Tuesday, May 19, 2015

From Nice to Cannes

After being denied entry to the UK, I spent two weeks in Paris trying to figure out what to do. A few friends were going to Cannes for the film festival and I thought, well I seem to be stuck in France, so why not?! I got a car share down to Nice for £30 and found two couch surfing hosts to put me up. On Thursday morning, I made my way to Cannes for the first time. 

The bus to Cannes is not on Promenade des Anglaise by the Meridien Hotel. I walked back and forth for twenty minutes before finding it.  It’s actually on the street just by the gazebo. So if you are looking for the 200 bus and you’re coming from the direction of Vieux Nice, walk past the Meridien, hang a right after the gazebo, and you’ll find the bus there.

I’m taking the bus because it’s €1.50 versus €6 for the train from Nice to Cannes. A quarter the price for twice the length of time. But I only have €3.80 left until I get another wee payment (hopefully later today), which will mostly go toward a 3-day pass to the Marché at the Cannes Film Festival. Living so close to the edge requires you to take a lot of deep breaths and have faith that there must be a party you can crash with canapés and drinks.

Well, there’s a director/producer friend who managed to score a room on a yacht. He says that we can cook and enticed me with visions of having lunch on a boat on the Mediterranean Sea. I did buy him some rosé wine. (Only €4!) So if someone will just feed me, I can get them tipsy in exchange.

The beautiful sea is on the left and palm trees line the Promenade. It’s sort of like Los Angeles or San Diego, but with less Asians and more North African and Middle Eastern looking people. Swarthy men with handle bar mustaches in fez caps and long skirts. Ladies with scarves tied around their heads. 

Nice is a lot bigger than I imagined. The old part where I am is a bit honky tonk. Pedestrian streets are lined with bars and nearly every restaurant seems to serve mussels. I think of the massive mussel carnage that must take place each night on the Rue François de Paule.

The bus turns inland a bit and we head down Avenue de Nice, a smaller street that is much less touristy. Dusty boulangeries with names in yellow plastic script that look like they were installed in the 1970s. Car dealers and groceries and schools and hairdressers and oh wow a street market by a bus stop called Les Oliviers. I think maybe we are in Antibes now?

At Mr. Pizza, we turn further inland and now it looks quite residential. We pass several peach colored buildings with balconies and terracotta tiled roofs. I see a sign and realize that we are not in Antibes. We are somewhere called Colletes Breguieres. A girl in a flowered jacket comes on the bus and at first I think she has an enormous nose ring but it’s actually a medical tube of some sort.  And in front of a closed pharmacy there is a dispensing machine for condoms.

We pass Bourg Medi, which looks like a nice town. There is a le Jam Lounge Bar – I imagine jam refers to music and not confiture. There are some dusty shops and an inexpensive looking shoe shop. (I need a pair of dress shoes…) I see a street named 11 Novembre and a Square du 8 Mai.

We get back on the highway, passing a beautiful bush laden with yellow bell-like flowers. Zucchini, I wonder? Then we are in Strip Mall Land. This part of Southern France is reminding me more and more of California. Strip Mall Land is presided by several odd curved buildings that look like a layer cake or a cruise ship or a step pyramid made of white lego blocks. We pass a shop that says Atmosphere Sud, Creators d’Emotion. It seems this is a fancy French way of saying they organize weddings and birthdays. Villaneuve Corbet is the name of this bleak land of nowhere and everywhere.

We pass a park, a sad abandoned building with a sign that says The Top Ten – Restaurant Marina Bar, a farm stand, a pizza shop, a horrid new glass construction, and Worog Tattoo, which looked to me at first like Wrong Tattoo. Train tracks stretch to the horizon on the left, the sea is slightly visible beyond. A sweaty blonde guy with a slight hunch tosses his cigarette as he gets on the bus. He fishes €1.50 out of a large female-looking wallet.

And then we stopped at lovely little Square Nabonnard in Golfe Juan. At the center, a worn bust of Napoleon sits on a cracked pillar that reads, “Souvenir du le Mars 1815. Salut France, Terre de Braves.” I wonder if that pillar really has been there for two hundred years. I wonder how many people in Golfe Juan served under Napoleon. I wonder why Golfe Juan is named Golfe Juan. 

Finally, after getting back on the highway, we turn downhill on a busy street of shops. We are suddenly in the middle of a huge traffic jam. To the left there are yachts and a giant glass building with an enormous billboard that says FESTIVAL DE CANNES. The bus passes a carousel playing Bob Marley songs and pulls up next to a flea market.

Cannes Film Festival, here I come.

Next: An Invitation for a Kiss

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