The 10 Most Surprising Facts About The South Of France

The French Riviera. Cote d’Azur. That Mediterranean Coast With The Croissants. No matter what you call it, there’s one image that comes to mind: wealth, in the form of private, pebble beaches; yachts with their own Wikipedia page that are worth $210 million and owned by Saudi billionaires; and bronzed French men, too. And while that’s all there – oh, is it there – you’ll also find a lot more that you wouldn’t expect. Having just returned from my mother-daughter bonding trip to the French coast, here are the top 10 surprising facts about the south of France.

1.     Between the hours of 2pm and 7pm, no restaurants serve food, which completely explains how the French stay thin. For Americans (me), this is devastating. Bring trail mix.

2.     But French people really do eat a lot. I saw so many fit women devouring –and finishing – dessert samplers filled with profiteroles and crème brûlée at lunch, which means either it’s probably all genetic, they only eat one meal a day, and/or their ingredients are just a lot fresher and less manufactured than ours so they don’t need to be vegan.

3.     While St. Tropez is as glamorous as you think it is with its $12 cappuccinos from Sénéquier Café and white sand-covered floors in L’Escale, the serene cobblestone village Ramatuelle just 20 minutes away provides the calm you may crave amid the wild nights and opulence.

4.     Five days in, and you realize you might as well be on the island of Manhattan, standing in the middle of the Meatpacking District with a bag of very fresh baguettes, because that’s totally what the coast feels like; the wealth, the rosé, the nightclubs, the fashion, and everyone looking like they’re ready to go out – at 2pm.

5.     The cappuccinos really aren’t better than at NYC places like Bee’s Knee’s, and they’re a lot less strong. I missed that spot.

6.     If you’re an American, you will feel both incandescently happy to be there and devastatingly insecure because no matter how many suede black heels, pastel blazers, and satin scarves you wear, you will fall short of looking like “them.” The French folks look both effortless and effortful, since they’re naturally good looking and, on top of it, impeccably put together.

7.     Elton John bought a massive house in Nice that overlooks the entire city, can be seen from the main port, and is next door to a castle.

8.     Nice feels like a mixture of Barcelona cosmopolitan and St. Tropez charm. And the building in Cannes where the film festival takes place – the Palais des Festivals – looks like a convention center in Kansas.

9.     Monaco is its own country, and the language and food of choice: Italian. Want the best? Head to Le Pinocchio, right by the Prince’s Palace.

10.   Leave your sneakers at home. You’re in French country now, suga.

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Iberia Air Loses LCD Soundsystem’s Bags

When celebs like Kim Kardashian bitch-tweet about their travel troubles, we only have so much sympathy for them. But when people we truly love, like LCD Soundsystem, experience traveler’s trauma, we feel their pain.

As of a couple hours ago, LCD Soundsystem’s frontman James Murphy (assuming he’s also the band’s de facto twitter frontman) and group member Gavin Russom have been sans luggage for two days thanks to Iberian Air. Pull it together, Spain.

Via twitter, LCD writes “dear iberia air… can gavin and i PLEASE have our bags back? it’s been almost 2 days and we’re bored of our clothes.” The boys are in Spain for the Sonar International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art. They play La Coruña tonight, Barcelona tomorrow. Wish we were there, and we’re sure those that are will enjoy their music, even if they’re wearing dirty clothes.

Falklands War Part XXX: Argie Star Messi Shags England’s Sweetheart Cheryl Cole

Did the best football player in the world—Argentina national and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi—spit game to England international Ashley Cole’s estranged wife, pop starlet Cheryl Cole? Hells yes, say the reputable British tabloids. In fact, the painfully shy 23-year-old Argie allegedly talked some serious shit about the people of England as a whole in the process, challenging the entire country’s very manhood as he very publicly put the moves on England’s Sweetheart. According to the Sun, Messi slicked back his greasy hair, unbuttoned his shirt down to his navel, and in his best Ricardo Montalban whispered, “I don’t know if Cheryl is going to decide to support England. She might be a bit anti-England players at the moment. If she is looking for a new nation to follow at the World Cup, she should look no further than Argentina. We play the prettiest football today, have the prettiest players, and Argentinian men also know how to treat their women. She would of course have to work the Tango. I don’t think there would be a shortage of Argentine players willing to help teach her.”

