Outfit: Isabel Marant Étoile Gemma dress (sold out but similarly priced options below), panama hat, Miu Miu sunglasses, K.Jacques St Tropez sandals and Hermes Cape Cod GM watch
From Royal Ascot to vacationing in the French Riviera, this little black dress from Isabel Marant Étoile is getting quite a lot of mileage. Given that the weather in the U.K can be pretty unpredictable, I prefer to buy dresses that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
Once upon a time, I had my share of blings - a diamond tennis bracelet, necklace, Hermes Collier de Chien bracket etc etc etc and then thought....sod it, I can't deal with putting them on and then taking them all off when I'm exercising or having a shower, baking or traveling. These days, I've pared everything down. No blings other than my watch which cleverly masquerades as a bracelet too.
What fascinates me about the European continent is the vicinity of one country to another. Villefranche sur mer is a quick 10-15 minute bus ride from Nice along the coastal highway to Monaco and Ventimiglia which sits just across the border in Italy. Nice is PACKED to the gills in August so we decided to escape and head for a more secluded beach where the gentle waves are far more child friendly.
I know diddly-squat about the history of Europe or the U.K. All I've ever studied was the immensely flawed history of Malaya plus several years of analyzing the Treaty of Waitangi to bits. A quick google search on Villefranche (quite literally means free city or in this case, free port) gave a good insight into the historic town which was fought over for many centuries. The Romans, Duchy of Savoy, the Turks and the French all had a go, flip flopping between various kingdoms before serving as a base for the U.S and Russian naval forces.
Nevertheless, Villefranche sur mer is an idyllic and extremely charming town with lots of character. We hopped off at Octroi bus stop (take bus #100 to Monaco from the port opposite Saint James store) and strolled downhill towards the citadel and harbor. Years ago when we walked over to the citadel, I caught sight of a group of elderly men playing petanque there. They casually gestured us over to join in the game. I had to politely decline. If they'd known what a disaster I am at any ball games, they'd NEVER ever extend an invitation. My last experience involving a ball was at a bowling alley where I'd swung my arm and the ball flew backwards like a torpedo, nearly obliterating an unlucky bloke. My second attempt caused a mass evacuation. Sigh.
We took a stroll along the harbor via a stone pathway that weaved around the fortress, watching the waves crushing against the rocks below and passing a tourist changing his knickers (!!). A seasoned fisherman sat mending his net a few steps away from the restaurants and bars that lined both sides of the main street by the beach.
I'm officially obsessed with 12th and 13th century terraced buildings with their wooden shutters painted in typical Provençal colors. It might be the peak of the summer holiday season but the Old Town was tranquil and almost devoid of tourists since nearly everyone was at the beach. Villefranche is an interesting town to explore if you don't mind getting lost. There are steps everywhere which extends from the beach to the top of the hill where you'll get a spectacular panoramic view of the bay.
Despite several visits to the South of France, I'm still relatively unimpressed with the food scene there. They have rested on their laurels for far too long......(I'm sure I'm going to be pelted with rotten eggs here). Unless you know specifically where to go and be prepared to empty your coffers , the average restaurant is rather uninspiring (pizza, mussels, salad and pasta anyone??)