08 January 2010

Colors Galore!

So, when it comes to colors in Toulon, I wouldn't say they over do it....but they definitely DO IT.
From houses and schools down to the small details,
Toulon is covered with a noticeable vibrance typical of French coastal towns.

A modern art gallery and personal residence compliment each other beautifully!

And for the Toulon specialty...A car to match your gate anyone?

Nearly each entrance is bejeweled with not only a brightly painted fence, but also a
colorful plaque showing the house number and sometimes a cute name.
We know people who name their boats, and sometimes their cars....here they name their houses...

Even the older, more run-down houses have a little spunk, character and of course... COLOR!

The building on the right is an école...I'd be excited to go to school
too if it was in a building that looks like the sun rising out of a sea of orange.

All shades of blue in one.

While graffiti is usually seen as dirty and ugly, it can also provide color and has an
undeniably artistic quality to it. The back alleys and small, less traveled streets are chock full of interesting displays of self-expression.

Red, white and blue REPRESENT!

The people in the south seem much happier and relaxed than up north in Paris.
It's difficult to be in a sour mood when you're surrounded by so much color and liveliness!

04 January 2010

Who Likes Mimosas? WE DO!

A new favorite town has been found! This is our last joint adventure before Hannah heads back to the Chi and leaves Erika seul en France.

So, we were originally under the impression that a mimosa was solely a wonderfully refreshing drink to sip on in the summertime...but we now know it is all that and MORE. The town of Bormes-les-Mimosas, which means 'the Sunny One', goes back to Roman times and sits high on a mountain top right off the coast.

It is full of Mimosa trees, which are the most beautifully blooming flowers around, and
such bright, bright yellow. The best time to enjoy the flower display is the end of January
into February, but we were lucky to catch a little glimpse of the wonder!

The colorful buildings and private gardens were picturesque- so lush and overflowing.

Lily fit right in that day with her bright pink dress and yellow dandelion.
*Fun fact- dandelion in French is "Pissenlit"- literally 'piss in bed'- because
they are a diuretic and make you pee yo' bed. Dandelion soup all around!!!

A child's playground! There were so many arches with hidden passageways, you never knew where you were going to end up on the other side.

Our hike up to the old Château. The grounds are now a private residence- lucky
owners whoever they may be!

The Chateau from way down below...but we finally made it up and stood on the grounds overlooking the beautiful Med and the clouded-over rolling landscape.

Since it is right on the coast and very open to invasion, Mimosa was constantly
attacked and plundered throughout the Middle Ages. The town has been restored, but
very little original architecture remains.

More passageways, we couldn't get enough of them.

Beautiful flowering vines and vines turning golden and orange from the cold
covered the already brightly painted buildings.
This was the perfect send-off back to snowy Chi-town.
Goodbye dear friend Hannah and good luck with the new job- you will be missed greatly!!!!

Hopefully we will be able to make it back for the real flower show in the future,
but for now we will be looking for a vacation home here too, so again,
anyone interested in going in on it with us?

03 January 2010

Toulon Toulon, ALLEZ ALLEZ ALLEZ!!!

Yea TOULON! Wooo!

So, we decided to put on our tough game faces and head to an Albi V Toulon rugby game. Since this was a first for both of us, we looked up the Rugby Union Rules before setting off...but were only slightly better off for our self-education of the game.

We will share with you what we picked up along the way watching these athletes, with no guards or padding, pummel each other into the plush earth of the Toulon home stadium...

And out come the teams- Toulon in red, Albi in yellow- emerging from a mysterious cloud of smoke from the far end of the field. Talk about first impressions...we knew these guys were up to no good.

The ceremonial waving of the flags-
Let the games begin!

This dedicated fan was up there aaaall night long, waving his Toulon flag for the good ol' home team. Will it help? We'll have to see....

This move here is called the scrotum, oops, scrum... and um, it is one of the 3 restarts of the game(along with a free kick or a penalty kick). The ball is thrown under the interlocked heads of the players, and each team tries to kick it backwards toward their own side to start the play.

The reds and yellows line up for a Free Kick, each team holding a player up to try and snag the ball that is kicked from the sideline to restart the game.
And THIS guy has been up, out of his seat, for minutes on end hollering about who knows what.

Classic move directed at the poor, poor ref's by the distressed crowd. And the classic phrase that accompanies this move is... "Qu'est qui à?" "Qu'est qui à?" (What happened?) We must have heard this at least once every 30 seconds throughout the 80 minute game.

...Note the flattering red scarves.
We tried to find the vendors before the game so we too could look that good.

Lip-biting anxiety...what's going to happen...is Toulon going to pull through...?

A very nice place kick by Jonny Wilkinson, right through the goal posts. Jonny was far and away the most popular player on the field. Makin' it count with his stunning kicks, his name was announced over the intercom every single time....which was a lot.

And every once in a while as many of them as possible jump on top of each other to see just how high their man pile can get. From here the play is often over, but every once in a while the ball magically pops out from the depths and the play goes on.

Number One! Number One!!! Final score 41 to 13...Lookin' bad Albi, better luck next time....NOT

And the victory lap around the field at the end of the game.

The bright lights were dimmed in the whole stadium. A slow, sappy French song that reminded us of Titanic filled the air. The players walked along together, followed by a spotlight. They bent down periodically to pick up dirt balls that were kicked up during the game and hurled them at one another. We're all still kids at heart...