|Guess where I am.|
This week marks one year since I became a runner. Fed up with le temps froid de l'hiver discouraging me from riding my bike, I eye the treadmill that had been gathering dust and reluctantly step on it. My twice-a-week three-mile walks turn into every-other-day jogs, and by the end of the summer I am up to five miles. Once I realize that six-and-a-half miles equals 10K, I strive for that milestone and pat myself on the back when I reach it. When my sister suggests that I join her in Cannes in February for a 10K race, I say pourquoi pas!
|We're still standing and even smiling after the race.|
My running shoes haven't seen pavement much less wet pavement dotted with merde de chien, and the skies are threatening rain, but I bravely take my place near the back of the pack. The Cannes Mandelieu racecourse is blissfully flat. We start off in one direction, turn around and run back to the starting line. Then we run in the opposite direction and back. If there had been a third leg, I would have quit, but I persevere.
About two-thirds of the way through, my sister sprints ahead while I slow down and peruse my iPod for inspirational tunes. Eventually, the half-marathon "showoffs" pass me in the outbound lanes, and I step up the pace so I can finish before they catch up on their return. Just as the driver of the lead car tells us stragglers to rester à gauche (stay to the left), the finish line comes into view. My sister is there, camera phone in hand, to snap a very unflattering picture (which you will not see here). My time of 75 minutes is a solid 15 minutes ahead of my best treadmill time, so all in all, je suis satisfait.
|The view of Cannes from le Suquet (old town) is pas mal.|
|Narrow homes line the road up to le Suquet in Cannes.|
|Amusing murals cover this building in Cannes.|
|Cannes is known for its handprints of movie stars.|
|Colorful toy boats stand by for action along the esplanade in Cannes.|
Our 24 hours in Cannes is the first time I've visited this city that is described in nearly all the travel guides as "a playground of the rich and famous" and "the place to see and be seen." Despite the lack of sunshine and celebrities, we enjoy a few hours after brunch exploring the city before our train departs for Montpellier.
|Montpellier's Porte du Peyrou is informally called the Arc de Triomphe.|
The Montpellier night sky is clear enough to see the moon rise above the steeple of Sainte Anne's and the city's Arc de Triomphe looks fine with its lights on. We also pass the new Popeyes on Place de la Comédie — an inexplicably popular new American addition to Montpellier's restaurant scene. A sign in the window borrows the France motto — liberté, égalité, fraternité — to hawk their chicken.
|Montpellier's Carré Sainte-Anne is a Gothic church-turned-art-exhibition space.|
|I never ate at Popeyes in the States, and I have |
no desire to try its chicken in Montpellier
(but I am amused by the center sign).
Here are lessons from ma petite aventure:
- There are many better places than Cannes to visit on the French Riviera, unless of course you want "to see and be seen."
- Once blown inside out, a cheap travel umbrella is likely at the end of its usefulness.
- When training for one's first and possibly only 10K, focus on endurance rather than speed.
- I need to figure out how to make a play list on my iPod.
- Although I wish restaurants here would open earlier than 7:30, sushi take-out til 10 has its charms.
- My sister is my favorite travel buddy. (Oh, but I already knew that!)