At last I’ve had a chance to go through the photos from our long weekend with teens in the French Riviera – we took so many that it’s going to be better for me to let the pictures do most of the talking or this will go on forever.
A long weekend with teens in the French Riviera – Friday
As I mentioned when I was busy planning what to pack, we were invited to stay with Darryll and Bettina who are friends of some of our London friends. We hadn’t met before so we didn’t know quite what to expect and it was all a bit of an adventure. So, let’s start at the beginning, here I am at Liverpool Airport, I just remembered to get a quick photo at the gate so it isn’t the best shot but I’m wearing a navy linen blend dress as planned (linen blends don’t crease) and an ivory utility jacket (slightly less fussy than a denim jacket). I added a vintage Boden scarf at the last minute which came in really useful and it was my first chance to fully roadtest one of my medium sized straw baskets, the smaller size is great for a trip like this. The espadrilles were my Boden pick last month, the suede makes them slightly smarter and they’re the perfect height, I wore them a lot as you’ll see and they were incredibly comfortable.
It was a short flight and we’d booked a surprise for the boys at the other side. Every time we collect a hire car they look longingly at the convertibles but of course it’s one of the many things that doesn’t accommodate a family of five. This time however we were only four so I reserved a sporty Mini cabriolet. As we approached the desk, I warned them that the car was just going to be a small one so they might have to put up with bags on their knees. They grumbled… until we clicked the keys in the car park and they saw what it was. Here they are, living the dream as we headed out to the autoroute.
And we hit the open road for our weekend adventure. Darryll had sent us a Google map to follow the night before but I hadn’t had time to look at it so we really didn’t know where we were going. We left Nice and bypassed Cannes, travelled through the pretty fishing village of Théoule sur Mer and began to climb into the mountains. All of a sudden we arrived at large gates and Google announced that we’d reached our destination so I pressed the buzzer and they swung open. As we drove up to the house, I was thinking what a pity it was that there didn’t seem to be a sea view… until Darryll welcomed us in and we saw this through the windows:
We’re spoilt with the view that we have at home, across Morecambe Bay to the Lake District hills and it isn’t often that I feel anything matches it but this certainly did. In fact just for a moment or two, I couldn’t find any words – which is unusual! You’ll see more of it in the course of this post but let’s carry on with the evening.
So, Darryll and Bettina had an ample drinks fridge and we were happy to accept a glass of rosé. When in France…
And we sat in the garden and chatted for a while until Darryll disappeared to make dinner. He’s a passionate cook but with the boys in mind, he’d decided on a simple meal of juicy homemade burgers with salad. (This picture tells you that I’d just hissed at the perpetually starving middle son for tucking in before anyone else had even sat down).
And we had a really lovely evening getting to know each other with lots of laughter. Darryll has a City background but he’s left banking behind and one of his ideas is to open a ‘homestay’ concept during the winter months so that he can cook for people who go to stay and enjoy everything the temperate Côte d’Azur has to offer in the low season. It’s a bit like a ski chalet concept, you have the house as a base and they are happy to cater for you fully. Guests can just relax in the winter sunshine or Darryll can arrange activities including painting, yoga, ski-ing, cookery classes, walking, shopping or just relaxing. They have lots of ideas and we’ve offered to help develop them over the next few months so I’ll no doubt tell you more about it as we approach the season.
Anyway back to our first night – after a while we released the boys to the joys of the media room upstairs. You may remember they were excited about the retro concept of a Wii console, we had one years ago but passed it on when they graduated to high tech games. Darryll swiftly impressed them with the largest collection of games they’d ever seen and so they were in teen heaven… as were we, sitting on the terrace chatting over endless glasses of wine… until we finally rolled into bed and slept like bears.
While we’re snoozing, let me give you a little glimpse of the house, Bettina has spent a lot of time on interior design projects in the past and she’s achieved a lovely blend of English country house and Provençal chic. It’s spacious and airy and filled with light. This is the living area with velvet sofas, an open fire for winter (and a few quite well known pieces of original art)…
…because the house is positioned on a promontory, the kitchen has different sea views from each end …
… this is one of the bedrooms with a sunny balcony…
… and they all have very high spec, en suite bathrooms, this was ours.
The gardens are beautiful and filled with fragrance. Jasmine blooms over the doorways so you’re hit with a heady scent as you go outside and there are different seating areas so that you can move around with the sun – or the shade if you prefer.
