🇫🇷 Parisian Cafe
Today, you get 4 hours of Parisian cafe ambience.
You’re getting all the feels of Paris without the dust, dirt, grime and pigeon poo.
This doesn’t happen every day, nor ever before here in Coffeehouse, but I wanted to write about travel.
I’ve been grounded (no flights) for one year. This is in stark contrast to the 10+ years of travel for work. I felt today, a bit, lusty for travel.
Let me tell you about Villefranche.
For almost five years I worked on cruise ships. All life’s belongings in 2 suitcases. For years plopped down for 6 months at a time in the belly of a beast of a ship. At one point in my own career the ship I worked on was the largest cruise ship in the world.
I didn’t travel, but the ship I lived on did. For 2 of the 5 years I was stationed on a ship in the Mediterranean.
We worked 1-week Mediterranean cruises. Every week the same ports, same days. Every Sunday ported in Barcelona. Monday: Marseilles, Tuesday: Villefranche, Livorno, Rome, then Naples on Friday, and finally we took the full day of Saturday to get back to Barcelona, on Sunday.
Villefranche is next door to the large southern French city of Nice. A tiny enclave with a deep water port. Villefranche was special. The time, The season, special.
We arrived each morning at 6 AM. The sun rose across the horizon of the Med. We slipped in between two peninsulas — a safe harbor. The sun slipped behind the eastern rocky shore casting the ship back into darkness and the sun sprung up again a few minutes later over the eastern shoreline.
Every Villefranche, I ventured out for what was dubbed “Breakfast Club”. Others joined after I told tales of the mythical double sunrise. But for a few weeks, each year, I was alone, chilly because it’s still the Med and dark. The sun has yet to rise.
Most of the time I sat on the front of the ship, on the Helipad, just below the bridge. Some weeks I ventured to the back. Depended on the captain and how he maneuvered the ship around the port. Always, at first, I was alone.
Coffee in hand. Me, chilly.
Double sunrise to gaze upon.
Except for the tremendous engine noise of the gargantuan cruise ship I sat on.
My gaze half the time was cast upon the Villefranche homes that turned from the black and white shadows of night to golden pink as the sun rose.
I lusted, then, for a small French apartment along this shore. To sit and write in. Looking out the window at the harbor. To view the double sunrise.
But now many years later I realize how foolish I was. If I sat inside one of these homes, I wouldn’t have the view of the homes. And the double sunrise wouldn’t happen if I sat stationary. It existed because we, the ship, moved from sea to harbor.
Nobody, except fishermen and me, knew what Villefranche looked like from the middle of the harbor before dawn. Of 4,000 guests each week, but a few woke before dawn. Breakfast Club was always a small group. Never more than 6. Most of the time a couple couples.
I’m stunned to be of two minds now. Lustful to travel again. Lustful to sit in one place and write. While I sit in one place and write. Writing this.
2006’s Paris, je t'aime lusts after a Paris that doesn’t exist.
Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris lusts after Paris of the past.
Paris, as we think it, doesn’t exist.
Let the romantics romanticize.
Leave Paris as an unattainable dream.
Villefranche, at the time was a dream I wished to live.
Villefranche now is a foolish memory of something I yearned for and lived at the same time.
Villefranche, was a dream I was living.
For the first 25 editions of Coffeehouse, I wrote on average 2 sentences. That will most likely continue.
If you like stories of travel, Reply. Tell me.
If you wanna read 2 sentences and get to straight to the listening I’ve made sure the link is the 3rd thing you read. Moving forward If I write more, like today, I won’t bore you with the details, unless you scroll down to read more.
If you missed the link to today’s coffee shop sounds at the top, here it is again.
4 hours of Parisian cafe ambience from Maximilian.
Love it. We stumbled on Villefranche 4 years ago on a day trip from Antibes to Monaco and stopped for the beach on the way back and stayed . . . and stayed. My 11 year old son fell in love with some ladies in town who sold "the best frites in the world" at a tiny shop on Rue du Poilu, so when we planned to go to Italy 2 years later we had to stop there. This time we stayed in Villefranche itself and had another magical experience - we were hanging in our hotel room after dinner when a fireworks show started. Fantastic seafood, a great walk around the batterie, super fun day at the beach, a trip over to Nellcote to see where the Stones recorded Exile. We would go back in a nano. My son is taking French in school b/c of that experience (and insists on calling it Villefranche-sur-Mer, no exceptions!). All great memories triggered by your story. Love it!
I really loved reading this story and imagining what this experience was like. I would love to read more about your adventures!