(There are no pictures yet, because the hotel Wifi is a bit slow, but I refuse to put a brake on my creative impulses.)
A cloudless blue sky, Mediterranean palm trees and a warm breeze – all that needs to be added to this list is the beach, and to the beach we go.
There’s a system to the process. Arrive before ten in the morning, because then you’ve got more chance of grabbing a nice spot not too far from the water, stay until noon and then retreat somewhere shaded or air-conditioned during the hottest hours of the day, thus preserving both yourself and your holiday state of mind.
It’s a nice morning stroll down to the promenade above the water and sand, past the Cartier boutique (and yes, I’m the person who will immediately think of Kate Middleton’s wedding tiara the moment I see that name), bright blue metal chairs that some people are quietly sitting on and others are using as props for working out, and the immediately visible enormous potted palms and flower bushes that maintenance staff are watering with a hose.
The only trick is to find a free beach. Luckily, it doesn’t take too long, but first we do pass several generously fenced off areas where the stretches of sand ahead are practically fully covered with white lounge chairs and sun umbrellas, all available for a fee. The white hotel buildings lining the Croisette behind us and the white boats (even a cruise ship or two) in the distance do immediately transport my memory right in To Catch a Thief.
A few minutes later we find our Plage Zamenhof en Regie Municipale, go down a flight of stairs and walk to the water. The almost white sand is powder fine beneath my feet and there are no downward dips like on our (still fondly remembered) beach in Lloret de Mar. Seagull and pigeon tracks are everywhere. People are relaxed, smiling and keep a respectful distance from each other. A white blanket is neatly spread out by the water, and an hour after we’ve parked ourselves at our spot, the family who owns it arrives. No one has touched their stuff. Apparently this beach at least is still a pocket of decent human behavior. There’s no litter, shouting, loud music or obsessive selfie-taking.
Our chosen sea-bathing location („A little sea-bathing would set me up forever“) is a cove of sorts, with the boats and ships in the distance forming a final barrier beyond the bobbing yellow buoys. The water is, of course, putting all the azur in this côte. Wading in is magical, and that indescribable blue surrounds you as you start to swim, feeling like those dreams about flying when you were making breaststroke movements through the air.
Short note. I turn my head and see an older man wading right towards me with a grin, despite the fact that the there is, literally, plenty of space all around and he doesn’t have to pursue this particular direction. So the question that keeps repeating itself the world over is why does a pot-bellied, balding man with a severe case of the moobs and a gold chain getting caught in his limp grey chest hair think he can stare at and signal to a woman like he expects her to respond?
But I simply propel myself forward with a nice kick of the legs and off I go. It gets deep fairly quickly, but the water stays calm and within seconds you notice that it’s the perfect temperature for swimming, or simply floating. Within my line of vision I can see people standing with their upper bodies out of the sea. Intrigued, I keep swimming. The water is clear enough to see to the bottom and I notice an expanse of what looks like rock underneath. I carefully reach down with my feet and touch a hard, slippery surface. That’s enough for one try and I swim back.
Next time I bring along my swimming shoes, something I’ve never worn before. It’s a little strange at first, feeling the water seeping in and still being able to swim, but once I get to the rock, I stand and can indeed find stable footing. Surprise, one part is rock, and despite the footwear, the slippery part is still slippery. The other part bends in as I step on it, feeling like some kind of rubber platform. It turns out we can swim over this underwater floor, as it’s still a safe distance away from our knees, but beyond that the occasional waves coming from the boats are more noticeable.
The beach showers are very bracing, but I seem to be toughening up on my second and third session – no squealing. „The cold never bothered me anyway.“ The water is also very clean, so whatever stamina might have gotten sucked out of me during the last few months in the (home) city, I will hopefully get some of it back here. Of course it helps to run back into the warm sunlight after the aforementioned shower.
Time to go. Not only is it quite hot, we’re also out of baguette. Cannes not have that.