a year in nice that changed my life

by Sharon Santoni


White benches on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France

Do you sometimes look back on your life and pinpoint a moment that changed your direction forever?   A career choice? A change of family circumstances? A chance meeting with someone who would change your way of seeing the world?   Or maybe a place?……


The city of Nice on the Cote d’Azur will always hold a special place in my heart.    Nice was the first place I called home in France when as a student, very very many years ago, I spent a year here.


I’ll always remember that first morning in Nice.  I arrived by train from the north of France, I had a suitcase and a bicycle in the train with me!  Times have changed!! Once out of the train, I stored my bags in a luggage locker (remember those, before we were all paranoid about left luggage?!), jumped on my bike and cycled through the town and down to the Promenade des Anglais and the beach.

Along the Shoreline in Nice - A Year in Nice My French Country Home

The light was incredible, and I sat for a while taking in the view along the Baie des Anges, with the pink domed roof of the Negresco behind me.  I literally couldn’t believe my luck, that this place was going to be my home for the year to come.


As I sat there, I had no idea that actually that year would shape the rest of my life; that I’d fall in love, not only with France, with the light, the architecture, the landscapes , but also with a cute French boy who nearly 40 years later is still my partner in crime.


I think it is this love of France, and the fact that I came here as an adult, rather than a young child, which drives me to share so easily via the blog and of course my tours.  As I type these words, I’m on an airplane, flying south for the start of my Provence tour. I am privileged to host a group of interesting, open minded guests, and hopefully show them stuff they’ve never seen before.


We’ll get off the beaten track, we’ll eat well, drink wine and champagne, be invited inside private homes and we will meet with skilled artisans.  We’ll shop, we’ll chat, we’ll laugh and we may even shed a tear. Stories will be shared, experiences compared, and I know that at the end of the week we’ll all bid each other adieu a little richer from our shared enjoyment of France, authentic good living and good company.


I’ll be sharing images of the tour on my Instagram during the week, and I’ll post a gallery of pictures here too.


If you would like to receive any information about our tours, then don’t hesitate to drop us a line, we’re always happy to answer any questions.  Thank you for reading me.


Taste of France May 21, 2019 - 8:14 pm

Nice is definitely not a hardship posting. I was so impressed by the rocky beaches and the music of the pebbles as they tumbled with each receding wave. Lovely.

Michele LaHam May 21, 2019 - 10:32 pm

I am interested in your tours!

Molly @ MFCH May 28, 2019 - 6:39 pm

Hi Michele, we’ll send you an email in the next couple of days with more information. 🙂 We hope to see you in France soon!

Ida Duplechin May 21, 2019 - 10:35 pm

What a beautiful and heartful story. Thank you.

Susan May 21, 2019 - 10:38 pm

Anxiously await your posts!

Mary Katherine May 21, 2019 - 10:40 pm

I first arrived in Nice in 1976 as a teenager on a school trip and thought it was utterly magical. Returned for New Year’s Eve in 1984 and found it just as magical. I still hope for one more trip there…

suzanne vigneron May 21, 2019 - 10:43 pm

This is my favorite place in the whole world.

Bonnie Wood May 21, 2019 - 10:47 pm

Beautiful city!!!!! Get me a plane ticket!!! Love to read your stories .

Pamela Page May 21, 2019 - 11:04 pm

Sharon, I enjoyed this blog very much. While I was a child and not an adult, a period of my life is nearly as vivid as when it happened. My father built bridges for a living and we moved extensively. One day he came home and said he had been offered the opportunity to help build a bridge in Lisbon, Portugal. It was 1963. We were to leave the day JFK was shot. (It doesn’t get more memorable than that!) He helped build the bridge than spans the Tagus (Tejo) and was later called the 25 Avril bridge. We lived in a “small” town south of Lisbon in Cascais. To be 9 and leave at nearly 13 is such a formative time in life no matter where you live but to live there and speak (at the time) 4 languages was magical! Of all the places I’ve called home over many years that time in my life stands out above any other.

Jayne McLeod May 22, 2019 - 2:39 pm

To be able to speak 4 languages sounds pretty amazing and magical … do you have the opportunity to speak or use any of those languages still now ?

Laura Wilson May 23, 2019 - 4:18 pm

Pamela, I have seen that bridge— what a feat of engineering and it’s so graceful to boot! What a wonderful opportunity for you and your family. And your dad!

