They say there’s no place like home and it’s true. But what happens if you’re so nomadic that you don’t have a home? No set place to call your own. It’s a strange feeling, but home is in fact where your heart is.
And I have to say, my heart is scattered in fragments across the world in places that I’ve fallen in love with, but the biggest piece of my heart lies in the South of France. The French Riviera is full of rolling hills, greenery everywhere, beautiful blue waters, year long sunshine and quaint villages. It spans all the way along the coast from Monaco down to St Tropez and beyond.
Most significantly for me is Antibes. One of the most adorable old towns on the coast, home to my favourite market for fresh produce and the place I moved to nine years ago with a broken heart and a search for myself.
I was studying French at university in Oxford and had a very tough first year at uni losing both my grandfathers and finally a friend over the summer holidays that knocked me for six. I was in a long term relationship with a lovely man a little older than myself. I had been rejected from job after job that I applied for to do my internship abroad and finally, one week before the deadline of having to give up my hopes of working in France and studying in a French university instead, I landed myself a job that I didn’t realise would lead me to the rest of my life.
My level of French sufficed for this job and I barely even took time to think about or process what I’d agreed to, as, after all, it was a job and it was in France which ticked the boxes to quantify my placement year learning French.
Only after receiving an email with a somewhat official job offer did I realise that Antibes was so far down into the south of France.
I knew nothing about the area but nor did I care. I remember packing my bags and flying over to my new hometown, ironically nine years ago to the day (I wrote this then, on September the 27th, but am only posting it now).
All I knew, is that when I arrived it was love at first sight. I fell head over heels for this pretty little town and my love only grew with every day that passed by living there.
After a whirlwind of emotions from the previous year suddenly lifted off my shoulders, I fell into a routine and made so many friends that I barely knew what to do with myself – joking… drink beer, obviously. My relationship ended and the only thing for me to do was to make the most of the time I was given in my new town.
And that is exactly what I did. I explored the local villages, had family and friends visiting me at every opportunity and soaked up the sun even in winter.
I spent the twelve months living in Antibes eating, drinking and enjoying like there was no tomorrow and I felt that I had finally started to find myself as a person.
I discovered what it was like to live alone and be in my own world and I think this probably triggered the free-spirited side of me that is still present today.
The whole coast line of the South of France holds such a huge piece of my heart because it’s truly where I feel that I discovered who I am. Returning to university after this experience was one of the hardest things I had to do, and despite trying to resist it for a long time, I am glad I went back to finish my studies – if not only for my own health and well-being!
Graduating uni was daunting as I didn’t have the faintest clue of what I wanted to do or what would come next until one fateful afternoon when I was called by my old boss in Antibes and asked if I’d be interested in working from July – December that year covering maternity leave.
I didn’t even have to let her finish speaking before I agreed and soon, my bags were packed and I was moving back to Antibes just two years after I’d cried and cried at the thought of leaving.
Back in Antibes with more maturity and now living with friends, I had a new outlook on this opportunity, but it wasn’t long before I met someone that changed my world.
My now husband took me off into the wonderfully crazy world of yachting and now six years later, I’m sitting back on the Côte d’Azur viewing it from a different perspective: from sea.
The whole coast is so beautiful and brings shivers to my spine at the memories of living here, at the growth that this place spurred in me and at the amazing journey that life is.
After spending a week in Antibes just last week, my heart is now in two, wishing for the old days, or perhaps new days in an old setting. My heart belongs here & I’m grateful for being back here, but also struggling to focus on anything else!
Life is a bittersweet whirlwind of emotions, and the only thing I can do for this moment is sit and revel in all the beauty of Cannes.