Monday, July 2, 2012


We have left Italy and are now heading West. Cannes then Barcelona before we leave the Mediterranean for our Atlantic leg.
Cannes is a tender port meaning that our ship is anchored out in the bay and we zip back and forth between ship and shore on shore-based launches or our own lifeboats. Works very efficiently when the weather is good and the seas are calm as was the case today.

We chose as our itinerary for the day to do a morning drive inland to the mountain-top village of St Paul de Vence; then spend the afternoon wandering the streets of Cannes until our last tender time of 3.30pm for a 5pm departure.

 We started the day with a bus ride along La Croisette – the seafront of Cannes. The sights of the city were pointed out as we drove along – The old town overlooked by Le Suquet with its 12th century watchtower;

Then the Palais des Festivals et des Congres – the home of the Cannes Film Festival with the ‘red carpet’ permanently placed for photo ops;

Across the street are the beautiful hotels where the stars and the rich and famous stay for their visits here – the Carlton and the Martinez being among the best known

Two Islands in the bay – Iles de Lerins are famous for different reasons
Ile Sainte Marguerite because of the Royal prison located there which housed (for real) the Man in the Iron Mask – later fictionalized by Alexandre Dumas.
Ile Saint Honorat for the monastery located there which dates from the 4th Century
Continued along the coast road out of Cannes through Antibes then into Cagnes – beautiful real estate attracting the new very rich with marinas in which are anchored their playthings – expensive and sleek.

Then inland towards Vence and our stop for the day - St Paul de Vence.

In the days of City States before France was really France and Italy was not yet Italy – Vence was on the border of the Kingdom of Piedmont – Sardinia ruled by the House of Savoy which controlled Nice from 1388 to 1860.
In the 15th Century the hilltop was fortified with high walls around the circumference; defensive positions were created to pour boiling oil down on attackers and cannon was placed.

Inside these walls a beautiful village developed that has survived the years remarkably well and is now a major attraction – for its rich history and for its more recent importance in the arts as well as its lovely boutiques, restaurants, strolls and ambience.

The South of France in general, and the area around Cannes in particular, became a haven for painters of the Impressionist era – all the important painters loved the color, light and way of life.

St Paul de Vence was one such location. Chagall, Picasso, Leger and Soutine found a welcome location here and the Restaurant Colomb d’Or became a hangout for these legends and the owners bought their works and are here still.

Chagall in particular represented the village in a number of his paintings and he chose to be buried here – a Jewish tomb in the cemetery of St Paul! 

A host of modern artists continue this tradition and have set up studios here and their work is sold in galleries scattered along the winding stone alleys and is housed in the Foundation Maeght museum.
A second set of famous artists to discover St Paul and love it enough to live here (Yves Montand and Simone Signoret) or spend time, were movie stars who came to the Cannes area for the festival.
There are photographs of these famous stars playing boule on this pitch where today locals were enjoying their Sunday.

Things that struck me in particular:


The real beauty of the winding, narrow alleys that have stood here for 500 years or more

The newer touches such as the decorative stone inlays in the cobbled paths

The variety of sculpture on display in public areas

and on sale in stores

 – note the rather cynical take on our US Lady of Liberty – not at all unexpected in France.

The colorful modern art – it was pretty pricy but there were definitely pieces I would have bought

Beautiful clothing and candy stores

And the beautiful views from the village and around it

We then drove back to Cannes at lunchtime and had plenty of time to wander around the old town. Lovely restaurants.

Came across this cool place for kids and their parents to play with radio-controlled speed boats

Made a few thoughtful purchases in Cannes and St Paul just to help the French economy in these times of austerity but did notice one other thing in my time here – the cars!!!!!
Along Le Croisette – Lambos, Ferraris and other high-end delectables;
A Jaguar Taxi in St Paul;

this Dubai registered monstrosity of a RR color scheme

and the poor police with their chase car!!

Factoid of interest: The Grimaldi Family OWN Monaco outright – they bought it from Genoa in 1308 – so Albert II of Monaco can be prince or anything else he wishes to be – its all his.

Second factoid – Napoleon was part of the extended Grimaldi family

Sadly I am not.

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