Our childhood beach
Sometimes I love Social Media.
I found Hélène after posting a blog post on FB recently. The post was all about the history of the Petit Tour on Plage des Ondes. Included in the post was an old photograph from when the tower was still a private beach house belonging to the Villa l’Etoile.
In that photo were four young girls one of which was Hélène. Hélène came across the picture on my blog one sunday and, recognising the picture instantly, contacted me to say that she was one of the people in the photograph. The photo was taken by her father during one of the familys many trips to plage des Ondes. In it she is with her older cousin and two younger sisters. Hélène is the second on the left next to her cousin in the blue swim suit.
Unfortunately it turned out that Hélène now lives in Montellimar. However by some amazing coincidence Hélène and her sister Michelle were coming to Antibes the following morning for 48hrs on business. We both agreed that we had to meet up. So we met the following evening in Antibes where they both reminissed about their days on Plage des Ondes. We met again very briefly the following morning to get a picture of them with the tower. Unfortunately it wasn’t the best of days to take a portrait so we have agreed to meet up again later in the year. We will then recreate the original photograph with the rest of the family.
What do you remember about the day this photo was taken?
That day the sun was veiled by clouds. But, my mum, cousins and sisters were still crammed into my father’s car, a Fiat 1300, to head to our favorite beach. We called it ‘La Plage de l’Etoile’ because of the sign in front of the tower.
I only realised much later that the real name of this beach was actually ‘La Plage des Ondes’.
The tower was at that time the private beach hut of the Villa l’Etoile. It had a door and windows and inside there was a changing area and even a shower. It was very fancy.
As you can see in the picture there was originally a walk way across to it and behind was a long pontoon where the owners kept their boat. It wasn’t a big boat but it was a very lovely boat, one of those old fashioned ones made from wood. The door was always locked but we used to swim around the tower to the pontoon and jump off into the sea.
We used to see the family who owned it walking down to the sea but they never stayed on the beach with the rest of us. Instead they would walk directly from the house down into the beach house. Then they they would go through the tower and get straight into their boat moored on the other side. They would then disappear around the Cap to swim somewhere else.
When the Tower wasn’t being used by the owners we would often go and sit on the pontoon or climb the stairs to the top.
Did you spend a lot of time on this beach?
We used to spend all our summer days on this beach. We came early in the morning and left at noon. Then we would return at around 16h. At the time we had to respect the 3 hours of digestion needed after a meal. We also had to avoid the hottest part of the day and more importantly respect my fathers’ daily nap! After returning in the afternoon we would often stay on the beach late into the night with a picnic.
Our uncle and our aunt often joined us too. My father and my uncle would go out fishing and bring back the fish which my grandmother made into delicious soup the next day. Sometimes they would come back with Sea Urchins and have them for lunch straight out of the sea. They would cut them open, squeeze on some fresh lemon and eat them, just like that.
I remember, my uncle, to impress us, used to fish for gobies using a hermit crab for bait. The sea was so full of fish that he just had to throw out his line, count to three and each time he would pull out a hooked goby. He could do this over and over again making us all believe that he was a magician.
Another family photo this time with Michèle the youngest of the four sisters (RHS in front of window) .
I also remember one friend of mine who came here from Nice.
She loved to climb up to the top of the tower and then wave and call out to all the boys who passed by. I lost touch with her unfortunately but she was very funny.
In those days, during the school holidays, many people came to Plage des Ondes from many differnet places. Some came from Nice and some from further away but every summer we would see each other at the Plage des Ondes. They became your holiday friends.
Another thing I remember is going out in a boat aroud the Cap.
We knew a local musician, I forget his name, but he had a small wooden boat with an engine at the back. He would take us out on his boat around the Cap past the Hotel du Cap. I remember thinking WOW when I saw it for the first time. We could see all the people and the lovely swimming pool with the grand building behind. Back then you couldn’t walk around the Cap like you can now. It was all private so the only way you could see it was by boat. We enjoyed going out in that little boat very much, it was wonderful.
Basically this little tower has seen us grow up and become parents.
It saw our first sand castles and then those of our children. It also witnesses our first attempts at swimming, and those of our children.
I do not know how many generations have grown up in its shadow but I hope that it will take care of many more generations to come.
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