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Vol. 28 - Bon Dimanche From The South of France
*BEFORE I BEGIN*
I had written this whole newsletter before the big event happened (if you don’t happen to follow me on socials, I am now engaged, WAHOO!). Aside from just wanting to say the biggest thank you to everyone sending their love and congratulations (I have read every single comment), I promise you that in the next newsletter, where I discuss the Italian segment of the road trip, I’ll talk all about it then. That’s all!
Bonjour! Bon Dimanche! Technically by the time this newsletter goes out, I will no longer be in France but instead flip-flopping my way around Italy. However, who cares for such details when I plan to transport you all to the Côte d'Azur for the duration of this issue? My latest Tiktok and Instagram have been brimming with questions regarding our two-week European road trip, so I plan on answering as much as I can in the form of a diary. You can watch the first part of our road trip in this Youtube Vlog; otherwise, I have a short form series on Tiktok. We will then be ending this issue with a Cannes-related Film Club segment to keep everything on theme. Allons-y!
From Folkestone to Gosnay
travelling with HRH Rhubarb across the channel
Understandably, many of you want to know the ins and outs of travelling with a dog. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you want to get them in and out of the UK seamlessly, you have to drive, and the Eurotunnel is the only way to go (annoyingly, dogs aren’t allowed on the Eurostar unless they are service dogs). However, the shuttle itself only takes 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais, and all you have to do is drive on and sit in your car for the duration. If you’re planning on road-tripping with a dog, it’s important you have a proper bed that can strap into the car, and we’ve been using this one for Rhubarb, which is kind of like a fluffy baby seat. For this trip, we bought Flexiplus tickets, which meant we could hop on any shuttle, which makes life SO much easier if you are travelling with a pet. It also gives you access to the Flexiplus lounge, which is basically a free for all of free food and drink, and I am ashamed to admit that we loaded up on way too many Starbucks chilled lattes, Innocent smoothies and snacks for the journey.
There is a dedicated Pet Check-in centre that you have to go to first, which is pretty dreary looking, but you can forgive that because it’s filled with dogs. As Rhubarb has an EU passport, it makes the process a lot smoother and cheaper (she is technically French, as last time we drove to Paris with her, a Parisian vet issued her with a passport. You do need a French address, though, and if not yours, then a family members for them to issue it to will do). If you don’t have an EU passport, then you’ll have to go to the vet beforehand and fork out a few hundred pounds for them to issue a health certificate and some jabs, which, in my opinion is a certified SCAM. Annnyyywayyy, after Rhubarb was given the all-clear and we stole as many items from the lounge as possible, we drove onto the shuttle, where it was a swift trip to Calais. To break up the journey, we decided to stay in an old chateau in Gosnay in the North of France, which took about an hour and a half to drive from Calais. I had never considered how large France was until Henry told me that driving to the South was going to take another 9-10 hours. Our overnighter of choice was Hôtel La Chartreuse du Val Saint Esprit, a rustic and charming old chateau with a monastic history, dripping in tapestries and 14th-century paintings. Most importantly, though, it’s dog friendly and very reasonably priced (I believe our room was around 150 euros). Henry actually got the recommendation from a car YouTuber he watches (who also happens to be our friends dad), so I guess his YouTube addiction was good for something.
Driving From The North To The South Of France
the responsibilities of the passenger princess
The next morning, the real journey began as we chugged our way down to the South. We had planned for a lunch pitstop in Lyon, which I would highly recommend if you’re looking to do the drive in one day. It took around 5 hours to get from Gosnay to Lyon, and when we arrived, I told Henry to take us to Le Casse Museau, the most wonderful little (dog-friendly) restaurant that serves traditional, homecooked food. If, like Henry, you also enjoy a cigar (or have someone in your life who does), he advises buying your cigars whilst in Lyon as they are apparently a lot cheaper. After stretching our legs, refilling our tanks, and skating by with our mediocre French, we were ready to get back on the road. This is probably a good time to mention that for any French road trip, we highly recommend buying an Emovis Tag (which also happens to work in Portugal and Spain). There are quite a few tolls to pass through, and by having a tag, the barriers open automatically instead of you having to faff around with tickets and card payments…particularly useful when you’re buried in several empty packets of mini cheddars and stolen Starbucks cups.
