luc and I have had some good conversations about this trip and how he can support me. We’re finding our way.

We’re in La Doire, France right now as I write this. We’re in Luc’s aunt’s house with 3 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, deck, etc… all by ourselves. This is more helpful being here. It’s about 5 degrees cooler and we actually have time alone. Vivi has had a chance to go into her own room and shut her door and watch some iPad. I’ve got to lay in bed and read my book, alone. Luc got to explore some of the places where a lot of his memories growing up, took place.

The space, the reduced heat and feeling understood and heard has really helped my head and my heart. I wouldn’t say that I was feeling home sick… I was feeling very alone.

So I’m not going to give you a play by play of every day… we’ve been here now for 2 weeks. I’ll review the highlight reel.

We arrived in France and waited for about 45 mins until our luggage came out the chute. I suspect the baggage handlers had gone for lunch, wine, maybe a siesta. Or simply laughing on the other side of the wall. We picked up our rental car in a room that was probably about 40 degrees inside. The people who worked in this room were sweating profusely. I looked at them like, “how are you working in these conditions?” After the guy tried to tell us we could only go 50KM’s per day and Luc pulled out the printed off contract that we were mailed that said “unlimited” he backed down and agreed.

We met up with Luc’s sister and boyfriend to get the keys for the studio apartment. This is Luc’s parents studio in Antibes, France. It’s one big room with kitchen, beds, laundry machine, TV. Then the bathroom is in another room. And they have a ground level balcony.

We became familiar with the place and the pool in the apartment. It was hot so we went there in the afternoon. The pool became the place for us to go every day to cool off and practice dives, hand stands, snorkelling, games, read our books and practice Spanish.

That night it was 31 degrees inside. Because we’re ground level it was felt that we should put the voler’s down for security. Unbearable. We did this the next night again but it was the absolute worst. So, after that we risked it and left the door open to let in the fresh air. The apartment building has 2 gates that people would have to get through, so we felt that was sufficient protection. It was at this point I started wondering if maybe we should move somewhere else cooler.

We headed on Sunday to a 4.5 hour lunch with Luc’s cousins. They built a beautiful house with a pool (everyone seems to have access to a pool here). We ate, drank, swam, and because I hadn’t been sleeping well, I curled up on the couch after about hour 3 for a siesta. It was a wonderful reunion. So many little cousins now for Violette to play with. It was nice to see them bonding and creating connections.

The next morning, we were advised from Luc’s mom, to get to the beach early. So off we went at 8am to get to the beach and get a parking spot and a piece of the playa. We snorkelled and read until about 1pm when the sun was beating down on us so we took off home (stopping first in Antibes to get some stamps for some postcards).

The next day was our anniversary! 9 years ago that day, we got married in Switzerland. Luc’s idea was to go to Gourdon, a tiny little walking only town, up in the mountains for a bit and look around there (it’s very artisanal) and then head to a restaurant for dinner. It was another hot day with some crazy twisty roads to get to and from Gourdon. All in all it was a nice way to spend our anniversary.

The next day, I wanted to visit the market in Antibes. I remember going there after one of the cousin’s wedding so wanted to remember it again. We parked a ways from the town where there was tons of parking. Then we walked along the waterfront where all the really big and fancy yachts are parked. I have to say, I definitely got that feeling of “I want ‘all the things’ and my life would feel complete”. It’s amazing what just being around wealth will do to your “want” desire.

The market was crazy busy and it was so hot. We bought a lot of wonderful fruit, veg, olives, and tapanade. We then went to find something to eat. We stopped in at this restaurant that had mussels and fries. Garcon, deux s’il vous plait! Dripping sweat while eating is one of the most unpleasant experiences I’m had I think. I soaked 4 napkins.

We left there totally full and went to the “Nomad” sculpture as it wasn’t too far away. Pretty cool looking. Luc climbed it even though it clearly said “no climbing”. Rule breaker!

Then Luc tried numerous times to convince us to go for the other little walk around a castle. No way. Vivi and I were dying of the heat. We crawled back to the car and home to cool off in the pool (the pool is at least 28 degrees so ‘cool off’ is an exaggeration. Later that night, Vivi threw up two times. We think it was maybe too much sun. We also aren’t sure if it was the mussels (she hasn’t had problems before).

The next night we went to Luc’s cousin’s place for a wonderful dinner of Pizza! Jerome built a pizza oven at his house, so we had several different kinds of home made pizza direct from a wood fire pizza oven. Again all the cousins, the pool, wonderful wine… it was so much fun and good to connect.

