though our hotel was not in the best location, it was a nice walk to get to the promenade des anglais. we arrived in the early evening and there was a fete that night that we hadn’t known about. the promenade was closed to cars and everyone was in the street. we ate dinner at a mexican place for something different and it was surprisingly good. when we returned to the promenade, there were stages set up all along it, each with a different sort of group playing a different kind of music. there were people everywhere, dancing, listening, looking out at the mediterranean and the full moon that was rising over it (in france in the summer the sun stays pretty high until 10 at night or so).
the music was fun and the atmosphere was festive. we bought rose, the specialty of the provencale region, and walked back and forth on the promenade for a while. around midnight the music stopped and we headed back to our hotel.
we spent the first full day in nice, walking down to the old city and going to the main beach there. though the sea is pretty and refreshing, the beach there is rocky and not the easiest to navigate. it was full of people all the same because august is the month of vacation in france. we swam and sunbathed for several hours before returning to the picturesque old city for a late lunch.
that night we went to a place called le ghost where we met locals and danced and drank champagne. we left after a while and ended up in a cave-like boite de nuit, dancing till the early morning to fun remixes of familiar american songs, with some french ones mixed in.
the next day we went to rent a car. though we had already made a reservation, the process was terrible. the line was long and the man at the counter was flustered and had to re-make the contract several times. in the end, it took us over an hour and it turned out he charged my card multiple times, which i am still trying to straighten out 😦
we drove to st. tropez on the autoroute and got there in the early afternoon. it was a cute old city and port, but not much there beside yachts in the port and expensive boutiques everywhere. we had lunch and left, heading toward a beach outside the city. when it was time to continue, the traffic was terrible. it took us 30 minutes to get to the turn off where it finally opened up and i could drive more freely on the smaller winding road. we took the autoroute back toward cannes and were dismayed when we had to pay 14 euros in tolls – it had only been 2.50 on the way there!
we got off at cannes and went to the beach, though it was already 6pm. the sun was still up and hot and the beach still full of people. we swam a bit and then went off to explore the old city, perched on a hill, full of the winding little cobbled streets that characterize most old cities. i met interesting people in the shops and had some nice conversations in french with sellers of semiprecious stones.
we had a hard time finding someplace to eat but eventually had dinner and then went to a cafe to people watch. cannes was more picturesque and full of life than nice or st. tropez, and definitely had a higher quotient of ferraris.
we headed back to nice and all was well till we got to the city and all the exits toward the centre ville were closed! we drove around for a while and finally asked a man at a stoplight how to get to the train station, our touchstone point, as it was next to the hotel. he told us it was far and we should follow him. he lad us on an interesting and winding route, through tunnels which punctuate the city, leading us at long last to our destination. it was a relief to park the car and get into our little beds, exhausted but triumphant.
the next day we went to monaco. the ride was much faster than to st. tropez and in the other direction, into the maritime alps. the viezs were breathtaking and we wound down the mountains into the city, which looks like a disney sort of fantasy of pink and cream buildings colonizing the hills down to the port, full of enormous yachts. we lucked out to find parking before huge and very fancy looking wedding party arrived.
we toured the port and made our way up to the old city, where the palace and the cathedral where princess grace and other monaco royals are laid to rest. the old city was adorable with little cafes and surrounded by a beautiful garden. the palace was disappointingly plain and new looking.
we decended again and went to a touristy restaurant, overpriced and sub-par, but with a good view of the port. then continued to the main plage to see how it compared to nice and cannes.
it was full of people and the water was perfect. we sunbathed and read and relawed a couple of hours before heading back to our car and back to nice.
the way back we took the basse corniche, the winding little road that is featued in hitchcock’s file to catch a thief, during the filming of which grace kelly met her husband to be. she may even have had her fatal wreck on that road, though i am not sure. the drive was fun and picturesque, little towns and lovely beaches, the mediterranean beatiful and brilliant below us.
on returning to nice, it was far easier to find our neighborhood, and we decided to cut our car rental short, since it had been such a pain and we had already seen the places we meant to.
we went to the beach again and brought with us a chilled bottle of rose which we drank while watching the sunset. after a great tunisien dinner, we went back to the hotel to get ready for a saturday night on the town. one club we tried wasn’t the right crowd and we ended up at the ghost again. some locals took us to another place, la coulisse, where it was spring break style craziness, though it calmed down and we were able to dance the night away.
the next day was our last in nice. skye was leaving the following morning very early and so we profited from the beach. it was windy and wavy and we weren’t able to swim. we got a yummy turkish vegetarian meal and went back to the hotel to pack our things. then we met some people out in the old city to have some wine and chat. i was speaking only in french and feeling very comfortable with it by now, which is always nice.
we went to play pool in a funny mashup of pool hall and club, but ended up leaving to watch the moon and enjoy the seabreeze.
it was a late night and we got about an hour of sleep before skye had to get her taxi and leave.
the next day i slept a bit later than i intended and almost couldn’t get my train to marseilles, where i needed to catch a plane to morocco. luckily, i got to marseilles in time to get an earlier connection to the airport and got there with time to spare.
the flight was a few hours, but with the time change i arrived by 6pm and there was a driver waiting to take me to my hostel. a big sigh of relief and glad that i stuck with my plan to leave france and have a different sort of adventure.
more to come: morocco!!!
love and miss,