Barbara Novello May 21, 2019 - 11:12 pm

Loved your blog today and going down memory lane. Sadly it is so different today.

Beverly Poag May 21, 2019 - 11:37 pm

Leaving next week for my first trip over the pond to France… Fountainbleu…my SIL home town. Of course Paris is on our itinerary, as is Dinan, Brittany. Since he’s a local we’ll take a lot of back roads and do as the locals do! I am beyond excited!! BTW I’m 76, not a teenager, but it WILL definitely be life changing!! A DREAM COME TRUE!! I’ll see France through the eyes of my daughter & SIL.

Jayne McLeod May 22, 2019 - 2:44 pm

YOU are going to have an amazingly wonderful time in France … ENJOY ! enjoy every life changing moment !!!!

Doug May 21, 2019 - 11:38 pm

Nice and the nearby hilltop village of Biot have become our second home to Maine where we replenish our souls. For the past 43 years we have been fortunate to make the annual pilgrimage to the Cote d’Azur where the smells, tastes, sounds and vistas titillate our senses. For ten of those years my wife lead week-long retreats for women seeking clarity as they approached a significant transition in their lives…and I was the chef for the week in a 19th century villa in Biot.

I look forward to your stories so that I can experience a taste of the region year round!

Jayne McLeod May 22, 2019 - 2:47 pm

how amazing !

DD May 22, 2019 - 12:02 am

France is magnificent! Nice holds a special place in my heart…how can it not, such beauty!
Lookimg forward to seeing more gorgeous photos and reading more of your blog.

Virginia Billeaud Anderson May 22, 2019 - 12:10 am

So happy I found your blog. Your images are lovely. Looking forward to following the tour. Thank you – Virginia (A writer in Houston)

Deborah Lindsay May 22, 2019 - 1:12 am

Dear Sharon,
I am more than a “little” richer having traveled with you!
All love,

RITA PARKER May 22, 2019 - 1:19 am


Marg Gibbs May 22, 2019 - 1:45 am

As an Australian traveller to Nice I dipped my body into the cold sea and marvelled at this simple, pleasurable experience. The stones and rocks of the beach were certainly different.

Lenore May 22, 2019 - 1:45 am

Wish I was on your tour. It sounds wonderful.
I am subscribed to your magazine online and would like to receive the print version. How do I do that?

Molly @ MFCH May 28, 2019 - 6:41 pm

Hi Lenore, check your email 🙂 You should have received a note from us on the 15th with details. Send us an email at magazine@myfrenchcountryhome.com if you are having trouble finding it. Kind wishes, Molly

Ellen May 22, 2019 - 2:25 am

Nice holds a different memory for me. Two days after my divorce, I boarded a plane for France. My cure for the blues was to rent a car and spend three weeks driving through the beautiful countryside. Only spent one day in Paris (made up for that with a full week in just Paris this last fall) then traveled to Normandy, visiting Giverny and other sights along the way. I visited the WWII beaches then went to Mont St Michele and from there spent a week in the Loire Valley. That was my most favorite place! After that down to the Langdoc Rousillion region (spelling may not be too great) then to Aix, Avignon and finally Nice. By the time I hit Nice, I was tired. I had driven alone the entire time and I just wanted to kick back and rest on the beach. So I ditched the rental car in Avignon and took the train to Nice, only to find I had to walk to my hotel because the taxis were on strike. Then I found how rocky the beach was! but then and sea were still enjoyable and I did relax. But as I spent so much time touring and driving, I did not do anything but the beach while in Nice. And that trip made me fall in love with your beautiful country, which I can continue to feel and breathe when I read your blog. I so appreciate you bringing me back to this beautiful land!

Jeni Maus May 22, 2019 - 2:44 am

Love this. Love you. Miss you so much.

Marie Cote' Batson May 22, 2019 - 4:28 am

My heart would love to travel with you! My now deceased husband and forever love traveled much in the U.S. but I can only dream about visiting France, the country of my ancestors. At the age of near eighty years I must now be content in my lovely victorian cottage with my little rescue pup, Meisha. Thank you for sharing….I can almost feel the ocean breezes and smell the floral air as you send such beautiful photos and descriptions.

Nona Moran May 22, 2019 - 5:23 am

I would like to receive your trip information. Thank you.

