Saturday, July 12th
We began with a walk up the slope of Mount Chevalier into the old town, or Le Suquet, as it is known locally. Cannes was first called Canoïs, or cane harbor, after reeds that filled the marshes below. Although not as large as many of Europe's old towns, its winding, narrow streets are charming nonetheless. As we made our way uphill, Al recognized some of the cafes and restaurants from his 1997 visit. We reached the Place de la Castre, which is the site of the Church of our Lady of Good Hope (Notre Dame d'Espérance), the old Castle, and a large terrace which offers a wonderful view of the town and harbor.
The Castle, which dates from the 11th century, is now a museum. A special exhibit of works by Algerian painters was very interesting, as was the permanent collection of paintings and archeological objects. From a courtyard, we climbed the Mount Chevalier Tower, a 12th century watch tower, and enjoyed an even better view of the land and sea below. As we left the Castle, we discovered many cats, few of whom were interested in making friends.
The tranquility of the old town disappears completely in the traffic noise below. The newer streets teemed with Saturday morning activity. Many locals were out to shop and visit the weekend markets. We browsed at the marché aux puces (flea market) and, as usual, I spent most of my time in the used book section. There were so many temptations and I wished I could buy a dozen or so. But the thought of lugging them onto an airplane limited me to a single purchase: a beautiful volume of Lettres de Mon Moulin by Alphonse Daudet.
The beach along Boulevard de la Croisette was packed. With the temperature so high, almost every beach chair and umbrella was taken by mid-morning. Off in the distance, hang gliders were pulled into the air by motorboats. There were water-skiers, sailboats, and yachts of every size. Along the boulevard, the many free chairs were taken and people vied for the few shady spots.
A few blocks from the waterfront, we had lunch at a small restaurant called Fontana Lamy. Sitting outside under a large sun umbrella, we watched many of the locals come by, including two toddlers with their mother. Hats on sideways, shirtless, underwear (diapers) pulled up above their shorts, these two little guys looked like future Calvin Klein models.
The afternoon was spent wandering languorously about town. I bought my first Guide Vert, a French language Michelin guide to the
Côte d'Azur. We had a drinks in a surprisingly plain lobby of the Carlton. Men played boules in the shade near this morning's flea