After Monte Carlo I was ready for France and the final leg of my mainland Europe adventure before Scotland and the Fringe Festival. A trip to Nice was my first stop in France and a beautiful city… it was nice (just to get that out of the way)!
As I walked to my hostel down the main high street Avenue Jean Medicin, it was obviously a busy, affluent place and there was plenty of space for overtaking shoppers due to the large tram tracked streets. One of the biggest department stores here, Galeries Lafayette, was promptly ignored by me.
To begin with, the sun was shining and I toured the traditional historic square, Place Garibaldi. This was a pleasant surprise to me as it was different to other centres; the pavement was a chequerboard that was striking against the bright colours of the large buildings.
To the right, a garden was popular with families and in front of me, a huge fountain featuring a statue of Guiseppe Garibaldi, dominated the short stretch to the beach and ocean on Promenade du Paillon. After checking out the Cathedral on the main road, Basilique-Cathedrale Saint-Marie et Sainte-Reparate de Nice, I looked out over the water from where you can see a great deal more of the French Riviera. I looped back to the hostel via the old town (Vielle Ville) to collect my umbrella and anorak – rare items this summer – as it began to rain. Returning to the beach, I had to chuckle because it had cleared out very quickly!
However, before long the sun was out again and I’d taken a shortcut up Castle Hill, to visit the ruins and large artificial Chateau Waterfall that borders the east edge of the beach. Perhaps a sign my body was becoming tired more easily towards the end of month two, I took the free elevator to the top rather than walking. ‘A couple of days ago Fran’ would be shocked! At the top, the park is extensive, as are the views; from the waterfall you can see the beach, old town and modern centre, as well as the docks to the other side. It wasn’t Monte Carlo, but it was nice (whoops, it happened again #sorrynotsorry).
With the elevator taking me down, I strolled through the old town again to the bustling centre full of restaurants and people with gelato. I popped in a couple of churches as is my habit for a cool place to sit and to admire the skill of the architecture. The narrow streets I was once again encountering were slightly different as the building were so tall, meaning you couldn’t see beyond the end of the road.
From here, I visited the opera house, roman inspired, and the modern art gallery which has an unusual design to reflect what it holds inside. Nice was bigger than I thought and the number of squares and green areas were impressive.
Next, I headed to the docks largely by accident as I had been ready to call it a day. The city’s Notre Dame was just off the docks and I didn’t want to miss it, building up a collection of these in France, hopefully before revisiting the most notable Notre Dame in Paris. The area was quiet in the early evening and I glanced at the cliff edge where I’d looked down and reflected from earlier in the afternoon.
I took dinner in the hostel and as I did so, had to avoid eager guests; I was half asleep and needed to write up some blog posts while the memories were fresh. Eventually I headed to the room with a house beer to complete my writing. I slept well, the bed was very comfortable at Villa Saint Exupery Beach Hostel, just as the breakfast was good value at 4 euros. Heading to the train station, Marseilles awaited for two nights as my pneultimate ‘brand new’ destination.
Nice was a lovely surprise and I really enjoyed my time here, despite not making it to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral. It was a good set-up for France, a country I pretty much had no expectations for other than Paris. As it’s so close to home I overlooked how brilliant the weather could be, especially along the south coast, and how different it could feel. Previously, I’ve been to Paris, Normandy, Cannes and the name of a cold port town I can’t recall. How nice to be pleasantly proven wrong (final time)! #hattrick