It's what enveloped us weary travelers perched mid-morning on a little balcony. Nearly 11 months later now, I clearly see the two of us drinking in the sight of pleasant yachts bobbing in the marina below our balcony while we sip our coffee, and memories of that cramped trans-Atlantic flight drift out of newly rested muscles.
To talk meaningfully about the hotel, I need first to describe the town, to which these lodgings are so appropriate. Villefranche-sur-mer reposes quietly, unobtrusively, between the obscenely rich Cap Ferrat snaking into the Mediterranean on the east, and lively Nice that warmly bustles to the west, just over that hill. From the front door of Hotel Darse and a walk to the left, past the Italian Pine canopied restaurants, lies the harbor. It encloses moving waves in richly saturated blues. Over there is a single cruise liner (this is only April). Some hardy souls enjoy the arcing beach; one guy actually swims out there. If I were a gigolo, lounging here would be my day-job. Michele and I agree this is what San Diego in Southern California must have been in the 50s. Tasteful, mellow, refreshing.
And the prose you've just read tries to impart the sense of being here in this place. Restaurants/shops/parks are a healthy trudge away (uphill). There's some traffic up there, too. Here by the boat harbor it is peaceful, though, in a clean room we climb up a marble staircase to arrive at. A comfy bed, a spotless bathroom. Light curtains that sway with the breeze that enters from across our balcony. Come here and enjoy. Just keep it a secret, though - that is part of the charm.