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Walking, Talking, Living, Breathing Antibes

Today marks three weeks that I’ve been in my host city, Antibes. Part of me feels like I’ve been here forever, and part of me can’t fathom how quickly time is passing. I woke up this morning to sun streaming through my window and the noise and bustle of the awakening street below me. I threw on a sundress and grabbed a towel and a shopping bag, not sure of what my walk into town would bring me.
 A view of the ocean between the Picasso Museum and the
church, about a 10 min walk from my apartment.
 
 The buildings in town are very rustic and old, and many have
flowers and vines growing across their walls.

Outside, church bells chimed in dulcet tones and older women meandered down the street, clad in loose, brightly colored linens, guided by little dogs anxious to get to their destination. Young children scootered past me hastily, ignoring their parents’ instructions, while teens whizzed up the boulevard on loud, flashy Vespas. The world was alive and it wanted you to know.
I crossed through Place de Gaulle, the sort of center square in town, a popular designated meeting spot. The fountains gurgled cheerfully and seemed to catch a piece of morning sunlight in each water droplet. Older men congregated at the benches lining the square, speaking in jovial animated French. The pigeons flocked to them unabashedly, hoping for a spare crumb of baguette, and playing underneath the fountains when they were rejected.

My sandals hit the cobblestone path, signifying my entrance into Vieil Antibes. The narrow side streets beckoned to me with colorful, peeling paint, and buildings that seemed to lean into each other, sharing secrets about all that they had seen. Vibrant flowers crawled along the walls as if their window boxes couldn’t possibly contain them. But my stomach rumbled and I was reminded of my main priority: breakfast.

I entered the first patisserie I saw, knowing that no matter where I went, the food would be excellent and delicate. <<Bonjour>>, the woman at the counter greeted me, and I responded in kind. The glaze on the pastries seemed to wink at me, and the golden crust of the croissants and pain au chocolats promised a flaky and buttery meal, but I had my sights set elsewhere. <<Une pissaladière, s’il vous plait>>, I said, referring to a traditional dish originating from the South of France. I smiled as she handed me the warm square of thin dough, from which aromas of caramelized onions, olives, and garlic emanated invitingly. I ordered a café au lait as well, and when she handed me a piping hot beverage the size of a Dixie cup, I laughed internally about how I had forgotten our differences in the idea of coffee to go. I paid in coins and was on my way.

 Lots of different flavors of macarons to choose from
in one of the shops in town.
 
 A scenic walk to the local beach.

As I munched on my savory breakfast, a vendor emptied a bag of ice onto a wooden cart in preparation for the fresh fish he was about to sell. I was glad I had thought to bring a towel.

As I made my way to the nearest beach - not more than a 7 minute’s walk away - I observed all that the city was doing as it woke up. I passed underneath an archway in the city wall, and marveled at how seamlessly the ancient relics mingled with the conventions of modern life.

The wall was once used to protect Antibes from intruders approaching by water, and was locked up at a certain time each night. If you were unlucky enough to miss the curfew, let’s just say that rocks don’t make the most comfortable pillows. Today, the wall is just another part of the surrounding area, and transitions the inner city to the ports and beaches along the coast.

   
 

 

I strolled along the docks past well-worn fishing boats and white, looming yachts alike, and made my way onto the beach. As I spread my towel and allowed the warm September sun to envelop me, I closed my eyes and prepared for another relaxing, beautiful day.

 One of the local beaches with some friends from the CEA program.

Charlotte Walker is the Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in French Riviera. She is currently a Junior at Northeastern University.

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