The Martins are good friends of the Wilsons. Each of these families are quite conservative from the Midwest and consist of the parents and a daughter only each of whom is approaching physical maturity. These two young ladies, Carol and Melissa, have been inseparable since their age of 7 when the Wilsons move next to the Martins. Upon their both turning 12 within several months of each other, there was a stop/shift in the topics of their private conversations whispered during the early hours of numerous sleep-overs. Carol, being the more spontaneous and mischievous of the two, often introduced the topics for their layover conversations. Such topics ranged from the best breed for a puppy … to … the best way to dress during their maturing stage … to … which boy at school was the cutest and/or coolest.
In Carol’s opinion, Sean was the cutest, whereas Melissa countered with Greg as the coolest proclaiming that cool is more important than cute. Then Carol countered with the point that Sean, (the cutest) was a recent transfer student from France…. and therefore, the most interesting and challenging of the two young men. The adolescents both twisted their lips and raising their eyebrows in a fashion of ‘Hmmm!, just thinking.’
The sleep over one night was more of the same as those in the past until Carol said: “I think I want to learn more about Sean and the mores of French men …. and women.” She had recently embraced the romanticism and conversation of the movie Before Sunrise where a young French woman captures the heart of a traveling American man via conversation alone.
Both Carol and Melissa were taking elementary French together that focused on structure and annunciation, rather than being able to state whole sentences, yet alone to hold a conversation. Given her sudden interest in Jean, Carol decided to research deeper into the French culture, especially the French Rivera. During one sleepover Carol suddenly exclaimed “TOPLESS BEACHES?” to Melissa as they googled Nice on Carol’s laptop. Becoming increasingly aware of their modest physical changes at that point, they realized that they were very similar to young French women in the pictures of the Rivera beaches as to their slender and delicate forms. And, the French woman of all ages strolled the beaches topless. “Wow!” she stated in astonished way that was exciting for Melissa as well. The transition from childhood to that of a young lady on the beaches in France had suddenly become the topic of conversation overtaking that of boys. However, they both agreed that they could not have such a discussion with their conservative, mid-west parents. So, they put that topic aside and proceeded to discuss the importance of which boys and girls with whom they should associate with in the upcoming school year in September.
The two families had travelled together during the last 6 summers, and it was that time in the late Spring that the parents would bring up the possibility of a vacation together again. Those joint vacations consisted of a visit to Disney World, Universal Studies, and a rental house on the fine, white quartz beaches of Destin on the Gulf. Neither family had considered a trip off the continent. With this timing in mind the two girls revived their interest in the Rivera and developed a plan. Through their individual efforts they would first casually mentioned and then continue with increasing aggressiveness to suggest their interest in the French Rivera, specifically Villefranche sur Mer. Carol had done extensive research as to Cotê d’ Azur in general and concluded that Villefranche sur Mer was most advantageous because 1. Visitors are mostly French with a smattering of Italians, and 2. There are very few Americans according to a tourist guide she had read.
At first the suggestion of Villefranche sur Mer was ignored by both sets of parents. But with the seed having been planted in each parent’s mind fed by the continuous aggressive pursuit of the girls, there was an increasing interest in the minds of these 40s something. For both men, it was the attraction of French cuisine and wine … and topless beauties on the beach. Additionally, during the late nights on vacations together in the past, with heavy drinking, there would be those slight innuendos by each of the husbands as to the attractiveness of the other wife. For the women it was the romanticism of the French language, as well as the exoticness of swimming and laying topless on the beach unabashedly. For each of the ladies still well in their prime, this was also perhaps their “last hoorah” as to respectively displaying the beauty of themselves openly within the constraints of marriage. Associated with that was the inner thought by each wife that they would be exposed to the other husband. Innocent yes, but provocative nonetheless. Indeed, there were a number of unspoken fantasies laying just below the surface of their mid-west projection.
There always had been sense of innocence with a shade of fantasy as to traveling together and the opportunity as to “accidental” moments where one or the other wife was confronted with nudity of the other husband or visa versa. In particular, one evening when the 4 had surpassed a reasonable amount of wine following martinis (gin only), that one husband had suggested a nude swim in the resort’s pool after hours. Nervously laughed at by all, it never happen, but the thought was now in each of their minds.
