12 or 13 years ago I had a glorious two-wheeled Steve McQueen adventure during the Cannes Film Festival. On a scooter, I mean. Which some would say automatically disqualifies it as a McQueen-type deal. This is how Elvis Mitchell (at the time the chief N.Y. Times critic) responded when I told him about it later that night. “No, no…you don’t get it,” I replied. “I’m not saying I did the Steve McQueen motorcycle thing by classic Great Escape standards. I was buzzing around winding curves and taking in the scenic grandeur and kinda feeling like McQueen…okay? Because I was playing Elmer Bernstein‘s score in my head. It was rapture.”
I rented a decent-sized scooter around 10 am that morning. (It was a Sunday.) I drove into the hills above St. Paul de Vence and headed east, tooling along serpentine roads in the high craggy hills above Cannes, Juan les Pins, Antibes and Nice. I went from village to village, stopping for photos or just to stop and stare. I had lunch in St. Paul and ordered a steaming lobster bisque with a submerged folded white tortilla filled with lobster meat. I visited a tiny little village that I forget the name of but which you can see for a few seconds in in To Catch A Thief. Then I made my way down to the coast west of Nice and headed back to Cannes, tooling along the beach roads, stopping now and then to check out the babes. I returned the bike around 5 or 6 pm.
I haven’t solo’ed like that since. You generally can’t do this kind of adventure with a lady. Some are cool enough to savor this kind of roam-around but most girls aren’t. Too security-minded. They’ll explore but only in a car.