Saturday, January 24, 2015

Nice, France, Part 1

Nice, France
Okay, I've been lazy for a few months, and still have stories to post about my recent stay in Italy, which included a side trip to the French Riviera. I was surprised and delighted with Nice, which I hadn't anticipated at all. I mean, I was expecting a lot of snobby, rich people,  and that everything would be expensive and la ti da, but it was NOT like that at all! In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I'm eager to return and spend more time in that part of the world.

Our venture to Nice took place during the first week of October, 2014. Since we had bought our train tickets online three months earlier, we got great discounts, and paid less than 30 euros one way from Florence to Nice. The journey involved several train changes, one in Genova and another in Ventimiglia, located on the border between Italy and France. Our journey took about four hours total, but was otherwise uneventful.

Gare di Nice Ville: train station
Once we arrived in Nice, the first thing we did was take the tram across town to our hotel, located near Place Garibaldi. We lucked out, as the hotel was both inexpensive and centrally located, near Vieux Nice. Once settled, we went out to look for food, in particular, Socca, which is  a  thin, unleavened crêpe, made with chickpea flour and sprinkled with pepper. It's a typical food of the Ligurian seacoast, from Nice to Pisa. Socca turned out to be very cheap and filling, an interesting and unusual snack.

Socca stand near our hotel
By an odd coincidence, my brother Chris from Camas, Washington was in Nice that weekend. He'd been in Cannes for work and had come to visit me in Florence the previous week. When he heard we were coming to Nice that weekend, he arranged to stay an extra day so we could meet up before his departure for Denmark and another work-related meeting. 

Chris and I at a restaurant on Place Garibaldi
Chris called to tell me he was eating lunch near our hotel, so we met up with him for a brief chat before going on to explore Nice for the first time. We headed down the winding streets of Vieux Nice, the older part of town, to the beach. After all, isn't that where all the action takes place? I mean, we'd come to the French Riviera...shouldn't we be checking it out?

Vieux Nice

Above and along the long stretch of Nice's famous beach is the equally famous  Promenade des Anglais, or La Prom, as the locals call it. It seems it was named The English Promenade because it was originally conceived of by wealthy English visitors who were visiting Nice in the late 1800's and noticed that many people were out of work. The city of Nice liked the idea, and expanded on it, building a wide pathway that follows the line of beach from one end to the other.

Promenade des Anglais
One can stroll, run, skate, or bike along the path, which is lined with palm trees, or sit in one of the many long benches that face the sea. I spent several hours enjoying this part of Nice, and only wish I could have stayed longer.

Cours Saleya, a shopping area near La Prom.
Of course, shopping in Nice is de rigour, and we did some of that, though it was not my favorite pasttime. Instead, I would have preferred spending more time at the beach. However, shopping abroad  is always interesting, and I did my share of it during our stay. Mainly, I shopped for soap, lavender and perfume, small items that would not add much weight to my luggage.

That evening we met up with my brother for dinner in Vieux Nice, such a special occasion! I'd seen my brother at the beginning and end of his adventure, and was thrilled to have been able to share that event with him. (I need to write a post about his motorcycle journey through France and Italy!)

Eating out in Vieux Nice with Chris and  Haruko.
The next day my friend and I were headed to Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, so we bid adieu to Chris and returned to our hotel.

No comments: