Monthly Archives: June 2011

Scenic Drive To Chateauvert

Summer Nightly Market in La Ciotat

Dude and I stepped out for the evening and walked over to the Vieux Port to see what all the fuss was about. The Vieux Port was surprising lively. The evening was really hot and windy so it was nice to get out of the house. By the look of the port, a lot of other people had the same idea.  It was great to see families and friends all out strolling along the waterfront and enjoying the warm summer night.

The restaurants were full of people and the Bar Central had a guy singing and playing guitar. He was looking pretty popular since everyone was singing along with him.

The summer market consisted of artisans selling their goods (soaps, toys, clothes, shoes, jewelry, art, etc.) and, of course, delicious food. It was all very nice and there was certainly a lot to choose from.

I stopped and got some Barbe a Papa (cotton candy) and boy was I in heaven. I hadn’t had cotton candy in years!

All in all it was a good night even though we weren’t able to stay to long due to having to walk back home (it’s about an hour’s walk to the port).

The summer nightly market runs from June 24-August 28 and starts at 8:00pm. Chances are I will make it there again several more times. The cotton candy will be calling me soon and I need to do some serious shopping!

Le Portail

In front of our apartment complex is this really stupid security gate. Which by the way, it’s not secure at all. It is the most pitiful, stupidly put in structure you can imagine.

It has two doors that open out towards the street and these doors continuously break. A guy has come out to fix the gate a total of 6 TIMES in the last 8 months! Two of the times the gate has broken, the doors were left open into our complex for several days and someone got into the underground garages and broke into 6 people’s garages the first time and the 4 the second time. The second occurrence happened just 5 days ago and of course, after the break-ins, it still took this guy 3 days to come out and “fix” the gate. So he finally makes it out to work his “magic” and the day after he came, you guessed it, the doors were again broken. I came home from work last night to 3 residents trying to fix the open doors.

This situation is getting ridiculous. I am really sick of this guy trying to “System-D” this issue. Why can’t the complex just fork out the doe and put in a gate that really works instead of Mickey Mousing around. In the time and money it takes to get this guy to “fix” the gate, we could have already had a brand new, “it really works”, gate in place.

I can’t tell you how obnoxious this really is and all the residents are getting super pissed.

Now, to top it off, the front door of my apartment building is broken. Normally, you need to have a FOB to get in. Well, that no longer works because someone busted the magnet and anyone can just walk in. This complex is only 3 years old. What the heck??? Who was the idiot who brainchild this up. They sure went cheap.

Each day when I drive up to the gate it is a surprise whether or not it’s going to work! One time, all the residents actually got suck IN the complex because the gate doors broke in the closed position! That was fun. Lucky I can walk to work and there is a path out the back of the complex for walking. Unfortunately, cars are not allowed there.

When are these guys gonna get it together and fix the situation permanently? I can’t handle how there are people in this world who love to screw around and never get anything done! I am worried about the stuff in my garage. There is no real security in this place!

I even though of sleeping in my car in the garage and if someone tries to break in, jump out of the back and scare the crap out them all while getting it on film for youtube. Mind you, I am still considering it.

I don’t even live in a dangerous neighborhood! Now all you guys probably think I live in the ghetto. I seriously don’t. The complex is nice, it’s just the gate, the association, and the dumb “fix-it” guy who are ghetto.

Whenever these yahoos decide to get their act together, I will let you know and take a picture to prove it! Until then I need a really hot guy to protect all my belongings. I wonder if Hugh Jackman’s available? I should give him a call and ask.

Take It Down A Notch

Wow! What do we have here?? Something just doesn’t seem right about this outfit. She should have thought twice before leaving the house this morning with Ashley around. She does look happy, though. I’ll give here that.

Now this is forever imprinted on the frontal lobes of your brain.

Your welcome!

Pizza Chez Caruso

Near our apartment there is a guy we buy pizza from. His pizza “van” is named Chez Caruso Pizza. Now his van looks down-right scary and so does his pizza boxes! But I tell you, this guy makes the best pizza in town. He is super popular. There are always people gathered around the pizza van waiting for their dinner.

