My first waking thought involves my back. I roll over, and it feels not too bad, in spite of the hide-a-bed mattress. My next thought is, if I were in Caromb right now, I’d be listening for the church bell, getting up to buy baguette, and wishing petite Jeannette a good second day of grade 1.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about morning ruminations, it’s that they don’t get any lighter by lying in bed. My valiant chauffeur is still asleep. The kitchen may be small, but it does have a door I can close while I make myself breakfast. And eating poolside would be a treat.
When I emerge into the warm, quiet day, I begin to understand why people would want to buy even a morsel of VIllefranche property to wake up to this view. A gleaming,4 deck cruise ship is steaming towards the harbour. A few small vessels are bustling around, leaving sail-shaped wakes in the placid water. Traffic is starting to move in the town centre.
One floor below me, the apartment manager is energetically mopping the terrazzo stairs. Down on the approach road, the apartment complex’s maintenance truck, its box full of pruned cedar branches, is inching past our Peugeot. I hold my breath. No shrieking metal. Good parking job, Lorne.
The only place where there is no movement is on the cliffs above me. I can’t see anyone sitting under any of the villa awnings. Who lives up there? I’ve read that Tina Turner has a property here and, over in Nice, Elton John and Sean Connery are neighbors.
Drinking in this view deserves another cup of coffee. With some difficulty, I find the precise position for my key in the apartment door and hear the deadbolt thud out of the way. The door remains firm. I rotate the key one more time. Another thud, no entry. I try a counter-clockwise approach. Nothing. Lorne’s drowsy voice comes from the other side of the door. ” It’s a security feature, Pam. You have to turn the key two times, and then just a little bit more.” I try this – twice- and finally call apologetically for Lorne’s assistance.
After a lesson on the delicate art of unlocking our door, and Lorne’s assurance that he was just about to get up anyway, I head back to the pool. Leaning on the far railing offers the best view, so I….
“BWEE-EEP! BWEE-EEP! BWEE-EEP!”
Mon Dieu, what I have done now? I look over my shoulder at a discreet, knee-high post that says, “Avertissement! Alarme puissante!” I wait for irritated residents to appear on their balconies, shaking their fists or brandishing firearms. When no one does, I skulk back to the apartment, which, mercifully, Lorne has kept unlocked.
“Wanna get out of here for a while and explore the town?” he says.
The Peugeot has stayed cool overnight in the shade of a cedar. I climb in, grateful to escape our highstrung apartment complex.
“Ok, this is weird. I wonder if the battery’s shot.” Lorne is trying to turn the ignition key, but nothing is happening, and the steering wheel is locked. He reefs on it, we reef on it together. No movement. The owner’s manual is in French. We troop back up to the apartment, and Lorne calls Eurocar Rentals, who say they’ll send a towtruck right away.
The driver doesn’t speak much English. He slides behind the wheel and turns it with the gentlest of movements. Et voila, the Peugeot relaxes, we breathe out, and our day in VIllefranche can begin.