One year ago today

This time last year we had taken a break from the hectic pace of Tuscany, packed up the trusty Peugeot and headed north to France – the Cote d’Azur to be precise.

We had arranged to swap cars in Nice returning a slightly beat up Peugeot 308SW and picking up a brand new shiny Renault Megane Estate. Jean’s sister, brother-in-law and their baby James had been staying in Nice for a week relaxing so we met them and then moved about 10 minutes along the coast to the small seaside village of Villefranche sur Mer.

With bustling Nice on one side and glamorous Cap Ferrat on the other it always amazes me that this seaside village retains an air of calm and relaxation. There is nothing better than a quiet morning cafe at the hotel followed by a wander through the local markets and lunch on the Quai de l’Amiral Courbet with the sea lapping at your feet.

The panorama shot (made up of 6 individual photos covering 180 degrees) is taken from our balcony at Hotel Welcome, an institution in the village and a place we’ve stayed every time we’ve visited – which must be half a dozen times in the last decade. The Hotel has a wonderful manager who speaks excellent english, has a wonderfully dry sense of humour, and is a keen rugby follower. Even in August last year he was picking a France versus All Blacks Rugby World Cup final and an All Black victory. An easy one was his pick.

A view of Villefranche sur Mer with Cap Ferrat in the background

Relaxing on the Cote d’Azur

Before leaving New Zealand we had planned a weeks stay at Villefranche sur Mer on the coast just west of Nice. It was an ideal place to drop off our Peugeot lease car and collect our Renault lease car and to take a 4 day break from our holiday.

A holiday from our holiday if you will.

We stayed at our old favourite Hotel Welcome, right on the water, and were joined by Mike, Charmanie and James who had arrived in Nice a few days before us. This break was a chance to explore Villefranche a little more, sample some of the local cuisine, spend some time at the beach and soak up the atmosphere of the French Rivieria in peak season.

In the week we did all this. What else did we discover?

1) Much like other places some food is good and some isn’t

2) Meals tend to be less expensive and better quality further from the waterfront

3) The exception is La Mere Germaine right on the waterfront which we tried. Great food since 1938

3) Sitting on a beach is therapeutic no matter where you are in the world

4) The majority of French women have an urge to go topless on beaches. Some really, really shouldn’t

5) French service is more surly than Italian service but does warm up if you become a repeat customer

6) The girls are welcome everywhere we are which is great

7) Chateau Eza is always a great place for a drink – which costs about the same as a meal anywhere else.

Three countries in three days

It’s been a hectic week. Starting last Saturday we headed home from Slovenia to our cottage in Tuscany. Two days later we headed north to Nice on the French Riviera to swap cars – and spend 5 days at Villefranche Sur Mer with Mike, Charmaine and James – then it was back home on Friday.

Daisy takes everything in her stride

Time for a cup of tea and a lie down I think.