I arrive May 13th, following 37 hours of transit from Ashland, through Seattle to London, where Pete, Demi and her folks Peter and Stella meet me for hugs and a wonderful countryside English pub lunch. Before long I'm back on a plane for the quick hour and a half flight to southern France, landing in Nice just after midnight. A young French cabbie whisks me off to Villefranche sur Mer then mounts three flights of stairs with my suitcase and backpack. They have emailed me the code for the side door (reception closed after ten), where I find an envelope with a key to la chambre. I'm on the top floor, overlooking the bay...and the full moon, hanging over the castle. Despite 37 hours without sleep, I'm too excited, so I unpack, putz, check wifi...
Eventually I fall off and sleep six solid hours, waking at 9am to sunshine streaming in my window. It's inviting, exciting, the kind I really need sunscreen for, but I'm already rushing into the day, grabbing a café and a map.
I walk along the sea, past the Citadelle towards the beach, stopping for a quick 20-minute 'train' - an open-air tourist trolley that shows off the various points around town, landing me back at the centre, where I stroll past the little famous church, designed (and painted) by Jean Cocteau. I pass the Welcome Hotel ($500 pn) then the shops and cafés on my way to the curve of beach. The sun is heaven!
The concierge has told me to take a bus (the 81) to the Rothschild Gardens since it's over four kilometres, but soon I'm at the far end of the beach, so I keep walking. And walking. The views seduce completely.
Check out some photos of Villefranche sur Mer here