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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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