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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Brown

Embracing the Melodies of Adventure in the French Tapestry

Updated: Jan 9

In the symphony of my travels, there exists a recurring harmony, a distinct tune that plays across the train stations of France. Oh, how I wish I could transcribe it into letters or words, capturing the essence of anticipation woven into that familiar sound. Having crisscrossed the French landscape by train, the resonance heralds the imminent arrival of announcements, signaling not annoyance but the commencement of yet another extraordinary odyssey.

Our stage is set in the picturesque city of Nice, France—a realm steeped in history and known for its Rosé. Freshly arrived, we opt for a train journey from the airport to the city center, gearing up for the two-mile ascent to our Airbnb perched on the outskirts of the old town. A strategic move to keep costs in check during the brief hiatus while we await the arrival of our friends. Or least that was what we sketched in our heads.

The plot thickens as we set our sights on acquiring a pair of Royal Enfield motorcycles, injecting an exhilarating chapter into our unfolding narrative. Yet, let's rewind the reels a bit and uncover the serendipitous leap from the tranquil landscapes of Canada to the vibrant boulevards of Nice—a tale scripted by spontaneity, unforeseen and unplanned.

Five days past, we found ourselves ensconced at the kitchen island of our friends' abode. Spontaneity struck them with a somewhat impulse to embark on a journey to the south of France, drawn by the whispers of exploration from a Travel network. Having treaded the French paths multiple times, the allure of its beauty served as a fitting distraction for my wife, still ensconced in the cocoon of grief. While our friends opted for a direct flight to Nice, our commitment to visit friends in Ohio became the pivot. A trail of creative navigation led us from Ohio to Orlando, Florida, with flights to Gatwick, London, an inexplicable bargain at $99 each. The flight to Orlando, a mere $79 each, followed by a pocket-friendly easyJet flight from Gatwick to Nice for 54 euros. A mere investment of approximately $464 ushered us into the enchanting rhythm of train announcements echoing through the French stations, setting the tone for an unscripted journey.

Yet, the enchantment of such spontaneous voyages comes tethered to the demand for patience. In truth, we found ourselves, at times, lacking the stamina required for the journey. A red-eye flight to Gatwick with an eight-and-a-half-hour layover became part of our unfolding saga. The desolate confines of Gatwick Airport, devoid of comforting amenities, challenged our exhausted minds. Delays and layovers played their part until we alighted in Nice close to midnight. Fatigue rendered the prospect of navigating the train system daunting. Faced with a steep taxi fare, we opted for a 15-minute walk to our hotel—a modest haven for the night as we had to make arrangements to start our Airbnb the following day due to delays.

Starvation and weariness marked our entry into the night. A makeshift dinner from UberEats unfolded against the backdrop of a small window with bars, offering a limited view of the city. Our impromptu picnic, strewn across the bed amidst disheveled luggage, metamorphosed into a

moment of shared laughter, softening the earlier edges of tension and ushering in a well-deserved respite.

With the dawn of a new day, we found ourselves at the train station, welcomed by the familiar chime, ready to explore the enchanting tapestry of Nice. The city, adorned with sun-kissed buildings and winding alleyways, cast a spell of magic. From the soaring walls of Mont Boron to the palm-lined boulevard meeting the sea, Nice unfurled itself as the jewel of the French Riviera.

As the day unfolded, armed with translated instructions, we navigated our way to the Airbnb. Heather, my wife, took on the role of the navigator for our dinner destination—choosing between her culinary loves: tacos or authentic pizza. On this eve, pizza claimed its throne, courtesy of a Sicilian family who had transplanted their pizzeria to Nice. An evening of delightful conversations about pizza added flavor to our unexpected escapade.

The next chapter in our unfolding saga heralded the arrival of our friends. It was time to rendezvous with the rented motorcycles, a process orchestrated entirely in the digital realm. The absence of a physical office complicated matters, requiring a concoction of translations, gestures, and patience. Yet, in due course, we found ourselves astride our Royal Enfields, navigating the charming one-way streets of the old city—ours, a Himalayan, and our friends, a GT 650.

As the engines hummed and the wheels traced the path, our destination unfolded—a winding road leading eastward and upward, offering vistas that stretched from Nice to the hills beyond. The journey unfolded like a dance, with hairpin turns, narrow tunnels, and cliffside panoramas. Signposts pointed us toward our first stop—Eze, a medieval village perched in the heavens, echoing with the whispers of ages past.

