When I was making plans for the MK & Bern Weekend, I knew I wanted to go to another town along the French Riviera. And since everything is so close, I figured it would be fun to hop on and off the train from Ventimiglia after our fantastic lunch to hang out at one of these places. Eventually, I narrowed it down to Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Villefranche-sur-Mer, and left it up to the guy at the hotel to decide. He couldn’t say “Villefranche-sur-Mer” fast enough, so that’s where we went.
When we got off the train, we had a choice: take the steps down to the beach, or the sloping road up to the Old Town. MK led the way up the latter, and we were treated to a very clean, very colorful, charming area of Villefranche that overlooked the harbor.
We came out at a kind of cramped outdoor market and several smushed-together cafes where glamorous French people and pasty cruise day-trippers sat in the sun, and made our way down to the cafe-lined harbor. We found a waterside table at a sushi restaurant that had no sushi in sight, and rented that table for the better part of a couple hours.
Oh, it was so glorious! The town rose up behind the street of cafes and the beach was in the distance; we were near some moored yachts and there was enough room on either side of our table for prime people-watching as we sipped our kirs and then some rose wine.
Every once in a while, the restaurant’s tiny, obese bulldog would come wheezing across the street for a sniff around. His name was SATINAS, which we delighted in saying for several hours that day. There were many other dogs around too; France is such a dog-loving country, and they’re really well-behaved. Most of them were tiny and impossibly bitchy; MK spied one on a scooter wearing goggles that matched its owner’s.
We saw families, couples, tourists, old people; a woman who surprised us by carrying a horse whip, which was soon explained by her daughter trailing behind in equestrian boots, riding hat and a medal around her neck. Very expensive cars and vintage cars and just plain cars rode by, stopping or swerving to avoid people meandering along the street.
In truth, it was no different than what we had done every afternoon in Nice – and more comfortably, too, in sofas and chairs arranged on the pebbly, beach, our drinks placed on the coffee table in front of us. But there was something about that afternoon in Villefranche that was downright decadent. We had nowhere to be, no one to see but each other, and no one we knew within a thousand miles of us. It’s one of my most memorable afternoons in a long time.
Eventually we made our way back to Nice, and had a light dinner outdoors, and we sat afterwards for a long time and talked about everything and nothing at all. The perfect ending to a perfect day!