Eze, France Day 2

A fIrst full day in France packed with climbs, views, flora, scents and gelato.  Vacation indeed.

It’s fascinating to climb and wind through the steep narrow streets here with the old stone of the buildings hugging the brick and cobblestone walkways. Ramps and steps heading steeply up and down, flowers and shop displays adding color.

We head out under sunny skies, poking and climbing our way toward Jardin Exotique. We’re not alone and join the queue for tickets. A big black cat curls up for a nap inside the cashier’s window. The exotic begins with a wide and pretty fabulous array of cacti climbing up the steep hills–and adding an arid touch to the views of sea and red-tile roofs. Shapes I’ve never seen, and some with buds and blossoms that seem other-worldly to this East Coast gardener. You climb the hills, too. Steep, hamstring challenging steps up and up in gorgeous air to the ruins of a fortress Louis XIV ordered demolished. Sprinkled throughout are charming, sleekly styled sculptures of goddesses, each with its own little poem. The ruins are high above our hotel, which I thought was really high to begin with. From here we can see the town proper, the perfumeries, the roads, and out and above, higher hills.

Cacti with a view. Photo by kat.
A variety of cacti and succulents. Photo by j a-b.
Looking down. Photo by BW.

And here, as I scan up, as looking down whacks my system, I see on the crest of those high hills an odd tree formation. I study a moment, but it’s very, very clear to me–and when I point it out to my lovely companions, they must agree. It’s a large humping mouse violating a small tree. BW provides photographic evidence. I honestly wonder if some sly gardener hiked up there and created it.

As requested by Nora. Do you see the mouse? Photo by BW.

We leave this high–and nicely flat perch for more exploration. Up and up, down and down, to see tall, armed cactus, squat, thorny balls, wonderfully weirdly twisted ones, sweet, spectacular waxy blooms, huge, lethal blades. We come upon a small lily pond fed with misters and another perch with lounge chairs and yet another gorgeous vista.

Group selfie from on high. Photo by kat’s phone.
BW and Nora. Phot by j a-b.

And on this slightly more humid side, enormous rosemary shrubs, blooming herbs, a waterfall, and a magnolia!

Flowers on the ascent. Photo by kat.
Rosemary cascade. photo by j a-b.
Fierce succulent. Photo by kat.
Peaceful succulent. Photo by kat.
Waterfall. Photo by BW.

We head down, down, down, find the cat’s still napping, and hasn’t moved in the two hours we wandered.

Cat. Photo by kat.

More climbing as we start back for the pizza and gelato we happily agreed on. A quick stop for me for a new hat. The one I brought wasn’t as smashable as I assumed and now looks like it belongs to a drunken farmer. I find my new chapeau, and a couple of Christmas gifts while we wait for an outdoor table at the busy restaurant. The proprietor, and she’s hustling, tells us: Five minutes, ten, fifteen. In other words, who knows. Hey, there’s more time so Kat and I poke into more shops. I find a sweet summer dress, take a chance on the size as I’m too lazy to try it on.

We find the pizza–or pasta in Kat’s case–more than worth the wait. A nice glass of local red, a well-earned meal, followed by, mmmm, gelato. I can’t think of anything better than pizza and gelato any time, but after hiking the gardens, it’s amazing.

Gelato! Photo by j a-b.

A quick stop at the hotel, then Kat guides me down to the perfumerie. We stop on the way at a wood shop. Spoons! I can never have enough wooden spoons. And there’s a wonderful trio of grinders–salt, pepper, herbs–well, we both need that! This proprietor, a charming older gentlemen, demonstrates how the grinders work, talks to us in a combo of English and French about his wares. An excellent stop.

Down the steep street to the busy roads, and into the heady scents of a perfumerie. We weren’t able to schedule a workshop, but take a tour of the little museum and see someone making a personalized scent among all the little bottles behind the glass. A worker patiently cuts a long, long trail of soap into exact slices, then hand-stamps each one. We see huge copper vats and tools, fascinating droppers filled with essence. Jasmine, rose, citrus, white musk and on and on.

Perfumerie’s copper alembic distiller. Photo by kat.
Scenes from a perfumerie. Photo by kat
Soap stamper. Photo by kat.

Back up and up and up. Whew! Time for some champagne.