He has this wood burning stove inside the van and when it gets going, look out! I have seen the flames rise up so high you would think it would set the whole van on fire. This van is the most dilapidated thing that hasn’t run in years. It’s all trashy and everything. For making the pizzas he even has a generator situated in the front of it. It would definitely get shut down health department in America.

If I saw this thing in the states, I would take off and run the other way without ever considering buying a pizza. But here, no way, this “hole in the wall” pizza place is the best ever. I haven’t gotten sick, yet, and his pizza is so fresh and not greasy at all.

My recommendation for the outta towners is the vegetarian. Best EVER!

He is reasonably priced, too, and very friendly, even though his Marseille accent is difficult to understand.  This guy definitely has my vote. I hope to be buying pizzas from him for a long time to come. Stay away France Health Department!

 

 

 

 

La Cavalaire-sur-Mer and La Cavalaire Beach

Too Much Chocolate, Never

Dude and I are just like kids sometimes. We come up with some goofy things to do just like if we were 13 years old or something.

Well, tonight, we were in one of our goofy moods while at the market and it came into full swing while strolling down the cereal aisle. While Dude was looking for his favorite cereal, I started checking out how much cereal there is in France that is full of chocolate. Oh-My-Gosh! There is more than I could ever imagine!

Well, we decided that we were going to have a photo op moment with all the wonderful and fattening cereal you could eat here.

So Dude and I start collecting cereal boxes and putting one of each type of chocolaty goodness for our display.  Mind you, we were only collecting those that are, oh so chocolaty. As we begin rearranging the shelves, the people coming down the aisle start giving us these weird looks and for good reason, because we were really into what we were doing. We were running up and down the aisle looking for the best and brightest for our photo. When all was said and done, we ended up with 21 different brands of cereal that are choc-full of chocolate! I mean FULL OF CHOCOLATE and nothing else! Well, okay, maybe some flakes, too.

Those are the ones who now have their 15 minutes of fame (which will last forever thanks to my photo). Crazy enough, there are SO many others that have bits of chocolate with something else. For example: chocolate with caramel, chocolate with strawberries, white chocolate, etc. We didn’t count those ones, but only because there are so many that they probably wouldn’t fit in the picture and for the sake of keeping it PURE.

We actually had a great time and part of the fun was the people who would actually NOT walk in front of us to respect our picture taking moment! Crack up! Then when we had finished with the pictures, they just gave us a weird look while passing by. We said “Thanks very much”, in our best American accent to confirm to them that Americans are just strange. It was awesome!

By the way, they also have breakfast bars here, which of course, are choc-full of “guess what”! I took a photo of those, too. Looks like they need to have plenty in stock, too, to feed the chocolaty appetite 🙂

AAAAH!!!  The good life is here.

 

I So Took A Wrong Turn

We have these bathrooms at work that everyone on the floor has to share. It’s not so bad since there are only 4 offices per floor, so I can’t complain about them ever being crowded.

The thing is, there is supposedly one bathroom for the Monsieurs and one for the Dames. Check out the pictures I took of each door.

Now, I realize on one of the doors there is Monsieur and on the other door there is a Dames so you can distinguish which bathroom is for which gender. The problem I had when I first arrived here, is that there is a small sign underneath each of those that has both a Monsieur and a Dame and says Toilettes. Me being in France, assumed that if one bathroom was full, you could just go ahead and use the other. Cuz the sign underneath appears everywhere here when it is one bathroom for both genders.

Logical! Cuz privies are everywhere here so why not at the office, too. This IS France, for goodness sake. That’s how they roll. I really did think this. Totally not making it up!

So for about two months, that is what I did. If one bathroom was full, I would just go ahead and use the other one. No problem, right?? Well time moved on and I never had an issue. One day, the bathroom with the Dames on the door was full so I went to the one with the Monsieur on it. Great, no one in there!

As I go to leave the stall there is a guy doing his thing at the urinal and, I kid you not, my eyes about popped out of my head! His take on the whole situation was about like mine. We both had the “deer in the headlights” look. I was so confused that I just said “Bonjour” and ran outta there like I was training for the Olympics!

