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 at the end of 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 quintessential Belle Epoque brasserie 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 cute 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 the 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...|
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, Nice.
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 the Promenade des Anglais, taking it all in, and took a deep breath.
Note to my readers: I have been posting daily shots of France on Facebook during the trip. If you want to follow me, c'est facile: "Like" the French Girl in Seattle page. See you there!
Second note to my readers: You know I always reply to each and every one of you. This has proved a bit difficult to do during the trip, however. Know that I love reading every comment. Thank you for your visit!