Arriving back in London it was raining and fifteen degrees. Hold on a second, it’s still August!
Memories of the Côte d’Azur will have to keep me going through the next few months. What a contrast it was having left Nice in glorious sunshine and my perfect colour palette of turquoise, grey and white. London seemed to have forgotten the blue.
I arrived home to discover the neighbours had done a spot of landscaping in the front garden in our absence. I particularly like the art installation on the barbeque.
Hopefully it’s not permanent!
One of the perils of renting out our French house is the trusting of strangers.
We have a damage deposit and a cleaning fee and for the most part damage has been minimal. A few random things have gone missing (why would someone take our salt and pepper grinders?) but overall we haven’t had any problems. Until now.
In July we had a short notice booking through Homeaway. I was reluctant to accept however the money would be nice and so we went ahead with booking.
Despite our misgivings things seemed ok until we didn’t get paid. We were told the holder of the credit card claimed the charges were fraudulent and so the money received would be transferred back to the card. What?
To top it off my favourite hat has been stolen, all our snorkeling gear has gone and a brand new pair of Letad’s shoes have walked. There’s probably more but it hasn’t been noticed yet.
We have filed a dispute as frankly, it’s an outrage. We are now having to pay for being robbed as the card holder is owed £300.
I’ll be cancelling our listing with Homeaway after this. Shame on you Homeaway.
Having cut the very large, very fragile antique frame into four unequal lengths, the problem was going to be how to get it home to London.
Not my brightest idea I’ll admit but it looked as though it would be impossible for me to carry all four pieces.
I glued the various bits of the jigsaw together having a little more damage than anticipated before carefully bubble wrapping and taping the two shorter pieces together and then did the same for the two longer pieces. Then with brown paper and string I wrapped both parcels and tied a string handle to each. Slung casually over the shoulder, it could pass for a bow and arrow, gun or similar piece of sporting equipment. Nothing too obvious or concerning then!
I set off with the two short pieces leaving Letad to handle the longer lengths when he follows later in the week.
Luckily I wasn’t flying EasyJet where the one bag policy is very strict. With Monarch I walked through with a rolling suitcase, a basket with a new bath mat, blankets, lavender and soap and a large suspicious looking brown paper parcel slung over my shoulder. And not a peep. Victory was mine!
We shall at least have half a very fragile, slightly damaged antique frame for a mirror in London.
One of my secrets to the beaches of Nice is the Handi Plage or handicapped beach. At one end of the Promenade des Anglais, not far from the airport, the Handi Plage enables wheelchairs to access the water. It’s also the quietest part of the Promenade and one of the places I like to swim.
On Saturday we went down to the beach later in the day; at 5pm the heat had gone from the sun and it was the ideal time for a cooling swim.
We decided to walk along the Promenade for an aperitif in the old town not realizing quite how long the Promenade is to walk.
An hour later we made it to the Cours Saleya, the pedestrian area in the old town where we sat down gratefully and enjoyed a drink.
People-watching was fantastic as the locals were gathering and all types of people were out and about.
We would have stayed but with a long walk back to the car, we reluctantly set off back along the Promenade.
The full moon had risen and hung over the backdrop of the port in an indigo sky. The light glinted on the water as a busking pianist played and the romance was captured perfectly.
We walked back to the car with progressively sore feet but agreed it had been worth the walk.
Having bought a very large and very fragile frame for a mirror in London, I now have the challenge of how to transport it. This is perhaps an even worse idea than carrying a large crystal chandelier as hand luggage.
I proceeded to cut the frame into four pieces using a tiny hacksaw. It was quite hard and required several rests along the way. I took the precaution of taping the fragile plaster but there were a few casualties and one corner will require reconstruction. I will now be gluing little pieces of gold plaster back in place before bubble wrapping. Of course the whole lot could end up in the bin if I’m not allowed to carry it as hand luggage.
