Yesterday I decided to embrace the Riviera and catch the bus to Cannes. So far, my biggest venture beyond the old city centre has been the 3km walk to find my school. This process of acclimatizing to a new environment/culture/life has been an interesting and at times a daunting process. I’ve been watching myself take it in stages, creeping out from my hiding place under the covers and making my orbit from home larger and more encompassing every day. At first when I would step out my door I felt so exposed and vulnerable. I felt like everyone was looking at me and saying to themselves, see her, she doesn’t speak French and she has no idea who she is here, what a stranger. It has all been incredibly unfamiliar, and the unfamiliarity is unfamiliar. (having spent the last 12 years in the same small town…) Part of the challenge, I think, is that I am not a traveller here. I’ve travelled in the past and in that role I am an observer and everyone knows it and I feel comfortable. This is different. I’ve moved here. I’m making this foreign place my home amongst people whose home it is. They don’t know that unless I tell them, I’m realizing, and as the days go by, I do tell them. And they welcome me.
Now, here I was yesterday, excited that my trepidation was vanishing and I could hop the bus (for 1euro30) and spend the day shopping and rubbing shoulders with a whole other breed of people. Someone told me that the sister city to Cannes is Beverly Hills. I’ve never been to California, but the Cannes I saw is all about money and fashion. Lots of money and very high fashion. Oh, and lots and lots of little dogs. This is the French Riviera after all. That said, there were bargain racks galore and I found a few great things that fit my budget. (the Zara store is wonderful…)
Today, I had the pleasure of meeting five of the other students (they had already connected) and the six of us drove up the mountain together to an amazing very posh house surrounded by olive trees and gardens with a view out toward the sea . (I didn’t really get the whole story, but apparently it is owned by the daughter of the landlord of one of the group…) Anyway, it was just us there, a very mixed group, one each respectively from Japan, Brazil, California, Sardinia (the only male), Australia, and moi- Canada. The Sardinian cooked us lunch and we all ate pasta together at this great long table in the marble floored dining room. Each person shared their intriguing story of why and how they have ended up here, to study perfumery. To summarize:
Japan– works for a large cosmetics company doing research as to the efficacy of the physiological effect of fragrance.
Sardinia-barely speaks English, so as of yet, I don’t have his story.
Brazil-is a vivacious high powered lawyer who since childhood has felt that her sense of smell has been extraordinary, becoming more so as she has aged. She has left her former life behind to come here and pursue her gift.
Australia– has been working with a perfumer in the industry in her country and wants to take it further; wanting especially to eventually find placement in a European company.
California– is a micro-distiller! A very interesting girl, and as interested in the naturals as I am.
Canada– that would be me, and I am here to formally learn the art of perfume formulation and to study the over 500 raw materials that will be taught in this course; therefore enriching my knowledge base and developing myself as an artisan perfumer/nose/entrepreneur. (to put it a bit more succinctly than I did at le petit dejeuner….)
So that is my report for today. I am about to spend the rest of this full moon night curled in my loft, the moonlight pouring through the skylight and the scent of fresh mimosa and hyacinth infusing the air.
Other wise I would like to post the question for anyone who might know- can I absorb the calcium that is in the mineral rich water? (the ground water filters through limestone to feed the spring that provides Grasse with its water. )
My kettle build ups a layer of white inside every 2 days or so.