Living the French Riviera Way
Now don’t get me wrong. Hotels are great, and I would not miss staying in them for the world.
If you are hiking and passing through a town for one night, if you are on a two-night or three-night stay in one of the world’s major cities, hotels are your best or even only option, making sure you are never far away from the central train or bus station, able to reach most sights on foot (and the others conveniently by public transport) and always have a place near-by where you can drop in to have a bite, a drink or some entertainment.
But what if you wanted to stay in the same city for a week?
It has for long been a dream of mine to spend three months, perhaps as much as a year in New York City. Hotels do not feature in that dream.
If you decide to stay somewhere for a little longer than a few nights, your interest in that city obviously goes a little deeper, and you want to do more than familiarize yourself with the municipal park, a museum or two and take the lift up the tallest building in town. In essence, it comes down to this: hotels are great for tourists, but if you fancy yourself as a visitor, a holiday rental will be your best bet.
See the the city’s colour in 3D, hear its notes for which others are deaf.
Holiday rentals are often less centrally located than hotels, and while this would be considered a serious drawback if you only wanted to spend one night in town before moving on, this has substantial benefits for the “visitor”. You will be living where the natives live: your choice of restaurants and of places to shop will be influenced by the same factors as the choices of the local folks.
And you will be surprised how quickly – it rarely takes longer than a few days – you will adopt their perspective in other things, too. You will develop a certain liking for, perhaps even a certain pride in your street when you come “home” after a long day of hiking or sightseeing and will be on “nodding terms” with your neighbours before long.
You will be seeing the city from an angle that will forever be closed to you if you stay in a hotel. It is the same city as it is for the “tourist”, but you will see it in more dimensions, and it will be like seeing something in colour or 3D for the first time. You will be hearing notes for which others are deaf.
Clearly, such an experience is not for every place you will ever be visiting. I have been to towns and cities where I was pretty glad not having to hear these notes. (No names.) But we all have dream places: places where we have been before, perhaps, and that we want to explore more deeply, places about which we have read since we were small and have always wanted to see. If you want to spend a week of your life or more in a place or a region, a holiday rental is your only chance for getting the experience you are after.
In some countries, this is accepted wisdom.
On one of our first family holidays in France, we rented a hotel room for ten days in the Pays Basque. We saw other guests come and go and soon realized that nobody stayed there as long as we. Even the hotel staff looked at us in a funny way. And they were right, of course.
One room for three people is simply too small. No matter how much you love each other, the denial of space and privacy gets on your nerves. Eating out is fun but less so if you have no alternative. The same is true for going out “to do something” – this should not be an escape from the clutter and enforced claustrophobia of your hotel room.
One of the areas in Europe that Mrs. Easy Hiker and I have always wanted to experience at a deeper level – hiking-wise as well as more generally life-wise – is the southeast of France, the Cote d’Azur. We have been there several times, but never for more than a few days, so we eagerly seized the opportunity offered to us by HomeAwayUK of spending a week in the coastal town of Antibes.
We have, of course, planned a few hikes in the area, and are already looking forward to sharing our experiences with you.
Join us in savouring living life the French Riviera way in the coming days!
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