We were in the UK visiting family last week and you really don’t want to see any photographs from there. Almost everything was in what might be called 30 shades of grey.
We did however get some excellent views as we took off from Nice. Now Nice is one of Europe’s more interesting airports. The problem is that the Maritime Alps begin a mere 8 or 10 km to the north with a east-west wall of limestone that rises within a couple of kilometres to 1500 m. So given that most flights in and out are are heading either north or south this poses a problem. The only solution on take off from the east-west runways is to immediately turn southwards, head out to sea and to gain height in a great loop before heading north and clearing the first peaks. Landing is the reverse procedure: overshoot the coast, lose height over the sea and then come swinging in over the waves. The fact the Var Valley can channel cross-winds across the runway only adds to the fun. We have been on one flight where the landing was aborted just a few metres above the ground.
There is however a plus point of this; the gaining or losing height over the sea can give wonderful views. This is certainly what happened this time.
There were first rate views eastwards along the coast towards Villefranche and Cap St Ferrat. We also got a brief glimpse of the incredibly dense (and absurdly rich) conurbation that is Monaco. Swinging round over the sea we then gained height over Cannes before flying over the rising ranges of the Alps. It was cloud from then on until Liverpool.
Whenever we fly we live in hope that we are going to get some good photographable views of Courmettes, but in fact flights are normally directly over it. Nevertheless, here is a rather blurry one from September.
At Courmettes itself there is considerable excitement because at long last the roof of the chateau, or grande maison, as it is more modestly referred to, is finally being renewed. It’s very much a key action restoration because there’s never been a lot of point in doing interior work with a roof that was notoriously prone to leaking. The intention is that with the new roof in place, various interior refurbishments will now be able to go ahead. You can read more about it in a recent newsletter here.