One of my favourite books that can always be found in the small bookcase next to my side of the bed is “La Côte d’Azur …à Pied”, or in English the Côte d’Azur on foot. A handy little reference guide, it is filled with an assortment of walks, randonnées, of varying degrees of difficulty.
Finding myself with a full house one weekend in the spring of 2010, I decided the best way to entertain the more energetic members of the household was by way of a littoral walk around The Cap d’Antibes. I also had an ulterior motive in wanting to see Château de la Croë, the former home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. They had purchased it in 1938 after his abdication from the English throne and the former Mrs Wallis Simpson had spared no expense in transforming it into a palatial abode. Part of my walk would go alongside the walls of the old Château.
We were quite a large group – American cousins who were sharing our Juan les Pins holiday rental, dutiful daughter who had flown over from her then home in Dusseldorf to join us, and a couple of French friends who had given us most recently a guided tour of the Marais district of Paris. Ange was indeed a qualified tour guide.
It was an interesting time. Eyjafjallajökull, the Iceland volcano had closed all the airports and the French rail system seemed to be suffering terribly under the strain of the additional traffic. Nice airport at times resembled a camp site. It was a good weekend to stay close to home.
The only disappointment of the walk was Château de la Croë which looked like an abandoned home hidden behind high walls and a wild, overgrown garden. A year later it was bought for a cool, “throwaway” price of £15 million by the Russian oligarch, Abramovich:-