Join sixteen women for twelve unforgettable days exploring the beauty of the south of France. Deborah Bine aka Barefoot Blogger and best selling author Patricia Sands share their passion for their favorite places with you. Spend six days in Nice and six days in Arles ... only move once! September 15 to 27, 2019. Click here for details ... four places left!
Today's Word: la presqu'île
Audio: listen to Jean-Marc read the Wikipedia entry below, click here:
La Presqu'île de Giens et les îles d'Or ont été les derniers sanctuaires continentaux de France à abriter, jusqu'en 1940, une population relique du rarissime Phoque moine de Méditerranée, aujourd'hui en voie critique d'extinction.
The Giens Peninsula and the Golden Islands were the last continental sanctuaries in France to house, until 1940, a relict population of the rare Mediterranean Monk Seal, now critically endangered.
Inspiration for the South of France Memories Tour, Patricia's book.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
Avant-hier, Jean-Marc and I were tourists in a charming southern French peninsula called Giens. It's a place we took our kids every summer, to visit Jackie's parrain, Philippe, and his family who had a pied-à-terre there. Sadly, it was sold, but oh how the memories flooded back...the private beach, the barbequed mussels (Philippe's Dad's specialty), chilled Mouresques, and the decadent Tarte Tropezienne we always brought along with us to share. Here is a tiny picture of the private beach from when Max and Jackie were tiny, and already off on adventures...
This recent rush of nostalgia was thanks to our son Max. Earlier in the week he helped me with some marketing matters (he's majoring in this in school...) and, in return, he slyly suggested remuneration: There's a kitesurf school near Hyeres...I'd really love to go... my 23-year-old hinted. Tu peux venir avec moi!
A mother-son day off--how could I resist?
When Jean-Marc found out he wanted to go too...
A 45-minute drive later, and we were cruising down the presqu'île and its familiar marais. Though we didn't see any salt marshes, the swampy area was thick with exoticism for us (residents of the straightforward seafront of La Ciotat). But here in the low-lying grasslands around the Mediterranean, you could sense all sorts of wildness--the wind being one of them!
Oh, ce vent! Il n'y a pas un peu trop? A young woman asked, entering the tiny kitesurf shop. I turned around to see the 4th participant in today's expedition. All the kite-surfers were around Max's age, and they were soon exchanging stories. Max was recounting his recent trip to Dakhla, Morroco, where he and Jean-Marc had the chance to fine-tune their brand-new kite-surfing skills.
The group, wearing wetsuits, lifevests, harnesses, and carrying their heavy kites and boards, headed down to the waterfront, disappearing behind a row of beachfront properties, to board a speedboat that would take them out to le grand large--the wide sea in all its windy glory. Jean-Marc and I tried to follow along the coast, by car, hoping to find a gap among the string of private properties (including one that used to belong to our friends...). Finally, Papa Poule found a front row spot! (picture above).
We waited 15 minutes until we saw the four kites flying high in the sky... And there was Max's! Bright yellow, orange, and red! Jean-Marc and I shared some jumelles to watch the spectacle from our car, where the sun warmed us. Seeing Max dip in and out of the freezing waters made us cold just watching!
We would have been watching for 3 hours--which is about how long the kitesurfers braved the wind & sea. Instead, we decided to pass the time with a little sightseeing...
We began at Port Niel...and it was as peaceful as it looks! Here in winter, il n'y avait pas un chat! There was practically no one around. This made it challenging to find the pie and tea I was hankering for, but where there's a will there's a way. On trouvera, Jean-Marc promised.
Too bad this beautiful café (a Francophile's dream) was closed. We soon realized we would have to drive up the presqu'ile, away from the charming port, to find civilization--and pie!
Me and Papa Poule. 'Father hen' stopped at every gap along the coast to look for our son, announcing, il est là! each time.
The next time Jean-Marc pulled over to search for Max, I staved off my dessert cravings by focusing on this little book lending library--a rare find in France! It was placed here by the Lion's Club. I'd love to ring them and see if they can distribute these throughout our area! Meantime, where's my pie?
It took a while but we eventually found pie and coffee at a commercial pâtisserie (even if I wash hoping for a homemade slice). I did not get a picture of the mini pinenut tart (out of 100 cakes, Jean-Marc and I chose the very same!), but you will find more pictures on my Instagram.
From the look on his face, can you tell Max had a blast? Oui, il s'est régalé! (And that pain au raisin we brought him from the bakery really hit the spot!)
presqu'île = peninsula
avant-hier = the day before yesterday
le parrain = godfather; sponsor
pied-à-terre= second home, vacation home
une maurèsque = a pastis with sirop d'orgeat (barley water syrop)
le marais = swamp, marsh
des jumelles (f) = binoculars
il s'est régalé = he had a blast
Do check out the South of France Memories Tour, lead by author Patricia Sands and blogger Deborah Bines. I leave you with delicious photos from their previous tours.
For more about the South of France Memories tour, click here.
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