La Nice est magnifique!
January 3, 2010
Bonjour! Today was our first full day in Nice. The weather was mild (but still needed a coat) and the skies turned sunny by early afternoon. Nice is a beautiful city. You will fall in love with the market, the buildings, the sea, the people!
We got a bit of a late start today due to jet lag but once my Mom and I got started, we were good to go. The first item on our agenda was to walk about 5 minutes to Avenue Jean Medecin to find a place for breakfast. We found the perfect cafe which had the best croissants & cafe au lait!!! And, it was just 8 euro for 2 people!!! You can’t beat that.
After breakfast, we walked down to Place Massena (which is Nice’s ground zero — everything old meets new). I tend to agree with Rick Steve’s when he says that standing here makes him feel like he’s in St. Mark’s Square in Venice. It has that feel…especially with the curved buildings around a central place/piazza. It also reminds me of Disneyland in a way. With the colorful markets, Christmas decorations, piped-in music of children singing songs…it really had a fairytale feel. But, then they started playing a Michael Jackson song so…maybe a Neverland feel?
After leaving Place Massena, I happened to see the most fabulous faux fur vest in a store window. It was on sale and it fit. It’s like the fates declared for me to have it!
I was a bit nervous with the shopping because everybody that I see in France is tiny. The store didn’t have sizes on the garments…I guess they could eyeball you to tell you whether or not you needed to keep on walking. Although they spoke limited English (and I, limited French), the clerk & I were able to have a limited conversation…enough for him to ask if I was from South Africa.
Which brings me to a point of observation…everybody who knows me well knows that I research my travel destinations thoroughly before I arrive. Well, I had read several places that the French were a bit aloof and that you should have a rudimentary understanding of French or they would give you the side-eye. That has not been my experience at all. Most of the people I have met have been very friendly and understanding of my language “handicap”. If we can’t figure something out with hand signals & my French/English phrase book, they find someone who can translate. I do find myself defaulting to Italian when I’m searching for French words which just confuses them even further. As far as people being rude, honestly, it’s the same as in the U.S. As long as you are respectful and smile, the French will love you!
I met a guy named Bruno who was born in France but moved to Georgia (the U.S. state, not the country) when he was 16. He actually owned a hair salon in Roswell for about 16 years or so before deciding to move back to Nice with his wife (who is American). Bruno is fabulous…love him!!! Now, I will admit that it is sometimes hard for me to understand accented English. My friend, Abenaa (who is from Ghana), will testify to that. I may have a blank look on my face while I try to figure out what you just said. But, eventually, I will either get there or ask you to repeat what you said
So, back to our day. We ended up shopping at the outdoor markets. Let me just say that I absolutely LOVE the outdoor markets. Nice is known for growing lavender and olives (and they have lots of it). Everything is so fresh and upscale. People are out with their dogs (they even bring them into cafes!). Riley (my cocker spaniel) would be in heaven. Maybe I’ll try to find him a little beret. Of course, Riley is from the streets so I know he wouldn’t even entertain that. Plus, he likes to fight so we’d get to walk about 2 minutes into the market before he thinks a Jack Russell terrier is mean mugging him and wants to go “introduce” himself. He will probably write about it in his blog.
While in the market, I come across a beautiful painting and asked the seller if he is the artist. He says yes and we have a limited conversation (as he isn’t selling croissants or cafe au lait, I don’t have much more French to use). I instantly fell in love with the painting as it seems so peaceful.
After leaving the market with gifts for family and friends, we finally get to the the famed Promenade des Anglais (or “walkway for the English”). It’s a 4 mile promenade along the Mediterranean Sea with stunning views of Nice around the bay. This is what I had been waiting for. The views are absolutely gorgeous!
As we walked down the promenade, we came across some “rollerblade street performers”. I have never seen anything like this. They do all these rollerblade tricks to French & American hip hop music. They were actually very entertaining. We need that on Peachtree!
After that, we continued down to the Palais de Mediterranee (which is gorgeous).
Once we completed the 4 mile walk, we headed back to our flat thru Old Town Nice.
Then back home to rest & blog. Tomorrow — Cannes! Au revoir!!!