We’ve really been enjoying the warmer temperatures around here. Consistently in the mid to upper 60s, sometimes even breaking 70, and lots of sun! Actually, it hasn’t rained since we’ve been here! Well, except for a couple of days ago, when we had a full day of steady, gentle rain – all day! I was actually glad to get it, as it is so very needed!
Mostly, however, the sun shines, and life in this village, and I’d say throughout this area of France, is really geared to being outdoors. You’ve got the outdoor cafés where people sit and sip a coffee, or a glass of wine, or whatever, and you’ve got the outdoor markets, both big and small, that are a daily or weekly occurrence; there are the many shops, both food and other, which are open and have a portion of their business on the sidewalk or pedestrian area, and the fact that people do their shopping and other errands on foot! It all makes for a lively village!
Then there’s the boules, or pétanque, which is the variation in these parts. This is the familiar game where a small ball is thrown and then the larger balls are thrown to try to land closest to the small one. Horshoes with balls, if you will. Every village has their pétanque “court” (not sure what it’s called), and ours is a large, gravelled area just along the port. It is busy every afternoon! I didn’t check the day it rained, but wouldn’t have been surprised to see the stalwarts out there playing anyway. Nothing seems to stop them, and it’s great fun, on a nice, sunny day, to park on a bench and watch one of the games. There are usually five or six different games going on any given afternoon.
Then there are all the special activities on the port. Every Tuesday is our big market here in Bandol, which covers the port with stalls from which people sell everything from clothes to kitchen needs, to fabric, things made out of olive wood, shoes, you name it! There’s even a stall that is like the “dollar store” (it’s a euro store, everything one euro!). Oh yes, and food – whatever you want or think you might want, it’s there!
Additionally, every weekend, or at least every Sunday, there’s something special on the port. This weekend it’s a big pottery market, part of a two-week pottery event in the village that includes workshops, demonstrations, and I’m not sure what all else, but I aim to find out! Last Sunday was a flea market, and that seems to be a pretty regular occurrence, as there’s another one later in the month as well. I see that there’s also a big plant market scheduled for next Sunday. So, special events every weekend! All outdoors.
And every restaurant has a terrace. Every one! Lunch seems to be pretty universally eaten outdoors, but it’s still too chilly in the evenings for all except the smokers to sit out. And they often eat in, but sneak out periodically for a smoke. So glad that’s not a part of our lives any more!!!
Yesterday, we took advantage of the lovely weather and went to the little island just a stone’s throw from here (8 minutes by ferry!) called Bendor. It was developed by Paul Ricard, an artist who envisioned a sort of artists’ colony and tourist attraction, and he did a fantastic job of it! Here’s a clip from their website listing all the attractions:
Ile de Bendor
3 hotels (Le Delos***, Le Palais, Les Petites Villas)
5 restaurants (Le Delos, La Terrasse, Le Delos Plage, Le Soukana Plage and Restaurant Le Grand Large)
La Marina, the smallest port on the Cote d’Azur
Museum of Wines and spitituous liquors (EUVS)
Museum of Ricard Advertising Objects
Exhibitions and Art Gallery
Sports activities: tennis, swimming pool, water sports, hiking…
Unfortunately, it’s still early in the season, and it was pretty deserted; on the other hand, the good part is that it was pretty deserted, and we didn’t have to compete with throngs of tourists! We thoroughly enjoyed a stroll around the island, which is built and planted beautifully, and includes various sculptures throughout. None of the shops or workshops or galleries was open or even set up (just empty rooms), but we were happy to simply take in the natural beauty and views. Our resident photographer has captured some of it for your viewing pleasure!