This reminds me of the ten thousand pound ceiling rose we have in London. Many hours of indulgent and probably pointless work ahead I suspect!
It always rains in the South of France when I’m here, and Sunday was no exception. The grey skies, cool breeze and soft raindrops were a welcome relief after the heat of Saturday.
We spent the morning clearing out and boxing up stuff and then went for a Sunday drive to look at houses. Always a favourite pastime.
Grey skies in Valbonne
We meandered down La Colle Sur Loup, a lovely drive along the river from Nice to Roquefort les Pins and then on to Biot where the festival de St Julien was going on. It seemed to consist of pastis-sodden locals playing a version of boules with blue and yellow wooden cubes. Much hilarity was had by all and hat wearing appeared to be essential!
We spotted the perfect house in Biot but soon discarded the idea as the price was astronomical. At €1,950,000, not exactly a bargain and it needed a bit of work as well!
And so after that, time to head back to Valbonne for a quiet Sunday evening listening to the rain.
Driving around the coast from Menton to La Turbie, we saw an enormous monolith perched high on the hilltops. Intrigued by the insanity of such builders, we had to get closer for a better look and things were not what we expected.
It turned out that we had found the Trophee des Alpes built by the Romans to celebrate Augustus’ victory over the tribes of the Alpes in 6 BC. It was mind blowing at 35 metres tall with its original height put at 49 metres.
What it would have looked like originally.
Reconstitution du Trophée des Alpes (Trophée d’Auguste) –
La Turbie (Alpes-Maritimes)
The nearby church of St Michel
It was an incredible structure and a true testament to Roman ingenuity and longevity. It was a truly beautiful find and after that, it was time to go home.
Late on Saturday morning we set off to Nice for lunch at Le Plongeoir. http://www.leplongeoir.com
We were intrigued as the restaurant was poised on a rock above the sea with old diving boards where swimmers used to take the plunge into the water below. Originally it had been even quirkier with a boat on a rock used for dining. We couldn’t resist going for lunch!
Then, with boat.
Under the diving boards
The restaurant itself was spectacular. The food wasn’t bad but strangely the Salade Niçoise was not what it should have been. They seemed to have forgotten the olives!
We discovered some beautiful swimming coves on a side of Nice we hadn’t previously discovered. It was a fantastic experience and just the tip of the iceberg for what the rest of the day had in store…
From Nice we decided to head around the bay to Menton, the last town before the Italian border as I was never quite sure if I’d been there before. It turned out I hadn’t…
From Nice to Menton, we drove around the coast enjoying the familiar scenery, granite cliffs to the left and endless blue seas to the right. We arrived in Menton which I have now been told by all locals, is the hottest place along the Côte d’Azur due to the basin created by the surrounding cliffs. It was very hot indeed.
After a swim, lots of cold water and a rest, we walked through the old town and up to the church where the view of Italy lay beyond.
Menton was much bigger than I’d expected and would definitely warrant further exploration. Another trip in the future I suspect.
From Menton we decided to drive back towards Nice along the upper Corniche. We usually use the A8 motorway but it’s much nicer to wind around the coast. There are three levels of road, the Bord du Mer at sea level, the Moyen (middle) Corniche which we’d driven last summer with friends around Cap Ferrat, and then the upper level which winds high above the sea through the cliffs.
We decided to continue the exploration as we headed to the old village of Roquebrune, high above the Med. And from there we set off to La Turbie where we made the most incredible discovery of all…
It was the Friday market today in Valbonne and, as I won’t be returning for a while (the house being rented out for the winter and having run out of holiday), I decided to buy a few of the lovely French textiles.
I’ve fancied the striped beach blankets for a long time and for €10, they’re fabulous.
Another lovely bath mat for London, this time a break from my traditional grey in a soft Provence green and finally, a nice stripey shopping basket to put it all in.
It looks like I might be posting a box to London next week.
What can I say? I like stripes!