A French Girl on the Riviera. Summer 2012 Travelogue (3)

Chère Nice (Dear Nice,)

Do you remember what I said to you when I left and flew back to Seattle last summer? This is what I wrote to wrap up that last story after the wonderful week you gave me: “{Nice}, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Nice, I like you, I really like you. And I meant every word of it. Yesterday, as promised, I came back. Once again, you greeted me with open arms, with your deep blue skies, and azure sea. After a chilly Seattle spring, and an often overcast Parisian week, I needed your warmth, cheerfulness, and colorful face. Damn, girlfriend, you look good! I had to work hard to get here, you know. Like all confident and pretty girls, you play hard to get. There were times yesterday when I thought I would not make it.

I was very excited to board the awesome T.G.V. (high speed train,) in Paris on Friday morning. I left Junior with his grandparents and his cousin. They embarked on a two-day tour of WWI battlefields in Northern France. I left my girlfriend Kaydee who was visiting from Seattle. We had the best time walking around Paris all day Thursday. We indulged in a fancy lunch at the grande dame of Belle Epoque brasseries in the Opéra neighborhood, Le Café de la Paix. We shopped in the St Germain district. After dinner, we checked out some of the musicians who treated Parisians to free outdoor concerts all night long during the annual – and much celebrated – Fête de la Musique (Music Festival.) We spent the night in Kaydee’s bedroom at the charming Relais Christine, near rue Dauphine. What a fun day we had! She and I had talked about meeting in Paris for years, ever since she became my French student, in fact. 

This elegant girl is going to be horseback-riding
through the Loire Valley next week!
Le Café de la Paix, Place de l’Opéra
“Un Express, s’il vous plaît!”
La Fête de la Musique was just getting started…
A room with a view chez Relais Christine

On Friday morning, Chère Nice, I caught a cab to Gare de Lyon where my first class seat was waiting on the TGV. I was very excited to try one of the new IDTGV IDZen cars. “Zen,” get it? Plush seats, no cell phones or loud conversations allowed. The 5-hour trip did not scare me,  and I could not wait to see you.

My comfortable reclining seat, with laptop plug in
Ah, being able to buy Elle Magazine on Fridays again!

Unfortunately, a traffic accident occurred on the line somewhere outside of Toulon. We did not get too many details. Some things, in France, will never change, and la SNCF is one of them.(French readers will understand…) We knew the accident was bad: Our train had to wait for almost three hours at the Aix-en-Provence TGV station.

There are worse things than to be stranded in Aix…
but still…

You were so close, I could almost see you, Nice, but like all the other frustrated passengers, I had to sit still and wait. Outside, the temperature had risen. We were in Southern France, all right. After a while, the train started again, slowly. There were other complications over the next few hours, an unexpected train change in Cannes (passengers, fuming…) but as I looked outside, I knew I was getting closer to you.

And I made it, enfin (finally.) This French Girl is back, girlfriend. It took her 10 months to return, almost to the day. My contact was waiting for me, and he drove me to my rental apartment in the old section of town. I loved my “home” as soon as I stepped in. A small, but comfortable apartment, tastefully remodeled by its Italian owner. She called me from Rome to say “Bienvenue,” a nice touch. I knew I would be safe there, in the heart of my favorite neighborhood.

Not to worry, guys! I know this will be a pleasant stay.

I have neighbors across the street, and I love it!

It was too late to shop for groceries, but restaurant terraces were already filling up with tan tourists and locals. I remembered: Life is an outdoor party in Nice! The sun would set soon, but I had time to get reacquainted with favorite spots, so I stepped outside, where two musicians were playing by the front door.

My window is on the second floor, with a brown frame
I could do a lot worse than to stay on busy rue Rossetti

Camera in hand – ever the perfect tourist – I walked through small streets, past my old place, and in a few minutes, reached the bustling Cours Saleya.

A few more steps, and there she was, La Grande Bleue, the Mediterranean. Magnificent. And then I knew. I was back. I sat down on la Promenade des Anglais, taking it all in, and took a deep breath.


A bientôt.

Véronique - France with Véro
Véronique of France with Véro

Véronique of France with Véro

Vero shares her homeland weekly on social media with virtual tours, photo essays, live events and other publications at France with Vero. Learn more.

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  1. Dash on June 23, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Ah Veronique, I am so happy for you, I am imagining you in your pied a Terre in the old town and all the adventures you are going to have.I can’t wait to read about them.X

  2. Owen on June 23, 2012 at 5:07 am

    Have a wonderful time in the south ! It sure is warmer than here in the chilly north. We spent a couple of heavenly days in Toulon before heading back home in the arctic, errr, in the Oise. Looks like you are doing it all in fine style. We are still marveling at the tastes and luscious smells of the things we brought home from the market in Toulon… anchoyades, olives of every description, and so forth. Enjoy, enjoy…

  3. Unknown on June 23, 2012 at 8:10 am

    J’aime Nice aussi!

