Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beating the St. Tropez Blues

We at Pearl Modern have many favorite places in this grand world, but when it comes to perfect leisurely shopping, long hours people-watching at outdoor cafés and sexy cocktails in late night boîtes, The South of France takes the cake. 

On the train from Spain, we decided to randomly jump off at Toulon. What a nice surprise! In the mornings there is a wonderful open air market where you can pick up gorgeous local Mediterranean specialties. Each morning after drinking much delicious, milky coffee we would set out for the market. There are such good ones in port towns. 

While traveling, we love to gather elements for a picnic, a little this and that. For instance, some plump figs and tangy spiced almonds from North Africa. You can easily throw together a simple salad of just-picked tomatoes, quartered on mustardy frisée, drizzled with a fruity green olive oil, a handful of torn basil leaves, sea salt and cracked pepper. In France, you can have the most perfectly simple sandwich consisting of just a baguette and brie and it will be a sublime experience. At the market, we bought sweets for later in the hotel room. One pastry in particular was divine! It had a flaky outer layer and inside, a custard that tasted of almonds and vanilla, pure heaven.

Antiques abound along the edges of the food stalls. You can find rustic thrown clay dishes and cooking pots, simply glazed and decorated, finer Limoges pieces and silver long removed from some great villa. We particularly love the provençale fabrics with their tomatoey reds and sunflower yellows with their scattering of wildflowers. 

Below is a maxi sundress with a provençale fabric skirt, perfect for a modern day Jane Birkin.

                                                                                                                                           available here

There is something so romantic about wearing a full, flowered skirt, espadrilles or gladiator sandals with a straw hat and just taking things in... slowly.

Below is a classic Lanvin shirtdress, just right for a walk along the shore.

                                                                                                                                        available here

If you close your eyes, you can smell the wild sage on the air, its oils being released by the Mediterranean sun. You can taste the salty air on the tip of your tongue, sweet and salty, like boardwalk taffy.

Below is a vintage 1960s nautical woven handbag, ideal for holding all of your holiday essentials.

                                                                                                                                          available here

When we think of France, we linger on the image of the amazing Alain Delon. Delon is seen here starring in "Plein Soleil" aka "Purple Noon", Rene Clement's reimagining of Patricia Highsmith's "The Talented Mr. Ripley", an excellent and dark film set in the Mediterranean. He co-stars with the beautiful Marie Laforet and Maurice Ronet.

We adore the voice and style of the great French singer Jacques Higelin. This is a consummate piece entitled "Amor Doloroso".

In the clip below, from the 1961 film "St. Tropez Blues" directed by Marcel Moussey, the legendary actress and singer Marie Laforet sings a beautiful song with her co-star Jacques Higelin. 

Do you have any special memories of France and the Riviera? Please share them with us!

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