It’s been a few days now since I got off the train in the Cannes station, wrestled my suitcases (with assistance) on to the bus and was driven the 11km or so and delivered to Grasse. I had a few hours to put in before I could meet the person whom I’m letting my flat from, so I stashed my luggage in a hotel lobby and set out to get a bite to eat. I found a little outdoor cafe in the maze that makes up the old part of the city and ordered a sandwich and a cappuccino. I also needed to use the toilet and asked in my halting French if there was one. I got the general gist where it was, but needed confirmation. The woman got quite short with me and the other customers kind of sniggered, which promptly brought on my first emotional breakdown. I was exhausted and coming down with a nasty cold, and feeling like a fish out of water; so bee-lined it for the bathroom where I had my first serious cry since the trip began. Then snuffling a bit, I came out, glowered at the woman a tiny bit, I have to admit, and devoured my sandwich.
That was my intro to the city. Needless to say, first impressions are not always correct, and I’ve since discovered that the people here are warm and friendly and only a tiny bit embarrassed about their halting English. So we reassure each other and I am learning to just wing it, and try out the French I know. Everyone is very forgiving. Lessons are going to be a must, I can tell.
In the last few days, I have spent alot of time walking, getting lost over and over in this ancient maze of a city. The streets are about 10 feet wide, paved with squares of stone, and the buildings rise straight up 6 to 7 stories high on either side in all their yellow and orange ochre and plaster glory. All the windows have shutters and it is part of the evening ritual, for me as well, to close them all up for the night. I wish I could share the sound of the creaking old metal hinges and latches as they clunk into place and draw my attention inward for the night.
I am falling in love with my flat. It is very small and on the 4th and top floor of this 17th century building. It is all white plaster, blue doors and shutters and old old wood beams with a red tiled floor and a tiny loft for my bed. There are two small skylights and of course, the terrace, or what I would call, a balcony. There is a dizzyingly steep and narrow spiral staircase to get up here and I need a torch to see. I seriously get woozy every time I go up or down. My little square is called the Place Des Artistes because it is where all the artists work and show. Each little shop is a gallery/studio with the artist working away inside. There is an exhibition every Friday under the little covered area you see in the photo. (and as you can see, right below my flat)
This is the perfect place to land- right in the most creative part of the city. I am inspired and thrilled to call this home. Today, I was walking home after exploring and buying some veges, and I was hit with a wave of absolutely expansive happiness. It felt too big to contain. It welled up in me and poured out in this smile that I had to share with everyone I looked at. I am so happy!
To top it off, I bought a bouquet of mimosa and this something I have only fantasized about being able to do. They are gorgeous and smell just like the hard pale topaz cystals of mimosa absolute that I have worked with.
(that reminds me, I haven’t even begun to talk about the perfumeries and scent aspect of this town, but that can wait).
Slowly, as the days go by, I am beginning to fathom that I am really here. It’s amazing how we can build things up in our minds so that they reach a state of almost tangible reality, but when it actually happens, it’s hard to comprehend. But I am here, and it feels wonderful.