Côte d’Azur #4 – There’s no way I’m carrying a bag of soap to the top of that village!

After a few slightly more serious posts, it’s time to return to the whimsical and sarcastic. I feel that it is here I am at my best after so many years of practice. As previously reported, we arrived at the base of the village of Eze to discover a vendor selling, among other things, aromatic French hand milled soaps. They are assorted pretty colors and fragrances. CJ immediately declares that she wants to buy some! Since I am usually the voice of reason, I declare, “There is no way that I am carrying a bag of soap to the top of that village!” Um… boy would I wind up being WRONG!

After skipping the soap purchase until our descent, we proceed on our climb into the village. We visit stores, churches, landmarks and scenic overlooks. As I indicated Eze is a magical place. The streets are narrow and winding, a common theme throughout France, never more demonstrated than right here, right now. Along the way we look for places to use the “toilettes.” If you have never been to Europe, you must understand that finding places to go to the bathroom can be an Olympic sport. Seriously! I’ve never worked so hard to pee, waited outside bathrooms so long or crossed my legs more often than I have in the last two weeks.

On our way back down from the village we are still looking for the bathrooms, I seem to recall seeing a sign down by the base so we proceed down to the soap vendor, buy our soaps and ask him, “où est les toilettes?” His unfortunate reply, “They are up in the village by the church.” I have just bought a bag of soap… yep, you guessed it. We proceed back up the stairs to the church, carrying a bag of soap. The universe strikes again!

Not a bad climb actually. Only about 60 steps. Long steps. Slippery steps. But we find the elusive toilettes. They are pay toilettes. Not uncommon in France, but these are .40 euros and the only take 10 and 20 cent coins. We search our pockets and produce absolutely nothing but 10, 20 and 50 euro notes. CJ grabs a 10 and goes to a few nearby vendors to ask for change. No dice. Not without purchase. I’m sure this happens everyday, but to us it doesn’t matter. We need to pee, have found the Holy Grail of peeing, and lack the password to open the Arc of the Covenant! The only solution I can think of is to go back to the base of the village and ask the vendor who sold me the soap for change. To prove that I have already made a purchase from him, I grab the bag of soap, and CARRY IT DOWN THE FRIGGING MOUNTAIN to ask for change. Sixty slippery steps later at a frenzied pace I arrive back at the base of the mountain and find the soap vendors table… completely deserted!

Really? At this point I’m somewhere between frustrated and despondent. I have to pee. My girlfriend is waiting up by the church as to not slow me down. I plead with the German toffee and nut vendor next to the soap guy to take pity on me and give me change. I must look pretty desperate at this point because he gives me change for a 10 euro note without making a purchase. I think he might have been a bit scared. I may have been twitching… a little. Whew!

Armed with a pocket full of coins, I proceed back up to the church, carrying the bag of soap, for the third time and arrive at the pay toilettes. CJ deposits the 40 cents in the pay toilet, disappears for 3 or 4 minutes and and comes back and says, “I need another 40 cents.” I look at her completely dumbfounded and ask, “Why in the world would you need another 40 cents?”

Her reply you ask?

“There’s no soap in the toilettes. I need to go back in and wash my hands.”


Am I trapped in an episode of Seinfeld? Curb your Enthusiasm? I mean seriously you can’t make this shit up!

In the end we both use the bathrooms at the cost of 1.20 euros. Both wash our hands. Both laugh at the ridiculousness of this whole situation. And both are grateful for an amazing visit to a very special place, with a memorable twist.

I somehow can’t help but think the universe keeps dishing me up softballs on this blog thing. Hopefully my swings are solid and produce a few hits along the way. At the very least I’m having a blast, both living in these moments and telling them…


About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at www.emergingintojoy.com for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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One Response to Côte d’Azur #4 – There’s no way I’m carrying a bag of soap to the top of that village!

  1. Angie Vagner says:

    Jim: I have loved reading your blog – unfortunately, the mysteries of how to create a blog, with pictures, still elude me. So I am very impressed and if I may say your writing is REALLY GOOD! Thanks for sharing.

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