And then there’s the large infinity pool which is heated in winter and even has the option of a drag current if you want to swim against some resistance. In this picture you can see the particularly exotic magnolia tree with fresh blooms that opened each morning and lasted for just one day.
A long weekend with teens in the French Riviera – Saturday
We awoke the following morning (with headaches) to find a breakfast table groaning with fresh croissants, baguettes, jams and fruit. I think Darryll and Bettina were feeling as jaded as we were as they set off to stay with friends, leaving their house in our hands and their friendly cat Molly to look after us. Because we just hadn’t seen the sun at home up to this point, it felt like a very special Saturday morning.
One of us almost always has to work when we’re away and Mr MC had a deadline to hit but working in the sunshine never feels too bad…
… I managed to keep myself busy…
Swimsuit (now in the sale)
… and before too long the boys were up and he logged off.
I decided that as we only had a weekend, rosé with lunch was a good remedy for the previous night’s indulgence…
… and after that the boys spent their time switching between the pool and table tennis.
I spent some time waiting to take a shot of the youngest for his Instagram feed as he worked out how to balance on the beanbag… which gave Mr MC a joyous embarrassing Dad opportunity…
…and then suddenly this happened. Out of nowhere the clouds rolled in and a crashing thunderstorm began… (thumbs up was clearly the boy’s pose of the holiday!). Honestly – we leave the Lakes but the weather comes with us.
Anyway it didn’t last long and so we went into Théoule sur Mer for dinner. The longest weekend (21st June) is something that is celebrated in this part of France and so a lot of the restaurants were full.
We wandered along by the sea until we found a very simple looking pizzeria. Pizza wasn’t quite what we’d anticipated eating but actually they were some of the best we’ve ever had – after all this part of France is very close to Italy. As we were sitting there the youngest suddenly said “I just feel so happy” and as you’ll know, that’s a rare and precious thing from the mouth of a teen. I think you can see it from this picture…
A long weekend with teens in the French Riviera – Sunday
So, the next morning we were up early because I wanted to go to a market. Bettina had explained that the better ones were on weekdays but that there was an early market in the resort of Fréjus so we were happy to zip along the coast in our little car. It wasn’t the Provençal style market that I’d hoped for but we enjoyed a wander. It had a very Mediterranean feel with as many Spanish and Italian stalls as French ones…
Mr MC was disproportionately satisfied by seeing me carrying a baguette… in one of our straw baskets… at a French market which amused the middle son:
… and it felt surreal to be sitting by the sea in the sunshine after the last few months which have been so heavy with revision (and rain).
We parked in the centre of the old town of Fréjus on the way back (should have kept the baguette in the basket)…
…and found a bar for a snack. You have to have your pick of the menu when you’re on holiday and the middle one went for a baguette américaine which when it arrived had a burger, salad and frites inside. The youngest just fancied a raspberry sorbet (he’s been the most naturally healthy individual since the day he was born) and Mr MC and I had a croque monsieur.
I should just mention this dress because it was so cool to wear. It’s crisp cotton which somehow didn’t crease and I was glad that it was so loose because the heatwave that’s been in the news was just rolling in and it was getting hotter by the hour. The sunglasses are classics, you see me wear them every year and the bronze, gold and silver sandals were a gift from tiny brand Cleverly Wrapped. They’ve now sold out but there are other styles here.
So we headed back and spent the afternoon keeping cool in the pool. Later on we went out for a cocktail and adopted a little blonde French boy for a while, giving his parents a chance to have a bit of peace. I remember somebody doing the same for us once when we were in Cornwall and I was so grateful that I ‘pay it forward’ whenever I can.
You may by now have noticed that all of the tops I’m wearing are following a halter line. It’s because I knew I’d catch the sun quickly because it hasn’t been exposed since we went to Marrakech so this is an easy way to handle tan lines. Halters also work well when you have ‘swimmer’s shoulders’ like I do, they break up the line. The blue and white striped trousers are made from seersucker which means they travel well (i.e. don’t crease) and they have an elasticated waist covered by a self-tie belt, always good for an indulgent break.
There are only a few restaurants in Théoule and again they were busy so we drove up the hill and found one on the Corniche d’Or which was a French tapas bar with spectacular views.
