Nice to see you…

…to see you nice!

To quote Sir Bruce Forsyth (RIP) except that I’m appropriating the phrase to mean the city of Nice and its environs.

We’ve had our first visitor! Rich’s mum stayed with us for the past week and we all enjoyed many of the local sights and tourist sites.

We started off the week exploring our local town of Vence then we had a fantastic day in Nice. Rich and his mum went on a cyclotour of the city (which I can wholeheartedly recommend as a brilliant way to zip around the old town while someone else does all the hard work of pedalling)!

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The next day we headed to nearby St Paul de Vence for a wander and a coffee. More gorgeousness at every turn!

Tourrettes-sur-Loup was another hilltop town where you just have to wander the streets then stop for a coffee. We found an English second-hand bookshop so Rich and I both stocked up on our Summer reading.

On Sunday we took ourselves off to Cannes during the day then we were treated to the best opera experience I’ve ever had. It was at nearby Gattières in the open-air square at the centre of the hilltop village. We had tickets right on the front row so we felt as if we were part of the 21 strong orchestra. It was a production of Verdi’s Rigoletto (everyone knows “La donna è mobile”, yes, that one) and it really blew my mind. I found the musicians just as fascinating to watch as the singers were enjoyable to listen to. There was an interval after the first act so everyone trooped up to the courtyard overlooking the performance space for champagne and nibbles at a very leisurely pace. The whole production finished just after midnight and it’s an evening I will not forget in a hurry.

Saint Jeannet is nestled under one of the most prominent rocky outcrops around these parts so we just had to go and explore…

The week culminated with a trip to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild on the St Jean Cap Ferrat peninsula. Another incredible day out. The photos don’t really do it justice. We all enjoyed exploring the nine different gardens despite the sweltering heat and I think I’ll be back again as there was still more to discover.

I’ll leave you with a picture of the chapel in Tourrettes-sur-Loup where, as I was peering through the window, the caretaker came bustling up with the keys and said he’d open up for us to see inside.

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À bientôt, bisous.

 

The hills are alive…

…with the sound of music.

So we have arrived in Vence and have now been here for almost two weeks. During this time we have set up a home, visited the doctor and the dentist, started our electricity, water and internet contracts, been for dinner with our landlady, enjoyed opera in a local village, glimpsed fireworks over the bay for Bastille day and (one of us has) hiked in the mountains!

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We have been blown away by how beautiful the area is. Each village we visit is more charming than the last and we are loving exploring different places for coffee. I have to say that I have managed to find my elusive flat white at the enormous Polygone Riviera shopping complex about a 15 minute drive down the hill so I’m happy! We spent last Sunday wandering the complex and both picked up a couple of bits (remember we have purposely tried not to buy very much stuff over the last year as we have been living a nomadic existence but, now that we have put down some roots for at least a year, it’s open season again on the shopping)!

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One of the gorgeous local hilltop villages is Mougins (where the British International School is situated) so we headed over for a nose. We happened upon the local café right when it was morning meet and greet for the locals so we got embroiled in a conversation about the sad demise of the England football team and the locals’ hopes for the French team in today’s World Cup Final.

Another highlight of the past two weeks has been an evening event in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, our nearest hilltop village where our landlady lives. She very kindly rang us to tell us of a special event called Apér’Opéra. Anyone who lives in France will tell you that apéro is a cultural must! Apéro is short for apéritif and it is the nibbles and drinks people have before actual dinner is served (in fact many nights we just have apéro instead of dinner if we have eaten well at lunchtime). Well, put apéro together with opera and you have an outdoor spectacle: Apér’Opéra. We wandered the streets of Tourrettes-sur-Loup searching for the elusive venue for this Apér’Opéra only to find that it was right off the main square, we had just taken a different street. Plastic chairs were arranged facing the mairie and we were treated to an hour and a half of opera classics by a local opera group. We then mingled with the locals for a free glass of wine and some nibbles (the apéro bit). It was an amazing event to witness and we are now even more eagerly awaiting the full opera we have booked to see at yet another gorgeous hilltop village next weekend. Watch this space for an update…

Yesterday was Bastille Day, a National Holiday and the town of Vence was decked out in red, white and blue (it is lucky that the French football team got into the World Cup final so close to the 14th July celebrations because every other balcony is flying a French flag)! Nice is, of course, the site of the terrorist attack on 14th July 2016 that left 87 people dead and over 400 injured along the famous Promenade des Anglais so Bastille Day is a bittersweet celebration incorporating a memorial to those who died and understandable national pride. There were fireworks again (after last year’s were cancelled in memory of the victims) and the mood is upbeat with the upcoming World Cup Final to look forward to. We went onto our balcony just after 10pm and could hear the fireworks coming from Cannes, just after 10.30pm we caught glimpses and flashes of fireworks coming from the Bay of Angels. It was just like going onto our balcony in Hong Kong at Chinese New Year to see if we could grab a glimpse of the fireworks!

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So from hilltop villages ringing with the sound of music it’s à bientôt and bisous!

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