We drove from Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer to the Nice airport. It was a beautiful drive through the countryside, hugging the coastline. Jenny and the boys picked us up at the airport and we all headed to the house we would share for a few weeks in Cap Ferrat. This is a peninsula, jutting out into the Mediterranean, located between Nice and Monaco.
As with many, if not most, of the towns and cities in France, the roads are narrow, and in the rental car we drove from Toulouse, and the car Jenny picked us up in, too narrow! These roads were not designed for large SUVs or family-sized sedans.
Once we arrived at the home, we settled in and I walked to the port town of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat to shop for a few groceries. It was a very pleasant walk on a walkway (Chemin des Douaniers) along the water. The home we were staying in had it’s own long pathway to the walkway and a locked private gate.
Later that first evening, we all went for a walk in the other direction, away from the town, along the water. This walkway was to become an enjoyable, daily habit. I just wish I had brought my running clothes…
Although we did a lot of things with Jenny, Drew and Drake, including collecting sea glass, geocaching, basketball, badminton, walking the dogs, long walks and a picnic, I’ll only document the special places we went. But first some photos…
Tuesday, April 24, was a busy day that started with a walk to the Rothschild Gardens, also known as the Villa and Gardens Ephrussi de Rothschild. This is a beautiful place, sitting on top of a hill overlooking the Bay of Villefranche and the Bay of Beaulieu.
From here, we walked back to the town of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, where we ate lunch, then found and entered the Musee Des Coquillages (Seashell Museum), which according to Saint Jean Cap Ferrat Tourism Bureau is “Unique in Europe…Discover 7000 species of shells, including more than 400 world records. Inputs from the Natural History Museum of Nice and the Marine Zoological Station in Villefranche sur Mer. Currently the most important collection of the Mediterranean. The most important collection of Mauritius.” This was an enjoyable stop for all of us and well worth the small admission price of 1-2 Euro.
On April 26, we all went to Nice, where we met Karima, a friend of Xavier, the caretaker of the house we were staying in. The first place we stopped, next to Karima’s apartment, was a second-hand store where Karima bought Drew a college-level engineering book he wanted (this book is a full-sized textbook that he still carries with him). We then headed to the Old Town and Cours Saleya market. While there we stopped for ice cream at Fenocchio Glacier, “There’s no shortage of ice-cream sellers in the old town, but this maître glacier (master ice-cream maker) has been king of the scoops since 1966. The array of flavours is mind-boggling – olive, tomato, fig, beer, lavender and violet to name a few. Dither too long over the 70-plus flavours and you’ll never make it to the front of the queue. (Lonely Planet)” We ate the ice cream while sitting in the Place Rosseti, where we could look at the 17th century Nice Cathedral. Life is good!
On our way back to Cap Ferrat, we drove past La Citadelle of Villefranche sur Mer, where Pat and I had our celebratory anniversary photo taken.
That evening, Pat and I celebrated our Wedding Anniversary with a fine dining experience in Saint Jean at La Cabane De L’Ecailler. But, of course, on our walk into Saint Jean, Pat had to stop at a beach.
The next day, April 27, Karima was our tour guide to Saint Agnes (sainte-agnes). This town is supposedly the highest town on the coast of the Med. The road up to the town was narrow and twisty – all those things that make it interesting for our driver, Jenny, but also nerve-racking. The drive and the town were both beautiful.
Above the Saint Agnes is Château Sainte Agnès, which we climbed to.
Had it not been closed for repairs, we would have like to visit the military installation that was part of the Maginot Line. However, since it was not open, we left Saint Agnes and drove through Monaco and Beaulieu on the way back to Cap Ferrat. In Monaco, preparations were underway for the Monaco Formula 1 race, coming a couple of weeks later. We drove part of the F1 track, which is easy to do since the track is a road course snaking through the town.
Another day, Xavier and Karima drove us to Saint Paul de Vence. This town, west of Nice, has been taken over by artists and crafts people. Almost all the building have one, or more, shops. As you can see in the photos, the town is still quite picturesque.
Returning from Saint Paul de Vence, we stopped at La Verrerie De Biot, famous for its “bubble glass”. Here we got to watch glass blowing (We never get tired of watching this.)
We saved the most daunting hike for the next to the last day we would be in the area – a hike to the old village of Eze. This village is 1400 feet above the Mediterranean Sea and can be reached by car or by walking – we chose to walk! On our way we walked a couple of beaches to search for sea glass. As we were going up the Nietzsche footpath, Pat and I met Kristi (from Chicago) coming down. We were taking a break and started talking to her, only to find she had not made it to the top, having given up. I talked her in to going up with us – offered to buy her a glass of Rose when we reached the top. The 3 of us made it. I bought the wine as promised! Jenny, Drew and Drake went up much faster than us and were waiting at the top.
Jenny took us and the boys to the Nice train station, where the four of us took the train to Lyon. We said a farewell to Cap Ferrat and the Mediterranean Sea. It had been a fun time and we had seen so much. On with the adventure…