The trip was on in late June when the rates for rooms were non-seasonal before the French showed up for their vacations in July and August. Within 2 days of arriving at their hotel overlooking the sea wall in old town Villefranche, the girls had developed an agenda that required their parents not be present. On this day, the wives explained to their husbands that they should take the “100” bus into Nice to visit, shop, and have dinner in Nice’s Old Town. The girls knew that the last bus back to Villefranche was at 8 PM, well past the time they needed to go to the village’s beach, again a topless beach. The parents would be spending time on Nice’s topless before going into Old City, and they “encouraged” the girls to enjoy that day in village. Both the conservative parents and the girls were now on their own to pursue their individual fantasies of topless French beaches without exposure to the other group. As to the parents, they arrived at Nice’s beach and rented chairs and umbrellas next to each other. They each ordered the classic Chèvre Chaud salad and mussels in a lemon, butter, wine sauce for each couple. Together they ordered several carafes of rosé delivered with a bowl of glacons (a good word to know when drinking at that time of year) to cool the wine which is perfectly acceptable in Southern France) … and then 2 more carafes under the blazing sun. The wine in the warm sun was having a calming effect for all as the conversation wasd starting to drag on. Suddenly, Carol’s mom stood and ripped off her top while stumbling across the rocky beach and then into the water. Following suit, the other mom did the same with her arms in the air as she ran and dove into the sea.
The 2 husbands just looked at each other, with the one saying WTF, stood and, staggered somewhat across the beach to dive into the sea as well. Finally, the other husband followed with all 4 frolicking in the waist deep water. Laughing and splashing each other indifferently, they returned to their chairs 20 minutes later with the ladies not covering their breasts. There was no need for talking about anything else either than as to where they planned to eat in Old Towns. In each of their minds, they had transitioned to a mature French attitude about partial nudity. Without saying so, they all knew that none of them would discuss with others back in the States as to this particular vacation. What had been fantasy for each had transitioned to a sense of innocent comfort and warmth for the others. In fact, with each of their fantasies having been realized, there were never to be any further innuendos by the guys, and this sense of comfort between all would be just another level of friendship with an innocent touch of sexuality.
Back in the village the girls were heading to the beach at noon to pursue their fantasies. They walked to the most Eastern end of the beach, the farthest from the primary entrance as well as the train station. The bathers were scarce primarily due to the size of the beach’s pebbles, as well as the first several feet when entering the water.
This part of the beach was quite rocky also, and one had to cautiously make their way to the water. The girls laid down their straw mats and then stripped off their shorts to expose their bikini bottoms. Looking around, they took of their shirts under which they had no tops. They then carefully entered the water with “oohs” and “aahs” given its temperature, and then dove into the crystal clear water with a dark green bottom from the layer of vegetation. They immediately swam out a hundred feet where the water was somewhat warmer given the sandy bottom. They were FREE and totally uninhibited at that point. They never had felt this sense of individual, physical freedom before in the U.S. Looking back at the cliffs bordering the beach covered with purple bougainvillea topped by clear blue sky above, they were shouting their exhilaration.
Another 100 yards further out was a floating platform were swimmers could sunbathe. (Those platforms are no longer there.) They decided to go there to sunbathe with their fronts exposed to the clear sky and the warmth of the sun. Approaching the platform, they noticed an older man sunbathing there. They looked at each other, and Carol said “Let’s do this”, meaning being topless in front of men. The next challenge to their sexual awareness.
Five yards from the platform, the man stood and was apparently preparing to dive in to swim to shore. He was middle age and QUITE handsome. Swimming closer, Carol realized that there was no ladder to get up onto the platform. She turned to Melissa, and given her limited French, said “How do we ask in French for assistance to get onto the platform?”
The man was actually ME, and recognizing their youth as well as being Americans by the words spoken. I was onto their game. Sadly, after 28 years of visiting France regularly at that point, I knew only several key French statements as well as “menu French”. But, for these two, English was the only choice. So! I said: “Mademoiselles, may I be of assistance to you?” Upon hearing my American English, there was an audible shriek by each realizing that I was not French. (as in I was their father who was onto them). Both of them covered their breasts by crossing their arms, turned, and swam toward shore. Had I anticipated their reaction, I would have instead stated something meaningless in French such as: “Quel est le nom de votre chien ?” (What is the name of your dog?). Once I had helped them up, I would have then gone to the edge of the platform to dive into the water, and then turned and say: “Have a lovely day young ladies”, as I dove in.
I didn't see them again that day or even the next 5 days that I went to the beach. As with their parents, there had been a realization as to pursuing their fantasies, but with opposite results
Two TRAVEL postings are on this Blog regarding Villefranche sur Mer, within and without, for insight as to enjoyments by visiting this most charming village and the surrounding area of Cotê d’Azur.