News of Messi’s lustful overtures spread quickly, hitting major football blogs, European media, with the story fully blowing up in India and other parts of Asia last week. The fact that the whole thing was a complete and transparent fabrication didn’t seem to stop some quasi legit reporters from repeating it verbatim, with outraged commentary, and even putting their name on the article. Of course, Argentina and England have a bit of a history, with highlights like the Falklands War, Maradona’s Hand of God, and Beckham’s shameful red card exit vs. Argentina at the ’98 World Cup, painting a picture of two countries who don’t get along too nicely when they’re running after a round ball (or fighting over some cold oily rocks in the South Atlantic). So it makes sense that the UK tabs would want to stir up some shit. But Messi is such an odd choice. Anyone familiar with Messi knows he’s the most polite, well spoken kid, a rare creature in modern sports. He barely says three words to reporters, never steps out of line, and is generally considered to be one of the nicest dudes in the game. Possibly the last football player on the planet to start any sort of trouble, and least of all with another player’s bird!

The extra funny part about this is not so much the fact that UK tabloids shamelessly make shit up to cause trouble, since that’s pretty much what they get paid to do. What’s much more amusing is the cartoonish image of the battered English pysche that emerges from their caricature of the smooth talking, prettyboy Argentine hustler moving in on their womenfolk. I’m from Argentina, and Argentine dudes are wont to talk smack to girls on a major level—it’s the national sport along with football. Seriously, it’s called piropo, look it up, it’s ranked just after polo and before tennis, according to Salon. And I definitely hear all sorts of ridiculous pick up lines in broken Argentine English directed at foreign turistas when I go out out in Buenos Aires. But give us a little credit! This is some straight Bugs Bunny material: “You will of course have to work the tango?” Tango doesn’t get worked. It gets danced, and not by professional athletes (they dance cumbia for the most part). Nevertheless I commend the Sun writers for doing their rabble-rousing best to further stir passions up as the World Cup approaches—it’s one of the more entertaining aspects of the tournament. So whoever the pasty-faced, fish-and-chips eating hooligan that came up with this Messi-Cole bit is, deserves to work a nice room temperature beer at the local pub (while my peoples bugger his bird).

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Offers to Quell Gay Rumors with Reporter, Sister

Last week, Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and teammate Gerard Pique set off a media frenzy in Europe when a picture surfaced of the Barca duo in an apparent moment of off-field tenderness. The impromptu snap quickly made the rounds in Spain faster than seventh-grade gossip. A Facebook page dedicated to the alleged striker-on-defender love snap got tens of thousands of fans in mere days. The image in question — two male football players discussing game-day tactics/interior design tips — took on a life of its own. So naturally Spanish TV show Sálvame dispatched curvy brunette reporter Laura Lago to get to the bottom of things.

In the video below, Ibrahimovic, who plays internationally for Sweden but spent years toiling for Inter Milan, addresses the female reporter’s question in Italian with a Silvio Berlusconi-worthy one-liner that translates roughly into, “Come over to the crib with your sister, baby, and I’ll-a-show-you who’s-a-gay!” Lago sort of laughs it off on camera, though she does seem a bit flustered by the Swede’s reply.

While the whole thing is a silly byproduct of the football media hurricane gaining steam as the heated Spanish first division title wraps up next week and the World Cup approaches (it starts exactly one month from tomorrow), it’s interesting to note that the always-on-point New York Times ran a piece last Friday on the changing mores of gay men in sports without a single mention of the Barcelona affair brewing across the Atlantic — perhaps their vision clouded by volcanic smoke. Then again, this is the same paper that lets a clueless baseball writer like George Vecsey blather about el soccer, so I’m not expecting much incisive coverage. Catch the exciting conclusion to the La Liga Championship and Pique and Ibra’s on-field chemistry next Sunday when Barcelona takes on Valladolid.

Diesel XXX New Global Partying Initiative

Diesel XXX — not be confused with that unfortunate chrome-domed actor and his unfortunate secret agent movie — is segueing from industrial clothing brand to international party starter, with a 24-hour global shindig on October 11. The intercontinental soiree will begin in Tokyo and successively stumble to Beijing, Dubai, Athens, Amsterdam, Milan, Zurich, Munich, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Oslo, Helsinki, London, and Sao Paulo. No New York unfortunately, except for the 5,000-person grand finale we’ve been granted along Brooklyn’s scenic waterfront, hosted by that Mistress of Seduction, Joey Arias, and featuring performances from M.I.A., N.E.R.D, and Hot Chip.

The Diesel folks are shooting for a circus vibe, with trapeze artists, fire eaters, roller-derby squads, and sword swallowers (will our beloved Heather Holiday be binging on blades?) vying for your internet-demolished attention. The whole thing will be broadcast online for those 24-hour party people who can’t quite make it.

Diesel Drives Us Up the Wall

imageThe fifth edition of the Diesel Wall Art competition has been underway for about a month now—but there’s still plenty of time to submit your graffiti. According to the release, “Painting, photography, video and performance, light, sound, text, experimental concepts including 3-D, performance and show elements are all welcome.” And, this time around, four new walls have entered the fold: artists are invited to defile buildings in Manchester, Barcelona, Zurich (pictured left), and New York. The winner will be announced on June 10. Get tagging!