On Day 6, we were leaving Paris around 13:50 to catch a train to Nice. From there we were to rent a car and drove to Villa Ayries in the mountain area just outside of Cannes. I got up early in the morning and packed up our stuff before 8:00 am. After breakfast, we still had about 2 hours to kill. What should we do? I never got a chance to shop beside my little trip to the Chanel store on Day 1, but Geoff didn't think we had enough time for a shopping jaunt. Oh well, we never climbed the Arc de Triomphe either, and it was less than 10 minutes away. So we decided to go there instead.
We climbed to the top of the famous Arch. The stairs weren't half as "demanding" as they were at Notre Dame, and Andy had a good time bounding up the spiral staircase. Geoff took some interesting pictures of the staircase for Andy. Once we got to the top, we took a little time enjoy the view of Paris. Although by now, we've seen similar views a couple of times already--on Notre Dame, and Eiffel Tower. We didn't linger too long this time.
After we came down from Arc de Triomphe, Geoff ran back to the hotel to get our luggages and hailed a cab to pick Andy and me up. We rushed to Gare de Lyon just in time to catch our train to Nice. Andy was very excited to ride the train--it was one of those high speed ones, and we got seatings on the top level by the window.
The train ride to Nice was around 6 hours. It was pretty uneventful except for a couple of interesting encounters with our fellow travelers: half way through the journey, we struck a conversation with a pretty girl sitting near us. We found out that she's an actress from Sidney, Australia, and she's going to Cannes to attend the film festival where one of her movies is being premiered! She told us her name was Erica, and she's in a movie about Ladybug, in which she is the said ladybug (hehe, sounds like a weird indy film to me!) Anyway, the girl was very pleasant, we chitchatted for a while, and we wished her good luck on her film. As the train got close to Cannes, we also started a chat with a couple of pretty French girls sitting next to Erica. One of the girl spoke extremely good English, she did a lot of translating for her friend when they were conversing with Erica. It turned out that the girl had spent a year in UT Austin! What a small world--I told her that both my husband and I graduated from there. She was very happy to hear that, and we talked a bit about Austin, Texas. Then she told us her friend and her were on their way to attend the Cannes Film Festival. They were both very excited about it. I should have asked her how they got their passes since the festival wasn't open to the public. But I didn't want to overstep the boundary and intrude on their privacy, so I refrained from asking more questions.
Just as I was contemplating if I should ask the girls for a picture, the train arrived in Cannes, and they got off. Several guys got on the train wearing the festival badges and carrying a big professional camera. As the train continuing its way to Nice, these guys were conducting a weird interview on the train (or maybe they were just goofing off.) Apparently some of the festival attendees were staying in Nice instead because the hotels in Cannes were super expensive around this time.
We arrived in Nice just before 19:00--right on schedule. After we got off the train, Geoff was busy looking around for a taxi to take us to the airport to pick up our rental car. However, I spotted an airport shuttle not too far from where we were standing, and hauled Geoff, Andy and our luggages toward the bus. Sure enough, the bus goes to the airport indeed, and it would only cost us four euroes to get there! Not bad, we got to the airport without any hassle. We rented our car from a company called Sixt. I've never heard of the company before, but it apparently had branches all over Europe. The only thing was we had to wait quite a while for the car to be cleaned. By the time we were on our way to Cannes, it was getting dark.
The drive to Cannes was pretty straight forward from the highway A8. But Villa Ayries was half way between Cannes and Fréjus (a charming medieval town dated all the way back to Julius Cesar), near a town called Mandelieu. It was situated in a parc off RN7. Once we turned into the parc, we were hopelessly lost! The roads were very small, steep, and winding. We made numerous sharp turns to find our way. Our direction said we needed to follow the signs to Villa Roc Rouge, and Villa Ayries was just further up the road. But the signs to Villa Roc Rouge were very obscure, and there was a Roc Rouge road, adding to our confusion. Eventually, after many wrong turns, we finally drove through the gate of Villa Ayries.
Our friend's family had already arrived at the villa before us. It was nice to drive into a strange place in the dark where all the lights were turned on, and people to greet us! Poor Andy, as soon as he walked into the house, he threw up! Even I was feeling a lot queasy in my stomach. Fortunately, the house was made of stones and rocks, so it was easy to clean up. Did I say it was really nice that our friends had arrived ahead of us?! It was wonderful that they had cleaned up the place, and went shopping for food and drinks before we arrived. There was a BBQ pit in the back of the house, and as soon as we arrived, the meats were threw on the grille. Before long, we had a nice dinner with our friends. Andy was so happy to meet up with his playmates. By the time we arrived the villa, it was completely dark, but we could still see the lights of Cannes along the bay--even in the dark we could tell the villa got a very nice view!
After the meal, we were all getting very tired. After put on the sheets and made the bed, we bid everyone a good night and hit the sack!