Mimosa and Menton

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Mimosa – not a cocktail with champagne and orange juice,  at least  not in southern France.  Here it is  “a tropical shrub or tree of the leguminous genus Mimosa, having ball-like clusters of yellow or pink  flowers and compound leaves that are often sensitive to light or touch.”

High in the hills above the French Riviera, and along the coast,  those blossoms are bright yellow, bursting forth in February, heralding the beginning of spring. The glorious show of nature calls for celebration.menton.5

La Fête de Mimosa in Tanneron, a tiny  town at the pinnacle of the Route d’ Or (golden route),  honors the colorful spectacle every year.  Garlands of yellow decorate buildings, cars, posters.  Stands sell local products.  Bands play.  Shots are fired. Folks come from afar to enjoy – and photograph — the splendor.

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The narrow, twisty road leading to the town, the Route d’Or, offers magnificent photo opps of the blazing trees against a background of gorgeous scenery.  But, to get that perfect shot, you may need to risk your life.  There are no places to pull off, and traffic when the blossoms are at their peak is heavy.

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Sorry about the garbage bin. Need to master photo shop

We joined friends of the American Club of the Riviera at the festival, then continued on to Menton, our favorite coastal city on the border with Italy. We have decided the time has come to downsize, sell our house, and move closer to civilization.  We love the tranquility and beauty of our surroundings in the Luberon countryside, especially the ever-changing view of the hills from our porch/balcony.  But, it is probably not the best place for old folks (us).

I love the Med … and Menton.  It is almost like being in Italy.  Lots of Italian is spoken.  Answering machine messages are in two languages, French and Italian. I have been studying Italian on and off for years and relish  the opportunity to speak.  Italian restaurants abound.  You can walk across the border to Italy.

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Menton’s Old Town

Perfect.  We’ll move to Menton … that is, we’d be happy to move to  Menton.  Our mini trip was a reconnaissance mission, basically to check with real estate agencies on the availability of large, vacant apartments to rent on a long term basis.  We no longer want to be property owners.

We rented an Airbnb studio in the Vieille Village, the city’s ancient town with narrow alleys and steps, lots of steps.  It is pedestrian only, no shops,  no restaurants.  Those are below in the centre ville, town center,  down many more  steps. The old town is not the best place for my decaying knees, nonetheless fascinating, charming, and, had the weather been better, super photo opps.

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Menton’s Old Town

Our  Menton dream came to a depressing crash with reality:  the type of apartment we seek is almost non-existent.

This is the Mediterranean coast, vacation/tourist territory.  Apartments to rent are furnished, rented for the season, and mainly small.   Nonetheless, we left our contact details with numerous agencies just in case something with our criteria becomes available.  We expanded the search to nearby Roquebrune. There a few realtors did offer a glimmer of hope for the future.menton.6

We did visit one apartment, 100 sq meters, considered large.  It seemed small to us:  no storage space, tiny kitchen, just one bathroom, two very small bedrooms. The living room, however, was spacious with large windows and lovely views.

This will not be easy on many fronts.  We  came home and surveyed our big house and all the contents, many treasures collected over the years..  No way will we be able to move all this stuff to an apartment, even a big apartment.

Bob would prefer to rent a house, which may make more sense for us.  That may be even harder to find.  But, we can and must begin the process:  eliminate, sell, trash lots. We will put the house up for sale this summer when roses are in bloom, pool in operation, and it is at its best.

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No Mediterranean sunshine during our Menton visit.

We will bug those real estate agencies.  We are going back to Menton at the end of the month during the town’s renowned lemon festival for a luncheon sponsored by the British Association of Menton.  Maybe some of those folks could be helpful.

We won’t give up:  Menton or bust!

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23 thoughts on “Mimosa and Menton”

  1. Our lives are running on parallel tracks, since I, too, am bitten by “think smaller” bug…and the desire to live near the water (back to my roots). It’s not going to be easy to give our lovely homes and lives in Provence, but we must be proactive and face this new chapter courageously (you are my inspiration). Spending the winter in Portugal has made me realize how liberating downsizing could be. And, for me, the Silver Coast represents a much easier life, with more time for the things I love, and a kinder, gentler climate. So let’s Got For It! It’s not jumping off a cliff, just easing gently into a warm pool! (I hope)
    Love your cheerful mimosa photos!

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    1. It will not be easy, but for us the time has come. I consider it a new adventure. I am so glad Portugal is all you had hoped. Challenging times ahead, but hopefully exciting, rewarding, happy. Yes, we will go for it with gusto.

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      1. Hi Leah, So good to get your post. It definitely looks like paradise there! Love the VW with Mimosa flowers on it. Fingers crossed that you find a suitable apartment. Good luck! Cheers, Jane Pickering

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  2. Hi Lea and Bob. Klaus and I enjoyed to read your bloc. The photos of the Mimosa are so wonderful . We think that you make the right decision. Klaus and I did the same years ago and we are enjoying every day our new home. To leave old staff behind makes you feel free.
    We hope that you can find a new home in Menton or nearby.
    Good luck
    Dagmar and Klaus

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Leah, wishing you and Bob the best in finding that perfect (or near perfect?) place to settle. I think you’re very wise to leave ownership behind, relieving you of the work and worries of a home. The beauty of Menton — so easy to see why it’s first on your list! I know wherever you both land, we’ll still be able to
    escape with you through your wonderful blog. Love to you both.

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    1. Thank you, Susan. We know it won’t be easy. The coast beckons, even though we know it will be crowded and chaotic in summer. No place is perfect. Let’s hope we can find an abode we like, and can afford.

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  4. When we lived in Toledo Ohio, we had a pink mimosa in our back yard. It certainly didn’t bloom in February!
    Good luck with your hunt for a new home. The house you are selling—is it in the USA? Are you permanently relocating to Europe?

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    1. Hi Shelly, Must reply to your latest blog. Your volunteer work is most impressive and inspiring. We live in southern France. We lived and worked in Germany for many years before that. We have not lived in the US for many, many years. — no plans to return either.

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  5. Hi Leah, great article, Menton sounds a bit difficult. As I mentioned to you and Bob, you may want to contact: Provencesearch.com. They will do the research for you and spare you the drudgery of contacting endless immoblier.

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  6. Leah,

    As always, your words and photos are superb. You make places come alive. You have talked of Menton frequently. I am tired of the Northern Italian winter. Perhaps the four of us could meet there come April. How does that sound?

    Noel

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  7. Your marvelous Menton photos–even sans soleil–reveal the area’s wonder. No wonder you want to snap your fingers and be there. We visited for the first time just last year–while in Beaulieu-sur-Mer–the little enclave up the road that tugged on our heart strings. Loved the fact you can hop a train and scoot along the coast. The siren call of New Beginnings–very appealing!

    Liked by 1 person

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