Driving from Lyon to Antibes was longer than anticipated, largely due to the number of accidents. We spent the next 6 hours listening to a combination of true crime podcasts (basically just Sword and Scale), Nearlyweds (I have a big soft spot for Sophie, largely because I relate to her deadpan delivery and Henry likes listening to Jamie purely because they went to the same prep school) and my road trip mix. At some point on this trip, Henry entered into an imaginary convoy with a Ferrari for close to an hour because A) they were both in loud cars and B) the Ferrari overtook us, which apparently means that they were now both friends and racing enemies. I’m not really sure how this stuff works. We had also made a considerable dent in the snack bag. I tried to pack a variety of things that wouldn’t make us feel too disgusting (or make us need an emergency loo stop). I would recommend having easy peelers and apples amongst the mix of sweets and crisps so that you don’t feel too depleted in vitamins and minerals by the end of the drive. Also, pack a separate bag for rubbish if you don’t already have a bin in your car (the backseat floor doesn’t count) and some wet wipes. We arrived in Antibes around 9 pm which meant that we didn’t get a chance to take everything in; however, it was worth it as we woke up to not only the most glorious view but an incredible weather. A lot of you have asked where we stayed, and I haven’t bothered telling anyone up until this point as we were in a Hapimag, and unless you’re already a member, you can’t stay. On the plus, this meant our accommodation was extremely cheap (with Hapimag, you only pay the cleaning fee), which meant we could spend money elsewhere. They also have underground parking which is something to consider if you are looking to do a road trip!
Antibes, Villefranche-Sur-Mer, and Monaco
For our first day, we wanted to go to a beach club and enjoy some sunshine in private with table service. We flip-flopped between Hotel Belles Rives and Cap D’antibes Beach Hotel before settling on the latter. Both are 5-star hotels, so it would be hard to go wrong with either; however, I was very happy that we went with Cap D’antibes as I was LIVING for their baby pink theme (that also matched my Longchamp beach bag). Their beach club cost us 45 euros each, the staff were unbelievably friendly and attentive, and the food was delicious. We also had a version of Chateau Minuty that we’d never tried before that was fantastic. To top it all off, we were sat next to Alex Pettyfer, so yeah, it was all working for me. They were also gloriously accommodating of the dog which is a marker of any decent establishment. I was given so many recommendations for Antibes when I asked for some on Instagram, and obviously, we couldn’t get through them all, so I will share the recurring ones below for you to reference.
Mamo Michelangelo (we went here for Italian - it was very nice, and they were dog friendly. The desserts are crazy good)
Absinthe Bar (the reoccurring theme with this one is that it’s cheesy and cliche but so much fun)
Eden Roc Hotel (for views and a pool whilst you have food and drink - also from the infamous slim aaron’s photo so it’s a no brainer)
Le Bistrot d Antoine
Plage Keller (for fancy food)
Comptoir du marché
La Petite Maison
The Antibes Lighthouse
Restaurant Les Vieux Murs
Lilian Bonnefoi (best cakes and pastries)
The Market in Old Town
The next day we ventured to Monaco for the F1, and it was the journey from HELL. We took the train in as driving into Monaco was, to paraphrase a friend who knows the area, ‘the most stupid thing we could ever do’. However, after our journey that would rival the seventh circle of hell, I’d beg to differ. What I will say, though, is that the train from Antibes to Monaco (with various stops in between, including Nice) is cheap, and when it’s not rammed with F1 fans, it’s also very quick and pleasant. Part of our journey included us all essentially being thrown off at Villefranche-Sur-Mer as an accident at the station ahead meant that we were going to be held for close to two hours. We took the opportunity to stretch our legs and attempt to find alternate routes to Monaco (we nearly took a boat, but they didn’t allow dogs). When all of our options were exhausted, we decided to just stroll around and have some ice cream. In hindsight, we should have just stayed in this town because it was absolutely stunning. If you’re looking for a beautiful place to spend time by the sea, add Villefranche-Sur-Mer to your list. Anyway, long story short, we ended up in Monaco eventually, and I don’t have much to say about it other than to mention this great secondhand designer shop I went to called Le Dressing. I picked up a silk Pucci top and a Missoni headband for £160.
Heaven Is A Place On Earth (And It’s In Eze)
We left Antibes and continued our tour of the French Riveria, first stopping at Saint-Paul-de-Vence for breakfast (which only took about 30 minutes in the car). SPdV is a rustic little commune doused with bright, fragrant flowers, narrow cobbled streets, and shops hidden under archways. At first, I couldn’t make sense of the number of galleries and art shops in this medieval village until I learned that it was a hub for artists. Famously, artists such as Picasso and Matisse stayed there and created works. The Colombe d’Or Hotel and Restaurant is one to add to your bucket list, as many famous artists gave their work in lieu of payment, which means the walls are covered in unique and one-of-a-kind pieces. As you walk around SPdV, it’s very hard not to be charmed by its presence and the unbelievable views it has to offer. We were back in the car, and an hour and a half later, we arrived in Eze for our stay at La Chevre d’Or. Before I get into the hotel, though, I will say that Eze alone is STUNNING. It dates back to the middle ages, and everything about it feels like it’s straight from a film set. The terrain is pretty steep, though, so physical fitness and sensible shoes are required, especially if you want to make it to the Jardin Exotique at the very top (which costs 6 euros per ticket).
