Ok, I didn’t really make you wait that long for the real week 4 blog post, only a day or so. Sorry for dragging you through the patience exercise, but I’m hoping you got the point and felt a little of my frustration. Honestly, it is hard to complain when the weather is this beautiful in late February/early March. Now I understand why people in France take their time and enjoy lunch, especially when it is outside in the sun. Week 4 was filled with work and fun: a colleague from Miami was visiting Amadeus in Sophia, we celebrated Redford’s third birthday, and we took a fun excursion to Frejus.
After a week of late nights at work and several enjoyable dinners out with my friend and colleague, Susan Kidwell, I was looking forward to Friday and celebrating Redford’s birthday. I do want to say a special thank you to Susan for bringing us some much needed items from the US. After dealing with unreliable shipments, it seems the best way to get things delivered to us in France is via friends who visit. If you are coming to visit the price of staying with us may mean filling your suitcase up with some American goodies.
Although I was a little nervous about finding Reddy a birthday cake (he requested Nutella/strawberry) I found three options: plain/brownie type cake, mousse like individual cakes, and a Cars (the movie) cake. April took the plain chocolate cake and frosted it with Nutella (very difficult and messy) and then creatively placed strawberries around the edges. We added a “3” candle to the middle and voila- nutella strawberry birthday cake. For his birthday present he got a Playmobil Pacific Airline plane that I found at the Carrefour in Antibes and he and the girls have been building airports out of legos and playing quite well together. None of the cakes were wasted- the adults enjoyed the chocolate mousse cakes and the kids and I snacked on the Cars (the movie) cake for the next few days.
We spent the rest of the weekend exploring mostly around Fréjus, which is about 40 minutes from our house. Fréjus contains a medieval city and is a popular seaside resort, although it didn’t seem too busy on the Sunday afternoon in February that we visited. It was created by the Romans and it attracts many tourists because of its history, cultural and artistic qualities, and its well maintained beaches. There are numerous places of interest in the area, but our priority was to see the Roman arena.
We were expecting the arena to look something like this (photo credit):
Or this (photo credit):
But, instead we found an arena that looked like this:
It was great to stand in the vicinity of what was once a great Roman arena, but we were a little bummed by all of the construction. Our expectations of what the arena would look like were not accurate based on the numerous photos and TV segments out there mentioning the arena. Information about the construction going on at the arena were posted on a fence outside, but I haven’t been able to find them online to share.
A short walk from the Roman arena is vieux Fréjus, which is the old part of Fréjus and really only viewable by walking. The streets are old and too narrow for cars.
After exploring within the city of Fréjus, we headed to a nearby beach by car for the kids to dip their toes into the Mediterranean sea and run on the sand. We were happy to find a very nice, sandy beach with plenty of parking and modern picnic facilities. The beach in Fréjus was one of the nicer beaches we have found in the area since we began exploring nearby beaches a few weeks ago.
After a few hours and lunch at the beach, we headed to look for more Roman ruins. We drove around the outskirts of Fréjus for about an hour, until we happened upon a sign that pointed us to the ruins of the Roman aqueduct. The sign said “arches senequier” as seen below and there was barely enough room to park the car next to a trail that led off into the forest.
We followed the trail for about five minutes and as we came around a corner, the forest revealed the Roman ruins that we were looking for. It was quite an interesting experience as the trail to the Roman aqueduct was barely marked, there were no significant signs around the ruins, and we were the only people there. I guess maybe all of Europe is so old that most people don’t get too excited about ancient Roman ruins?
The day ended with an amazing sunset casting its glorious colors on the ancient site. After we left the ruins, I came across this field of sheep and managed to snap this photo just before getting electrocuted by an electric fence. My fall scared the sheep and my changes of capturing any additional photos was ruined.
After returning home and getting the kids to bed, I was sitting on the couch just before midnight France time when the couch, lamp, and window shades started shaking. At first, I thought someone was trying to break into our house. That would have explained the window shades shaking (sort of), but not the couch or lamp movement. About 30 seconds later I noticed that my Facebook news feed was full of posts from locals talking about feeling an earthquake. It turns out that all the shaking WAS an earthquake- one of the biggest in France since 1959. The first earthquake that I have ever experienced in my life.
As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, the locals like to burn the olive branches and other rubbish and this is what it looks like when smoke and morning frost collide.