During our second day of the Provence visit, Marie-Hélène took us through the fabled commune of Bandol, where I like my rosé from, and the pittoresque la Ciotat, where we could stroll through the open air market (my favorite activity!), and take some shade in a café, where we sipped sirop de menthe diluted in Perrier. Much of my companions’ fatigue probably had to do with my rushing between stalls constantly, comparing products and quality and prices, as though I could really buy much of it. I just love the markets, I can’t help it!
After meandering along the Côte d’Azur for a couple of hours, taking in the vineyards on one side of us, and the brilliant blue Mediterranean on the other side, we all felt the familiar pangs of hunger that at last meant we could find a restaurant to sit and reflect on the day, and to seek some respite from the heat.
Craving southern cuisine, I ordered a sampler of tapenades, roasted peppers and asparagus, roasted tomatoes, diced cuttlefish in a lemony marinade, mesclun salad, and a small piece of panisse, which is a preparation of fried chick pea flour. My husband and our fried ordered the chèvre salad, accompanied by a couple ultra fatty slices of bacon. What more could you ask for? We also ordered a mango and tuna maki roll, which, compared to my many bad sushi experiences in France, was quite good. The mango provided just the sweet refreshment we needed.
After we had stuffed ourselves in our oasis of a restaurant (so sorry, I can’t remember the name!), we drove on to Bandol to sit on the rocks of the Mediterranean, and soak our feet. I didn’t have my camera with me then because it’s not waterproof, and I didn’t want to risk dropping it in the water. However, I can say that these Mediterranean beaches are very different from what I am used to. The beach we went to seemed very family-oriented, with seemingly more seniors than young folks. I didn’t get the same feeling of plastic pageantry that one gets on the shores of Orange County (OK, well I admit, Orange County, CA is pretty odd). It was just a very relaxing, wholesome experience. Next time, if I have more time, I will definitely scope out the beaches more, just to get a better sense of the dynamic. By that time, we were feeling a little tired, so we decided to head back home, have a drink at the historic-now-touristy Les Deux Garçons café in Aix-en-Provence, and go our separate ways.