The French Riviera has a quietly restrained mystery. Like stepping into the rhythm of another world, a place where we don’t belong, but are being allowed to brush close for a few days. Sipping wine, eating fish with lemons, and sunning ourselves on beaches usually reserved for glamorous people. I have never seen so many expensive cars, and the water is filled with giant yachts.
We tell our boys all the time that we are people of immense privilege, but coming here it’s clear we will never know the depth of what privilege can be. It’s mind-blowing a little, and I have to stop thinking or the imbalance of the world will pull me under. The choices we humans ultimately make are unsettling, and sometimes I wonder if I’m the one that’s naive?
But back in our more modest version of the world, we cruise down the coast and listen to the radio, and eat pizza next to a race track being built for the Monaco Grand Prix. I bought some lavender cookies that the boys promptly declared “taste like dish soap!” Yes, they do taste like dish soap! Why do people eat these?
French food, with all its snails and lungs and things, can be a little hit or miss.
We walked along the waterfront in Cannes and through its busy streets, past shops selling linen sundresses and bottles of murky apertifs. We stopped to buy a jacket for Jake, who looked disbelieving at the short striped shorts and ruffled shirts, and said “Mom, this is a women’s store. No man would ever wear this.” Welcome to France, Jake!
Later we stopped by a fountain to have a drink in the breezy sunshine. As the afternoon sun turned golden, we sipped cocktails made with bergamot, and scoured the wine shops for bottles of Lillet and Suze. The food may not always be great, but the drinks in France are bitter bliss.
They even have Lavazza coffee machines. The best euro one can ever spend in Europe!
Surrounded by all this luxury, we could not feel happier, more comfortable, or more blessed to be ourselves. Travel is all about exploration and education, and seeing what the world is about. We dip our toes into layers of life both above and below us from time to time, but in the end, the best part is finding that our own little family is firmly where we belong. I would not trade us for the world.