40 years of Memorable Moments: first French flat

It was only when I started to write about Saint Laurent du Var (coming tomorrow) that I realised I’d never really written about us acquiring our first holiday flat in France. So I thought I’d better remedy that huge oversight pronto. Please bear with me, it’s a bit of a shaggy dog story.

My beloved had organised a training trip to Nice for a large number of UK dentists and dental technicians which took place in Nice University’s newly installed simulation suite. A travel agent had organised the trip and based everyone at the Holiday Inn Resort Hotel in Saint Laurent du Var. However, on checking in, my beloved discovered the hotel was a room short and quite naturally he got bumped to another Holiday Inn nearby. To compensate for their error, the hotel offered my beloved a freebie weekend.

We had recently started taking our god-daughter for a few days away and thought she might enjoy a trip to the French Riviera. Little did we know at the time that this would prove to be one of those defining moments. The hotel very kindly gave us a suite for our long weekend break which was much enjoyed by all. The following year, my god-daughter asked if she could return to France for our annual trip away; so we did. By the time the following year rolled around, my beloved had accepted a transfer to his company’s HQ in Germany, to look after its global sales and marketing activities outside of its home (German) market.

Realising he would be regularly circumnavigating the globe and constantly staying in hotels, my beloved expressed a desire to buy a holiday apartment. I was not wholly on board with this. After all, the only time I ever got waited on hand and foot was in a hotel! We looked at maps and flight schedules and realised Nice would make a perfect location. We returned in late autumn to the hotel we’d previously stayed in with our god-daughter to begin our search.

That first morning, as we walked along the esplanade in Saint Laurent du Var, we realised its proximity to the airport (15 minute walk), abundant bars and restaurants, plus its Cap 3000 shopping mall, meant it was an ideal location for a holiday home. In addition there were a number of apartment blocks with flats directly overlooking the beach.

We popped into the nearest estate agent and asked if they had any flats overlooking the beach for sale. They did have one and an inspection visit was organised immediately. The apartment was a second-floor duplex in a striking (now Heritage listed) 1970s building which afforded splendid sea views. The flat was in mint condition, although somewhat eccentrically decorated. We loved it and made an offer there and then to the amazement of the owner and agent. Our offer was accepted and completion was set for early April (Easter) the following year, a date which suited both parties.

For a couple of years we spent all our holidays in the apartment, meeting up there most weekends and every bank holiday. I would fly over Friday evening from Luton and back again on a very early Monday morning flight, courtesy of Easyjet. My beloved would either fly in from Stuttgart or drive. Though, in any event, he had to leave by lunchtime on Sunday.

Although, I’d resisted the idea of a holiday home at first. I really came to love the lifestyle. So much so that I began to resent having to go back to the UK on Monday morning. We started discussing how we might make the move more permanent. The rest, as they say, is history!