My vacation ended in the south of France, back where I lived during my time abroad last year. There are so many things to see along the French Riviera that my friends and I had a hard time choosing what to do. The weather helped us out a bit, though.
We arrived in Antibes in the afternoon, so after getting settled into our apartment we just wandered around the city. I led my friends through the old town and along the beach, pointing out my favorite shops, restaurants I’d recommend for dinner, the best place for gelato, the street I’d lived on last year, the beach I liked best…
It felt so good to be back.
Walking through the Vieille Ville (Old Town) of Antibes
I’m sure a lot of the reason I’m so happy in Antibes is that it provided a long escape from the stress that was weighing me down at school. Still, the shades of blue, orange, yellow and pink mixed with the green of the pine trees and palm trees create a stunning scenery that impresses all of the French Riviera’s visitors. The train stops at cities and villages that are either on the beach or perched atop a hill, providing a beautiful view over the Mediterranean Sea.
Our first full day in Antibes was overcast, so we decided to hike around the Cap d’Antibes. None of us would have wanted to hike if we had to walk with the sun beating down on us, so we figured it’d be a good activity for the day. The wind brought waves crashing into the rocks that line the Cap. The sound of wave following wave was calming. Every once in a while we’d pass other hikers, but for the most part we had the trail to ourselves.
I was happily surprised that the owners of two restaurants we ate at remembered me from last year! One was the woman who works at Miam Miam. It’s a tiny, take-away sandwich place that’s always high on TripAdvisor. All the food is fresh; the owner will tell you in heavily accented English how she begins roasting chickens at 7:30 every morning to fill that day’s sandwich orders. If you order one of her hot sandwiches, she’ll ask if you want it with the “magic curry sauce,” to which the answer should always be yes. She may also show you a picture of her pet spider.
The other woman who remembered me works at a nicer restaurant that’s only open for dinner called Aubergine (which means eggplant). The interior walls are painted yellow, and the tablecloths and napkins are striped orange, green, yellow, pink and purple. The restaurant offers set menus of three courses, with an entrée, a plat, and a dessert. Each time I go I get really close to ordering Bouillabaisse, a seafood stew that’s a traditional dish for the southern area of France. But each time I’m never in the mood for stew, because it’s so hot outside. This time I ordered an entrée of aubergines with balsamic, a plat of pork with a vegetable sauce, and a dessert of fresh fruit and vanilla cream baked in the oven. Actually, my friends and I all shared our desserts so we could try multiple. So I also ate some rhubarb pie and some chocolate-coconut mousse. I think the rhubarb pie was my favorite.
After my friends left, I’d planned to head to Bordeaux for a wine festival called Vinexpo, but due to housing issues I ended up staying with my host mom from last year instead. Although I was excited to see the festival and a new part of France, I was honestly perfectly content staying in Antibes for a few more days. After living there for five months, it feels like another home. Plus I love talking with my host mom. We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together, we watched crime shows and game shows together, and we took a trip to a nearby village called Eze.
Translation: “A meal without wine is a day without sun”
The beach at Eze
The view from Eze-bord-de-mer looking up toward Eze village, at a little snack shack type place called Bananaraie. My host mom and I got smoothies (with REAL fruit and yogurt! so it wasn’t just a mixed juice, it was actually thick, which is a rare find in Europe, at least in my experience) and pan bagnat, which is a sandwich version of a salade niçoise.
She always bakes one type of bread for breakfast, and another type of bread to accompany lunch and dinner. I overate at every meal. I blame the bread and cheese. We also had a bottle of rosé each night at dinner, which I’d really missed. There is such a wide variety of rosé here, and it’s the perfect refreshing summer drink!
During my last full day in Antibes, I took a trip to visit a friend was at the Festival de Télévision de Monaco. He works as a producer, and is friends with the wine journalist I worked with last year. I was able to watch interviews with different actors and actresses on a terrace of the Grimaldi Forum that looks out over the water. He had reserved a badge for me, which I had to pick up in the main lobby of the Grimaldi Forum, which is only accessible by the red carpet. I still can’t believe I actually was permitted to do that.
I wish I’d known more about the interviewees’ shows! To be fair, though, some don’t air in the U.S., so even if I did watch more T.V., I would still be clueless about certain actors and actresses. I saw an interview with Steven Van Zandt (for Lilyhammer 3), Jonathan Lapaglia (Love Child), Candice Accola (Vampire Diaries),
Kat Graham (Vampire Diaries), Aden Young (Rectify), Eoin Macken (The Night Shift), Abigail Spencer (Rectify), and Elisabeth Harnois (CSI).
I find it so impressive that each of those people were determined enough to pursue acting. It’s such an unpredictable career path! It was interesting to hear about different people’s approach to acting. Elisabeth Harnois looks for roles for which she can help define the quirks that make people fall in love with a character. Candice Accola loves how there is always something fantastical and unexpected to look forward to when acting in a show that doesn’t entirely reflect our reality. Terry Crews insists on doing all her own stunts because she wants to take on the challenge and because she thinks that fits the personality of her character. Jonathan Lapaglia started out as a doctor, coming to acting later in life than most people.
One thing Steven Van Zandt said in his interview really stuck with me. The interviewer had asked he was planning to do next, and he began explaining how he tries to do something musical every year, and how he’d be interested in doing more directing. Then he said, “but life always comes in through the back door.” There’s nothing wrong with having a plan, but unpredictable opportunities will arise, and often those are the most interesting ones that you should pursue.