In a bit, Kat comes in–she and Jason headed out once again. And they’ve found a rock shop. Do I want to come see? Do I! I love rock shops, and this one is manned by a young guy who not only knows his rocks, but is passionate. My kind of guy.

He’s used his stones well in jewelry, and has plenty of rough stones, tumbled stones, spears, wands, globes. Like in a garden, I always feel happy in a rock shop. The colors, the shapes and textures. Just the feel.

With Kat and Jason’s input, I score pretty much all my girl Christmas gifts. And more, have lots of conversation with the rock guy. I even love the name of the shop. Good Karma. I buy myself a ghost quartz. I say to Eliot (we get to first names) that it has my horse inside. He’s delighted that I see the horse, too. His mother runs a shop just across the way–and since I’m using a credit card, I go to her to be rung up. And he tells us his father runs a jewelry store just down the path.

Quite the enterprising family.

Back up–and more champagne as I note down gifts and recipients in my book–as I might not remember when it’s wrapping time who gets what.

A nap for Jason and Kat–who’ve logged respectively some 70-odd and 90-odd flights of steps in this climbing day. I have a measly 37 in comparison.

We opt for room service and an easy meal after our very adventurous day.

Bed time.

Cooler and breezy this morning. I think I’ll want a light jacket for our trip to Monaco. But first I need to choose my morning workout. And I need some caffeine!

Nora

Today’s Random Katness:

All place mats should converse with diners. Photo by kat.

28 thoughts on “Eze, France Day 2”

    1. Neither did I! I love cacti and never knew I would get to see some in person. Thanks to my granddaughter wanting me at her graduation in Arizona I got to see them and a desert I never thought I would see either.

      Love that there were other flowers there too in a different section.

  1. Oh my gosh I have a feeling I would still be in the rock shop!
    It’s all very fantastic. Enjoy your adventures of today.

  2. I love your travel logs it’s a vacation that I will never be able to take but I feel like I got to visit through your pictures and words. Kobe all your books

  3. Enjoyed your climbing adventure! We just returned from our France adventure, Paris to Monte Carlo with a Soane and Rhone River Cruise in between. Love France, such varied terrain and rich history. Was hoping to see fields and fields of lavender in Provence, but alas, Mother Nature had her own ideas as it was ready almost a month early this year! Love reading your travel blogs and admire your tremendous energy as you trek and explore with all your senses!

  4. Those cacti in France seem otherworldly and out of place. Hmm, rocks, perfume, and gelato? Sign me up! Keep up the descriptive travelogue which lets us tag along, sans passport and cramped airplanes.

  5. Beautiful pics. The mouse tree is hilarious. Loved the pic of you and BW. You looked happy and relaxed.
    When you was describing the guy at the Rock store and his enterprising family, it reminded me of Eve in betrayal, where she had the shop keeper in NY and he had cousins on England and he called her Mrs Leutinent Dallas Roarke ! ( just a thought that ran thru my brain) lol

  6. Thank you for taking me to France with you! The descriptive words painted such colorful pictures. What a beautiful time you must have had. Safe travels!
    Julie

  7. The mouse tree is too funny! Love having your adventures along with you. Also great that you travel with family.

  8. Your vacation journals are so descriptive and alive! I feel as if I’m along for the adventure. Thanks so much for that. What flavor of gelato did you enjoy?

  9. Pictures are so beautiful. Sounds like a fantastic vacation. Thanks again for sharing. Cannot wait for your next post. Have fun.

  10. I just love your photos. Love the mouse, and the cacti and views are great. Hamstrings aside, anyone with an exercise ethic like yours can handle any steps. There is a beautiful chagall musuem in the area, if you need to relax your hamstrings.

  11. Perfect trip so far…..climbing, views, incredible scenery, great food…what is not to love???

  12. I’m amazed. I just never thought about cacti and succulents being in France. Learn something new every day. Sounds like a lovely trip!

  13. Loved the cacti – my husband has several in pots. Loved the humping mouse – very clever. Just loved all the pictures and sharing in your adventures of the day. I, too, love rock shops as I love rocks. Thank you for sharing.

  14. The pictures are beautiful! It is so nice to see you have going on a vacation, you deserve some relaxation and time for yourself and family. You give so much to all us who read your great books! Thank you!

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