The French Riviera
JANK has officially arrived in our second country and headed straight for the beach. Katie found us a terrific Airbnb right across from the park, on the edge of Old Town. There are shops, restaurants, bars, bakeries, and more right outside our front door. We are so in it, in fact that on more than one occasion we were forced to fight people out of the way to get to the entrance to our building as a popular sushi joint was right outside.
What We Did
Day 9 (8/1/16): After a late arrival, we woke up late and decided to do a self-guided tour of Old Town, including doing a hike up Castle Hill to the park and panoramic lookout areas. We also stopped in an awesome Jewish Cemetery of our hike down, full of giant old monuments. Adam and I then attended an orchestra concert to benefit the victims of the recent Nice terror attack that included a selection of music from famous films such as Back to the Future, Star Wars, Mission Impossible, and the Good the Bad and the Ugly. Katie and Justin ventured back to the beach to catch the first Mediterranean sunset of the trip.
Day 10 (8/2/16): After a long lie-in, we packed up and walked to the main beach in Nice’s downtown area. After relaxing and swimming for a couple of hours, we walked back through the flower market, which was just closing for the day. We then made dinner, drank some cheap French wine, and got thoroughly engrossed in the Big Band Theory.
Day 11 (8/3/16): This morning, we got up a little earlier and took a bus to Villefranche-sur-Mer, about fifteen minutes down the coast. After hiking down a series of winding roads, we made it out onto the boardwalk area and claimed a spot on the beach. After a walk back from the bus stop at Le Porte, we made dinner and went out for our first time in France together.
Day 12 (8/4/16): We took a day trip out to our third new country of a year-long world tour, Monaco. In Monaco, we visited the famous Monte Carlo casino, and plush shopping center, the Metropole. Then we walked down to the port to gaze upon the plethora of multimillion dollar yachts this principality had to offer, including the Lady Moura, which at the time she was built, was the ninth largest in the world and at one time hosted President George H.W. Bush. After returning to France, we ate dinner at a restaurant in Old Town called Citrus, and then went to see Suicide Squad at the movie theater.
Day 13 (8/5/16): On our last day in Nice, we started the day with a quick walk to the Blockhead building. It is a three story office building cube and part of the public library that sits atop of a large concrete neck and chin support structure. Hence the name ‘blockhead’, and the slogan “thinking inside the box”. From there Adam and I went to see the Cathedral Saint Nicolas, the largest Russian Orthodox Church in western Europe, spires reminiscent of the cathedral in Saint Petersburg, Russia. After a little more meandering around gown, we headed back to the airport where we boarded a bus to Lyon.
What We Learned
- Nice, Monaco, and I am assuming the rest of the region are hot and shade is a coveted commodity during the summer months. Even while at the beach, the temperature was so warm we broke down and bought 10 euro umbrellas from a convenience store to lie under. And in Monaco, the heat was so intense the second you stopped melting you felt yourself begin to drip sweat, like a popsicle melting in the sun. That being said, the water is cool and the temperature is extremely pleasant once the sun goes down and it makes it all worth it.
- If you only have one day to spend at the beach, take the number 81 bus to the Octroi stop, fifteen minutes outside Nice’s city center. The beaches in the middle of town are composed of large stones, which can bruise your feet if you don’t have sandals on and don’t provide the most comfortable spot to lay out. The beaches outside the center, on the other hand, have pebbles also, but they are so small, it is more reminiscent of sand and makes for a much more foot-friendly experience. There are also smaller crowds here. One upside to the rocky beaches, however, is that the lack of sand and silt keeps the water from getting murky, resulting in some of the clearest, bluest water you have ever seen.
- If you are looking for a good spot in Old Town to party, try Wayne’s. While the beer is just as expensive as everywhere else in the center, they have live music and let you dance on the tables.
- If you are going out to eat for a meal, go at lunch time. The portions are almost the same as dinner, but it is half the cost. Many places even have really delicious three course meals for as little as fifteen euros.
- Drink the wine. It is much more reasonable priced than beer in the majority of places and you can get a decent bottle at the grocery store for under three euro.
- The Monoprix is the cheapest and most extensive grocery store we found in Nice. These are in other cities in France as well and are the closest we found to grocery stores back home. That being said, you can find a lot of stuff cheaper if you move outside the city center. For example, when Adam and I ventured out to the Russian cathedral, we saw beer in stores priced at six for four euro, a significant drop from what you could find in Old Town.
- When seeing movies in foreign countries, look for “en VO” or “VO” on the movie listing. This indicates the film is voiced in its original language and not dubbed over with someone speaking French or the native language. Also, be sire not to go see a film in a foreign country where there will be a lot of subtitles, as they will be in the language of the country you are in, not the language of the film. We found this out during Suicide Squad and it made part of the movie slightly more confusing.
- On this stop of the journey, Adam discovered the amazingness that is the Kebab, primarily as a source of drunken nutrition. It is not a shish kebab, as people in the States think, but a wrap or pita filled with sliced lamb or shawarma with a variety of toppings and either s spicy or garlicy sauce. He has now had them three times and his love only deepens.
- Justin has taken up avocado raising as a hobby. He makes sure they get sufficient air and light to ripen, and is responsible for preventing bruises. So far he has only lost one. The other two, Albert and Birdie thrived until their eventual dismembering. More updates to follow in later posts…..