Villefranche sur Mer

Villefranche sur Mer
it all starts with a beach

Monday, June 23, 2014


Quintessential Italy, birthplace of Christopher Columbus, blue jeans, and the lotto, this city of 1.6 million bustles. It's noisy and robust, from fashion to food.
I landed in the centro historico in my mini hotel, after 3.5 hours on trains from Nice. I ambled the alleyways then caught the game with some lovely seafood spaghetti and a great red. Today I explored piazzas, churches, and Mt. Belvedere (which you get to by elevator)...for a killer view of the city

...and a beautiful lunch served by a beautiful Italian. Go for the eye candy. Stay for the gelato!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Train to Grasse

(must be catch up Sunday:-) 
A week ago Caroline and I took the train to Grasse, perfume capitol of the world. We actually planned to go to Tende, but missed the bus and didn't want to blow off hours in the train station for the long trip to the
It was a quick trip, past the beaches of Cagnes sur Mer, Antibes, etc, climbing inland to the old village that Fragonard made famous. Nearly everything there is Fragonard - the perfumery, the museum, boutiques, restaurants...
We tasted fabulous aperitifs from the fabulous nougat lady at La Pitchouli, ran into a wedding at the church, meandered up to the square which overlooks town, then down the winding streets, where we were both called to Le Gazon, a delicious little restaurant, snuggled into a tiny corner of the street. We split a main of mouth-watering lamb with garlic potatoes and a corn flan. But the piece de resistance was the risotto starter: a perfectly balanced (and totally exquisite) squid, lemon, basil, parmesan risotto. Hands down best risotto I've ever had! 

We hiked and bused back to the train station, and stopped in Antibes
 just in time for the Annual Flower Festival and Parade (WATCH HERE),

another wedding, 

and the sandiest beach yet. Another great day!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bonus Sunday...a little culture.

I'm off to the beach, but I have some photos for you. Just click on the links:

 1. Le Negresco - the grande dame of Nice. I can't afford a room there, 
but because "je suis journaliste", I was given access. Enjoy!

2. Palace Messena - former palace, now a (free) art and culture museum, 
showing life in Nice, before and after.

3. Musee desBeaux Artes - in a former private mansion built by a Ukranian princess,
the museum houses a collection of art spanning the past four centuries and includes pieces by 
Nice artists, Rodin, Picasso, and others.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I love this city!

Clearly Nice is one of the most beautiful, vibrant cities I've ever experienced. From its stunning coastline to the old town, the center, and beyond, it sparkles and seduces.

I move to Nice on May 31st...from my large studio in tiny Villefranche to my tiny dorm room in sprawling Nice. It's a tough trip, but three people offer to help - a man (with his woman) on the hill out of town, one young gent - getting on the train, and a woman half my size hauls my suitcase down 30 stairs at Nice Ville station. God bless her girl power heart! A quick taxi and I'm checking into my room. We're talking BASIC, but floor to ceiling French doors open over a lovely garden, and it's a block to the Promenade and the beach.

Sana directs me across the street to a small market...with everything I want: apples, carrots, arugula, oranges, a yam, curry powder, eggs, a baguette, crème fraîche, brie, butter, and a nice Bordeaux Supérieur. Only $19 to fill my whole bag! (including wine) There's a small market on every block, which I find much more pleasant than our huge stores. I stop next door at the pharmacie for ibuprofen, and he asks if I want 200 or 400mg. I get a box of 400's (so I can take half as many) for $2.50! Gotta love France!!

As the sun sets, I saunter over to the promenade and sit in the sun, people watching. All ages and nationalities stroll, jog, skate, rollerblade, bike on this grand passageway. They speak French, Italian, German, other languages I don't understand. They laugh, talk, walk in silence. The sapphire sea curves east and west, dazzling in the setting sun.

The photos that follow show a bit of La Table Italienne - a delicious display of all things Italian, held over the weekend. There's a long history of Italians here, and they're here still...doing what they do best: olive oil, pasta, truffles, parmigiano and prosciutto, wines and beers, olives, pastries. The tents sprawl along the Promenade des Anglais in the early summer sun and bring Italians, Italian aficionados, and foodies from all over the city and beyond.

Afterwards I hike up to the old Chateau, where a promontory shows off Nice from both its beach side and its port. (there's a money shot in there somewhere).

I'm back in school, enrolled for two weeks in French classes at International House. I ride the bus, since it's across town - $1 (with a 10-pass), takes about 15 minutes. After initial testing, I'm placed with six others in an intermediate class, which is pretty intensive. During the morning break I go up to the café on the top floor for petit déjeuner - only $2 for fresh squeezed oj, an espresso, and chocolate croissante! Yesterday we got a little briefing after class about Nice and its surrounds, then walked together to and through the vielle ville.

Today I dropped by the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art on my way home and ended up taking more shots of the building than its art. See it here: MMCA