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May 14, Cote de Provence, Bouilla Beach -  Finally, the Sea!  Having fill of the chilly interior, my goal was a warm beach on the Mediterranean. From Minerve, first stop was Cap d’Agde for a night by the windy sea, composing Postcard #3. Next to Sete for internet (WiFi) and inspiration – Frederic is still in Cuba, to return next Monday. Visited a few hours at the amazing castle-city of Aigues-Mortes on the way to Arles for Friday night, found public parking by the Rhone after circling the prison a few times. Saturday market in Arles for take-along Paella & Monkfish au Mediterranee & the discovery of the amazing, classy ***Hotel Le Calendal:

Looking for WiFi, as usual, I entered the simple Garden Café and found this! Room after room of amazing facility, design, comfort – a hotel, cafe, B&B, garden restaurant, spa, exhibition room….  If you’re staying in Arles, check out Hotel Le Calendal.

Adventures on the Cote: Reached the coast at Cassis but a policeman ran me out of town. It’s a really beautiful area & port, full of tourists, but no RV’s allowed. When a cop is chewing you out in French, even if you understand, calmly reply “Parlez vous Anglais?” Usually he says “No” and will get rid of you as fast as he can.


So, on to La Ciotat – a nice port/beach/tourist town with no aversion to RV’s. But that name kept confusing and I just couldn’t get the hang of it until I realized, it’s a misspelling, of Cotati (CA)  That recalled my friend Prof. Miron Ort who taught filmmaking for years at Cotati State U, and a renowned virtuoso of hand painted visual films. Turns out, La Ciotat is itself famous…for the invention of cinema!  Yep, the Lumiere brothers actually lived, worked and invented cinema right here. In fact one of the worlds first films “Train Arriving at a Station” is actually “L’Entre d’un Train en Gare de La Ciotat” - shot and premiered here in 1895 at the still operating Eden Theater!   How do you like them juxtapositions?

Tourist Ports Galore

World’s First Cinematheque

Cinemataurus au Bord

My plan was to drive East along Route N559, Provence’s version of California Hwy 1, surveying all the beach scenes to San Tropez and then Cannes. Skipped Bandol cause the small touristed hill ports are uncomfortable for RV driving, I landed in Sanary-sur-mer with miles of flat beaches. First dip in the Med this year (water 62`, air 80`F) - floating freely in the clear, dense salt water & warm sun.

The Tourist Bureau, for locations & WiFi, offered the enigmatic Six-Fours-les-Plages and camping Au Jardin de La Ferme, a working olive farm w/ Camping, Gite, B&B, WiFi just 400m from the beaches at Port du Brusc.  After 4 nights on the streets of notable towns & cities, a peaceful, quiet, shady spot to relax, peddle to cafes & beach, take warm showers and not feel rushed!  Beaches are warm but a little windy, PM.

Beyond Toulon  -  Driving N559 is a mixture of Marin County, Big Sur, Monterey & Sausalito – exciting vistas, winding roads thru pine & eucalyptus, ocean cliffs & white sands over blue waters, tile roofed stone maisons, white sailboats, vinyards – all your picture postcard shots! And…pizza, the omnipresent tourist/beach food. I avoided Toulon, circled Hyeres’ plentiful sands, liked La Lavandou, but headed for Cavalaire & a beach labeled “La Bouillabaisse” - expecting a good fish soup.


Now here was Bolinas! Not only surfing shop, beach cafes, free camping, fish soup, but a significant piece of American War History! Known locally as Le Plage de Debarquement, this was the first, Alpha, point of the American-led Allied invasion of Southern France!  A three-pronged attack that also landed beach forces at Saint Tropez and Saint Rafael, drove the Nazis out of Marseille and the entire South. Churchill, wanting a different plan that might have changed the post-war Soviet domination, labeled this Operation Dragoon. Look it up on Wikipedia!  (Myles?)

Invasion  Central

Found my soup, a fine petit  Bouilla de Fanny

Served by the colorful Fanny herself.

I’ve turned North headed for Saint Tropez, San Rafael and the beaches along the Cote d’Azur leading to Nice & Cannes, where the Film Festival just started yesterday. More on that later.




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