Un après-midi à Honfleur as noted by Button and Maman…
water, sun, and sails
kaleidoscopes of color glide by
soaring skinny houses crisscrossed
climb atop the steep knoll
view le vieux port
the English Channel and the Seine
all at one time
the bridge to tomorrow
Normandie’s silver harp
fruits de mer
and black muscles
balls of apple glace
swimming in Calvados
turned upside down
seafaring chapels eager to float
anchors and flowering croix
longing to plant kisses
on their noses
beyond the fence
artists past and present
remember to paint
hankering for shorts
as the bridge went up
and the sailboats
The wide golden seashore in Deauville plays a leading role in Un Homme et une Femme, the 1966 French film by Claude Lelouch that won nearly 50 international awards (including the Palme d’Or at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film). It also led to decades of romantic road trips and rendezvous to this famous seaside town. While strolling along the storied boardwalk last evening, I came across this plaque, and was reminded that I needed to rewatch this classic romance with the impossibly gorgeous and very French Anouk Aimée.
If you haven’t seen the film, I am sure your subconscious is familiar with the ba-da-ba-da-da-da-da-da-da-ba-da-ba song by Francis Lai and Pierre Barouh which nips in and out of scenes throughout the film.
If you have seen it, as most good Francophiles have, you will remember that much of the film is told wordlessly through either very dramatic action, or through hearing the characters’ thoughts as they talk themselves through life. Watching it again this morning, it was hard not to giggle and I still haven’t shaken the da-ba-da-ba-das from my brain. If you need to swoon and grin and want a groovy soundtrack to carry your day, take a look at this celebrated beach scene from the strands of romantic Deauville. Bonne séance!
Mentor and student and life-long friends Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet captured holidaymakers and the extreme weather on the beaches of Trouville during the late 1800s. Monet honeymooned in the town with his beloved Camille and his snapshot paintings painted en plein air have grains of sand from the windswept beach mixed in.
I am a huge fan of wild beaches. When Superman and I lived in Washington, D.C. our favorite weekend getaway was backpacking and camping at Chincoteague Island in Virginia with the wild horses. We were both happily reminded of that wonderful beach when we took a wrong turn the other day in Martinique and ended up at Macabou.
The translation for wild beaches in French is plages sauvages—savage beaches—which in my mind captures this beach exactly.
As I am currently addicted to the American television series LOST (yes, a decade after everyone else was), stepping onto the beach at Macabou was like stepping into the world of Jack Shepard and the evil Benjamin Linus. There was even the cliff where Hurley attempted suicide.
The waves were vicious, the wind was roaring, and there wasn’t a soul in sight. The shore covered mostly with dry plants washed in with the tide, we had to hike in about 15 minutes to find a tiny bit of sand among the fierce vegetation.
Completely alone, it was as if no one else existed. Beautiful. Undisturbed. A small slice of heaven on Earth.
This sweet, low-key town in coastal Provence with soft-hued houses built at funky angles along the seashore is the perfect place to spend an uncrowded and uncharacteristically warm October day. After a trip to the lively Friday market (filled with the French sweets made best in southern France: calissons, navettes, nougats, candied fruit and sugared almonds), we picnicked on a small-coved beach surrounded by dramatic walls of white limestone. The warm sun, gentle breeze and cooling sea mist were the perfect remedy for our grey-weathered Parisians souls.
les petites villes provençales: small Provençale towns
une navette: shuttle service, commute; also a Provençale cookie shaped like a rowboat and flavored with orange blossom, lemon, anise, almonds, chocolate chips and even lavender. For the recipe for these “sugar shuttles”, please click here.