December 2, 2016, Friday:
From Nice to Paris:
When we awoke in Nice with the realization that our direct non-stop train back to Paris was only at 11.00 am, we made the impromptu decision to go back to Monte Carlo for breakfast—this was so that Llew could see the city (and the country, Monaco) by day. With our bags packed and left waiting for our return, we set out to Nice station and boarded a train that was leaving for Monte Carlo right away.
It was while we were on the train that I realized that it would be making a stop at Eze—which is reputedly one of the prettiest villages on the Cote D’Azur. I talked Llew into getting off and exploring it with me. However, the train station is called Eze Sur Mer—i.e. Eze by the Water. The village of Eze which is visit-worthy is tucked up high in the steep gray mountains that are a backdrop to the small village near the station. There we made inquiries about a bus that would take us up to the village—but we soon discovered that there was nothing until 10.00 am and that taxis to get to the top would cost us no less than 50 euros—plus, when we arrived at the top, the entire town would be closed as nothing opened until 10.00 am. Left with very little choice, we made the decision to scrap our plans for Eze Village and to return to the station to board a train to Monte Carlo. We lost about twenty minutes in the process, but there was still time for us to take in the city by daylight.
Breakfast in Monaco:
Luckily for us, a train pulled up pretty soon—within ten minutes—and off we went to Monte Carlo. We hurried out and walked towards the waterfront. En route, we picked up chocolate brioche from a supermarket and takeaway coffee and seated at the edge of the water with small watercraft and luxury yachts lined up in the harbor as well as the stone façade of the Royal Palace of Monaco (that I have visited and toured on a previous visit about 30 years ago when both Prince Rainier and Princess Grace were still alive), munched quite happily. The gorgeous buildings that we had seen, the previous night, clinging precariously to the sloping mountains looked completely different (but no less pleasing) by day. We took a few photographs as we sat on the parapet overlooking the harbor and ate. The temperature was just perfect and the scene could not have been more exciting. I was glad that although our return detour to Monte Carlo was brief, it was still completely worthwhile.
On the Train from Nice to Paris:
Back in our hotel, we picked up our bags and made our way to Nice station well in time for the 11.00 am train that took us non-stop to Paris. As was to be expected, we thoroughly enjoyed the ride along the Cote d’Azur that we were lucky to do for the second time. I sat by the window and took as many pictures as I could take from a moving train which basically retraced our route of the previous day going through Marseilles and Avignon and the green fields of Provence before taking us through the vineyards of Bordeaux and on to Paris where we arrived at about 4.00 pm at Gare de Lyon. We walked a few minutes across the Seine to Gare Austerlitz to pick up Llew’s consigned bag from the Left Luggage Locker and then took the Metro to make our way on the RER (B) to Cite-Universitaire where I had booked a room for the week at the Fondation des Etats-Unis. It was so exciting to get back in the RER train again as I had become familiar with this route during the summer I had spent in Paris, four years ago.
Settling into Cite Universitaire and Strolling Around Paris:
It was not long before we were picking up the key to our room at the Fondation. Indeed, it felt great to come home again—in a sense, as this place had been a much-loved home for me, a few years ago. Deciding again to make the most of Llew’s last night in Paris, we bought a carnet (book) of ten metro tickets and took the RER (B) again to St. Michel. From this stop, it is just the crossing of a road that gets you to the Parvis (courtyard) of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and it was there, bathed in lovely soft light, that we took pictures of Paris by Night.
Our aim to get to the Ile de St. Louis to pick up ice-cream from the famed Berthillon Ice-Cream Parlor where we had frequently eaten ice-cream on our last stay in Paris. We got there by the skin of our teeth at 8.00 pm just before they closed. Llew chose Dark Chocolate and Glazed Chestnut flavors while I chose the Glazed Chestnut and the Passionfruit Sorbet. They were just delicious. Eating our ice-cream, we strolled along the banks of the Seine taking in the sights of the Eiffel Tower flickering again as it does at every hour. We stopped on the Pont d’Archeveche (which used to be festooned with the infamous locks—but not anymore!) to take more pictures and, walking along the quai, we returned to St. Michel to board our train and get back to our accommodation for the night.
Llew’s last night in France and of his holiday turned out to be perfect. We had two splendid weeks together and it was with a heavy heart that I would see him leave on the morrow. He was to awake very early to get to the airport and I decided to accompany him on the metro train for part of the way after which I would switch to a long-distance train to the Loire Valley as I still had use of our unlimited eight-day train tickets.