Saturday night, I ran into another student. He is a photographer and we talked about where we had been earlier in the day. He had been to Eze and Monaco on Saturday. We talked about the possibilities for Sunday and he asked if I had been up to Mont Alban yet?
Everynight I see the fort lit on the hill (Mont Alban) above Villefranche. The Count of Savoy built several forts in the area to protect the villages and ports from the French. The citadel at Villefranche was built to protect the city by sea. Mont Alban fort was built to protect the city from attack by land. It was supposed to be an easy walk from the Col de Villefranche where I do my grocery shopping. He said it is a very good place to watch the sun rise.
I woke up at 6:30. It was tough to get out of bed. I was very tired and I wanted to sleep. But I knew I had to get up to get the best light. I got up and got out by 6:45.
All was still. There was an occasional moto and car but not much else. I heard a few birds. I've noticed that there are not very many birds in France. At the Col, I wasn't certain which road to take but I finally found the right road and saw the sign for Mont Alban. The road was steep and narrow. It reminded me a bit of the trail that I took from La Turbie to Peillon on my previous trip to Cote d'Azur. After a short bit, the houses disappear and I saw the hiking trail sign. It points towards a stairway that seems to go on forever. It is paved and passes through an oak forest. I realize I am in the forest on the top of Mont Alban. It is very dry. It has been a long hot summer. Soon I can see Nice laid out below me. In no time, I'm at the fort. It is not open but you can walk around it. There is a gorgeous vista of a red ball rising over the Villefranche harbor. Sunday sunrise. The fort is bathed in the golden light of dawn. On the other side of the mont, the sun rays light Nice and the shadow of the Mont is slowly pulled from the city like a blanket.
I head back down and discover the wonderful bakery at the Col is open. I get two croissants and a London Times newspaper. It is the first newspaper that I've bought.
Back at my apartment - it is time for breakfast on the deck. Two croissants, hot strong coffee, a glass of juice and a newspaper. C'est perfect!