When I was on Facebook last night I asked if anyone had some suggestions about what to do in Nice for a few hours. I had the day free up till 3PM, when I was going on a tour. Scott sent me this reply:
OK now you’re talking. After breakfast, walk along the Promenade des Anglais and try not to scoff at the stony beach. Pass the famous belle epoque Negresco hotel with the pink dome – try to sneak a peek in the lobby. Walk all the way down to the Old Town, or Vieille Ville, and wander through the Cours Saleya flower market. Stop for coffee if you wish. Then go through the big archway half way along the market and turn left. At the end of the street you’ll see the massive hill called the Colline du Chateau. There’s a tunnel at the base of the hill with a free lift to the top. Stunning views from the top of Nice and the Port of Nice on the other side. Also old ruins of the original castle. Have an ice cream. Go back down into the Old Town and wander through the narrow medieval streets – plenty of shopping you can do. Then emerge onto Bvd Jean Jaures and the new linear park with the massive fountains. On Place Massena there’s a good place to have lunch called Attimi. Continue through Place Massena and then hang a left at Rue Massena, the pedestrianised street. Galeries Lafayette is on the right, department store. Walk down Rue Massena back to your hotel.
I decided to follow his plan, which had similar suggestions to Gigi, the tour guide, but this was all written down and mansplained, just like I like.
We were staying at the Radisson Blu, which is directly on the beach on the Promenade des Anglais. I set off at 9:10.
There were very few people around at that hour, though it was already heating up.
I saw this pretty roof on the way. This was about the time I realised that in my enthusiasm, I’d dashed out of the hotel without a map.
The Hotel Negresco – this was after 40 minutes or so of hard walking. I wasn’t mucking around.
There was a man inside, looking at me sternly. I could have gone in and ordered a cup of tea but I was still full from breakfast. I decided to push on.
After asking a nice French man who had little English for directions, I found the flower market. My schoolgirl French is coming back to me. It took 55 minutes to get here while setting a cracking pace.
I had a look and then turned left to find the elevator.
After a few twists and turns I got lost. So I asked a nice French couple for help. Their English was minimal, but fortunately a nice French man nearby overheard and told me how to find the elevator to the gardens. I was on my way again!
There was a queue. This was it.
This is the view as you come out of the elevator.
I walked to a lookout. Look, Scott! Task 3 achieved.
I walked around the park for a while and had an icecream. It was very cool and quiet up there. Some people were walking their dogs and kids were playing on the playground equipment. It was very pleasant. But I had an itinerary to achieve. So I went back down.
Armed with a map that the nice lady looking after the elevator gave me, I set off. Next step: Bld Jean Jaurès.
I wandered around for a while, got my bearings and started wandering through the old city streets. I loved the lines in this street.
The sun was shut out because the buildings were so high and the streets were incredibly narrow. Although it was getting blisteringly hot, these streets were very comfortable. I strolled and window shopped.
I may also have stepped into a dress shop and made a purchase or 4. While I was there I asked for the location of the nearest pharmacy. As we were driving into Nice last night, Gigi said, “We French are hypochondriacs. There’s a pharmacy on every street corner.” I was in urgent need .
After buying some gel bandages from the nice lady at the pharmacy, I was good to go. I asked her where the fountain was on the Boulevard Jean Jaurès, as we were just around the corner from it. She thought, then told me to turn right.
I ended up at this very unimpressive fountain. Clearly I should have turned left. I sat down under a tree, consulted my trusty map and set out again.
Fortunately I was on the shady side of the street. I’m currently using my umbrella that I bought in England as a parasol. I walked a few blocks along the street until I saw this sign:
Even though it was out of synch, I thought I’d stop for lunch while there were still some tables outside in the shade.
Greek salad, a chilled red wine and some water.
I’m wearing the dress I bought in Venice. 🙂
See the lettering on the building? Cote D’Azur. I’m really here, having lunch, instead of tucking into lunch in the staff room at work. I felt a little odd as I was the only one on the restaurant sitting by myself, but then I gave myself a stern talking-to. I’m proud that I’ve earned my spot at this table by my own efforts.
I texted Scott to let him know that I’d made it this far. It was 12:30. We had a little text chat, then I set off, walking towards the gardens with the vertical fountains. It was then that I mentioned that it had taken 55 minutes to get to the flower garden from the hotel.
“What? Did you get lost? It should have been a 20-minute walk.”
“The hotel is pretty far out,” I replied.
Turns out that the hotel had been changed. He would’ve suggested a taxi or bus. Never mind… I was on the home stretch now, or so I thought.
The vertical fountains were very popular. It was about 35 degrees and I wasn’t the only one ‘accidentally’ walking over the top of them.
The gardens were pretty.
Galleries Layfayette. I ducked inside to buy some socks, thinking I’d grab a taxi when I came out again.
Unfortunately when I emerged at the other end of the shop there were no taxis or rickshaws to be seen. I decided to set off in the general direction of the Promenade des Anglais and catch a bus or taxi there. Hat on, parasol unfurled and sunglasses on, I set off through the streets. It was 1:15.
I walked and walked. My map didn’t cover this part of the town, but I thought I couldn’t go too far wrong. If I headed away from the hills I’d reach the sea. Too easy.
A pretty little shop.
Then on the Promenade des Anglais I caught a bus. I climbed on and asked the driver, “Radisson Blu?” He snarled something at me so I gave him 1.50 Euros and sat down to enjoy the ride back.
That was all very well until he turned a corner and started headed off to the right. I jumped up and hastily pushed the stop button.
There was nothing else for it. I had to walk the rest of the way home. It was about 15 minutes of hard walking in the sun with no shade except my Hampton Court Palace umbrella. I love that thing.
Can you imagine how pleased I was to see this sign? I had an hour to go to my room, catch a shower and enjoy the aircon. But I’d made it! I’d successfully navigated a foreign city all by myself. I was flushed with pleasure at my own cleverness. I was also flushed with exertion from the heat. I was a puddle of sweat.
I was so pleased to open the door to my room and see that room service had been. The air was cool, the room was immaculate. I had an hour of sweet sweet nothing and then it was time to go back downstairs to our St Paul de Vence excursion.
It’s a hillside town frequented by artists such as Chagall, Picasso etc. It’s so picturesque.
Even down to the cobblestones in the streets. This design was everywhere.
Here’s Mal waving to me. The streets were packed with people diving in and out of the exquisite little boutiques. I was very restrained and just bought a couple of little Christmas tree decorations at 3 Euros each. Good on me.
Loved this sculpture.
Looking down into an artist’s studio.
There was art everywhere. It was a fabulous place to wander around in.
Look at the walls. This place is hundreds of years old.
This last photo is for Mum. Chagall’s grave.