March 23 - March 24:  Bonjour from Provence

Our introduction to France has been fantastic. Great food, more reasonably priced, and summer weather.

We left quaint Vernazza and all the stray cats, pesto, focaccia, and pink buildings and drove to Monaco for lunch in the park full of palms behind Monte Carlo. We passed several Lamborghinis on the way into town. Saw a couple of Rolls Royces in front of the casino, too. Talk about culture shock. Robert didn’t like Monaco. Too fancy. We then drove on to La Napoule, on the French Riveria. It was a lovely town. Very warm, palm trees, and a great shallow, sandy swimming beach next to a castle for the boys. I had a wonderful dinner of fish soup with the toast, garlic, rouille sauce, and cheese to float in the soup. Talk about garlic overload. They sure like their garlic on the Riveria and in Provence. Then I had whitefish with lots of veggies and mussels. Then creme caramel. All for a reasonable fixed price with no surprise charges. In Italy, when you order meat, for instance, all you get is meat. Veggies are extra, and they add a cover charge of anywhere from 1.50 to 2.50 per person. Then there could be a service charge of up to 15%. We usually avoided the ones with service charges. Water and wine was cheaper in Italy than in France, though. I think we have figured out how to order water and wine, now.

We rented a gite (zheet) in Vaison la Romaine for a week. We are in town, which is very convenient for eating. The house is idyllic. We have the whole downstairs of a large home with 4 bedrooms, kitchen, LR, DR, 2 baths, 2 toilets, a huge walled garden with a huge pool (not open this time of year), and a huge porch with lots of blooming wisteria. We have the whole place to ourselves.It was in the low 80’s when we got here. The Mistral wind was blowing, but not like it can in the winter. It was so great to be able to get up and make our own breakfast with eggs and pecorino (sheep) cheese we brought from Tuscany. I may just want to stay at the house and read all week.

Hope all is well.