The trip to Nice was easy but finding our villa was the challenge. We landed in Nice at 9 pm and began our long journey to our villa. The first challenge was to pick up the rental car. Not an easy task in Nice. First you have to find the rental car agencies. Rich can read French but the signs were less than helpful. The information desk was empty, not an airport employee in site. We finally figured out that we need to change terminals, which is done via bus. So we waited for an eternity and boarded our bus. Next stop: Terminal One, but no rental cars. After a few minutes, Rich was able to find a sign leading us on a path through two parking garages, over a bridge, down a dark path to the car rental building. We grabbed our car, remembered how to drive on the other side of the road and took off through the streets of Nice.
Rich had printed out the directions to our Villa, where the caretaker would meet us with the keys. So we headed into the hills, on dark winding roads looking for our new home, as the boys became increasingly tired. The road went on and on, and after a while the directions stopped matching the roads. There were no streetlights and few signs. To top off our situation, our Ireland SIM card was not working at all here, and nothing was open to buy a new one.
We tried retracing our steps and starting over, twice, with no luck. Tired, and with the boys panicking and losing faith in their infallible parents, we stopped at a hotel/restaurant. Rich went in with Harrison and using his rusty French, asked the staff if they could direct him to the address for the villa. The owners came out and after some conversation with Rich, they pulled out a map and found where we were looking for. One of the owners announced that he would drive his car over to the house, and we could follow him. Hurray!
So we followed the owner to the house, which was miles away, and quickly determined that the owners’ directions were incorrect: it’s the FIRST roundabout, not the SECOND…
And… there was no one at the villa. At this point it was almost midnight and the housekeeper had given up and gone home. We went through our notes and found her phone number, but of course, our SIM card didn’t work.
So we headed back down, with the boys now asking out loud if we shouldn’t just go back to the airport or sleep in our car… We found what appeared to be a restaurant, but it ended up being a loud drunken party being held in a restaurant, and there was no pay phone to be found. We drove back the way we came, looking for a pay phone, or something open, but this is a village far from the city, on a Saturday night, and Zut Alors, no one is around.
We finally came across a Thai restaurant in St. Jeannet that was still open, and the owners were putting away tables and chairs (thank you for your late night eating habits, my dear France!). Rich and Harrison headed out again to talk to the owners. They did not speak English, but Rich managed to explain that his phone was not working and he needed to call the caretaker of a nearby villa to meet them. They took pity on us and called the caretaker, who they talked to in rapid-fire French. And we were saved! She drove out to find us, and we followed her back to the villa.
After we settled in, we got to hit the beaches in Cannes, Juan les Pins and Antibes. Check out our post on them in: Family Friendly Beaches on the Côte d’Azur.