Visit to Èze and a Special Birthday

6 May

The weather has continued to be wet far more often than the locals believe is normal. In fact, what is normal has become a standing joke. It snowed here in February, that’s not normal. April was quite cold, that’s not normal. We’ve had at least two days with rain every week for a month, that’s not normal. We went on a day trip to Sanremo and the waves were crashing over the sea wall driven by a 50 kph wind, that’s not normal. I’m beginning to wonder what is normal!

I’m not really complaining about the weather because I’m sure that in a few weeks we will be begging for cooler temperatures. Of course one side-effect of all this rain is that the grass is growing beautifully. I am still mowing every week around all the front area of the property and it really does look magnificent. We are told that normally grass would hardly be growing by now, all burned off.

It really does look great just after the grass has been cut at this time of year

Looking away from the house and down the driveway

I dropped Leanne at the local railway station on Monday morning. She was heading to Nice to spend Monday and Tuesday with Annie from Auckland. They had a wonderful time visiting gardens and doing some tourist things. That meant that I could spend a couple of days doing jobs around here so that we could take the day off on Friday. At least that was the theory. The fact that it was raining all day Monday meant that I got absolutely nothing done outside although it did mean that I had lots of time to catch up on stuff on the computer. I even watched a movie in the evening, something neither of us have actually had time to do since we’ve been here.

Tuesday dawned fine so I was hard at work all day trying to catch up and in the evening I collected Leanne from the train again. We both spent most of Wednesday working also and in the afternoon the SIM card for my phone finally arrived. Even more miraculously, I was able to get it working without calling their help-desk and within only a couple of hours. It was only that long because we have no cellphone coverage at the house so I had to do part of the activation online and then drive into the village to get coverage and complete the job. Anyway, all is well and I now have a €25 per month plan that gives me unlimited free calls to landlines and mobiles in France plus landline calls to the US and a few other locations. But the main thing that I got was 1GB of data per month. That means I can use all the navigation stuff when we are out touring around.

Another little surprise that was in the mail on Wednesday was a slip from the postman saying that he’d been unable to deliver a registered letter. The funny thing was his slip was dated 24th April and it was now 2nd May. Lucky they allow 15 days for you to pick up at the local post office. It turned out to be the registration papers for the car that had been due the week before that we had forgotten about. So finally, the purchase of our car is actually complete. Now we just need to finalise the insurance which is waiting on proof of our no claims status from our previous insurance in New Zealand.

There are many English ex-pats in the area and one couple nearby who we were told we must catch up with were Jeremy & Jo.  We arranged this for 6 PM on Wednesday evening and duly walked up the hill to their place carrying a couple of bottles of wine having left our dinner prepared at home for later.  We were only going to be a couple of hours.  Well!  What an enjoyable evening and my how time does fly!  About six bottles of wine later it was 11 PM and we were still there!  I don’t mind conceding that the next morning was not one of my sharpest on record.

We left home at 7:45 AM on Friday to drive to Èze, in the hills above Monaco,  to meet Annie and Mike for the day. It was our biggest trip yet in our little car. By the way, sports cars normally have only 2 seats. Our car has 2 seats. So we now refer to it as our sports car!  Even if it is really more like a trade/commercial vehicle.

Looking up at Èze from the carpark

Cruising down the A8 at 130 kph was pretty comfortable but it was really sweet at 110kph. The trip to Èze was about 90 minutes and the tolls added up to about €12 each way.  We parked the car for the day and meet Annie and Mike for a coffee on the balcony of their hotel. The view was magnificent and contrary to the forecast the weather was still fine.

This was in the morning. In the afternoon we watched several huge cruisers heading to Monaco for Friday night/ the weekend. Incredible!

Mike looking very relaxed for someone still engaged in the corporate world

Mike had hired a convertible Volvo so we went out for a drive along the Grand Corniche which is famous from Bond movies and others.

View of Èze from the Grand Corniche

Yes, we did sort of block the traffic while Annie and I took pictures – thanks Mike

We ended up at La Turbie where there is one of only two remaining Roman trophies. It is located on a very strategic route along the coast between Rome and Gaul. We partook of the guided tour and left very impressed.

The Roman Trophy at La Turbie

One of many views from up the monument

True to the forecast clouds did start to roll in and within a few minutes this peak was covered

I am sure there is a story to go with the Church – I just can’t remember it! Try Google!

More beautiful views. Note the clouds getting lower

La Turbie – Roman Trophy (click here to view the brochure)

We took lunch in a local park. Some nice baked goods from a local boulangerie.  From there we headed back to the village of Èze to explore the hotel grounds, the village itself and to just absorb the atmosphere – and take some more pictures!

The hotel gardens are terraced down the cliff and populated with numerous animal statues

The hotel is not too fussy about who they allow as guests. They even accept people driving Mercedes-McLaren cars registered in Nassau. Later in the day it was joined by a Fiat 500 and Mike’s Volvo!

Anyone for a game of chess?

Street scene in the Èze village

Leanne and Annie enjoying the shops

We arrived home about 8 PM to a stern telling off from Tutu the cat regarding the service during the day.  He does have an automatic biscuit dispenser but he does prefer personal service and is not shy about letting us know.

The next day, Saturday, was actually Tutu’s 16th birthday so after a morning of work we had a picnic near the river and shot some video for a little YouTube fun to share with James and Lavinia who are away in the UK for ~4 weeks.

Happy birthday to me…

There are weekly markets in many of the surrounding villages and on Sunday it is in Salernes.  We had met Chris and Nadia a couple of weeks ago and they live on the hill overlooking Salernes.  So we arranged to meet at 9.30 AM for coffee after which we followed them through the maze of small roads back to their house.  Finding some of the houses based on an address only must be impossible.  It gets hard to tell what is a road and what is a private drive let alone what they are called.  It is far easier to follow someone else!

Chris and Nadia’s place is an amazing work in progress that they have spent 4 years to get the planning approvals for and so far, two years building.  The views are tremendous and I really do hope we get to see the finished masterpiece.

Now it is late afternoon and the forecast 90% chance of 9.7mm rain today is just starting to be delivered.  What was not forecast was the thunderstorm that is also starting.  Could be a wet and stormy night.  Until next time… à bientôt.


2 Responses to “Visit to Èze and a Special Birthday”

  1. Jeff May 9, 2012 at 02:29 #

    I can’t believe you forgot to take proof of your NZ no claims insurance bonus!! what sort of planning was that ! 😉

    • bikernz May 9, 2012 at 09:18 #

      Yes, that was a bit poor! The other one that we only just squeaked in with was proof of tax residency. Luckily we had recent tax forms scanned that had our names and NZ addresses on them.

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