Eze, with its labyrinth of stairs and passages, beckoned us once again. Near the summit, a vantage point on a veranda awaited, and for the price of an 8-euro coke, we reveled in a world below. The day continued with a leisurely lunch, and we reveled in the charm of having discovered the village's secrets before the influx of tour buses—an intimate secret shared with the old stones of Eze.

The journey pressed on to Monaco, a playground of opulence. Gliding through its quiet, gold-paved streets on our motorcycles heightened the sensory experience.

Riding a motorcycle through the world unfolds a unique narrative—a tale that allows you to taste the essence of a place, to carry it with you as a cherished memory.

Climbing out of the allure of Monaco, the engine laboring as it ascended away from the salt-kissed air, our route unveiled a journey through the mountains behind—a path leading to the quaint village of Peille. As temperatures dropped, palm trees gave way to pines, and the roads grew narrower, hugging rock faces and passing through villages, rivers, and waterfalls. With the sun dipping behind the mountains, casting shadows over the road, the journey unfolded like a sensory symphony.

As we departed the wooded sanctuaries, plunging into the embrace of darkness. The engine's exhale resonated through a narrow passage, a symphony that unfolded in the clandestine corridors of nature. Emerging into the light, it bestowed warmth upon the trees, the fragrance of pine enveloping our senses. The road, an elusive serpent, wound and coiled upon itself. Shifting gears between 2nd and 3rd, the anticipation peaked.

And then, the revelation—a cascade of cliffs, the road once perceived as a reward, now playfully receded with a whispering laugh. Before us lay a magnificent high valley, adorned with sun-kissed pines. Across this idyllic expanse, a village perched on the side of a grand hill caught our gaze. The road unfurled like a river, flowing down and winding up, a testament to the foresight of those who built it ages ago.

In this spot, a timeless spectacle captivated all who passed through. Here, we realized our kinship with fellow travelers, acknowledging that we were no different, except perhaps in our ability to truly see. Even my words, or those of a more eloquent scribe, would falter in conveying the breathtaking beauty of the moment. With out the confines of the cabin of a car, we continued to ride, the unfolding panorama akin to witnessing a grand play.

Approaching the village on the other side, it held steadfast in its allure, defying the common expectation of diminishing interest. It operated on its own time, existing at its own pace in the vast tapestry of the world. For us, astride our bikes, it offered a humble day pass to its existence. Taking a pause, we found solace in a postcard-worthy café, where French conversations hung in the air, a symphony incomprehensible to our ears. Yet, it became the essence of the moment, a collective obliviousness to our presence. The server, a kind soul, served us gentlemen espresso, while our wives continued their amorous affair with the Rosé of the Region.

In this quaint interlude, amid the chatter of a foreign tongue, we found ourselves immersed in the timelessness of the journey—a tale woven into the fabric of a single day's humble passage through a village suspended in its own unique rhythm.

The journey persisted, each curve of the road a seductive dance with anticipation. The road unfurled, and we reached a small village where an unexpected sight greeted us—an odd structure pushed into the mountain with a great iron fence. Passing by, it seemed reminiscent of a bear enclosure at a city zoo—an enigma that lingered as we ascended circular stairs to a lodge overlooking the vastness of our climb. Upon inquiry of the structure it was explained it was a gunnery from world war II, I took pause in the thought that where we are from our scenery is void from those scars of war, that it was moreplausible bear inclosure then instrument of war.

As we sat, gazing out over the top of the world, laughter echoed, stories were exchanged, and plans were made. We made our way down the back of the great beast and road gave way to the city below. The sun bowed out, leaving hues of purple and orange to cast their spell over the landscape. Pine trees fell away, giving way to buildings, gardens, and the bustling city lights of Nice. We descended, dancing between buses and navigating the twists and turns of the city streets, until we found ourselves on the shores of the Mediterranean.

The towering palm-lined road along the sea, a demarcation between the calm sea and the vibrancy of Nice, beckoned us. Seaside restaurants, people sipping and the night awakening—a spectacle unfolding as the sea faded into the nocturnal hues. Parking our bikes, we immersed ourselves in the night, and took to the streets on foot—a nocturnal sojourn through the vibrancy of old Nice.

Four of us sat in the heart of old Nice, recounting the day's adventures, our hands mimicking the dance of our bikes. Stories were swapped, laughter echoed, and memories were captured in photos—an epitome of a perfect day. As the vibrations of the day resonated through our hands, we embraced the night, knowing that the journey awaited a repeat in the opposite direction come the morrow.

To be continued...

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