Carried Away to Carry-le-Rouet
I hate to admit it, but I couldn’t wait to get out of Paris.
The cool August air, the gray skies with intermittent rain, sometimes in a downpour, other times just a fine mist, along with the empty streets and shut-tight shops, sent me packing bathing suits and short skirts anxious to head south to Provence and the Côte d’Azur. On Avenue de l’Opéra Monday evening, there was nary a car in sight between the Opéra Garnier and Le Louvre, and just a few loud-mouthed non-French-speaking tourists admiring the fancy windows. August in Paris is best left to the unsuspecting visitors and residents who prefer the city disguised as a ghost town.
Tuesday morning early, the overstuffed small rolling bag topped with a laptop computer and some unfinished business was carted down to the bus stop, and together we rode to the Gare de Lyon where I bought tickets to Nemours Saint-Pierre. Experience at the Gare de Lyon told me to head immediately for the one small ticket booth where you buy tickets for the Ile de France sojourns only. This is Paris’ worst nightmare-of-a-station where there are three or four different ticket-selling booths to trains of different types (international, national, regional, intra-regional), plus two different sets of tracks (one set of numbered tracks and another set lettered, each about 200 meters from one another, from which you don’t know where your train will depart until only a few minutes prior when the reader board changes).
It took two trains to arrive at Nemours, a small city south of Fontainebleau near where Marie-Elisabeth Crochard, the co-coordinator of the Parler Parlor F
rench-English Conversation Group ( http://www.parlerparlor.com), has a country home. She met me at the train with her red Toyota stuffed to the brim with bedding, potted cacti, books and an assortment of furnishings for her newly purchased seaside retreat in the little port west of Marseille, Carry-le-Rouet. Adding my overstuffed suitcase was no easy task, but with it wedged behind our seats threatening to lunge forward and chop off our heads, we took off for badly needed sun and warmth.
Black clouds followed us all the way down. Rain, cold, wind…and we complained all the way, eating M&M Peanuts and stopping periodically at the well-equipped road-side “boutiques” where you can buy everything from machine-brewed coffees to French-English dictionaries. The journey lasted almost nine hours from Paris, and saw no breakthrough of sun, until we turned off the Autoroute away from Marseille in the direction of Carry-le-Rouet.
Just at the peak of the mountain range, as the car took a turn, a view of the ocean stretched out before us and the sun struck our faces. Before pulling in to the parking lot to unload the car of all her precious belongings, we scurried down to the port to see the setting sun over the calm waters and the sparkling white boats. At last, sun, warmth and signs of August life.
I write from the terrace of her one-bedroom Provençal retreat, the sun hitting my back, red-tiled roofs peeking from behind the lush pine trees and a small village on an near-by hill. It’s still cooler than hoped or expected, but it’s relatively early and there is lots of August days ahead of us to explore the area — Marseille, the “Calanques,” Cassis and of course, Carry-le-Rouet.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. Thursday I head for the Côte d’Azur from which I’ll be conference calling Sunday evening along with Justin Harris of Moneycorp Global Money Services and all you subscribers of French Property Insider to discuss “How to Save Money Transferring Dollars to Euros.” If you are already an FPI subscriber, it’s FREE, and you may sign up for this special event by emailing: [email protected] and if you’re not and would like to be, visit /frenchproperty/insider