It’s Summer, part 2
It seems pretty common to leave the city and go to the beach or to a country home, to simply “get away” during the summer weekends. We were already enjoying the summer respite that is our friends’ home near St Paul de Vence, outside of Nice, and couldn’t quite understand that they wanted to get away for a few days… They told us not to pack a bag. Just grab a bathing suit, pareo, hat, sunglasses, sun tan lotion and go. Sneaking in a few extra items, namely a toothbrush, pajamas and magazine, we were ready to follow.
And so, Audrey told us of her paradise, an island called l’Ile du Levant, that she and her mother discovered years ago. When she told me how peaceful and beautiful and just perfect of an island it was, her face just glowing, I too wanted to buy a house and make it my second home. The island is one of three islands making up les Iles d’Hyères (also known as Les Iles d’Or or The Golden Isles). And even though they are just off the French Riviera, you feel a million miles away from the glitz of the Côte d’Azur. We hopped on a boat from Lavandou, and only upon arriving, did we learn why this island is really well known.
Turns out it has an interesting history, one that Audrey told us with encyclopedic details, so clearly passionate about her home away from home. Turns out the island used to be uninhabited, and 90% is a military camp now. Yet in the 30’s, a group of old doctors decided to build property on a small piece of it, and furthermore, making it obligatory nudist. There are small areas where you can actually wear clothes nowadays, but it is frowned upon! And I thought islands were usually the opposite – perhaps a small spot where you can go topless. Not so here. I kept my camera in my pocket for most of the weekend, trying not to stare or giggle at the elderly playing petanque sans clothes.
In our little haven, we kept our swimwear on, and quickly adapted to the rhythm – each person doing their own thing. Reading a book or magazine, taking a nap in the sun, just relaxing and cooking up easy and fresh food. We had stocked up on fruits and vegetables in the center of town (meaning the spot where a few paths meet and you can find a restaurant, a cafe and a grocery store). We made refreshing salads and grilled fish with no embellishment, drank chilled rose wine and went back into “town” for ice cream.