Seasons greetings to friends and talesandtravel followers. We will celebrate quietly in our new home, an apartment in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on France’s Cote d’Azur where it does not seem very Christmasy. That is OK. We do not miss freezing cold temps. However, a bit of snow on those trees would be a welcome holiday touch.
At this time of year we do miss German Christmases, the very best. We were fortunate to live and work in Germany for many years and relished the festive atmosphere during the entire Advent season with those captivating Christmas markets.
It seems Christmas markets have become popular the world over. Unfortunately we have found most are but pathetic imitations of those German markets with Gluhwein, the aromas of cinnamon and cloves and grilled sausages, glittering glass baubles, twinkling lights, tasteful décor, Christmas carols. There is a delightful spirit, a childlike wonder, that imbues German holiday markets.
Last week we decided to investigate the Christmas market in Monaco, just next door to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. I had heard the theme was New Orleans. A Creole beauty who hailed from New Orleans, Princess Alice, was not the only American princess who made her mark in Monaco, I learned. Alice lived in Monaco in the late 19thcentury and is credited with developing the principality as a cultural hotspot.
Interesting, and certainly upscale Monaco would have a sensational Christmas market… Sadly, it did not. There were a few stands selling gift items, some rides for kids, and food, lots of food, everything from Hungarian and Dutch specials to French favorites such as cassoulet and escargots. No Creole cuisine. Not much festive ambience. A skating rink did add a wintry touch.
For another pre-holiday activity we joined the British Association of Menton, a city straddling the Italian border on the other side of our town, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Menton is known for lush gardens where exotic plants flourish thanks to its subtropical microclimate. The garden at Val Rahmeh which we toured is one of many tucked away on terraced hillsides above the Mediterranean.
A retired gardener led us through the shady lanes past fountains, ponds, dense foliage and colorful blossoms. He told us about Miss Maybud Campbell, a rich, eccentric English woman who was the last private owner. A woman after my heart– Maybud had 14 cats. The gardens are now owned by the French Museum of Natural History.
Since this was a British activity, we ended the tour with mulled wine, mince pies and Christmas carols. At last, genuine Christmas spirit.
I have been neglecting recipes. I will add one soon, and a post about finding sun on the beach in Egypt. Don’t miss out. If not a talesandtravel follower, sign up, upper right. Your email address is not shared. It is safe. Trust me.
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