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Date Weekend!

May 25, 2015

This past weekend, just Matthew and I, was a really awesome time together.  We are so thankful for the opportunity to go out alone before moving to Congo, and we especially extend our gratitude to Nancy and everyone here to team-parented in our absence those two and a half days.

We rented a car (did you know that renting a two-person car is SO CHEAP here, especially after renting a few family cars) and got a great deal on an airbnb spot several months ago as we scoped out our little dream escape.  It was to be a weekend of playing dress up and pretending to be fancy.

These strange trees are quite a different look than our Alpine home here in France.

These strange trees are quite a different look than our Alpine home here in France.

Friday afternoon we drove away and down the A7 toward the Mediterranean.  We arrived in Antibes and met our airbnb host who showed us the lovely apartment, just a short walk from the harbor and the coast.  Parking was free after business hours and for the rest of the weekend!  Woo-hoo!  We changed into fancy clothes and walked to the harbor.

This was our weekend to dress up - so we brought all of the fancy things we have.  So fun!

This was our weekend to dress up – so we brought all of the fancy things we have. So fun!

We found an amazing little restaurant for dinner and ate like the French – at 9pm.  One certainly cannot do that comfortably with kids!  We were also pleasantly surprised, once again, that the restaurants are not so expensive.  You CAN find pricier food, but you don’t have to.  It was a lovely meal and we were fairly full, but the night was young and we may have ended it the proper French way – expresso.

After dinner, it was almost 11pm, so it seemed like a good idea to drive in Cannes.  Maybe it would be dead, but with the prestigious film festival in its final weekend, we thought it would be a fun atmosphere.  We drove into a crazy night scene, with lights and some of the fanciest cars we’ve ever seen.  Let’s put it this way: high end BMWs, Mercedes, and Porches were the “normal” cars…

Not an uncommon site at the festival - if you can't see the mark, it's a Rolls Royce.

Not an uncommon site at the festival – if you can’t see the mark, it’s a Rolls Royce.

Cannes, keeping in classy

Cannes, keeping it classy

We walked along the Croisette, the strip along the beach where over 70 high end stores are lined up with fancy window displays.  Interspersed are the hotels for the rich and famous and a few casinos.  The beach across the road was also lined with tents, where private parties were held with mean-looking bouncers guarding the ropes.  People were dressed well and money was oozing.  We were certainly out of place, but we were dressed to fit in and it was a fun experience.

This dress.

This dress.

And this was its price tag - can't read it?  Oh, it's a steal at 27 000 euros!  (Around $30,000)

And this was its price tag – can’t read it? Oh, it’s a steal at 27 000 euros! (Around $30,000)

We walked all the way down to the Palais, the theater where the screenings of the films in competition are held.  A film was just letting out and we stood around trying to figure out what was going on.  We walked around to the end of the red carpet, where the road had been blocked off, but at the start of a showing, a limo could pull up and let people out.  There were ladders and chairs all roped off for the press.  It was quite an impressive scene.

It sort of looks like we're standing on it.  We're not.  Don't be crazy.

It sort of looks like we’re standing on it. We’re not. Don’t be crazy.

We finally headed home and crashed into bed late.  Saturday morning we were unable to sleep in and head out for breakfast and to wander Antibes.  We found a market, a great little spot for a hearty breakfast, and strolled through the harbor looking at yachts so big, they have their own wikipedia pages.

Old Antibes

Old Antibes

The Saturday market in Antibes was really pretty, and really pricey.

The Saturday market in Antibes was really pretty, and really pricey.

Matthew is always home near boats, even these.

Matthew is always home near boats, even these.

These yachts...so. much. money.

These yachts…so. much. money.

We then drove into Cannes to wander the festival by day.  We really didn’t have any specific plans, but hoped for a celebrity sighting or just to take in this strange micro culture.  We walked up and down the croisette and enjoyed the views.  There was a little market there as well, and it was fun to browse some overpriced antiques.  Lunch was a shared panini at a stand and enjoyed at a park.  Finally, it was time to get ready for the night.  We had evening wear, of course (we love to dress up and usually find excuses to do so), but had forgotten an essential item, so we zoomed back to our place and got all dolled up.

We rolled back into Cannes and found parking (yay for free weekend street parking).  We made it back to the Palais just in time to see the line of stars across the top pose for one last picture together before heading into the theater.  We didn’t even have time to take a picture for ourselves.  Oh well, it was still neat, even from the back of the crowd.

