A pink taxi

A pink taxi

February 20, 2011

France: Summer of 1979

I had been French educated since nursery school, but had never been to France before.  The first time I set foot on French soil I was 8 years old and in the 4th grade: I had memorized Victor Hugo verses, knew the height of the Mont Blanc and had even pronounced. "Nous, les Gaulois...", ie us the Gauls, an antiquated way of teaching elementary history in the 70s. I  had solved mathematical problems with the denominational French Francs, and could even list major cities and rivers of France. But I had yet to travel to France.

Today I caught a whiff of coconut suntan lotion and it took me back to that first trip to France in the summer of 1979, when I spent two weeks poolside at the Marina Baie Des Anges, in Nice.  In the 70s, while we wisely applied sunscreen to our faces, we smothered our bodies in suntan oil, an endangered product today. The French specifically use a coconut oil called "Huile de Monoi" that is Tahitian.

Marina Baie des Anges was one of the first marina type developments in the world, a city within a city for tourists, with dozens of common pools, tennis courts, restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries and shops. The rented apartments were built in a pyramid building that resembled a boat and allowed for large balconies overlooking the Mediterranean of Azur blue.

I spent those two weeks  playing the typical French card game "Le Jeu Des Sept Familles" by the pool and treating myself to baguette sandwiches and doubled ice cream cones. I especially remember the delicacy of strawberries or rasberries with whipped cream. Those fruits were exotic for a desert dweller in a pre-global world.

I find it interesting that Nice had been chosen as my first French destination, overpassing Paris. My parents must have known Paris in their pre-children days, and had chosen Nice on their European Tour with my aunt's family. We had been to Austria and Italy and now Southern France.

Nice remains very close to my heart today. When the plane lands on the airport tarmac, only a few miles from the Marina Baie des Anges, I always remember that first French trip, in the Summer of 1979.

1 comment:

  1. That was my first encounter with the South of France when we entered from the Italian border in an orange VW minivan that brought us all the way from Austria.We were squeezed,two families,5 children and a cook!
    I was awed by the beauty of the region:the Alps Maritime,better known as the French Riviera.I was deprived of Lebanon due to the raging civil war.This was the best alternative to my country lost to the whims of the battling warlords.The similarity of the terraine is unbelievable,except that the French had meticuously preserved the beauty of their country.
    It was few years later,that we bought a family home in the same area,where we gather as a family from different directions,and enjoy our French summers.Wherever you direct your car,there is a beach,a village or a mountain to enjoy.The grandchildren,most importantly are storing memories more interesting than their parents did.