But you’ve just got back to Brussels, my best friend said. I know and I’m really sorry but this article about the French Riviera – I’ve got to go there, I replied. But you don’t have a job or know anyone there – how on earth are you going to manage? she said. I’ll find a job and I’ll be fine, I replied. You’re completely mad you know, she said. Yes, but what an adventure! I replied.
After an opportunity of spending six months in South Africa I returned to Brussels at the end of January 2001 to be welcomed by cold, snowy grey skies and a forlorn winter to look forward to. Two things were marked on my To Do list: find a new job and a place to live.
Getting my act together I popped into a newsagents to pick up The Bulletin, a local expat magazine that always had great jobs on offer but got slightly side-tracked when Time Magazine caught my eye. Inside was a six page-spread about the glories of the French Riviera and Sophia-Antipolis, a growing and most successful business park in the region. I was hooked.
In fact, I was so hooked that a week later I waved goodbye to my worried friend and flew off to Nice. As I walked out of the airport I honestly thought I’d stepped into paradise. Still reeling from the azure colour of the Mediterranean Sea I now found myself mesmerised by the bluest of skies, the tallest of palm trees and prettiest of flowers I’d ever seen.
To set your mind at peace, I did find a permanent job about a week later – which relieved my friend (and me) enormously. Finding a nice, reasonably-priced place to live was a different kettle of fish.
I found this region so beautiful and inspiring that, in 2004, I created AMB-Cote d’Azur, a non-profit association and website. What started out as a simple way of sharing my discoveries turned into a comprehensive internet travel guide to the many towns, villages, excursions and events found on the French Riviera.
Much to my delight (and surprise) my photos of the Maeght Foundation, St Paul de Vence, were published in ‘Icons of Twentieth-Century Landscape Design’ by Katie Campbell and published by Francis Lincoln (2006).
In 2016 I wrote and created an online inter-active guide called ‘Out & About in Vieux Nice’ through which I share my love of this lovely city. Inside you’ll find pop-up information, photos, diagrams and maps, videos and bunch of other great things that will help you explore Old Nice on your own – or simply from the comfort of your armchair.
I hope AMB-Côte d’Azur inspires you to discover this region one day. I certainly enjoy sharing it with you.
Alice M. Barker – Editor