  4. Jilly on June 23, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Veronique, welcome to the south of France! Love all your photos. You’ve captured Nice so beautifully and in just one day. See you in Menton next week. Will send a private message. So look forward to meeting you. A bientot. Jilly x

  5. Malyss on June 23, 2012 at 1:42 am

    Te voilà arrivée , bien installée.Maintenant, il n’y a plus qu’à en profiter! Enjoy! xx

  6. Cherie Moore on June 23, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Sigh… After reading your blogs of Nice, I really want to visit. We went through Nice to Ville France sur Mer but did not stay in Nice, maybe one day. How lovely, even though the TGV trip was longer than planned. I can just see you walking the streets, taking photos, stopping at cafes for espresso or vin rose, parfait! Continue to enjoy as a true French girl.

  7. Sandy on June 23, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Oh my gosh, I’m green with envy. Just kidding. I’m super happy for you! Although, secretly I wish that was me in your place. 😉 Wonderful pictures and commentary. My half sister lives in Aix- en -Provence. My favorite train trip is from Barcelona to Narbonne. Don’t you love staring out at the Med. ? *Dreaming*

  8. Genie -- Paris and Beyond on June 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    I enjoyed every moment of the trip from Café de la Paix and the musicians to the first class ride in the TGV. Now, you have brought us to Nice again. You have such a charming way to show and tell the story, Veronique. Enjoy your time and give big hugs to Jilly and Malyss.Bises,Genie

  9. Mem on June 23, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Bummer about the train delay, but with your journey ending in Nice, now that’s chouette. Enjoy!

  10. Mem on June 23, 2012 at 5:56 am

    Bummer about the TGV delay, but with the end of the trip being in Nice, now that’s chouette!

  11. Katelyn @ Pure Panache on June 23, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Veronique, love, love, love your photos! I’ve always wanted to go to Nice and the Riviera in general, and with your pictures I can at least have a slice of it! 🙂 Sounds like a tumultuous trip on the TGV, but so worth it once you see the beautiful waters of the Riviera! Enjoy your time there! xo

  12. Cheri on June 23, 2012 at 7:37 am

    I have been following your journey with great interest. About 10 years ago I got to visit Nice and Paris and fell in love. Your photos are beautiful! Have a very relaxing and fun time.

  13. Virginia on June 23, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Oh you knew how I wanted to visit Nice and now you have brought me along with you. Merci bien!!! I can’t wait for more photos and tales!V

  14. Alison on June 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Que le temps continue beau! The extra hours on the train certainly made that 1st class ticket a wise investment. Love those aged buildings with all their character and sense of place.

  15. Richard Moisan on June 23, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Les voyages forment la jeunesse… Avec les plus et les moins… Tu es passée en train devant ma plage.
    Bon séjour!
    Gros bisous!

  16. French Heart on June 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    WONDERFUL post….I am there. And incredibly…the neighborhood you selected in Nice is the precise one I was searching in for places to stay. So I’l have to get the owner’s contact. The TGV looks so great…

  17. Lost in Provence on June 24, 2012 at 1:51 am

    I am SO, SO happy for you Veronique. You deserve this break and I know that you are making the most of it!

  18. Virginia on June 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Pas de chat noir!!!! ( you will laugh at that I”m sure) but about Café de la Paix, I have always wanted to get inside. Is it toooooo pricey?V

  19. Jennifer Fabulous on June 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    These photos are so breathtaking, I want to jump right into them! :DAnd how cool you caught up with your friend while in Paris. It sounds like you’re having a marvelous time.

  20. g on June 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    i was checking and checking i did not see this until today’s installment and realized it was one larger than it should have been quickly i came and yet again was not disappointed-you described how i feel each time i return to france hello old friend hello-enjoy the beautiful EVERYTHING-the pics are great gonna give le hubby a run for his money…i hope jr enjoys the time with family and you enjoy your alone time we all need that,,,stay well and safe- until later….

  21. miss b on June 25, 2012 at 4:04 am

    What a journey but worth it to have time in the beautiful Nice. I was there several years ago and remember clearly my very expensive coffee on the Promenade des Anglais (but the view and the people watching made it worth it!)So pleased you are finding time to blog so that we can follow along and see your wonderful photos.

  22. Jewel yet to find on June 25, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Nice is so beautiful! I’ve been there last August. The sunset over the sea is unforgettable like nowhere in the world. Still can hear that amoureux whispering waves to pebbles…
    Thank you Veronique for finding the time to share.

  23. Mary on June 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Oh my, Veronique! I have fallen totally in love with Nice through your photos! The shade of blue of the sea is so.. well, what is it? Exquisite? Maybe that’s it. Reminds me of a perfect blue diamond. 🙂 And what is it with the French and their gorgeous windows with the soft colored, lovely shutters? 😀 What’s not to love? I’d love to open those shutters in the morning to a splendid South of France day! Happy sigh. I wish you continued fun and safe travels. Eagerly awaiting your next post!


  24. M-T on July 12, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    You will no doubt be shocked to learn that I have never been to Nice, but have always wanted to go. My parents honeymooned there. I have a picture of them wearing topcoats. My Mother was wearing fur. Imagine…wearing fur in Nice, even in March.

    Toulon, also, played a rather large part in our lives. My parents were married there and had a small apartment near the naval base.

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