Imma let you finish but….Beaulieu was one of the best places of all time! ~Beaulieu sur Mer, France
Pardon my Kanye inspired outburst but, how do I explain my absolute favorite place that I visited during my stay in France? The beauty, the calm, the soul bending experience of touching the purely divine. It helps that it is all in the name. In fact , Beaulieu literally translates to “beautiful place” in French followed by sur mer which means “on the sea”. Beautiful place on the sea and I couldn’t agree more.
It all started a few days, maybe a week or two, before I went on the actual visit. During dinner one night, after returning from my trip to Toulouse, I was asking V and Amie for places they would recommend I absolutely visit before leaving the South of France. One of their suggestions was Villa Ephrussi which they told me was so gorgeous and had the most amazing gardens. I made a mental note to look it up later but never really thought about it again after that.
The weekend before final exams, we were set to take our last trip that was a part of our program. We ( Stacia, Alex, Marthe, and Brandon) met up with our professor at the train station – and if I do remember correctly, Brandon was running late. When we all hopped onto the train to Beaulieu I had no expectations, no idea of what exactly we were going to see during our visit. I just imagined it would involve touring museums of some kind (you know, the usual).
Once we got off the train, we actually headed to a restaurant that was nearby and for some reason I can’t remember, what I wanted to order could not be made at that time so I was in a bit of a prickly mood. I huffed inwardly and just settled for a pasta dish while envying what the others were ordering ( don’t ask, I don’t know what was wrong with me and no, there was nothing stopping me from simply changing my order). Things took an upward turn however when my plate was placed before me and I took my first bite because, no exaggeration, that pasta dish was out-of-this-world incredible. It was such a nice surprise that I found myself dancing on the inside while eating.
When lunch came to an end, we walked down to the shore but on our way there stumbled across this huge reindeer and Santa sleigh configuration. We took a moment to climb aboard for pictures before continuing on our walk.
It was the moment when my feet hit the sand of the shore that I felt my heart just cracking itself wide open. Everything felt so perfect in that moment, the people, the place and myself. I felt an all-encompassing wave of love and looked out and around the scene in joy and wonder.
From the shore, we walked up through a tiny private neighborhood en route to the villa. I remember running my hands along the sides of the houses and wondering about the lives of the people that lived there. I remember thinking about how nice, how wonderful it might be to live in such a place.
Marthe and Brandon, as usual, were singing and dancing their way through the paved streets and once we reached our destination we went into this tiny building to get our tickets. It was only when we left the ticket office and walked up and around the corner that I felt my heart drop. The first words out of my mouth were “it’s pink!” and I found myself falling head-first into instant love. As soon as I walked into the villa I was transported to another time, another place, and quite possibly, another dimension. The rooms were magnificently designed and contained wonderfully intricate and beautiful pieces. The artifacts included furniture, clothing and china. I could just imagine what it would have been like to have lived there during it’s heyday and once I got to the section overlooking the back garden from the second floor terrace, I just knew it was over. I must have died and gone to heaven.
There was no way I could have imagined that there was yet and still more to come as we exited the house and went through a magical doorway into the gardens. The gardens were so beautiful and inspiring, a place full of life and wonder. I even felt love calling my name as I stood on a side terrace in the gardens overlooking the most amazing view of the shore. To quote Mariah Carey,
“I had a vision, a vision of love.”
Walking further down to get to the back of the villa where the main attraction, the fountain, was, I arrived to see Alex hopping onto some stone pods stretched across both sides of the pool when suddenly, out of nowhere, classical music started playing and water jets burst out from different angles, spraying interminably high in the air in every possible direction.
Alex’s expression was absolutely priceless and I couldn’t fault her for that; of course she would be startled to find herself literally stuck in middle of a world-class water-fountain gymnastics show. We all started laughing at the sheer craziness of it all because of course, of all the people it could possibly happen to, it had to have happened to her. Nobody had warned us earlier that the fountain was set and synchronized to dance to music at certain intervals throughout the day. And if they did, it must have skipped my mind. After that episode, we continued joking around, taking lots of pictures and as the sun started to set we left that villa to head to another one.
Night had already fallen by the time we made it to the second villa, Villa Kérylos. This was a Greek inspired architectural site and if memory serves me right we at one point walked into an underground section housing quite a few stone sculptures. However, due to the fact that we ended up arriving right around closing time, we did not get to spend that much time at that site.
Even though I had had such a magical day, it wasn’t until I got home later that night that it all suddenly clicked in my head; I had ended up visiting the place that V and Amie had recommended I see earlier on and they had been right. Villa Ephrussi was definitely an experience not to be missed.