In June 2007 we finally found the apartment we wanted to buy!
This had been a long process which at times had seemed a pipe dream destined to fail. We had a very precise budget with no room for manoeuvre. Our money came from our joint inheritances and we wanted to put this money into something our parents would have appreciated (and also to stop me gradually just spending it).
After a bleak and chilly winter in 2005 here in Brighton we longed to see some sunshine and blue skies and had spent a few days in Malaga city, which was brilliant and which we loved. So the first location in our search for a foreign pied a terre was this beautiful city. We even spent two terms going to Spanish evening classes in order that we could at least greet and thank people and order food and drink. However try as we might we found our lack (to put it mildly) of fluency was a big drawback. We found that we could come up with French phrases from our school-days more readily than recently learned Spanish ones.
Early in December 2006 air fares to Malaga were really high and we discovered by chance that flights to Nice were much more reasonable and moreover there was a good deal on at the Hotel Beau Rivage which was where Matisse had lived and painted…surely a good sign! We booked 5 days.
I was completely amazed by the flight along the Esterel coast and descent into Nice airport. Over the glowing pink and red of the Esterel hills, ever lower and lower over the bright blue sea, hugging the bays and islands of the Mediterranean, we seemed to hover just above the waves until suddenly there was the airport looking like a pancake jutting out into the beautiful sea.
Through customs and onto the bus and we were once again close to the sparkling sea and palm trees of Nice. So exciting!
We dropped our bags off at the hotel and wandered down to the beach. Here we took our coats off and sat on the pebbles against the wall on Castel beach, feeling the warm sun relaxing our chilly English bodies.
For the next few days we delighted in the colours, tastes, smells and pace of life in Nice.
Over Christmas we discussed going back to Nice in order re-learn the French we’d forgotten from schooldays. After some research on the part of my husband in February 2007 we were on our way to Nice to study for 4 weeks at the Azur Lingua language school.