Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. I can practically hear the clock ticking as I write. Every minute, every day, each passing week we get a little closer to the arrival of our baby girl. On Monday, I officially begin the ninth month of pregnancy. I’ve read the last month can often drag, but so far the third trimester has been flying by.
It’s simultaneously exciting and scary how quickly my pregnancy apps are ticking off days. The apps are really good at reminding you how soon you’ll be trading your pink Michael Kors purse for a diaper bag—as well as providing a daily dose of hormonally charged drama from the women on the message boards. Seriously, it’s better than Keeping up with the Kardashians.
Patience, especially in the face of the unknown, is not one of my strong suits. Yet, I’m feeling pretty calm about these final few weeks. Perhaps the stresses of the past year have done some good, or maybe my busy schedule is blocking most anxieties about the delivery. Either way, I almost feel I’m a bit too Zen for approaching the birth of our first child. Does this mean I’m really unprepared? Am I in for a brutal awakening? Will I be able to handle the pain of childbirth and the pressures of motherhood? Oh there’s my little friend anxiety. I was starting to worry you left me!
Aside from doctors’ appointments and birth prep classes, my daily French class has been keeping me very occupied. I just started my second month (of which I’m only taking two weeks) and this time there are five—count them—five pregnant women in the class. It’s quite possible there’s something in the French water—or perhaps the constant barrage of aphrodisiacs, like chocolate, wine and oysters, encourage une vie d’amour.
Matt suggested we pregnant women should team up and request the class be centered around pregnancy terms—after all, we pretty much outnumber the non-pregnant students in the room. That’s one of the reasons I love that man—always thinking practically.
Speaking of une vie d’amour, this past weekend Matt and I fled the hustle and bustle of Toulouse for a long weekend at the Côte d’Azur, a.k.a the French Riviera, a.k.a. paradise! Friday after my French class, we ate a quick lunch and then jumped in the car for an almost five-hour drive to Saint-Aygulf–a cute, little town tucked along the Mediterranean Coast almost halfway between its much more renown neighbors, Cannes and Saint-Tropez.
We booked four nights at Cap Riviera, a small, privately owned hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Since it was a late birthday/”babymoon” trip, we splurged a bit and upgraded to the suite, which included a private terrace and garden tub with jets. We could sit on lounge chairs on our deck and just stare at the beautiful, blue waters. There was also a small beach right across the street that seemed to be mostly used by locals and guests of the hotel.
The owners of Cap Riviera are a husband and wife team, who are French and Italian respectively. They were wonderful hosts and treated all of the guests more like family than a paycheck. In the mornings, we could enjoy a petite dejeuner (baguette, croissant, pain au chocolate, coffee and orange juice) on the hotel balcony and in the evening we had the option of dining on a delicious range of dishes prepared by the owners while watching the sun set from the same balcony.
Our original plan was to do nothing more than sit on the beach for three days—and on Saturday we achieved that goal. We sat on the small beach, watched the waves crash and listened to music under the cover of a borrowed beach umbrella. It was pretty amazing.
Sunday, however, the weather dawned on dark and stormy and it wasn’t supposed to let up until 2:00 that afternoon. So, rather than spending the day squirreled away in our room watching French television, we decided to take a drive up to Cannes.
Instead of taking the highway, we took the scenic route through the mountains lining the coast. Though rainy, the drive was beautiful. The road wound up and around heavily forested hills while steep drops at the edge of the road offered breathtaking views of the valley below.
Eventually we made our way back to civilization and soon found ourselves in the heavily commercialized (think Florida beach town) outskirts of Cannes. As we drove closer to the old city, the chain restaurants and shops gave way to an expansive coastline and turquoise water as far as the eye could see.
We parked near the port and made our way to a restaurant to grab a bite and wait out the rest of the storm. Sure enough, at 2:00 the clouds cleared and the sun began shining like a spotlight on the town famous for its international film festival. We quickly finished our meal and began walking further into town, admiring the many beautiful yachts and sailboats docked in the port along the way.
Close to the docks, we discovered a park where locals were coming out of the woodwork to play or watch games of Pétanque (the French version of bocce). We stopped to watch for a moment as I caught my breath from a Braxton Hicks contraction. Some of the guys practicing looked like they were pretty serious. There’s even a small grandstand at one of the courts where fans can watch the games.
Once the contraction stopped, we made our way to the Cannes tourism office, which is tucked neatly near the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. This is the main venue for the Cannes International Film Festival. On the sidewalk outside the building, you can find squares with imprints of celebrity hands in the concrete.
There were numerous options for things to do in the town, but we opted for a “train ride” which took us through the main streets of the town and up Le Suquet Hill to the Château de la Castre. The views from the hill of the city and surrounding beaches and mountains were stunning. Cannes is quite picturesque, though I’m sure it can be almost a nightmare to visit during the festival or high season.
After the tour, we grabbed some chairs on the boardwalk along the beach and sat for a while watching the waves and passersby. I really wanted ice cream (it seemed like everyone was walking by us with frozen treats), but Matt made me wait until after dinner. Lucky for him we found a little shop called Niva that served absolutely delicious gelato. He lived to see another day.
Monday dawned on much sunnier, but the winds were whipping. We decided to try our luck with another short road trip—this time to Saint-Tropez. About 45 minutes west of our hotel, we once again took the scenic route along the coast and were able to admire the many beautiful, though perhaps lesser-known, beach towns (like Sainte-Maxime) on the way to Saint-Tropez.
We weren’t sure what to expect in Saint-Tropez, but discovered a cute, little medieval town featuring a plentitude of high-end, designer shops and enough yachts in the port to transport a small army. The beauty of the mountains and water in this area make it easy to see why the French Riviera is a vacationer’s paradise—and why the rich and famous flock to its coasts.
We decided to start our day with a harbor cruise which took us out in the bay and past the homes of many celebrities who built homes here. Though extremely windy, the boat ride was surprisingly smooth and quite enjoyable.
Following the cruise, we grabbed a quick bite in town and headed towards Pampelonne Beach, which is supposed to be “the spot” to go if you are in Saint-Tropez. Club 55, a restaurant at one end of the beach, is frequented by celebrities, but there are many public areas where, at least at this time of the year, it is easy to thrown down a blanket and claim a spot for the afternoon.
Unfortunately the wind was whipping and sending blasts of sand in our face every few minutes and the water was still too cold to take a dip in (though the gem-like color of it begged me to). While I appreciated the thought of a free microdermabrasion, it eventually got a bit much and we decided to head back to our hotel where we spent the rest of the afternoon listening to music and watching the water from our private deck.
As with all good things, eventually they must come to an end. Tuesday morning we packed up early and headed back to Toulouse. We were sad to say goodbye to the Côte d’Azur, but we have some exciting times coming up. The break was a perfect way to bid adieu to our party of two and prepare for sleepless, but rewarding nights ahead.