Tomorrow morning, I will say goodbye to Nice, and the French Riviera, or as we, French people, like to call it, la Côte d’Azur. It has been quite the vacation. Tonight, as I am packing my bag, enjoying one last evening in my cozy apartment in the heart of le Vieux Nice (Nice’s old town,) I can hear the street below, restaurant patrons laughing, the clinkering of wine glasses, a band playing. I know I will remember the sounds of la Belle Nice for months to come, counting the days until I can return.
Blogging has been good to me. I have met in person another fellow blogger here, and made a new friend in the process. Her name is Jilly, from Menton Daily Photo. She lives near Menton, a short train ride away from Nice. Jilly is English, but she has traveled the world, and eventually settled down near the last French town before the Italian border. Today, as a special treat before I head back to Paris where Junior and my family are waiting, she showed me around Menton, and the quaint perched village of Gorbio. After so many years here, and thanks to her popular blogs, she knows everyone in town and introduced me to all her friends.
– Jilly: “Voilà Véronique. Un French blogger de Seattle, Etats-Unis.”
– Locals: “…” [insert puzzled look.]
– Véronique: “Enchantée. Je suis Française. Je vis aux Etats-Unis. Je visite la région avec mon guide anglais, Jilly.” (Nice to meet you. I am French. I live in the United States. I am visiting the area with my English guide, Jilly.)
– Locals (thinking: “It’s a strange world we live in”): “Ahhhh… Bonjour… Bienvenue.”
We had a long, and interesting day together, filled with lively conversation, laughs, many photos (we are both bloggers after all,) and enough breathtaking sights to turn this French-Americanized tourist into a Riviera-convert for life. I want to do our time together justice, but it is late, and I am catching an early TGV back to Paris. Menton and Gorbio deserve a real story. I will get to it after I return to the Pacific Northwest. In the meantime, here are some snapshots of my fun day with Jilly.
First, there was a 30mn train ride (I will never praise the fantastic local public transportation system enough,) and I arrived in Menton where Jilly picked me up outside the train station.
We toured peaceful Menton in the morning before the weather got too hot. I saw enough to make me feel like coming back and exploring further during my next visit. I loved the beach, and the quaint old town, with its steep streets, cathedral, cemetery, and amazing views of the coast. Along the way, Jilly stopped to snap shots of local dogs. If you do not know her other blog, Riviera Dogs, I encourage you to visit it. She has an uncanny ability to capture our four-legged friends.
|Jilly, hard at work|
Mid-day, Jilly and I drove up a winding road and arrived at her home, a.k.a. “Pension Milou,” a boarding place for [lucky] local pooches. While Jilly called a client in Australia to check on the whereabouts of a three-year old Lab that had been shipped back home to be reunited with her owners, I played with some of her furry guests.
|The terrace chez Pension Milou|
|This little one captured my heart. So long, Roxy!|
|Life is good at Pension Milou, eh, “Beau?”|
The pièce de résistance was a visit to Gorbio, a perched village just a few minutes outside of Menton. Jilly loves it there, and her enthusiasm is contagious. A special place, certainement, and not a tourist in sight. Incroyable. The local restaurant served us the best meal I had on this trip. The owner and his family took turns greeting Jilly, who is a bit of a local celebrity thanks to her daily chronicles of life in Menton and Gorbio.
|Ah, the smell of the jasmine laden trellis!|
|There is no good meal in the South without Rosé wine…|
Later on, we walked off our delicious lunch (and a pleasant rosé-induced buzz) – slowly, because of the scorching heat – and explored the streets of Gorbio. There were several art exhibits in ancient buildings, breathtaking views of the mountains and the coast, a plethora of old houses and cobbled streets. Gorbio pulls off pittoresque et authentique like few villages on the touristy French Riviera coast.
|Les chats de Gorbio|
When it was time to leave, Jilly and I hugged, promising to keep in touch, and I know we will. A bientôt, Jilly. Stay cool. Bonne chance pour le vernissage!
Back in Nice, there was just enough time for one last evening walk around favorite streets in the Old Town. Ma chère Nice, you and I know... Ce n’est qu’un au revoir.
After I left, Jilly chronicled my visit the way she does best… with a couple of photos shared on her blog. Merci Jilly!