Setsuko Watanabe's World Travels

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Mimosa, Citron and Cote d'Azur in Spring

Every trip is different and unforgettable.
There are trips where unexpected events occur one after the other and which are thrilling and invigorating. On the other hand, there are trips which, like the ocean in Spring, drift to and fro without haste or worry.
Cote d'Azur in Spring is the ideal place for one of these leisurely trips. Tourists and summer visitors have not yet arrived in numbers and the town is still unadorned and under preparation for its annual opening to the outside world.
The food is wonderful and the excellence of the wine goes without saying.

I stayed in a small fishing village, ten minutes away by train to the east of Nice.
The hotel room I stayed in was a corner room on the second floor, with two front windows facing the sea.
The sea was so close that as I lay on the bed, lightly dozing, I felt as if the bed itself were a ship that was gently floating away.
In front of the hotel stands an old church whose murals were retouched by Jean Cocteau. In fact, he stayed at the hotel while he was performing the work, and so the dishes used there are illustrated with his paintings.

Copyright1998 Setsuko Watanabe
Once, waking suddenly in the middle of the night, I looked out to see the lights from the fishing boats (used to attract fish) scattered across the water and their reflections swaying gently on the surface of the waves.
I heard the sound of the sea crashing onto the shore.

My ears are ears of seashells,
recollecting the roar of the sea. - - - (Cocteau)

This poem might have been written here, I think.

A thirty-minute ride by train takes you into Italy. You can reach Monte Carlo, Monaco, Nice, Menton, and Antibes within thirty minutes as well. In Cote d'Azur, there are many art galleries, such as those for Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, Peynet, Cocteau, Dufy, Renoir, Cezanne, etc.-- too many to count.
Because there are only a few people here, you can view the paintings at your leisure.

I went to the King of Circus Carnival held at Nice and the opening of Citrus Festival at Menton. At the festivals, hundreds of parade floats decorated with mimosa and lemon (citron) travel along the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea. They are simple, but cheerful and lively. The people enjoying the parade include many in disguise. The festivals, which continue for two weeks, build up and reach their height toward the end.
Street entertainers surprised me with their incredible performances.
The whole town overflows with mimosa flowers. Some of the parade-goers buy cut flowers, while others cut, without regret, the branches blooming in their gardens.
Once when I got on the bus after having received a branch covered with mimosa flowers, I was told I had to sit on the back. No doubt this was to spare those who suffer from hay fever.
Nevertheless, many festival-goers fill their arms with mimosa branches and watch the parade, joyfully welcoming the arrival of Spring.

Mimosa, citron and the blue Mediterranean --- red wine and delicious seafood --- yes, I will be back in Cote d'Azur in early Spring.

Link to homepage of Cote d'Azur.

Copyright1998 Setsuko Watanabe

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