Friday, August 28, 2009

Vacation in Southern France

Just got back from vacation. In the last 14 years vacation has meant spending a few weeks in America visiting family (or driving my wife's family around America) with the occasional long weekend visiting something nearby in Europe. All things considered, that sucks in the long run.

A bit more than a year ago my father-in-law met a couple who live in Southern France who normally "house-swap" their vacations...that is, trade houses with someone around the world. This year they had something planned and didn't need to swap with someone so they offered it to us. Sounds too good to be true, right?

It was a dream. The beaches: we found 5 that impressed us and stuck with those; swimming, snorkeling, body-boarding, a dinner picnic at the beach...walking into town to get an ice cream, visit the shops, markets and artists. Every town in the area seems devoted to fine-art.

We visited Valbonne, Mougin (amazing food, art pure), Grasse, Nice and Cannes (extremely rich people), drove into the mountains to see Rougon and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and drove up and down the coast of the Côte d'Azur.

One thing I learned by driving 11+ hours through Austria, Switzerland, along the border to Liechtenstein, into Italy, around Milan and down the coast to Cannes:
  • Germans drive really fast (duh!)
  • Austrians want a lot of money to get through their country, the Swiss want more and they drive slow
  • Liechtenstein is on the other side of the Rhein river and looks amazingly similar to the Swiss side
  • in Italy, the lines seperating lanes on the street are treated like grafitti...a German driver (going as fast a possible, naturally) should be aware, they weave back and forth without rhyme or reason.
  • in France, at least where we were, in a car, you are the bitch to anything with two wheels and a motor. I honestly saw a guy going 120km/h on a motorcycle while text-messaging; a guy on a moped with his foot against the licence plate of the moped in front of him, pushing it (and the girl on it); and last but not least, the guy standing up, hands in the air, going down a curvy hill at about 100km/h.
All in all, it was perfect and if I had to sum it up, it would be with this:


video

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