Like most Sundays, Copain and I decided to take a walk. The weather was beautiful despite the fact that it's early February - sun shining, birds tweeting, not a cloud in the sky...
Instead of setting off towards Cannes la Bocca which is our normal direction, we went the opposite way to Golfe Juan. Golfe Juan is the next little town over when you walk towards Nice and it is situated right before the better-known Juan les Pins (pronounced Joo-ahn lay Pan and not Wan lay Pins for you anglophones). While there are more cars on this path, the sea view is pretty spectacular and it was an adventure for us because we had never gone this way before.
We began our walk along the Croisette where I was horrified to see not one but TWO people in bathing suits (one child in Speedos and another woman in a bikini - for the love of god!) In addition to that horrifying scene, we saw another person actually swimming in the Med. Yes my friends - swimming. As in, body in the water, moving about, without a wetsuit. Insane. I mean, yes, the weather was gorgeous and I was in just a sweatshirt and scarf but swimming - whoooo doggy. no merci.
The walk continued towards Palm Beach and then around the corner to the street on the bord de la mer. Suddenly I got little tingles all over - road signs! - that I understand!!!! I began explaining to F all of the things we were and were not allowed to do on the street - "see here, here we can go at 50km/h and there is a pedestrian walkway coming up ahead!" "Now we have to give the priorité à droite - and be careful of the road bump!" "Now we are on a route prioritaire - see that yellow sign - it means we have the right of way of this street!"
We kept up our walk, me alert of all oncoming traffic and Copain doing his best to put up with my obsession. "See that line, Copain? It means that we cannot pass on the left - we cannot even cross it! It is a ligne continue. Now if that line was dotted, THEN we could pass on the left - BUT only if it is safe AND if we are not coming up on a turn or a hill."
"Ok, ça suffit!" Copain snapped at me. "I understand that you are very excited that you know all of the road signs but I can't take it anymore." Unfortunately I was just getting going, so I had to continue the walk keeping track of the rules in my head...obligation to turn right, freeway up ahead, obstacle on the side of the road, dangerous curve on the left!
Unexpectedly we ran into my friend J on the way (an avid walker/mountain woman) who assured usthat Golfe Juan was close - we had been walking for over an hour already and I had a major craving for a chocolat chaud. I think all this Code activity was draining me - I needed reinforcements! With J's advice and the added motivation of wearing spandex after not having danced in two months, I marched on...
Thirty minutes later, the route National, an indication to carefully turn to the right and Golfe Juan ! We hurried into the little town to search for an open café. Locals chatted on bistrot chairs next to the little port waiting for their drinks from Le Saint Pierre Restaurant et Bar - if it was good enough for them it was good enough for us, so we found two seats in the sun and plopped down for a break. Pierre was in no hurry though because it took about 15 minutes before he came waddling across the street with his paysan hat and full moustache. I was surprised he didn't have a piece of hay hanging out of the side of his mouth just for effect.
"Monsieur, Madame, what are we having today?" he asked us cordially.
"Un coca et un chocolat chaud s'il vous plait - with two glasses of water also please," Copain replied.
"Trés bien," said Pierre - and he waddled back across the two lanes of traffic into the restaurant bar to get them for us.
10 minutes tick by...stomach grumbling begins...mmmm snaaaaacks.....
Since there were no menus available at Pierre's I decided to walk into the restaurant and ask him if he perhaps had anything to nibble on - I mean it did say that it was a restaurant bar and on the store-front there were signs advertising for fish, pastries, ice cream and pies. They had to have something. Upon entering the restaurant bar I noticed two things: 1. A strange man reading a paper, who happened to be the only customer in the restaurant. 2. The bar covered in dirty glasses from one end to the other. French elegance at its best.
"Re-bonjour Monsieur, avez-vous des choses à grignoter par hasard?" Pierre, cigar in hand, was silent - then he let out a French sigh of frustration and anwsered in a disgruntled country bumpkin accent: "Oh la la - je n'ai RIEN aujourd'hui! With the construction and all- oh la - j'ai que des boissons et meme ça, ce n'est pas donné!" Basically, Pierre said, he had nothing, especially with the construction - oh la la! There were only drinks today and even that was pushing it! I looked around the restaurant for the "construction" that was preventing food service. Besides the dirty glasses, it all seemed in order. And then I realized...Pierre was talking about the sidewalk repairs that were going on along the front of the stores on that side of the street. Oh France.
With no food on the horizon I went back to my seat in hopes that my chocolat chaud would be a Starbucks grande and calm my hunger pains.
Finally, Pierre came out again, but with only a coke in his hand. "And the coke is for??" he looked at both of us. "Moi," said F. "Et Mademoiselle, what did she want again?" asked Pierre.
"A CHOCOLAT CHAUD," I stated loud and clear. "Ah oui! A chocolat chaud!" he remembered. And off he toddled (through the construction) to get it.
Copain and I practiced our best Pierre impressions while we waited - wondering if maybe a chocolat chaud was too much to ask for with all of the construction upheaval:
Oh, désolé Mademoiselle - but I have no milk!
Chocolat? Oh no, too compliqué. Perhaps some water instead?
Heat the milk? Oh non - Ce n'est pas possible! With the construction - je ne pourrais pas!
Finally, the holy grail - a ray of sunlight shown down on Pierre holding my chocolat chaud - hot and chocolately albeit petit. He crossed over the construction and the two lanes of traffic placing the steaming cup onto the table in front of me. I wanted to savour my little treat, but by that point I was so starving that I ate all four sugar cubes that came with the chocolat and finished the entire thing in three minutes flat. We won't even talk about the two glasses of water - of course those never came. Too difficile with construction going on.
It was getting dark and chilly - so we paid for our drinks and top notch service and headed back towards Cannes, laughing at each other as we did our best "Pierre" all the way home. Oh la la! The things you'll put up with for a chocolat chaud in France...rue sens unique, curve dangereux- construction up ahead!