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0619 Arrival to the French Riviera (France 069—new)

Nice Travel Blog

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Tour 019: France-Southeast 1

 

I go to the train station only to find that my train has been cancelled, which is a bit worrying since I’ve already booked a hostel in Nice.  Fortunately the next one is on schedule, so I hop on board in the company of two interesting fellows:  An Indian student studying in Nice and a young French/Algerian who actually recently moved to the US and opened up a restaurant in LA.  We have a great discussion on Indian, American, French and North African culture…

 

And then we arrive in Nice, where I have another long hike to my hostel--  and suddenly I really appreciate seeing a city laid out in a grid pattern rather than winding streets going all over the place… I reach my hostel past midnight and decide to call it a day.

 

First Day in Nice

 

Nice is going to be my “base” for the next three nights.  Since this is Easter weekend, I decided to go against procedure and actually book a hostel for the whole weekend rather than just wandering around and hoping I’ll find a cheap place to stay.  Why?  Well, first of all, because I know I’m not going to find a cheap place to stay in Nice in Easter just by wandering around.  And secondly, it’s a bit chilly and rainy still for camping…

 

Why Nice?  Well, I’ve got a new country to add within walking distance--  Monaco, and plenty of other towns I can walk too that I’m sure will be interesting too.  It’s not quite the same thrill of discovery as a trek across the Sahara--  but I do get a real kick out of enjoying luxury on a shoestring budget.

  And spending Easter weekend in Monaco and the French Riviera is about as luxurious as you can get…

 

So next day, I get up and head off on my paradoxical little adventure--  but not without a stop at a discount supermarket to stock up on bread, cheese, youghurt and tunafish to keep my alive over the weekend.  In Italy I did pretty good eating at cheap pizzerias and kebab shops--  but I know I won’t be so lucky here on the Riviera.

 

I figure it would be really cool to hike to Monaco, and according to the map it should be quite feasible.  So I make my way east, past what look like splendid baroque homes--  except these are 10 stories high!  Clearly we’re looking at a level of luxury unlike anything I’ve ever seen before…

 

But it soon becomes clear that it’s going to take me much of the day just to get to Monaco, which won’t leave me much time to actually explore the city--  or should I say country--  so I decide I’d better just take a bus instead…

 

That Evening

 

Returning from Monaco, I guess I was hoping to get in on some ancient Good Friday rituals here in Nice, like what I saw going on in Roquebrune,  but its quite clear that Nice just ain’t that  type of town… I head into the Old City and find its all about  eating and drinking, live music and having a rollicking good time… Oh well…

 

Day Two

 

I leave for Cannes early in the morning, and don’t come back until late at night… so I don’t see much of the city except for a short walk along the boardwalk past the magnificent seaside hotels and casinos, and a hike back up through a classy part of town back to the hostel.

 

Day Three

 

Today I hike over the ridge to Villefranche sur Mer, past the odd looking “Blockhead” statue--  a head that’s completely square… I’m not quite sure what the intended meaning is, but I could come up with a few analogies between the statue and the city… Once again, I come back late and just head straight to the hostel…

 

Day Four

 

Today I’ve got to leave, so I finally decide to give this city a proper tour before continuing on.  I head back into the picturesque old city, through an immigrant neighbourhood--  which is a bit surprising--  I would think that Nice would be too expensive for anyone of working class to live here… and up to the top of a steep hill with an artificial waterfall and a great view of the city and its turquoise beach.

  Then I head down to the “millionaires harbour” on the other side which rivals Monaco with its million dollar yachts… I then catch a bus, and bid beautiful Nice farewell…

 

It’s been an interesting and satisfying visit--  although it’s not really the kind of place I’d like to hang out for for too long… Too artificial--  disconnected from the “real” world with the grit, grime, and broader spectrum of human experiences…

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photo by: EmyG