I love our accommodation in Nice. But I wasn’t sure I would when we first arrived.
The hostel is located across the road from the local Hippopotamus bar. When we walk in, we find ourselves in a dark, humid restaurant. A cockroach munches on crumbs on one of the tables.
A niçoise woman in her 70s who really should have been wearing a bra rushes up to us with gleaming eyes and missing teeth shrieking “Nouvelle Zélande, Nouvelle Zélande?”.
The first thing I notice are the festering sores on both her arms. The second is the piles of paperwork she’s just stood up from. Dozens of handwritten bookings on plain A4 paper scattered over a small desk with a faded green manilla folder marked “internet”. So that’s where my online booking went.
I’m feeling uncertain about the sanitation of a twelve bed dorm in this place. Which is when she mentions the studio flat they’ve got for an extra €8 a night. “oui, parfait” I hear myself saying, before worrying that it’s some scam I haven’t come across before.
As soon as we agree to the private flat, she leaps up and locks the restaurant, giving the keys and a short explanation to some surprised outside diners.
Then, she leads us around the corner, up the road and down another street. We get off the rickety elevator at level 3, then walked down to level 2. I would have known this in advance if I hadn’t forgotten what the French word for ‘broken’ meant.
When we arrive, I decide quickly that it’s perfect. It’s so French, unlike the cookie cutter hotel rooms we get so sick of.
Large shuttered windows at one end of the room open facing a courtyard filled with fighting pigeons. The tiny bathroom and kitchen are at the other end, and a loft style bedroom is up a ladder on top.
There’s even half a bottle of cognac on a small shelf for no apparent reason. This is the real thing, and I’m so glad we’re here.