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Day A5 - The end of civilization?
March 2, 2013              Antibes to Mandelieu-la-Napoule                       13 miles
Antibes suburban home
Art in Cannes
Leaving Cannes
Suburban home in Antibes; and two seaside scenes in Cannes

I got a fresh look at Antibes in the morning, as I walked down from my residential area on a hill above the town. It felt a lot like southern California at the same distance from the sea. There'd clearly been a lot of growth in the 1950's and 60's, with earth tones adding to classic Mediterranean rooftiles, walls, and shuttered windows. As well as the firs reported earlier, I saw palms, eucalypti, olives, bamboo and cacti. Hedges grew ten ft high. Homes and meandering streets sometimes abutted neighborhood parks. This part of Antibes seemed occupied by residents or out-of-towners with second homes spending weeks or more here.

Dropping 250 ft brought me to the beach on Antibes' west side, and gave me a straight shot at Cannes, five miles down, where I arrived by about 10.30 still fresh. Now Cannes is a very different animal from Nice. It's more refined and less commercial The buildings are tonier, the beach scene has flowers amidst trees, grassy areas, musicians, an art market (today), and the beach itself is more intimate than Nice's. While both have ports, Nice's is not where the billionaires keep their boats, but they'd feel quite at home docking at Cannes.

Cannes clearly has permanent residents (Nice's looked more transient), and they dress well. An elderly lady from Cannes may wear striped trousers, heels and a knee-length knitted coat. An elderly gentleman from Cannes will wear a tweed sports jacket, corduroy trousers and camel-color leather shoes. Neither would ever be seen in flip-flops. Their dogs will be quaffed in the animalerie, trained in l'académie des chiens, fed paté de cheval from the finest British abbatoirs, and would never be caught fouling a public area.

Or just look on it this way: Nice is to Cannes what Huntington Beach is to La Jolla, or Miami is to Naples, Florida.

Being Saturday, and 60 degF, the promenade and beaches were crowded, but had become the only feasible route because railroad tracks and then the airport blocked the way inland. I persevered through the crowds until they thinned and I could walk unchecked along the sidewalk of the street bordering the beach.

Having been careful to drink copious amounts of water to replace lost fluids, I still got a twinge of leg cramp in the early afternoon - just at the place along the promenade that the Cannes authorities had provided a water source - but not a water fountain as much as a spiggoted fire hydrant. By turning the spring-loaded spigot (which turned itself off when you let go), a dog-owner could water his dog, a jogger could water himself - and so could a hiker, if he had confidence in the cleanliness of the plumbing. After at least verifying "potable", I filled my water bottle and drank its contents, then refilled it and drank that also. The cramp disappeared, but I got a reminder to keep my liquids up.

It took me five nonstop hours, which is pretty well my customary walking day right now, to cover the 13 miles to Mandelieu-la-Napoule and its Hôtel de la Corniche d'Or. Now such a fine-sounding hotel name . . . well, I need say no more. The hotel had no one in attendance even three hours after check-in time, but a note pointed me to my room. The wifi didn't work. The water was lukewarm. There was not a single clothes hanger or hook. The television's few channels had nothing in English. The door rattled when even a fly landed.

Well, I was taught to be resourceful. There is wifi to be had most everywhere these days, even standing on the sidewalk, and I'm not talking about stealing anyone's signal either. And right now, my clothes have been washed in cold water and are hanging outside my window from my hiking stick in full view of the local gentry, and I'm heading out for a pizza. Napoule is a delightful little town with the feel of an old village. I deserve to go out on the town - and the town will have to suffer my laundry.

It was cool by the time I'd found some internet access, and selected my restaurant, where I went inside to get warm. Unfortunately, the owner smoked, and I had to contend with pungent tobacco smoke. He wasn't at all bashful when I said I'd sit outside. Outside, it was now downright cold, but I still enjoyed a pretty good pizza.

As I ate, I reflected on tomorrow's hiking route. I had looked at my maps and walked up the road a bit to get a feel for things. To be honest, things didn't look welcoming. It looked like I had reached the end of civilization!

Entering Mandelieu
Mandelieu castle
Approaching Mandelieu-la-Napoule, one crosses La Siagne river. In the second half of February, which is the famous mimosa season, the hill you see is a blaze of yellow.

The lower picture is of Mandelieu Castle or Chateau, which dates from the 14th century.
But, as Wikipedia relates, "In the 20th century, Henry Clews Jr (son of the wealthy New York banker Henry Clews) and his wife Marie Clews, entirely renovated the chateau which they then inhabited."
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© 2013 Daryl May