Dr. Hoffer's Travel Site This site was last updated 03/03/11
FRAN2005 #15 Mougins & Grasse
Flag of Grasse
Sunday July 3, 2005
[AN ASIDE: Dr. Alpar wrote (by clicking the "Write To Me" button") and asks when is it I have time to relax and see things. I will explain. When I do my run it takes a half hour and I see a lot and photograph it. When we travel, Marcia does the driving and I can use the time on the computer to work on photos and write these diarios. I also do them while enjoying a Guinness (like right now) and relaxing watching the people and traffic go by or while Marcia is eating lunch (and I don't). I could be reading a book or just lounging but writing these diarios is more relaxing to me.]
I woke up at 9:45 and got up at 10:15 and immediately went out for my usual run but this time I wore my rain gear which is very light but covers my arms and legs and is a little more appropriate for church than coming in with my T-shirt and shorts. I ran by the corner on the way to town and got this panorama. Its almost a 360° view; the marina is to the left and the city of Cannes to the right.
I got there just in the middle of the French Homily for the 10:30 Mass and read the English readings for today which I always bring with me. The name of the Cathedral is Notre Dame de Bon Voyage. As in Italy, there are beggars at the door, but here they are French male drunks rather then women from the middle east holding on to a baby.
The plaque on the side of the church (above left) commemorates Napoleon's triumphant return from exile on the Italian Isle of Elbe. When Mass was over at 11:30, I went for a cappuccino at L'Up Side Down Café on the main drag in town, rue d'Antibes.
I haven't mentioned how hard it is to get a real cappuccino in Provence. Here they want to bring it to you with whipped cream on it - yuck! So I keep trying to find the terms in French to get something similar to a real one. This time I was told it was a "cappuccino à la mousse de lait" (lait = milk) and its still not right. And they always want to sprinkle chocolate powder on it. Since we had to check out of the hotel today, I didn't dawdle too long. On the way back I went by this building with art on it showing movie stars (Cannes Film Festival). Can you recognize any of them? Can you see Jessica Rabbit and CP3O?
I worked my way through the street market where they were selling just about everything especially china, silverware, art, jewelry and old toys from the 40's.
I then passed by the Hôtel d'Ville (City Hall) where a big wedding party was out front getting their pictures taken, so I joined in and took some photos too. The bride is the one with the white hat.
As I continued walking back, I got a shot of what the police cars look like here and
I got the above (right) shot on the side of a building. It shows the map of the Les Isles de Lerins just a few miles (15 min boat ride) of the coast of Cannes. The lower island, Ile Ste-Marguerite, contains the Fort Royal (at the bottom) where the 17th Century "Man in the Iron Mask" was kept from 1687 to 1698 (11 years). [Click to read the entire 1846 novel by Alexander Dumas.]
[From Royalty.nu: "In 1698 a mysterious man was imprisoned in the Bastille. Almost no one seemed to know who he was, although residents of the French prison were usually important people who had fallen out of favor with King Louis XIV. This man had been a captive of the government since at least 1687, and for all that time his face had been hidden by a mask. The masked man died in 1703, but rumors about his strange existence continued to circulate. He ate in the mask, slept in the mask, and eventually died in the mask. Even at the royal court his identity remained a mystery. In his book The Age of Louis XIV, published in 1751, Voltaire said that the prisoner was forced to wear an iron mask as early as 1661, when he was held captive on the island of Sainte-Marguerite. The prisoner was young (in 1661), tall and very handsome." There are multiple theories as to who he was; click the Royaly.nu to read about them. There were movies made of the story in 1929, 1939, 1978 (Richard Chamberlain) and 1998 (Leonardo Di Caprio).]
He is a real character and was later moved to the Bastille prison in Paris where he died in 1703. The smaller island (upper), Ile St. Honorat, is named after Marguerite's brother, the Gallo-Roman Honoratus, who visited the island at the end of the 4th Century and founded a monastery there which later became Abbaye de Lérins (photo right.) We had considered taking a boat ride to the islands but time just ran out.
I walked past the statue with the pool where they were playing with motorized boats last night and then up a side street, I stumbled upon the Indoor Open Market and went inside. Was this place something. You could buy just about any food product you could imagine. Just look at the varieties of things available.
The assortment of French cheeses was astounding, I couldn't stop taking photos.
