But you’ve just got back to Brussels, my best friend said. I know and I’m really sorry but this article about the French Riviera – I have to go there, I replied. But you don’t have a job or know anyone there… how on earth are you going to manage? I’ll find a job and I’ll be fine, I said. You’re totally mad, she replied. I know, I replied, but isn’t that half the fun?
I’d been living in South Africa for six months and returned to Brussels at the end of January 2001 to cold, snowy grey skies and a forlorn winter. Two things were marked on my To Do list: find a job, find a place to live. Getting my act together I popped into a newsagents to pick up The Bulletin, a local expat magazine that always had great jobs on offer but got slightly side-tracked when Time Magazine caught my eye. Inside was a six page-spread about the glories of the French Riviera and Sophia-Antipolis, a growing and most successful business park in the region. I was hooked.
In fact, I was so hooked that a week later I waved goodbye to my worried friend and flew off to Nice. As I walked out of the airport I honestly thought I’d stepped into paradise. Still reeling from the azure colour of the Mediterranean Sea I now found myself mesmerised by the bluest of skies, the tallest of palm trees and prettiest of flowers I’d ever seen.
And to set your mind at peace, three days later I found a job – which relieved my friend (and me) enormously. Finding a nice, reasonably-priced place to live was another story.
In 2003 I was given my first digital camera. Before then I’ll be honest and say that, while I have always loved (and been moved) by beautiful scenery and nature, I never thought of photographing it. I would have drawn it instead.
But this little Nikon camera opened up a entirely new world for me. Finding this region so beautiful and inspiring in 2004 I created AMB-Cote d’Azur, a non-profit association and website. What started out as a simple way of sharing my discoveries and photography turned into a comprehensive internet travel guide to the many towns, villages, excursions and events found on the French Riviera.
Much to my delight (and surprise) my photos of the Maeght Foundation, St Paul de Vence, were published in ‘Icons of Twentieth-Century Landscape Design’ by Katie Campbell and published by Francis Lincoln (2006).
In 2010 my husband wished to return to the UK which gave me the opportunity to attend a number of photographic and video workshops thereby honing my photographic skills and further developing my creative eye (and mind).
But the pull of the South of France was too strong and at the end of 2015 I returned to France. That was a busy year for me as I designed, created and published ‘Out & About in Vieux Nice’ Travel Guide for iPads.
Today I continue offering my photography, website and videography services while also developing my writing skills. It’s been a privilege to live and work on the French Riviera and help small businesses and sole-traders set up their own businesses. I look forward to helping and sharing my knowledge with many more businesses in the future.