The next day, we drove the scenic route (sea side) to Cannes.  We had lunch in a tiny little restaurant with really great tasting water (It’s the little things I swear…) There we went on tiny train that took us through Cannes and told us all about the history of Cannes and the different buildings and areas of town. We drove past some of the most expensive hotels in the world… there must have been something going on because it was car after car: Lambos, Ferraris, Porches, Bugatis, Mercedes (suped up PUSH), etc… Luc wanted to check out his grandpa’s old house, so we drove past there and he hopped the fence so he could take a trip down memory lane.

The next day was one for the records… we got up as early as we could (Vivi didn’t want to get out of bed and no convincing her that we needed to get going before it got too hot – helped). We got out the door to walk around Cape D’antibes. It was stunning and beautiful but it was so incredibly hot. Hardly any shade, in and out of rocks and climbing. Not too much of a breeze but when there was the breeze was hot. First Vivi started complaining about the heat and then it was me. I was a mess – every single piece of skin was wet with sweat. My face was a HOT MESS. I didn’t bring a hat because I seriously thought it was early enough (remember it was about 9am). It was like my body was on overdrive. I looked around at the other people almost casually walking, some RUNNING (I shit you not) and I was like “what the fuck is wrong with me?”. Luc actually wondered the same. We got to this place in the walk where we could continue (in the shade) or take a short cut and motor back to the car. Short cut please. I later read these two articles:

and now I’m so sure it’s completely linked with my red hair. Yes I am a unicorn. Thank you very much.

After getting to the car which was parked at the beach no less we joined the masses of people on the beach to get a cool down. This beach… you were LITERALLY right beside the next people. There was almost no sand to walk between the towels to get to the sea. People were scouting and fighting over spots…. You know when you ask someone if they are leaving so you can take their parking spot? Yeah that happened ON THE BEACH.

I feel like the next day was a down day. I think it’s when I wrote my last blog post. There was a massive storm which helped to relieve the heat much to my joy.

Then we went to Olivier’s house for another wonderful 4 hour meal at lunch. In the pool, speaking some English, it was really really nice. We went directly from their house to here. I coached in the most wonderful spot and then to dinner at a pizzeria just a little down the hill from where we’re staying. Live music, an awesome vibe, cheap, good food. It was really neat.

Yesterday… so Luc wanted to go for a 1-2 hour hike. I said “1-2 hours… have you done this before?” Response: “Oh yeah, so many times when I was little”. Me: “but 1-2 hours… that’s pretty vague. Why such a vaste difference?” Response: “It was a long time ago I can’t remember exactly”. So we head up the “hill”. About 30mins into a straight uphill “little walk” (that’s what he called it) I started to ask more questions. “Please show me the map and what we’re doing…”

Out comes the map “ok, up to the ruins here… then around the mountain, down to this town, and back up home.”

Me: “Ummmmm 1-2 hours? We’re not even at the ruins yet! And you want to go around THAT mountain?” Pointing at a mountain that seems like would take about a day to walk around the circumference. I’ve packed 1 litre of water and 2 cliff bars for the “little walk” for the 3 of us. I demand he calls his aunt for clarification.

His aunt says it’s about 1 hour to the ruins (which was “just around the corner”). Ok, we regroup and we decide once we get to the ruins we’ll choose what comes next. It’s a beautiful walk after the uphill turns to flatish. So many butterflies, crickets, lizards, beautiful views, the clouds shield us from the beating sun, there’s a breeze. AN ACTUAL BREEZE that’s cool! I love this place.

We get to the ruins. They are pretty cool. Way up at the top of this mountain, I try to think about what life must have been like for them. Creating these buildings that are made from stone, overlooking the beautiful valley. Why so high? It couldn’t have been easy to build there.

We drink water, eat the cliff bars. It’s been 2 hours. We choose to go back the same way we came. Luc said the path around the mountain is probably overgrown. Yeah let’s go with that.

We come home and head out for lunch and I’m exhausted so Luc takes off to find some canyon and river and I take a nap and Vivi has a rest. How he can keep going, I’ll never understand.

Side note: Man on man they eat a lot of bread here. I feel like I’m turning into the a French loaf. So I’ve decided no bread for breakfast and no bread from the bread baskets that they bring. I’m slower, I’m more tired, I feel like I’m constantly bloated. I need a bread break.

We have one more day here. And then we head back to the studio. 8 days until I leave for the Camino….

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