We thought about having dinner and wandered aimlessly toward the end of the red carpet, where the photographers were packing up, but quickly there was a press of people and the cameramen on the tops of ladders were turned around and facing the fancy boutique across the street.  We were caught in the throng and suddenly some people started cheering and one person yelled out “PHARRRREEELLLLLLLLL.”  We never did see him (I checked for the Arby’s hat) due to the height of the photographers between us and him, and his car was in the way.  The best moment was hearing the French person next to us chatter excitedly in rapid French and all we understood was the word “Happy” – Pharrel Williams’ tremendously popular song from last summer.

We wandered again down the croisette and paused for some ice cream.  Sitting there, enjoying our cone I look up to see a man, instantly recognizable with his infamous hair, a bright red smoking jacket and matching patent red shoes.  I looked at Matthew, he looked at me.  The singer had paused to take a selfie with a fan, before continuing on down the boardwalk.  I leaned over to Matthew, “Did Rod Stewart just walk by?”  He leaned back, “It appears so.”  It was really strange.

Around that time we guessed that the screening for Macbeth was about to let out, so we headed back toward the Palais to see if we catch a glimpse.  As we got that direction, we noticed a very small group of people standing near a gate.  Inside the gated area was a large open space that backed up to just behind the official photographers overlooking the red carpet.  The buzz of cameramen setting up their equipment and security on their radios and we realized something was about to happen.  So, we stood close to the group.  Suddenly there was a press as security open the gate and we got in.  We realized that we were in a fenced area with only about 50 other people.  We stood directly there, as close to red carpet as we could get without a badge.

The big screen, that had been showing a slideshow of events from earlier that day, switched to a live feed from inside the theater.  The stars of the movie, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, were beginning their exit.  It was a slow process, due to lots of photographs and some sort of cultural stopping requirements, but they eventually made their way outside.

Exiting Macbeth

Exiting Macbeth

Me geeking out completely

Me geeking out completely

We made quick friends with the people behind us, and how weird it was the we were in the right place at the right time

We made quick friends with the people behind us, and how weird it was the we were in the right place at the right time

It was a surreal moment and one we won’t soon forget.  It was weird to be watching this thing that we’ve really only experienced through a screen, and how often does one sit and watch a red carpet anyway?  But, it was a fun moment and definitely a highlight to the weekend.  After about twenty minutes of photos, it was over and the cameras were being packed away, the celebrities whisked away in their large black cars.

Matthew grabbed a video of the first few seconds…you can check it out here.

The rest of the evening we just people-watched and eventually we grew hungry.  We headed back into Antibes to grab dinner at a little Italian place before turning in for the night.

Sunday we packed up and headed along the French Riviera.  The Mediterranean was lovely.  We stopped for a tiny breakfast in the town next door, and drove for a couple of hours to Saint Tropez.  Some super fancy beaches, with large yachts in the harbor.  We found some signs and found a strip of beaches that weren’t private.  We parked and grabbed our things and walked onto the beach.  First, we noticed the aqua water and the yachts.  Then we noticed that it wasn’t too crowded and the people were mostly older.  Then we noticed that they were also mostly naked.  Actually, many were entirely naked.

Long, awkward story short, the next beach over was family friendly, though some nudity is to be expected everywhere.  Because, France.

We enjoyed a few hours in the sun and we got waist-deep into the water but it was certainly not warm yet.  The weather was a perfect 72F, though.

St. Tropez.  This picture is socially required, I think

St. Tropez. This picture is socially required, I think

Finally, we headed west.  We had wanted to get some lunch in Cassis, a lovely little town just east of Marseille, but the crowds were too intense.  We found some parking, walked into the main part of town, pushed through thick crowds to see the water and get this lovely view, but went straight back to the car.  It certainly wasn’t worth those crowds!

Cassis

Cassis

We ate a early dinner in Marseille, which was fairly uneventful because we didn’t have the time to drive into the pretty part, but the food was great and not expensive, so it was a decent end to a fun weekend.  We pulled into campus at midnight.

Driving home just outside of Marseille

Driving home just outside of Marseille

Today in a bank holiday in France, thus no school.  We enjoyed the day with the kids, napping, and getting things ready for another week.

One month from tomorrow is graduation.  Things are about to get crazy.

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