Anyway, onto La Chevre d’Or. This is the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in, and I am already dying to go back. We entered through huge, gilded gates, where we were greeted with umbrellas and a flurry of staff ready to unpack and park the car for us. The setting? Glorious! The attention to detail? Immaculate! The food and drink? Spectacular! Not only do they have two restaurants that are dog friendly (one of which has two Michelin stars), the views are incroyable. The rooms of the hotel are scattered amongst the narrow, cobbled streets of Eze, so it feels like you’re entering your own home in the village rather than a huge hotel complex. By night, it feels like you’re strolling around a film set. As it’s essentially in its own little private, gated compound (terrible word, but you get the picture), there’s no one else around. The hotel also has several terraces and gardens overlooking the ocean, some of which include an infinity pool and a jacuzzi (and you can also have a massage in the gardens). There are waterfalls, sculptures, and marble statues punctuating each of the terraces, and there are so many little hidden areas where you could easily spend a lazy day reading and sunbathing whilst watching the yachts below. Unfortunately, we were only there for one night before we finally left the South of France and continued our road trip onwards to Italy. However, if you’re looking for somewhere special to stay or you need an excuse to visit the French Riviera, La Chevre d’Or is a no-brainer.
As much as I’d like to discuss the season finale of Succession, today we’re talking all things Cannes. As I happen to be in this neck of the woods whilst the festival is taking place, it seems very fitting to discuss some of the reactions that have come out of the previews. Between my two very reliable sources (Twitter and Letterboxd), I like to think I have the general mood covered. So, let’s dive into some of the shows and films that I’ve been looking forward to by seeing what everyone else has to say about them first.
The Idol - Created by The Weeknd and Sam Levison (which most of you probably know from his previous show, Euphoria), The Idol sees Lily-Rose Depp play Jocelyn ‘an aspiring pop idol who, after having a nervous breakdown that causes her last tour to be cancelled, resolves to reclaim her title as the sexiest pop star in America’. The initial excitement and buzz from this show seemed to come from it originally having a woman director, Amy Seimetz (who later left after falling out with The Weeknd), who could take the rawness of what Sam did with Euphoria and reframe it from a female perspective. However, once Amy left the project, and murmurs of what The Idol had become began to seep out into the general public, it was not looking good. Fast-forward to Cannes and, well, I’ll let you see some of the reviews for yourselves…
Asteroid City - Next up in Wes Anderson’s roster, we have the highly anticipated (well, by me, anyway) Asteroid City. Chocked full with an all-star cast, the film is set in a fictional American desert town where the itinerary of a Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention is disrupted by world-changing events. As always, a Wes synopsis actually does very little to convey what the hell the film will actually be about, as we know that the magic is in the storytelling. Since it showed at Cannes, I’ve noticed the reviews have been polarising, much like how people responded to The French Dispatch. I do think that with Wes films, the later ones tend to cater to his existing fans, which makes it harder for new viewers to convert. By the sounds of things, Asteroid City seems to be proving just that.
Killers Of The Flower Moon - The latest Scorsese epic that seems to be the firm favourite out of Cannes sees Leo (I don’t even need to put his last name, we all know who I’m referring to) return as our leading man in this book to film adaptation set in 1920s Oklahoma that depicts the serial murder of members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation. I would argue that this is one of the most anticipated releases of the year, and it is already being lauded as a front-runner come awards season (bold, but I felt that way about EEAAO, so I’m not going to poo-poo the idea). It’s a hefty 3 hours and 26 minutes long, but that hasn’t seemed to deter any of the critic reviews coming out of Cannes.
May December - Directed by Todd Haynes, starring Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton? You have my attention. There’s not a lot about this film (I don’t even think there’s an official trailer yet), but its synopsis is simple; ‘Twenty years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation, a married couple with a large age disparity buckles under the pressure when an actress arrives to do research for a film about their past’. It only came to my attention when I started seeing a lot of the film accounts I follow talk about how gripping, complex, and camp it was. Again, another combination that caught my attention.
And that’s all from the twenty-eighth issue of The Rhubarb Society! If there’s anything you’re keen for me to discuss, or if you have a podcast topic you’d like me to talk about, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below, via email or in my DMs. If there’s anyone you think would be an excellent fit for The Rhubarb Society, please do extend the invitation below.
Tamsin and Rhubarb