For the last few years, there has been an abundance of cheap flights to the south and middle of France from the UK. Recently the Netherlands has been starting down that route with its own cut-rate airline, Transavia. Transavia is very much in the easyjet vein, where the stewards and stewardesses are less and less waiters and waitresses but check-out assistants using the flight not to throw you a cubist meal, but to sell you train-station snacks.
There were five of us travelling together and we met up with two more at the airport. Two cars arrived to pick us up, driven by our hostess and an early-arriver. We were whisked out of Nice and into the nearby hills. Well, some people were whisked there. The sportscar went ahead with Jochem's hair blowing in the wind like a millionaire's moll, but the people carrier the rest of us were in decided to over take the sports car just as it turned off the motorway. Consequence was we missed the turning. We went on and on and on until the next turning. We paid the toll and came off; decided it was too complex to try to get there from this exit and got back on in the other direction. After driving all the way back to where the previous exit was, we discovered that due to one of those quirks that the French love to throw into their road systems, there was no exit on the other side of the payage (tolled motorway), so we had to go on to the next exit - pretty much just before the airport. We paid the toll drove round and came back on the other side. This time we drove somewhat less impatiently and took the right turning, paid the toll, and headed off towards the hills.
Obviously, we arrived much later than the occupants of the sports car, and they were already on the champagne, laid on for our arrival by our insanely generous host. Said host is the owner of said villa in said hill, which is a prime piece of real estate overlooking the coast and St. Paul de Vence. Even in the dark, the clear sky allowed us to look down and see the twinkles of lights that hinted of the playground of the rich and famous that is Nice.
As a side note, our flabbergastingly generous host had just been in Paris a day after Cath and I had (see previous entries). He had been there for the Bastille Day celebrations. The ones that we hadn't known about until we'd arrived and consequently missed.
Once the diffusion off to bed had started, a select few climbed up through the vineyard to the treehouse, which was larger than several flats I've lived in, to play perudo. The night was pleasant and there was talk of sleeping up there. But in the end everyone slept in their allotted places – including Ben and I in the "dungeon" in the bowels of the house - mainly because it involved only one trip.