My Travel Diary: The South of France – Nice, Cannes, Grasse

by Xinxian

The second time I came to the south of France, the landscape on the road from Nice airport to my hotel brought back all the memories from three years before: the sea was still boundless, the blue and white sky stretching low over the waves and far into the distance; the varied blue palette of the water was a hundred times more beautiful than any photo can capture. The white spray struck high on the rocks, various shapes appearing on the long-mottled surface, perhaps an elephant or a lion…

Sunbathers basked boldly on the pebbled beach, the white buildings reflecting the white clouds in the sky, gleaming, pure and clean. It was almost too beautiful to be true.
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Hotel Le Rivera (Cannes)

Hotel Le Rivera (Cannes)

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It was like time had stopped to take a breath, reminding us that the ticking clock had been replaced by the swish of waves as they rose and fell.

When I was in Cannes I went to a nearby town on the Cote d'Azur to visit the 14th century Château de la Napoule. The ancient rock walls stand dignified and steadfast against the beating sea. The castle was bought by an American couple in the 1920s; the man was a sculptor who filled every corridor, gallery and courtyard with his frank, outspoken works of art. The castle has been a modern art museum for many years now, with many artistic achievements and support for new creative endeavors. Every 2 years an artist is invited to come and live in the castle for free for one year, to explore their creativity between these ancient walls, and the works of these resident artists are on display in prominent places around the castle.

Chateau de la Napoule

Chateau de la Napoule

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After visiting Cannes and Nice I went to Grasse to visit the Chanel flower fields and perfume-making workshop, where they were launching the new Nº5 L’Eau de Chanel fragrance. When we arrived at the Chanel fields at 9 AM, they were a block of green, quiet and still, but after an hour or so, like a miracle, 10 hectares of May roses slowly began to open in the sunshine; a sea of pink flowers before our eyes, truly stirring romantic feelings in my heart. The fragrance of the flowers and the sea were carried on the air by a gentle breeze, and every part of my being was entranced by the fresh and healthy atmosphere.

It's even more intoxicating to think that these beautiful roses only flower for 3 weeks in May, so this tender, beautiful aroma is transient and fleeting. Such a short time, such a pity, and yet that makes them all the more precious, don't you think?

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Every day you can see people hard at work picking roses in the fields. Once they have been picked, the roses are taken to the nearby Sotraflor workshop, where the essential oils are extracted before the May blooms are made into perfume.

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Perhaps those who want to preserve the fresh spirit of May will particularly enjoy this fragrance.

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In a week or so, the seasonal workers will also get a chance to enjoy the beauty of Southern France, which doesn't come from its emerald seas, blue skies, and sunny beaches. Its real beauty lies in its unadulterated tranquility, truly appreciated by those who long for a free and pure heart.

Photos: Xinxian SU and Chanel, Writer: Xinxian SU
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