Molly @ MFCH May 28, 2019 - 6:42 pm

Hi Nona, We will send you an email with all the info. Thanks for your interest and we hope to see you soon! Molly

Leslie Polatty May 22, 2019 - 5:33 am

Cannot wait for your posts about your tour. The water is beautiful in these pictures.

Chrysanthemum May 22, 2019 - 9:20 am

We’ve just spent a week cycling along the Loire Valley and enjoying the chateaus, the wines of Chinon, and even pedalling UP and down the hills. What a treat to be here in the spring! Enjoying every minute.
Now off to Paris for three days and the museums, and more food and wine.

carol May 22, 2019 - 9:32 am

Fabulous post Sharon I am taken away from my desk here in Worcestershire to a place I hope one day to visit. Thank you so much x

Kate Dickerson May 22, 2019 - 12:06 pm

Oh my goodness, Sharon…Nice was also my first home in France, as a student at the University in 1977-78. What year were you there? (You can privately message me if you want!) I also fell in love with the city and with a very charming young Frenchman. While we did not stay together for the long run (thankfully, since I met my soulmate later, in America) the entire experience, including spending so much time with his family, changed me forever and shaped the way I look at and appreciate life.

Margo May 22, 2019 - 1:53 pm

My one moment in Time was the day I met my husband of 48 years. On that day I went for a job interview, was hired on the spot and went home and got ready for a college dance with my friends. I was 16 years old. He has been my partner in crime also for the last 50 years. We continue to travel, but as long as we are together it doesn’t matter where we are.

Nadia GRAVES May 22, 2019 - 1:58 pm

We call Vence home since December and love it

Teri May 22, 2019 - 3:37 pm

My husband and I leave for Nice in 3 weeks and I have been so busy with kids and life….that I really have not had a chance to give it much thought or get excited about our holiday there. Your post made me realize that when kids get out of school end of next week, I need to start thinking about all the fun I will soon have there. I have been before – but years ago – however it will by my husband’s first trip to Nice. Can’t wait!

Lesley Mclellan May 22, 2019 - 9:11 pm

I went briefly to Nice because i wanted to go to Antibes . As a student at Canterbury University in New Zealand I had read Somerset Maugham’s short story Three fat Ladies of Antibes and it, Antibes , never left my mind ! Maugham actually lived in Cap Ferrat and died in Nice and is worth reading about ..a wonderful writer. The story must have had a profound affect on me as I do keep an eye on my weight! Nice was glorious and i must go back for longer and perhaps do an immersion course in french and soak in the beauty again.

Sandy May 25, 2019 - 11:10 am

Bonjour Sharon! I am in Paris for my first visit and happened to watch your video about a trip you took to Paris. Made me smile as I was sitting in Le Saint Hotel as I watched the video. Life is funny sometimes. Have a wonderful tour! I am most envious of your guests. Maybe some day……

Alicia Alvez de los santos May 26, 2019 - 2:20 am

I live in Uruguay but I love France, more than ever Provenze. I think I ‘ll live there in another time and life. Thanks for share yours Tours. It’s dreamy!!!!!

Rhonda Reeves May 27, 2019 - 6:31 pm

I am one of the lucky people who just finished the touch Sharon was on her way to in the above post. A truly amazing experience in culture, food, wine and new friends. Thank you Sharon and Molly!

Molly @ MFCH May 28, 2019 - 6:43 pm

Thank you Rhonda!! It was such a joy having you and Diane on the tour. We hope to see you again sometime soon 🙂 xx Molly

be my valentine - MY FRENCH COUNTRY HOME February 14, 2020 - 8:16 pm

[…] thing on the Cote d’Azur, 21 years old, carefree and ecstatic to be in the South of France as a student for a year.   Turns out the university did not go so well.  I was studying languages at university in […]

Mary Petrie March 18, 2020 - 1:22 am

Although I’m reading this almost two years after my trip to southern France and Provence, your blog took me right back there. I love my walk along the promenade, the color of the water, the food and the people. I was not as fortunate as you to find a life partner but the trip was a magical one.
Thank you for sharing your memories and photos.

Giftbasketworldwide September 20, 2021 - 10:42 am

What a Fantastic Post!! Love your work.

Karin M Piet January 13, 2023 - 9:03 am

Nadia, Please do not come back to the United States!!! You and Stuart are not welcome here! It is a better place now that you and your elitist selves are gone.

Karin Piet September 23, 2023 - 3:22 pm

Where has Nadia Hopper Graves disappeared to? Into the ether?? Inquiring minds want to know.


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