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The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

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French Country Travel Life Chelsea Hotel

There is no French Country Travel Life Chelsea Hotel of which I am aware. However, I’ve titled this rant thusly – because – each time I hear  Leonard Cohen’s song of the same name – it takes me back in time.

Not to any Chelsea Hotels, but to the French Riviera town of Sant Maxime. Just up the road (north) from the timelessly trendy St. Tropez. It’s not the town that is the major component of this happy flashback. But a person. One who occupies a unique place in my French travels. Because he was the first “commercial” froggie to offer me hospitality.

His name was (and perhaps still is) “Mr. Roland.” And like  that line in the Chelsea Hotel song : “I don’t think of you that often.” I don’t. But when I do, I’m again aglow with the memory of his casual kindness.

That kindness came forth during my first “on-the-bicycle” visit to France. In this epoch, I had not yet evolved into the film-making-book-writing-picture-taking Bicycle Gourmet. I was just a tall skinny blonde on a bike from San Francisco.( With no guitar on his back this time around.)

However, I did have a small talent for coaxing soothing sounds out of the piano. (One of many things I have my Mother to thank for) Mr. Roland was the owner of a small Hotel. Not glitzy. Not trendy.  And not in the centre of the “action.” ( Which is, as I was to later discover, is foreign tourists up the yin yang.)

Mr. Roland didn’t really NEED a piano player. But he readily agreed when I proposed to tickle his ivories in exchange for room and board. Yes, I know it all sounds  ab-fab and groovy (art-movie stuff) – but the reality was “low key budget Hotel.”

How “low key?” Well, Mr. Roland’s palace was a consistently empty one. Only once in two weeks did I spy  “budget conscious” tourists. A dour German couple who only stayed one night. Curiously, in spite of his almost zero occupancy rate (in this is in high Summer) Mr. Roland was unfailingly laid back and smiley.( Yes, I DID wonder if the hotel was a tax deduction or a front for bogus loto tickets.)

The result being my “work” consisted of providing the background “ambience” in the (slightly larger than) postage stamp Dining room for Mr. Roland and his apero guests. (No, I never saw him actually EAT in that room. Either solo or with company.  A French Vampire?)

Daytime was mine. (Unless  my un-towering talent was needed at lunch) I wandered through the town. Checked out the beach. Marvelled at the (bikini clad) scenery. Hey – I was young and single!  And since my French vocabularly then consisted of “no”, “thank you” and  “where’s the toilet” I was clearly destined to continue – “marvelling.” (Had the Simpsons been invented then, I would surely have translated and memorized Homer’s “Hey babe, let’s get down to some rad lovin'”  Oh well!)

Lack of feminine attention notwithstanding, my two weeks at the Roland Hotel were a laid back introduction to, and immersion in, French Life. One that was completely different in style to the country hospitality that was to follow. But happily identical in strength and spirit.

I don’t know if  Mr. Roland and his Hotel are still “carrying on.” And in spite of the fact that I’ve had more than one ocassion to pass Saint Maxime, I’ve never taken the time to find out. Why? well – to risk quoting another song (I AM a musical guy, after all!) like Paul Simon’s line in “Kodachrome” -“Everything looks worse in black and white.”

The colors of my time with Mr.Roland are vivid on memories canvas. And  greedy s.o.b. that I am – I want them to stay that way!  I think that’s  why we cherish our memories. Is it not?


What are ya thinkin’?

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20 Responses to “French Country Travel Life Chelsea Hotel”

  1. ellie mcgill says:

    this style of post;..your personal thoughts and adventures…;are my favorites….and this is so sweet!

  2. frank proctor says:

    you said it all ellie….DA BG’s original tales from the road are the stuff his greatest posts are made from. give us more bg!

  3. kalin endersly says:

    great story BG! (too bad about the babes…LOL!)

  4. matt whelan says:

    see what you mean…” i remember you well in the st maxime hotel” doesn’t really scan the same way…does it?..buy, hey, super post!

  5. carleton stenns says:

    always great to get another “slice of franch life” from DA BG

  6. staci ledermann says:

    i’m with ya 100% there carleton…the bg’s “up close and personal” stories are my absolute favs!

  7. daphne reimer says:

    since i have no “mr. roland” in my past life (that i know of!) sounds like st. maxime would be a cool place to visit.

  8. horst kholer says:

    hello in there daphne!…..yeah…a cool place if you love “tourists up the yin-yang!!!”

  9. severin allen says:

    you got that right horst!…and imagine how many MORE tourists come there after god knows how many years have passed?

  10. mac calman says:

    very cool post..and even cooler bikini’s!

  11. henry evers says:

    as many of your readers have already commented, this style of post, your personal adventures are the pick of the litter!

  12. cheri levinson says:

    the opening picture really puts you in the atmosphere of the post.
    very well done; (as usual!)

  13. ryman dyson says:

    excellent with a capital “E!” give us more of DA BG’s adventures!

  14. sue granston says:

    love this post….i actually drove past st. maxime on my last visit to france…but i sure won’t next time…thanks to you!

  15. camilla forsythe says:

    so..if nothing else….this posts does prove that (i assume) early piano lessons are an advantage!

  16. robert windersly says:

    would you happen to be a piano teacher camilla?

  17. amed ackbar says:

    very nice story you are giving us here. thank you.

  18. bob dibble says:

    terrif! as usual….especially loved the homer simpson reference!

  19. andy watson says:

    with ya there bob…..that’s my favorite poster too!

  20. herman gerring says:

    i’ve never been to france…..but your post has got me fired up to go!

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