We drove into the old city of Cannes looking for the train station and saw many old cars and small streets like most of the other French towns we’ve driven through. We found a few parking lots, but they all had height restrictions of 1.8 meters, us being closer to 3 wouldn’t fit below the markers without cutting the RV in half. So, we trucked on and found a spot at the train station. However, you could only pay in coins (we only had bills) and you could only pay for 3 hours at a time (we wanted all day). I confidently walked into the station to the information desk. The not so helpful woman with her permanent frown and made up face only had a few words for me.
“bonjour!” I say
“bonjour” she replys
“where can I get change for the parking meter?”
“there” she says with a pointing of the finger
“ok we’d like to park for the day, where can I buy an all day pass?”
“not possible.” then she sits down and turns away from me. So, I walk over to the “there” and say…
“um, can I please get change for the meter?”
“no, we on strike on Tuesday and I must have my money.”
“yea, but I’d be giving you a 10 bill and you would still have the same amount of money.”
“no, not possible”
So, a bit aggravated I walked outside and saw a tourist information building and excitedly went to stand in line. I waited for my turn and then explained we had a camper and wanted to pay for an all day parking ticket.
“not possible to park here”
“but, I’m already parked here, there was a large spot and the taxi driver told me I could”
“Oui, but then every 3 hours you have to pay the machine.”
“so what do I do? This is a train station, I am sure people park for full days all the time.”
What she shows me is a map of Cannes and at the very bottom of the town, near the sea, she circled a lot. You see, the problem isn’t the lot, it is navigating the narrow streets, impatient drivers and finding our way there.
Adam navigates me to the lot. We drive through quite possibly the most pretentious city in the world. Men with their sweaters tied around their shoulders, women in designer everything walking their pooches, and people dining on sidewalks staring at one another dressed as if they are going to a movie shoot. Along the beaches are yachts and grandmas sun bathing topless and young couples strolling dressed for the tennis clubs. By the time we reach the lot, I am irate at everything. No one will give us the right of way as we drive and I already feel so out of place I just want to leave. We pull up to the lot and it reads:
8,60 an hour
30,40 8-13:00 or 1300-8
78.20 24 hours
I want to scream. We only had 26 euros with us and just wanted to get to Monaco. So I went to back out, but of course 3 cars were waiting behind me. So, I take a parking ticket and pull in and head straight to find an attendant to validate our ticket so we can just drive out. Of course one doesn’t exist and we are stuck with an automated machine to pay for an hour.
We did take advantage of the hour and walked along the sea front and took pictures of it’s beauty.
I don’t want to sound cruel by saying these things. I can very much appreciate wealth, beauty, fashion, fine dining and nice cars. But, there are many places you can travel to where this is all around you and it works, it is natural and people are just living. There isn’t that extra element of looking around as to what other people think (Monaco was like this, except you could pick out the tourists because many of them were) There are other places where all of this feels like a show, a place to go so you can show who you are and Cannes was one of them.
There was a time in my life when I would deck out my wardrobe the best I could, go get my hair blown out and drive to a fancier part of town. Then, I’d go to an outdoor cafe, spend 3 days worth of earnings on a meal and a glass of wine and take out my cell to look important. Actually, there was quite some time when I thought that was what it was all about, being seen… My thoughts have drastically changed. Now, I find it a little sad that people can’t just be who they are and just enjoy. I promise, you don’t need to have a special bag to feel important or show people how spectacular you are. You don’t need to look like you stepped out of a Ralph Lauren ad to be handsome. And you definitely don’t need to have the approval of others. Find a way to be you, regardless of where you are, leave all the show behind and you’ll be much happier.
So, overall, Cannes was not my favorite place…. But Monaco was a different story.