It was run by an outstandingly frosty, Pucci-clad ‘maitresse d’ who grumpily put us on a waiting list for the sofas at the front (I don’t think we were Riviera enough for her liking)…
… until she saw that the middle son had flicked the switch on the colour-changing light on the table and was enjoying watching it meld through a rainbow of shades. She snatched it away furiously and returned it to static blue which he found far less entertaining… and we never did get a waterfront sofa! So L’Air du Temps restaurant, Théoule sur Mer – only go there if you’re sufficiently arrogant and self-regarding (little did she know that 55,000 people would see this!)
A long weekend with teens in the French Riviera – Monday
Our last day already. Mr MC and I were up early again so we decided to have a wander round Théoule sur Mer in the daytime. I’d describe it as a very small seaside town with a choice of about twelve restaurants and bars and a few boutiques which, of course, I had to explore (the only problem with a convertible is that it plays havoc with your hair as you can see). We then had breakfast at the boulangerie and relaxed back at the villa until the boys appeared.
Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo dress (gifted SS18); Boden scarf (SS13)
After lunch we drove into Cannes and the heatwave had arrived so it was about 34 degrees. With Mr MC’s love of film, we had to go to the Palais des Festivals where the film festival is held. There’s a long walk of moviestar handprints, Hollywood Boulevard style, and he despaired at his sons’ lack of recognition of some of the most famous names in history…
… until we found Sylvester Stallone.
We wandered round the harbour and I was pleased to find my yacht was ready and waiting for me…
… but sadly I didn’t have time to claim it because I wanted to explore the old town too. It was exciting seeing the designer shops on La Croisette along with the famous hotels and even though our car wasn’t a classic Sunbeam, as we drove past the Carlton I had my own To Catch A Thief moment.
We planned to have dinner in Cannes so I changed into this jumpsuit which was made for me by Michaela Jedinak. Michaela is a well kept secret in the business world. She works on the premise of slow fashion and makes simple, clean cut dresses and jumpsuits to order which obviously isn’t a budget option but I know some of you will love the idea.
You simply look through the very timeless designs in her range and then customise your choice by specifying the colour, fabric, sleeve and hem length that you’d like. Your piece is then made for you and delivered in about two weeks. The styling is all very Jackie O and very versatile. I’m wearing the jumpsuit on holiday here but yesterday I wore it for meetings in London and had a lot of compliments. Don’t be put off by the website which needs work, this is another opportunity for some of us to support a small business founded by a fellow midlifer who is trying to oppose fast fashion and give us options for better pieces that will last a lifetime.
Cannes was hot and busy so we decided to skip dinner there and go back to Théoule. On previous nights we’d noticed lights twinkling at the furthest end of the beach which seemed to be a magnet for well dressed French families so we decided to follow the path and see where it led. We discovered a little shack on the beach called La Cabane du Pecheur (The Fisherman’s Cabin). There were only a few freshly caught options on the menu and it was absolutely perfect. We ate mussels and sea bream as an accordionist played softly in the background.
At the end of the meal we promised the boys that when we got back, we’d join them for a few rounds of Mario Kart – perhaps not how I’d have chosen to wrap up the weekend but it made them even happier. And so it was a lovely break, we reconnected…
… and had a lot of laughs together. I must just finish by saying a huge thank you to Darryll and Bettina for their hospitality and for trusting us with their home (and Molly the cat who kept us on our toes).
Who will join us in Théoule sur Mer?
Now I have some exciting news. Darryll and Bettina have kindly offered us a Midlifechic competition so that Mr MC and I can go back in the autumn with two couples (either partners or a reader with a friend) and experience the homestay for a weekend when it’s ready to launch. I’m just busy firming up the details with them and checking that we have all of the ts&cs and competition technology in place before I send it live. So, I know people are starting to head off on holiday but do please keep an eye on the blog over the next couple of weeks if you’d like to have a chance of joining us (I hope someone will).
I won’t be posting it on social media because I want it to be exclusive to genuine readers (to sift out any random competition hounds, I’ll include a question that you’ll know the answer to if you’ve been reading for a couple of years). It’s my way of saying thank you to those of you who stick by me on here as Instagram tries to blow blogging out of the water. I should just add that it will most likely be a weekend in October 2019 and prizes will include flights from UK airports (Manchester or Liverpool / Stansted or Gatwick and possibly a Scottish one – we’re still working it out).
I’m so excited, I’ve been trying to get Midlifechic events off the ground all year and this is a spectacular way to do it. So, watch this space… and in the meantime have a lovely weekend.
Disclosure: ‘A long weekend with teens in the French Riviera’ is not a sponsored post, we stayed with friends of friends free of charge but everything else was at our own cost.
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