I get back to my office and I said to the girls, “That is so not cool to leave the bathroom stall and see some guy standing there peeing!” The girl in my office was like, “WHAT! There is a guy in the bathroom”! She then proceeds to get up like she’s gonna go kick his butt. I’m all, “Yaah! He was standing at the urinal when I left the stall and it really freaked me out! I’m not really feeling it!”

Then she just starts cracking up and says, “You were in the GUYS bathroom!”

I gave her that super confused looked and said, “GUYS bathroom?? What are you talking about? You can use both, right?” By now both girls in my office are about on the floor dying of laughter. There like, “NO, one is for the Dames and the other is for the Monsieurs! You CAN’T use both!”

So I said, “What the heck is with the confusing sign on the door with a dude and a lady that’s telling ME either or??”

They said, “That’s just to let you know that it is the bathroom.”

So I said, “That’s just dumb. Anyone could tell that from the giant Monsieur and giant Dames on the door. What they need two signs for?? They could have just put the word ‘Toilettes’ under the giant people and that would have been sufficient.”

Then I realized it was put there on purpose for the stupid American (me) so everyone in my office could get a good laugh.

Thanks for that!

Oh! And sorry to the guy who I scared to death in the bathroom. For the record, I haven’t seen him since….

 

 

 

View of the Mediterranean Sea

 

View of the Mediterranean Sea from the beach at La Ciotat.

The Mistrals

If you’ve ever been to Provence, it is very likely that you have experienced the Mistrals. This is a cold wind that is legendary in the provincial region and normally blows in from the north or northeast. I have felt its presence at a top speed of 80 km/hr! Ouch! I’ve been out in it in the winter and, believe me, when a freezing gust hits you, everyone outside becomes instant statues. It has a bite to it that is so hard you can’t move! I’ve even seen it knock over small children. (I have to admit that’s a funny sight and yes, I do laugh when it happens- so sue me).

When the Mistrals are blowing, it normally lasts for about a week. Legend has it that they blow for either 3 days, 6 days or 9 days. I’ve been told by the French in this area that if you get to day 4 and they are still blowing, then you know you have a least 2 more days. If you get to day 7 and they are still blowing, you know you have at least 2 more days!

The worst is when the Mistrals come and it’s raining. Don’t even bother taking an umbrella with you. They won’t do a dang thing to help keep you dry. It’s so hilarious to see people out and about trying to hold on to their umbrellas and getting soaking wet and cussing up a storm. Then all at once a big gust will come and their umbrellas flip up and break! During the winter when walking around town there are trashcans full of broken umbrellas after a winter storm combined with the Mistral. It‘s a total crack-up!

The crazy thing about the Mistrals is that when they are blowing and it’s not raining, the sky is so clear and luminous that you can see for miles. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s the most beautiful color imaginable. Unfortunately, a day or so after, the sky turns back to its usual haziness.

Sometimes the Mistrals can blow from the west. When this happens the air is not as cold and it only affects the Rhone and Cote d’Azur areas. This type of Mistral only last for a couple of days.

The Mistrals, as bothersome as they can be, are actually very important to the climate here in Provence. They are the reason why this area has so many sunny, clear days. In fact, I have watched the weather reports and it can be raining in every other area of France, but the provincial region will have sunny, blue skies thanks to the windy days.

The downside to this is that in the summer there is an increased risk for fires here. It is already the driest region in France, but add to it the Mistrals and the two together pose a real threat of devastating the area. This happened in the summer of 2010 right near where I live and work, just before I arrived. From my office window I can see the devastation the fire left behind. It actually jumped the highway! Now, where thousands of trees once stood, there is only charred landscape.

I can’t say I’m a fan, but the clear, blue skies and moderate temperatures in the spring and fall sure are a pleasure. Once fall passes, however, I gear up. Winter is going to be mighty cold.

Remember, if you’re visiting and are “lucky” enough to feel the effects of the Mistrals and rain at the same time, NO umbrella. Just wear a scarf and jacket with a hood and call it a day. I swear you’ll stay drier and you’ll save money, too!

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