The above image is of a Kayak Soccer game in the Bay of Angels, Nice
It is nice to be back in Nice. In May, we stayed near the port. This time we are in a well-appointed apartment in the thick of things just ½ a block off of the main pedestrian / tram street, Avenue Jean Medecin. We enjoyed a return stroll on the Promenade des Anglais, looking out onto the Mediterranean; a hike up to the top of Castle Hill to gaze down on the curving beach front; a stroll about the grand Place Massena for some people-watching; and listening to the giggles and squeals of children dodging the shooting fountains at the end of the Promenade du Paillon parkway. We were thrilled to find a Picard store on our block. Marsha created an incredible meal of cilantro rice and Picard purchases of Coquilles St. Jacques (scallops in sauce served in shells), mixed vegetables, and cheesecake. I’ll refer you to the Paris post from week 15 for more info on Picard. Week 15 – The Parisian Life: World-class City, Frozen Food, & Mickey Mouse
Before I get to our fun time in Nice, I thought you might like to see Alfred Nobel’s house from our stay in Sanremo. We were out for one of our walks last Sunday with the goal of checking out his house. We entered the property from the beach side and walked through the backyard. The first thing we saw was a mounted, very large caliber gun under some palm trees. This is the same Nobel as in “Noble PEACE Prize.” We thought this was just a little out of character. But Alfred did make his money selling dynamite, so who knows? When we approached his home, Marsha thought it looked like a haunted house. Although it was mid-day, I went a little ‘Trick or Treat’ on these images. Tis the season…
Back to Nice. We took two day trips from Nice.
Villefranche Sur Mer is a beautiful 30-minute bus ride down along the coast. This seaside village is that wonderful mix of Italian and French that is prevalent on the Riviera. We especially appreciated the lack of tourists. They can really be a nuisance. After a relaxing saunter through this picturesque village, we enjoyed a simple picnic lunch, sitting on a ½ wall in the harbor.
Cap Ferrat was an engaging, 45-minute hike further down the shoreline. There was so much to see and take in that the time went by quickly. In Rick Steves’ book on France, he writes, “If you owned a house here, some of the richest people on the planet would be your neighbors.” We walked by many enormous estates, safely closed off by heavy gates, including the 1905 Rothschild villa that is open to the public, and one owned by Paul Allen that is not. Although Paul’s property was protected from view by a high fence and manicured vegetation, there is a bus stop right in front of his house. So, he has that going for him.
Our second day trip was to the hill town of Vence. A one-hour bus ride brought us to the modern town center. From there we walked further in to explore the walled old city. We had very little information on Vence, but found it to be one of our highlights. It had wonderful ambiance and the feeling of being lost in time. Just walking through the narrow streets and back alleys was both peaceful and inspiring at the same time. I entered a gallery and talked to the artist. She is from Laguna Beach in California but lives here for half the year to paint. I told her I grew up in San Diego and we decided it is, in fact, a small world.
Their weekly open-air market was in full swing. These markets are the best way to get a feel for a village or city. Checking these out is one of our top priorities when we visit. If we do buy anything, it is usually food. This time we found a delicious Christmas Tea to buy. It will be perfect for those cold winter evenings that are soon to come.
Around lunch time we discovered this little boulangerie, hidden around the corner of an alley. It was packed with locals, with the line flooding back into the small plaza. We were a little confused that nobody was moving, just standing in line. Then a man in a baker’s apron came scurrying in with two large bags of baguettes. The line quickly dissipated, with smiling locals carrying their long narrow bags of treasures back to their flats. This was enough to convince us to buy a sandwich to share and a chocolate pastry for lunch. We sat at the only table in the plaza to enjoy our tasty meal and watch the stream of baguette hunters coming and going. Just before leaving Vence, we returned to buy our own baguette for the road. We are so French!
The week in Nice was just great. We supplemented our two day-trips with our usual meandering around the city. Of course, we checked out some more churches, got lost a few times, and even participated in the 10th Annual Nice to Cannes Marathon, well, sort of … we walked through the exhibits and scored a free pen and a small bag of candy. Good enough.
The first image below was a fun shot from our descent down from Castle Hill. This is one of the more creative ways to beg. Marsha and I have noticed something interesting in the last few weeks. First of all, there are beggars wherever we have been; large cities, small towns, and villages. People usually ignore them. Occasionally there will be a few coins dropped into a hat, can, or small, cardboard box. We have noticed something different in Southern Italy and France several times. A beggar will be sitting on the sidewalk and a person will not only give them money, but spend some time talking with them. A few times the donor has caressed the person’s face or head, as if giving a blessing. Just those few moments of connection bring a beautiful smile to their faces. Something to ponder.
The second image is an interior shot of Eglise St Jacques.
For more info on Nice – Week 10 – Nice on the French Rivera
Next, we will be leave our beloved Riviera and head northwest to Nimes for a week.
Invite your friends and family to join the fun by subscribing to the Stowaway Newsletter on our site. Just click the open Steamer Trunk on the Homepage.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Preston & Marsha
Don’t Retire: Reload – Groovin’ on the Flip Side