I ended up in this little hidden town called Saint Jean Cap Ferrat that was not at all on my radar. Cap Ferrat is nestled right below Beaulieu sur Mer which I fell in love with on a trip there during my study abroad days. I decided to visit Beaulieu once again on this trip. My vision was to start at the restaurant we had gone to last time then spend my afternoon at Villa Ephrussi. Fate had other plans for me.
The restaurants were closed on that day so I chose to still stay on the bus and hop off at the villa stop. As the bus was reaching the halt I spotted Toi et Moi iron scroll-work on set against the wall of one of the fences of a building and I had it in mind to stop there first and take a picture as soon as I got off the bus before walking to the villa.
That never happened.
As soon as I hopped off the bus, it zoomed away and instead of walking in the opposite direction of the bus toward the villa, I turned perpendicular to the stop point, looked to my right, and spotted a small building (it looked like a hut) with an office of tourism sign.
My feet walked me in that direction and as soon as I walked into the cool and dark room the lady at the front desk greeted me and started telling about what there is to see and do in this tucked away town. My attention however, was transfixed to the brown pamphlet with Musée des Coquillages emlazoned on the front.
For those of you who don’t know, un coquillage is a seashell and Saint Jacques or Saint James is the saint with whom the seashell is associated. There is a pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago from southwestern France to northern Spain that is still walked to this day and I consider him to be my patron saint.
As soon as I saw that seashell museum pamphlet I knew that was a sign. I forgot all about my villa visit plans and as I headed out the door to make way into this undiscovered town, I see right in front of me and across the street, a villa named MARYLAND and it was all the confirmation I needed that I had made the right decision.
The lady at the tourism office had asked me to take one of the tin containers on display that had a white background and a seahorse sitting in the center accompanied by the town’s motto, perfectly unique, written in a pretty script. She had also handed me a brochure highlighting some sculptures (about 13) installed around the town that were created by Sosno.
My first order of business was to head into town and find all of the works listed on the information packet. It was a fun way to explore the area and I was only unable to locate two of them using the map.
When I was done with that activity I made my way to the church before heading to the area where the seashell museum was supposed to be. I couldn’t find it. I walked from one end of the dock to the other and was still unsuccessful and getting highly frustrated.
I took a breath and decided to walk toward the garden and cemetery that was highlighted on the map from the tourism office. On my way up, once the incline leveled out, I look to my right and I see an open area. I cross the street and I am met with this yellow National Geographic rectangle framing a beautiful shore. I walk down to the shore line and I am blown away by a sense of beauty and calm.
I sit on the rocks for a few moments and then notice a rose bobbing in the water. It floats right up the shore, so close to me that I decide to catch it and I sit with it. I plant the rose in the ground and in my mind I make up a whole story about how the universe is bringing me love.
When I am ready to leave, I gather my things, get up, turn around, step forward, and I am tugged backward. I look down and see that the rose is clinging to the bottom of my skirt and dragging along behind me. I decide to wrap it up in my map and bring it back with me into the town center where I’m determined to find this elusive seashell museum.
When I arrive at the site I still don’t see the museum and I am perplexed. I walk up the stairs to the spot right across the church and ask a man passing by if he knows where it is. He points below in the direction I’d come from and says it’s right there. I ask if he’s sure and he nods his head emphatically.
At this point I’m getting tired and I want to go back to Nice but I know I did not come all this way in vain. I walk back to the area and peer through the windows. All the lights for the businesses on this level are off (is it a holiday?) but I spot a seashell poster. I am happy to see that I am in the right place but I have to contend with the fact that it is apparently closed even though the website didn’t say anything about it being closed today at this time.
I stand still in front of the store and ask my Guides to help me. Five minutes later, a man in a dark suit comes jogging down the port and stops right at the door with keys jangling in his hands. He opens the door, turns to me, and says, ” Are you here to visit the seashell museum?” To which I reply, “Yes.” And he responds, “Great, come on in. It’s small but the collection is amazing.”
After paying my entry fee he turns on a short video documentary on seashells that is super dry but I’m fascinated by this subject so it doesn’t matter. When the clip ends, I walk around the space and marvel at the seashell collection. It’s so beautiful and vibrant and colorful. I thank the man on my way out (and also my Guides, Angels and Saint Jacques silently).
My mission is accomplished and I got so much more than I expected on this totally unplanned and redirected outing.