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Friday, July 13, 2012

Antibes & Tour de France – July 10-13, 2012

More pictures here!

Usually when we stop for more than a week in one spot I quickly run out of news to post.  That is not the case with Week #2 in Landry, France.  Three (yes three!) good friends and a Tour de France sighting quickly added up to a very busy week.

The day after Judy left we packed The Noses into the Pepper and headed to the Cote d’Azur to meet up with Taylor & Cindy in Antibes.  As Google maps said it was only 5 ½ hours we thought we’d take a more scenic route down; leaving Salt behind, we started with a climb up through the Col de Petit St. Bernard and over into Italy.  Why wasn’t I making a scenic drive video?  Mostly because when I could tear my eyes away from the narrow, winding road, I just gaped at the incredible scenery.  It really is unfair of one country to have so much beauty.

On the other side of the Col we landed in La Thuile, Italy, a charming town in its own right, before jumping onto the motorway and heading straight down to the coast stopping only for some coffee--no one makes coffee like the Italians.

The drive eventually took us south along the Mediterranean coast, passing under (yes, unfortunately under) Monaco (this area is filled with tunnels, so the sightseeing was not what I was hoping for) arriving at the Vogue Hotel in Cap d’Antibes by 4:00 p.m. – 7.5 hours on the road.  A quick shower and we drove over to what will forever be called, “River’s Heaven.”

Taylor & Cindy were staying with some friends in a villa in Antibes; could it get better for The Noses than a palm tree filled yard (it was back to 30/90 down at the coast) with real grass and a fully fenced yard?  Oh yes it could:   All the people in the villa were dog lovers.  And I mean lovers.  Every time I looked for River she was either playing with people at the edge of the pool or laying under a palm tree being petted.  (Rosco, who most of you know doesn’t give a lick about affection, found his own heaven by routing through the garden in search of moles and then sleeping out in the pool house.)

We had a delightful candlelit dinner outside on the patio, complete with fresh flowers and intelligent conversation (all of which we could understand!) before having to drag River away.  I am quite sure everyone, including River, thought she should become the Villa Chien.  The following morning, when we stopped by to pick up Taylor and Cindy for our trip to Cannes, I let River loose at the gate and she bounded up the steps to receive her morning love; free from the apparently torturous experience of staying with us overnight.

The beaches in Antibes and Cannes were crowded beyond belief (like Main Beach in Laguna during the summer) and the restaurants and shops are more on the tacky side until you reach Cannes.  Cannes is Beverly Hills and the port at St. Barth’s rolled into one.  We filled up on our gorgeous car and yacht sightings before settling down to a delicious lunch in a small café tucked down a quiet side street.  As fun as the previous night was, it was a delight to have Taylor and Cindy to ourselves despite suffering, as most of us were, through our hangovers.

We headed back home via a faster route (back through Grenoble) but didn’t reach Salt until after 10.  The alarm went off at six and, still bleary-eyed we left for our Tour de France day.  We were parked by nine awaiting The Caravan.  Apparently, one of the biggest events in the Tour de France is this caravan of floats and cars that drive through at least an hour ahead of the race tossing free stuff out along the way.  We managed to score some Frisbees, cookies and candies as well as two newspapers which we cannot read.

The excitement grew as we heard the helicopters circling overhead (this leg being fully televised) and we knew the racers were just around the corner.  Being on a flat stretch, they whip by very quickly with a full contingent of police on motorbikes surrounding them.  One minute you are standing there and the next you are blasted by wind so strong it almost knocks you down and then they are past.  Thankfully the riders had already broken into two groups so I was slightly better prepared a few seconds later when it all happened again.

And just like that, they were past; we packed up and headed back to Salt.  It was a lot of waiting for very little action but I was glad we did it.  Nothing beats being at a live event with the energy and excitement of the crowd.  Much later, back at Salt, we watched the thrilling ending:  That guy crashed and then got back up and won the leg!  Amazing athletes.  With or without HGH.

Now we are looking forward to getting back into the hiking/fishing groove.   I am afraid I must make myself get on the scale today . . . but not until after my Pain au Raisin.