I hustled on back to the hotel which was a very long walk. Christian (left) who checked us in and Niccola (right), who has taken care of us the last two days, were both there to check us out. There were both very gracious and wonderful to these two Americans. We thank them for making our stay in Cannes something special and different. We are very happy Irene recommended this place rather than the glitzy hotels that cater to the rich on the strand. Think about this if you come here.
We then drove back to Juan Les Pins on our way to our next stop and parked in the garage below the Casino. We wended our way to the beach area and at 3:45 Marcia had her lunch at Café de La Plage. We skipped the "Sex Bombe" across the street.
She had salad Indienne (with chicken) and I had a coke-lite and then broke down and had a milk shake which was just OK. After we were done, the the waiter brought us each a free rum vanil. That was unusual at this time of day, drinking booze.
We were done at 4:30 and Marcia then drove us north to the city of Grasse [Grah-se] which is high up on a hill. At 5:45 we had to fill the tank again and this time it was only $89.05 at $5.32/gal. We arrived in Grasse at 6:15 and couldn't find a place to park, as usual, so I jumped out to find the perfume museum. I found it quickly (little red building on the left) and they told me it was closed for renovations until 2007. Marcia wanted to wait until tomorrow to come here just to see this and am I glad we came today.
Next door (yellow on the right) I did find the Fragonard Perfumerie, which I knew would make Marcia happy. This is the whole reason we had to come here. I raced back to the car and she had found a spot. We walked to Fragonard and she found a lovely new fragrance that she liked and bought some.
When she was finally finished we walked around the central plaza of the town and went by City Hall which was quite elaborate for such a little hilltop town.
The central plaza overlooks the valley below and the view is quite spectacular. You can see all the way to the Mediterranean Sea far off in the distance. They have a statue dedicated to General Grasse and I think it said he had something to do with our Gen. Washington. The plaque overlooking the valley showed the map of the area.
It just so happens that they were having an international Carrara marble sculpture contest and they were displaying the winners from the various countries in the main square. That was the reason for all the country flags flying. Each specimen was carved from a block of pure white Carrara marble. My favorite was the one with the "C " shape by Verhaege from Belgium. What is yours?
The flags of the winning countries were flying; can you name them?
At 7:15 we left and Marcia drove the trip south to Mougins [Moo-jean] and at 7:30 we found our hotel, Manoir de L'Etang [66 Allée du Manoir 06250, +33-(0)4-92-28-3600] which is in the countryside on the foothills of the old town. We stayed in Room #9. Click this to see it.
They were very nice to us and gave us the only terrace room (top of left photo) overlooking the gardens. The fields outside are the largest field of poppies in France.
At 7:45 we enjoyed a glass of wine on their terrace where they serve dinner and they brought us a free appetizer of raw tuna. Since I don't eat anything raw, Marcia enjoyed all of it.
Finally ready for dinner and eager to see the old hilltop city, at 8:45 Marcia drove to Vieu Mougins (click to see it) [Voo Moo-jahn] at the top of the hill.
The map (below left) shows the route we had to take to get to the top of the hill. We found a parking place and they had a nice ceramic map there (below right) to show you where to go.
We wandered around the quaint little village looking for two of the restaurants we had been advised to visit. The first one was closed and the other one didn't seem all that eager to take us, so now we were on our own to smell out a place to eat from the many available places which to me looked like tourist traps.
As we wandered around I discovered one of the many art galleries that was open and this one had a central reflecting pool and was very modern. I had to take a few photos:
This one restaurant had a very interesting mural carved in the sandstone wall.
We decided to sit down in the bar area of this one place and have a glass of Coup Mercier champagne. It was called Brasserie de la Méditerranée [Place de la Mairie, +33-(0)4-93-90-0347] and then we decided to go ahead and eat here at one of their tables. That wound up being a very good idea. We started out with a local bottel of Chateau Roubine.
At 10:00 we actually started dinner with a bottle of Perrier and Marcia had a lobster salad followed by seabass.
I had l'escargot followed by sole meuniere.
For dessert, Marcia had a plate of chevre (goat) cheeses and fruit "egg rolls" with sauces ending with a sambucca and I had a craquant chocolat torte and an espresso. The whole dinner was absolutely fabulous.
The table next to us was a group of five Indian couples who have lived in London for over 20 years and have an annual get-together. This year they chose Mougins. They were very nice and we had a very good time talking to them. After dinner, we drove back down the hill to our hotel and got to bed at 1 AM.
KJH Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #16
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
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