More so these days than ever, apparently.
We spent many summers in the South of France when we were growing up… we’d pack up the car, take the ferry from Dover to Calais and then after a night in Paris drive the eight hours with the windows down to Lavondou, on the Côte d'Azur...listening to Manhattan Transfer, over and over on the eight track.
Daddy always got a suite of rooms at the Cavalière hotel, which had originally been a private villa… It had a charming veranda overlooking its own beach and the clearest blue sea I still have ever seen.
Most mornings, we left Daddy in his panana to read the papers on the veranda and head down to the beach to build sandcastles and swim.
We'd spend hours playing table tennis with the other kids at the hotel…I attribute those summers to being able to hold my own today.
All the beaches were topless and after lunch most days, Daddy would take us on long walks along the beach to buy us a treat…as we got older we cottoned on that it had nothing to do with ice-cream.
Daddy was always first down for dinner and if I was ready I would join him for a Kir Royale, while he had his usual Campari… a cigar never far from his hand…he always made me feel very grown up.
Every trip wasn’t complete unless we took a pilgrimage to L'Esquinade, our favorite beach restaurant close to Sainte-Maxime… that was the first time I had soup du poisson with all the trimmings.
To this day, soup du poisson is extremely evocative to me... it brings back happy memories of those carefree summers before hormones set in, before school got hard, and before my parents got divorced… if I see it on the menu today, I will order it without fail and savor every mouthful.
Years later when I went interrailing with school friends to the South of France, I realized that I had taken those glorious summers for granted, particularly as we were either camping or staying in hostels.
What's that expression? Childhood is wasted on the youth.