I’ve been to Cannes once many years ago and frankly, I wasn’t all that impressed. So even though I’m only about 50 minutes away, I haven’t been compelled to pay a second visit. But it’s the Cannes film festival and I’d have to be some sort of full fledged agoraphobic (as opposed to the partial agoraphobic I am) to not go check it out.
The train ride is lovely. After 15 minutes of riding through rolling hills , medieval villages perched on hills and vineyards, the train gets to the ocean, which is a deep teal blue, offset by coves and rocky outcroppings (slate/green and terracotta colors) and medieval villages clustered in coves along the shore.
There are armed police and military officers, all over the Gare de Cannes, but other than that everything looks pretty normal.
The streets near the station are pleasant and almost Provencal, except for an occasional person with the tell-tale identity tag hanging around their neck rushing by, cellphone clutched in white knuckled hand. I figure they’re crew members, bloggers or actually working the festival or they’d be in limos or staying in a lavish hotel on the Croisette.
Once you hit the Rue d’Antibes, you’re in the Cannes zone. From then on, it’s a bunch of fancy stores and restaurants that cater to “les trou du culs’ as one shop person put it. Up until now, I haven’t seen ONE Sephora in France, even in Paris. In Cannes, there are two. I know that says something deep and significant about the people who come to Cannes, but how can I concentrate when…ooooh, look! Shiny!I watch an American woman drool to her significant other over a 350 Euro pair of flip flops in a window that look just like my $2.00 party flip flops I got at Old Navy except they have a Hugo Boss logo on them. which makes them worth 348.59 Euros more (approximately $495 US as of today), apparently. I’m starting to feel a little self conscious about my ON (Old Navy sounds classier as an acronym, don’t you think?) flip flops.
It appears that men over 5’7″ are not allowed in Cannes… (unless they’re locals on their way to their jobs serving men who are all 5’7″ or shorter). They’re usually accompanied by woman teetering down the streets in their designer clown stilts preceded by their lips, boobs and an unpleasant whiff of eau de trying too hard. It looks like a convention of Real Housewives here.
I know I’m getting near the Croisette by the shiny black cars lined up, security guards standing at attention, photographers and peasants lined up to look at anything that happens to be behind a barricade (especially if a red carpet is back there somewhere).Here, everyone is either speaking English or Italian, car horns are honking, photographers are everywhere.
I stand with the crowd, curious as to who might emerge from those guarded doors Then it hits me; I’m in arguably one of the most beautiful strips of land in the world, and I’m looking at someone’s head who’s looking at someone else’s head who’s looking at someone else’s head who’s trying to get a glimpse of someone else’s head.
An hour or so later, I pry myself away from the still waiting crowd and cross the street. Looking back several in case Johnny, Brangelina or whoever aren’t finally making their entrance.
But when I get to the beach side of the street, I only get glimpses of the water, sand or even the view because of all the tents, posters and crap blocking the view. It kind of reminds me of Waikiki. Or Waikiki Disney. I wonder if Cannes gets this crazy when hosting a Dental Convention? Do they plaster the Carlton Hotel (which is actually a very cool old building) with pictures of famous dentists?
Do poseur dentists wander the streets of this Americanized version of a quaint Mediterranean town and buy ridiculous stuff they can get anywhere at a higher price here just so they can say they got it in Cannes?
I find a nice stretch of blocked off road and stroll up the Croisette towards the castle, past the Palais des Festivals to get a look at the coast, which is stunning. Some photographers are snapping pictures of somebody launching a yacht for somewhere. Pigs! My iphone can’t get a clear picture of whoever it is from this distance.
I retreat to the quieter backstreets and find lunch for under 15 Euro (I’m splurging, it’s Cannes, forgodsakes). I order aile de raie with lemon, butter and capers because I’ll eat anything with lemon, butter and capers. It’s not the best aile de raie I’ve ever had, but it’s not bad with the lemon, capers and butter, and not at any point during the meal do I consider the possibility that the chef may be trying to poison me–always a plus.
After lunch, I stumble upon a macaron store. Not a patisserie with a few macaron flavors, a macaron store. This is the biggest assortment of macarons I’ve ever seen outside of Paris. It even has ridiculous fois gras flavors (I’m sorry, that’s just wrong!!!). And some of them have some kind of shiny almost glittery substance in the meringue portion of the cookie which in my opinion is gilding the lily. But who cares? They have the coveted beurre de sale (salted caramel), a flavor that has thus far has eluded me everywhere except Paris. You know that feeling when you’re falling in love and you’re having this perfect moment that you never want to end? Eating a properly made beurre de sale macaron is like that. I also get a chocolate one, which is my “go to” flavor. These two little gems will be my rewards when I get home.
Ooooh, they also have my favorite tea. It’s ridiculously expensive, but it’ll really top off the macarons.
On my way back to the train station I find Maison du Chocolate tucked away in a quiet little spot off Rue d’Antibes and discover some of the biggest chocolate covered orange peels I’ve ever seen. Not grotesque big, mind you. That would be…well, grotesque. Instead of twigs these are about 1/6 an orange peel each.
One of the many beauties of chocolate covered orange rinds is you can tell yourself they’re healthy. Did you know the rind is where most of the nutrients are in an orange? It’s the ultimate in being environmentally friendly by reducing waste, since what else was anyone on going to do with those orange peels? They would have just become landfill. So I pick up a couple of those in the name of sustainability. Now I really can’t wait to get home.
The return trip is a little tense only because I have to be careful not to crush my delicate treasures.
So here I am, back in Vidauban. I’m sipping my freshly brewed Mariage Freres Yuzu Temple tea with my Maison du Chocolate orange rind and Jean Luc Pele macarons, I ponder Cannes and the shallow, label loving, acquisitive, pleasure seeking hedonists who seem to gravitate to it. I really don’t like the place at all.
I bite into the beurre de sale macaron and my eyes roll back in pure bliss.
I wonder if I’ll have time go back to Cannes later this week.
Filed under: Cote d'azur, Deep thoughts, expat in france, fine dining, france on a budget, macaron, Paris, pastry, patisserie, Provence, tourism, trains, transportation, travel, travel humor | Tagged: Brangelina, Cannes, Cannes film festival, Jean Luc Pele, macaron, mariage freres, train to Cannes | 5 Comments »