Thanks for being patient while I resolved my internet crisis. I think it's resolved, at least.
Don't you love this one? Sent in by Kerri Nelson, she says: "Just found your blog and love your new contest. Thought I'd send you a pic of where we went for our honeymoon. Well, this was one adorable town that we visited in Ireland known as "Westport: The Tidiest Town in Ireland". Gotta love a tidy town, aye?"
There will be more later from others, I hope, since several people have indicated they want to send in pics. In the meantime, I thought I'd show you the place that was the surprise of our Mediterranean Cruise last September:
I didn't go on the cruise with any special expectations of France because my interest was in Italy and Spain, where I want to set some books. But I thought a tiny 16th Century village set in the foothills of the Alps would be a unique change of pace. It was more than that. St. Paul de Vence, above Nice, completely charmed me. Today it's mostly a tourist trap, of course, but it is remarkable anyway. Above is a view of residences on the outskirts of this little walled village. Few people live inside the walls now and most of it consists of lovely little boutiques, art galleries and outdoor cafes. But much of the ancient structure is preserved.
The village area was inhabited at least back to the 9th Century. In the 16th Century, apparently the King of France saw the village as vital to the defense of his interets, so he took over, kicking out most of the residents to re-build and wall in the village as a fortress to defend the pass between France and Savoy. The walled structure from this time remains, but there is not much change in the actual buildings. I'm telling you this the way the tour guide told us. You can find a more detailed- and more accurate- summary of this charming little place at http://www.saint-pauldevence.com/tourism_uk.html
There are no streets inside the walls wide enough to drive a car. These wonderful paved walkways wind up and down, all through the village, past shops and outdoor cafes, up to the high capped city walls where you can look down on the cramped little cemetery and beyond to the valley below. I didn't see the Mediterranean from here, but it's visible from the village walls.
I didn't actually ask, but I'm sure these lovely pebbled pavements were created very recently. But their charm only adds to the medieval ambiance.
So now I have one more Most Beautiful Place in the World. And now I'm imagining stories of a fictional tiny village guarding a pass between two nations in the Alpine foothills, and the struggle to possess it. Hero and heroine on opposite sides of the conflict, of course.